NOTE: Last November, CAIR called on Virginia's Governor-elect Robert F. McDonnell to publicly repudiate anti-Islam remarks by Pat Robertson, the televangelist and gubernatorial campaign contributor who said Islam is "not a religion" and that American Muslims should be treated like members of a communist or fascist party.
Robertson has in the past called Muslims "satanic," claimed the Quran, Islam's revealed text, is "fraudulent" and said Islam is "a monumental scam."
U.S. MUSLIM CHARITY TO FLY $1 MILLION IN RELIEF SUPPLIES TO HAITI - TOP Islamic Relief USA works with Mormon church to aid Haitian quake victims
(Alexandria, VA, January 13, 2010) -- Islamic Relief USA, America's largest Muslim relief organization, announced today that it will immediately fly a $1 million shipment of aid to those impacted by yesterday's earthquake in Haiti. That relief aid will be sent in coordination with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Those wishing to donate to Islamic Relief USA's "Haiti Emergency" appeal may visit www.IslamicReliefUSA.org or call (888) 479-4968. Checks payable to "Islamic Relief USA" may be mailed to: Islamic Relief USA, P.O. Box 5640, Buena Park, CA, 90622.
While federal prosecutors were trying to protect vital evidence in a case against a group they described as Islamic extremists, U.S. Rep. John Conyers asked the U.S. Attorney General on Wednesday for a thorough investigation into the shooting death of the group's leader, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah.
Conyers, a Detroit Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate whether the FBI violated First Amendment freedoms by using undercover agents in mosques and other houses of worship. (More)
Federal prosecutors in the criminal case against 11 men described by authorities as radical Muslim fundamentalists asked a judge today to order defense lawyers not to copy any of the video or audiotape evidence from undercover informants in order to keep them safe.
The defendants are charged in a criminal conspiracy that includes firearms and stolen goods offenses, and defense lawyers have scoffed at accusations of terrorism. Prosecutors have said that undercover informants and FBI agents helped make the case.
The charges surfaced after FBI agents shot and killed the group's leader, Luqman Ameen Abdullah. FBI agents killed Abdullah, 53, of Detroit during an Oct. 28 raid and shootout at a Dearborn warehouse. (More)
CAIR-MI: MUSLIM GROUPS TO MEET WITH SHERIFF ON MACOMB INMATE'S DEATH - TOP Christine Ferretti, Detroit News, 1/13/10
Mount Clemens -- Local Muslim and Bengali American leaders will meet with the Macomb County Sheriff's department Thursday afternoon for details in the Friday suicide death of a jail inmate.
The meeting was arranged today shortly after the Council on American-Islamic Relations e-mailed Sheriff Mark Hackel about concerns over the death of 22-year-old Mohammed Abdul-Fazal Chowdhury.
Chowdhury, who was awaiting trial in the stabbing death of his wife, was discovered in his cell with his throat slashed around 4 p.m. Friday. (More)
The Christmas Day attempted bombing aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253, thankfully disrupted, has set into motion vehement calls for religious profiling and misguided policies that do little to protect our nation.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) last week implemented new guidelines that require travelers from 13 Muslim-majority nations and Cuba to go through additional security checks before flying. The guidelines are a form of back-door profiling and will target American Muslims looking to reconnect with relatives in those countries or traveling to Mecca to perform religious rites.
But before we debate the effectiveness and legality of profiling, let's step back and ponder what went wrong in the hours and days leading up to the attempted bombing.
Existing security procedures failed to catch alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab, although behavior profiling - a legitimate tool - would have worked. For instance, Abdulmuttallab's father had become concerned about his activities and reported him to Nigerian and American authorities. His name was then added to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center's watch list, but to no avail. He reportedly bought a one-way ticket with cash and had no checked luggage - both red flags. He was also, to Americans' shock and dismay, able to bring a powerful PETN explosive on board.
President Obama said that the security system failed in "a potentially disastrous way" and previously said proper intelligence-sharing before the bombing wouldn't have allowed Abdulmuttallab to board the plane.
In the face of this security system failure, those who jump to advocate racial and religious profiling are either shortsighted, or are seeking to exploit fear of Muslims and give a false sense of security.
