Thursday, September 25, 2008;_ylt=Au9zdv6PVZ.r2bY1P1mNz5YLewgF

JERUSALEM - A pipe bomb exploded Thursday outside the home of a prominent Israeli scholar and outspoken critic of Jewish West Bank settlements, lightly wounding him in what police suspect was an attack by Jewish extremists.

Investigators found posters in Professor Zeev Sternhell's neighborhood offering a $320,000 prize to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now, a dovish Israeli group whose views Sternhell shares.
If extremists were behind the attack, it would be one of the worst instances of political violence inside Israel since an opponent of peace negotiations with the Palestinians murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Human rights groups say settlers have been increasingly using violence against Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, in what appears to be an attempt to deter Israeli authorities from making any attempt to evacuate settlements.
The settlement movement fervently opposes the peace talks and rejects the territorial withdrawal a deal would require.
A person close to Sternhell's family said, without elaborating, that the professor had received threats in the past. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of the incident's political sensitivity.
The bomb was planted on the doorstep of Sternhell's home in a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood, exploding when he opened the door, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. The assailants were not apprehended.
Sternhell had minor shrapnel wounds in one leg and will remain hospitalized at least until Friday, authorities said.
An internationally known scholar on fascism and a Holocaust survivor, he was awarded the country's highest honor, the Israel Prize, this year. The award drew criticism from settlers and their supporters.
National police spokesman Micky

Monday, September 22, 2008


Continuing need to educate Canadians about Islam and Muslims: CAIR-CAN

(Ottawa, Canada - September 20, 2008) - The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today said that a new poll showing a rise in Islamophobia in Canada indicates that more needs to be done to combat discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiment.

A Leger Marketing poll released on September 19 reveals that nearly two out of five Canadians hold anti-Muslim sentiments. Those polled were asked whether they had a favourable or unfavourable view of Muslims, and 36 per cent indicated an unfavourable view. This was a nine per cent increase from last year's number of 27 per cent. The unfavourable view of Muslims was also more pronounced in French Canada.

"It is indicative from this poll that more needs to be done by Canadian Muslims to educate the public about Islam and the Muslim community," said Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Community Relations Director.

"At the same time, the poll speaks to the need for the active integration of Canada's growing Muslim population to combat Islamophobia and discrimination," he added.

Gardee also noted that earlier studies conducted by the Trudeau Foundation and the Bouchard-Taylor Commission report indicate that those Canadians who actually know Muslims tend to have a favourable or highly favourable impression of them and the Islamic faith.

CAIR-CAN further said it was deeply concerned about the general rising trend in unfavourable views of minorities in Canada, including anti-Semitism. According to the poll, there was a decline in favourable views of Jews among Canadians.

"Any increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is unacceptable, and concrete initiatives are required to fight against such intolerance," said Gardee.

CONTACT: Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Community Relations Director, 613.254.9704; Sameer Zuberi, CAIR-CAN Communications Coordinator, 613.254.9704 or 613.795.2012.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christian compound raided in child porn case

FOUKE, Ark. - Federal authorities conducting a child-porn investigation raided the headquarters Saturday of a ministry run by a convicted tax evader once labeled by prosecutors as a polygamist who preys on girls and women

Social workers interviewed children who live at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries complex, which critics call a cult, to find out whether they were abused. The two-year investigation involves a law that prohibits the transportation of children across state lines for criminal activity, said Tom Browne, who runs the FBI office in Little Rock.

"Children living at the facility may have been sexually and physically abused," Browne said.

The raid, conducted by state and federal authorities, started an hour before sunset at the complex in tiny Fouke, in southwestern Arkansas. Armed guards regularly patrol the headquarters, but there was no resistance as agents moved in, state police said.

No one was arrested, but U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe said before the raid that he expected an arrest warrant for Alamo to be issued later. The federal investigation centered on the production of child pornography, while state police were looking into allegations of other child abuse, he said.

In a phone call to The Associated Press from a friend's house in the Los Angeles area, Tony Alamo — who was also once accused of child abuse — denied involvement in pornography.

"We don't go into pornography; nobody in the church is into that," Alamo said. "Where do these allegations stem from? The anti-Christ government. The Catholics don't like me because I have cut their congregation in half. They hate true Christianity."

About 100 state and federal law officers raided the 15-acre compound housing the ministry, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a cult that opposes homosexuality, Catholicism and the government. The law center monitors the activities of extremist groups in the U.S.

The ministry's Web site says it is "dedicated to spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the winning of souls worldwide."

John Selig, head of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said state workers were talking to children.

A passenger van with about 12 people inside left the compound heading for Texarkana with a police escort shortly after 8 p.m. It appeared some of those inside were children, but Selig said he didn't know whether any children would be taken into state custody.

Police said the Alamo church complex would be allowed to open for Sunday services, although officers did not indicate when the search would end.

Alamo's church is in a single-story building that used to be a convenience store. A white cross stands atop the structure, with a small steeple to the right side.

Alamo and his wife Susan were street preachers along Hollywood's Sunset Strip in 1966 before forming a commune near Saugus, Calif. Susan Alamo died of cancer in 1982 and Alamo claimed she would be resurrected and kept her body on display for six months while their followers prayed.

In 1988, following a raid near Santa Ana, Calif., three boys whose mothers were Alamo followers were placed in the custody of their fathers. Justin Miller, then 11, told police that Alamo directed four men to strike him 140 times with a wooden paddle as punishment for minor offenses. Alamo was charged with child abuse.

The California Attorney General's office eventually cleared Alamo and his followers of the accusations.

In 1991, federal agents raided Alamo's complex near Alma and seized designer jackets the ministry sold to raise money; former Alamo followers had won a $1.8 million judgment against him. At the same time, the IRS said Alamo owed the government $7.9 million and later won the evangelist's conviction in federal court.

The judge in the tax case ordered him held pending sentencing after prosecutors argued that the evangelist was a flight risk and a polygamist who preyed on married women and girls in his congregation. U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla said he was concerned over "the very great control Mr. Alamo has over a number of people."

Alamo told the AP on Saturday that he believed the raid was part of a push by the federal government to make same-sex marriage legal while outlawing polygamy.

Alamo said he thought polygamy was allowed in the Bible but said he did not practice it himself. He also said that "consent is puberty" when it comes to sex.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


CAIR-MN seeks probe to ‘ensure that all relevant laws are being followed’

(ST. PAUL, MN, 9/16/08) - The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on a Macy's department store in that state to clarify a new "English only" policy under which Muslim workers were allegedly threatened with termination if they spoke “even one word” of Somali.

