DC MUSLIM COALITION JOINS AMT STATEMENT ON FBI RELATIONS - TOP
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/1/2009) - More Islamic and civil liberties organizations have signed on to a statement by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, saying that it is considering suspending outreach relations with the FBI over recent incidents in which American mosques and Muslim groups have been targeted.
SEE: FBI and American Muslims at Odds (Christian Science Monitor) SEE ALSO: FBI Director Questioned about Muslim Relations
The new signatories include the Pakistan American National Alliance, the Peace and Justice Foundation, Muslim Voters of America, and the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO) in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The CCMO represents more than 50 Washington-area mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim organizations.
“Constructive relations with any law enforcement agency must be based on mutual respect and trust,” said CCMO Chair Asma Hanif. “We hope that the FBI addresses these crucial issues so that trust can be restored and relations maintained.”
To date, 34 organizations and many community activists and scholars have endorsed AMT's statement.
To endorse the AMT statement online, click here.
AMT is an umbrella organization that includes American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), MAS-Freedom, Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), and United Muslims of America (UMA). Its observer organizations include the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County (IEC).
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CONTACT: AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed, Tel: 510-299-9313, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FBI DIRECTOR QUESTIONED ABOUT MUSLIM RELATIONS - TOPInFocus News, 4/1/09
ANAHEIM, Calif. The controversy over reports of an FBI informant infiltrating southern California mosques and the FBI’s overall conduct toward American Muslims were subjects of a Senate hearing last month, generating vague answers from FBI Director Robert Mueller and generating even more concern in a community already feeling fearful and unfairly targeted in a post-9/11 era. In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held on Capitol Hill, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was tough on Mueller.
“Can you determine and report to this committee whether mosques have been entered by FBI agents or informants without disclosing their identities under the authority of the attorney general guidelines and, if so, how many?” Feingold asked.
“I will say that we do not focus on institutions, we focus on individuals. And I will say generally if there is evidence or information as to individual or individuals undertaking illegal activities in religious institutions, with appropriate high-level approval, we would undertake investigative activities, regardless of the religion,” Mueller responded in part.
Mueller, in regurgitating the domestic intelligence and investigative agency’s standard line, in fact contradicted claims of Craig Monteilh, an Orange County man who has publicly revealed how he was trained to “infiltrate” area mosques from West Covina to Mission Viejo to spy on unsuspecting worshippers, for almost a year.
Monteilh’s accounts prompted Muslim community leaders and groups to question the true intention behind the FBI’s partnership with U.S. Muslims.
A highlight of the Senate testimony was a reference to the American Muslim Taskforce statement, released March 17. That statement was part of a nationally-coordinated campaign by Muslims to decisively respond to the FBI’s aggressive tactics.
[ ... ]
AMT Chairman Agha Saeed, however, said the AMT’s effort is not a campaign of disengagement.
“It is instead designed to truly engage top Justice Department officials on these critical issues,” Saeed said. “It is also designed to help restore respect and equal rights for American Muslims after eight years of being treated as suspects rather than partners.” (More)
ACLU CALLS FOR INTERNAL DHS INVESTIGATIONS ON FUSION CENTERS - TOPFormer Members of Congress and Muslim Rights Group Also Voice ConcernsCommon Dreams, 4/1/09
WASHINGTON - April 1 - As a Homeland Security Subcommittee in the House held a hearing on fusion centers today, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its vast concerns that these entities provide huge risks to Americans’ privacy rights.After testifying last week before the same committee the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment the ACLU sent five letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties urging investigations into five troubling incidents, several of which have stemmed from DHS-funded fusion centers.“Fusion centers have experienced a mission creep in the last several years, becoming more of a threat than a security device. With no overarching guidelines to restrict or direct them, these centers put Americans’ privacy at huge risk,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We need our government to take a long, hard look at what’s going into these centers and, frankly, what’s coming out.”Former Congressman Bob Barr, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have all expressed deep concerns about the practices of fusion centers. Statements from them can be found below. (Full press release) The following can be attributed to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization:
“CAIR is deeply troubled that the North Central Texas Fusion System bulletin labels monitoring the legal activities of American Muslims exercising their constitutional privileges as ‘imperative.’ In light of similar monitoring of peace and anti-death penalty activists in Maryland, CAIR believes it is time for Congress to conduct a deeper evaluation of our nation’s new domestic surveillance infrastructure.“The author’s unprofessional presentation of known anti-Muslim sources as outlets of credible information also calls the integrity of the entire fusion system into doubt. This second point is an overt manifestation of the ‘Inaccurate or Incomplete Information’ identified in a December, 2008 Department of Homeland Security report on a number of risks to privacy presented by the fusion center program.“Based on this and other recent incidents and initiatives targeting the Muslim community nationwide, we are concerned that the rights of American Muslims to participate fully in our country’s political process and practice their faith free of government intrusion is under assault.”
