British Muslim leaders issue fatwa against would-be jihadists

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 August, 2014 - 09:26

Imams reportedly tell Muslims to oppose the promotion of the poisonous ideology of Islamic State

Muslim leaders have issued a fatwa condemning British jihadists.

The fatwa prohibits would-be jihadists from joining the oppressive and tyrannical Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria, the Sunday Times reported. It said the imams had ordered Muslims to oppose the promotion of the poisonous ideology of Isis in the UK.

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Senior Muslims call for women to have more say in communities

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 August, 2014 - 21:30
Rotherham abuse scandal highlights the need for female leadership in Muslim organisations

More women should be appointed to the highest levels of Britain's Islamic organisations to help prevent repetition of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham, according to senior Muslim figures.

Last week a report by Professor Alexis Jay into grooming within the South Yorkshire town pinpointed a "macho culture" in the town as a factor in perpetuating the abuse, which involved 1,400 cases of child sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013.

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Britain's best defence to the terror threat is international action

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 August, 2014 - 20:52
Government talk of returning jihadis and 'western values' won't keep us safe. We need a coordinated international strategy to defeat those who threaten us

It is always easy to persuade frightened people to part with their liberties. But it is always right for politicians who value liberty to resist attempts to increase arbitrary executive powers unless this is justified, not by magnifying fear, but by actual facts.

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain's threat level should be raised to "severe". Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been "severe" for the past four years as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

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AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against Muslims

Loon Watch - 30 August, 2014 - 19:57

andrea-tantaros-43357 AAJA And MPAC Demand Action After Fox Host Advocated For Violence Against Muslims


The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are demanding action from Fox News after a host linked all Muslims to terrorists and advocated for violence against practitioners of the faith.

In an August 27 statement, the Asian American Journalist Association condemned Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros for making blanket statements conflating all Muslims to the Islamic State and advocating for violence against them. AAJA called on the network to apologize:

AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.

Muslims and Islam are not interchangeable terms with terrorists or ISIS. We in the media know better and must be vigilant in our choice of words.

The AAJA joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in their outrage over the offensive Fox segment. MPAC previously called for the network to fire Tantaros following her inflammatory statements.

The growing call for action from Fox News comes after an August 20 segment of Outnumbered featured co-host Andrea Tantaros discussing the death of journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State. Suggesting that the history of Islam set a precedent for the murder, Tantaros declared that “this isn’t a surprise,” and that the only way to solve the situation was “with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand”:

“Brand Islam” – Commercial Encroachment or an Act of Faith?

Muslim Matters - 30 August, 2014 - 05:40

By Lubaaba Amatullah

Seen from above, the size of the bazaar is incredible, row upon row of colorful stalls selling everything from food to ethnic clothing and books. This is the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) annual convention in Washington D.C., and by the looks of this bazaar, faith has taken a consumerist bend.

Welcome to Brand Islam.

One stall sells t-shirts; from the tongue-in-cheek, “I'm fly 'Coz my iman is high” and “Think I'm hot? Hell is hotter. Lower your gaze,” to the cheerful, “Smile, its sunnah!” Another stall sells halal sweets and frozen foods, packaged to perfection so as not to look out of place in any standard American supermarket. Yet another stall sells designer hijabs, patented “pins-free” styles to silks and cashmeres with a broad selection of jeweled pins and brooches. Many stalls are from local businesses, yet several are from other cities and even abroad; one ethnic wear shop flew in especially from Pakistan, another Islamic book shop flew in from Britain. Brand Islam seems to be truly making its mark – on a global scale.

The bazaar is teeming with shoppers as they make purchases for upcoming Eid or wedding events, stock up on the latest literature, or enjoy the latest in halal savory snacks. Notwithstanding the countless lectures, seminars, and workshops the conference conducts, led by world class speakers, many flown in specially, the bazaar remains a central attraction of the convention. At the end of each day, one overhears attendees speaking of their purchases; the latest book by Professor Tariq Ramadan, a new Emirati jilbab adorned with Swarovski crystals, or a child's new salwar kamiz for the upcoming Eid celebrations.