CAIR-MN was contacted by six Somali-speaking employees, some of whom have been employed at the store for more than four years, who say the new policy prohibits workers from speaking any language other than English during work hours at the department store's Southdale Mall location in Edina, Minn.

The new policy reportedly applies to employees who work in the warehouse packaging and unpacking merchandise, but not to employees who work in other areas of the store. Somali-speaking workers say the policy is discriminatory and that they have always spoken English with English-speaking co-workers and customers.

A company flier obtained by CAIR-MN announcing the minutes from a staff meeting read in part:

“It is Macy East’s policy that a common language is spoken during work therefore, effective immediately all associates must speak English while working It is a job requirement to speak and read English...”

[Note: A Macy's representative has since denied the existence of an English only policy despite the clear language of the company document.]

Prior to the English only policy, the six employees allege that they were asked by management to train new Somali employees using the Somali language. They say they were also approached in the past by non-Somali-speaking employees for assistance communicating with Somali-speaking customers.

"Federal law and the Minnesota Human Rights Acts state that employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees based on national origin, which includes 'English only' policies in the workplace," said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam. "It is clear that there can be no business-related need for this policy, as these same employees were asked to use their Somali language skills during work hours to assist customers and train other employees."

Ms. Islam added that CAIR-MN is seeking an investigation into the matter to ensure that all relevant laws are being followed.

CAIR offers a booklet called "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices" to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.

SEE: An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy 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.

CONTACT: CAIR-MN Communications Director Kenya McKnight, 612-483-3245; CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam, 651-587-4712, E-Mail:; CAIR-MN Board Chair Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202 488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


WFTV, 9/15/08

Click here to watch the video.

Just weeks before the election, there are questions about a controversial insert published in The Orlando Sentinel. The insert on radical Islam included a 60-minute DVD.

Over 300,000 copies of "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West" went out to Orlando residents as an insert in Sunday's Sentinel. Twenty-eight million copies will go out in swing states nationwide by the end of the week.

The Clarion Fund paid millions of dollars to get the DVD out. It's a non-profit organization that claims to focus on national security. Eyewitness News asked the New York-based group and they would not say exactly how many millions they receive or who their donors are. (MORE)


A DVD about “radical Islam's war against the west,” included with the Sunday Miami Herald and dozens of other newspapers, has caused a stir among the region's Muslims.
Jaweed Kaleem, Miami Herald, 9/16/08

A controversial DVD distributed to millions of Americans during the past week through direct mail and newspapers, including The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, has angered many Muslims in South Florida.

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the Westwas packaged as an advertising insert in 70 newspapers, including The Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post. The Clarion Fund, a nonprofit organization that promotes ''national security through education,'' sent the hourlong preview of the documentary to 28 million households, many in election swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Readers of The St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville and The News-Press of Fort Myers also received the DVDs.

The DVD includes montages of terrorist training camps and suicide bombers paired with narration by commentators such as Daniel Pipes, founder of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank. Many of the film's pundits are known for controversial views on Islam. In one part of the DVD, clips of Muslim children being recruited as suicide bombers are interspersed with images of Nazis.

“My cellphone has been ringing off the hook . . . We feel that it's going to incite more hate and bigotry against our community,” said Altaf Ali, Florida chapter director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The DVD does not do enough to differentiate between terrorists and mainstream Muslims, he said. (MORE)


Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, 9/15/08

As explored here this past weekend, the Clarion Fund has paid dozens of newspapers across the country -- almost solely in "swing" election states -- and The New York Times to distribute the "Islam terror" DVD "Obsession" with their home delivery packages. Among the larger cities where this has taken place: Miami, Philadelphia, Denver and Pittsburgh.

An estimated 28 million copies have been distributed so far, also through the mails and other magazines. An article at the group's site,, all but endorsed John McCain this past week, then was pulled down.

But at least one newspaper turned away the money and refused to distribute it, calling it "divisive."

It's the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina.. The longtime editor, John Robinson, explained his reasoning in a column yesterday. (MORE)


Wayne Garcia, Creative Loafing, 9/15/08

Readers of the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday found a little rancid bonus in their newspapers this weekend: a DVD called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which is a hate film ostensibly about Islamic terror. It’s really a thinly veiled attempt to influence the presidential election by flooding anti-Muslim sentiment ahead of the Obama-McCain balloting in November.

Nothing like infusing the voters’ minds with fresh images of terror, especially little children as jihadists, only 50 days away from the day we decide whether to put a man named Barack Hussein Obama into office.


Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel blog, 9/16/08

The movie Obsession: Radical Islam's War With the West, whose trailer is below, was delivered with your Orlando Sentinel newspaper this AM. And, it is my understanding, the DVD was delivered to households receiving other newspapers around the country today as well. True?
Apparently, Parade Magazine isn't conservative enough for some folks. But hey, they paid to package it with our paper, so glad to be of service! Did the check clear?

Anyhoo, didya watch it? Check out the trailer if you have any questions about what it's about, and those who endorse it. Lots of Fox and Limbaugh plugs for it in that trailer. They're in lock step over its virtues. It's two-to-three years old, and the reason it's being shipped out to newspaper readers across America? Scaring the scareable before an election, apparently. Michael Moore's giving away his latest film on the Internet to do the same thing, but Obsession at least helps a paper's bottom line. More power to'em.

I've seen the Obsession before, but I checked it out again this AM before heading out for a day on the water. It's an alarmist manifesto about what the producers and their unnamed Brit narrator go to pains to label as the threat from "radical Islam." The points seem solid, the massive amounts of video from TV programming all over the Middle East, from Lebanon to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, is damning. For years (much of the TV news footage from the Middle East, the Imam "death to America" sermons, is over 5 years old, not that things have changed much since) Arab governments all over the Middle East have stood by while their airwaves, their mosques and websites bubbled with anti-Americanism and antisemitism.

Experts, from Middle Eastern journalists such as Khalid Abu Toameh (described as a Palestinian journalist...they don't say he's with The Jersualem Post, which says volumes) to A British historian and Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert to Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch (that's a good idea for a think tank--monitoring TV and radio for this sort of naked evidence of "how they feel about us") to conservative academic Daniel Pipes to journo Caroline Glick and Steve Emerson of something called The Investigative Project rail against the Islam-fascism that now confronts the West, and the ways it parallels (in their minds) the 1930s and the world's slow-to-act take on Nazi Germany.

