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Parasites In The Lands Of The Infidels

Egypt’s Resilient and Evolving Social Activism

Why did Trump strike Syria?

In an interview, Amr Adly discusses his recent Carnegie paper on Egypt’s large private enterprises.

It’s Time to Take a Hard Look at the U.S. Relationship With Egypt

As we work to eradicate ISIS, Iraq's Christians, Yizidis need our help now more than ever

Should America’s Refugee Policy Put Persecuted Christians First?

Muslims Were Banned From the Americas as Early as the 16th Century

Review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ Will Make You Rethink Race

Inside Trump’s shadow national security council

Turkey in Transition (?): Before and After the Attempted July Coup

Trump Signs Executive Order Curbing Obamacare

Lion's Den :: Daniel Pipes Blog

Ur-Fascism

Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries

35 Entrepreneurs Making a Difference in the Arab World

Trump could cause ‘the death of think tanks as we know them’

The Arabs had a country

The Islamic State is attaining its key goal, and U.S. media find the story of “limited interest

While the Muslim Brotherhood gets all the ink, the Salafists go on a rampage.

Egypt, I like your style

The warning bells are ringing

To the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

A test for the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt’s changing foreign policy

Egypt beyond Mubarak

The dissolution of the NDP

Remaking Cairo from below

Why Egypt should join the ICC

No citizenship without social justice

Mubarak's message

A new era for US-Egypt relations?

The old regime must be prosecuted

Revolution Interrupted? Liberating the media

The Brotherhood on the edge of reform

Brother-tarianism

Buying the People’s Assembly

What do Salafis really want?

A state of counter-emergency

Minimum wage a cure for 'corruption'

Beyond the referendum

Reform security, secure reform

The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections

The Egyptian Revolution: First Impressions from the Field

Lest the revolution turn into a wasted opportunity

The U.S. Should Not Get Involved in Libya

Five positions on the revolution

Urbanised Islam behind Pakistan's Sufi shrine bombings

Rethinking Internal Security in Egypt

Leo Strauss and the Grand Inquisitor

Push ahead now for a solution in Palestine

The Ongoing Attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians

SAUDI ARABIA'S ECONOMIC NEEDS AND THE PRICE OF OIL

Saudi Arabia and the Spectre of Protest

America Quiet on the Execution of Afghan Christian Said Musa

Egypt’s Copts in Al-Qaeda’s Sights

The Worldwide Danger of Religious Fundamentalism

Tread Softly

RECLIMING WOMEN'S RIGHT TO DIVORCE IN ISLAM

HOW SHARIA LAW PUNISHES RAPED WOMEN Hasan Mahmud

The global force behind Mumbai’s agony is in our midst

Some Discussions about Qur’an, Violence and Fitnah

Terror in the Name of God

The Adventure of an Islamic Reformer at Oxford, London, and Istanbul

Thank God for Justice

Using C hristian Principles to Enhance Economic Theory and Practice:

Worldwide Hate Speech Laws?

Freedom Agenda In Flames

Commentary: Candidates should seek votes of Muslim-Americans

Why Barack is Winning?

Indian Muslims and 'Terrorism': Some Searching Questions

Taqlid, Ijtihad, and Democracy

Election 08: Senator Obama, American Muslims and IslamophobiaStatement of Concerned Scholars about I

Struggling against sectarianism: Shia-Sunni ecumenism

“Happy Eid” from Turkey

Book Review: Islam in Post-Modern World

The Concept of Jihad in Islam

Downhill in Afghanistan:

> How Not to Toast a Tyrant

How Not to Toast a Tyrant

Manufacturing 'Terrorists' The Indian Way

Madrasas: Reforms a Must

AZERBAIJAN-TURKEY-ISRAEL RELATIONS: THE ENERGY FACTOR

Fort Lauderdale's Anatolia Cultural Center endeavors to 'show the real Islam'

The Balance of Tomorrow:

Book Review: Aurangzeb Revisited

America wants Iraq’s last drop of oil

Terrorising Muslims in the Name of Countering Terrorism

A proposal for new Iraqi/US co-operation and a suggestion of how this can be achieved

How will the Georgian struggle affect Iraq?

Is Obama a man of action as well as words?

Can moderate Iraqis believe Obama’s promises?

Can Iraq be ruled successfully by a Shia/Kurdish coalition?

Name of the Book: Issues in Madrasa Education in India

Dangerous Portents in Jammu and Kashmir: A View From Doda

London School of Islamics

Rethinking Kashmir Politics

Norman G. Kurland, J.D

Sir Salman Rushdie's fatwa against freedom of expression

You Still Can't Write About Muhammad

Muslim Women: The Dangerous Triangle

Judeo-Christian "Rights of Liberty" (and Muslim "Rights of Justice," as well ???)

