CA: MUSLIM CANDIDATE TARGETED OVER FAITH - TOPHector Becerra, Los Angeles Times, 3/4/09
Southeast Los Angeles County, which has struggled for years with public corruption investigations and bruising politics, is emerging from Tuesday's municipal elections with a pair of black eyes. . .
Over the weekend, Bell City Council candidate Ali Saleh was alerted about fliers someone found at a local grocery store. Someone superimposed Saleh's face on a picture of a man holding a sign that read, "Islam will dominate the world." The flier also showed pictures of radical Iraqi cleric Muqtada Sadr, the burning towers of the World Trade Center and terrorists wearing black hoods and standing over a kneeling hostage, presumably about to be executed. At the bottom of the flier was a message to voters:
"Vote NO Muslims for the City Bell Council 2009."
The 33-year-old Saleh, who grew up in Bell, said he never expected his candidacy to lead to an attack on the city's Lebanese American and Muslim community, which numbers about 2,000. Saleh was one of two Lebanese Americans running for council, along with Hussein Chahine. They lost.
"Politics can get dirty. But usually they just say something about you," Saleh said. "But when you come and tell people not to vote for any Muslims, you're talking about an entire group. I was born in this country. I want to be part of this American democratic system. This is very upsetting."
Saleh suspected the culprit was Councilman Luis Artiga, who was running for reelection. Artiga, who won, strongly denied the charge. (MORE)
CAIR-LA: MAN CLAIMING TO BE FBI INFORMANT SPINS QUITE A TALE - TOPMatt Coker, OC Weekly, 3/5/09
…Monteilh said his assignment was to infiltrate mosques in Irvine, Tustin, Anaheim, Culver City, West Covina and San Pedro. His contact on the outside was an "FBI Agent Armstrong." Monteilh was certain others were sent to infiltrate Southern California mosques as well.
He arrived at the Islamic Center of Irvine in 2006 and befriended members, using the name Farouk Aziz, always wearing robes and, though he has no facial hair now, growing a long beard. "The imams and sheiks wanted me to go to Cairo University and learn for the Americans," he said.But about a year in, an incident he would not describe--other than saying it was unrelated to what he was doing at the mosque --caused people he'd been spying on to wonder about him. To test their suspicions, these mosque members went to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose California office is in Anaheim. The Muslim education and human rights group in turn contacted Irvine Police and the FBI to say Farouk Aziz was spreading "jihad" talk around the mosque, which eventually got a restraining order against him.
In press reports at the time, the FBI would neither confirm nor deny an investigation was under way at the Islamic Center.
The August 2007 issue of InFocus, the Southern California Muslim news source, included the story, "Is Big Brother At Your Mosque?" Reporter Abdussalam Mohamed named Niazi as one of the young Muslims who turned in Monteilh. It is actually comical, according to the story, how Niazi figured out the supposed convert might not be who he had claimed to be: Monteilh wrote his real name instead of his fake one on the roll of an Arab language class Niazi taught.
Monteilh told me the InFocus story led to death threats from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and someone in Irvine with ties to the Taliban.
"They ruined my reputation," he said. "I need to be known for what I did. They have me as a terrorist or a potential terrorist. The Islamic community has a restraining order against me because of my 'jihadist views.' I was carrying out a direct order."
He claimed the people he was investigating blew his cover to protect themselves. That's the same argument Ropel used in court Tuesday. The agent acknowledged that Niazi and others at his mosque came forward to turn in a convert who "was scary to them," but that the bureau believed Niazi figured out the convert was an informant and filed the report to protect himself.
If Monteilh's tale did not cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stiffen, just Google his name. Like a Christmas tree, the Internet light up with stories of him being a conman, a gold digger, something of a nut and possibly a government informant--with a criminal record extending back to 1987, with charges ranging from forgery to burglary and grand theft. His Orange County rap sheet alone includes 18 charges between January 2006 and November 2007. But here is the strange part: all but two were dismissed, on the same day…
When we met, Monteilh suggested I contact Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Anaheim CAIR office, which I did.
"I have never trusted Monteilh," Ayloush told me. "He is very suspicious."
I explained the source of his suspicion had told me it was in the FBI's best interest and CAIR's best interest if Monteilh was portrayed as a crook.
