Friday, April 9, 2010


(CHICAGO 4/6/10) - On Saturday, April 10, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, one of the world's most renowned Muslim scholars, will join Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) as a keynote speaker at the CAIR-Chicago's Annual Banquet in Oak Brook. More than 1500 people are expected to attend the dinner to hear Dr. Ramadan's first address to the American Muslim community since his visa ban was revoked.

WHEN: Saturday April 10, 2010, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Drury Lane Banquet Hall, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
To RSVP, click here.

Dr. Ramadan, named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential Scientists & Thinkers, was denied a visa to the United States by former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reversed the decision earlier this year.

On hearing the news of the reversal, Dr. Ramadan said, "The decision brings to an end a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation."

Through his writings and lectures, Dr. Ramadan has contributed substantially on issues related to Muslims in the West and the Islamic revival in the Muslim world.

"The Chicago community is excited by Dr. Ramadan's visit to our great city because he is someone who has managed to articulate a fresh, relevant discourse for Western Muslim identity and engagement," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

CAIR-Chicago will also present its annual courage awards at the banquet. This year's awardee for Courage in Public Service is United States Congressman Keith Ellison, the highest-ranking Muslim elected official in the U.S, for his leadership on civil rights and human rights issues.

Professor Louise Cainkar of Marquette University will receive the Courage in Scholarship Award for her research on the struggles of Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11. The award for Courage in Journalism will be given to Neil Steinberg, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, in recognition of his columns critical of Islamophobia and the "guilt by smear and association" tactic currently used by some in America to malign Muslims and Islamic organizations.

Read the speaker's and awardees' biographies here.

CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.

CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, E-Mail:; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, 312-212-1520, 630-935-5562, E-Mail:


Manya Brachear, Chicago Tribune, 4/6/10

Six years after the U.S. government barred Tariq Ramadan from entering the U.S., the controversial Muslim scholar will speak in Chicago on Saturday--one of his first American appearances since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised he would no longer be denied a visa for having alleged ties to terrorism. His opponents warn of danger ahead.

Ramadan, now a professor at Oxford University in England, will address an audience at the Council of American Islamic Relations in Chicago. His visa was revoked in 2004 right before he would have moved to Indiana to take a tenured teaching job at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

A champion of integrating Islam in the Western world, Ramadan criticized the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East. He also has rejected Muslim terrorism as "anti-Islam."

"Anyone who has read any of my 20 books, 700 articles or listened to any of my 170 audio-taped lectures will discern a consistent message," Ramadan wrote in the Chicago Tribune in 2004. "The very moment Muslims and their fellow citizens realize that being a Muslim and being American or European are not mutually exclusive, they will enrich their societies. Since Sept. 11, I have lectured at countless American universities and civic organizations. The French consul of Chicago invited me in 2002 for a lecture trip in the United States, and I spoke at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations."

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said he wasted no time inviting Ramadan to speak when the scholar's rights to enter the U.S. were restored in January. He had last spoken with Ramadan in December when both of them spoke at the Parliament for the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia. Ramadan now has a 10-year visa.

"We are all about reconciling Islam and the West," Rehab said. "We challenge those who attempt to drive a wedge between Muslim and being American. That's really the life cause of Tariq Ramadan as an academic and philosopher and media personality. He often says that he's culturally Western, nationally Swiss, ethnically Egyptian and religiously Muslim. For him and for us as well, there is no inherent schism between being Muslim and being American." (More)



(ST. PAUL, MN, 4/6/10) On Saturday, April 3, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) hosted a meeting between Minnesota Muslim community leaders and a representative from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to discuss new traveler screening guidelines.

At the briefing, the CBP representative shared information on traveling into the United States, CBP's policies and procedures and how to be a better traveler post 9-11.

The meeting was part of a Leadership Briefing series CAIR-MN organizes with government officials and leaders from the Muslim community on a quarterly basis

CAIR-MN's Civil Rights Director Taneeza Islam presented a "Know Your Rights" training that provided updates on new travel guidelines and information on the different agencies travelers interact with while traveling.

