Monday, August 31, 2009

Arabic television is counting on an explosion ofRamadan serials to restore losses from the global recession, but some concerned Muslims are scrambling to pull the faithful back to prayer during the holy month.

Around 60 serials hit the screens on more than 400 channels this month as producers have used bloated budgets and big names to lure advertisers during a fiercely competitive period for Arabic television dramas.

"Ramadan is the most attractive month for advertisers," television critic Adel Abbas in Cairo told AFP, putting the ad budget -- a good chunk of which is for fast-moving consumer goods -- in Egypt at half a billion Egyptian pounds (100 million dollars) in Ramadan alone, 40 percent of the annual budget.

According to regional experts, 30 seconds worth of advertising costs 3,362 dollars this month when families gather around the television after the breaking of the dawn-to-dusk fast.

The financial crisis brought revenues from publicity down 26 percent in the United Arab Emirates for the first half of 2009, and down five percent in Saudi Arabia, according to Abu Dhabi's The National.;_ylt=Ah6Awjv5ehdsXDjxWuIrmEM7Xs8F;_ylu=X3oDMTM5ajIwYmlmBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDA5MDgzMS9lbnRlcnRhaW5tZW50dGVsZXZpc2lvbnJhbWFkYW5hcmFiBHBvcwM1BHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2FyYWJ0dmxvb2tzdA--

Saturday, August 29, 2009

receives favorable determination in religious accommodation case

(CHICAGO, IL, 8/28/09) - The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Somali Muslim employees at a meatpacking plant in Nebraska faced “unlawful harassment” because of their religion.

SEE: Advocates Say Feds Telling Neb. Plant to Do More to Resolve Muslim Prayer Issue

Last fall, Muslim workers at the Swift Co. plant in Grand Island, Neb., began facing harassment, and in some cases termination, after requesting that their break schedules be adjusted to allow them to perform their daily prayers. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that employers must accommodate the religious practices of employees unless it causes the employer undue hardship.)

After a year-long investigation into the complaints, the EEOC this week said in a letter to CAIR-Chicago that “such accommodation would not have posed an undue hardship to [Swift]” and that the evidence further establishes that Swift’s supervisors “subjected Somali Muslim Employees to unlawful harassment, disparate treatment, and discrimination in terms and conditions of employment based on their religion, national origin, race, and color.” The letter also confirms that some employees were unlawfully terminated in retaliation for their requests for religious accommodation.

“This determination is a major victory for the Somali Muslim workers and for every employee who has been denied reasonable religious accommodation,” said CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights DirectorChristina Abraham. “Americans work hard and they deserve to be able to earn a living while knowing they are not sacrificing their beliefs to put food on the table.”

Abraham and CAIR-Chicago Volunteer Attorney Rima Kapitan have been advocating on behalf of the workers.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Settlement Activity Ongoing Despite Israeli Claims
2. State Department Responds to CMEP Letter on Iraqi Christians
3. CMEP Staff Transition

1. Settlement Activity Ongoing Despite Israeli Claims

This week Prime Minister Netanyahu and Middle East Envoy Mitchell met in London to see if they could undo the log jam in the peace process by coming to an agreement about what the nature of a "settlement freeze" would look like. In order to create the right context for the two parties to resume meaningful negotiations, President Obama has asked Israel to stop all settlement activity and for Palestinians to take measures to prevent terror and stop incitement to violence.

Reports following the four hour long meeting between Netanyahu and Mitchell indicate that they were unsuccessful in reaching a settlement deal. Talks are scheduled to continue next week in Washington to further discuss the U.S demand that Israel implement a settlement freeze. While the U.S. and Israel try to reach an agreement on settlements to revive the peace process, realities on the ground contradict Prime Minister Netanyahu's assertion that Israel is taking serious and meaningful actions to advance the peace process.

In a recent Haaretz article Netanyahu stated, "We are making headway. My government has taken steps both in words and deeds to move forward." While Israel has in fact taken steps to ease conditions in the West Bank by dismantling some roadblocks and easing restrictions at a few check points, these actions are not a substitute for stopping settlement activity. In fact, according to a new report by Peace Now, settlement activity is ongoing. The report says, "Some of the new construction seen in the last months…is construction based on old plans that were approved years ago. This is meant to bypass the 'settlement freeze,' without needing to approve a new plan that must receive the defense minister's approval."

