Tuesday, October 27, 2009


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/26/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) celebrated 15 years of civil rights and advocacy work Saturday with a sold-out banquet in Arlington, Va.

At the banquet, some 750 Muslim community members and activists, interfaith leaders and diplomats from Muslim-majority nations heard addresses by CAIR Board Chairman State Senator Larry Shaw (N.C.), Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Congressman Paul Findley, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Progressive Faith Foundation, Imam Mahdi Bray of MAS-Freedom, and Dr. Agha Saeed, chair of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT).

“We thank all those who made CAIR’s 15th annual banquet such a success and we now rededicate ourselves to serving both the American Muslim community and our great nation,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, who also spoke at the banquet.

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: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com


‘Flying while Muslim’ is no reason to detain or remove passengers.
Ibrahim Hooper, USA Today, 10/26/09

The recent settlement in the case of the six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, who said their rights were violated in 2006 when they were removed from a US Airways flight in Minnesota should not prevent anyone from acting on legitimate security concerns. But reports based solely on anti-Muslim or anti-Arab bias and hysteria should not be used as the basis for a "flying while Muslim" incident.

Absent actual suspicious behavior, merely offering one of the five-daily Islamic prayers in a terminal, speaking Arabic to a fellow passenger, wearing a head scarf, or "looking Muslim" is insufficient justification to detain passengers or remove them from a flight.

In July, a federal judge agreed that the imams' actions before the flight did not justify their detention. She noted that the imams were subjected to "extreme fear and humiliation of being falsely identified as dangerous terrorists," and said "similar behavior by Russian Orthodox priests or Franciscan monks would likely not have elicited this response."

American Muslims are just as concerned about flight safety and security as citizens of other faiths. They and their families take the same flights and are subject to the same risks as other members of the travelling public.

Flight safety should be based on legitimate law enforcement techniques, not on racial or religious profiling.

Our nation's civil rights movement has been advancing steadily for decades, despite calls to maintain the status quo or suggestions to curtail the rights of certain citizens. That movement toward justice for all must not be put into reverse because of post-9/11 fears. When anyone's rights are diminished, all Americans' rights are threatened.

America is an increasingly diverse society in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. The best way to react to that increased diversity, and to prevent situations in which stereotypes or bias can create a snowball effect of escalating discrimination, is to learn more about the faith and background of our fellow Americans.

Our nation's history has been marred by periods in which groups — whether Irish Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, or others — were deemed appropriate targets for discrimination.

Thankfully, Americans are capable of looking beyond the prejudices of the moment to see a future of equal treatment for all.

[Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).]


Eric Black, Minn Post, 10/26/09

As you have probably heard, the case of the "flying imams" has been settled. The six Muslim clerics who were pulled off a U.S. Airways flight at the Twin Cities airport on Nov. 20, 2006 by Metro Airport Commission police will be paid an undisclosed sum by some combination of the MAC, U.S. Air and possibly the FBI in exchange for which the imams will drop their suit alleging improper arrest and other acts of discrimination or defamation…

The case caused a huge hullabaloo around these parts on when the clerics were arrested. Congress even passed a law -- and the Minnesota case was discussed on the floor of the House as the motivation for the law -- designed to protect people from reporting their suspicions under circumstances like this. (The passengers who originally raised questions about the imams were not defendants and have not been named publicly. It is not a crime, nor a tort, for a passenger to report his suspicions to the airline crew.)

The imams, and the way they were arrested, became for a time the symbol of the post-9/11 national nervousness about Middle Easterners on airplanes and for the allegation that you could get arrested for the "crime" of "flying while Muslim."

The nervousness was understandable, but that didn't make it constitutional. The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable seizures by the government, which in a case like this means that even the shock of the 9/11 attacks didn't repeal the simple rule that police cannot arrest someone unless they have probable cause to believe that the arrestees have committed a crime…

As you review the facts of the case, ask yourself which of the "suspicious" actions of the imams would have been suspicious if they had not been Muslims. (More)


Debbie Blossom, Oklahoman, 10/24/09

A former Oklahoma City Sprint employee who is Muslim is asking for an apology and a policy revision from Sprint after a claim of being fired for hanging up the phone on an abusive caller.

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the employee wants Sprint to change its policy that states employees are not allowed to hang up on customers.

The former customer service employee, who was not named, alleges termination without notice a week after receiving a hate call, said Razi Hashmi, executive director of the state chapter of the council, a Muslim civil liberties group. Hashmi said the employee answered a call Sept. 26. When the caller learned the Sprint representative was Muslim, he allegedly told the employee, "Well, I don’t want to talk to you, and you can go to hell.” The employee hung up and reported the incident to a supervisor, Hashmi said.

The employee is not asking to be reinstated, Hashmi said, but just wants "to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else ... it is unconscionable for Sprint to fire an employee merely for reacting as anyone would who received a hate call.” (More)



OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma man complains about losing his job after allegedly receiving a hateful phone call at work. A former Sprint worker says he was let go from Oklahoma City's call center after he hung up on a customer who told him he 'could go to hell' because he's Muslim.

Click here to watch the video.



Click here to watch the video.


