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Omid Safi

Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He leads educational tours to Turkey every summer, through Illuminated Tours: http://www.illuminatedtours.com

All Stories by Omid Safi

Beyond the Berlin Wall: “Mr. Obama: Tear Down All These Walls.”

By Omid Safi — June 20, 2013
President Obama poetically stated: "No wall can stand against the yearning of justice," Yes indeed! Mr. President, tear down all these walls. Mr. President, tear down the segregation wall in Palestine/Israel. Mr. President, tear down the wall along the American-Mexico border. Mr. President, tear down these walls.

Sounds of Protest: Les Miserables, Gezi Park, and the Power of Music

By Omid Safi — June 18, 2013
Ultimately that’s what so amazing about music at Gezi park. It’s not about the notes. It’s not about the words, or the melodies. It’s ultimately about us, all of us. It's about the power of music to unite all of us. It's about this new global generation of humanity who care about the well-being of one another beyond the narrow confines of nationality, race, creed, or class, that give us hope. They give us hope that they will be able to sing together, make music together, make love together, and make of this old world, a new world.

A prayer for Syria

By Omid Safi — June 14, 2013
As I listen to the American plans to arm the Syrian rebels, and ponder the 93,000 (and counting) confirmed dead… As I reflect on the crimes of the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad, a prayer rises up in my heart. The answer is not in further arming, but in disarming the whole of humanity.

Unexpected Hope for Iran in the Presidential Elections: Hassan Rouhani

By Omid Safi — June 13, 2013
Iranians are going to the ballot box to choose their next president. After 8 years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is an opportunity to chart a new direction for the country. Oddly, amazingly, and somewhat surprisingly, reformists and moderates/centrists have come together in their support for Rouhani.

Gezi Park is not (just) about what you think

By Omid Safi — June 12, 2013
For many of the activists in Gezi Park, they are saying it as loudly and clearly as they can: The issue is not Islamism, it’s neo-liberal capitalism. So why are we so unwilling to hear that critique? Because it would force us to confront our own demons of economic injustice.

On the Ground at Gezi Park and Taksim Demonstrations

By Omid Safi — June 8, 2013
This is not simply Islamists vs. Secularists. It is tempting to see this as a struggle of Islamicly leaning AKP against secularists. And that would be a mistake. A strong leader, Erdogan, is facing a substantial percentage of his own society who right now do not feel represented, included, seen, heard, and accounted for. It's a great opportunity for Turkey to become an even more vibrant democracy.

Praying for a just peace in Turkey

By Omid Safi — June 1, 2013
What began as an environmental protest now has expanded to something bigger. There are protests in many cities, and the police has responded with disproportionate brutality.

More than reggae: Honoring Marley, a prophetic voice of protest

By Omid Safi — May 11, 2013
Reggae is at its most revolutionary force when it is prophetic, emancipatory, raw, justice-oriented, anti-colonial, imbued with love and life-affirming. And very much like Hip-Hop in this case, what a tragedy to see such powerful prophetic medium commercialized to enable awful, awful drunken dancing. Happy Redemption, O Holy Bob.

God of Thunder, God of Rain

By Omid Safi — May 8, 2013
As I look back on my own life, I see a few periods of dark storms, even thunder and lightning. There were periods where the storms of life came, events that shattered me, or at least shattered my sense of who I was. At the time they seemed to last forever, and it was hard to tell the difference between myself and the suffering. Then they were gone. Those pains were always followed by merciful rain.

Justin Bieber … The Islamist

By Omid Safi — May 2, 2013
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the latest weapon for the Muslim take...over…of…the world: Justin Bieber. In a recent concert in Istanbul, Justin Bieber stopped his concert twice for the Islamic call to prayer (adhan/azan).

Critique, Love, and Community

By Omid Safi — May 1, 2013
Yes, there is need for a liberatory form of criticism against every form of tyranny. And that critique has to be rooted in a deep and abiding love, even when the critique is rooted in a disappointment with how things are now (compared to how they should be). That combination of critique, love, and community is what is needed to bring about meaningful and lasting transformation.

5 dumbest things said about the Boston Marathon Explosions: Fox News, (some) Republicans

By Omid Safi — April 27, 2013
The purpose is not (merely) to expose and ridicule—ok, maybe there is a touch of that—but rather to shine the light on areas of shortcoming that we, all of us, will have to deal with if we are to get to a more beautiful place than we are right now.

10 Essential points about the Boston Marathon bombers, Islam, and America

By Omid Safi — April 20, 2013
It’s not about Islam, or Chechnya. It’s about America. What happens now matters. How we as a nation move forward is critical. Do we turn our attention where it belongs, on comforting and healing the victims of Monday’s attacks, or do we turn into an angry mob accusing all Muslims of a crime that two men committed?

“No more hurting people. Peace.”

By Omid Safi — April 16, 2013
Here was a lesson that Martin Richard, the wise 8-year old, had already learned: If you can, bring joy and love to humanity. If you cannot, and you can, at least cause no harm.

Boston Marathon, Terrorism, and President Obama

By Omid Safi — April 16, 2013
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon, President Obama stated: "Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror." Mr. President, I wonder if you realize how right you are. Mr. President, I wonder if you realize what that means when we are the ones dropping bombs on civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan.
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