The experts vary widely in credibility and seem selected because of their willingness to say what the movie wants them to say. It's a mildly scary film, but one utterly lacking in context. (MORE)


News4Jax, 9/15/08

A Georgia man who recently visited Jacksonville said he has some very unpleasant memories of the city after he claims he was targeted by a police officer because of his ethnicity.

The man, who is Muslim, is filing a complaint against the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, because he said an officer pulled him over and asked him questions he felt were insulting.

The man, who does not want to be identified, said he was driving in his car wearing the official dress of Dubai when he said he pulled over and the officer told him it was for suspicion of DUI.

However, the man said he was never given a Breathalyzer test and instead was inundated with improper questions.

"It seems to us as though they are violating Constitutional laws that have been set," said Emad Ahmad, who works for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Emad is working with the accuser in the case. He said the accuser was in town for a medical conference when he said the incident happened. Wearing a white Islamic robe and a turban, the man said he was pulled over by a sheriff's officer while on the Southside. (MORE)


Jeff Hess, WOKV, 9/15/08

A Muslim man passing through Jacksonville is filing a complaint against the Jacksonville Police after he says he was unfairly pulled over and questioned.

The Georgia man was in town for a medical conference when he was pulled over by the officer.

He says he was pulled over because of what he was wearing, a traditional Muslim robe and head scarf known as a Guthra.

Emad Ahmed from the Council on American Islamic Relations is working with the man. (MORE)


Las Vegas families strive to observe Muslim traditions during Ramadan
Danielle Nadler, Southeast View, 9/16/08

The alarm sings early this month at the Fayed household.

By 4:15 a.m., a half hour before sunrise, the family of four is gathered around the table in their two-bedroom apartment to eat fruit, yogurt, grains and juice; the last food or drink Ahmad Fayed and his wife, Fatma Alazab, will have until sunset.

The Fayeds and the estimated 18,000 Muslims in Las Vegas have abstained from food, drink and other pleasures from sunrise to sunset since Sept. 1 in observance of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

This is the Fayed family's second Ramadan away from their home country, Egypt. Just like most of Las Vegas' first-generation American Muslims, the Fayeds have made an extra effort to hold on to the Muslim traditions from their homeland. . .

The family settles for an Internet alarm to indicate the time for their five daily prayers. In Egypt and most other Muslim countries, a loud Arabic song is projected from mosques to announce prayer.

The Fayeds are not alone in their modified Ramadan celebrations.

Most of the city's Muslims have had to get used to holy days away from their home countries, said Yasser Moten of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Nevada.

Las Vegas Muslims have come from all over the world, and they each come with different customs.

"For many of the immigrants, when they're in their other country, the entire community is fasting," Moten said. "And when they come to the United States, it's really hard for a lot of these immigrants to hold on to that celebratory environment."

Thousands of Muslims meet at Las Vegas' five mosques each evening throughout Ramadan to pray and break their fast. Moten said the communal meals give Muslims a chance to celebrate their religious traditions together. (MORE)


Tracy Overstreet, Grand Island Independent, 9/15/08

A group of 500 Muslim workers from Grand Island's JBS Swift & Co. plant staged a protest Monday afternoon.

Members of the B shift (3 to 11:30 p.m.) and some members of the morning A shift walked off the job after being denied time to pray during what they said is the holiest of times for them -- Ramadan.

A group of protesting women said they were kicked by a supervisor when they attempted to pray at work.

Asha Abdi said she knelt to pray when the supervisor said, "You can't pray here," kicked her feet and told her to go home.

Another woman, Hawo Mohammed, said she told her production supervisor she needed to go to the bathroom. She attempted to pray quickly in the bathroom until the male supervisor followed her in and told her she was taking too long.

"The main point is freedom for religion," said Ridwan Abbi, a second-shift production worker who gladly supported his peers. (MORE)


Deborah Horan, Chicago Tribune, 9/16/08

Three years ago, girls at a private Muslim high school in suburban Bridgeview asked their basketball coach if they could play against public schools. School administrators hesitated because the teenage athletes removed their head scarves during games and wore uniforms that revealed elbows and knees.

Boys at the other schools might sit in the bleachers and watch them.

This year, girls at Universal School, on the grounds of the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation, will compete a full season against public schools for the first time by wearing a modest uniform of long pants and long-sleeved shirts beneath maroon sports jerseys. They'll also cover their hair.

"Our other option was to keep boys away at the other schools, and it's very hard to do that," said coach Lena Tleib.

They have 16 games scheduled so far and hope to add more before the season begins. Meanwhile, female volleyball players — also dressed modestly — already have competed against Gordon Tech, a Catholic high school. And Tleib is organizing a girls soccer team. (MORE)



Wall Street, What's Next?
Frank Gaffney, Washington Times, 9/16/08

…The next "what" is called Shariah-Compliant Finance (SCF).

Shariah, of course, is the term the Islamists use to describe the ruthlessly repressive, totalitarian program they believe should govern every aspect of the lives of faithful Muslims. It is also the instrument they intend to use to rule the world. The first clue that something is wrong with Wall Street's next big thing is that it is Shariah-compliant.

The next clue is how Shariah-Compliant Finance works. Like subprime, it is a black box, in which management and investors alike are told to trust in the experts. In this case, the experts are Shariah authorities who are accorded exclusive responsibility for determining whether investments are "pure" (halal) and therefore acceptable, or "impure" (haram) and not.

As an important monograph on the subject recently issued by the McCormick Foundation and the Center for Security Policy (for copies contact the Center at makes clear, these authorities are, unsurprisingly, adherents to Shariah. A number of them explicitly embrace its call to jihad (including a former senior member of the Dow Jones Islamic Index, Sheik Taqi Usmani). This "holy war" is to be waged where possible through violent means, where necessary through "soft" means like Shariah-Compliant Finance. For this reason, such Islamists call SCF "financial jihad."

Earlier this year, David Yerushalmi, a litigator specializing in securities law and an expert on Shariah, produced a riveting legal memorandum (soon to appear in the University of Utah Law Review) examining the civil and criminal exposure inherent in Shariah-Compliant Finance. His conclusion: banks and investment houses offering SCF products may be enabling or engaging in the following: racketeering, antitrust activity, securities fraud, consumer fraud and/or material support for terror.

What makes Shariah-Compliant Finance even more dangerous than subprime is that, in its effort to legitimize and institutionalize Shariah in America, it is advancing a criminal conspiracy whose purpose is the violent overthrow of the United States Constitution and government in favor of Islamic rule. That would make it sedition. (MORE)

ACTION REQUESTED: (AS ALWAYS, be POLITE. Hostile comments can and will be used to further defame the Muslim community.)

WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Washington Times to express your concern about an apparent call by its columnist to treat Islam as a “criminal conspiracy.”


Letters Editor
The Washington Times
3600 New York Ave. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

Tel: 202/636-3305
Fax: 202/832-2982


Background - David Yerushalmi, the person Frank Gaffney quotes on shariah financing, is the head of a racist anti-Muslim group called Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). Sane has in the past urged that the practice of Islam be made illegal.

On its now-deleted website, SANE offered a policy proposal that would make it illegal to be a Muslim:

“Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US. [sic] Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People...It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.” [A SANE Act to Deal with the Islamic Threat to America’s National Existence (SADITANE)]

SANE’s website once contained the following white supremacist language as part of its mission statement:

“America is a unique people bound together through a commitment to America’s Judeo-Christian moral foundation and to an enduring faith and trust in G-d and in His Providence. America’s founding, and its greatness was neither accident nor staging ground for some better existence or world state. America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white, who ventured from Europe to create a nation in their image of a country existing as free men under G-d.”

Other articles on the SANE website made racist statements such as: “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote,” and "Race matters and affects your intelligence. Jews are the smartest white people around. Orientals smarter than Whites. Latinos next. Then Blacks.”

Another SANE article stated:

“Is there something unique about the Black American (or, at least the Black New Yorker) that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own? Do we see patterns of Black culture that arise out of Africa and the wanton murder of blacks by blacks there? Why have the colonized blacks of the African continent, after having acquired their freedom and independence, so willingly slaughtered their own and live in despicable disease and squalor despite a land of enormous riches while Indians of the Indian sub-continent have successfully moved from British rule to democracy and relative civility even in a country that still maintains social inequalities as a fact of their culture?”

The New York Jewish Week newspaper reported last year that Yerushalmi “condemns democracy in the United States and, in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews ‘destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.’” (8/24/07)

In a March 2, 2006, article for The American Spectator, Yerushalmi wrote: "Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization...The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies."

In another article, Yerushalmi wrote: “Instead of a promise of victory, Sura 24:52 must be made ashes in the mouths of Muslims. A seemingly unending air control campaign over enemy territory is the way to continually remind the Muslims of their subordinate status and the impotence of Allah without becoming mired in the quagmire of counterinsurgency.” He also wrote: “SANE has staked out an approach which is to Know the Enemy by declaring the enemy historical, traditional, and authoritative Islam….”

Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Zionist collective memory exists in both our cultural and physical space. Many monuments and road signs point out the loss of Jewish soldiers in wars, yet no indication of the destruction of Palestinian life may be found at all on our cultural and geographical landscape. The heavy price paid by the Palestinians-in lives, in the destruction of hundreds of villages, and by being uprooted from their homes-receives no public recognition. Demolished Palestinian villages are never commemorated, their names often Hebraicized and bestowed upon the new settlements established in their place. These villages are invisible spots on Israel's landscape; only the obstinate sabra bushes serve as their silent monuments.

Palestinian pain, too, is illegitimate; all expressions of pain are considered hostile and threatening. Israel regards its Arab citizens' grief as a threat to Jewish existence here and now. In past years Palestinian awareness of the political importance of collective memory and public commemoration of the Naqba ("disaster"), in opposition to Israeli Independence Day, has risen and become more visible. Visits to demolished villages now take a more central role in shaping the identity of Palestinian citizens of Israel, yet these are made unobtrusively and without demands that the State officially recognize their suffering.

Zionist collective memory also prevents Jews from acknowledging their part in the destruction, from accepting responsibility and, consequently, from achieving real reconciliation with the Palestinians. The Jewish people have not taken and do not take any action aimed at acknowledging their part in the Palestinians' suffering. Any possibility for such action is immediately rejected out of fear that recognition of injustices committed will oblige the Jews to leave Israel. This paranoia is both derived from the Jewish "victim complex" and reinforces it.

Posting signs at destroyed Palestinian villages is part of a larger effort to bring civil and national equality to the country. Physically marking these villages and holding public discussions on the Palestinian Naqba may encourage a more ethical discourse and reveal both the victims and the initiators of the hardships. The act of making the destroyed villages visible is intended to set in motion a process of catharsis within the Jewish public, as well as serve as an expression of humanity.

Though mainly symbolic, posting signs is an act fundamentally connected to the past, as it constitutes recognition of the moral debt that is owed for the injustices committed in the creation of the Jewish State. The catastrophe that occurred to the Palestinians with the destruction of more than 400 of their villages demands some kind of consideration on the part of the historical victors. Simply erecting a sign that tells the story of a demolished village with dignity is recognition of the wrongs committed and the tragedy.

A sign's existence has both aesthetic and material character. It cannot be ignored on the landscape. It is a physical monument, giving its viewer a new, more critical perspective on the reality in which he or she lives. As long as razed Palestinian villages remain uncommemorated on the Israeli landscape, their existence in the past and their destruction is repressed. Each new sign will change the experience of driving down Israel's roads and walking on its paths. Signs erected over the ruins of Palestinian villages will represent a challenge to written history inscribed on the landscape.

Signs posted at demolished villages will invoke the question of a Law of Return for Palestinian refugees. The signs will place the question of the Palestinians' right to return on the public agenda by testifying to that which existed here, to that which cannot be ignored forever. Jewish recognition of the ongoing refugee problem and determined striving towards an agreement on the issue of return are keys to real reconciliation between the two peoples. Without a fair solution to the problem of return, the conflict can never be resolved.

Posting signs at villages integrates the past, present and future and between the ethical, aesthetic, and political. This is taking action upon the landscape in the hope of rediscovering and remodeling it, creating a renewed landscape that will reveal the traces of what has refused to be wiped out, in spite of so many efforts. In a more just society, the politics of landscape oblige society to morally account for its past wrongdoings, an obligation whose visual expression must be exposed in the light of day.

We are a group of Israelis that aim to raise awareness to the tragedy and suffering of the Palestinian people, particularly among the Jewish population of Israel. Posting signs at demolished Palestinian villages is one way to advance this goal, but is only one element of an expansive effort to commemorate the Naqba in Hebrew. Calling attention to the Naqba in Hebrew-at schools, universities, and in other public arenas-should be an objective of all who desire mutual recognition and peace between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. At a time when the word "mahsom" (roadblock) is so ubiquitous that young Palestinians are unaware that it's a term belonging to the occupation, let alone a word in Hebrew, it is appropriate that Israelis think and speak of the Naqba as a way to begin to understand Palestinian suffering.

