Monday, November 23, 2009

Todd Wasserman, Brand Week, 11/23/09

ACTION REQUESTED: Contact Best Buy to thank them for recognizing Eid al-Adha. Go to: Copy to:

Best Buy stands by its decision to wish U.S. Muslims a Happy Eid Al-Adha, a rep for the company said, and though some Best Buy customers took offense, a Muslim advocacy group praised the move.

The retailer got some flak this week for including, along with its circular advertising Thanksgiving Day sales, a note saying "Happy Eid Al-Adha," which refers to a holiday of sacrifice for followers of Islam on Nov. 27 this year. After TechCrunch ran an item about the circular, some claimed offense and said they'd take their business elsewhere. "I spent about $3,000 with . . . your store. I will be shopping somewhere else," one consumer wrote on Best Buy's Web forum. "BB has the Muslims covered with the 'Happy Eid,' but what about the rest of us Americans?" wrote another. "Do we get a 'Happy Thanksgiving'?"

(The American Family Association, a Christian advocacy group, has singled out Best Buy for using "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." A Best Buy rep, however, didn't agree with the claim, saying: "You will see more of Christmas in our holiday messaging. Christmas will be included in our insert and online. We have 'Merry Christmas' on our gift cards, too. In addition. we have developed the Christmas Morning simulator as an online interactive game.")

Not everyone was dismissive. "Stop with the hatin' and happy Eid," wrote one TechCrunch commentor. "For every anti-BB post, I'm going to spend $1 there," wrote another.

Best Buy rep Lisa Svac Hawks explained the thought behind the greeting: "Best Buy's customers and employees around the world represent a variety
of faiths and denominations. We respect that diversity and choose to greet our customers and employees in ways that reflect their traditions," she said.

Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he could not recall when any American retailer mentioned the holiday in its ads. "It makes perfect business sense to acknowledge and celebrate a holiday that one out of four people celebrate," Rehab said. (More)



WHAT: On Friday, November 27, American Muslims will mark the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers and celebrations at locations around the country.

The prayers and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), or “festival of the sacrifice.” Eid ul-Adha also commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting “Eid Mubarak” or “blessed Eid.” Each year, some two million Muslims, including thousands of American Muslims, go on Hajj.

WHEN: Friday, November 27 - The prayers are held in the morning. Many communities also hold day-long Eid festivals for families.

WHERE: The Eid prayers and festivals are held either in local mosques or in public facilities designed to accommodate large gatherings. Call local CAIR chapters or other Muslim organizations for details about Eid celebrations. CAIR chapters may be located at: Local Islamic institutions may also be found at:

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Each year, Muslims from America and many different countries come to the prayers in colorful dress. The prayers themselves are quite visual, with worshipers arranged in neat rows and bowing in prayer in unison. Participants exchange embraces at the conclusion of the prayers.

NOTE: Because this is a religious service, reporters and photographers of both sexes should dress modestly. Photographers should arrive early to get into position for the best shots. Photographers are also advised not to step directly in front of worshipers and to seek permission for close-up shots.

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:


Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, 11/20/09

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: The festival of Eid al-Adha begins with sacrifice. Those participating in the hajj, and all other Muslim families with the financial means, slaughter a sheep, lamb, goat, camel, or cow.

DAWUD WALID (Council on American Islamic Relations Michigan): This sacrifice is in remembrance of what the Qu’ran says, as well as the Bible, of when Abraham was inspired or he had a dream that he was to sacrifice one of his sons, and then God told Abraham that he did not have to sacrifice his son, and a ram came, and Abraham then sacrificed the ram.

LAWTON: American Muslims typically buy meat slaughtered according to Islamic requirements from a market or grocery store. The immediate family eats one-third of the meat. Another third is shared with the larger community of friends and relatives, and the rest is donated to the poor.

WALID: It’s a religious obligation for us to give to other people. We would not be good Muslims or following our religion, because the third pillar of Islam is charity, so we’re obligated to give charity.

LAWTON: In the United States, recipients include places such as Gleaner’s Community Food Bank of southeastern Michigan. They partner with over 400 outlets in their network of feeding programs to distribute thousands of pounds of frozen lamb meat donated by the Muslim community annually.

JOHN KASTLER (Gleaner’s Community Food Bank): It’s a high-protein item, and it’s certainly the type of food product that we really like to provide during the winter months where you get a nice, hearty meal out of the donation. Groups like the Salvation Army, the Cabbage & Soup Kitchen, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and different feeding programs around town will be able to enjoy this blessing.

LAWTON: Through the soup kitchens they operate, mosques and Islamic centers also serve as distribution sites. Those who come in to pray are offered bags of lamb to take home, as are all non-Muslims seeking food assistance.


‘When the opportunity comes, you just go,’ Oklahoman says of Islamic rite
CARLA HINTON, Oklahoman, 11/21/09

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has advised Hajj travelers to take hand sanitizers, face masks, ibuprofen pain and fever reliever, and anti-viral medicine such as Tamiflu for the journey. And leaders of the organization based in Washington, D.C., also urged Hajj participants to avoid as much physical contact as possible, although this may be difficult as about 2 million Muslims are expected to converge on Mecca, Saudi Arabia, considered the holiest site in Islam. Hajj travelers also have been advised to wash their hands frequently and receive the H1N1 vaccine before traveling.

Razi Hashmi, executive director of the council’s Oklahoma chapter, gave a workshop for Hajj travelers last month in which he talked about the H1N1 precautions, among other issues. The Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City gave travelers bottles of hand sanitizer as parting gifts.

