Friday, October 31, 2008

Palin Not ready

A former Republican Secretary of State and one of John McCain's most prominent supporters offered a stunningly frank and remarkably bleak assessment of Sarah Palin's capacity to handle the presidency should such a scenario arise.
Lawrence Eagleburger, who served as Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush and whose endorsement is often trumpeted by McCain, said on Thursday that the Alaska governor is not only unprepared to take over the job on a moment's notice but, even after some time in office, would only amount to an "adequate" commander in chief.
"And I devoutly hope that she would never be tested," he added referring both to Palin's policy dexterity and the idea of McCain not making it through his time in office.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Testimony: Woman delivers stillborn baby while delayed at checkpointOn 4 Sept. '08, Naheel Abu Ridah, seven months pregnant, was rushed to hospital in severe pain. When she reached Huwara checkpoint with three relatives, soldiers refused to let them cross by car despite the family's pleas. She delivered in the car, and the baby was born dead. The checkpoint commander was sentenced in a disciplinary hearing to 14 days in an army prison and removed from office

.Soldiers attack family while arresting fatherOn 14 August '08, in the middle of the night, soldiers entered the home of the Abu 'Aker family in the Deheishe refugee camp to arrest the father. They ordered him and his children to undress in front of them, severely beat the father, slapped his 13-year-old son, and turned the house upside down, breaking things in the process. B'Tselem has demanded that the Judge Advocate General's Office investigate the incident.

New News

Settlers raid 'Asira al-Qibliya and attack residentsOver the past year, settlers from Yitzhar and the surrounding area have sharply stepped up violent acts against nearby Palestinian villages. On 13 Sept., after a Palestinian stabbed a Jewish boy and burnt down a caravan in a settlement near Yitzhar, dozens of settlers raided the village of 'Asira al-Qibliya, rioted and widely damaged property. Soldiers were present at the time, yet did nothing to prevent the settlers' actions, and fired at the Palestinians.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Minister Molester

Billock faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted on two counts of aggravated child rape in connection with an 8-year-old girl who lived at their Menifee home in 2005. The 51-year-old ordained minister was a foster father to nine children between 2000 and 2005 in Riverside and San Diego counties.
The Press-Enterprise does not publish the names of minors who could be victims of sexual assault.
The girl lived with the defendant and his wife, Wendy, from about Oct. 11, 2005, to Nov. 16, 2005. The girl reported rape in January 2007, more than a year later.
During his closing statement, prosecutor Burke Strunsky said putting a little girl through an intrusive examination more than a year after the abuse occurred is not something authorities would do.
"We are not ever going to put a girl through an intrusive examination unless we think it's going to yield useful evidence. We knew that wouldn't happen in this case," he said.
During his closing, the prosecutor focused on the things the little girl reported.
She provided details about sexual intercourse that are mundane, physical truths which adults don't talk about and are not included in movies, Strunsky said.
She was living with her aunt at the time she made her report, feeling happy and safe for the first time in years, Strunsky said.
The girl had nothing to gain by coming forward with this information, he said.
"She is telling the truth ... the details of her statement could not be faked."
(ANAHEIM, CA, 10/27/08) The Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) announced today that it won a judgment against Starplex Cinemas, which cancelled a contract with the Muslim civil rights group after caving in to right-wing pressure three days before a scheduled screening of the documentary “USA vs. Al-Arian” in April of this year. Right-wing groups demanded that the theater not screen the documentary, which highlights the injustices faced by former Florida professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian. CAIR-LA took the theater to court after efforts to work out a resolution failed because of a lack of cooperation from the company. As a last resort, CAIR-LA brought its breach of contract case against Starplex Operating, L.P. to court.SEE: Calif. Theater Cancels Al-Arian Doc After Pressure from ‘Anti-Muslim Bigots’ “This case was a classic example of how a few narrow-minded people can harm the right to freedom of speech that we all cherish,” said CAIR-LA staff attorney Ameena Qazi. 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.CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851; E-mail:
CAIR-LA REP PARTICIPATES IN PANEL ON MUSLIM/ARAB IMAGES IN MEDIA - TOP(ANAHEIM, CA, 10/27/08) -- On Thursday, a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) participated in a panel discussion on images of Muslims and Arabs in the media.Munira Syeda, communications coordinator for CAIR-LA, was joined by panelists Robert Greenwald, founder of Brave New Films; Steve Padilla, religion editor for the Los Angeles Times; Lena Khan, filmmaker; Ahmed Ahmed, actor and comedian; and Siamak Kalhor, Radio Iran host. The panel was moderated by Jon Beaupre, award-winning guest host on KPCC Radio's "Air Talk" and "Talk of the City."The panel, held at the Los Angeles Press Club, attracted some 120 people. During her address, Syeda said even though there has been a recent trend of incorporating three-dimensional Muslim characters on film and television, Muslims must play a more central role in reframing their own story. "American Muslims must take the initiative in engaging the media and sharing our story with the American public," Syeda said.Other panelists such as Greenwald noted existing bias and hate-mongering against Muslims in the media and emphasized getting organized and working with other coalitions to counter hate messages. Brave New Films late last year began a campaign against syndicated radio host Michael Savage for his offensive remarks against Muslims, in which he called the Quran a “book of hate.” Greenwald will be presented with the Courage in Media Award at CAIR-LA's 12th Annual Fundraising Banquet on Nov. 1. The panel was organized by the Media Image Coalition, the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, and the Los Angeles Press Club. 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.CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851; E-mail:
THE JEWISH EXTREMISTS BEHIND "OBSESSION" - TOPJeffrey Goldber, The Atlantic, 10/27/08
I've only watched the 12-minute version of "Obsession," the film sent to more than 28 million people in various swing states, apparently by associates and partisans of the Jewish movement known as Aish HaTorah, or "Fire of the Torah," but it was enough for to understand that it is the work of hysterics. One of my favorite hysterics, the Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick, is featured prominently, pieces of the sky falling about her head as she rants about the End of Days.
Aish HaTorah denies any direct connection to the film, which is designed to make naive Americans believe that B-52s filled with radical jihadists are about to carpet-bomb their churches, and are only awaiting Barack Obama's ascension to launch the attack. But the manifold connections, as laid out in this article, among others, make it clear that high-level officials of Aish are up to their chins in this project. The most disreputable flack in New York, Ronn Torossian, who represents Aish, makes an appearance in this story, which was to be expected: Torossian last made the news when he employed sock-puppetry in defense of one of his many indefensible clients, Agriprocessors, Inc., the Luvavitch-owned kosher slaughterhouse that treats its employees nearly as badly as it treats its animals, which is saying something, because Agriprocessor slaughterers have been filmed ripping out the tracheas of living cattle.