A few months later, across the border in the Canadian capital of Toronto, is the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference, and the story is much the same. An event that hosts tens of thousands of Muslims from across Canada and abroad, the conference hall is matched in size by its adjacent bazaar hall. Arabic calligraphers design names with flourish. The largest stall is for women's modest fashion, selling outerwear such as jilbabs and long coats, to casual tops and skirts. A store selling beautiful Arabic calligraphy showpieces delicately carved out of wood catches the eye. Verses of the Qur'an and the names of Allah adorn the vast display. One can't resist purchasing a piece – God's name, “Al-Rahman, The Merciful” – a small coffee table showpiece, an affordable token from a pricey selection. The eye however lingers on the gorgeous circular carved, “Ayat al-Kursi, the Verse of the Throne,” a vast bronze creation well beyond budget, although well within dreams.

But is there something unsettling in the commercialization of faith that this bazaar seems to epitomize? Should faith be a t-shirt worn, or a state of mind and heart? Is there something paradoxical in the materialism of luxury hijabs?

Muhammad Haque, an organizer at an American Muslim charity which held a stall at this year's ISNA bazaar, doesn't think so. “The commercialization of Islam has brought products and services that fulfill the needs of Muslim consumers,” he suggests. To Muhammad, the benefit of brand Islam is not only for the consumers, “Doors are opened for entrepreneurs into niche markets who otherwise would have failed to penetrate a mature and competitive conventional market.”

However, there are those who feel commercialization is contrary to the spirit of faith. Rofiqul Islam is a Briton who often attends Islamic events such as the massive Global Peace and Unity (GPU) conference held annually in London. His thoughts on the shifting culture are mixed. “Modern expansion and commercialization is far from the true spirit of Islam. It's driven by selfish ends,” he contends, adding that, “It is by revealing and upholding the truth, Muslims inspired people around the world, rather than commercial culture and marketing of religion.”

Although the commercialization of faith may seem worryingly contrary to the spiritual nature of Islam, there is no denying the attraction it has for Muslims of all leanings. Nabeela Chowdhury, a Canadian who enjoys attending RIS, feels the bridging and unifying factor that comes with the branding of Islam, “To me commercialization of Islam is a good thing because it brings the Muslims together as a large community. By drawing people to events like RIS and ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) conferences, Muslims can feel and show their community spirit while also learning from the live lectures by diverse speakers. Alongside that they can also shop for Islamic goods.”

While a prayer in a mosque may be a more traditionally encouraged form of faith, to many, Islamic products are a bridge to faith for those less inclined to a mosque setting but more likely to seek out quirky new styles and delicious halal food. Yet, branding Islam is not simply about consumer products at major conventions. In a climate where Islam is frequently misrepresented in the press and disproportionately aligned with acts of terror, marketing the faith has taken another role.

Inspired by Muhammad, a British campaign which included a series of advertisements across London's transport services, has turned to commercial culture to strengthen the image of the faith. The initiative saw the marketing of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad's positive message through showcasing successful Muslims who affirm the Islamic Prophet as the inspiration for their positive actions. From converted MTV presenter and environmental activist, Kristiane Backer, to leading human rights barrister, Sultana Tafadar, and Cambridge University Professor, Dr. Timothy Winter, advertisements sought to counter controversial and inaccurate portrayals of Islam.

Whatever one thinks of Islam's growing commercial culture, one fact remains true: it is a culture that is rapidly expanding to match its ever-increasing demand. Each new convention draws an even bigger crowd and ever more consumers to the floors of the mandatory bazaar. Meanwhile, outside the walls of Islamic conferences, the Muslim community is finding ever more creative ways to adapt consumerism to their faith and culture. How this will translate in the long run remains to be seen. For now, however, Brand Islam appears here to stay.