SEE: U.S. Announces New Airline Security Measures (Reuters)

"The meeting was productive for everyone involved," said CAIR-MN Events Coordinator Toni Newborn. "It allowed the Muslim community to learn about CBP's procedures and allowed CBP to hear firsthand accounts of the difficulties Muslims face while traveling."

CAIR-MN meets regularly with CBP directors to address specific cases reported to the civil rights organization, general issues of concern to the Muslim community and cultural and religious sensitivity issues to assist officers do their jobs in a respectful way.

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-MN Events Coordinator Toni Newborn, 651-645-7102, E-Mail:; CAIR-MN President Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio, 4/5/10

St. Cloud, Minn. -- The St. Cloud Area School District says it's working hard to address some students' complaints of racial harassment.

A Muslim civil rights group has asked the U.S. Department of Education to investigate racial and discriminatory incidents at high schools in both St. Cloud and Owatonna.

Some Somali students at St. Cloud's two public high schools say administrators haven't responded effectively to their complaints, a charge the district denies....

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education last month that lists more severe allegations of harassment by students, some teachers, and even a bus driver.

For nearly a year CAIR has been working closely with the school district to address racial, religious, and cultural tensions at the St. Cloud are high schools. CAIR's Zahra Aljabri says she and her colleagues have reported these problems to principals, vice principals, and the superintendent, but the problems continue....

CAIR has documented a series of face-to-face meetings and email exchanges with several school administrators dating back to June of last year and the organization has conducted mediation sessions and diversity trainings for district staff. (More)


Minnesota civil rights organization publishes 'We are American, We are Muslim' ad

(ST. PAUL, MN, 4/6/10) – On Sunday, April 4, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) published an advertisement in the St. Cloud Times featuring its "We are American, We are Muslim" campaign.

The CAIR-MN advertisement stated: "We are your neighbors. We are natives and immigrants. We are educated, skilled, and working hard to achieve the American Dream. We are a part of America's history and future. We are doctors, teachers, lawyers, community activists, athletes, elected officials, taxi drivers, service workers, police officers, and business owners. We are American. We are Muslim."

SEE: CAIR-MN Ad in St. Cloud Times

CAIR-MN's action was in response to an anti-Islam advertisement, headlined "Does the Islamic Religion Represent a Threat to America," published in the St. Cloud Times on March 20.

The text of that ad included: "Moslems [sic] seek to influence a nation by immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs, and by supporting the gay agenda." Campbell alleged that Muslims will "destroy the constitution and force the Muslim religion on the society, take freedom of religion away, and they will persecute all other religions."

SEE: Anti-Islam Ad

"Fear mongering only furthers the anti-Muslim hysteria we are seeing in St. Cloud and nationwide," said CAIR-MN President Lori Saroya.

CAIR-MN has addressed a number of hate incidents against St. Cloud Muslims in the past few months. In March, a New Hope man was arrested after he posted threats on Craigslist targeting a Somali cultural event in St. Cloud. In December, Muslims reported anti-Muslim cartoons posted all over St. Cloud, including near the mosque and Muslim businesses. On March 24, CAIR-MN announced that it had asked the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to investigate and address reports of growing racial and religious tensions in the St. Cloud Area School District.

SEE: CAIR-MN Asks DOE to Address Racial Tensions in Minn. Schools
SEE ALSO: Islamic rights group wants feds to investigate incidents in St. Cloud schools

"The reality is that Muslims are Americans who co-exist peacefully with people of other faiths," said Saroya. She added that her group had been contacted by several Christian organizations stating that the anti-Islam advertisement does not represent their religious views.

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-MN President Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:



(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 4/6/10) -- Some 600 people attended the 4th annual banquet and fundraising dinner of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) on Saturday, April 3.