But I digress. It's said of Ronn Torossian that he represents "right-wing" Israeli politicians, but this description does not do his clients justice. "Right-wing" is Bibi Netanyahu. Torossian represents the lunatic fringe. Several years ago, in one of my only encounters with him, he introduced me to Benny Elon, a rabbi and settler leader who was then Israel's tourism minister, and who, at various points in his career, has more or less advocated the ethnic cleansing of Israel of its Arab citizens. At one point, when Elon had gone to take a telephone call, Torossian and I started talking about Israel's right to reprisal for terrorist attacks. I was arguing in favor of some sort of proportionality (this was after Jenin, in which the Israeli army chose to root out terrorism block by block rather than bomb the city from the air) but Torossian interrupted: "I think we should kill a hundred Arabs or a thousand Arabs for every one Jew they kill." I was somewhat taken aback, of course, because this is a Nazi idea, rather than a Jewish idea. I asked him to explicate: "If someone from a town blows himself up and kills Jews, we should wipe out the town he's from, kill them all. The Israelis are suckers. They should have destroyed Jenin." (MORE)
SPEAKER TARGETS MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATIONS - TOPKatelyn Hanna-Wortley, Brown and White, 10/28/08The Muslim Student Association, a national student group that has chapters at many colleges, including Lehigh, is linked to Islamic terrorist groups, a speaker said Thursday evening in Packard Auditorium.
"My concern is that organizations like the MSA pretend to be religious and cultural organizations that are really political organizations," said David Horowitz, a conservative writer and activist…
During his lecture, Horowitz also spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The Palestinian cause is a genocidal campaign against the Jews," said Horowitz, who is Jewish. "The Israelis are civil, democratic people and the Arab people are not. They are barbaric," he said. (MORE)
Sponsoring author David Horowitz to give a lecture about radical Islam and its connection to the Muslim Student Association was a bad move by The Patriot who sponsored the talk and the College Republicans who promoted it. Less than two weeks before the presidential election, it's a thinly-veiled attempt to create Islamophobia in potential voters.
The original link is here.
David Horowitz is the Islamophobia movement's premier promoter. Through his "Islamofascism Awareness Week" (see Islamofascism Case Study), which brought leading Muslim-bashers to more than a hundred college campuses in October 2007, and via his website, FrontPage Magazine, which features the movement's leading writers and links to other anti-Muslim sites, Horowitz has made himself the chief publicist of the Islamophobic movement. (Anti-Muslim and anti-Arab writings at Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine have been exposed for inaccuracy by, among other outlets, the New Yorker magazine--4/14/08.)
A New York-based organization has sent copies of a movie about Islamist extremism to more than 28 million houses and religious institutions in presidential election battleground states over the past several weeks.
The 60-minute documentary-style production, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," includes images of terrorist attacks from around the world, historic footage of Nazi rallies and modern-day scenes of Muslim children reciting poetry that celebrates suicide bombings. The costs of producing and distributing the film, through mass mailings and newspaper inserts -- an effort that one Muslim advocacy group estimates at $50 million -- were paid by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group that says it is seeking "to educate Americans about issues of national security to influence voters."
Members of several Muslim groups have condemned the film, saying that it is inflammatory and that it could incite violence against them.
"It's a mind-boggling massive campaign. When you send material like this almost exclusively to presidential swing states that sends a message that you are trying to influence the election," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It's inappropriate as a nonprofit for the Clarion Fund to do."
The council filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service last month, accusing the group of promoting the candidacy of Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama's. Federal election and tax laws prohibit nonprofit organizations from promoting specific candidates. (MORE)
CAIR-OH: OBAMA'S NOT A MUSLIM, BUT LOTS OF GOOD PEOPLE ARE - TOPSusan Campbell, Hartford Courant, 10/26/08
The retired general and former secretary of state appeared on "Meet the Press" last Sunday to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and then he had this to say about Obama's religion:
"The correct answer is: 'He is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is: 'What if he is?'" Powell said. "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"
Some of us — me, included — have been so quick to remind people that Obama is not a Muslim that we forgot to finish the sentence: So what if he is? The result of distancing Obama from Islam makes it appear that the religion is a bad thing. John McCain made the same mistake when a woman at a town hall meeting falsely said Obama is an Arab, and the Republican presidential candidate responded that no, he's a decent family man. Arabs can be that, too, and Muslims can be president…
The Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Ohio has been working with the mosque, said council executive director Karen Dabdoub. Roughly 30,000 Muslims live in the Cincinnati area, she said, and the community picked up on the Obama Muslim denial months ago.
"No, he's not a Muslim, but there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim," said Dabdoub, who converted to Islam from Christianity. "That's the way it always is. Unless it's directed at you, it doesn't appear on your radar usually. And I have to say, I'm guilty of it as well." (MORE)
(CHICAGO, 10/27/08) - On Monday, October 27, 2008, the Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will join elected representatives, state legislators, immigrant advocate partners, new voters, and volunteers to celebrate the success of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights’ (ICIRR) voter registration drive and launch the Get out the Vote Campaign.
CAIR-Chicago partnered with ICIRR and the Mosque Foundation this year to promote voter participation in the upcoming election through a fellowship program called the New American Democracy Project (NADP). The program registered almost 1,200 Muslim and Arab voters in the southwest suburbs alone.
For several months, NADP has been conducting voter registration drives, canvassing door-to-door, training volunteers, holding phone banking sessions, distributing voter education guides, and setting up workshops for first-time voters to help them understand the process.
In total, the NADP campaign has registered over 25,000 voters in 19 different immigrant communities throughout the Chicago-land area.
The campaign will now focus on getting registered voters out to the voting booths on November 4th or in early voting.
WHAT: Get Out the Vote Campaign Rally WHEN: Monday, October 27, 2008. 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
WHO: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, City of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, IL. Attorney General Lisa Madigan, U.S. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4), U.S. Representative Danny Davis (IL-7), Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, Commissioner Joe Berrios, Mayor of Berwyn Michael O’Connor, Aldermen Ricardo Munoz, Joe More, Danny Solis and state legislators including: Iris Martinez, Antonio, Munoz, William Delgado, Mattie Hunter, Donne Trotter, Esther Golar, Eddie Acevedo, Deborah Graham, Elizabeth Hernandez, Susana Mendoza, Harry Osterman, Kevin Joyce, Tony Berrios, Linda Chapa La Via. As well as immigrant advocates from CAIR-Chicago, ICIRR, the Mosque Foundation, and hundreds of new voters and volunteers from the Asian, Latino, Muslim/Arab, African and Polish communities of Chicago and suburbs.
WHERE: Teamsters City Auditorium Local 705; 300 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL
CAIR-Chicago, a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil rights 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: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 312.212.1520 or 202-870-0166, E-Mail:; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: 312.212.1520 or 217.493.0912
Hearing people wrongly say that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim, Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman cringes.
He cringes, too, when he hears people expressing relief that Obama is not a Muslim. "Either way, they're implying that there's something wrong with being a Muslim," said Rehman, a Bay Shore pediatrician.
Many Long Island Muslims say that a campaign of whispers, e-mails and videos intended to smear Obama's image has had a much wider effect: It has smeared the image of Muslims in America. (MORE)
Click here to view the video.
Edgar Hopida, public relations director of the San Diego Council on American-Islamic Relations, said McCain's response wasn't good enough. "The mistake McCain made is that he said he is not an Arab, he is a decent family man, like those two things are mutually exclusive."
He wishes both candidates would do more to spread a simple message, "We are not a slur. We are not terrorists. We are trying to live the American dream like everybody else."
Hopida, who is non-partisan, said that before 2000 most Muslims were Republicans who backed Bush because they are "conservative in nature. But after 9/11 and the increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric, those numbers started to change.
"Some Muslims, not all, but some Muslims felt disillusioned and betrayed by some of the promises President Bush had made so a lot of them have shifted to the Democratic Party," said Hopida.