Settlement construction also continues in sensitive East Jerusalem. This week plans for building the "largest Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem" were unveiled. The plan for the building of the new settlement was filed for approval at the Jerusalem Municipality and will include 104 housing units and will be connected to an existing Jewish neighborhood. A Haaretz article describing the plans noted, "When the two neighborhoods are completed and linked, a Jewish settlement of more than 1,000 people will be situated in the heart of Ras al-Amud, a neighborhood comprised of 14,000 Palestinians."

Ir Amim, an Israeli organization founded to promote an equitable and stable Jerusalem, has called the new settlement plan a "blatant provocation" and "dangerous" because it "damages the chances for a future agreement." For now, the jury is still out on settlements and everyone will have to wait to see if in the coming weeks the Obama Administration will announce a settlement deal with the Israelis that will revive the peace process and get it moving forward toward a comprehensive peace agreement.

Background Reading:

"Report: Jewish stronghold to be built in Arab neighborhood," Ynet News, August 23, 2009
"Plans for largest East Jerusalem settlement filed for approval," Nir Hasson, Haaretz, August 25, 2009
"Netanyahu, Mitchell fail to reach deal on settlements," Barak Ravid, Haaretz, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CAIR Seeks Federal Charges in Hate Attack on NY Muslim Mom, Daughter
Man allegedly threatened to kill, tried to run down mother and daughter

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/27/09) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group is calling for federal civil rights charges against a man arrested today for threatening to kill a Muslim mother and her daughter and trying to run them down with his car in a Smithtown, N.Y., gas station parking lot.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that Joseph Ballance, 23, was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime, only a misdemeanor, after being arrested at his home Thursday morning. Both alleged victims were dressed in Islamic attire.

According to police, the alleged attacker reportedly shouted anti-Muslim slurs, spit on the victims’ car and threatened to kill them because of their religion.

SEE: Cops: Man Tried to Run Down Muslim Mom, Daughter (Newsday)

“We urge the FBI to join the investigation of this troubling incident to determine what federal civil rights charges might be brought against the alleged perpetrator,” said Aliya Latif, civil rights director of CAIR’s New York chapter. “These serious allegations deserve more than amisdemeanor charge.”

She noted that CAIR reported over the past weekend that anti-Iranian graffiti was scrawled inside a Muslim-owned store in Philadelphia ransacked by vandals.

SEE: Vandalism at Penn. Business Probed as Hate Crime
SEE ALSO: Philadelphia Muslim Store Target of Apparent Hate Crime

Latif urged American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WDBO, 8/25/09

GAINESVILLE -- A 10-year-old girl was sent home on her first day back to school in Gainesville for wearing a shirt that was deemed offensive.

Faith Sapp wore a shirt to class Monday with the words 'Islam Is Of The Devil' printed on it. The words are the same of those at an outreach center where her father serves as the pastor.

The girl's dad let her wear the shirt, but the school says it is against the dress code. The code states that a child must dress in a way that is not offensive or inappropriate. (More)


Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun, 8/24/09

A student at Talbot Elementary School wore a shirt bearing the message "Islam is of the devil" on the first day of school and was sent home for violation of the school district's dress code.

Asked about a report of the dress code violation, School District spokeswoman Jackie Johnson confirmed that a student did wear a shirt with the anti-Islam message and was sent to the school office until a parent could come. Johnson said the student's parent had the option of bringing another shirt for the child to change into or taking the child home and opted to take the child home.

The Dove World Outreach Center, a church in northwest Gainesville, began to draw protesters in July after posting a sign that read "Islam is of the devil" on its property. The Dove World Outreach Center is approximately one mile from the Talbot campus. School district officials would not comment on the identity of the student, or whether the child was a member of the Dove Outreach Center congregation, because of privacy issues. (More)


Disaster relief response training part of National Service Week

(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 8/25/09) - On Saturday September 5th, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) will join with the NAACP, the Latino Community Development Agency and the Red Cross to mark National Service Week with Disaster Relief Response Training.

WHAT: Muslim Disaster Relief Response Training
WHERE: OKC National Memorial Museum, 620 North Harvey Ave. Oklahoma City, OK
WHEN: Saturday, September 5, 8:45 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. Pre-register at or here.
(Registration is required to attend.)
CONTACT: 405-415-6851, E-Mail:

The training is a project of President Barack Obama’s “United We Serve” campaign (, CAIR’s “Muslim Care” initiative and “Muslim Americans Answer the Call” ( Information about the training will be entered in the Muslims Care database for submission to President Obama’s “United We Serve” initiative.