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Book Review: Jesus & The Last Messenger

Muslim Matters - 30 August, 2014 - 05:06

If you're over the age of 20, then chances are that you already have a healthy cynicism for the attention span of people younger than you. You've seen the progression from epic movies to youtube videos and now to 6 seconds on Vine. You've watched as conversations on the phone have been replaced by emails, then text SMS messages and now the 140 character limit of Twitter.

The trouble is that no amount of eye rolling and nostalgia will undo this collective shortening of the average persons ability to focus and concentrate. This becomes especially worrying when you consider it in the context of things that we need to know. One of the foremost things on the need to know list is the life of the greatest man who ever lived – the seerah or biography of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

The book “Jesus and the the Last Messenger” by Adam Rahman seems to be a seerah written for this age. It is short, readable and makes use of lots of white space. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting. Having read most seerah books in English – I'm pretty sure this is the only seerah book you can say those things about.

Of course the brevity comes at a cost. Large personalities and events are glossed over such as the reversion of Umar raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) and the battle of Hunain. However, this is more than made up for by the readability of the book and the way the author avoids turning the seerah into simply a rehash of the different battles involved. I found the chapters on how the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Khadijah raḥimahā Allāh (may Allāh have mercy upon her) first met and then married to be particularly well written and poignant.

The life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is one that is rich in meaning and substance. Every anecdote is worthy of a volume in itself, every sentence could have a book written about it… and that is no hyperbole. Adam Rahmans writing style tends to bring this out in subtle ways. I found myself re-reading about well known events with interest rather than a sense of De'ja vu.

It is becoming incredibly difficult to get people to read anything these days that doesn't involve emo vampires or wizard boarding school kids. “Jesus and the Last Messenger” is a readable and light seerah that is a perfect fit for this generation that does enough to spark the flame of interest for further study and inspiration.

(If you are interested in buying the book then  it is available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook: - The author has stated that all proceeds will go to charity.)

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Walid Shoebat: The Antichrist Will Be A Muslim

Loon Watch - 29 August, 2014 - 22:57


Walid Shoebat

Your Muslim doctor…may be the Antichrist. Your Muslim grocer…may be the Antichrist. Your local Muslim barber…may be the Antichrist! Be on the look out! (h/t:Golden Izanagi)

Walid Shoebat: The Antichrist Will Be A Muslim


Walid Shoebat is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity and now makes a living peddling his anti-Islam “expertise” to various right-wing groups.

Despite the fact that his tale of having grown up as a Muslim terrorist is highly suspect, Shoebat is regularly welcomed onto shows like the American Family Association’s “Today Issues,” as he was this morning, to explain to AFA president Tim Wildmon that Jesus predicted that Christians would be beheaded by Muslims and that the Antichrist would be a Muslim.

Citing Revelation 20, Shoebat declared that “Jesus prophetically proclaimed that the Christians will be beheaded in the End of Days,” which seems to be an odd misreading of this passage, as it was John, the author of Revelation, not Jesus, who said that “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God” when he was taken up to Heaven.

Even Wildmon seemed confused by Shoebat’s claim, but Shoebat continued on undaunted, declaring that a key component of the Antichrist will be the denial of the Father and the Son, which must mean that the Antichrist will be a Muslim.

“How hard is it to unravel the Scripture?,” Shoebat asked. “When I read it, I read it as a Muslim – as a Muslim! – and I saw myself in Scripture as the enemy of God and I repented.”

The rise of ISIS and its attacks on Christians, Shoebat predicted, will eventually lead to a Christian revival in America.

“So yes, this is a curse,” he asserted, “but sometimes it’s like the manure: it stinks to high Heaven but it makes sweet fruit in the end. I know, in the end, that America will be victorious. How do I know that? From the Bible”:

Rick Santorum Discovers Religious Freedom?

Loon Watch - 29 August, 2014 - 22:28


Rick Santorum on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos

For quite some time former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has been squarely in the Islamophobia camp and within that camp he was more on the Louie Gohmert side of things.

Santorum is the guy who said “Muslims speak Islamic,” who said Sharia’ is evil and incompatible with the Constitution, supported religious profiling of young Muslims, wants to impose his own version of Judeo-Christian law and claimed that “equality” comes from his god and not the Islamic god.