Shariq Abdul Ghani was watching Meet the Press at his Richmond home Sunday morning when he suddenly froze with a cup of Nescafe halfway to his lips.
On the TV screen, former Secretary of State Colin Powell was telling host Tom Brokaw he was disturbed that some Republicans have been spreading rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim," Powell said. "He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no. That's not America."…
Longtime Republican Tarek Hussein, 48, said he will be voting for Obama this year because of the Democrat's positions on the economy, health care, energy and the war in Iraq.
"It is very sad situation to see the country divided this way based on ethnicity and religion, because what makes America unique and a great country is that based on constitutional rights we are all equal," said Hussein, who serves as president of the Houston chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations.
As a nonprofit, CAIR will not endorse any candidates, but the organization has encouraged Muslim Americans to become politically informed and exercise the right to vote, he said.
"If you connect all these dots it will bring you to one conclusion and that's that there's a strong voice in America these days against anything related to Islam or Muslims," Hussein said. "It's going to take a strong effort from Muslims to educate the community about who we are." (MORE)
-----COLIN POWELL AND MY AMERICAN FAITH - TOPSuhail A. Khan, Washington Post, 10/22.08
During the great immigration waves of 1900, a rabbi said of our melting pot, "All names are American names." How wonderfully true. So too, all faiths are American faiths. America is made up of men and women of all faiths, and all are protected by the Constitution.
Colin Powell reminded us of this important fact Sunday morning asking, "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"
The answer again is no, but there have been some who've suggested otherwise. In recent years, and especially since the horrifying events of 9/11, some have demonized Muslim Americans as a threat to our national security and indeed our American way of life. Some have questioned the loyalty of American Muslims calling for the barring of all American Muslims from public service and the military. And others have even proposed that, unless Muslims take a special loyalty oath, that we criminalize the practice of Islam with 20 years in prison. (MORE)
-----JUDGE'S E-MAIL RAISES QUESTIONS - TOPCandidate wrote in reply to lawn-sign vendor's skeptical message about MuslimsEmily Gurnon, Pioneer Press, 10/21/08
Hennepin County District Judge and Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Deborah Hedlund received an e-mail Monday with the subject line, "Can Muslims Be Good Americans?"
The e-mail came to Hedlund and several other people from Matt Look, owner of Ramsey-based Look Signs, with whom Hedlund was negotiating for some lawn signs.
It includes claims that allegiance to Islam forbids a Muslim "to make friends with Christians or Jews," that a Muslim "must submit to the mullahs, who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America" and that "Barack Hussein Obama, a Muslim ... refuses to pledge allegiance to the United States or put his hand over his heart when the national anthem is played. ..."
In her reply message to Look — which she inadvertently sent to all original recipients — Hedlund wrote: "Matt, We speak the same language. And I still need to let voters know they have a choice to 'Seek Justice, Vote For Experience' for the Minnesota Supreme Court." (MORE)
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today renewed its call for Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigations of an apparent attempt by a foreign-based group to influence the presidential election.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said another media report has linked the Israel-based group Aish HaTorah to the distribution of millions of anti-Muslim DVDs to voters in presidential election swing states and to key opinion leaders nationwide.
An article in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch described an interfaith response to an effort led by an anti-Islam pastor to send the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West” to hundreds of thousands of Christian and Jewish clergy nationwide.
The Rev. O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Fla., refused to say who paid for the massive mailing, but admitted that the donor “had been in touch with officials from Aish HaTorah.” Dozier also said, “I do believe that the religion of Islam…is a very dangerous and evil cult." (“Obsession” interviewees include those who have said “Islam is the devil” and who claim no “practicing Muslim” can be a “loyal citizen to the United States of America.")
SEE: Interfaith Partnership Rallies Behind Muslims Anxious About DVD (Post-Dispatch)
An earlier article in the St. Petersburg Times revealed ties between the film's distributor, the Clarion Fund, and Aish HaTorah. The newspaper’s investigative report stated: “Clarion's address, according to Manhattan directory assistance, is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah. The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International are also connected to a group called HonestReporting, which produced Obsession. Honest­Reporting's 2006 tax return uses the same address.”
SEE: Senders of Islam Movie 'Obsession' Tied to Jewish Charity (St. Petersburg Times)VIDEO: Israel-Based Group Behind Distribution of Anti-Muslim DVD (CNN)
A columnist for The Atlantic wrote that Aish HaTorah “operatives flourish in the radical belt of Jewish settlements just south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank.”
SEE: The Jewish Extremists Behind "Obsession"
CAIR has also learned that the “Obsession” DVD is being distributed to local public officials “throughout the country” by the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC). An EPPC letter accompanying the DVD tells the officials to “get informed…Before it’s too late.”
Based on these revelations and on the DVD distributor’s apparent attempt to use its non-profit status to impact the presidential election in favor of a particular candidate, CAIR filed complaints with both the FEC and IRS.
CAIR also noted that even those who once backed “Obsession” are withdrawing their support for the film that many commentators have called anti-Muslim “propaganda.” For example, the pro-Israel think tank the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) pulled out of “The Obsession Project.”
Howard Gordon, the executive producer of Fox’s drama “24,” withdrew his endorsement of the film because “the goal of co-existence and tolerance is not being served by films like Obsession."
Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a Muslim interviewee for “Obsession,” now calls the production a "vile piece of propaganda." In a statement sent to the website, Dr. Mohammed said: “Sadly, it would seem that I have allowed myself to be used.”
The “Obsession with Hate” site was launched recently by the Hate Hurts America Multifaith Community Coalition (HHA), a group of religious and civic organizations seeking to challenge hate speech in our society.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape. It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers.
Who knew? Actually, more than 50 years ago, some Russian scientists reported evidence of X-rays from peeling sticky tape off glass. But the new work demonstrates that you can get a lot of X-rays, a study co-author says.
"We were very surprised," said Juan Escobar. "The power you could get from just peeling tape was enormous."
Escobar, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports the work with UCLA colleagues in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get. After all, you could peel tape or do something similar in such machines with just human
ISLAMIC PRAYER CENTER IN MILLARD VANDALIZED - TOPChristopher Burbach, World Herald, 10/22/08
Abdul Hikmat was preparing to pray at a southwest Omaha mosque on Tuesday afternoon when he discovered shards of glass and chunks of rock scattered across the floor.
Someone had thrown a rock through a glass door of the Midwest Islamic Foundation near 138th and Q Streets.
The stone shattered more than the door.
"I was shocked, devastated, horrified," Hikmat said. "And very disappointed. This is a center for love, love for people, love for God."
Hikmat and Bilal Khaleeq, board members of the foundation, said they view the vandalism as a hate crime. Although the vandal left no graffiti or other written message, Hikmat and Khaleeq said there was no other explanation…
Omaha police and the FBI were investigating. Police recorded the crime as a destruction of property. A uniformed patrol officer on Tuesday found no blatant evidence of a hate crime, said Officer Michael Pecha, a police spokesman.
But, he said, detectives will consider that possibility as part of their follow-up investigation. (MORE)
Talk about timing. The same day the Sun-Times ran my last column, in which I denounced a fake rape story by a south suburban high school senior who described her alleged attacker as Arab-looking, police said a Muslim student at west suburban Elmhurst College admitted she was not the victim of a hate crime on the school's campus.
Boy, did that get my "fans" busy, sending e-mails and calling, certain they had an "a-ha" moment. "Hey Sue," one sneering voice asked, "you gonna do a story on the Muslim student at Elmhurst College now?"
