Mayor [of Macon, Georgia] Jack Ellis has converted to Islam and is working to change his legal name to Hakim Mansour Ellis.From Time. Let’s sit back and wait for Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, The National Review Online, and Dennis Prager to start screeching their tired, idiotic bigotry about how Mayor Ellis’s conversion is a threat to the nation. It won’t take long. What's interesting is that part of the reason Ellis gave for his conversion is that his ancestors practiced Islam in Africa. So is his conversion something radically new, or is it a return to ancient roots?
Ellis, 61, a Macon native who was raised Christian, said he became a Sunni Muslim during a December ceremony in the west African nation of Senegal. . . .
Ellis, whose mayoral term expires this year, said he hasn't calculated how his religious conversion might affect him politically. He said he is proud to live in a country founded on religious freedom.
Relatedly, the folks at Chapati Mystery have posted an excellent open letter to Barack Obama about his response to the bogus Madrasa story:
I was hoping that the response would not be to proclaim the horror of being insinuated a “Muslim” (Is it really such a terrible shame that one was born a Muslim?). I was hoping that you’d point out that the word “Madrasa” simply means “school”. . . . You could have simply said, ‘While I am a Christian, I resent the implications in being branded a terrorist-sympathizer merely by association with Muslims. There is no direct correlation between a Muslim and a terrorist despite the demonizing efforts of certain groups. . . .’Chapati Mystery. I can understand why Obama reacted the way he did. There's no hiding from the sad reality that, for reasons too numerous to list, any hint of Islam is totally radioactive in our current political environment. Still, Chapati Mystery has a point. The most courageous response would have pointed out the barefaced bigotry of the alleged charge.
Instead, your campaign sought to play the defensive card. To stress your Christian creditability and to proclaim a vehement distancing from anything “Muslim”. To simply call this story “a malicious and irresponsible charge” at you is wrong. It is “a malicious and irresponsible charge” at the millions of Muslim Americans and billions of Muslims around the world. You may have been the target of this mis-information but the victims are Muslims who must now defend their culture, belief and heritage, while living in America.
Finally, Michael Dorf and company at Dorf on Law pose (!) the question whether teaching yoga in public school is unconstitutional. Long ago, you might remember, the OG blogged about whether yoga positions could be copyrighted.
To follow up on the Bikram Yoga copyright story, it seems India is fighting back against Bikram Choudhury's attempts to monopolize the knowledge produced by ancient India by establishing a digital database of the traditional knowledge of India available to all in the public domain:
In response, India has put 100 historians and scientists to work cataloging 1,500 yoga poses recorded in ancient texts written in Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian. India will use the catalogue to try to block anyone from cornering the market on the 5,000-year-old discipline of stretching, breathing and meditating. . . .USA Today. See also BBC article on the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library. The traditional knowledge of India belongs to all: open source of the ancients.
The government wants to thwart anyone who tries to profit from the nation's so-called "traditional knowledge," from yoga to 150,000 ancient medical remedies. India already has successfully challenged one U.S. patent granted to two Indian-born Americans who used the spice turmeric in a wound-healing product. That patent was revoked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
"Practically every Indian housewife knows (turmeric) and uses it to heal wounds," says V.K. Gupta of India's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, which is developing the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.
When completed, perhaps as soon as December, the digital library will be translated into English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese and sent to patent, copyright and trademark offices around the world.
That way, when someone such as Bikram tries to get a copyright on yoga moves or patents on ancient medicinal cures, those offices could say: "No, that's not original. They've been doing it in India for thousands of years."