Saturday, December 20, 2008

DEARBORN MAN SUES WAL-MART, ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION - TOPDoug Guthrie, Detroit News, 12/18/08
A Dearborn man has sued Wal-Mart for $12 million, claiming the merchandising giant fired him because he complained about discriminatory harassment he suffered on the job at the hands of fellow employees and supervisors.
The lawsuit filed today in Wayne County Circuit Court by Louay N. Kezy, 42, alleges the company allowed anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias and taunting at the Dearborn Wal-Mart. Kezy worked in the stock department from the time the store opened last March until Aug. 14, when he was fired after filing a written complaint with managers. . .
Kezy was born in Iraq but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He immigrated 28 years ago and speaks fluent English, said his lawyer. He doesn't wear traditional Arab clothing or headwear, but his physical appearance clearly identifies his ethnicity, said Ayad.
"They demeaned him, harassed him, called him names. They accused him of being a terrorist," Ayad said. "Supervisors ordered him to do jobs that were unrelated to his duties. They allowed a joke, a game to continue where co-workers would toss a ball near him and pretend it was a grenade, a bomb.
"Wal-Mart allowed this hostile environment to continue and they fired him when he complained," Ayad said.
Kezy's income from the Wal-Mart job supported his wife and children. He has been unemployed since his firing, his lawyer said.
Dawud Walid, executive director of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: "Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not as rare as the general public might think. There is quite a bit of discrimination against Arabs and Muslims in Dearborn, even though there is a large population there." (MORE)
SEE ALSO:
CAIR: AN EMPLOYER’S GUIDE TO ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS PRACTICES - TOP
Click here to view the guide.
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CAIR: INSTANT EDITORIAL: ANTI-MUSLIM JUDGE SHOULD BE SANCTIONED - TOPDeron Snyder, News-Press, 12/17/08
Georgia law doesn’t permit or prohibit head scarves in courts, leaving the matter to the discretion of the judge.
I can understand someone being asked to take off their baseball cap.
But arresting a Muslim woman for refusing to take off her head scarf — which would violate her religion — is indefensible.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has urged federal authorities to investigate the arrest of Lisa Valentine in Douglasville, as well as similar incidents elsewhere in Georgia.
The same judge in Valentine’s case removed a woman and her 14-year-old daughter from the courtroom because they were wearing Muslim head scarves.
His religious intolerance shouldn’t be tolerated.
SEE ALSO:
CAIR: GEORGIA JUDGE JAILS MUSLIM WOMAN FOR WEARING HEADSCARF TO COURT - TOPDaniel Nasaw, Guardian, 12/18/08
A city judge in Georgia has in the past eight days barred two Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves from entering his courtroom, jailing one, and prompting an inquiry from the civil rights office at the US department of justice.
Judge Keith Rollins of Douglasville, Georgia, yesterday ordered Lisa Valentine, 41, to jail after she refused to remove her scarf before entering the courtroom, citing rules governing appropriate dress. Last week, Sabreen Abdulrahmaan was forced to leave Rollins's court before her son's probation hearing because she would not remove her scarf.
"It's a religious right," Valentine said. "It's our constitutional right that we can have our religious practices, no matter if it's a courtroom or not. He's supposed to be handing out justice, not taking away civil rights."
Valentine said she sought to accompany her nephew to a traffic hearing yesterday but was told by a court security officer that she could not enter the courtroom with her headscarf on. She said she refused to remove it and turned to leave, saying, "This is bullshit".
Security officers handcuffed her and brought her before Rollins, who sentenced her to 10 days in jail when she declined to defend her actions at the security checkpoint, her husband Omar Hall said. Valentine, an insurance underwriter, was forced to take off the scarf and don an orange jumpsuit, chained and put aboard a jail bus with men and women.
"It felt like I was naked, because that's how I feel without my hijab," Valentine said. "You could have taken off my clothes and it would have felt the same way."
Her husband phoned an Islamic civil rights organisation and sought an attorney, and she was released without explanation after about seven hours.
"Judge Keith Rollins has inexplicably, blatantly usurped our innate human rights as American citizens," Hall said.
Douglasville police told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Valentine was jailed for violating a policy barring headgear in the court. Neither court officials nor the police department returned calls seeking comment. Reached by the Associated Press, Rollins declined to comment on Valentine's case.
"It's an issue of religious freedom, it's an issue of access to the American legal system," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic civil rights advocacy group, which advised Valentine and Hall on the case. "There are all kinds of implications that you can take form this troubling incident." . . .
"What if you're a Jewish man wearing a skull cap? What if you're a Catholic nun wearing a habit?" Hooper asked. "All would be denied access to this judge's courtroom. We need to know what's going here and why this has apparently been going on for so long." (MORE)
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VIDEO: GEORGIA MUSLIM ARRESTED OVER SCARF - TOP
A head scarf lands a Muslim woman in jail after she refuses to remove it during a hearing.
Click here to watch the video.
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VIDEO - CAIR: MUSLIM WOMAN JAILED FOR NOT REMOVING HEAD SCARF - TOP
Click here to watch the video.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.
"I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," Valentine told The Associated Press on Wednesday from her home, after she said she was unexpectedly released once CAIR got involved.
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GA. WOMAN JAILED OVER HEAD SCARF - TOPJudge jails Muslim woman for refusing to remove her headscarf in courtDionne Walker, Associated Press, 12/17/08
A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her head scarf at a courthouse security checkpoint said Wednesday that she felt her human and civil rights were violated. A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.
Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.
Kelley Jackson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said state law doesn't permit or prohibit head scarfs. (MORE)
-----ADL RESPONDS TO CAIR’S CALL TO REPUDIATE ANTI-MUSLIM COLUMNIST - TOPADL, 12/17/08
Letters to the EditorFive Towns Jewish Times
To the Editor:
We were shocked by Lawrence Kulak's suggestion that Jews should kill innocent Muslim civilians to counter Islamic terrorism ("The Appropriate Response to Islamic Terror," Dec. 12).
Regardless of one's views on terrorism, to even entertain the notion of responding in kind is morally reprehensible and appalling. It is unfair to hold innocent Muslims responsible for the radical views of an extreme minority.
In the Jewish tradition, words have consequences. In this case, Kulak's words crossed the line.
Sincerely,Anti-Defamation League
-----GOODE RIDDANCE? ELLISON’S QURAN CHALLENGER FINALLY CONCEDES IN VIRGINIA - TOPAndy Birkey, Minnesota Independent, 12/17/08
Rep. Virgil Goode, best known for his anti-Muslim statements made after Rep. Keith Ellison was elected the first Muslim to Congress, officially conceded on Wednesday in the very close race in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District.
After a recount, Democrat Tom Perriello defeated the Republican by 727 votes in a district that was overwhelmingly Republican. It was the last undecided House race of the 2008 election, and Perriello’s win puts the Democrats’ gains in the House at 21 seats.
In December 2006, Goode wrote a letter to constituents referencing Ellison’s decision to take his oath of office on the Quran and then wrote, “[T]here will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.”
-----MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE - TOPMunira Syeda, Jewish Journal, 12/17/08I find it appalling that the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which previously said that it would not build on a site were it known that it was a cemetery, continues to build a Center for Human Dignity, despite more than 150 skeletons being dug up at the cemetery under the center's supervision ("Protests Over Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance Spread," Dec. 12). And the claim about Muslims being silent for the past 50 years is just plain wrong. Israel imposed martial law from 1949 to 1966. During that time, any signs of nationalism among Palestinians were crushed. But Muslims in Israel did legally oppose the designation of waqf land as absentee property in the 1960s, lobbied to rebuild and maintain the Ma'manullah graves after the 1967 War, protested the desecration of the graves in the '70s and '80s, and have been opposing the building of the Center for Human Dignity on the cemetery land.This issue is not about politics or victory. It is about respect and fair treatment of the living and dead -- something taught in both Judaism and Islam. Munira SyedaCommunications CoordinatorCAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area
-----CAIR-CHICAGO: IMMIGRATION RAIDS INHUMANE - TOPNicholas Short, Chicago Sun Times, 12/17/08
Thank you for allowing Interfaith Worker Justice to speak out against immigration raids. The December 13 editorial, "U.S. must stop workplace raids, enact immigration reform," was right to point out how inhumane, unnecessary, and potentially dangerous it is for the government to initiate these raids. It is understandable that the U.S. government wants to ensure that its country is secure, but that is not an excuse to strip the dignity and civil rights of those who just want to find better opportunities for themselves and their families. I look forward to reading more editorials that tackle this issue.
Nicholas Short, CAIR-Chicago Intern
CAIR-MN: Minn. Islamic Group Wants Investigation Into Fast-Food Toys Video: MN Family Upset Son Received Religious Toy (WCCO-TV)CAIR-CA: Sustain the Drive for Change in 2009
CAIR ACTION ALERT #555:
Support Georgia Muslims Barred from Court Over Hijab
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/19/08) CAIR is calling on American Muslims and others who value civil and religious rights to send postcards and letters of support to the Muslim women in Georgia who were either jailed or barred from a courtroom in that state because they wished to wear hijab in court.
On Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported: “Lisa Valentine, also known by her Islamic name, Miedah, 40, was arrested at the Douglasville Municipal Court for violating a court policy of no headgear, said Chris Womack, deputy chief of operations for the Douglasville police…Sabreen Abdul Rahman, 55, said she was asked to take off her scarf when she went to the municipal court last week with her son…Halimah Abdullah, 43, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after Rollins held her in contempt of court for refusing to remove her head covering.”
SEE: Muslim’s Scarf Leads to Arrest at Courthouse (Atlanta Journal)
Associated Press reported: “She said she was unexpectedly released after the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.”
SEE: Ga. Judge Jails Muslim Woman Over Head Scarf
“CAIR took up this case to ensure that the constitutional right to freedom of religion is protected for Americans of all faiths,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “It is important to show support for and solidarity with these women.”
Awad said a CAIR representative spoke today at a rally outside the courthouse in Douglasville, Ga., to protest the judge’s actions.
SEE: Woman Jailed for Wearing Head Scarf Gains Support (Atlanta Journal)
In a letter sent Thursday to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, CAIR National Legal Counsel Nadhira F. Al-Khalili called for legal sanctions against the judge.