Why, yes I am.
If Safia Z. Jilani, the Elmhurst College sophomore, thought she was going to bring attention to the discrimination and hate crimes that befall Arabs and Muslims, she failed miserably. If anything, she just gave the haters of the world a little more ammunition.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, many Arab Americans have wrongly found their patriotism questioned. The trash talk in the current campaign -- that if Barack Obama is Arab (he is not) that's reason to disqualify him as presidential material -- has made Arabs feel marginalized.
Faking a hate crime or rape is an outrage. Real people are victims of both, and they are physically and emotionally damaged. And in both situations, victims sometimes are damaged a second time when law enforcement doesn't take them seriously…
When I wrote my initial column, I interviewed Shafic Budron, a member of the national board of directors of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and past president of the Chicago chapter. During our conversation, he offered the supposition that if the tables were turned and an Arab student had been involved in the Palos Heights hoax, serious criminal charges would have been leveled against her, and her photo would have been shown.
I thought about that when I read that Jilani, the Muslim student at Elmhurst College, was charged with filing a false police report, which is a Class Four felony. If found guilty, she could face one to four years in prison. Her name and photo appeared in newspapers and on the TV news.
The Stagg senior remains anonymous, probably because she faces no criminal charges. We've heard vague promises of some community service in the future.
Two misguided teens have admitted to police they did very wrong things, but the handling sure is different. Makes you wonder why.
The chairwoman of an Otero County Republican women's group on Tuesday defended a letter to the editor in which she wrote, “I believe Muslims are our enemies.”
Marcia Stirman, a 56-year-old interior decorator, also called Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama “a Muslim socialist.”
A national Islamic group expressed outrage over Stirman's letter and called on state and national Republican Party officials to repudiate the publication of “anti-Muslim comments.”
“Because these hate-filled remarks were made by a prominent Republican, it is incumbent on state and national GOP officials to repudiate her divisive and intolerant views,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Officials with the Republican Party of New Mexico had no immediate comment.
The letter ran Tuesday in the Alamogordo Daily News. It was titled “Why I'm a Republican” and listed 16 reasons for her party affiliation.
The list ends with Stirman saying Obama is “a Muslim socialist.” She also wrote, “I believe war is a fact of life and we should always win.”
Stirman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she was surprised by reaction to her letter, which she said included support from all over the country. She wrote it after the newspaper recently published another reader's letter titled “Why I'm a Democrat.”
Asked for a response to Awad's concerns, she said of Muslims: “I don't trust them at all. They've sworn across the world that they are our enemies. Why we're trying to elect one is beside me.” (MORE)
CAIR: GOP LETTER ON OBAMA LAMBASTED - TOPJeff Jones, Albuquerque Journal, 10/22/08
Comments from a southern New Mexico Republican leader that "Muslims are our enemies" and that Democrat Barack Obama is a "Muslim socialist" drew criticism Tuesday from religious leaders and a national Islamic group called on the party to repudiate the statements. Otero County Republican Women Chair Marcia Stirman made the comments in a letter published Tuesday in the Alamogordo Daily News, prompting a flood of e-mails from across the country to the southern New Mexico newspaper. "I'm a Republican because: I believe in a sovereign God who sometimes gives us what we deserve. I believe Muslims are our enemies," Stirman, who lives in Alamogordo, wrote in the letter to the editor. "I agree with a two-party system, but Obama isn't a messiah or a Democrat. He's a Muslim socialist," Stirman wrote. Justin Crispin, an associate pastor for the First Assembly Worship Center in Alamogordo, called Stirman's comments "uninformed" and pointed out that Obama is a professed Christian. Rabbi Joseph Black with Congregation Albert in Albuquerque said Stirman's comments went beyond ignorance. "I'm sickened," Black said. "History has taught us the dangers of mindless hatred based on religious affiliation. Absolutely ­ they're dangerous."…
Stirman told the Journal she stood by her comments. She said in an interview that she'd received compliments but that she also expected "hate mail."…The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations heard about Stirman's letter and demanded that other Republican leaders repudiate her comments. "Is this person saying that millions of American Muslims, our neighbors, our colleagues, these are her enemies? If she's saying that, what do you do with enemies?" asked council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. "We're seeing this kind of thing too often in this election campaign. We need some elected officials or candidates to stand up and say: 'This is un-American. This isn't right.'” (MORE)
One of the most striking parts of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama was his accusation that Republicans have helped spread the rumor that Obama is Muslim, and turned the word into a smear. "I have heard senior members of my own Party drop the suggestion he's Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists," he said.
Some Republicans took umbrage at the comment, saying McCain and Republicans haven't directly made such an accusation. Jonah Goldberg of The National Review wrote that it was a "low and dishonest blow," and asked, "is there really much evidence that the GOP or the McCain campaign have had anything to do with the stories that Obama is a Muslim?"
It's an important question, worth a detailed look.
First, Powell himself noted that McCain himself has never intimated that Obama is Muslim. And he's right about that. Neither McCain nor Palin have suggested such a thing, or even referred to their opponent as Barack Hussein Obama. At one point, the campaign fired a volunteer who had told voters that Obama is Muslim. A recent video showed rank-and-file McCain supporters chastising an anti-Muslim McCainiac.
Hillary Clinton arguably stoked the rumor more directly than McCain when she said during the primary that he wasn't Muslim "as far as I know."
What about the Republican Party? There's no evidence that the national Republican Party has driven, coordinate or even overtly encouraged the Obama-is-a-Muslim line.
Yet the idea has been widely embraced, and not just by a few conservative extremists. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 16% of McCain supporters believe Obama is Muslim - and only 47% of Republicans say he's Christian (the balance is unsure).
There are some instances of Republican Party officials stoking the idea:
* The Tennessee Republican Party issued a press release about "Barack Hussein Obama" that included a picture of Obama in "Muslim garb."
* The website of the Clark County, Republican Party in Washington state declared, "Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. It is reported that Obama swore his oath of office using the Koran....This is chilling information about a candidate for the highest office in the Country especially given the radical Muslim claims that they will destroy American from "the inside."
* The website of the National Black Republican Association featured an article analyzing "Obama's Muslim Connections," which declared, "It's important to scrutinize Obama's Muslim background to determine if his Islamic past influences his decisions and actions toward America, including his decision to select an anti-American pastor as his spiritual advisor."
* Marcia Stirman, chairman of Otero County Republican Women in New Mexico declared in a letter to the local newspaper that Obama is "He's a Muslim socialist."
Most important, the idea has been spread by mainstream conservative media - not just a few lonely conservative bloggers in their basement but major conservative publications or figures with large followings:
* A popular conservative website,, ran a story this week called, "Was Obama a Muslim?" and another one, "Obama 'Lying' About Muslim Past, Expert Says." (MORE)
All Things Considered, October 21, 2008 · Barack Obama's message of unity and diplomacy is an appealing one for many Muslim-Americans. But his conspicuous absence from Muslim and Arab-American neighborhoods and mosques this campaign season has some voters feeling slighted.
In Michigan — home to a big Muslim population as well as the nation's largest concentration of Arab-Americans — reaction to Obama has been mixed. For some, Obama's message transcends race, ethnicity and religion. Others say the Democratic nominee has done little to reach out to Arabs and Muslim voters, and are withholding support. (MORE)
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Unrest over a Muslim prayer issue and allegations of discrimination have drawn a visit to the state by regional members of a Muslim advocacy group.