To read the ACLU’s letters to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, go to: www.aclu.org/privacyTo read the ACLU’s report on fusion centers, go to: www.aclu.org/fusion
CONTACT: ACLUMandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; email@example.com
SURVEILLING FOR CLUES OF EVIL INTENT - TOPAn American Stasi operating in 'fusion centers'?Bruce Fein, Washington Times, 4/1/09
The Soviet Union had its KGB, East Germany had its Stasi, and the United States should profit by those examples. It should abandon fusion centers that engage 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers in the business of gathering and sharing purported domestic or international terrorism intelligence. The vast majority conceive this task as synonymous with monitoring and scorning political dissent and association protected by the First Amendment.
To a hammer everything looks like a nail. To an intelligence agent, informant or law enforcement officer, everything unconventional or unorthodox looks like at least a pre-embryonic terrorist danger. The United States should not fall victim to the French Bourbon monarchy disease of forgetting nothing, and learning nothing, as with the A. Mitchell Palmer Raids, McCarthyism, COINTELPRO or Operation Shamrock.
Fusion centers pivot on the idea that the best way to forestall a second edition of Sept. 11, 2001, or a variation is to spy on American citizens in search of clues of an inclination toward future terrorism. Under U.S. law, an earmark of terrorism includes acts that "appear to be intended ... to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." Any dissidence or political dissident is suspect to fusion centers. (More)
IL: PULIDO'S "MUSLIM FRIEND" WITHDRAWS ENDORSEMENT, CITING HER "DISTURBING MINDSET" - TOPJosh Kalven, Progress Illinois, 4/1/09
In her recent note on the right-wing website Free Republic, 5th Congressional District GOP candidate Rosanna "Chicagolady" Pulido apologized for her inflammatory comments in that forum over the years, acknowledging that her racist and homophobic statements (which she simply described as "stupid") had hurt even some of her own supporters.
To wit, Pulido described her conversation with a Muslim friend regarding the controversy:
A Muslim man who is my good friend called me. We talked about some other stupid comments I made and I had the opportunity to take responsibility for what I said. Actually this campaign is not as important to me as doing the right thing when I screw up and hurt people and my friends.
To refresh your memory, among Pulido's various heinous postings was a March 10 comment asserting that praying Muslims reminded her of dogs "smelling buts [sic]."
Since her "apology" on Free Republic a week ago, the Muslim friend in question -- York Township Trustee Moon Kahn (pictured above) -- wrote Pulido to withdraw his endorsement of her candidacy, citing her "disturbing mindset." We have a copy of the full letter, which you can read below (Full article)
CAIR-MN: GOLD'N PLUMP SETTLEMENT PAVES WAY FOR RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION - TOP(ST. PAUL, MN, 04/1/08) - The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today announced that more religious accommodation complaints may be resolved after Muslim workers’ bias suits against a Minnesota-based poultry company were settled. On Tuesday, a federal judge approved a $1.35 million religious discrimination settlement against Goldn Plump Inc. As part of the settlement, the company will add a paid break to accommodate Muslim prayer in the workplace. SEE: Bias Suits Settled with Gold'n Plump, Job Agency (Star Trib)“The Gold'n Plump decision sets a new standard for religious accommodation in Minnesota,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeeza Islam. “CAIR-MN’s goal is to ensure the Muslim employees are afforded their religious rights and are free from discrimination. We are not asking for anything special, but we demand that employers understand and follow the law."Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance, all protect the right of any employee with a bona fide religious belief to have religious accommodations at the workplace as long as they are not unduly burdensome for the employer.The majority of cases reported to CAIR-MN focus on a failure to accommodate prayers in the workplace. Prayer is an obligatory part of the Muslim faith and is performed five times throughout the day. According to recent cases reported to CAIR-MN:
A number of Muslim employees have been terminated or forced to resign since June 2007 at Minneapolis-based Wholesale Produce Supply Company because the employees were engaging a legally-protected activity, praying at work. The employees report to CAIR-MN that they asked supervisors for religious accommodations, but were ignored and then reprimanded.