In addition to posting signs, we also suggest creating children's games on the subject of the Naqba, organizing study tours of villages that were destroyed (including training tour guides for this purpose), manufacturing maps that include these villages, creating a database and documentation of the demolished villages, and organizing exhibitions, among many other possibilities. This will all be carried out in clear and simple Hebrew.

Highest priority for posting signs will be on public spaces such as Canada Park (built on the ruins of Emaus, Yalo, and Beit Nova, which were destroyed in the 1967 war), in cities (such as on Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, which borders Sumail), and by major roads, mainly in locations where remnants of the destruction still exist today.

We seek to apply ourselves to these challenges: to commemorate and talk about the Naqba in Hebrew so that our language will be more peaceful and just; to witness what was wiped off the face of the earth in order to understand our neighbors' pain and loss; to acknowledge the Palestinian catastrophes of 1948 and 1967 and, thereby, attempt to mold a peace-seeking Jewish-Israeli consciousness.


Right of remembrance
By Aviv Lavie

Once a year, a group of Arabs come to Ashkelon for a visit "to the homeland." They are displaced persons from Majdal, a large town of about 12,000, which until 1950 stood on the spot now occupied by an entirely Jewish port city. The DPs visit the cemetery to pay respects to their loved ones and then go on a picnic before heading home, to Lod. Two buses appeared for the most recent visit: one for the DPs, the other for a group of a few dozen Jews who are members of Zochrot (Remembering) and came to show their solidarity and to learn some history from the people who experienced the events themselves.

However, the Zochrot group does not just make do with holding picnics and listening to accounts of what happened in 1948 and afterward. On this trip, they brought several signs, which they took from the bus when they arrived at the site, on which a mosque once stood and which now houses a hamburger joint and the Ashkelon city museum. Nearby, they placed a sign stating, in Hebrew and Arabic, "Square where Majdal Arabs were collected and deported to Gaza." At the corner of Herzl and Eli Cohen Streets they added more information, to the effect that this spot - the intersection of streets named for the founder of Zionism and the Israeli spy caught and hung in Damascus - used to be the intersection of two streets called Al-Suq (the market) and Al-Usthaz (the teacher), which were the main streets of Majdal.

The event did not pass peacefully, of course. A few local residents reacted with catcalls and curses. One of them, Moshe Cohen, decided words weren't enough. A few minutes after the sign was placed in the ground, he ripped it out. Shadiya Hijazi, one of the DPs, wearing a festive floral dress, ran after him. They exchanged curses and some mutual shoving. "Does this bother you?" she shouted, picking up the sign that Cohen had hurled to the ground. "Does this bother you? My house was here, my father lived here, where the mosque was."
Local governments in a Muslim desert region in western China have imposed strict limits on religious practices during the traditional Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last week, according to the Web sites of four of those governments.

The rules include prohibiting women from wearing veils and men from growing beards, as well as barring government officials from observing Ramadan. One town, Yingmaili, requires that local officials check up on mosques at least twice a week during Ramadan.

The local governments administer areas in the western part of Xinjiang, a vast autonomous region that is home to the Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic people who often chafe under rule by the ethnic Han Chinese. In August, a wave of attacks swept through Xinjiang, the largest surge of violence in the region in years. Some local officials blamed separatist groups for the instability, and the central government sent security forces to the area. . .

The Web site of the town of Yingmaili lists nine rules put in place to “maintain stability during Ramadan.”

They include barring teachers and students from observing Ramadan, prohibiting retired government officials from entering mosques and requiring men to shave off beards and women to doff veils. Mosques cannot let people from outside of town stay overnight and restaurants must maintain normal hours of business. Because of the sunrise-to-sunset fasting, many restaurants would normally close during daytime for Ramadan. (MORE)
“Onion Award for Joe Kaufman for his consistent record of trashing everything Muslim with a broad brush of innuendo, association and excessive rhetoric.” -- Americans United for Separation of Church and State at the occasion of their annual meeting.

Joe Kaufman, the virulent Islamophobe and follower of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, is at it again in his endless crusade to slime CAIR and demonize Muslims. In this most recent episode, the “gumshoe detective” wrote a piece for the universally-rejected Right-wing mouthpiece FrontPageMag absurdly titled “Chicago’s Hamas Youth.”

In his hit piece, Kaufman attempts to link Chicago area Muslim high school students who participated in an event to educate themselves on how to become better citizens with Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.

We read such gems from the article as:

“In the Spring of 2007, CAIR-Chicago sponsored its first Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS)... At the venue, kids wore shirts with the MYLS slogan: “Constructive Citizenship for a better America.” But for CAIR, “better America” means a United States run by Hamas.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, CAIR has never stated such an absurd thing, yet facts do not matter a thing to anti-Muslim bigots like Kaufman who are all too content with forcing into Muslim mouths the words they wish to hear in order to stay in business.

Nowhere does Kaufman provide any evidence, statements, pamphlets, etc. supporting his absurd claim that for CAIR constructive citizenship equals an America run by Hamas.

Instead of focusing on the content of the event and the fact that esteemed individuals such as U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (does he believe the congressman is a Hamas member?) has participated, he weaves ludicrous hard-to-follow guilt-by-association conspiracy theories, projecting his own paranoia onto the meaning of the event.
Sarah Abdullah, Arab News, 9/8/08

With many Muslim Americans leaving the US to perform Umrah and visit the Two Holy Mosques during the holy month of Ramadan, the introduction of full body scanners by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in at least 10 of the country’s major airports has advocacy groups and Islamic civil rights organizations up in arms.

According to a TSA official, the backscatters, which bounce harmless “millimeter waves” off the bodies of passengers as a secondary security measure, will replace metal detectors in at least 2,000 of the nation’s airports in the near future. The body scanners have been deemed unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy due to the fact that the machines show what many civil rights groups say are graphic and detailed images of air passengers bodies and intimate body parts including medical enhancements, all for the sake of national security.

The controversy began to heat up when scanners were introduced in airports in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque, New York’s Kennedy Airport, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami over the last few months following the launch of the machines in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport early last year.

Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty project, Barry Steinhardt, expressed his views on the scanners in a statement saying, “the TSA’s announcement, as reported, that it will be expanding the use of whole body scanning machines to 10 airports, is a disappointing confirmation of our warnings against the expansion of this “virtual strip search.” . . .

However, the ACLU has argued that the blurring of faces and deleting of images is merely a software fix that could be undone as easily as it is applied and that obscuring the faces of air passengers does not hide the fact that the rest of the body will be vividly displayed and added that “unfortunately the US government’s record of safeguarding private information is not great,” Christina Abraham, civil rights director, Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Illinois also agreed saying that even though the scanners are being used as a secondary screening measure and that passengers who are selected for secondary scanning are given the option of a “pat-down” by an officer the fact still remains that the body scanner creates a virtual image of a person’s unclothed body and although the images are not stored anywhere, they are viewed by at least one TSA officer.