Now Santorum has found “religious freedom,” coincidentally just as he is about to release a documentary about recent court cases such as Hobby Lobby that the rightwing frames as a religious freedom issue.

The Week

In a new interview with Vocativ, Rick Santorum expressed some very positive views about the Quran and Islam.

The interview focuses on Santorum’s latest project, a documentary about “religious freedom” called One Generation Away. The film comes from Echolight Studios, of which Santorum is the CEO. One Generation Away will be released next month — exclusively in churches.

One Generation Away focuses on recent court cases, including the Hobby Lobby contraception ruling and a case in which Oregon bakers refused to serve same-sex customers for a wedding. The film “argues that the right to practice religion is currently under threat in the United States,” according to Vocativ.

It’s not just Christianity that Santorum wants to save: When asked about the Quran, Santorum said that he “would absolutely encourage more teaching about Islam” in schools. “Maybe 50 years ago, when Islam had third-world status and not international status — maybe that was different,” Santorum told Vocativ. “But given what’s going on, it’s important to teach it.”

I find the language to be deliberately vague because the question then becomes what exactly will be taught about Islam? Santorum leaves a loophole so he can claim later he means that Islam is an evil religion that should only be studied so people can be aware of its danger.

UK accused of harbouring Libyan cleric who helped aid Islamist insurgency

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 August, 2014 - 19:08
Grand mufti Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani faces possible war crimes charges for urging followers to overthrow Libyan government

Britain has been accused of housing a possible war crimes suspect after the Guardian learned that Libya's highest spiritual leader, the grand mufti Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani, helped orchestrate the Islamist takeover of Tripoli from the UK.

On a day when David Cameron announced tougher measures to tackle the threat from terrorists, the Foreign Office confirmed that Ghariani was residing in the UK, from where he is encouraging his followers to overthrow the Libyan government.

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Since Islamic State swept into Mosul, we live encircled by its dark fear | Laila Ahmed

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 August, 2014 - 18:12
Those of us who remain trapped in our once vibrant city have been plunged back into the dark ages by Isis, with no way out

My days have started with the same conversation for the past two months. One of my brothers asks: Shall we check which roads are clear today? Then the whole family begins to weigh up the risks of staying in Mosul or getting out before we are forced fully back into the stone age. We talk about it around the breakfast table, or as we sit in our living room, eyes glued to the television hoping that news of government formation in Baghdad or decisions in London or Washington to bomb means our nightmare will end. But every day it becomes clearer: our fate is not in our hands.

Since the fighters of Islamic State (Isis) swept into our city on 10 June, we have been living in a state of fear and limbo fear of the brutality of Isis, and in limbo not knowing when, or if, the Iraqi government or international forces will push them out. Half a million people escaped on foot or by car in the first 48 hours, but more than a million of us remain.

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Islamic State requires Saudi Arabia to rethink its support for extremism | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 August, 2014 - 11:38
The Saudi government may deny links to the group, but its promotion of hardline Islam is not something the west can ignore any longer

Islamic State (Isis), now being described in some quarters as the most capable military power in the Middle East outside Israel, is at the top of the global agenda. Naturally, there is discussion of its origins and backers.

It is notable that, in particular, the Saudi government has scrambled to deny any links to the group. In the past two weeks, the usually low-profile Saudi ambassador in the UK sent a strongly worded letter to the Guardian. The embassy issued a press release to the same effect, and last week the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia himself made a statement condemning Isis. This follows a $100m contribution to a UN anti-terror programme.

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Britain's Muslim and Jewish leaders urge followers to 'export peace' to Gaza

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 August, 2014 - 08:10
Muslim Council of Britain and Board of Deputies of British Jews tell followers of both faiths they should 'get to know one another'

Muslim and Jewish leaders in the UK have called for followers of both faiths to "export peace" to Gaza and stamp out racism.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) issued a joint statement on Thursday morning, after Israel and Hamas agreed an open-ended truce.