A Woodbury Wal-Mart employee was reportedly fired in February when he was caught praying by a new manager. He explained he was previously allowed to pray before the new supervisor banned Muslims from praying in the workplace.
A Maplewood JCPenney employee was allegedly fired when caught praying in a fitting room. Her manager allegedly told her, “J.C. Penney cannot accept you if you pray.”
Muslim employees at Vadneis Heights-based ColoPlast were informed that due to a new company policy, they could no longer pray in the workplace. As a result, several Muslim employees were allegedly fired.
Ms. Islam said that CAIR-MN is working actively with the above-mentioned companies to ensure that all relevant laws are being followed.CAIR-MN has conducted diversity training to educate employers about Muslim practices and religious accommodation laws to help them understand and resolve disputes in the workplace and will host a state-wide employers’ training in August 2009.Additionally, 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 PracticesCAIR, 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.- END -CONTACT: CAIR-MN Communications Director Jessica Zikri, 612-226-3289, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam, Esq., 651-587-4712, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202 488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
IL: DUNKIN' DONUTS OPERATOR GIVES UP FRANCHISE IN PORK BATTLE - TOPAmeet Sachdev, Chicago Tribune, 4/1/09
An Arab-American owner of a Chicago-area Dunkin' Donuts store has to give up his franchise after he lost his long-running legal battle with the restaurant chain over his religious objections to selling pork products.
A lawyer for Walid Elkhatib said Tuesday that his client is in the process of removing Dunkin' Donuts signs from his Westchester outlet, but apparently not fast enough for the company.
Dunkin' Donuts went to federal court in Chicago on March 27 to stop Elkhatib, 59, from using the company's trademarks and other proprietary materials.
The company's lawsuit came two weeks after a federal jury found that the chain did not discriminate against Elkhatib for refusing to renew his franchise agreement because he declined to sell breakfast sandwiches with bacon, ham or sausage.
The dietary restrictions of Elkhatib's Muslim faith forbid him from eating or handling pork. When he decided to go into the restaurant business, his faith was one of the reasons why he invested in Dunkin' Donuts in 1979. The chain did not introduce breakfast sandwiches until 1984.
For nearly 20 years, Dunkin' Donuts accommodated his religious beliefs, even providing him signs for his store that said, "No meat products available," Elkhatib asserted in court documents. But in 2002, the company reversed course and told him it would not renew his franchise agreement if he did not sell its full line of products.
Elkhatib sued the company but because he is not an employee of Dunkin' Donuts, he could not sue under federal laws banning religious discrimination in the work place. Instead, he invoked a law that bars racial and certain forms of ancestry discrimination in the making of contracts.
A Chicago federal judge rejected Elkhatib's claim, finding that it was a religious rather than a racial claim. But in 2007 an appellate court allowed the case to go to trial, finding that Dunkin' Donuts did not consistently apply its rules on franchise holders. In fact, Elkhatib's lawyer found a Chicago location that did not sell breakfast sandwiches with pork because many of the customers followed Jewish dietary laws that ban the consumption of pork products. (More)-----
INCITEMENT WATCH: WY LETTER WRITER CLAIMS MUSLIMS WILL BE TAKING OVER - TOP
Please write a short letter to the editor in response to the misinformed letter below. Letters should be addressed to “Letters Editor” and should be less than 250 words. As always, remain polite.
