For Muslim eco-activists, protesting the L3 Minnesota pipeline is a religious responsibility




by Tasmiha Khan

This storywas originally published at Prism.

Coverage of the fight against climate change in the U.S. often discounts the efforts of Muslim activists, for whom caring for the environment is a religious obligation. However, Muslims have been among those urgently announcing for greater conservation efforts and more sustainable plans, both nationally and within their own communities. Most recently, this commitment to environmental justice has been reflected by Muslims’ involvement in the Anishinaabe-led efforts to protest the construction of Line 3( L3 ), a big grapevine assignment in Northern Minnesota by Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy.

Muslims have joined Indigenous-led protest attempts like tree-sitting and locking themselves into construction equipment to prevent and sluggish pipeline interpretation. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, an environmental justice advocate who marks as a Muslim and has roots in Minnesota as a congressmember, has also passionately resisted Line 3. While protests against the pipeline have attracted media attention, there’s been little to no mention of Muslims’ involvement or why Muslim partisans encounter representing Indigenous land rights and a commitment to environmentalism as natural extensions of their faith.

“Human beings have been charged with trust, that is the time and effective administration of all that has been placed under our ensure and use in our multifaceted character as vicegerants, ” said Imam Saffet Catovic, mentioning channels 33:72 and 6:165 from the Quran about the call for Muslims to be active guardians of the environment. Catovic results divestment campaigns to stop financing of current and future grapevines and affiliates other interfaith members who want their religious communities to constitute environmental justice a personal issue.

Indigenous organizers insure the pipeline as a “double-barreled threat”: not only is it a carbon-producing fossil fuel project in the midst of increasingly severe climate change, the committee is also risks polluting districts in the headwaters of the Mississippi River and polluting territory in Anishinaabe areas. Additionally, pipeline structure has brought in thousands of laborers from out of state despite the ongoing pandemic, produce very concerned about spreading the virus further.

Activists identify the pipeline as another example of how concerns about the pandemic, the health and safety of laborers, environmental damage, and continued ignore for the land rights of Indigenous commonwealths are always superseded by capitalism and profits. For Tasnim Mellouli, the pipeline instantly violates several Islamic doctrines seeing stewardship of the natural environment and the inviolability of preserving one’s agreements. This perspective inspired Muslims like Mellouli to travel from out of state to join the protests.

“In the end, my spiritual connection to nature as a Muslim and my responsibility as a Muslim to fight for justice urged me to join the front line and seek to protect the environment, communities, and uphold the law of the land, ” said Mellouli, who comes from Florida and works in partnership with radicals such as Organize Florida and the Sierra Club.

Protecting the ground and respecting covenants

When the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency( MPCA) issued water crossover tolerates in November 2020, a majority of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned in declaration over the permitting decision, saying in a letter to MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop that “we cannot continue to legitimize and require cover for the MPCA’s war on Black and dark-brown people.” This reverberated with Muslims, who is just coming up a diverse straddle of backgrounds but are all too familiar with racist and xenophobic U.S. laws and policiesthat made them at risk.

Enbridge has a history of pipe sheds, which activists point to as proof that L3 poses an unacceptable hazard, especially to the Anishinaabe races. For illustration, Enbridge had its biggest oil spill on record in 2010, poisoning the breeze with volatile hydrocarbons that thrust hundreds of homes and businesses to evacuate; approximately 150 families needed to move away permanently. L3 would cross 200 bodies of water, including the Mississippi River twice. The expansion would move more than three-quarters of a million barrels of tar beaches every day by demolish wetlands and warning vital areas that grow wild rice, a centerpiece and staple for the Anishinaabe peoples and subjects. Even if there are no runs with L3, it’s still a major investment in fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when climate change is accelerating and the need for cleaner, more renewable energy sources is increasing.

The pipeline likewise flouts several conventions that substantiated the right of the Anishinaabe to hunt, fish, and gather along the proposed route. Upholding conventions is a key component within Islam and any violations of those treaties requests that Muslims take action to correct those wrongs. For Nana Firman, elderly diplomat for GreenFaith, a nonprofit aiming to build a worldwide, multifaith climate and environmental movement, living in America means that Muslims are bound to honor treaty agreements between the U.S. government and Indigenous Tribal Society, and to speak up when those treaties are broken by the state.

“I have an ethical obligation to come to terms with the fact that by being on this Turtle Island, I have entered into treaty relationships with the Indigenous public of this ground, ” said Firman. “These relations come with responsibilities, including knowing the truth about the history of settler-indigenous liaisons, and working to incorporate acts of long-term reconciliation into our everyday lives.”

Environmentalism is a religious indebtednes

Throughout the affirms, Catovic has encouraged attendees at his mosque to participate in Anishinaabe-led efforts and does outreach via email registers to garner assistance beyond neighbourhood Muslim communities. In June, Muslims connected more than a thousand people who paraded, occupied, and propped a prayer ritual on Enbridge’s drilling site on the Mississippi River. There are at present an unlimited encampment of protesters at the L3 site, temporarily foiling Enbridge’s plans to drill under the river. Currently, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is letting the legal process play out as advocates insist President Biden to act.

“We need a lot of work to inform and educate Muslims about these critical existential matters and then mobilize them to act on what they know, ” Catovic said.

For Muslim environmental activists calling for greater conservation and investment in clean, sustainable force , there’s a sense of urgency underlying the asserts as they come about against the larger backdrop of increasing climate change. Excerpts in the Quran emphasize the importance of maintaining ecological equilibrium, biodiversity, and sustainability as a action of caring for the Earth. The pipe stands in direct opposition to that obedience, threatening to contribute the equivalent of 50 coal plants’ worth of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Additionally, its carbon footprint would outperform that of the entire state of Minnesota and extend the economic viability of an ultra-polluting energy source.




Muslim environmental activists are hoping to engage more of their community members with environmental activism, whether that’s encouraging protest against L3 or advocating for clean energy in their own communities. Firman points to how thrust governments and financial institutions to end investment in brand-new fossil fuel infrastructure and conclude tropical deforestation is part of how she defines what it means to be a Muslim. Supporting initiatives like universal access to clean and inexpensive vigor, green responsibilities schooling, and health care and wage support to see laborers through the transition towards a sustainable vitality manufacture reflect the obligations contained in the Islamic faith to adl( right) and rahma( empathy ), Firman said.

“As a Muslim eco-justice activist, understanding the truth and working toward justice are lifetime commitments, ” said Firman. “Sometimes it can feel inconceivable knowing where to start, but the point is to begin somewhere, and to remain consistent in educating myself.”

This reporting was supported through the Kozik Environmental Justice Reporting Grant and both the National Press Foundation and the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

Tasmiha Khan is a freelance writer and has been published in The New York Times, Business Insider, National Geographic, and Vox, amongst other. She embraces topics related to health, race, politics, culture, and religion.

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