Offering her personal opinion on the use of the scanner, Abrahim said, “As a Muslim, this scanner-especially the fact that it is not required that an officer of the same gender view the image-is problematic. More importantly, however, we believe that this violates every American’s right to privacy.

Under US law, for the government to be able to conduct a strip search of a person, they need to have probable cause that a person has a weapon or contraband hidden on their body. The body scanner allows law enforcement to view a person’s body without having to have a cause or even suspicion to believe that a person is carrying weapons or contraband,” she said. “We feel that this is a violation of a person’s 4th Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.” Additionally, we are concerned that Muslims traveling may be subjected to secondary screenings more because of racial profiling,” Abraham said, adding that they receive regular complaints from Muslim travelers who believe they are being racially profiled or discriminated against by TSA officers.

“Typically these travelers say they were chosen for secondary screening because they look Muslim or have a Muslim name or they are unfairly searched and questioned upon returning from a flight for the same reason,” she said. (MORE)


Chris Casey, Greeley Tribune, 9/9/08

More than 150 Muslim workers didn't report to their meatpacking plant jobs Monday in the wake of what they called JBS Swift & Co.'s sudden reversal of accommodation for their religious fasting during Ramadan.

The workers initially planned a two-mile march from downtown Greeley's Lincoln Park to the plant, but a gathering that formed mid-morning never left the park. Throughout the day, several Greeley police officers watched from the park's edge.

Company officials met with several workers Monday afternoon at the plant, and Somali representatives later spoke with workers in downtown Greeley.

Graen Isse, a Swift worker and group spokesman, said the workers would not discuss details of their grievances, which were supplied to Swift in writing, until the company responded. He said he expected to hear from Swift Tuesday morning.

"I believe (the workers) will be back to their jobs," Isse said.

Asked what would happen if the workers didn't get what they wanted, Isse said, "That's another question. We'll pass on that."

The workers, mostly Somalis but many also from several other East African nations, said they were told by Swift management on Friday to not report to work Monday until the matter of changing break times to accommodate their Ramadan fasts was settled.

On Friday, about 300 Muslim workers left work mid-shift -- about 9:30 p.m. -- when they say they were told not to break at 7:30 p.m., when their roughly 12 hours of daily fasting for Ramadan ended. Earlier in the week, the workers negotiated with Swift to get an earlier break to allow them food and water after their fast.

Several Somali workers said Monday the company had fired as many as six employees on Friday, but a Swift official said Monday afternoon that was not true. (MORE)


United Press International, 9/9/08

A Muslim Canadian woman claims she lost her job scanning boxes at United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS) because she refused to hike up her long skirt to her knees.

Nadifo Yusuf, 35, told the Canadian Human Rights Commission she had worked at the Toronto delivery plant as a temporary employee for two years wearing a traditional hijab, headscarf and skirt with no problem -- even tucking in her hijab and raising her skirt to mid-calf for safety reasons.

But around April 2005, when her job was changed to a full-time unionized position, she was told to hike her skirt to knee-length or face losing her job for safety reasons, The Toronto Star reported.

"I was working two years and I became unsafe?" she testified before the tribunal. . .

Yusuf and seven other Muslim women were fired July 13, 2005. (MORE)§ion=0&article=114013&d=9&m=9&y=2008
What happened to the American ideal of a government that minded its own business as long as its citizens minded theirs and did not break the law?

German and Italian Americans are working with Congress to pass the Wartime Treatment Study Act, which would establish commissions to review injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.

During the war, our government branded as "enemy aliens" 600,000 German Americans and 300,000 Italian Americans. Thousands were interned, and hundreds of thousands were forced to carry special identification cards and had their travel restricted and property seized. Japanese Americans have received recognition for their suffering and wrongful internment, but the plight of German and Italian Americans is less well known.

The Wartime Treatment Study Act is overdue, and its swift passage is necessary before the living memories and first-hand evidence perish with age. Immigrants helped build our nation, and collective guilt and punishment should never be tolerated in a democracy.

Similarly, Muslim Americans should not be punished for the crimes of Osama bin Laden and his followers. Yet, seven years after 9/11, in which nearly 3,000 victims of all colors and creeds were murdered, are we certain that the right people are being punished in the "war on terror"?

Like all Americans, Muslim Americans love their country, care about their neighbors, worry about the economy, hope to send their kids to good schools, and try to cope with the insecurities of modern life. Islam shares much with Christianity and Judaism. Readers of the Koran will find in its pages values similar to those taught in the Ten Commandments.

Yet, Muslim Americans have endured hate speech and insults to their religion from every quarter, from those in Congress who should know better, to those on the pulpit who should do better, to radio shock jocks who are up to no good. Islam is distorted and Muslims are demonized until neither the faith nor the people bear any resemblance to reality.

Muslim Americans endure targeted and over-reaching government policies that amount to collective punishment and guilt by association. Tens of thousands of law-abiding American citizens are watch-listed and detained, searched, and interrogated, especially while traveling.,CST-EDT-vox09.article,CST-EDT-vox09.article
Last week, Rudy Giuliani said, "For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the words 'Islamic terrorism.' I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe it will insult someone. Please tell me, who are they insulting if they say Islamic terrorism? They are insulting terrorists."

Really? I would have imagined they were simply trying to show the world that patriotism does not equal bigotry. I would imagine they were simply taking a stand against all those who tend to equate violent acts of a minority of so-called Muslims with the religion itself.

Let me tell you something: You cannot defame a whole entire religion based on how some misguided followers misconstrue it or twist its teaching for political aims. You look at the holy book, and you look at the conduct of its founder. Anyone who reads the Quran or studies the life of the Prophet Muhammad without prejudice will know that Islam is not a religion of terrorism. It says quite firmly there is "no compulsion in religion" and affirms the Bible's teaching that if you kill one man, you kill all of mankind.

Nadia Farooqi
Near North Side

As a Muslim-American elected official, I am appalled that Rudolph W. Giuliani chose to equate all terrorists with members of the Islamic faith during his G.O.P. convention address.

He said: “For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’ ” I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe they will insult someone. Please tell me, who they are insulting if they say, ‘Islamic terrorism.’ They are insulting terrorists!”

Sorry, Rudy. That statement doesn’t insult terrorists; it insults all hard-working, loyal Muslim-Americans. Worse still, none of the convention pundits or commentators for any major paper or network called him on it.