SEE: CAIR Seeks Sanctions Against Anti-Hijab Judge in Georgia
A copy of the letter was sent to the Judicial District Professionalism Program of the State Bar of Georgia. CAIR also contacted the U.S. Department of Justice, which now says it is looking into the case.
ACTION REQUESTED:
Send postcards and letters of support for the Muslim women to:
Lisa “Miedah” Valentine, Sabreen Abdul Rahman, Halimah Abdullah C/O Council on American-Islamic Relations453 New Jersey Avenue S.E.Washington, D.C. 20003
The letters will be collected and forwarded to the women at their home addresses.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SIKH COALITION GATHER INFO ON BIAS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS - TOP(NEW YORK, N.Y., 12/15/2008) The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), in conjunction with the Sikh Coalition, is urging New York City (NYC) public school students and their parents to fill out an online survey regarding bias-based bullying and harassment.The purpose of the survey is to assess the Department of Education’s handling of bias-motivated harassment in the face of Chancellor’s Regulation A-832, which established a procedure for addressing student-to-student bias-based harassment, intimidation and bullying.All surveys will remain confidential. Immediate Action Requested:NYC public students (KG-12th grade), educators and parents of students (KG-12th grade) who experience, know of or witness bias-based bullying or harassment are asked to fill out a survey here.For more information about students’ rights concerning harassment in public schools, click here.CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.- END -CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212.870.2002, 732.429.4268, E-Mail: alatif@cair.com; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali, 212.870.2002, 718.724.3041, E-Mail: fali@cair.com
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CAIR: AREA MUSLIMS HOST LUNCH FOR THE NEEDY - TOPSacramento Bee, 12/13/08
The Sacramento Valley Muslim community will sponsor a meal downtown on Sunday for an expected 500 needy people.
The lunch is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Grand, 1215 J St. The lunch for the homeless is being held on Eid Al-Adha.
Eid Al-Adha or "Festival of Sacrifice" is celebrated by Muslims commemorating the willingness of prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God. However, God provided a ram in place once Ibrahim demonstrated his willingness to follow God's commands, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Sacramento Valley. (MORE)
SEE ALSO:
N.J. MUSLIMS IMPROVISE NETWORKS TO DISTRIBUTE THEIR HOLIDAY MEAT - TOPNyier Abdou, Star-Ledger, 12/15/08
On a chilly evening splashed with rain last week, Atif Nazir left his office at the Department of Health in Newark and drove to Oak Tree Road, in Woodbridge, where a strip of South Asian and Middle Eastern shops sell everything from jewelry and curry to saris and sweets. Nazir, who lives in Piscataway and volunteers with the Islamic Circle of North America in New Jersey, headed for the area's cluster of halal butchers, where he was eagerly expected.
For the last week, Nazir and some 80 ICNA volunteers around the state have been spending their evenings this way, collecting thousands of pounds of meat slaughtered during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha to distribute in underprivileged areas. (MORE)
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OH: MUSLIMS CELEBRATE EID, DONATE MEAT TO NEEDY - TOPDavid Yonke, Toledo Blade, 12/15/08
Toledo Muslims are donating more than 1,500 pounds of meat slaughtered for an Islamic holiday to the area's poor and needy.
"Fresh meat is something that is really missing in most food banks and shelter homes," Dr. M. Razi Rafeeq said.
The goats, sheep, lambs, and cows were slaughtered by butchers paid by Muslims in accordance with a ritual observance of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice. The holiday commemorates God's sparing of the Prophet Abraham from having to sacrifice his son, Ismail.
The holiday was celebrated on Monday at the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in which more than 2 million Muslims participate.
More than 700 Muslims celebrated the Eid with prayers followed by a community meal at the Masjid Saad in Sylvania, while 500 observed the holiday at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township.
Representatives of those two mosques joined with the Toledo Masjid of Al-Islam in the central city to found the Islamic Food Bank of Toledo. The food is given to anyone in need, not just Muslims, according to Yehia "John" Shousher, one of the food bank's founders.
"Donating meat to the poor and needy has been done before on the local level but only by individuals," Mr. Shousher said.
Dr. Rafeeq, president of the food bank, said donating the meat to the needy follows the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam, and the Islamic holy book.
"The Qur'an repeatedly reminds Muslims of helping the poor, the hungry, the needy, and the orphans," he said.
"The Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, has said that a person is not a true Muslim if he goes to bed with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry. So this is something we are obligated to do." (MORE)
-----CAIR: TWIN CITIES CONGRESSMAN MAKES PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA - TOPRep. Keith Ellison had planned the trip long before the lame-duck session was called to consider a bailout for U.S. automakers.Mitch Anderson, Star Tribune, 12/15/08
Back home he's one of the 535 most powerful lawmakers in America, but last week, on the holiest week in Islam's holiest city, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was just one among the estimated 3 million travelers making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
"You forget who you are - black or white and American or African - and where you come from when you are before God circling the Kabba [the large masonry cubic structure near Mecca] in a two-piece unstitched garment," Ellison said in a CNN interview last week.
Continuing in his unofficial role as America's goodwill ambassador to the Middle East, Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress also became the first sitting member to make the religious journey that all able-bodied Muslims are obligated to make once in their lifetime, otherwise known as Hajj. . .
Though he didn't embark to much fanfare, Ellison's travels didn't escape the attention of those back in the states.
"For our relations with the Muslim world, it can only help to see an American congressman going on Hajj and mingling with the millions of Muslims from all parts of the world in Mecca," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "And from a domestic perspective, it sends a really positive message of religious diversity and inclusion in our society." (MORE)
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MUSLIMS TAKE MESSAGE ON THE ROAD - TOPSherri Day, St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/08
The billboard sits along the eastbound side of Interstate 4, just west of McIntosh Road. But unlike other signs hawking fast food joints, gas stations or amusement parks, this one poses a spiritual query:
"Purpose of Life? 877-WHY-ISLAM?..."
If you call the number you'll reach an office in Somerset, N.J. run by the Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim advocacy group based in Jamaica, N.Y. Once on the line, callers can ask just about anything.
The signs with catchy phrases and images is part of a national campaign by the nonprofit group to promote discussion about Islam and debunk stereotypes about Muslims. For Ramadan, they wrapped Chicago city buses with WhyIslam signs and put up ads on New York City subway cars, which sparked some controversy.
Last week, 24 billboards went up in 18 cities, including Orlando, Portland, Ore., and San Antonio, Texas. Many of them were in cities that do not have large Muslim populations.
"We felt, as American Muslims, our voice was not being heard," said Naeem Baig, the group's secretary general. "We have very limited access to the media, being a nonprofit without big pockets. We felt this was the best way to reach out to the general public." (MORE)
SEE ALSO:
NY: STAR AND CRESCENT JOINS CHRISTMAS TREE, MENORAH - TOPJim Fitzgerald, Associated Press, 12/13/08
When they light the town Christmas tree in Armonk on Sunday, there will be a Jewish menorah right alongside, as usual. There will also be something new this year — an Islamic crescent and star.
And if there are any Buddhists or Hindus in town who want to see their symbols, the town is welcoming applications.
The holiday display, sponsored by the town of North Castle, which includes the village of Armonk, is among a growing number around the country that include the symbol for Islam. (MORE)
---TX: RABBI AT TEMPLE SHALOM IN DALLAS EMERGES AS LEADER IN MUSLIM-JEWISH DIALOGUE - TOPSam Hodges, Dallas Morning News, 12/13/08
Rabbi Jeremy Schneider spends a lot of time talking to Muslims, and wants other Jews to do the same.
At age 32, the assistant rabbi at Dallas' Temple Shalom has emerged as a national leader in Jewish-Muslim dialogue.
"He has been in the forefront of strengthening relations between our two communities," said Rabbi Marc Schneider, president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
Rabbi Schneider whose office boasts not only diplomas but a neon University of Texas longhorn was one of 20 clergy who participated in last year's groundbreaking National Summit of Imams and Rabbis.
He was the only rabbi in a National Peace Foundation-sponsored delegation visiting the Muslim Middle East specifically Egypt and Syria last June.
At Temple Shalom, he preached against "Islamophobia" on Rosh Hashana, pointedly telling his congregation, "We must learn what Islam truly stands for, not from politicians, not from e-mail forwards, and not from the media, but from Muslims themselves by engaging in dialogue." (MORE)
-----MI: UNLIKELY UNION BUILDS POLITICAL WIN FOR RASHIDA TLAIB - TOPArab American to lead 12th DistrictNiraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 12/14/08
When Rashida Tlaib declared her candidacy in May for state representative, she heard grumblings from opponents who said the heavily Latino and black district in southwest Detroit wouldn't vote for an Arab American with a name they couldn't pronounce.
But Tlaib, a Palestinian American, won the seat with the strong backing of the district's term-limited incumbent, who happens to be Jewish. And on Jan. 1, she will become the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature.
It's a story of ethnic cooperation that reveals the complexities of racial and religious relationships in one of the most diverse districts in the region.
"They saw my work ethic, how I reached out" said the 32-year-old Tlaib (pronounced "ta-LEEB"). "I'm a product of southwest Detroit. ... I grew up in the community."
Her election also offers a glimpse into how politics may play out in an increasingly diverse metro Detroit and nation, where minority and immigrant groups typically have pushed for political power by demanding candidates of their particular ethnicity or race. The victories of Tlaib and President-elect Barack Obama show that model may be outdated as people increasingly mix and cross ethnic boundaries. (MORE)
-----NC: DUKE'S MUSLIM CHAPLAIN FACES CHALLENGES - TOPUniversity with Protestant roots now has a place for Islamic students to gatherYonat Shimron, News & Observer, 12/14/08
In September, during the month-long fast of Ramadan, Muslim chaplain Abdullah Antepli arranged nightly meals to break the daily fast for Duke University's estimated 500 Muslim students, faculty members and workers -- a feat never before tried at this Gothic-looking university founded by Methodists.
In December, on the last day of classes, he led Muslim students into a home of their own, a 1,400-square-foot bungalow on the central campus that will serve as the Center for Muslim Life, a place where students can pray, study and eat pizza late into the night.
The twin accomplishments, at the beginning and end of the semester, form an impressive arc for Duke's first full-time Muslim chaplain. But the Turkish-born imam who formerly served as associate director of Hartford Seminary's Islamic Chaplaincy Program, faces a host of challenges. (MORE)