Turkey's dangerous message to the Muslim world

Captive to a Discarded Cause

Egypt's sexual harassment 'cancer'

The Origins and Legacy of the Movement to Fight Religious Persecution

LEBANON'S MILITIA WARS

A secular state must deliver

“Islamic Economics” – Islam less, economics more-1

Exploiting the Muslim- Jewish divide is the wrong way to win votes.

How To Win The War Of Ideas (Glassman, WSJ)

The Olympic Games—Political Games?

Me without my Hijab

The changing face of American Islam

An Islamic case for a secular state

Getting a read on moderation

RETHINKING THE REVOLUTION?

Muslim Ghettoisation

Hurting their cause

Allah's Miracles in the Qur'an

Allah's Miracles in the Qur'an

Things are calm, time to talk

Awaiting China ’s implosion

The view from Bali

Why Blame Muslims Alone for Terrorism?

Consequences of Religious Extremism and the Lack of Democratic Principles

Cultural Accumulation and Modern Reading

Liberation Without War

Gaza's New Residents: Terrorists from all over.

Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts

From the Archive
A Joke to Burst out Laughing: The KSA Is Leading an Anti-ISIS Coalition
Pondering the Holy Quran Was Never Part of the Mission of Prophet Muhammad
Hackers of the Mubarak Regime Attacked our Quranism Website Because of this Article
The Introduction to the Book Titled "The Falsehood of Al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem"
Distraction in Prayers and forgetting to perform them in Piety
The Destruction of Al-Saud Royal Family Because of Their Repelling Others Away from God's Path (2)
Deep-Seated Hatred among Arabs towards the Byzantines Made Them Disregard A Quranic Miraculous Historical Prediction
We Are Still Living in the Era of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Nasser
On Avoiding Hunger Revolts (PART II)
Addressing Muslims only: Pluralism in Islam as the door of interfaith dialog
The Struggle of Abbasids against Arab Tribes in Egypt
Fatwas Part Seventy-Five
REVISED Is Turkey's Erdoğan in Decline?
"...And a Land You Have Never Stepped on..." (Quran 33:27)
The Israelites Inherited Egypt after the Death of Moses' Pharaoh as per the Fulfilled Promise of God
We Have the Power of Knowledge but Lack the Financial Means
Between Secularism and Religious Fraud
US interference in Egypt Politics Risks US Interests
Fatwas Part One-Hundred-and-Twenty-Six
Chapter one: Historical roots of war of ideas in Islam and Muslims
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Fort Lauderdale's Anatolia Cultural Center endeavors to 'show the real Islam'

  by: : James D. Davis|Religion Editor


Sun-Sentinel, September 14, 2008

Over dinner with a Muslim family in Turkey, Gary Weiner couldn't resist asking his hosts: "Do you know we're Jewish?"

The host's answer, in fluent English, brought him to tears: "We don't care. You're human."

"It touched the deepest part of my soul," recalled the Boca Raton lawyer, who was visiting the country with a dozen others from Congregation B'nai Israel.

"Here we were on a rooftop, sitting on carpets, eating off tables 16 inches high," Weiner continued. "Yet he dismissed the idea of differences as irrelevant.

"It showed we're all part of the same family."

That leap across cultures was exactly the hoped-for impact of the 10-day tour of Turkey this past summer. Building trust. Crossing religious lines. And promoting a kinder, gentler Islam.

Sponsoring the tour, and others like it, is the work of the Anatolia Cultural Center, where Turkish-Americans gather to enjoy and preserve their faith and culture. It's the only one in South Florida.

"Some people say Turkish culture is Asian, some say it's Mideastern, some say it's European; I say it's unique," said Yasin Bagci, who organizes interfaith concerts and dinners as well as the tours of Turkey. "We lived for 600 years with many religious groups. And we want to show we're still the same way."

The tour was one of five sponsored by Anatolia since 2006, with Jewish and Christian congregations. The B'nai Israel members paid airfare, but food and accommodations were underwritten by businessmen in Turkey.

The tourists hit some familiar spots, from the metropolis of Istanbul — said to be the only major city sitting on two continents — to the peaks of the Cappadocia region, once home to cliff-dwelling monks.

One stop was a complex where a church, a mosque and a synagogue share a common courtyard. The group visited each house of worship.

Having read opinions from American commentators about war with the Muslim world, the tourists saw a different side of Islam.