"We wanted to educate people to the best of our ability about taking precautions,” Hashmi said. "It’s always best to be prepared, and with 2 million people there, it’s best that people take care of themselves before they go and while they are there.” (More)


Farah Akbar, Gotham Gazette, 11/2009

Evening prayers at a midtown mosque. Many Muslim parent wants the religion's holiest days to be included in the list of school holidays.
Isabel Bucaram of Astoria, Queens, didn’t want her 6-year-old daughter, Huyam, to miss her class trip to the Nutcracker ballet, but she could find no other alternative. The trip coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the holiest days in Islam, and Bucaram wanted her daughter to participate in the day's religious festivities. "It was upsetting for her not to share in that field trip with her teachers and friends," Bucaram recalled.

Not wanting her daughter or any other Muslim child to miss out on a day of school because of a religious holiday ever again, Bucaram last winter become involved in the movement to have Muslim holidays recognized by the New York City Department of Education. Until then, Bucaram’s political knowledge had revolved mostly around national politics. But once she started working with the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, a group of over 80 labor, community, faith, and civil rights organizations, she was meeting with City Council members James Gennaro and Peter Vallone Jr., and learning about what it take to change policy.

Bucaram is not alone. More Muslims are getting involved in the political process than ever before, many spurred by the Muslim school holiday issue, according to Faiza Ali, community director for the Council on American Islamic Relations and a member of the coalition’s steering committee. "The issue of Muslim school holidays has mobilized the community in a great way," she said. "Across the five boroughs, community members have participated in the civic process testifying at hearings in City Hall and lobbying their elected officials, some for the first time, to support this cause." (More)



(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/23/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that a Muslim student in Maine will be allowed to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to pray between classes.

The 7th-grade student at Lewiston Middle School in Lewiston, Maine, was allegedly told not to pray on school property. Today, the student told CAIR that she was informed by school officials that she would be allowed to pray in a private area. In fact, two other Muslim students joined the girl in prayer today at the school.

SEE: Muslim Advocacy Group Files Complaint with Lewiston School Department

“We are pleased that students of all faiths at this school will have their religious rights protected,” said CAIR Civil Rights Manager Khadija Athman.

Athman recommended that school administrators nationwide review CAIR’s booklet, “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” that is designed to help provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.

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 Civil Rights Manager Khadija Athman, 202-646-6033; 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:


ELIZABETH LLORENTE, The Record, 11/23/09

Muslim organizations around the country are making concerted efforts to distance themselves from violence that some associate with Islam following the Fort Hood shooting spree, allegedly by a major of Middle Eastern descent.

Shortly after the shooter, accused of killing 13 people, was identified as Nidal Malik Hasan, the Darul Islah mosque in Teaneck posted a message on its Web site condemning the massacre.

Days later, the mosque posted yet another message, this time assailing a former Virginia imam's remarks praising Hasan. "Islam is a religion of peace," the mosque stressed. The imam's views, the site read, were "not those of American Muslims, and do not reflect mainstream Islamic beliefs or sentiments."…

"You think, 'Please God, don't let it be a Muslim,'" said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. "Whenever there's a tragic incident like this, we seem to go through the same script by all parties — the ones who see Islam as a reason for it — and our condemnations. I wish we could break out of it somehow."

By now, it is, indeed, almost a process: An act of violence occurs, and attention turns to the Islamic faith, whether or not the perpetrator claimed to commit it in the name of Islam, or even when — as in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building that killed more than 150 people — the violence is carried out by non-Muslims.

Reports that Hasan shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) before opening fire at the base earlier this month further fueled talk that religious zealotry triggered his actions.

"Within minutes of us hearing the name [of the Fort Hood shooter], and without even knowing if he really was Muslim or, say, a Christian Arab, we knew we had to send out a quick condemnation," Hooper said. "We wanted local Muslim organizations to do it as well, even use ours if they didn't have the wherewithal to put out their own statement." (More)


At least one prominent former senior officer says current guidance to commanders is not sufficient
VOA News, 11/20/09

The U.S. military says it has regulations in place that enabled commanders to take action if they believed the accused gunman in this month's Ft. Hood shootings was developing militant views. But at least one prominent former senior officer says current guidance to commanders is not sufficient.

The communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, agrees. "It should be pretty clear to anyone when somebody espouses extremist views, whether it's in terms of politics or religion. And those kinds of reports should be able to go up the chain of command to be dealt with appropriately," he said.

But Hooper said in any revised regulations the Army must avoid creating any type of "witch hunt" mentality aimed at Muslims. "I'd hate to see an instance where somebody requests the right to wear a beard or requests the right to pray on base or wears Islamic attire off base, and suddenly they get labeled as an extremist," he said.

Hooper said the military must be clear about what constitutes radical or threatening behavior. (More)



View the Video.

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, a Navy veteran, discusses the Muslim community's outrage about the Fort Hood shooting spree with a Fox News reporter.


Electa Draper, The Denver Post, 11/21/09

A billboard at a Wheat Ridge car dealership -- with a caricature of President Barack Obama as a turban- wearing jihadist -- has sparked a boycott and death threats, but even more support, its sponsor said.

Phil Wolf, owner of Wolf Automotive, said the billboard asks a legitimate question about Obama's alleged lack of documentation of his American birth.

"President or Jihad?" the billboard reads. "Wake up, America! Remember Fort Hood!"…

This billboard isn't likely to help sell cars, said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"It's an offensive billboard on several levels," Hooper said. "It's disrespectful of the presidency and Islam. It's a racist depiction as well.

"On the other hand," he said, "this is a free country and he has the right to be offensive." (More)



WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Senior Judge Robert L. Echols of the Middle District of Tennessee today sentenced Michael Corey Golden to 14 years and three months in prison and three years of supervised released for vandalizing and burning down the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tenn., the Justice Department announced. Golden pleaded guilty on Nov. 3, 2008, to destruction of religious property and to using fire to commit a felony. (More)

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