"I can see why it is in the FBI's best interest to have him be seen as a con man rather than an informant," Ayloush said, "but I am not sure what he meant with it being in CAIR's best interest."
It is, Monteilh claimed, so CAIR can protect Muslims like Niazi.
"That's interesting," Ayloush responded. "From what was reported to us, a few young Muslims hung around him and held discussions about hot political topics. At the moment he talked about actually committing violence, they called the police on him and asked me to call the FBI on their behalf, which I did. The FBI did not show any interest in taking action, which told me he was an informant--more like a provocateur." (MORE)
CAIR-CHICAGO BANQUET TO RECOGNIZE MUSLIM CIVIL RIGHTS WORK - TOPInternational scholar Hamza Yusuf to speak, CNN’s Roland Martin to be recognized
(CHICAGO, IL, 3/5/09) - On Saturday, March 7, the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will commemorate its work in championing civil rights and advocating on behalf of Muslim Americans with its fifth annual banquet, themed “Beyond Islamophobia: The Opportunity in the Challenge.”
The event will feature internationally renowned Muslim American scholar Hamza Yusuf, award presentations in the categories of Media, Community Service and Courage, and a short film premiere showcasing CAIR-Chicago’s work.
Community leaders and activists from every sector of Chicago’s Muslim American community will join government officials, elected representatives and other honored guests at the banquet. More than 1,000 guests are expected to attend.
WHAT: CAIR-Chicago's Fifth Annual Banquet WHEN: Saturday March 7, 2009, 6 p.m. receptionWHERE: Brury Lane Banquet Hall, 100 Drury Ln, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Hamza Yusuf, author, scholar, and co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA and “arguably the west's most influential Islamic scholar.” (Guardian)
AWARD RECIPIENTS: CNN Journalist Roland Martin, Media Award; Ahlam Jbara, Community Service Award; Dr. Imran Qureshi, Courage Award.
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, (312) 212-1520, (202) 870-0166 E-Mail: email@example.com; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, (217) 493-0912 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAIR-Chicago serves one of the largest and most diverse Muslim populations in the United States.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties group and has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims
-----OKLA. HOUSE PASSES BILL BANNING RELIGIOUS HEAD COVERINGS - TOPLegislation would ban religious head covering in driver’s license photos
(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 3/5/09) - The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today joined other groups concerned with constitutionally-protected religious freedoms to express concern about a bill that bans religious headwear in driver’s licenses and other identification card photos.
SEE: Oklahoma Muslims Asked to Challenge Anti-Hijab Legislation
The bill, HB 1645, passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. An Oklahoma Senate subcommittee is expected to take up the bill next week.
The proposed amendment states: “The photograph or image shall clearly identify the licensee or cardholder and shall depict a full front unobstructed view of the entire head and shoulders of the licensee or cardholder. Hats, head scarves, head garments that cover or partially cover the head or shoulders are strictly prohibited and shall not be worn by the licensee or cardholder when being photographed for a license or identification card.”
CAIR-OK believes the amendment proposed by Rep. Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs) was introduced in reaction to CAIR-Oklahoma's successful resolution of a dispute over a Muslim woman's right to wear a religiously-mandated head scarf, or hijab, in her driver’s license photo.
SEE: Muslim Woman Takes Driver's Photo with Head Scarf (Video)
A recent Tulsa World editorial pointed out the irrelevance the legislation that bans religiously mandated headscarves in driver's license photos. It pointed out this would have unintended consequences on other religious groups as well.
SEE: Forced Habit: Driver’s License Law Isn’t Needed (Tulsa World)
On Monday, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) criticized Oklahoma's House of Representatives for its attack on religious freedom.
SEE: Proposed Law Will Forbid Sikh Turbans in Driver's License PhotosSEE ALSO: Religious Freedoms Under Attack in Oklahoma
The American Civil Liberties Union Oklahoma (ACLU-OK) office is also monitoring the bill. “The bill would violate the principles our country stands for,” said Tamya Cox ACLU-OK Legislative Counsel. “A wide range of Oklahoma’s faith communities will be affected if this bill passes including Catholic nuns, Orthodox Jews, Sikhs, Muslim women and other practitioners of faith that wear religious headwear.”