SEE: Show Muslim Support for President Obama’s Community Service Appeal
SEE ALSO: Muslims Care “United We Serve” Project Submission Form

CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi stated: “As Oklahomans, we need to be prepared when our neighbors experience hardship through natural disasters. We must be prepared by developing first responders in the multicultural and interfaith communities. Only then can we continue to build a better and safer community.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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:; CAIR-OK Chair Michael Aziz Gipson, E-Mail:


People of all faiths invited to dinners marking fast of Ramadan

(SEATTLE, WA, 8/25/09) On August 28 and September 9, Seattle-area Muslims will reach out to their neighbors of all faiths by hosting two traditional “Sharing Ramadan” iftars, or fast-breaking dinners. The dinners are free and open to the public.

WHEN: Friday, August 28, 2009, 6-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Islamic School of Seattle, 720 25th Ave, Seattle, WA

WHEN: Wednesday, September 9, 2009, 6-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, 16600 - 80th St., Redmond, WA

(Please RSVP to or call 206.367.4081.)

“As more than one billion Muslims worldwide mark Ramadan by fasting and appreciating God’s blessings, it is important for the American Muslim community to reach out to our neighbors of all faiths," said CAIR-WA Projects Intern Badatu Dawud.

Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments.

Fasting in Ramadan (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. The end of Ramadan will be marked by communal prayers on the day called Eid ul-Fitr, or feast of the fast-breaking.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari, Tel: 206.931.3655 or 206.367.4081, E-mail:



(CHICAGO, IL, 8/25/09) - The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) recently announced that it has filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of a Palestinian Muslim man who claims to have suffered discrimination and wrongful termination by his employer, U.S. Foodservice Inc.

The man, who worked as a Territory Manager, was formerly employed at the company's Memphis branch where he was allegedly subjected to derogatory remarks based on his Palestinian origin. To escape these hardships, he transferred to the Chicago office, where he instead faced discriminatory work conditions. In Chicago, the Muslim man was supposed to receive commission-based bonuses in addition to his base salary. Despite opening new accounts and reviving others, the plaintiff received no bonuses. Even more problematic, he was given substantially less and lower-producing accounts compared to co-workers, setting him up for failure.

In one incident the man allegedly overheard his co-worker and manager discussing how he should not be introduced to a potential client - a Jewish nursing home- claiming that “a white person” should be taken instead.

In December, 2008, the plaintiff was fired, purportedly for not increasing sales numbers. The man claims this is a fictitious reason, when he was not given a fair opportunity to perform well enough in the position.

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that employers maintain non-discriminatory work conditions," said CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak. "In a pluralistic society that honors equal opportunity, it is unacceptable that one should have to endure such discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin."

SEE: An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices (CAIR)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a right to sue notice on May 26, 2009.

CONTACT: Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail:; 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; Kevin Vodak, Attorney, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail:; 312.212.1520


Native Deen offers a look into American life in Ramadan, music option for Muslims

(Washington, D.C., 8/25/09) - As millions of American Muslims begin their holy month of fasting, Ramadan, a D.C.-area hip hop group is doing its part to help others stay in the true spirit of the season.

Native Deen, a fusion hip-hop group, today released the music video to its news song, “Ramadan is Here.” Like most of its other songs, Native Deen encourages Muslims to be devout but at the same time tries to address issues they face as Americans, such as peer pressure and ridicule.

In one verse, band member Naeem Muhammad describes his experience growing up in his Baltimore neighborhood while fasting: "My homies buying up the corner store. Now and Laters, quarter waters. We break at 8 but it's a quarter to 4…They got jokes, like, oh yeah he’s fasting. Something about blessings, Heaven everlasting. Asking... ‘But dude, let me ask you for real, is you hungry?’”


“We try to provide a fun, enjoyable music alternative to Muslims who wish to be true to their American identity, but want to follow the tenets of their religion,” said Abdul-Malik Ahmad. “In the video, we travel around the world meeting Muslims of different ethnicities and enjoy the unity and sense of brotherhood that Ramadan brings. In the end, however, we all come together to an American mosque based in Sterling, VA to showcase the new Muslim American culture that is emerging rapidly.”

The group, which has been ranked as one of the Top 5 bands locally in its genre on MySpace, has inspired millions of people of all ages and ethnicities from around the world. Native Deen has toured more than 60 cities in America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, promoting Islam and positive interfaith relations through its debut album, "Deen You Know" and latest album "Not Afraid to Stand Alone."

For more information on Native Deen, visit

Rahima Ullah, Media Relations
(703) 501-9314


“Peace! A word (of salutation) from a Merciful Lord.”

The Holy Quran, 36:58


Senator had leading role in defending American Muslim rights

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/26/09) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today offered condolences to the family of Sen. Edward Kennedy.