Ga. judge jails Muslim woman over head scarf

ATLANTA – A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her head scarf at a courthouse security checkpoint said Wednesday that she felt her human and civil rights were violated. A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.
Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.
Kelley Jackson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said state law doesn't permit or prohibit head scarfs.
"It's at the discretion of the judge and the sheriffs and is up to the security officers in the court house to enforce their decision," she said.
Valentine, who recently moved to Georgia from New Haven, Conn., said the incident reminded her of stories she'd heard of the civil rights-era South.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hebron: Willful abandonment by security forcesDespite the likelihood that settlers would take revenge following the eviction of the new settlement in Hebron last week, security forces did not prepare to protect Palestinian residents of the city. Settlers made incursions into Palestinian neighborhoods, shot a father and son, torched houses, and caused substantial property damage. Testimony: Settlers attack family in HebronOn 4 Dec. '08, following the eviction of the settlement in Hebron's a-Ras neighborhood ("the House in Dispute"), settlers attacked a family that lives nearby. In her testimony, Raja Matariyeh describes the attack on her home, which included gunfire, stone throwing, and damage to property
60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human RightsTo mark the anniversary, celebrated today (10 Dec. '08), B'Tselem is airing a video tribute to the ongoing global struggle for the realization of these rights. As many rights continue to be violated worldwide, we must fight together to turn the beautiful words of the Declaration into a living reality.
Open discussion with B'Tselem, 17-18 December '08From 17 December, 10 A.M. (Israel time) to 18 December, 5 P.M. (Israel time), B'Tselem's entire team will be available to answer questions posted on our Facebook wall and to discuss issues raised by the public.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Love for Jesus Can Bring Christians, Muslims TogetherBy Ibrahim HooperWord Count: 569
[Ibrahim Hooper is National Communications Director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at: ihooper@cair.com ]
“Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’”
Before searching for this quote in the New Testament, you might first ask your Muslim co-worker, friend or neighbor for a copy of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text. The quote is from verse 45 of chapter 3 in the Quran.
It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. What is less well understood is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.
Other verses in the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the direct word of God, state that Jesus was strengthened with the “Holy Spirit” (2:87) and is a "sign for the whole world.” (21:91) His virgin birth was confirmed when Mary is quoted as asking: “How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” (3:47)
The Quran shows Jesus speaking from the cradle and, with God’s permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the Quran: “We gave (Jesus) the Gospel (Injeel) and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers.” (57:27)
As forces of hate in this country and worldwide try to pull Muslims and Christians apart, we are in desperate need of a unifying force that can bridge the widening gap of interfaith misunderstanding and mistrust. That force could be the message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus and accepted by followers of both faiths.
Christians and Muslims would do well to consider another verse in the Quran reaffirming God’s eternal message of spiritual unity: “Say ye: ‘We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’” (2:136)
The Prophet Muhammad himself sought to erase any distinctions between the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, who he called God’s “spirit and word.” Prophet Muhammad said: “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”
When Muslims mention the Prophet Muhammad, they always add the phrase “peace be upon him.” Christians may be surprised to learn that the same phrase always follows a Muslim’s mention of Jesus or that we believe Jesus will return to earth in the last days before the final judgment. Disrespect toward Jesus, as we have seen all too often in our society, is very offensive to Muslims.
Unfortunately, violent events and hate-filled rhetoric around the world provide ample opportunity for promoting religious hostility. And yes, Muslims and Christians do have some differing perspectives on Jesus’ life and teachings. But his spiritual legacy offers an alternative opportunity for people of faith to recognize their shared religious heritage.
America’s Muslim community stands ready to honor that legacy by building bridges of interfaith understanding and challenging those who would divide our nation along religious or ethnic lines.
We have more in common than we think.
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TN: MEMBERS OF DESTROYED MOSQUE START ANEW - TOPWKRN, 12/10/08
Ten months after a Maury County mosque was destroyed in a hate crime, members have a new building to worship in.
For days after the mosque was defamed and set ablaze, Daoud Abudiab and other members picked through the charred rubble, hoping to save what few items were still recognizable.
"Unfortunately, we were not able to salvage any of that," he told News 2.
They bought a new building in July, but it needed a lot of work and $45,000 in donations was spent on much needed renovations.
"It's a good thing that we have been busy trying to get [the new] place renovated and ready and I think it took our mind off what happened," Abudiab continued.
He said although months have passed, he can't help but drive by the old lot where 10 years of worship burned to the ground in a thoughtless act of hate. (MORE)
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THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO ISLAMIC TERROR - TOPLawrence Kulak, 5 Towns Jewish Times, 12/11/08“Moreover, the only way to deal with Islamic terrorists is the same way in which they deal with their victims. Muslims believe in the literal interpretation of the Biblical doctrine of an eye for an eye, and they do not have respect for anything perceived as a lesser standard of justice. They killed our innocents, and unless we kill theirs, they will go on killing ours.”
SEE ALSO:
FACEBOOK SHUTS DOWN "PRO-GENOCIDE" GROUP - TOPMarshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb, 12/11/08
A fast-growing new group of Facebook users from Bosnia called on Facebook to shut down another group on the site that celebrates the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by the Serbian army in Srebrenica. It appears that the group has been shut down while we wrote this story about it, the link to the group now redirects users to their profile pages with no explanation. Was that the right way to handle it? We're not sure.
Reuters wrote this morning about the Serbian group that reportedly describes itself as "For all those who think that Muslims are best on the spit and while swimming in sulphur acid". The anti-Muslim group's membership grew 20% to more than 1100 people since the Reuters report was published. (MORE)
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VIDEO: CAIR-MI REP AT BORDER PROFILING NEWS CONFERENCE - TOP
View the video here.
The ACLU of Michigan now has a hotline travelers can call to report racial profiling at international border crossings. My TV 20's Jorge Avellan has more.
Dawud Wallid (CAIR-MI):
"Mothers being handcuffed in front of their children in question for undue periods of time and then federal authorities coming to the persons home, even to work places asking questions based upon peoples travel plans."
SEE ALSO:
CAIR-MI: NEW HOTLINE FOR PROFILING AT THE BORDER - TOPWWJ, 12/10/08
It's a new effort to help those who have been racially profiled at border crossings.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the FBI has implemented new guidelines that will allow agents to profile individuals for searches based on race and ethnicity at borders across the United States. The Detroit branch of the NAACP, ACCESS, CAIR and ACLU Wednesday launched a new hotline to report issues.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said since the September 11th terror attacks there's been an increase in profiling, particularly focused on American Muslims at borders.
Walid claims personal property such as wallets and laptops have been taken from people, searched and -- in some cases -- have had information removed.
To file formal complaints, call: 1-313-578-6832 or click here.
---CAIR: HOTLINE SET UP FOR REPORTING SUSPECTED PROFILING AT THE BORDER - TOPGregg Krupa, Detroit News, 12/10/08
A coalition of community and civil right groups announced today the establishment of a telephone hotline and Internet address for quick reporting of any incidents of suspected profiling at the U.S.-Canadian border.
The groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union-Michigan, citied the continual difficulty some Muslims and people of Arab and South Asian descent encounter at border crossings. They also said they would call upon elected officials soon to:
End the seizure of laptops and cell phones at the border without probable cause.
End the repeated detentions of U.S. citizens re-entering the United States from countries in the Middle East.
Hold hearings on the various issues at the border.
Exercise oversight of the FBI, which has been operating under new guidelines in national security cases since Dec. 1.
Beyond the concerns that Muslims, Arabs and South Asians have expressed about what they contend is profiling at the Ambassador and Blue Water bridges and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the FBI on Dec. 1 established new guidelines authorizing a wide range of new investigative techniques, which it intends to initiate without evidence of wrongdoing. (MORE)
-----CAIR-MI: CASE VS. FBI CHIEF, FORMER AG REVIEWED - TOPAssociated Press, 12/11/08
Supreme Court justices voiced concern Wednesday about including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller in a lawsuit that claims prisoners detained after the Sept. 11 attacks were abused because of their religion and ethnicity.
Yet the court offered no clear indication that it was prepared to order Ashcroft and Mueller removed from a suit filed by Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim who spent nearly six months in solitary confinement in New York in 2002.
The case will help determine when Cabinet officers and other high-ranking officials can be sued over allegations that lower-level government workers have violated people's civil rights.
Iqbal, since deported from the U.S., says Ashcroft, Mueller and others implemented a policy of confining detainees in highly restrictive conditions because of their religious beliefs or race.
"We are very hopeful, as the American Muslim community, that President-elect Obama will make good on his promise in restoring habeus corpus," said Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan. (MORE)
SEE ALSO:CAIR-LA: PROTESTS OVER JERUSALEM MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE SPREAD - TOPBrad A. Greenberg, Jewish Journal, 12/10/08