Several Democratic speakers, including Barack Obama, did address the serious issue of the fight against terrorism, but they did it in a way that did not imply that all Muslim people are terrorists. Mr. Giuliani doesn’t seem to know better.

Every day, Muslim-Americans serve our country in the armed forces, help us create tighter security systems that protect all Americans, and create jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The fight against terrorism should be directed toward real terrorists and those who support them, not toward people trying to live the American dream but who follow a different faith.

Whatever happened to the principle of religious freedom upon which the United States was founded?

Saqib Ali
Annapolis, Md., Sept. 5, 2008

The writer is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Claiming Dearborn is a center of radical Islam, organizers of a controversial film on Muslims are offering a free screening of their documentary in the city today.

Local religious leaders said the timing -- on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks -- and locating it in Dearborn are part of a divisive publicity stunt.

Called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," the documentary focuses on Islamic extremism, but critics say it's biased. The film's producers and backers said through a spokesman they chose Dearborn and the Sept. 11 date for the screening because of its sizable Muslim population.

"There is a problem with an acceptance of radical Islam in Dearborn more so than anywhere else than I know of," said Joe Wierzbicki, a spokesman for a California-based public relations company hired to promote the film.

But some Dearborn residents and religious leaders say the film's backers are unfairly slandering the city and Muslims by screening it there on Sept. 11. They urge residents to ignore it.

"It's a clear agenda to spread hate," said Victor Begg, a Muslim activist who chairs the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.

Brenda Rosenberg, a Jewish activist from Bloomfield Hills active in interfaith work with Christians and Muslims, also criticized the film and screening.

"We're feeding the fire by focusing on hate," she said. "We need to come together

Hate DVDs being mailed
Sally Lopez said she opened the mailbox at her Lemoyne home on Monday and found a DVD entitled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West."

The independently released documentary showed scenes from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and other attacks in London, Madrid, Spain and Beslan, Russia.

Lopez said she was offended by the DVD. And after learning her daughter, who lives in York, also received a copy, Lopez said she wondered whether there was political motivation behind the mailing.

"My thing is, I'm not stupid. There are definitely radical Islamic cells all over the world, but we also have the Aryan Nation, the [Ku Klux Klan], all kinds of hate groups out there," Lopez said. "They're just instilling fear in us. I'm tired of living in fear."

A representative of the New York-based Clarion Fund said the mailing wasn't meant to sway voters to one presidential candidate or the other. Gregory Ross, the nonprofit organization's director of communications, said the 28 million copies being mailed nationwide throughout September are going out to raise awareness of the threat America still faces from terrorism.

Ross said the movie is not talking about all Muslims but what he called, as does the movie's title, "radical" Islamists.



CBS2, 9/11/08


Mike Puccinelli CHICAGO (CBS) A Chicago teacher is under fire for singling out the only Muslim student in her class while talking about the Middle East. The teacher has now been reassigned to another school. However, the young boy's family is demanding answers.

CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports that the family met behind closed doors at Chicago Public Schools headquarters for two-and-a-half hours in a meeting presided over by a federal mediator. All sides have agreed to meet again next month.

The teacher in question is no longer working at the same school, but if the Pakistani-American family at the center of this story has their way, she might not be working much longer.

"He came home and before he even took his backpack off, he had tears in his eyes already," said Mohmmad Fahad Choudhary, victim's brother.

Mohmmad talks about the day his little brother came home from school saying his teacher had singled him out in front of his class as an example of a terrorist.

"She used the example of if Saleh were to go on to an airplane, put his backpack down and put two wires together and the plane were to blow up - and she didn't make a point," said Christina Abraham, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Saleh Choudhary did not want to go on-camera to talk about the incident, which happened last April while he was a sixth-grader at Brentano Academy, but his brother says the 13-year-old's life hasn't been the same since.

"Everybody started teasing him and calling him a terrorist after the comments were made by the teacher," Mohmmad said. (MORE)



John Garcia, WLS, 9/11/08


A Chicago public school student says his teacher used him as an example of a terrorist a class.

The child is an Arab-Muslim and says he was intimidated and isolated from classmates after the incident. On Thursday the boy, his family and Muslim leaders met with school officials about the complaint.

The incident happened last spring at the Brentano Math and Science Academy in the Logan Square community.

The teacher is no longer at the school. But the boy's family says school officials must do more to keep situations like this from happening again.

It was more than a year ago that his sixth grade teacher made the comment in class. But 13-year-old Saleh Choudhary's family is still pursuing a resolution.

It was in a history class at the Brentano Math and Science Academy in Logan Square that the teacher allegedly described a hypothetical situation in which Saleh would carry a bomb aboard a plane and blow it up.

"Saleh is the only Muslim, the only Arab in the classroom. And in using that example, she basically gave the go-ahead to all the students to begin harassing," said Christina Abraham, Council on American Islamic Relations. (MORE)



Family of Muslim student calls for instructor's firing at meeting with Chicago schools, mediator

Carlos Sadovi, Chicago Tribune, 9/12/08

The family of a 13-year-old Muslim student who claims that a former teacher singled him out as a "terrorist" during a 6th grade history class in the spring called for the woman's firing after meeting with Chicago Public Schools officials and a federal mediator for several hours Thursday.

School officials said they investigated the complaint against the unnamed teacher, and she now faces discipline ranging from suspension to dismissal.

But no resolution was reached Thursday between school officials and the family of Saleh Choudhary Jr., now a 7th grader at Brentano Math and Science Academy, 2723 N. Fairfield Ave., so the two sides will meet again Oct. 27.

In a complaint the Choudharys filed with federal education officials several months ago, they allege the boy's teacher singled him out during a discussion on ancient Mesopotamia, said Christina Abraham, civil rights director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. (MORE)



MIKE THOMAS, Sun-Times, 9/12/08

[NOTE: CAIR was represented at the funeral service by National Executive director Nihad Awad.]

They came together Thursday afternoon, thousands of them, on a vast and hilly lawn outside the Islamic Foundation of Villa Park to pay their respects and say their goodbyes to Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.

The widely influential Muslim leader and son of late Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad died Tuesday at his Markham home of heart disease and diabetes. He was 74.

Words of remembrance and praise were spoken by Mohammed's wife, Khadija Mohammed, and the Quran was recited at the outdoor Janazah -- a Muslim prayer service. The imam lay nearby in a silver-gray casket. (MORE)



By Yonat Shimron, News & Observer, 9/12/08

On the face of it, it's no big deal: A group of students from Duke University will gather Monday after classes for a discussion and a meal.