"You hear so much about an almost-inevitable battle of cultures," said Aaron Meyerowitz, a math professor at Florida Atlantic University. "That's not the world I want to leave to my children. One culture or another doesn't have to win."

Anatolia Cultural Center
As ambitious as the Turkey tour was, it's only one activity of the Anatolia Cultural Center.

Named for the subcontinent Turkey occupies, the center runs on an annual budget of $250,000, paid by some of South Florida's estimated 15,000 Turkish-Americans. It operates from a 5,500-square-foot building in a warehouse area just north of Fort Lauderdale's Executive Airport.

There are weekend classes in Turkish language and cooking. Jumah, the Friday prayer service, draws up to 50 people.

Members reach out, inviting non-Muslims for monthly coffees and Turkish music nights. And they sponsor annual Turkish festivals and Abrahamic dinners — named for the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

An overriding concern is the image of Islam, Bagci said. "People in America hear Muslim and think of al-Qaida. We want to show the real face of Islam."

They want to show how Muslims live in a Muslim land. Besides B'nai Israel, the Anatolia center helped send 13 members of First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables this year. Members of both congregations have been invited this month for Iftar, a nightly dinner held each night of Ramadan, the holy Islamic month that started Sept. 1.

Anatolia members visit churches and synagogues, striking up conversations and bringing "Noah's pudding" — a Turkish dessert said to have been eaten by Noah's family after the Great Flood.

"I'm not an expert on Turkey, but it seems their form of Islam is less isolationist," said the Very Rev. Andrew Sherman of St. Gregory's Episcopal Church, Boca Raton, where the Anatolia members have visited and brought Noah's pudding. "Turkey wants to be more connected with Europe."

Rabbi Richard Agler of B'nai Israel fostered a friendship with the Anatolia center to understand other faiths. He wants to help stem the tide of violence that is often committed in the name of religion.

"The language of faith is often warlike," Agler said. "The language we speak with the people at the Anatolia center is healthy and respectful and peaceful."

Helping forge that common bond has been Elvan Aktas, a founding board member of the Anatolia center. He was among a small group of young Turkish professionals who started socializing, then holding weekly home studies of the Quran.

They felt a "huge need" to show a better public image of Islam after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Aktas said. He and others began speaking at churches and interfaith groups. They then laid plans for the cultural center, which opened in 2004.

When he first visited B'nai Israel the following year, he didn't expect Agler to listen to him.

"But I found so much in common between Turkish immigrants and this congregation of Jews," said Aktas, now a professor of finance at Georgia State, Valdosta. "I had my doubts about interfaith dialogue. Now I'm convinced it works."

The Gülen movement
Anatolia is part of a loose association guided by the beliefs of an elderly Turkish preacher named Fethullah Gülen.

Now living in Pennsylvania, Gülen, 67, has built a reputation as a religious moderate. He embraces Islam as well as science, education and friendly relations with those of other faiths.

John Voll, an Islamic history specialist at Georgetown University, estimates that up to 15 million people worldwide may follow Gülen's views, if participants in school and cultural center activities are counted.

"It's not a well-organized Islamic party; it's a social and cultural movement, like the environmental movement," Voll said.

Local admirers share Gülen's belief that in a shrinking world, people need to cross cultural and religious lines.

"Muslim countries were once separated from western countries," said Mustafa Yucekaya, a founder and former head of the Anatolia center. "Now there are Muslims in the United States. You can no longer separate 'them' from 'us.'

Controversies
Not everyone admires Gülen — even in his homeland, where a national debate has arisen over the role of Islam in public life. For some Turks, his beliefs run afoul of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established the secular republic in the 1920s.

Prosecutors in Turkey accused Gülen of trying to overthrow the government in favor of an Islamic state; he was cleared in June. But some opponents still suspect Gülenism.

Stephen Schwartz, head of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, calls the movement a "front group" for the religion-friendly Justice and Development Party in Turkey, trying to gain sympathy from influential Americans.

"The Gülen movement wants to support soft fundamentalism in Turkey, and have influence wherever Turks are living," said Schwartz, author of a book on Sufism called The Other Islam.

Gülen denies making a power grab.

"Islam has never offered nor established a theocracy in its name," he told Foreign Policy in its Aug. 5 issue. "Instead, Islam establishes fundamental principles that orient a government's general character."

Future of Anatolia Center
The debates don't affect work in South Florida, the Anatolia center leaders say. For them, there's a more down-to-earth question: How to measure success?

"Actually, we don't know," Bagci said. "We're just trying to show the real Islam."

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