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Crackdown on British jihadis to include 'deradicalising' scheme from Germany

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 August, 2014 - 19:47
Home Office funding London office of Hayat, which uses kinship and persuasion to counter youth extremism and radical Islam

A German scheme to deradicalise young jihadis through community support and persuasion is to set up a London office with backing from the UK government in a sign that the Home Office is looking for alternatives to punitive legal measures in the fight against radical Islam.

Despite growing calls for a crackdown on radicalised youths, with Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, chief constable of the Metropolitan police, adding to Boris Johnson's calls for a return of control orders, the Home Office is poised to fund the scheme which encourages parents to stay in touch with their children, even if they do go to Syria.

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Call Islamic State QSIS instead, says globally influential Islamic authority

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 August, 2014 - 14:47
Egypt-based Dar el-Ifta urges rebrand to al-Qaida Separatists in Iraq and Syria to stop militants smearing reputation of Islam

Some call it Isis. Others say it's Isil. The group itself prefers Islamic State, or IS. And in the Middle East, its critics call it Da'ash.

Now Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been given a fifth name, and perhaps its oddest: QSIS. Standing for al-Qaida Separatists in Iraq and Syria, the rebrand is an influential Islamic institution's attempt to stop the militant group smearing the reputation of Islam.

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Lock up Muslims who travel to Syria, says Boris

Loon Watch - 27 August, 2014 - 01:00

Conservative Party Conference Continues

Good analysis and breakdown by Bob Pitt at IslamophobiaWatch.:

London mayor Boris Johnson devotes his column in today’s Daily Telegraph (“Do nothing, and we invite the tide of terror to our front door”) to the murder of James Foley and ISIS’s success in extending its control over areas of Syria and Iraq.

Johnson asserts that we “need to be far more effective in preventing British and other foreigners from getting out there”.

In order to suggest that this is a specifically British issue, he adds sarcastically: “I am interested to see how many Belgians are there.” Obviously not interested enough to check the figures, though. A report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation estimated that, as of December 2013, up to 296 Belgians had travelled to Syria to participate in the resistance to Assad. The figure for the UK was 366.

Johnson, however, apparently knows better than the ICSR’s researchers how many fighters from the UK are in Syria. He tells his readers that there are “perhaps five or six hundred Britons currently out there”. Where he gets that statistic from is unclear. Five hundred – the figure suggested by Sir Peter Fahey of ACPO – is at the top of the range of official estimates of the number of people who have gone to Syria to join the opposition forces since the outbreak of civil war there in 2011.

It is thought that half of these individuals have since returned to the UK, while as many as 40 fighters have lost their lives. So the number of people still out there is probably little more than a couple of hundred. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that the majority of them joined ISIS rather than the other anti-Assad opposition forces – who have been engaged in armed conflict not just with Assad’s regime but with ISIS too.

The majority of young Muslims who travelled to Syria would have been motivated, not by the desire to join a murderous gang of fanatics, but by the entirely admirable wish to defend the Syrian people against the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. It seems likely, therefore, that the number of UK citizens who have joined ISIS is in the dozens rather than the hundreds.

Not that any of this enters into Johnson’s assessment of the situation. He writes: “The police can and do interview the returnees, but it is hard to press charges without evidence. The law needs a swift and minor change so that there is a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose.”

So it isn’t just all individuals who have been fighting the Assad regime who are to be automatically categorised as terrorists, but anyone who has visited the conflict zones for whatever purpose. While everyone else in the UK is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Johnson proposes that the principle of “guilty until proven innocent” should be applied to Muslims. He thinks this represents only a “minor change” in the law.

Johnson appears oblivious to the fact that is it precisely such grotesque double standards that intensify the alienation and resentment among Muslim youth and provide the conditions in which a tiny minority of them can fall for the propaganda of organisations like ISIS.

Of course, Johnson isn’t bothered about that. All he’s interested in doing is throwing some red meat to the Tory rank and file in order to further his ambitions to take over the Conservative Party leadership.