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

“We offer sincere condolences to the family of Senator Edward Kennedy and to the nation for the loss of a great statesman and defender of freedom and justice. Senator Kennedy fought for justice and defended civil liberties, even in times of national crisis.

“He stood by the American Muslim community on issues ranging from racial and religious profiling to government policies targeting Muslims following the 9/11 attacks. He also reached out to American Muslims to ensure their inclusion in our nation’s political process.

“This champion of civil rights will be missed by American Muslims and by all those who value the freedoms offered by our great nation.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail:


‘Death To Muslims’ Scratched Into Sidewalk
Fox Carolina, 8/26/09

…According to an incident report, a member of the mosque discovered the phrase “death to Muslims” scratched into a sidewalk near a side entrance to the building.



FROM CAIR ACTION ALERT #96 5/16/96: “…a suspect has been charged in connection with the October 21, 1995, arson attack on the Islamic Society and Masjid of Greenville, S.C. The suspect, Kenneth David Barnett, 33, faces two counts of third degree arson. According to The Greenville News newspaper, Barnett is also accused of setting a fire at a night club. Officials say Barnett claims to have set both fires in order to ‘rid the world of evil.’ His bond has been set at $15,000.”


Four students have been sent home in the first two days of class.
Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun, 8/26/09

More children from the Dove World Outreach Center arrived Tuesday at area public schools with shirts bearing the message "Islam is of the Devil" and were sent home for violation of the school district's dress code when they declined to change clothes or cover the anti-Muslim statement on their clothing.

School district staff attorney Tom Wittmer said the shirts violated a district ban on clothing that may "disrupt the learning process" or cause other students to be "offended or distracted."

"Students have a right of free speech, and we have allowed students to come to school wearing clothes with messages," Wittmer said. "But this message is a divisive message that is likely to offend students. Principals, I feel reasonably, have deemed that a violation of the dress code."

Wittmer said the school district allows students to express their religious beliefs but also must protect other students, such as members of the Muslim faith, from discrimination based on their religious beliefs. (More)



Click here to watch the video.

(WXYZ) - A Wayne County judge who demanded that a Muslim woman remove her religious headscarf (hijab) in court is the target of a lawsuit.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against Wayne County Circuit Judge William Callahan. The Muslim plaintiff says she felt so intimidated by the judges repeated demand that she eventually removed her headscarf.

The judge’s actions contradict both the constitutional right to freedom of religion and President Obama's recent statement in support of the right to wear hijab, said CAIR-MI Attorney Melanie Elturk. This judge targeted a Muslim woman’s religious attire, but he could just as easily have demanded the removal of a Sikh turban, Jewish yarmulke or a Catholic nun’s habit....


He Ordered Woman to Remove Religious Attire

Click here to watch the video.


Associated Press, 8/26/09

ATLANTA -- The Justice Department has ended its review of how Georgia courts handle the wearing of religious head coverings after court officials changed their policy. (Article)


Baltimore Sun, 8/26/09

Local Muslims are planning to fulfill their Ramadan obligation to help the needy on Saturday by giving a hot meal, clothing, health screening, contacts for job training and other assistance to more than 1,000 homeless people in Baltimore.

Organized in 19 cities nationwide by Islamic Relief, the annual Day of Dignity will be hosted locally by Masjid Ul Haqq at 514 Islamic Way. Since coming to Baltimore in 2005, organizers say, the effort has served nearly 3,500 people. (More)

Monday, August 24, 2009

CAIR Most-Viewed Non-Profit on YouTube
For the past two days, CAIR has been the most-viewed non-profit channel on YouTube. SEE:


CAIR: Attack on Penn. Muslim Business Probed as Hate Crime
Vandals scrawl anti-Iranian graffiti inside ransacked Palestinian-American store

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/23/09) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy groupreported today that anti-Iranian graffiti was scrawled inside a Philadelphia store ransacked by vandals earlier this week.

According to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the vandals also overturned counters, broke glass windows and doors and scattered food and other items around the store, which is owned by Muslim Palestinian-Americans.

Local and national law enforcement authorities are reportedly investigating the incident as a hate crime.

SEE: Vandalism at Penn. Business Probed as Hate Crime

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia Muslim Store Target of Apparent Hate Crime

“We hope that the perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and ask that all relevant hate crime enhancements be added to any criminal charges,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

In 1982, Pennsylvania passed the "Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act,” which offers additional charges for those who engage in “ethnic intimidation.”

SEE: What is a Hate Crime?

Hooper urged American Muslims and other minority groups to review advice on security procedures contained in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."

SEE: CAIR Muslim Community Safety Kit

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.