For years, the Simon Wiesenthal Center faced protests and lawsuits over its plans to build a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. The legal challenges, which had halted construction, faded last month after Israel's Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in favor of the project. But the protests against the Los Angeles-based human rights organization continue. In fact, they have taken a new turn, spreading from the confines of Jerusalem to a wide array of groups in the United States.
Last month Israeli writers in Ha'aretz and The Forward sought to put the controversy on the broader American Jewish agenda. Here in Los Angeles, three Jewish leaders signed onto a letter from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that called upon the organization to stop construction of its Center for Human Dignity, a $250 million campus designed by Frank Gehry, which will include a museum, conference and education centers and a library and theater.
At issue is not the museum itself but the three-acre plot of land upon which it is being built.
For the past half century, the land, which was given to the Wiesenthal Center by the city of Jerusalem, has served as a multistory car park, where more than 1,000 Muslims, Christians and Jews parked daily.
But beneath the land lie Muslim remains that are hundreds of years old. Although the cemetery hasn't been used in at least 50 years and has long since been declared mundras -- no longer sacred -- by Muslim authorities, critics of the Center for Human Dignity have charged the Wiesenthal Center with being intolerant in its quest to build a Jerusalem version of its West L.A. museum.
"Building a Museum of Tolerance atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding, will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come," Hussam Ayloush, the director of the Los Angeles CAIR office, wrote in a letter signed by Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of the Progressive Faith Foundation, Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbi Haim Beliak of Jews on First. (MORE)
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SOUTH FLORIDA MUSLIMS USE BUS ADS, HOTLINE TO COUNTER "OBSESSION" DVD CAMPAIGN - TOPMiami New Times, 12/11/08
Remember when a copy of the DVD Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- a film decried as Christian propaganda that seems to suggest Islam leads to terrorism -- was included in a Sunday Herald? And we ripped the daily a new one for not initially explaining the controversial inclusion -- and then later ran an ad for the DVD ourselves (oops, our bad)?
Well, South Floridian Muslims sure do. And the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has launched a campaign to counter the propaganda. Perhaps you've noticed buses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with ads reading, "Islam. Got Questions? Get Answers."
The listed number is for a hotline where experts on the religion answer any question a caller might have about Islam. CAIR has already run similar campaigns in Chicago and New York -- the above photo is of a Chicago bus -- and South Florida was chosen after Obsession was widely distributed here.
"You could say it's a very humble response in regards to Obsession," Altaf Ali, executive director of South Florida's CAIR chapter, told us this morning. The producers of that DVD spent $100 million distributing it nationwide, he says, but CAIR has used only $60,000, the majority of it from South Floridian donors, plastering this region's buses. "We thought there's a lot of misconceptions about Islam. We wanted to create an avenue for our fellow Americans to learn the truth about our religion." (MORE)
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VA. ISLAMIC CENTER TO JOIN INTERFAITH HOMELESS SHELTER PROGRAM - TOP
This winter, beginning December 2nd 2008, the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center is partnering with Volunteers for America and the Fairfax County Government to provide a warm, safe and caring place for the homeless in Northern Virginia. After searching for a house of worship to cover the missing nights in the schedule, Sandra (Sandy) S. Chisholm, Community Interfaith Liaison, Fairfax County Department of Systems Management for Human Services, came to Dar Al-Hijrah's Mohamed Abdelillah, Social Service chairman, and asked him to join the participating area churches in providing temporary overnight shelter for the homeless in Falls Church. Dar Al-Hijrah was quick to take up the call.
"The overnight shelter will be open every night during the winter months and members of our congregation will be providing breakfast for our homeless neighbors each morning, Islam teaches us that it is our duty to care for our neighbors" said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, who serves as Director of Outreach for the center.
Thornell Hancock, Volunteers for America's Development Specialist/Hypothermia Program Co-coordinator for the Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter and his team will staff the area shelters with the help of community volunteers. Some of the homeless are "the working poor, they may be under-employed or just can't afford the rent in this area and wind-up homeless". says Mr. Hancock, "Some of just made the unfortunate 'life choices' ".
Those in need of shelter must register at Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter, there they have dinner and then are taken the short van ride to the mosque or other sites. An array of social services, comprehensive health and employment services are provided throughout the night's program. "This program is designed to help people transition from homelessness into permanent housing," says Imam Johari. The program will run until the spring.
CONTACT: Imam Johari Abdul-Malik (202) 345-5233
Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center is one of the largest and most diverse Islamic Centers in the nation. We are committed to serve the community as a place of worship, education and social service.
-----
NV: A NEW REALITY FOR LAS VEGAS MUSLIMS - TOPPeter H. King, Los Angeles Times, 12/11/08
Masjid As-Sabur, sometimes called "the black mosque" by Las Vegas Muslims, sits on the backside of downtown, amid a mishmash of housing projects, run-down apartments and abandoned lots. Across the freeway looms the Lady Luck casino, its neon sign seeming to mock the neighborhood below.
There is nothing much lucky about this corner of the Crystal City, and a main thrust of the mosque's work involves trying to heal it, with food giveaways, free health clinics, demonstrations against crack houses and the like.
Nonetheless, a visit inside the gated mosque last Friday before prayers found the imam, one month after the fact, still glowing about the election of the nation's first black president.
"The election was everything everybody said it was," said Fateen Seifullah, the 40-year-old imam, or spiritual leader, an African American who spent his early years in the South. "It represents the apology African Americans have been waiting so long for."
In the month since, Seifullah went on, the election "has healed wounds that we didn't even know existed. We didn't know, some of us, that we were carrying that much baggage."
Seifullah offered no whiff of cynicism, struck not a single cautionary note. His unbridled enthusiasm was remarkable, as unexpected as it was informative. I had first met him five years ago in a different context, a more difficult moment. (MORE)
-----IL: HOLIDAYS BRING INCREASED DEMAND FOR GOAT MEAT - TOPWith the meat enjoyed by many immigrant cultures, butchers and farmers are racing to meet increasing want for goatsAntonio Olivo, Chicago Tribune, 12/11/08
As the holiday season hits full swing, immigrants are flocking to butcher shops, meatpacking plants and farms for the food they crave: goat.
Muslims who marked the three-day Eid al-Adha festival that ended Wednesday divided goat carcasses into portions of three—honoring the idea of sacrifice by feeding the poor as well as cooking up the sweetly pungent meat for their families.
Mexicans gearing up for Christmas are pulling out family recipes for birria goat stew. Jamaicans plan meals of jerked goat. And West Africans prepare to use imported burned skin goat to roast on spits or boil in pepper soup.
"There is no comparison!" said Abu Sibou, 42, of the African nation of Mauritania, as he held two sacks of goat meat outside a West Loop packing house. "This is the food we love."
Once a novelty in the Midwest, the demand for goat meat is skyrocketing in Illinois and nearby states, with immigrants from around the globe transforming a struggling livestock industry. (MORE)
-----YOUR SECOND MUSLIM LIFE - TOPZahed Amanullah, AltMuslim, 12/11/08
Looking for more out of your real world life? Finland's cleverly branded Muxlim, a network of English language social media sites, has launched a beta version of Muxlim Pal, a virtual world geared toward Muslims (and non-Muslims), similar to the popular interactive virtual world Second Life or The Sims computer games.
For those of you unfamiliar with virtual worlds (perhaps most of you under 30), these games allow you to adopt an online persona in the form of a customisable avatar in an interactive community with different meeting places, such as beaches, concert halls, and... erm, mosques. Muxlim Pal's Flash-based interface allows users to communicate with each other and perform a number of actions (walking, sitting, eating) that resemble everyday activities.
Muxlim Pal is in trial release only, meaning that functionality, graphics, and virtual space is limited, though a full version with expanded capabilities is expected next year as user input is incorporated. The site insists it is not religious, but rather aimed at promoting a "Muslim lifestyle," though there is obviously a link between the two. In the version online now, your avatar can stop what they're doing anywhere, roll out a prayer mat, and pray. (MORE)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Severe bread shortage in GazaSince 5 November, Israel has sharply reduced the entry of supplies into the Gaza Strip. The action, carried out in response to rocket fire into Israel, constitutes collective punishment, which is forbidden and aggravates the already harsh humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Policeman head-butts Palestinians in East JerusalemOn 5 Nov. '08, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished a house in Silwan, East Jerusalem. While the occupants were being evacuated, a helmeted policeman was filmed head-butting two Palestinians who were at the scene. Following a letter from B'Tselem, the DIP opened an investigation into the incident.
Indictment filed against policemen who severely injured Palestinian in IsraelOn 28 Oct., following a complaint by B'Tselem, the Department for the Investigation of Police filed an indictment against two policemen charged with assaulting Fadi Darabi' and causing severe damage to one of his testicles. The assault took place in April, at a construction site in Israel.
Death sentence for Palestinian convicted of treasonOn 12 Nov. '08, a Palestinian military court in Bethlehem sentenced Ayman Dagharmeh to death, after convicting him of treason for passing information to Israeli security forces. The PA has yet to comply with the clear international trend toward abolishing the death penalty.
Testimony: Israeli naval vessel sails over Gazan fishing boatOn 10 Sept. '08, seven Gazan fishermen were sailing in the zone permitted for fishing by the Israeli army. With no advance warning, an Israeli naval vessel rammed into their boat and sailed over it. The severe damage to the boat left the fishermen unemployed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