Speakers included former presidential adviser Dr. Robert Crane and Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, a prominent Muslim community leader in Virginia.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was in attendance and spoke proudly of the religious and cultural diversity in the greater Philadelphia area. He also noted the positive relationship his office has established with CAIR-Philadelphia.

SEE: Mayor Nutter with Executive Board Members and Staff
SEE: Mayor Nutter with CAIR-Philadelphia President

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 understand.

CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Outreach and Communications Director Rugiatu Conteh, 215-592-0509, E-Mail:; Civil Rights Director, Moein Khawaja, 215-592-0509, E-Mail:



As our nation struggles with an economic crisis that has left millions unemployed, uninsured and even homeless, the reality that the government cannot alone solve these problems becomes ever more apparent. Helping the millions of Americans impacted by the economic downturn requires the efforts of ordinary citizens, including religious communities, whose faith traditions call them to serve those in need.

Muslim American individuals and institutions are among those at the forefront of this effort to provide food, shelter and medical treatment to those who cannot afford it.

In 2009, President Obama announced the initiative, United We Serve, calling all Americans to participate in our nation's recovery and renewal by serving in our communities. From June 22 to September 11, Americans were called to address community needs in the realms of health care, education, the environment, and community renewal.

Josh DuBois, the director of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, asked Council members to help mobilize their communities to respond to the President's call, with a special emphasis on interfaith service.

In response, a group of Muslim Americans led by Dalia Mogahed, a member of the Council, initiated a national campaign, United We Serve: Muslim Americans Answer the Call, to encourage and empower every Muslim American to answer the call to service.

You can read the "United We Serve" report here.


Julia Duin, Washington Times, 4/6/10

Second of three parts.

It was a warm summer afternoon in the new U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and some European rabbis and imams were exchanging bearhugs.

Imam Mohamed Kajjaj, vice president of the Council of Muslim Theologians of Belgium, waxed eloquent about all the Muslim-Jewish give and take.

"It's been magnificent, wonderful," he said, speaking in French. "This is a grand movement for the future."

These Muslim and Jewish leaders had met for the first time only a few days earlier as part of an unusual effort by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) to foster ties between two religions with a history of conflict and suspicion on modern times. (More)


Some 300 Participants Explore Similarities, Differences in Perspectives on Jesus

Some 300 members of a Renton area Evangelical church, a Redmond area mosque, and other local mosques and churches participated in a dialogue on the Islamic and Christian perspectives on Jesus on Saturday, March 27th at the Harambee Church in Renton, WA.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of WA (CAIR-WA), Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) and Harambee Church, partnered to organize the event "Jesus, Who is He?" The event included a reception, presentations by leaders on the basics of each faith, readings and table discussions of relevant passages from the Bible and Qur'an, and a question and answer session.

Participants read verses from the Qur'an as well as verses from the Bible, comparing each book's accounts of Jesus' birth, descriptions of the Virgin Mary, and attributes of Jesus.

Michael Ly, a Pastor at Harambee and Vice President of Peace Catalyst International, has been a major part of interfaith work with CAIR-WA and local mosques. Ly started bringing together leaders of both faith communities through small gatherings and mosque visits, leading up to large dialogues between entire congregations. "It is truly an honor to be part of an effort to build bridges of understanding between Evangelicals and Muslims," said Ly. "I believe this is the first of many future religious and social interactions between these two faith communities."

Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director of CAIR-WA participated in the event. "A gathering like this brings forward issues of interest to both Muslims and Christians" he said. "It is our goal to build interfaith communities through dialogue and mutual respect."

Imam Mohamad Joban, Imam (Muslim religious leader) at MAPS commented on the success of the event. "What happened this past Saturday night at Harambee Church was a bounty of our Lord," he said. It was a combination of thoughtful preparation, generous efforts by the organizers, and our trust in Allah."

Gina Mahmoud, Secretary of the Interfaith and Outreach Committee at MAPS viewed the event as a 'tremendous success.' "The event was a tremendous success and exceeded all expectations in attendance, organization and impact," said Mahmoud. "I am also very proud of the many young people of both faiths who attended."