Update:  See “Former MI6 counter-terrorism chief warns against rush to overhaul UK laws”, Guardian, 25 August 2014

Syrian Crisis Creating a Lost Generation

Muslim Matters - 26 August, 2014 - 12:26

This is cross post, you can find the original here


Hani Almadhoun
director of donor development at ANERA

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has now registered one million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon to escape the war back home. They account for one fourth of Lebanon's population.

But that figure sadly does not take into account more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees from the Syrian conflict who are now in Lebanon, too. They are not covered by the UNHCR and have found shelter in Palestinian refugee camps that are administered by the UNRWA, the UN agency that is solely responsible for caring for Palestinians. Living conditions in Lebanon's overcrowded refugee camps were already appalling and the influx of new refugees is straining UNRWAs resources beyond measure. Yet, the international community appears to have mostly ignored their plight.

I was in Lebanon to visit projects that the nonprofit I work for has implemented to provide relief and support to Palestinian refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict. My first stop was Shatila camp, five minutes from the center of cosmopolitan downtown Beirut. It may as well have been a world away.

Shatila was set up in 1949 and remains today a maze of mildewy, dark alleyways between ramshackle apartment blocks that are stacked so close to each other the sun never makes it through the windows. Webs of wires and cables hang overhead and kids play in sewage.

I am originally from Gaza, and thought that nothing could be worse than conditions in the camps there. But the night after I went to Shatila, I could not sleep. Believe me, I tried. But what I saw in Shatila was so hopeless. My stomach was upside down. I felt like an only child who had just discovered that all along he had a big family who spoke just as he spoke, valued what he valued, and who lived not too far from where he had lived.

Shatila has little to offer its 15,000+ desperate Palestinian refugees but hundreds still continue to arrive — fleeing the violence in Syria. These newcomers find themselves trapped in a paradox where they have to start again from zero in a place that has virtually nothing to give.

I visited a school named after the Palestinian city of Ramallah where classes are running in two shifts to reach all the children. Yet, access to education for these new refugees is problematic.

Families who fled Syria with just the clothes they were wearing can hardly afford to put food on the table in their makeshift shelters, let alone pay for transportation, school supplies or any education-related fees. Most families are crammed into small rooms or makeshift tents, without proper lighting or sanitation, making it nearly impossible for children to study.

Teenage boys are more focused on finding odd jobs to help support their families and often drop out of class or attend school only occasionally. Some have been out of school for two years or more.

There is rising concern now that a whole generation of future decision-makers and professionals will be lost.

The next day I went up north to Nahr El Bared camp where metal trailers are serving as homes for Syrian and Palestinian families. These boxes were installed as temporary shelters seven years ago in the wake of military clashes that left most of the camp destroyed. Now, rusted and disintegrating, they provide poor protection from the cold, heat or rain. I met a handicapped Syrian man there who had found shelter inside a trailer. Even though the community has little, long-time camp residents collected a mattress, blankets and kitchenware to give to his family. ANERA-sponsored plumbing students installed a new bathroom in his trailer that he can use with ease — something that restores some dignity in his life.

In southern Lebanon I visited the largest camp, Ein El Helweh, home to 70,000. There I met Palestinian refugees from Syria who feed themselves by dumpster-diving and collecting rotten produce from the local market. They are among 60 families living in camp-within-a-camp in makeshift tents. I talked to a father of four whose family was pleased to receive quilts and other relief supplies from ANERA. A successful blacksmith back in Syria, he wondered where he could find work in Lebanon to support his family over the longer term.

Looking around the camp, I spotted Ahmed, a six-year-old boy from Syria who was collecting flowers. I asked, “What for?” He said, “For Auntie Sahar, my teacher!”

Despite all the destruction and uncertainty, this youngster still finds a way make people smile. He, like others I met on my journey around Lebanon's camps were positive and resourceful in spite of nearly impossible conditions. But, for how much longer?

For more than 45 years, ANERA has provided humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinian refugees and marginalized communities in the Middle East.

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