“This legislation is a violation of all Oklahomans constitutionally-protected religious freedoms,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi. “It is important for people to realize that an infringement of one group’s religious rights is a violation of the religious rights of all Americans.”
SEE: Bill in Legislature Prompts Dispute Over Muslim Women's Headscarves
In a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Holder, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
“We believe both of these unnecessary and apparently unconstitutional bills would have a negative impact on the First Amendment rights of Muslims and members of other faiths in Minnesota and Oklahoma. We urge you to address the civil liberties implications of these bills and to offer a formal opinion that may be used by legislators who wish to support the Constitution and its protection of religious rights.”
A copy of Awad’s letter was sent to Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
According to a 2004 CAIR review, most states - with the exception of Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire - have addressed religious accommodation concerns. Five states - Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, and Maine - recognize some religious practices, while the other 42 states have adopted more inclusive approaches to religious accommodation policies.
SEE: Religious Accommodation in Driver's License Photographs
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-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi, 405-248-5853, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-OK Chairperson Lobna Hewedi, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-OK Operations Coordinator Tariq Ahmad, E-Mail: email@example.com
CAIR-OK: ISLAMIC GROUP QUESTIONS DRIVER’S LICENSE BILL - TOPJournal Record, 3/5/09
An American Islamic group asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday to determine whether legislation in Oklahoma and Minnesota prohibiting the wearing of religiously required head scarves in driver’s license photos is constitutional.
In Oklahoma, language was added to a measure in committee that would not allow “hats, head scarves, head garments, bandanas, prescription or nonprescription glasses or sunglasses, masks or costumes that cover or partially cover the head or shoulders” to be worn by individuals while being photographed for a license or identification card.
In a letter to Holder, the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said the legislation “would have a negative impact on the First Amendment rights of Muslims and members of other faiths in Minnesota and Oklahoma.” (MORE)
CAIR-MN: MUSLIM GROUP ASKS HOLDER TO PROBE HEADSCARVES PROPOSALS - TOPCynthia Dizikes, Minn Post, 3/4/09
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to determine whether proposed legislation in Minnesota and Oklahoma, which could prohibit headscarves in driver’s license photographs, would violate the U.S. Constitution.
The council, which is the United States' largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, has contended that if passed both bills would infringe on First Amendment rights of Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and members of other faiths who wear religious head coverings. (MORE)
-----WI: WOMEN'S RIGHT TO WEAR HEADSCARF ON DRIVING LICENSE SHOULD BE PROTECTED - TOPClaudia Lozano, Spectator, 3/5/09
It's hard for people to put themselves in another person's shoes, and maybe it would be the same for headwear.
Minnesota State Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) wants to pass a bill to ban any kind of headwear in a driver's license as a matter of public safety, according to a March 2 WCCO article.
Of course the Muslim community was not happy about this bill. Some Muslims have said they have a religious right to cover their heads, according to the article.
Gottwalt said this bill would make it easier for law enforcement to identify people, and it would make it fair for everyone. . .
I don't know what Gottwalt's reasons are behind this ban. I know he says it would be easier for law enforcement to identify people, but that would only be the case for caps or things that people use to cover themselves when they don't want to be seen or recognized.
Sunglasses are not allowed because they hide your eyes, I understand that; however, prescription glasses are allowed because is something that you wear everyday. A person's driver's license even has a space to put this kind of information.
My point is Muslim women wear headscarves every day. (MORE)
AZ: JEWISH-MUSLIM PEACEWALK - TOPArizona Daily Star, 3/5/09
The sixth annual Jewish-Muslim PeaceWalk Tucson will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The two-mile walk starts at Congregation Or Chadash, 3939 N. Alvernon Way. People of all faiths who believe a peaceful co-existence is possible are invited to join in the event, organizers say. Afterward, participants can gather for a meal, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Al Huda Islamic School, 2800 E. River Road.
For more information, go to www.peacewalktucson.org
VA: PROSECUTORS DEFY JUDGE'S ORDER IN AL-ARIAN CASE - TOPMatthew Barakat, Associated Press, 3/5/09
Federal prosecutors have defied a judge's order to turn over evidence of their internal deliberations in coming to a plea agreement with a former professor once accused of being a top Palestinian terrorist. (MORE)