Chicago-based representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations arrived in Grand Island on Tuesday. Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham says many Somali people are leaving or considering leaving the central Nebraska community following a dispute at the JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant. (MORE)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CHICAGO (Reuters) These are uneasy times for America's Muslims, caught in a backwash from a presidential election campaign where the false notion that Barack Obama is Muslim has been seized on by some who link Islam with terrorism.
The Democratic White House candidate, who would be the first black U.S. president and whose middle name is Hussein, is a Christian. Son of a Kenyan father and white American mother, he spent part of his childhood in largely Muslim Indonesia.
The idea Obama is Muslim has circulated on the Internet for months, presented by some as a fact to reinforce the position that Obama is not a suitable candidate for the White House.
Not since the election of John Kennedy as the first Catholic U.S. president in 1960 has the faith of a White House hopeful generated so much distortion, said about 100 "concerned scholars" and others who have signed an October 7 proclamation aimed at countering Islamophobia they say is on the rise.
In recent weeks:
-- More than 20 million video disc copies of a film called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" were included as advertising supplements in newspapers across the country, many in battleground states where Obama is in a close fight with Republican candidate John McCain. The film, distributed by a private group unaffiliated with the McCain campaign, features suicide bombers, children being trained with guns, and a Christian church said to have been defiled by Muslims.
-- A city council candidate in Irvine, California, who is Muslim convert, said he got a telephone call saying "I want to cut your head off just like all the other Muslims deserve," the Los Angeles Times reported.
-- A mosque in a suburb of Chicago, Obama's home city, was vandalized four times in less than two months, with anti-Islamic messages left on its outer walls, and windows and doors broken…
Daniel Varisco, anthropology chair at Hofstra University, said he wrote the "statement of concerned scholars" after seeing Islamophobia on the rise.
"The attempts to label Senator Obama a terrorist or rhyme his name with Osama (bin Laden) or accent his middle name (Hussein), as well as false claims about his being sworn into (U.S. Senate) office on a Koran, demonstrate how near to the surface anti-Islamic sentiment is in the United States," he said.
Circulating such falsehoods "avoids playing the race card directly but at the expense of Muslims," he said.
The Clarion Fund, which distributed the film "Obsession," through a huge newspaper advertising buy, says it is an independent education group focused "on the most urgent threat of radical Islam" and that placing the film in the hands of readers in battleground election states was an attempt to grab attention.
Spokesman Gregory Ross said, "we have no political or religious affiliations to any group whatsoever."
The Islamic Circle of North America has meanwhile opened an offensive of sorts -- a campaign promoting Islam and seeking converts. It said it placed advertising signs inside 1,000 cars in New York's subway network.
In Chicago the group had a number of city buses adorned top to bottom with pro-Islam advertising, headlined "Islam: The Way of Life of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad."
Rehab of the Chicago C.A.I.R. office said that kind of approach may work to a limited degree, "but really the crux of the issue is not learning about the details of a religion but rather interacting with and understanding that the average Muslim is no different than yourself."
WHAT COLIN POWELL ALSO SAID - TOPHis comments on Muslims in America bear repeating -- and repeating.Washington Post, 10/21/08
Naturally, what garnered the most attention on the day after former secretary of state Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama was its political significance. But we hope that another message that Mr. Powell tucked into his endorsement isn't forgotten.
Like many people before him, Mr. Powell rebuked those who have spread or fed the rumor that Mr. Obama is Muslim, and like many before him Mr. Powell reiterated that the story is false -- that Mr. Obama is and always has been a Christian.
Mr. Powell then took the issue an important step further. "But the really right answer," Mr. Powell continued on NBC's "Meet the Press," "is, 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president?" (MORE)
For all the ease of picking out fairly extreme scenes at political rallies, the American News Project has a compelling moment of the reverse at a McCain event in Northern Virginia: McCain backers responding to a man who, outside a rally, is handing out bumper stickers casting Obama as a Muslim, and explaining to the crowd how bad Islam is.
Muslim and Christian McCain supporters confront him in a spirit that would make Colin Powell happy.
"Are you deliberately trying to lose us this election?" one of the latter asks.
‘LITTLE BIG PLANET’ MUSICIAN DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL SONG TO MTV - TOPMuslim Experts Assess Whether Song Is A Problem Stephen Totilo, MTV, 10/21/08
The musician behind the song that caused the highly anticipated PlayStation 3 game “Little Big Planet” to get recalled just days before its release has defended his song in a statement issued to MTV Multiplayer.
Perhaps even more significantly, singer Toumani Diabate has explained what the song is about and why its inclusion of verses from the Qur’an is his “way to attract and inspire people toward Islam.”
Multiplayer received the statement late yesterday, following conversations with two Muslim experts who helped illuminate the reasons why Diabate’s song might trouble some Muslims and just how similar — or different — this situation is from the publication of the Danish cartoons that inspired deadly riots across the world.
They note the complication that there is no explicit rule in Islam prohibiting a song like Diabate’s…
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group, said that he “commended” Sony for removing the song from the game, but reiterated Ali’s point that the inclusion of verses from the Qur’an, while potentially problematic, isn’t likely to be widely considered a breach against Muslim religious rules. “It’s not necessarily some strict prohibitions,” he said. “It’s just the appropriateness of the context of the sacred text. I could see Christians or Jews objecting if verses from the Bible were used in a similar way.” (MORE)
CAIR: MUSLIM WOMEN'S HEAD SCARF A VEIL OF MYSTERY - TOPMarian Gail Brown, Connecticut Post, 10/21/08
It's all about the veil.
The hijab is a flowing slip of fabric Muslim women wrap scarf-like around their heads, tucking their hair beneath it so that not even a wisp escapes. They wear them pulled down to cover much of their foreheads, as well.
To the non-Islamic world, it is this modest bit of apparel that marks these women as Muslim. Even without intending to, these women stand out as different. From their attire, conclusions about them are drawn. That their religion is violent. Their devotion extreme. Their politics questionable.
Hijab is an Arabic term that means "to veil, to cover, to screen [or] to shelter." The Quran, however, does not mandate women wear hijabs. Rather, it instructs them to dress modestly. Most Islamic legal systems, based on centuries of Sharia -- Islamic jurisprudence -- interpret hijab as requiring women to dress so as to cover every part of their bodies with the exception of their face and hands when they are in public. And it can also refer to something metaphysical too. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, the Quranic meaning of hijab "refers to a spatial curtain that divides [men and women] or provides privacy" and allows for women to be clearly "identified and not harmed" when they mingle or travel.
Stereotypes remain
Long before she arrived on the Fairfield University campus as a freshman, Nargis Alizada, an Afghan refugee, donned a hijab in California when she became a teenager.
A motorcyclist spotted Alizada strolling down a San Diego street with her younger brother and drove off the road, onto the sidewalk, cursed her out as a "[bleep]ing Muslim. You're killing our people," and ripped her hijab off her head before knocking her down. The time was two years after the 9/11 attacks. "I was running as fast as I could," Alizada said. "I was so scared."…
Pure and simple, the motorcyclist's attack on Alizada was a hate crime. The Council on Islamic-American Relations claims each year there are an untold number of bias crimes against Muslims or people assumed to be Muslim. Most of them go unreported. (MORE)
NY: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AIRPORT HARASSMENT - TOPAllison Kilkenny, Talking Points Memo, 10/21/08
Her name is Helen, a Muslim woman in her mid-twenties. She's scared to talk to me even though I've told her that I will change her name for my article so the authorities will have no idea who she is.
