A top commander in southwest Asia reminded U.S military personnel stationed in Muslim countries in the Middle East of the restrictions placed on them during Ramadan. According to a report by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. John Quintas, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander in Southwest Asia, said that the U.S. is "committed to the concepts of tolerance, freedom and diversity." But he added that soldiers should "become more informed and appreciative of the traditions and history of the people in this region of the world... [R]emember we are guests here and that the host nation is our shoulder-to-shoulder, brothers and sisters in arms, risking their lives for our common cause to defeat terrorism."
During the 30-day religious celebration of Ramadan, even non-Muslims are expected to obey local laws regarding eating, drinking, and using tobacco in public. Violators can be fined up to $685 or receive two months in jail. A spokesperson for United States Central Command [CENTCOM] said that "we are not aware of any specific instances of anyone being arrested" for such violations.
\For military personnel outside of U.S.-controlled areas, the only exceptions for the rules are for those "performing strenuous labor." Such personnel are "authorized to drink and consume as much food as they need to maintain proper hydration and energy." It is unclear what constitutes "strenuous labor" or whether additional exceptions might be made during a heatwave affecting some areas of the region that has taken hundreds of lives.
When asked if the restrictions were new or simply a continuation of past policy, a CENTCOM spokesperson replied:
There has been no change in policy... [W]hile the US does not have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the UAE, it is common practice to ensure all Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines deployed to Muslim countries are culturally aware that during the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims do not consume anything from sunrise to sunset as a pillar of their faith. Commanders throughout the AOR create policies to ensure their subordinates respect the laws and culture of our hosts at all times.
The report on CENTCOM's website is accompanied by the following graphic urging military personnel to "respect Ramadan."
Last week, there was yet another news frenzy over something that happened on social media. A Muslim Northwestern University chaplain, Tahera Ahmad, wrote on her Facebook page that she was in "tears of humiliation from discrimination" because a flight attendant refused to give her an unopened can of soda. Ahmad claimed that she was told that this was so she couldn't use the can of soda as a weapon, and that another passenger told her, "You Moslem, you need to shut the f— up.”
Kosovo Albanians, overwhelmingly Muslim, love America—which rescued them from Serbian aggression in 1999—and desire diplomatic relations with Israel. Kosovo does not recognize the Palestinian Authority and does not belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
President Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that 99.9 percent of Muslims reject radical Islam. He made the comments in response to a question about the White House avoiding using the phrase "Islamic terrorists."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained to reporters today that the United States needs to "redouble" efforts to explain "what the tenets of Islam actually are." He made the comments in response to a question about how the U.S. might respond to the terror attack today in France.
Here, in the parlance of the times, is a “pro-tip.” When attempting to rebut the notion that anti-Semitism in Europe is largely a problem caused by young Muslim men, don’t cite two horrific anti-Semitic atrocities perpetrated by . . . young Muslim men.
A band of Muslim raiders sacked Rome in 846 a.d., plundering the city’s churches and getting clean away with their loot. They had come from Palermo, in Sicily, which had been in Muslim hands for 15 years. Sicily was then on its way to becoming a predominantly Islamic and Arabic-speaking island, and it remained under Muslim rule for over two centuries, until the Normans conquered it in the late 11th century.
The Boston Marathon bombings highlighted, once again, the challenges of assimilating Muslim youth. And while the onus of accountability ought not rest exclusively on Muslim Americans, it understandably weighs most heavily on them. Indeed, any fair-minded assessment of recent events must underscore the inadequacies of Muslim-American leaders. Yet the usual criticisms are wide of the mark and fail to identify the institutional as well as intellectual weaknesses of these leaders.
Kosovo, the Albanian-majority Balkan republic, is probably best known for its fervent pro-Americanism, understandable given the role of U.S.-led NATO forces in assisting its 1.8 million inhabitants against Serbian oppression in 1999. American troops in Kosovo are drawn from National Guard units and have fallen below a thousand, but continue to symbolize a commitment that Kosovars consider indispensable to their future.