To: Daniel Sandoval, Letters Editor - email@example.comCopy to: Kerry Drake, Opinion Editor - firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Casper, Wyoming Star Tribune:
If you believe that Muslims are just different religious believers, that they want to get along with the rest of us, you should read Mark Steyn's "America Alone" and learn why Islam is actually bent on dominating the world.
And their holy book, the Koran, states clearly that it's perfectly OK to kill the infidels, nonbelievers like you and me. (Mohammed meant business.)
Right now they're beginning to transform Europe -- not through terror -- but by massive immigration. You see, the Europeans welcome immigrants because they need many more young folks since at 1.3 children per couple the French, the Germans, the Belgians and the rest aren't providing a new generation of workers to support the gigantic welfare state.
So the Muslims rush in from their poor countries, a goodly number go on welfare, and all refuse to assimilate while demanding their own dress and customs be accepted.
They also know how to produce large families so in another generation or two the Muslims will be in control.
Be aware of what's going on. The book is witty, amusing, erudite. Try it.
DICK MILLS, Casper
PRIEST WON’T RECANT HER FAITH IN ISLAM - TOPRichard C. Dujardin, Providence Journal, 4/1/09
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who has been told by Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf that she had until the end of March to recant her faith in Islam or face expulsion from the Episcopal priesthood, said Tuesday she still has no intention of doing so and realizes that by dawn Wednesday she may no longer be a priest.
Reached by phone as she was stepping into a language academy in Seattle where she has begun studying Arabic, Redding said she had spent part of Tuesday mourning her impending expulsion.
“There is an acknowledged sadness, because if it were not for the limited vision of one particular bishop I still might have been able to function as a priest.”
Although Redding has never ministered in Rhode Island since Bishop George N. Hunt, the then-bishop of Rhode Island, ordained her 25 years ago, she has remained, at least until now, under the jurisdiction of Rhode Island’s bishop because she has never changed her canonical residence.
Bishop Wolf — who plans to release a statement on Wednesday — initially called Redding back from Seattle in 2007 after learning, at a bishop’s meeting, that Redding had converted to Islam while continuing to serve in the Olympia, Wash., diocese as an Episcopal priest. Redding’s unusual step did not seem to raise the ire of the then-bishop of Olympia, who called her move innovative.
Bishop Wolf — who plans to issue a statement on Redding on Wednesday — said she became particularly concerned because Redding had publicly recited the Shahada, the statement of belief that is at the cornerstone of becoming a Muslim and that she was attending prayer services at a mosque in Seattle.
Bishop Wolf has repeatedly insisted that such a melding of two faiths is impossible because of key differences between the two particularly on such things as belief in the incarnation and belief in Jesus as the only-begotten son of God. After initially placing Redding on a year-long suspension from priestly duties that lasted an additional two months to give her time to reconsider, she warned Redding in September that she had six months to recant or be deposed.
On Tuesday, Redding said she still sees herself as both Muslim and Christian and sees no reason to change.
“I am Muslim and I am a Christian and Episcopalian,” she said. “I will continue to follow the path that God has called me.”
Redding said she fully expects that when she rises Wednesday sometime between dusk and dawn, she will recite the first of the five prayers that the faith requires Muslims to recite each day. She will also gather at the local mosque for community prayer services, and on the weekend, visit a local Episcopal parish for Christian worship. (More)
CA: ISLAMIC LAWS OF FINANCE A CUSHION IN HARD TIMES - TOPStephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, 3/30/09
The recession gripping the nation has taken less of a toll on American Muslims who follow age-old Islamic laws against paying or charging interest.
They've also been shielded by socially responsible retirement plans because Shariah Islamic law forbids investments in banks and mortgages as well as tobacco, alcohol, gambling, pornography or weapons.
"If everybody was Shariah-compliant, there would be no recession," said Farouk Fakira, a Yemeni immigrant who moderated a discussion on Islamic finance at Sacramento's Masjid Annur last week. (More)