Simply put, racial and religious profiling does not work. How can it?
For one thing, there is no one profile of a Muslim or Muslim American. Muslims hail from all races and backgrounds - Caucasian, black and every shade of color in between. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Arabs are a minority of the Muslim population worldwide - 18 percent. Middle-Eastern Jewish and Christian minorities would falsely fit the profile too.
Even extremists do not fit a profile. The hijackers behind the Sept. 11 attacks were clean-shaven and frequented night clubs. Al-Qaida member Adam Gadahn, who wears a beard and a turban, is Caucasian and has Jewish roots. Jose Padilla - convicted of aiding terrorists - is Latino. And would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid is half-English, half-Jamaican.
The argument generally made in favor of profiling states: It wasn't some Swedish grandma who committed terrorist acts. True, but what is the profile of a terrorist when we know they come in all ages, races, and nationalities?
Even the Bush-era Justice Department acknowledged that profiling is not an effective law enforcement tool, and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in an interview that the Christmas day bombing "illustrates the danger and the foolishness of profiling."
Moreover, profiling is an insult to the basic freedoms granted to all Americans by our time-honored Constitution. Are we going to let the terrorists make us abandon the freedoms our country was founded upon?
The right way to protect our nation is by conducting a thorough assessment of our security procedures, address the holes in our security system and revamp ineffective and outdated policies. For instance, the infamous Counterterrorism Center's watch list of more than 500,000 names, including Abdulmuttallab's name, is ineffective and must be cleaned up. Hurdles to proper and timely information-sharing among law enforcement and intelligence agencies must be dealt with.
Profiling is counterproductive and serves to alienate American Muslims, who constitute one of the first lines of defense in protecting our homeland.
Muslims and Islam have been part of America's patchwork heritage for the past 200-plus years. Over the years, Muslim Americans have stepped up to the plate and answered the call of duty by working with and in law enforcement agencies around the country and serving in the Armed Forces.
In fact, a 2007 study by the Pew Research Center offers a pretty encouraging picture of the state of American Muslims. Titled, "Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream," the Pew report concluded that American Muslims are basically well integrated into the fabric of the American society, consider it a land of opportunity, believe hard work leads to success and are content with their lives.
So, let's do the right thing by advocating good security, not profiling.
Hussam Ayloush is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area, headquartered in Anaheim; www.cair.com.
CAIR: HOW MODERN AIRPORT SECURITY MAY RUN AFOUL OF JEWISH LAW - TOP Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward, 1/13/10
Observant Jews are voicing concerns over modesty and looking for compromise on the Transportation Security Administration’s plan to expand the use of whole-body imaging machines for airport security, after last month’s failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound jetliner.
Leaders in both Conservative and Orthodox communities are debating how scanners with the ability to see through clothing intersect with Jewish laws of tzniut, or modesty, which are observed differently among denominations but generally require Jews to cover their bodies…
Davis said that the officers reviewing the scan would not necessarily be the same gender as the individual being scanned.
Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have voiced concern over the scanners, and in some cases they’ve requested compromises to ensure that their modesty concerns are met…
The scanners have raised concerns outside the American Jewish community, as well. In early January, a group of European rabbis issued a press release voicing distress over the scanners. And in the United States, American Muslim groups have said that the scans may violate their religion’s standards of modesty. “The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said every faith has an intrinsic character, and the intrinsic character of Islam is modesty,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is a Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group. “We have specific requirements for what can be exposed of the body, both for men and women, and needless to say, having a nude image displayed on a screen is not something we appreciate in religious terms.”
Hooper said that it was important to his organization that the full-body scans remain one option. “I think in the Muslim community it’s one topic of discussion,” he said. “People are deciding what they are going to do. Am I going to cut down on my traveling? Am I going to grit my teeth and go through it? Am I going to object? And then if I object, what’s going to happen?” (More)
CAIR: VEIL BAN LIFTED AFTER ISLAMIC COMMUNITY PROTESTS AT COLLEGE - TOP Suzan Zalkind, Daily Free Press, 1/14/10
At the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, two Muslim women can once again choose to attend class wearing the niqab, a veil which covers the entire face except for the eyes, after the school lifted a hotly protested policy banning students from wearing the garment.
