Saturday, April 3, 2010


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/31/10) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed a federal judge's ruling that the Bush administration illegally wiretapped the phone conversations of a Muslim charity and two attorneys.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Wednesday that the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and attorneys Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor provided evidence that "they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance."

SEE: Judge: Feds Illegally Wiretapped Islamic Charity

"This ruling is one of many steps toward the full restoration of civil liberties and constitutional protections in the post-9/11 era," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili. "The true test of any democracy is its ability to maintain basic legal rights, even in times of national crisis."

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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, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:



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By Nafees A. Syed, Special to CNN, 3/31/10

Editor's note: America's 300 million-plus people are declaring their identity in the 2010 Census. This piece is part of a special series on in which people describe how they see their own identity. Nafees A. Syed is a senior at Harvard University, an editorial writer at The Harvard Crimson and a senior editor for the Harvard-MIT journal on Islam and society, Ascent.

(CNN) -- As a child, I looked forward to nothing more than the dazzling Fourth of July laser and fireworks show in Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia. It was family tradition to eat a hearty meal at an Indian restaurant and then watch the show on the crowded lawn of the park.

One year, as I struggled to eat my melting ice cream, a man sitting near us taunted, "What planet are y'all from?" I observed my family, attired in their extravagant Indian clothes and scarves from the restaurant party. For the first time, I wondered if we really did not belong in America, celebrating its Independence Day.

I usually hear the friendly version of this question. When my parents are asked, "Where are you from?" and answer "Georgia," it is not surprising to hear the follow-up, "I mean where are you from?" after which they will understandingly answer "originally from India."

But when the latter question is posed to me, I can only shrug helplessly and repeat, "Georgia." I used to wonder if I was being facetious in offering such a simple answer, but I honestly don't know what else to say. (More)


By Michael Carroll, Tell Us Detroit, 3/31/10

DETROIT – The Federal Bureau of Investigation was criticized heavily Sunday, by both Rev. Jesse Jackson and Imam Dawud Walid, the Michigan chapter of the Council on Arabic-Islamic Relations Executive Director. Their comments were given during CAIR-MI annual fundraising event in Dearborn.

"I am speaking of the tactics of the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating our community... what we at CAIR have documented across the country, which is the misuse of FBI informants in our houses of worship," said Walid.

Walid continued to chastise FBI tactics in regards to the fatal shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abullah in October of last year. Walid said that many Islamic religious leaders across the country had already expressed concerns to CAIR over the alleged coercion practices of the FBI in attempt to recruit and exploit informants.

"Our concerns unfortunately manifested themselves exactly 5 months ago to this day, on October the 28, 2009, where a series of raids took place based upon two years of infiltration by agent provocateurs at a Mosque in Detroit, which led to the homicide of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah," Walid Said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the events keynote speaker, told the crowd they had nothing to fear from FBI investigations, and that justice always finds the light. (More)


Tell Us Detroit, 3/31/10

DETROIT (Tell Us Det) – A coalition of political activists and civil rights groups gathered for a town hall meeting at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit to discuss growing concerns regarding the lack of transparency of government entities relating to the fatal shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah by FBI agents and a warrantless raid conducted upon a Detroit mosque by the Detroit Police on October 28, 2009.

The event, which was organized by the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Michigan Democratic Party – 14th District, NAACP – Detroit Branch, the National Lawyers Guild, Delta Sigma Theta – Detroit Alumnae Chapter, the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).

The Rev. Robert Smith of New Bethel said he welcomed the rally -- and likened the killing to those committed by police during the civil rights movement and Detroit riots. "Something is happening here that is an awful and dangerous thing," Smith said.

In November 2009, CAIR-MI along will ACLU-MI, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) wrote a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting an investigation into the fatal shooting of Abdullah, which includes him being shot in the back. (More)



(CLEVELAND, OH, 3/31/10) – Almost 300 people turned out on March 28 for the 8th annual banquet of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Cleveland) in Westlake.

Nationally-known attorney, columnist and grassroots organizer Shahid Buttar, Esq. of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee delivered a keynote address on continuing threats to the rule of law.

Imam Mahdi Bray of the MAS Freedom Foundation spoke about the opportunities and challenges facing American Muslims in attaining equal rights.

"The event was a chance to proclaim loud and clear that American Muslims will not accept second class status, and that we will work to achieve the equality promised in the our Constitution," said Isam Zaiem, president of CAIR-Cleveland.

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-Cleveland Executive Director Julia A. Shearson, 216-830-2247 or 216-440-2247, E-Mail:; Isam Zaiem, 216-337-7928, E-mail:


Yasmin Mogahed, Huffington Post, 3/31/10

Nine members of a Christian militia group, Hutaree, were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more with homemade bombs. According to the indictment, the actions were done in hopes of igniting an uprising against the U.S. government.

News of this terror plot is likely to spark a great deal of discussion around the idea of domestic terrorism. But there are some things that are not likely to be part of that discourse. For example, we're not likely to hear experts discussing whether or not Christian doctrine teaches its followers to overthrow governments and kill people. And, although the Hutaree website quotes scripture passages that allude to battle and sacrificing lives for the greater cause, the Bible is not likely to become condemned for inspiring acts of terror.