Many future events are planned. Those interested in having their faith community involved in an interfaith endeavor are encouraged to contact CAIR-WA or Pastor Michael Ly.

CAIR-WA is the local chapter of CAIR, 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.

Muslim Association of Puget Sound, MAPS, is an Islamic organization founded in 2006 with the intent of serving the Muslims of Puget Sound. Its mission is to provide Islamic educational, social and cultural services to the Muslim community in the region and to promote the teachings of Islam to the inquiring non-Muslim. MAPS strives to build links between Muslim families, businesses and organizations, provides year-round activities and religious services and is committed to helping the needy.

Peace Catalyst International exists to stimulate peacemaking between individuals and between peoples. Our mission is to catalyze peacemaking initiatives for multi-dimensional reconciliation in the way of Jesus. Two of the greatest areas of conflict in the world today are between Christians and Muslims and between the West and the Muslim world. Thus, we give special priority to these relationships.


Bay City News Service, 4/2/10

San Francisco police Chief George Gascon was greeted with applause this afternoon by hundreds of members of the local Muslim community after offering a public apology for statements he made last week on terrorism.

"I am very sorry that I offended you," Gascon told the audience -- many of whom were from the local Yemeni, Afghan and Pakistani communities -- following their afternoon prayer service, held in a downtown hotel conference hall in order to accommodate the crowd.

"That was never my intent," he said.

Gascon ignited a furor among some in the community over remarks he made at a breakfast meeting last week in San Francisco, in which he reportedly singled out the Yemeni and Afghan communities in reference to the possibility of terrorist acts in San Francisco...

"The dialogue starts here," said Adel Syed, civil rights coordinator for the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

"Security starts with understanding, and dialogue," he said.

Before Gascon departed, he was presented with a Koran.

"Basically, the community wants to make sure that they're not treated as a suspect community," Syed said afterward.

Gascon's appearance today "was a testament to his service, and his cooperation with the community," Syed said.

"I think people in the Muslim community are very open-hearted," he said. "But it's what happens next that's important." (More)


Sahar Aziz, American Constitution Society, 4/2/10

By Sahar Aziz, a civil rights attorney with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Ms. Aziz previously served as a senior policy advisor with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard argument in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The plaintiffs, a human rights organization and a retired federal judge, sought to teach international human rights law and provide training on nonviolent conflict resolution to the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Both organizations are designated as terrorist by the U.S. government.

Oral argument focused on whether such training and advocacy aimed at promoting peace constitutes pure speech protected by the First Amendment, thereby shielding plaintiffs from prosecution under laws that prohibit material support for terrorism.

But rather than delve into the complex constitutional questions presented, the Court should follow the established doctrine of constitutional avoidance by interpreting the challenged provisions to require a showing of intent to further illegal activities. The avoidance doctrine dictates that if a case can be resolved on an alternative basis, the court should refrain from ruling on constitutional issues. (More)


Bill Quigley, Huffington Post, 4/3/10

Bill Quigley is Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights

Today in New York City, the U.S. is torturing a Muslim detainee with no prior criminal record who has not even gone to trial.

For the last almost three years, Syed Fahad Hashmi has been kept in total pre-trial isolation inside in a small cell under 24 hour video and audio surveillance. He is forced to use the bathroom and shower in full view of the video. He has not seen the sun in years. He takes his meals alone in his cell. He cannot see any other detainees and he is not allowed to communicate in any way with any prisoners. He cannot write letters to friends and he cannot make calls to anyone but his lawyer. He is prohibited from participating in group prayer. He gets newspapers that are 30 days old with sections cut out by the government. One hour a day he is taken into another confined room where he is also kept in total isolation.

Children are taught that the U.S. Constitution protects people accused of crimes. No one is to be punished unless their guilt or innocence has been decided in a fair trial. Until trial, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They are entitled to be defended by an attorney of their choice. And the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The punishment of Mr. Hashmi has been going on for years while he has been waiting for trial. (More)

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