LOCAL FBI CHIEF REBUILDS TRUST WITH MUSLIM LEADERS - TOP
Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, 12/1/2008


For months, Sacramento's top FBI agent kept a Muslim prayer rug in his office. It was for Imam Mohamed Abdul Azeez, religious leader of the SALAM Islamic Center in Sacramento, who attended a citizens' academy with Drew Parenti at the FBI office.

Parenti hasn't converted to Islam. He's been trying to convert Muslim leaders who might be suspicious of his agency after 9/11 and the Lodi terrorism case.
And, after years of distrust, Azeez and other local Muslims believe they have found a friend in Parenti.

The local FBI chief has visited several of the area's 14 mosques, ready to answer tough questions. He also has recruited an Egyptian Muslim agent who is known to the community and worships regularly at SALAM (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims) and other local mosques…

What's different is the FBI interaction with the community, said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.

"We're receiving fewer complaints because the FBI's approaching community members with more respect," Elkarra said. "Things have gotten a lot better."
Today, said Sacramento CAIR founder Rashid Ahmad, his group trusts the FBI will follow up reported hate crimes or vandalism at mosques. (MORE)

-----

US MUSLIMS WORRY ABOUT NEW FEDERAL RULES - TOP
Associated Press, 11/30/08


Some Arab- and Muslim-Americans say new Justice Department guidelines that boost the FBI's power to investigate suspected terrorists could target innocent people.

The revised guidelines going into effect Monday will allow agents to use undercover sources to gather information, interview people without identifying themselves and spy on suspects without evidence of wrongdoing.

Critics say the rules will allow for abuses, including more racial and religious profiling. (MORE)

SEE ALSO:

SIKH MUSICIANS PROTEST ORDER TO LEAVE PLANE - TOP
Susan Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 11/27/08


Three Sikh Indian musicians who were ordered off a plane at Sacramento International Airport on Nov. 15 have filed complaints of discrimination and racial profiling with federal transportation officials and US Airways. (MORE)

---

HOLY LAND FIVE CONVICTIONS MARK SAD DAY FOR AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM - TOP
Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, 11/30/08


On its face, the U.S. government won last week when a federal jury in Dallas convicted the Richardson-based charity Holy Land Foundation and five former leaders of providing financial aid to a foreign terrorist organization — Hamas.

But a Fort Worth defense attorney who has been involved in the case since 2005 called the prosecution shameful and compared the 42-day trial to some of the darkest days in American history.

Attorney Greg Westfall, one of eight lawyers on the case, sat in his downtown office Wednesday — two days after the guilty verdicts had been handed down on all 108 counts — and looked dejected.

After years of silence because of a gag order in the case, Westfall was ready to talk.

He began by pointing to a published story in which Richard Roper, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, was quoted as saying, "This is a great day in the United States. We will not tolerate those who fund terrorism."

"A great day for the United States?" Westfall asked rhetorically and emphatically. "Yeah, like Dred Scott was a great day for the United States. Like the 'Red Scare’ was a great day in America."

-----

SO WHY DON'T OTHER MUSLIMS CONDEMN THE TERRORISTS? - TOP
Jeffrey Weiss, Dallas Morning News, 12/1/08


The question comes up every time there's an attack by terrorists who say they're acting in the name of Islam. "If all the other Muslims are so peaceful, why don't they condemn these attacks." As I've pointed out before: They do. But it doesn't generally get much play.

I was off last week (I hope your TG was a good one) during the main -- and horrible -- religion news from Mumbai. Amidst the hundreds of other terrible stories, that the killers managed to target what may have been the only concentration of Jews in thousands of miles had me thinking of an old Jewish joke that has a Jewish man dying and, once he gets to heaven, asking to see God. "Is it true the Jews are the Chosen People?" he asks the Almighty. "Yes," God replies. And the punchline: "Then would you mind choosing someone else for a while?"

Back to my point: My e-box includes condemnations of the latest killings from CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations), two networks of Indian-American Muslims, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a lesser-known Muslim set, and an interfaith group that includes Muslim members. I'm sure that there are more such that didn't land in my box. (MORE)

SEE ALSO:

MUMBAI ATTACKS "SENSELESS AND INEXCUSABLE" - TOP
Times of India, 11/28/08


NEW YORK: An Islamic civil rights group in America has condemned the "senseless and inexcusable" terror attacks in Mumbai, while asking the Indian government to protect its citizens from possible retaliatory violence.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group for Muslims, said the "cowardly attacks" were "senseless and inexcusable acts of violence against innocent civilians."