Students received a notice on Dec. 8 regarding a new policy to go into effect Jan. 1 amending MCPHS’s Identification Policy. The policy stated, “Any head covering that obscures a student’s face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons.”
The new rule would have made MCPHS the only college in the nation banning clothing that covers the face…
The Council of American-Islamic Relations announced on Jan. 6 that they were asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate the identification policy because of the fear that it would affect Muslim employees unfairly.
A day later, MCPH alerted the press that the identification policy had been amended for religious accommodations. (More)
In light of the Fort Hood killings and recent arrests of suspected radicalized Virginian youths in Pakistan, perceptions of American Muslims have taken a beating lately.
Closer to home, recent vandalism at a Costa Mesa Muslim mosque and an interfaith display in Mission Viejo delivered yet another blow to a community still reeling from the aftermath of 9/11.
The American Muslim community has endured discrimination, mistrust and hostility, said Nour Matar, an Orange County businessman.
That's why he launched what could be the Western world's first English-speaking online Muslim radio station from his studio in Irvine. The 32-year-old hopes the station -- carrying talk shows about almost every aspect of daily life from a Muslim perspective -- will not only improve the well-being of his community but also foster understanding among non-Muslims.
"As a community we feel very frustrated by the misconception and misinformation portrayed by the media," Matar said. "We can understand that there are a lot of bad actions done in the name of Islam. In order for us to combat that we have to let our voice be heard as Muslims Americans living in the U.S."
OneLegacyradio.com can be downloaded as an application on an iPhone, Blackberry or Android, providing listeners with a daily dose of Islamic teachings on everything from weight loss to relationship advice at any time of the day. It even tackles contentious topics, such as the radicalization of Muslim youth…
Community leaders and experts say the station is yet another sign of the growing influence of the county's Muslim community.
"This shows the maturity of the American Muslim community (in Orange County)," said Munira Syeda, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations' local office in Anaheim. "They're more organized...they're coming of age.'' (More)
CAIR-OKLAHOMA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MLK DAY PARADE AND ACTIVITIES - TOP
CAIR-Oklahoma and members of the Muslim community in Oklahoma will be participating in the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and Activities. CAIR-Oklahoma is calling upon community members to march alongside civil rights leaders in Oklahoma City and volunteer for the event activities.
It's hard to deny the power of an Osama bin Laden taped message to foment anti-Muslim sentiment in America.
But a Chicago-based coalition wants to blunt that sort of message by sharing the real-life stories of Muslims living, working and praying in America.
"It's about humanizing our respective stories, it's about finding our similarities [with other Americans] and learning to respect our differences," said Rami Nashashibi, executive director of Chicago's Inner-City Muslim Action Network, one of a host of agencies partnering in "One Chicago, One Nation" -- an initiative launched today.
In the coming months, about 200 people -- including Muslims and non-Muslims -- will fan out across the Chicago area creating an "interfaith" dialogue, organizers say.
These community ambassadors will share their stories while volunteering in area communities. Some may be dressed in traditional Muslim attire, while others could be wearing "three-piece Armani suits," Nashashibi joked.
The idea is not simply to counter anti-Muslim sentiment, but also to clear up misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims, Nashashibi said. (More)
I'd never heard of Ibn Battuta, the famed 14th-century Moroccan lawyer who at the age of 21 wanted to perform the hajj. Instead of a ride in an air-conditioned jet to Saudi Arabia, the trip in 1325 was a hazardous overland trek of 3,000 miles from Tangier to Mecca. Ibn Battuta had to detour via Damascus, where he joined a lengthy camel procession for the final 40-day trip to Mecca.
These were sophisticated caravans — like traveling towns — with judges who oversaw disputes and contingents of soldiers and food merchants, not to mention several thousand camels. People embarked on these trips because every capable Muslim is required to perform the hajj at least once in his or her life.
A group of filmmakers — none of them Muslim — were so entranced with this epic trip that they made "Journey to Mecca," which premieres Thursday in Washington at the Imax theater of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. It runs through March 4. (More)