Comments Made About Why He Doesn’t Want A Mosque To Expand
Mike Paluska, CBS Atlanta, 10/23/09

LILBURN, Ga -- The Dar-E-Abbas Islamic center currently sits on a small plot of land on Highway 29 and Hood Road. They want to raze the current building and build a two-story mosque.

It’s that expansion that has residents living in the area up in arms.

“I am prejudice, I just don’t like Muslims and I don’t want them taking over our neighborhood,” said one resident who lives near the mosque. He did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.

“I don’t want someone coming to my house and burning it down.” (More)


Investigation of Islamic Center members behind tax charges, 4 say
Scott Smith, The Stockton Record, 10/22/09

STOCKTON - The Islamic Center of Stockton's imam and three of his associates may have been the subject of an FBI terrorism probe that netted little more than tax evasion charges, attorneys for the men said Wednesday.

Saeed Ur Rahman, 44, has been indicted on three counts of tax evasion, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento announced Tuesday. A separate indictment names three other members of the Islamic Center.

His brother, Obed Ur Rahman, 57, Mohammad Nasir Khan, 51, and Shaker Ahmed, 36, have been indicted on charges they conspired to avoid paying taxes on a 2004 duplex sale.

The indictments were unsealed Tuesday.

Each of the four men face the potential of spending time in federal prison if convicted. They're free for now after securing property bonds. The four are expected back in a Sacramento federal courtroom early next month.

Sacramento attorney Bruce Locke, who represents Khan, said he learned that an FBI joint anti-terrorism task force initiated the probe.

"It leads me to believe that the agents didn't have anything to charge them with," Locke said. "Rather than admit wasting time during the investigation, they charged them with tax offenses." (More)


Mystery surrounds dragnet that saw of scores of armed federal agents overrun Islamic slaughterhouse
Colin Freeze, Globe & Mail, 10/26/09

Most days, not much happens in this sleepy farming community, population: 100. Yet for a few short, dramatic hours last week, Kinsman doubled in size as scores of armed and armoured federal agents swept in.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents some carrying assault rifles raided an Islamic slaughterhouse, which opened in the village four years ago. There, the FBI questioned a handful of immigrants, and has kept a conspicuous silence ever since.

The locals say the butchery, located on the outskirts of Chicago, was owned and managed by Pakistanis hailing from Canada including its owner, who is now in jail under mysterious circumstances.

Faced with this paucity of information, the villagers complain that they are now left to fear a different kind of slaughter may have been in the works. “Our biggest concern is, ‘Is everybody safe?'” said Mark Harlow, a corn farmer who doubles as the village mayor. “Don't you think the FBI would tell the community a little something, to relieve the pressure a little bit?”

The FBI has not said why dozens of its agents arrived in more than 40 dark cars and vans on Oct. 18, or why the raid involved a helicopter, surveillance plane and a mobile “command centre” trailer on the ground, complete with a satellite uplink. For a day, this scrutiny was brought to bear on the ramshackle slaughterhouse, from which the agents pulled records and computer files after getting a search warrant.

Strangely, save for FoxNews.com and the local press, this dragnet made barely a ripple in the news. Either it had to have been a pressing national-security investigation, or a raging paranoia that had gotten completely out of hand.

Tahawar Hussein Rana, a 48-year-old Chicago entrepreneur whom some locals describe as a Canadian, is the only person in custody. A federal U.S. database places him as a current inmate of a Chicago prison, yet there are no publicly filed charges against him. Nor, for that matter is there even mention of a “sealed” indictment. (More)


Larry Carson, Baltimore Sun, 10/25/09

Sometimes, politics is so entwined with community-based good works and elected officials' public service that it can be hard to separate them.

The eighth annual Howard County Muslim Council food drive and picnic last week is a good example. The event, conceived after the Sept. 11 attacks to help combat stereotypes, combined the local Muslim community's desire to help the poor and be a vital part of the county's public life with the Community Action Council's need for help with its food bank.

The annual event attracts many public officials, who go to offer support and, by their presence, perhaps attract some, too. The next election is just a year away, and most candidates are busily raising money.

County Executive Ken Ulman, Rep. John Sarbanes and all four Democratic County Council members stopped by. They were joined by Democratic state Sen. James N. Robey, who as county executive worked to reach out to area Muslims after 9/11; Democratic Del. Guy Guzzone; and county police, fire and school officials, including Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin, school board Chairman Frank Aquino and three other elected board members. Two candidates for the House of Delegates, Democrats Jon Weinstein and Maryann Maher, attended.

The county's Muslim community, led by its council's president, Dr. Rashid A. Chotani, collected about 10,000 pounds of nonperishable food for the struggling Howard County Food Bank through personal donations and from gifts solicited at area food stores over the previous week. Sunday's rain and cold pushed the group's annual picnic and celebration across Route 108 from Cedar Lane Park to the Dar-al-Taqwa Mosque, whose leaders donated use of their building.

"You see Muslims, Christians and Jews," Chotani said, looking around as children scurried about clutching pink cotton candy and popcorn, while adults sat at tables eating grilled chicken and hamburgers and chatting. "I just want this to grow and bring all Muslims together" with the rest of the county, Chotani said. (More)

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