Century Marks

Century Marks

Blending in

Most Bosnian Mus­lims living in America—Bosniaks, as they are called— immigrated during the Balkan wars, from 1992 to 1995. They don’t fit the stereotype of what a Muslim looks like. The women rarely wear the hijab, except for prayers. Bosnians blend into American society fairly well. Bosnian Muslims will often overhear other Americans speaking pejoratively about Muslims. When Bosniaks announce they are Muslims, coworkers and neighbors are shocked (Los Angeles Times, July 4).

The pastor and the imam

On the night of the shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers, Michael Waters and Omar Suleiman had known each other barely a year. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle AME Church; Suleiman is a nationally known Muslim scholar and one of two imams at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Both were at the rally in Dallas protesting the police shootings of black men when a gunman started shooting. Together with some parishioners, the two found refuge at Waters’s church, where they spent the night praying and wondering what they could do to stop violence rather than just react to it. They agreed on one thing: though of different religions and ethnicities, they are brothers (Washington Post, July 10).

Different justice

As states have been moving away from mass incarceration patterns, restorative justice models have become more popular. Thirty-five states now have legislation that encourages using restorative justice. Even without statewide legislation, many police departments have made use of local nonprofits that work with law breakers to try to keep them out of prison. Restorative justice brings offenders and victims together in an attempt to find ways that offenders can make restitution for their misdeeds. The hope is that both offenders and victims will have more empathy for each other. Recidivism rates tend to be lower in such cases, compared to rates in the traditional court system (PBS, July 20).

Learning Arabic

Arabic is an official Israeli language. About half of Israeli Jews have heritages stemming from Arabic-speaking countries. Despite this, only about 10 percent of Israeli Jews understand Arabic well, even though one poll indicated 58 percent of Israelis think it is important to learn the language. The Israeli school system teaches a formal version of the language, not the dialect used on the streets. Gilad Sevitt has attempted to rectify this gap with a series of free YouTube videos teaching Arabic with the name Madrasa (school in Arabic). The language instruction videos have become popular, especially with 18- to 34-year-olds. Palestinians, Jordanians, and Saudis have also used it in reverse, to teach Hebrew. Groups have formed on Facebook and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to study the videos together (The Christian Science Monitor, July 17).

A place to meet

“Independent bookstores are more than the sum of their books,” says Betsy Burton, cofounder of the King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake City and president of the American Booksellers Association. Independent bookstores are “safe havens, centers of community where people go to see friends and neighbors—or strangers who are interesting to meet and talk to—but they’re also refuges populated by booksellers who are not just interesting, and interested, but empathetic.” Burton recalls the morning of 9/11 when her bookstore was mobbed by people not buying books but looking for a place of support, empathy, and community. Independent bookstores, says Burton, are more inclusive than churches, more communal than cultural events, and more intimate than bars (Publishers Weekly, July 15).