"I'm an easy target for this kind of thing," she says, gesturing to the hijab secured around her head.
Helen was traveling through JFK airport security when she was flagged for further screening. She says she's gotten used to this kind of treatment. However, the usual security treatment then took a strange turn. A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee asked to see Helen's I-Phone.
Helen tells me she was hesitant to hand over her new $400 phone, and she was unclear as to why she had turn over her private property in order to board a plane.
"He said it could be used as a weapon," she explains, shrugging. The shrugs says: So what was I supposed to do?
Helen gave the TSA employee her phone, and he proceeded to search through her list of contacts. Explaining the incident, Helen still squirms in her seat, and I can tell how violated the treatment made her feel.
The TSA employee then explained he would have to take her phone for further inspection, and that Helen could reclaim it later at the airport help desk. At this point in her story, Helen throws up her hands in exasperation.
When Helen went to reclaim her phone, the airport employees claimed they couldn't find it.
"I said, 'No, no, no. Look, I have his name! I was just here!' They looked at me like I was crazy. They said, 'Sorry, your phone isn't here.'"
This kind of story isn't uncommon. Understandably upset and furious, Helen went home to vent to her friends. To her surprise, many of her Muslim friends said they too had experienced this kind of airport theft. (MORE)
NY: AT CITY HALL, A WELCOME MAT FOR ID AL-FITR - TOPAnne Barnard, New York Times, 10/20/08
Girls with blond braids circled boys in jewel-colored Slavic costumes in a Bosnian folk dance. A man from the Ivory Coast, in a blue robe and skullcap, sang a haunting melody. An Egyptian dancer whirled in circles, his upper body serene, his bright red skirt wafting outward as he spun, his feet tapping madly beneath it.
All were Muslim New Yorkers, performing the other night at the annual celebration of the Muslim holiday Id al-Fitr at the City Council chamber in New York’s City Hall. Above them, time-darkened ceiling panels spelled out ideals of American government: “Equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion — Jefferson.” (MORE)
Representatives from South Los Angeles-based UMMA Clinic will join the U.S. Surgeon General and national leaders at an historic event at the White House on October 22, where they will discuss the impact of faith-based and community health centers in meeting the health challenges of America’s poorest communities.
Today, health centers like UMMA use innovative approaches and strategic partnerships to provide affordable access to quality health care for America’s growing under- and uninsured population. UMMA clinic has been chosen as the organization to represent the Muslim American contribution to charitable health care.
The White House-hosted presentation by UMMA’s president and CEO, Yasser Aman, MPH, will not be the clinic’s first participation at the national level. In April 2007, at the invitation of Representative John Conyers, Mr. Aman submitted testimony before a House panel regarding universal healthcare initiatives. In July 2006, UMMA representatives were on hand to receive special recognition on the floor of the house by Representative Maxine Waters.
UMMA’s participation in the October 22 forum follows its accreditation, in August 2008, as a federally qualified health center. UMMA, an acronym for the University Muslim Medical Association, is the first Muslim-American nonprofit clinic to achieve full federal accreditation. The UMMA clinic has served South Los Angeles - one of the nation's most underserved regions - since 1996, providing comprehensive primary care to the area's ethnically and religiously diverse residents. UMMA is the first free-standing Muslim-founded charitable clinic in the United States.
Event Details: White House FBCI Compassion in Action Roundtable on October 22, 200810:00am 12:00pm in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Room 450.
CONTACT: Sharif Rosen, Community Relations, University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic, Tel: 323.967.0375, Email:
GOP ASKED TO REPUDIATE NM LEADER’S ANTI-MUSLIM LETTER - TOPHead of Otero County Republican Women: ‘I believe Muslims are our enemies’
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/21/08) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on state and national Republican Party officials to repudiate anti-Muslim comments written by a New Mexico GOP leader in a letter to the editor.
In her letter to the Alamogordo Daily News, headlined “Why I'm a Republican,” Otero County Republican Women Chairperson Marcia Stirman wrote: “I believe Muslims are our enemies.” She also called presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama a “Muslim socialist.” In 2002, Stirman ran for public office on the GOP ticket.
SEE: Why I'm a Republican
Otero County Republican Women is an affiliate of the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW).
SEE: NTRW - Local Clubs
In 2007, a speaker at the NFRW national convention launched a virulent rhetorical attack on Islam and Muslims. The speaker, a leader of an anti-Islam hate group, was applauded loudly as he called Islam a “cult” and said terrorists are “honest” Muslims. He also stated that anyone who believes Muslims are not the “enemy” is “incredibly ignorant or a simple-minded fool.”
VIDEO: GOP Women's Group Promotes Anti-Muslim Hate
“Because these hate-filled remarks were made by a prominent Republican, it is incumbent on state and national GOP officials to repudiate her divisive and intolerant views,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
He added that Stirman’s bigoted views are in stark contrast to those of former Secretary of State Colin Powell who on Sunday rejected Islamophobia in political campaigns.
SEE: CAIR Applauds Powell’s Repudiation of Political Islamophobia
Awad also noted that Muslim Republicans recently challenged an Islamophobic heckler at a rally for Sen. John McCain in Virginia.
SEE: Defending Islam at a McCain Rally (Politico)

Monday, October 20, 2008

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/20/08) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded remarks by former Secretary of State Colin Powell repudiating Islamophobia in political campaigns.
In an appearance yesterday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Powell said in part:
“I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”
SEE: 'Meet the Press' Transcript for Oct. 19, 2008
Click here to watch the video.
“We applaud Mr. Powell for stating so eloquently and forcefully what should have been said long ago by public officials and candidates for elected office,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “His statement gives hope to American Muslims who have been disheartened by rising levels of anti-Muslim bigotry in this election cycle.”
Last week, CAIR noted the increasing religious and ethnic bias in political campaigns and called on Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama to repudiate anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias during the final presidential debate.
SEE: Muslim Group Asks Candidates to Reject Islamophobia in Debate
As examples of that bias, CAIR cited a recent controversy over Sen. McCain’s declaration that his opponent is a “decent guy” after a campaign rally participant called Sen. Obama an “Arab.” The Washington-based group also noted the false claim that the Illinois senator is a Muslim and an incident in which Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves were barred from an Obama rally photo opportunity in Michigan.
CAIR said American Muslims are particularly concerned about the recent distribution, possibly funded by a foreign entity, of 28 million anti-Muslim DVDs to voters in presidential swing states nationwide.
POWELL BACKS OBAMA, OPPOSES MCCAIN TACTICS - TOPStephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press, 10/19/08
Colin Powell, a Republican who was President George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president today and criticized the tone of Republican John McCain’s campaign.
The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said either candidate, both of them senators, is qualified to be commander in chief. But he said Obama is better suited to handle the nation’s economic problems as well as help improve its standing in the world. . .
In his comments, Powell also criticized what he saw as repeated attacks on Muslim-Americans during the campaign.
Powell’s comments were welcomed by at least one Muslim leader in metro Detroit, which has one of the biggest Muslim communities in the United States.