"American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens of all faith in repudiating acts of terror wherever they take place and whomever they target," CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

The Washington-based group, in a statement also asked the Indian government to protect its citizens from any retaliatory attacks that might take place following the incident. (MORE)

---

AL-QAIDA'S NO. 2 LEADER DOESN'T SPEAK FOR MUSLIMS - TOP
Detroit News, 11/28/08


In the wake of Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri's speech against America and President-elect Barack Obama, I'd like to make it extremely clear that al-Qaida does not speak for Muslims ("Al-Qaida's No. 2 insults Obama," Nov. 20).

From Senegal to Indonesia, Muslims have celebrated Obama's victory. Moreover, American Muslims overwhelmingly supported the president-elect -- 90 percent, according to a post-election poll conducted by the American Muslim Taskforce.

It is quite evident that Al-Qaida is worried that its old talking points of painting America as a racist imperial power may not persuade a fringe pool of potential new recruits to wage terror against a nation that has elected a president who is the son of a Kenyan with the middle name of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. Muslims around the globe view Obama's election as a clear sign that America has taken a big step toward the fulfillment of its principle of racial equality. Hopefully, this will translate into a more brotherly, not paternal, relationship between America and the so-called Third World.

Al-Zawahiri used the race card by calling Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "house slaves," while twisting the words of civil rights leader El-Hajj Malik Shabazz -- also known as Malcolm X. Al-Zawahiri endorses the slaughter of women and children and suicide bombings of mosques in which fellow Muslims pray, so his usage of racial slurs is not surprising.

Malcolm X, who has been honored with a U.S. postage stamp, never endorsed the mass murder of civilians and attacks upon houses of worship, acts that Al-Qaida commits with frequency. In fact, at the end of his life, Malcolm X vigorously preached the Islamic teaching of racial equality and respect for the family of man.

Dawud Walid
Executive Director
Council on American Islamic Relations -- Michigan
Southfield

-----

WEARING RELIGIOUS ATTIRE IN THE WORKPLACE: IT'S YOUR RIGHT! - TOP
Zayda Rivera, Diversity Inc, 12/2/08

If your employer ever tells you that you can't wear religious attire at work, tell him or her about Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects people of all religious beliefs and requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodation" to allow employees to practice their religion.

Take, for example, the case of Bilan Nur, a refugee from Somalia who got a job at Alamo Car Rental in Phoenix and wore a hijab, or headscarf, during Ramadan. When met with resistance about wearing the hijab, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Nur agreed to wear a company-approved scarf with the Alamo Car Rental logo on it. Still, eight days before Ramadan ended in December 2001, the company fired Nur and declared her ineligible for rehire. (MORE)

Thomas hate monger

THANK FOX FOR 'SIMPSONS' EPISODE CHALLENGING ISLAMOPHOBIA

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 12/3/08) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on American Muslims and other people of conscience to thank the Fox television network and the creator of "The Simpsons" for a recent episode that used comedy to challenge Islamophobia.

The episode, which aired Sunday evening and is titled "Mypods and Boomsticks," highlights anti-Muslim sentiment by featuring a young Muslim character named Bashir and his family who face prejudice after moving to Springfield. In the program, Homer Simpson wrongly suspects that Bashir's family is involved in a terror plot. Bart Simpson befriends Bashir and defends him from bullies.

To view the entire episode, click here.

CAIR's Greater Los Angeles Area office (CAIR-LA) sent a letter today to the show's creator Matt Groening thanking him for challenging anti-Muslim prejudice.

The letter said Sunday's episode "brought to light how Americans can work toward mutual respect and inclusion by getting to know their neighbors." It went on to state: "The episode also builds on the values that have made America the great nation it is a nation in which citizenship is about finding common ground and building a better society. American Muslims have been doing just that by making daily contributions to our society that often go unrecognized."

"Because of its acceptance in popular culture, comedy is often one of the best vehicles for challenging stereotypes and intolerance," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Fox and Matt Groening are to be congratulated for tackling the disturbing phenomenon of Islamophobia."

ACTION REQUESTED:

Send a message expressing appreciation for highlighting both anti-Muslim attitudes and the need for mutual respect and inclusion in our society.

E-Mail: peter.liguori@fox.com (Peter Liguori, Chairman, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co.); dana.walden@fox.com (Dana Walden, Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Television); gary.newman@fox.com (Gary Newman, Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Television) COPY TO: info@losangeles.cair.com

-----

CAL THOMAS: NO NEW AMERICAN MOSQUES - TOP
Cal Thomas' incomplete 'solution' to Islamic terrorism
Jeffrey Weiss, Dallas Morning News, 12/2/08


From Cal Thomas' latest column, in response to the attack on Mumbai:

At the very least, all non-Western immigrants to Britain and America should be told prior to their arrival that our intention is to westernize them. They must learn English, study and embrace the history of their host nation and, if they are Muslim, they will be allowed to worship only in existing mosques. No new ones should be built. Existing mosques must be monitored to make sure that hate is not taught and aggressive behavior toward their host countries is not promoted. If such behavior and speech are detected, the mosques should be closed and the imams arrested or deported.


Leave the First Amendment aside for a moment (in the US, anyway). His prescription lacks some practical details. How would he propose controlling worship? Ankle bracelets with audio transmitters? After all, both the 9/11 attack and the Mumbai attack were carried out by groups that would fit into a large living room -- no standalone mosque needed.

And who defines what "hate" is? Would he allow that kind of monitoring in churches? Say, this one? Or this one? There are parts of this country where a majority of citizens consider support of "gay marriage" as hateful. And other parts where the vice is versa. Ditto on the two sides of the abortion debate. Who gets to decide? Not all slopes are equally slippery, I aver. And he's right that this is a tough problem. But is this the right answer? Or even a possible one?

[Note: Cal Thomas claims to be the America's most widely read nationally-syndicated columnist. To read his column on this subject, click here.]

ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE.)

Send polite comments to Cal Thomas' distributor, Tribune Media Services:

Ms. Mary Elson
Managing Editor
Tribune Media Services

E-Mail: melson@tribune.com
COPY TO: info@cair.com

-----

CAIR-SFL: RACISM REJECTED - TOP
Altaf Ali, Miami Herald, 12/3/08


The Nov. 29 letter Muslims mum? asserts that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) did not condemn Ayman al-Zawahri's recent video criticizing President-elect Barack Obama with racist rhetoric.

In fact, CAIR issued a statement on Nov. 19 that read in part: ``As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith. The legitimate grievances of Muslims in many areas of the world can never serve as an excuse or a justification for attacks on civilian populations. We once again repudiate al Qaeda's actions, rhetoric and worldview and restate our condemnation of all forms of terrorism and religious extremism.''

CAIR took particular offense to al-Zawahri's use of the offensive term ''house Negro'' in reference to Obama. Islam rejects racism and seeks universal peace and brotherhood. We repudiate any and all uses of racial slurs or insults.

links to news

Weekly Media Watch # 30, November 20-26, 2008

Institute for Research and Studies of Muslim Minorities (IRSMM)

E-mail: irsmmpk@gmail.com







Contents

Asia

India

Sri Lanka

Myanmar/ Arakan

Thailand/ Pattani

Philippines/ Mindanao

Israel/ Occupied Jerusalem

Hong Kong

Africa

Kenya

Uganda

Ghana

Congo

Europe

United Kingdom

France

Russia

Germany

Romania

Netherlands

Bulgaria

Serbia

Italy

Americas

United States of America







Bismillah-i-Rahman-i-Raheem







India



Historic buildings lost to India's urban boom
The Christian Science Monitor

November 26, 2008



http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1126/p07s02-wosc.html


Hyderabad bodybuilder Mohtesham wins medal for India at world championship
Two Circles

November 23, 2008



http://www.twocircles.net/2008nov23/hyderabad_bodybuilder_mohtesham_wins_medal_india_world_championship.html





Top doctors in Azamgarh are Muslims
Two Circles

November 23, 2008



http://www.twocircles.net/2008nov23/top_doctors_azamgarh_are_muslims.html





Sri Lanka





Sri Lanka: Another political party in Sri Lanka to strengthen Muslim voice

Muslim News, UK

November 27, 2008



http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=15220





Myanmar/ Arakan



Forced labor for growing winter crops in Maungdaw

Kaladan Press

November 25, 2008



http://www.kaladanpress.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1639&Itemid=2





Forced labor for dam in Kyauktaw Township

Kaladan Press

November 24, 2008



http://www.kaladanpress.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1638&Itemid=2