Except that this type of gathering has never been tried before.

The event, billed as a "Jewish Iftar," brings together Muslim and Jewish students at Duke for a "break-fast" meal during the holiest month of the Muslim year -- Ramadan…

Iftar meals have become so popular, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has put out a guide for Muslims who would like to host such meals with the wider community. The guide, a kind of "how to," walks Muslims through the process -- from forming a committee, to sending out invitations to mailing thank-you notes.

"Everybody enjoys a good meal," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. "It's an opportunity to reach out in a positive way." (MORE)



Plain Dealer, 9/11/08

For area Muslims, the thirst and hunger pangs of a Ramadan fast melt blessedly away at the sunset iftar, a fast-breaking meal marked by prayers, smiles and hearty appetites.

Non-Muslims are invited to share the experience and learn more about Islam's holiest month at the fifth annual Sharing Ramadan Iftar Dinner, sponsored by the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The free dinner program begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Joseph Cole Center of Cleveland State University, 3100 Chester Ave. For reservations, call 216-830-2247.



Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, 9/11/08

Most Alaskans may seem excited about Gov. Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate. But there’s at least one group of her constituents that has had a more subdued reaction: the state’s Muslims.

There are only about 2,000 to 3,000 Muslims in Alaska, and, while there are no mosques, Anchorage (which is home to most of the state's Muslims) does have an Islamic Community Center, located in a rented office in a strip mall, where members pray on Fridays.

But Osama Obeida, the center’s vice president, said his group has never had any contacts at all with Alaska’s governor. No meetings, no invitations to state ceremonies, no pro forma letters commemorating the observance of Islamic holy days. “She has never taken the initiative,” Obeidi told NEWSWEEK. (MORE)

IVAN MORENO, Associated Press, 9/12/08

A Muslim advocacy group is trying to mediate a solution to a weeklong confrontation between Somali workers and a meatpacking plant over when they can break for prayer, a spokesman for the group said Thursday.

Religious tension between U.S. factories and Muslim workers is nothing new, but a spokesman for the D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said he's never seen a conflict escalate to the point it has at the JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Greeley, where several dozen workers were fired Wednesday.

"Usually in these cases we're able to come to an amicable solution," said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman…

Hooper said the timing of the sunset prayer for Muslims is the only one of the five daily prayers that can't be changed.

"You can't really say, 'Well I'll delay it for an hour and do it then.' You have a very narrow window of opportunity," Hooper said.

During the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, workers can't eat or drink until that prayer, he said.

Hooper said CAIR attorneys in Chicago are now involved as mediators, and may pursue legal action if religious accommodations are denied. But they're hoping it doesn't get to that point.

"Really, you don't need attorneys in these cases," Hooper said. "You just need a spirit of good will and cooperation." (MORE)



The Associated Press, 9/12/08

Gold’n Plump Poultry Inc. of St. Cloud has agreed to allow Somali workers to take short prayer breaks and to refuse handling pork at the company’s poultry processing facilities, under a federally mediated settlement. The agreement is among the first in the nation that requires employers to accommodate the Islamic prayer schedule and the belief, held by many strict Muslims, that the Koran prohibits the touching and eating of pork products. (MORE)



In the deal with the meat processor's Muslim workers, Washington showed it will fight workplace discrimination.

CHRIS SERRES, Star Tribune, 9/11/08

It was billed as a compromise, but leaders of the Somali Muslim community are cheering a federally mediated settlement that would require Gold'n Plump Inc. to make new accommodations for their religious practices.

Some experts on labor law say the settlement is an indication of how the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will approach a recent surge of religious discrimination complaints from Muslim workers. Nationwide, such complaints to the EEOC have more than doubled over the past decade, from 398 in 1997 to 909 in 2007.

"This sends a message that employers must respect the beliefs of every minority in America -- including Muslims," said Owais Bayunis, president of the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley. (MORE)



(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J., 9/12/2008) - The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) is applauding a decision by United Airlines to accommodate an Islamic headscarf, or hijab, as a part of a flight attendant's uniform.

A Muslim flight attendant was initially told she could not wear hijab. After the intervention of CAIR-NJ the airline committed to creating a uniform compatible with the employee's religious needs.

"We applaud United Airlines' handling of this case," said CAIR-NJ Executive Director Jim Sues. "The company's constructive attitude demonstrates its commitment to allowing workers of all faiths to exercise their civil and religious rights."

He said employers who have questions about how to accommodate Muslim employees may contact the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group.

CAIR offers a booklet called "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices" to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.

SEE: An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices


This is company's second clash over Muslim holiday

Joanne Kelley, Lisa Ryckman, Rocky Mountain News, 9/12/08

The union representing JBS Swift workers here said many of those involved in a prayer-break dispute had no advance warning they would be fired if they failed to return to work this week.

In addition to filing grievances for each of the employees who wants his or her job back, the United Food and Commercial Workers also will challenge the slaughterhouse giant for allegedly leaving the union out of initial negotiations over Ramadan-related rituals.

"The company went around the union a week ago and cut a side deal with some workers and then reneged," said Manny Gonzales, a spokesman for UFCW Local 7. "That was the cause of this whole mess."

The controversy marks the second year in a row the meatpacking company has clashed with employees over the timing of Ramadan related rituals. A similar dispute erupted in 2007 at Swift's plant in Grand Island, Neb…

Immigrant-rights groups and advocates for Muslims have begun to intervene on behalf of the workers, either to help them find new employment or in hopes of resolving the break issue.

"We have a lot of experience dealing with this kind of situation," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "In just about every case, we've been able to come up with a reasonable solution."

Hooper said the sunset prayer break is "almost always the sticking point" because there is little flexibility in when it must take place. (MORE)
A Muslim advocacy group that last year helped mediate a worker dispute at a JBS Swift & Co. packing plant in Nebraska on Thursday said it hopes to do the same in Greeley where 103 Muslim workers were fired.

Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based civil-rights group, said the dispute over prayer time at the Greeley slaughterhouse is the worst they've seen in the country.

"We've never seen anything like the wholesale firings to this degree, and it makes me wonder what's really going on there," council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said Thursday.

A nearly identical rift occurred last year at a JBS packing plant in Grand Island, Neb., when Muslim workers walked off the job when they were refused prayer time. Three workers were fired for leaving stations without permission, and 90 quit.

The council filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the workers, which is pending. Workers in Nebraska gave managers a 45-minute window in which prayer breaks were necessary; in Greeley the workers offered a 10-minute window, according to people familiar with the discussions.