Dawud Walid, assistant imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, said he was pleased by Powell’s remarks.
“Gen. Powell’s remarks are what the Muslim community have been waiting for from the GOP leadership this entire election,” Walid said. (MORE)
As they pressed their foreheads to the sidewalk in front of the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, a group of Arab men finished their noon prayers on a recent Friday. Unable to squeeze inside the mosque, they worshiped alongside a bright red table that held voting literature and buttons that said, “I’m Arab and I vote.”
“Yalla vote, Yalla vote,” Jihad Kifayeh, 17, shouted as he pressed voter registration forms into the hands of his elders outside the mosque in Brooklyn. Yalla means “hurry up” or “let’s go” in Arabic.
He is among several dozen Arab Muslim teenagers in South Brooklyn who are volunteering for voter registration drives, campaigning for local politicians and taking neighbors to the polls. Many, like Mr. Kifayeh, a senior at Fort Hamilton High School, have persuaded their parents to register to vote for the first time.
Their efforts are part of a political awakening, stirred by the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, that has brought a growing number of Muslims into the electoral process.
“Some of my people are scared to vote,” said Mr. Kifayeh, whose family moved to New York from the West Bank city of Ramallah when he was 3. “They think their opinions might be criticized, particularly after 9/11. But it’s better that our voices are heard by the politicians.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, as a large Arab Muslim community took root in South Brooklyn, its leaders struggled to get their voices heard. Their events were rarely attended by local office holders. The community could not deliver many votes because older immigrants tended to stay away from the polls, doubting their ballots would matter.
“We came from countries where the government changed the votes,” said Zein Rimawi, 54, one of the founders of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. “Here in our country, the votes count, and votes can change a government. We had to convince older people that their votes would count.”
While leaders of the Arab Muslim community were skilled at running mosques, a local school and several civic groups, they were relatively unsophisticated when it came to politics, Mr. Rimawi said. But after Sept. 11, many of those leaders realized they needed to become more politically astute to gain the respect and attention of elected officials.
With the help of a few supportive neighbors, they discovered a basic truism of American politics: “You vote, you exist. You don’t vote, you don’t exist,” Mr. Rimawi said.
Ralph Profetto, 74, a district leader for the Democratic Party, was among those who helped the local Muslim community after the attacks. “I am an Italian-American,” he said. “When I grew up, people said all Italians were Mafia. I knew how they felt when people said they were all terrorists.”
Mr. Profetto went around the neighborhood, taking off his shoes as he walked into mosques and explaining to worshipers the importance of forming a voting bloc, and what arguments to make to persuade neighbors to vote. Mr. Profetto covered the basics, like how a voting machine works. (MORE)
After 12 years living, studying, and working legally in the United States, Sheeraz Iqbal sought to trade in his Pakistani citizenship and swear allegiance to America for good.
Iqbal applied for his U.S. citizenship, and has been waiting two years for his application to move through a bureaucratic immigration system bogged down by a surge of immigrant petitions and added scrutiny post-Sept. 11, 2001.
The Elgin man said he asked immigration authorities about expediting his case because he wants to sponsor his elderly parents in Pakistan for citizenship. He awaits a date for his final immigration interview.
"It's very frustrating," said the 32-year-old senior financial consultant for a Chicago firm. "I really want to sponsor my parents, and when I hear they are getting sicker and sicker, it bothers me so much."
Iqbal is not alone. But there finally may be light at the end of the tunnel for longtime legal permanent residents waiting for citizenship.
Authorities under fire from immigration activists and legislators for dragging out the process are responding to class action lawsuits filed by Muslim immigrants in several states claiming discrimination. They say they are redoubling efforts to clear old cases by November. . .
Yet, what forced the change was dozens of class action lawsuits filed nationwide. Without them, federal agencies would not have devoted more resources to clear the backlog, said Christina Abraham, civil rights coordinator for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group.
Since 2005, the group has documented about 380 cases of citizenship delays in the Chicago-area Muslim community, and filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of suburban Muslims like Iqbal facing "unreasonable" delays in being naturalized.
A class-action lawsuit filed by the group in May 2006 was just recently resolved with all the plaintiffs being naturalized.
In June, the group won a lengthy legal battle in the high-profile case of Iranian-born Mohammed Reza Ghaffarpour, a 53-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago chemical engineering professor who waited six years for his citizenship approval.
Immigration authorities painted Ghaffarpour as a potential threat to national security based on multiple visits to Iran in recent years, an argument the court threw out while granting his citizenship.
The case heightened fears that prejudice against applicants with Muslim or Arab-sounding names, and general ignorance about those communities, were the underlying causes behind the delays. (MORE)
CAIR: VIDEO GAME DOOMED BY QURAN VERSE - TOPSony pulls back game for including lines in backing musicMisha Davenport, Chicago Sun Times, 10/18/08
It was supposed to be one of the biggest games this holiday season for the PlayStation 3, a kid-friendly romp in which players take control of a knitted sock creature and steer him to his goals.
Now "LittleBigPlanet" finds itself orbiting around some unwanted controversy.
In the first level of the third world in the game ("Swinging Safari"), the song "Tapha Niang," by world music artist Toumani Diabate, plays in the background. Two verses of the Quran are spoken in Arabic in the song. Loosely translated, the passages are: "Every soul shall taste of death" and "All that is on earth shall perish." The text is meant to convey that everyone dies and nothing built by man is permanent.
Four days before the game was to go on sale, Sony voluntarily recalled all copies and pushed the release back to Oct. 28 to remove the song.
Patrick Seybold, director of communications for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, did not return calls. In a statement on an official PlayStation blog, he said: "We sincerely apologize for any offense that this may have caused."
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he appreciated Sony's sensitivity to Muslim issues, but he's concerned about backlash over the recall. "Many Americans already feel that Muslims want to censor everything," he said. "Yes, some Muslims might feel that the use of the Quran . . . might be an inappropriate use of the text, but we did not ask for this recall. In fact, we haven't received any complaints about this game." (MORE)
In the last few weeks, 28 million copies of a DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West have been distributed in key battleground states. The film features graphic, violent images and makes comparisons of Islam to Nazism. The DVD comes amidst concerns of increasing levels of ethnic and religious bias in US politics and the stoking of Islamophobia. We speak to Ibrahim Cooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Isabel Macdonald of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, co-author of the new report “Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation.”
Click here to watch the video.
Click here to listen to the audio.
Click here to read the rush transcript.
MO: HATEFUL SPEECH CANNOT STAND UNCHALLENGED - TOPWashington University Student Life, 10/20/08
This week, student groups across the country are hosting speakers, panel discussions and film screenings as a part of the third annual nationwide Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Sponsored nationally by the Terrorism Awareness Project, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week fuels the dangerous and hateful lie that Islam is a violent religion and undermines the values of tolerance that lie at the core of the Washington University community.
As a part of the week, our campus will play host to author and historian Daniel Pipes, a commentator whose views on Islam approach bigotry. Although he rightly believes that it is possible to fight terrorism by supporting moderate Muslims, Pipes has consistently ignored the reality that the vast majority of Muslims belong to this category. In an April 2007 column in the New York Sun, Pipes wrongfully asserted that moderate Muslims “constitute a very small movement when compared to the Islamist onslaught”; this statement is characteristic of the intolerant attitude that Pipes has consistently espoused in appearances at colleges around the country—and that he is likely to share tomorrow night.