Junta forces villagers to grow sun flower, pulse and potato

Kaladan Press

November 20, 2008



http://www.kaladanpress.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1633&Itemid=2





Clash between police and villagers

Kaladan Press

November 20, 2008



http://www.kaladanpress.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1632&Itemid=2





Thailand/ Pattani



Ranger injured in gunfight

Bangkok Post, Bangkok

November 26, 2008



http://www.bangkokpost.com/261108_News/26Nov2008_news09.php





Weapons seized from insurgent's home

Bangkok Post, Bangkok

November 24, 2008



http://www.bangkokpost.com/241108_News/24Nov2008_news10.php





Democrats claim graft rife in South funding

Bangkok Post, Bangkok

November 21, 2008



http://www.bangkokpost.com/211108_News/21Nov2008_news16.php







Philippines/ Mindanao




MILF: Supreme Court also have blood stains in their hands
Luwaran.com

November 24, 2008



http://www.luwaran.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=403:milf-supreme-court-also-have-blood-stains-in-their-hands&catid=81:moro-news&Itemid=197





MILF to gov't: Civilians armed, are they civilians or combatants?
Luwaran.com

November 20, 2008



http://www.luwaran.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=399:milf-to-govt-civilians-armed-are-they-civilians-or-combatants&catid=81:moro-news&Itemid=197





Israel/ Occupied Jerusalem



Hebron settlers desecrate mosque
BBC News

November 20, 2008



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7739433.stm





Hong Kong



Hong Kong On Islamic Banking Track

Islamonline.net

November 25, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227616294372&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





Kenya



Kenya: Leaders' fury over arrest of 76 Muslim women

Muslim News, UK

November 26, 2008



http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=15200





Uganda



Minister Joins Islamic Society
New Vision

November 24, 2008



http://allafrica.com/stories/200811250048.html





Kigongo Opens Mayuge Mosque
New Vision

November 23, 2008



http://allafrica.com/stories/200811240722.html





Rebels Muslims Seek Own Mufti
The New Vision

November 18, 2008



http://allafrica.com/stories/200811190085.html





Ghana



Hajj 2008 - So Far, So Good
The Accra Daily Mail

November 20, 2008



http://allafrica.com/stories/200811210740.html



Congo



Aboutreika Inspires Congolese to Islam

Islamonline.net

November 24, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227019237348&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





United Kingdom



Sharia law should be introduced into legal system, says leading barrister
Telegraph

November 26, 2008



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/3523672/Sharia-law-should-be-introduced-into-legal-system-says-leading-barrister.html





Islamic centre planned for town
BBC News

November 25, 2008



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_west/7735533.stm





New Leeds mosque proposal gets go-ahead
Yorkshire Evening Post

Novemver 24, 2008



http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/New-Leeds-mosque-proposal-gets.4723397.jp





London 'is home to Islamic finance'

Gulf Daily News

November 24, 2008



http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=235571&Sn=BUSI&IssueID=31249





Besieged Birmingham Muslims

Islamonline.net

November 20, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227019141674&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





France



France says 50,000 Muslims to go to Holy Haj

World Bulletin

November 19, 2008



http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=31721





Russia



Ingushetia in 'state of civil war'
BBC News

November 23, 2008



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7743551.stm





Germany



German Police Arrest Two in Connection With Islamist Web Site
Deutshe Welle

November 26, 2008



http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3821556,00.html





Germany Reluctant on Islamic Finance

Islamonline.net

November 23, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227019208045&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





German ban on Hizbullah TV doesn't surprise broadcaster

Muslim News, UK

November 23, 2008



http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=15187





Romania



Romania Muslims in Unity Hajj

Islamonline.net

November 21, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227019133989&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





Netherlands



Holland Extends Niqab Ban to Colleges

Islamonline.net

November 26, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227719795761&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout





Dutch Islamic schools need to shape up
Radio Netherlands

November 21, 2008



http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/region/netherlands/081121-islamic-schools-mc







Bulgaria



The Office of the mufti intends to build at least a 5-storey mosque in the Sofia district "Malinova dolina"

News Bg

November 26, 2008



http://international.ibox.bg/news/id_317375768





Serbia



Witness claims amnesia at Wahabi trial in Serbia
Serbianna
November 24, 2008

http://www.serbianna.com/blogs/newspost/?p=1009


Pilgrim Farewell amid Serb Muslim Rivalries
Balkan Insight

November 19, 2008



http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/14932/





Italy



Italian Muslims hail Muntari

Ghana News

November 25, 2008



http://news.myjoyonline.com/sports/200811/23163.asp





9/11 impacts Muslim immigrants in Italy

World Focus

November 19, 2008



http://worldfocus.org/blog/2008/11/19/911-impacts-muslim-immigrants-in-italy/2825/







United States of America





Sharia Billboard in Detroit Sparks Controversy

Right Side News

November 25, 2008



http://www.rightsidenews.com/200811252764/culture-wars/sharia-billboard-in-detroit-sparks-controversy.html




Charity guilty of funding terror
BBC News

November 25, 2008



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7747187.stm





N. Dallas Muslims, Jews Fight Prejudice

Islamonline.net

November 21, 2008



http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1227019150161&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout
FOX RECEIVES OVERWHELMING RESPONSE TO ‘SIMPSONS’ EPISODE ON ISLAMOPHOBIA - TOP

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 12/4/08) Following an action alert sent out yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Fox television network reported receiving an overwhelming positive response from community members about a recent episode of “The Simpsons” that challenged anti-Muslim stereotypes.

The episode, which aired Sunday evening and is titled "Mypods and Boomsticks," highlights anti-Muslim sentiment by featuring a young Muslim character named Bashir and his family who face prejudice after moving to Springfield. In the program, Homer Simpson wrongly suspects that Bashir's family is involved in a terror plot. Bart Simpson befriends Bashir and defends him from bullies.

To view the entire episode, click here:


SEE: Thank Fox for 'Simpsons' Episode Challenging Islamophobia


To view CAIR’s letter to “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, click here.


Because of the number of positive e-mails Fox is receiving, CAIR is asking community members to send notes of appreciation to a new e-mail address that has been set up by the network’s diversity department.

ACTION REQUESTED:

Send future messages expressing appreciation for the episode to:

Peter Liguori, Chairman, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co.; Dana Walden, Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Television; Gary Newman, Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Television.

E-mail: diversity.quest@fox.com
COPY TO: info@losangeles.cair.com
Fax: (310) 969-0210

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CAIR REFUTES WIESENTHAL CENTER’S ‘FALSE CLAIMS’ ON MUSLIM CEMETERY - TOP

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 12/4/08) The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) said today that it has sent a letter to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center addressing what the Islamic civil rights group called “false claims” the center is using to justify building a museum of “tolerance” on a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

According to historians, the planned museum site was once the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine. Companions of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Islamic jurists and scholars are said to be buried there. The Israeli government go-ahead on Oct. 29 for construction of the museum came only after a lengthy court battle.

The Wiesenthal Center has falsely claimed that the land it is building on is a parking lot and that there have been no protests regarding building on the cemetery in the past 50 years.

SEE: An Intolerable Spot for a Museum (Forward)


In the letter to the Wiesenthal Center, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush stated in part:

“As stated in our initial letter, the cemetery land, along with other property in the waqf Islamic trust, was designated as ‘absentee property’ when West Jerusalem came under Israel’s control after 1948. The land was ruled no longer sacrosanct in 1964 by a body called the ‘Islamic Sharia Court,’ whose members were appointed by Israel and largely distrusted by the Muslim population. In violation of international law, the land was then designated by Israel as public open space, and the municipality built a parking lot over it.

“Your additional claim that there has not been any opposition to the building of the parking lot ignores the fact that Israel imposed martial law on Palestinians from 1949 to 1966. Under this martial law, Israel ensured that any indications of national spirit or identity among Palestinians were quickly and forcefully crushed. Despite this, Muslims in Israel did legally oppose the designation of waqf land as absentee property in the 1960s, lobbied to rebuild and maintain the Ma’manullah graves after the 1967 war, protested the desecration of the graves in the 70s and 80s, and have been opposing the building of the Center for Human Dignity on the cemetery land. One cannot blame Muslims in Israel for sounding their claims upon deaf ears.

“…the land on which you plan to build is the site of a Muslim cemetery, a historic landmark, and a place revered by many. The Israeli Supreme Court’s decision cannot erase the fact that more than 150 skeletons have been unearthed at the cemetery, under the Wiesenthal Center’s supervision. Neither can the Court’s ruling erase the historic and religious value of the cemetery. You may claim the legal power to build the museum on the cemetery, but you do not possess the moral right to carry out such plans.”