Hutaree means "Christian Warrior," yet the American public is not likely to blame Christianity. And Homeland Security probably isn't going to single out all people with Christian names in the airport security line. The FBI most likely isn't going to start wire-tapping Churches and Christian homes, and it's unlikely that the whole world will be expecting every peace-loving Christian to apologize for actions they had nothing to do with -- just because it was done in their name. (More)


APM Marketplace, 3/30/10

Listen to the story here.

Kai Ryssdal: The second night of Passover begins at sundown this evening. Families are going to be gathering for their Seder -- part meal, part ritual that recounts the Biblical story of the Jews' exodus out of Egypt. Brisket is going to be on a lot of dining room tables. And in observant homes, it's going to be kosher.

Observant Muslims have dietary laws that are similar to kosher, they're called halal. And that has made for at least one interesting business proposition.

Ari Daniel Shapiro has the story.

[Cow mooing]

Ari Daniel Shapiro: Devora Kimelman-Block and Yasir Syeed walk along the muddy pasture of this farm tucked into the hills of southeastern Pennsylvania. It's one of about 10 farms they contract with to provide sustainably raised beef, lamb and poultry.

Devora Kimelman-Block: I don't think either one of us thought we'd run a meat business when we grew up, but you know, we saw a niche and we're filling it.

Kimelman-Block's provides kosher meat through her business KOL Foods. And Syeed's company, Green Zabiha, sells halal products ranging from chicken thighs to lamb roast.

Kosher and halal refer to practices and blessings that govern the slaughter of animals. The pair say most animals that become kosher and halal meat are raised on cramped factory farms with little thought paid to their well-being while they're alive. For them, the industrialized approach undermines the intent of their religious dietary laws.

Yasir Syeed: The idea about halal and kosher: It's not just, OK, was it cut the right way? Was the right thing said? Those are important too. But the whole spirit behind both of them is that when you're taking this animal's life, you're doing it in a way that's with dignity and with mercy. You also have to make sure that the whole life that it lived, also, is one that had dignity and mercy. And in a farm like this, I mean, the animals, they're treated practically like family. (More)


By Beth N. Gray, St. Petersburg Times, 3/31/10

For the past year, passers-by have been curious about the impressive construction project in the 6300 block of Barclay Avenue — a gilt-domed, turreted, two-story edifice.

It is the new place of worship and education for local Muslims, the Islamic Center of Hernando County. And on Saturday, about 500 visitors toured the 10,000-square-foot mosque and learned about Islam and those who practice the faith in Hernando.

The event marked one of the aims of the building project, to "open up more to the community, a bigger place to allow guests," said spokesman Dr. Ghiath Mahmaljy.

The membership had congregated in a modest cinder-block building on the same site since 1985.

"It was too small," Mahmaljy said of the previous mosque, built when only about a half-dozen Muslim families lived in the county. The number now includes about 80 families with 300 to 400 individuals.

While the new mosque's exterior is grand, Mahmaljy said the interior is modest, except for a double-tiered crystal chandelier in the prayer hall donated by member Dr. Husam Shuayb.

"Generally, we don't like to show off," Mahmaljy said, pointing out: "The roots in our teaching is of humbleness. We weren't (previously) trying to hide, but it's now time we needed a bigger place."

Inside, no paintings, images or statuary adorn the mosque.

"Anything that could lead to glorifying others than God is forbidden," Mahmaljy explained.

He referred to the 10 Commandments from the Christian Bible and the Koran: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." (More)


by John Taylor,, 3/31/10

Rabbi Marvin Hier's Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance, part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is building a $150 million branch in Jerusalem. The Museum, whose mission is confronting "global anti-Semitism, extremism, hate ... and promoting unity and respect among Jews and people of all faiths," is being built atop part of the Mamilla Muslim cemetery, some of whose burials date to the 11th century. The graves, which may contain the remains of soldiers who fought with Saladin against the Crusaders, are being uprooted to make way for Rabbi Hier's new museum. (More)


By Robert A. Pape, Lindsey O'Rourke and Jenna McDermit, New York Times, 3/30/10

Almost every month for the past two years, Chechen suicide bombers have struck. Their targets can be anything from Russian soldiers to Chechen police officers to the innocent civilians who were killed on the subway in Moscow this week. We all know the horror that people willing to kill themselves can inflict. But do we really understand what drives young women and men to strap explosives on their bodies and deliberately kill themselves in order to murder dozens of people going about their daily lives?

Chechen suicide attackers do not fit popular stereotypes, contrary to the Russian government's efforts to pigeonhole them. For years, Moscow has routinely portrayed Chechen bombers as Islamic extremists, many of them foreign, who want to make Islam the world's dominant religion. Yet however much Russia may want to convince the West that this battle is part of a global war on terrorism, the facts about who becomes a Chechen suicide attacker — male or female — reveal otherwise.

The three of us, in our work for the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, have analyzed every Chechen suicide attack since they began in 2000, 42 separate incidents involving 63 people who killed themselves. Many Chechen separatists are Muslim, but few of the suicide bombers profess religious motives. The majority are male, but a huge fraction — over 40 percent — are women. Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad.

As we have discovered in our research on Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, suicide terrorist campaigns are almost always a last resort against foreign military occupation. Chechnya is a powerful demonstration of this phenomenon at work. (More)

Robert A. Pape is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. Lindsey O'Rourke is a doctoral student there, and Jenna McDermit is an undergraduate majoring in anthropology.

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