Like all major religions, Islam leads its adherents along a path of value, service and faith—a fact to which Washington University students can testify through firsthand observation. Muslim students at the University are an integral part of our community and should be commended for their commitment to bringing together students of all faiths to facilitate religious dialogue. That a radical and miniscule faction has superficially cloaked itself with the rhetoric of an otherwise peaceful religion is a painful reality of contemporary society but not a reason to condemn that religion outright. (MORE)
RI: HOROWITZ LAMBASTES ISLAM IN NEAR-EMPTY MACMILLAN - TOPBen Schreckinger, Brown Daily Herald, 10/17/08
David Horowitz opened his lecture on terrorism - part of "Islamofascism Awareness Week," a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center - with a joke.
"I hope you checked your pies at the door," he quipped, recalling the incident in which New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman was pied as he began his lecture in Salomon 101 last spring.
Three uniformed officers at the back and three at the front of the largely empty MacMillan 117 and Horowitz's own private bodyguard made any pies-to-the-face unlikely.
Horowitz, a Jewish writer and activist who holds adamantly pro-Israel views, said the purpose of his lecture was to counter "liberal orthodoxy" on campus. "You have one of the worst faculties in the United States," he said. "These people are communists - they are totalitarians." (MORE)
Three North Shore men have been charged in federal court with terrorizing two Revere families just because they practice Islam.
Prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office have charged Adam J. Bonito, 21, of Revere, Christopher D. Giaquinto, 22, of Winthrop and a juvenile male with criminal conspiracy to commit a hate crime.
Christina DiIorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan’s Office, announced Friday that the suspects would be charged with vandalizing and damaging the vehicles of the two Muslim families, who lived in the same Revere duplex, in 2004 and 2005.
A press release about the case did not specify where in the city the victims lived.
Prosecutors allege, “it was the plan and purpose of the conspiracy to vandalize a van, believed to belong to one of the residents, in order to interfere with the victim’s housing rights because of race,” DiIorio-Sterling said. “The intended victim was an Arab Muslim person of Middle Eastern origin who lived at the duplex in Revere.” (MORE)
PORT PERRY - Investigators have begun canvassing a north end Port Perry neighbourhood in search of clues that may lead to those responsible for scribbling racist remarks near a makeshift mosque, say police.
In the wake of a recent vandalism spree that saw "blatant racist remarks" scrawled on a fence and driveway near a neighbourhood mosque on Carlan Drive, Durham officers have been going door-to-door in search of leads that could point them in the direction of those responsible, said Detective-Sergeant Herb Curwain of the Durham police force's North Durham detachment.
"Any time there is graffiti that is clearly racist we take that very seriously," said Det.-Sgt. Curwain. (MORE)
Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations spoke to UA students at the Holsclaw Recital Hall on Tuesday about the dangers and misconceptions facing Muslims in today's society. "It is my belief that Islam and Muslims are highly misunderstood in America. This is mostly because of a slapstick approach to learning about them. The great majority of the American people have a misunderstanding of the culture," Rehab said.
Over the past few decades, the reputation of Muslims in America has been tarnished because of a series of unfortunate events, said Rehab. While making no excuses for these actions, he suggests that they were portrayed through a filter that would strike fear into the hearts of American citizens.
"You have to know there is good and bad to all people. 99.9 percent of Muslims are not terrorists, never have been and never will be," Rehab said.
He says the foundation of this prejudice is directly linked to basic principles in psychology. Rehab believes that average Americans do not get information from the proper sources; instead they are casually provided with half-truths and exaggerations. (MORE)
(COLUMBUS, OH, 10/17/08) - On Wednesday, October 15, some 50 community members from different faiths attended a panel discussion and community forum hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus on the distribution of "Obsession, Radical Islam’s War against the West,” which was recently sent to more than 28 million homes in newspapers nationwide, including in the Columbus Dispatch.
At the event, CAIR-Ohio President Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin discussed concerns about the misleading and hateful content of the movie, referring people to for more information. She talked about the interfaith community’s challenges in conveying concerns to the Dispatch and also discussed the support many community leaders have given, standing against hate and in opposition to the DVD’s distribution.
“We are grateful for the support of the community as we stand together against bigotry and the spread of hatred against any group,” said Mobin-Uddin. “Through education and dialogue, we need to address the damage done by the distribution of this hateful propaganda.”
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-Ohio President, Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, 614-560-0272, E-Mail:; CAIR-Ohio Staff Attorney, Romin Iqbal 614-451-3232,
MORRISTOWN HOMELESS CENTER'S GOAL: INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY - TOPInvites participation as it tells local groups about new programsMinhaj Hassan, Daily Record, 10/17/08
Our Place Inc., the daytime drop-off center for homeless individuals that runs from the basement of First Baptist Church on Washington Street, Thursday invited houses of worship, organizations and local businesses to an informational luncheon in hopes the different groups could further enhance the center's services.Zamir Hassan, vice president of the organization, said the center has launched two new programs.
One program consists of a book sale that will take place weekly outside the church. While Hassan hopes passersby will make a donation when picking up a book, he hopes it accomplishes another goal. "We hope that it raises awareness" in people about homelessness, he said…
Afsheen Shamsi, a public relations director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, said her organization will also help Our Place Inc. by providing volunteers and raising funds. The council provides volunteers to Muslims Against Hunger, which helps out several times a year at the soup kitchen on South Street. Several Our Place clients use the soup kitchen. (MORE)
Mohamed Nurhussien faced the usual challenges of a low-income worker trying to buy a home, with one big difference: As a Muslim he was forbidden by his religion to pay interest.
The 54-year-old Eritrean immigrant with five children thought his only option was to save enough money to purchase a home outright, with cash earned from his job at a security company.
Then he heard about Habitat for Humanity. For some Muslim immigrants like Nurhussien, the Christian homebuilding charity that offers zero-interest loans has become a real godsend.
"The way Habitat deals fits exactly to our requirements," said Nurhussien, who bought a home earlier this year from the northern Virginia chapter of the group. "It's not free. It is no interest. It's good for me and whoever has the same belief."
In northern Virginia, a majority of 12 families who bought condominiums at the local Habitat's latest development, including Nurhussien, are Muslim. In Nashville, local Habitat executive director Chris McCarthy said the city's large population of Muslim Kurdish immigrants has embraced the nonprofit. Over 10 percent of the group's mortgage holders are Kurdish.
And Muslim leaders are responding by offering labor to build homes, financial support and more to Habitat. Since 1976, the nonprofit has offered homes based on people's need, their ability to pay and their willingness to help build the houses and attend classes on topics such as budgeting.
Habitat homes also help fill a void in the U.S., where Islamic loans for strict Muslims are not widely available, said Samuel Hayes, professor emeritus of finance at the Harvard Business School and an expert on Islamic finance. (MORE)
Sheik shares Muslim teachings with kidsThe children sit in a semicircle, some crosslegged, others on their knees. But it's their eyes that catch your attention. Some are brown, some are blue.
Muslim population is growingLook down the street. They are here. And they are among us, making contributions to the community the way immigrants always have -- by paying their dues -- often starting at the bottom and working Barber offers lessons and a sense of caring
All around him are signs of society in despair. Emptied bottles of vodka, beer and wine are scattered in the weeds and shrubs that have claimed the nearby vacant lots.