SEE: CAIR-LA Response to Wiesenthal Center’s Letter


CAIR-LA has launched an online petition drive to halt the desecration of the Muslim cemetery.

SEE: Urge Wiesenthal Center to Halt Construction of Museum on Muslim Cemetery

In November, CAIR-LA and three American Jewish groups called for a halt to the Wiesenthal Center’s building plans.

SEE: Joint Letter from U.S. Muslims and Jews to the Wiesenthal Center
SEE ALSO: U.S. Muslims, Jews Ask Wiesenthal Center Not to Build on Muslim Cemetery


CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847 or 714-851-4851, E-Mail: info@losangeles.cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

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CAIR-FL: HERE'S A CHANCE TO KNOW YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS - TOP
Altaf Ali, Miami Herald, 12/4/08


Over the past several years, the image of Islam and Muslims has plummeted to the deepest depths of misunderstanding. The Muslims who have hijacked our faith and taken front and center stage do not demonstrate the desire for peace shared by most believers, and for the most part have offended and harmed not only people of other faiths but also followers of Islam.

This trend continues unabated and those who truly adhere to Islam and try to speak out against terrorism have been sidelined. Their voices, although loud and clear, were not covered in the mainstream press.

Last week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India's financial capital, which left at least 174 people dead and many more injured, have added to our collective despondency.

It is high time that Muslim Americans make sure our voices are heard and define our faith for ourselves. As Muslims and as Americans, we should never let terrorist groups falsely claim to represent us or Islam. In addition to repudiating and condemning all forms of terrorism and religious extremism, we have to take a proactive stance in accurately portraying our faith.

We Muslim Americans owe it to our fellow Americans to put their fears at ease. It is our moral and ethical obligation to let our friends, neighbors and colleagues know the truth. We can no longer afford to be sidelined.

Two years ago, the fear-inducing documentary Obsession infiltrated the synagogues in South Florida, and just before this year's presidential election they were distributed to newspaper subscribers in swing states in an attempt to prey on fear and foster guilt by association.

Responding to the stereotyping and misunderstanding fostered by such initiatives, on Nov. 25 the Muslim community in South Florida embarked on a historical project and launched the Bus Ad Campaign. This initiative offers fellow Americans the opportunity to learn the truth about Islam.

For eight weeks, the Miami-Dade and Broward counties' transit systems will display colorful banners about Islam on the sides of 120 local buses. Floridians of all faiths are invited to call 1-888-ISLAM-55 or visit www.CallingIslam.com to discover accurate information about Islam and Muslims.

Even though we have been speaking out, many of our fellow Americans have not heard us; now they can. This project creates an avenue for dialogue and friendship. Through a direct line of communication, all Americans will be able to make an informed decision about Muslims and Islam.

Already on the second day of the campaign, an upset individual, whose call ended up in my queue, asked why Muslims wanted to dominate the world by converting everyone to Islam. After a 20-minute discussion we parted as friends: a Christian and a Muslim who found we had more in common than differences. Stereotypes were dispelled and the truth was told.

With all good things come challenges. Not only will there be success stories but also difficult stories. For example, the first caller I talked to was so livid about the campaign that his language was littered with profanity.

We will not change the mind of every caller, but we will create bridges with those interesting in exchanging views.

We hope that Floridians will gain exposure to the true essence of Islam and better understand their Muslim neighbors through this campaign, setting the foundation for a more harmonious society and fostering respect and understanding. Most important, our fellow Americans will know that the voices of extremism run contrary to the sentiments of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim Americans and the millions of Muslims worldwide.

Ninety-nine percent of the funds used for this campaign came directly from donations from Muslims in Florida. The way the Muslim community in South Florida embraced this project and supported it wholeheartedly demonstrates that the majority of Muslims want to reach out in understanding. The inauguration of the Bus Ad Campaign is a step in the right direction.

Altaf Ali is executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The article was written for Common Ground News Service.

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CAIR-NJ SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR ITS MUSLIM YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM - TOP

CAIR-NJ’s Muslim Leadership Program (MYLP) is designed to empower American Muslim youth and to help develop and nurture skills to become Muslim leaders/activists. This program is designed to help youth to better face the challenges they encounter in post 9/11 America and to encourage them to explore careers in Communications/Media, Civil Rights and Politics/Public Office.

WHAT: Muslim Youth Leadership Program (MYLP)
WHEN: Saturday, January 3, 2009 from 10 a.m. 5 p.m.
WHERE: Princeton University
REGISTRATION FEE: There is a $25 registration fee per participant to cover lunch and seminar materials.
ELIGIBILITY: Open to high school and college students (will also consider recent graduates)
ENROLLMENT: To be considered for the MYLP, please submit a 2 page essay on: "The challenges that Muslims face in America and how I propose to overcome them."
DEADLINE: Essays must be submitted by Monday, December 15, 2008 to Afsheen Shamsi at ashamsi@cair.com.

Overview of the MYLP:

Perception of Islam & Muslims: How do we affect change? What is the current public perception of Islam & Muslims? How do we ensure accurate & fair representation of Muslims in America? How do we successfully challenge public expressions of bigotry? How do we deal with Media effectively, blogging, U-tube, other? Encourage youth to explore internships at NJ papers / news outlets.

Know Your Rights: Learn about the Law. Discuss actual incidents that arise in schools or colleges. How to respond to religious discrimination and your rights per constitution and law.

Political Activism: How do we successfully influence political decisions? Why is it important for Muslims to become politically active? Structure of Congress and how to get your message across effectively. Encourage Muslim Youth to explore internship opportunities at the offices of NJ Congressmen.

Social Activism: How do Muslims affect positive change in society and thereby demonstrate that we are contributing members of American society?

Group Projects: The students will be divided into groups and will work on developing projects to impact change in our society.

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NJ: CENTRAL JERSEY MUSLIMS PREPARE FOR SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE - TOP
Bob Makin, Courier News, 12/3/08


For 10 years, Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in South Brunswick has led a pilgrimage to Mecca during the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha in celebration of Abraham's call to sacrifice Ishmael.

Known as Hajj, the pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are commanded to make Hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Chebli said he feels blessed to have been many more times than that as spiritual leader of the Monmouth Junction mosque. This year, he is traveling with a group of 20, including two families from the Piscataway-based Muslim Center of Middlesex County. They left Nov. 26 from Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. Eid will take place sunset Dec. 7 through the following day. . .

CHARITABLE CAUSE

For those not making Hajj this year, Bridgewater-based Muslims Against Hunger is offering an opportunity to fulfill another pillar of Islam: charity.

In honor of Eid al-Adha, as well as a variety of other faiths' winter holidays, the local hunger organization will launch its 1,500 Meals in 15 Days campaign from Dec. 13 to Jan. 3 at soup kitchens throughout New Jersey, as well as in New York and Maryland. Local stops will include Plainfield, New Brunswick, Rahway and Morristown. (MORE)

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HOW DOES YOUR RELIGION GIVE THANKS?: ISLAM - TOP
Zakariya Dehlawi, The Daily of the University of Washington, 12/4/08


The concept of thanks in Islam is very important. Our gratitude is always directed toward God, since it increases our taqwa, or God consciousness, reminding us that God is the creator and sustainer of everything. Even when we thank other people, we tie it back to God.

There are several different phrases Muslims use when thanking God, and some of them depend on the context; I will try to illustrate a few. I offer my usual disclaimer and apologize in advance for any mistakes I might make, while any benefit is thanks to God. (See, I already showed some gratitude.)

When a Muslim is asked, “How are you?” the response usually concludes with “Alhamdulillah” whether they are in a positive state, or just finished complaining about the midterms they failed that day. Alhamdulillah means, “All praise and thanks belong to God.” It denotes the idea that we are grateful to God for everything given to us, and that even negatives will benefit us in the long run — as well as the thought that things could be much worse.

The Quran reminds us: “And (remember) Job, when he cried to his Lord, ‘Affliction has befallen me, but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful’” (chapter 21, verse 83). So even in his terrible state, he recognized all the other blessings God provides. (MORE)

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ADC: ARAB-AMERICAN HATE CRIMES DOWN SINCE 9/11 - TOP
Andy Sullivan, Reuters, 12/4/08


Hate crimes against Arab Americans have decreased steadily since the September 11 attacks but are still more common than they were before the hijackings, a civil rights group said on Thursday.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said it received an average of 120 to 130 reports of ethnically motivated attacks or threats each year between 2003 and 2007, a sharp decrease from the 700 violent incidents it documented in the weeks following the 2001 attacks.

But that figure is still higher than the 80 to 90 reports it received in the late 1990s, the civil rights group said. (MORE)