Fear is the emotion underlying everything. A primary instinct we share with animals -- I pad outside to retrieve the morning newspapers and catch a bunny unaware. He freezes, tracking me anxiously, then rockets away, his little heart hammering. I pick up the papers, smiling, because of course I mean him no harm.
For a bunny, there is no downside to automatically fleeing humans -- much unnecessary leaping, perhaps. It is a survival mechanism, but so is my not being afraid of what doesn't pose a threat, the skill that allowed humans to slowly develop beyond isolated tribes, to work together and build this complex world of wonder we now enjoy. There are no wonders of the rabbit world besides underground burrows. But that's it.
My wife and I attended the 6th annual fund-raising dinner earlier this month for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group dedicated to thwarting the baseless fear that so rattled my rabbit friend. "I'm going to wear the long dress I wear to Hassidic weddings," my wife said beforehand, without irony. I said that sounded like a good idea.
Some 1,500 guests attended the CAIR dinner, at the Drury Lane in Oak Brook. An older gentleman named Feteh Riyal -- a muezzin -- gave the call to prayer, eyes closed, hands pressed flat against the sides of his face, emitting long, plaintive tones I had never heard before. They were haunting, beautiful. The keynote speaker was Professor Tariq Ramadan, who had been banned from the United States for six years under George W. Bush's security state.
I brought along a tape recorder "in case he said anything incendiary." But the speech centered on the moral duties of a Muslim to be an active part of the community and do good works. (More)
BAD FOR THE GOP: ALLEN WEST’S HATE SPEECH - TOP BUDDY NEVINS, Broward Beat, 3/29/10
Something very dangerous is brewing in U. S. House District 22: Allen West.
Parts of West’s campaign are nothing more than hate speech.
He says Moslems have been damned by God. Anybody who gave to this bigot should demand their money back.
His vehemence against anyone who practicing Moslem is disgusting and not worthy of the Republican Party, which always claims to have a Big Tent.
Maybe this is where the Republican Party is headed.
His website is filled with rhetoric more reminiscent of a racist than of a congressional candidate.
He refuses to capitalize Muhammad and Islam on his website, making an editorial comment that they are not worthy. (More)
Some 400 people turned out on Saturday for CAIR-NJ's annual banquet in Monmouth Junction. The keynote speaker at the sold-out event was Dr. John Esposito of Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. CAIR National Board Chairman State Sen. Larry Shaw (N.C.) also spoke at the banquet.
CONTACT: Afsheen Shamsi at 908-938-5990 or email@example.com
CAIR-CINCINNATI REP SPEAKS AT CHURCH, HIGH SCHOOL - TOP
(CINCINNATI, 4/19/10) -- CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub recently spoke about Islam and the American Muslim experience to members of a local Presbyterian church and to students at a Catholic high school.
The Cincinnati chapter is one of three in CAIR-Ohio. 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.
U.S. MUSLIM GROUPS WALK FINE LINE IN EFFORTS TO CONFRONT EXTREMISM -TOP Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times, 4/19/10
For the last decade, U.S. Muslim organizations have faced criticism that they don't do enough to condemn -- or prevent -- extremism and terrorism.
But now that many of the groups are speaking publicly about the radicalization of Muslim youths and even developing scared-straight-type programs to steer young people away from extremism, they are being criticized in their own community for saying too much.
Critics contend that organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Muslim American Society are pandering to outsiders who equate Muslims with extremism....
In the wake of the Ft. Hood, Texas, shooting, the reports of dozens of Minnesota youths joining a Somalian resistance and the December terrorism-related arrests of five young men from Virginia who traveled to Pakistan, CAIR publicly addressed the issue of radicalization and outlined how it had helped the families of the Virginia men report the disappearances to the FBI....
Over the last several months, the Muslim organizations have coordinated meetings at their headquarters, mosques and student groups.
The discussions have led to more understanding on both sides, including an acknowledgment of the difficult position the national organizations find themselves in: stuck between calls for action and demands for a more measured response.
Although the leaders say they understand the concerns of younger members, they insist the issue is not one they can ignore -- for both practical and public relations purposes.
"Do we address it and speak about it and add fuel to the fire of those who want to make this a big issue? Even addressing a false frame or an exaggerated frame adds to the perpetuation of that stereotype," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR.
"It's like Nixon coming out on TV and saying 'I'm not a crook.' "
Like its sister chapters nationwide, CAIR-LA held a meeting at its Anaheim office to discuss what is myth and what is reality when discussing radicalization. (More)
A THANKSGIVING MEAL, THEN CHARGES OF JIHAD: A MOTHER’S TALE - TOP SCOTT SHANE, New York Times, 4/18/10
Ramy Zamzam with his parents, Amal Khalifa and Said Zamzam. Ms. Khalifa said her son told her after his arrest that he had gone to Pakistan to attend a wedding, not to join militants.
A few weeks later, he and four American friends would disappear, resurfacing in Pakistan, accused by United States and Pakistani law enforcement officials of seeking to join the jihad against American forces in Afghanistan.
At a time of new concern about radicalization of Muslims in the United States, Mr. Zamzam’s story is a baffling tale and a tragedy for parents who from all appearances are loyal and law-abiding Muslim immigrants living in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
In an interview on Friday, as the men’s trial resumed in Pakistan, Mr. Zamzam’s mother, Amal Khalifa, described a harrowing visit she and her husband made early this month to the eldest of her three children. The confident student, she said, the “multitasker” who had excelled as a student and community volunteer through high school and college, was shattered by four months in a Pakistani jail.
“He cried and clung to me,” Ms. Khalifa said, choking up. “When I saw him like that, it broke my heart.”
By her account, Mr. Zamzam asked about his two younger brothers and denied that he had had any plans to join militants. “He said: ‘Mom, I love my country. I want to go back to my country. Why do the Pakistanis want to do this to us?’ ” Ms. Khalifa said in the interview, at the Washington offices of the Council on American Islamic Relations, an advocacy group that has assisted the parents...
After they arrived, according to Mr. Zamzam, armed men, not wearing uniforms, burst into the house where they were staying and drove off with them. They were held for 36 hours without food or water and beaten constantly by interrogators who demanded that they admit to being terrorists, Mr. Zamzam told his parents. (More)
PNC BANK BEING SUED FOR DISCRIMINATION - TOP WYTV, 4/17/10
This week, a federal judge in Cleveland rejected PNC Bank's effort to throw out a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed against them by Rami Awad, a former Arab-American employee.
Awad was a teller and consumer banker at PNC when he was allegedly fired for speaking out about anti-Arab and anti-Muslim discrimination he endured at four PNC branches. PNC did not want to comment about the case, but Awad was told by PNC he was let go for opening accounts without customer authorization.
"They didn't give Mr. Awad any notice that there were any problems. They just simply trumped up those charges and fired him without even giving him an opportunity to consult his notes on what had actually happened with those customer accounts," said Awad's attorney, Subodh Chandra.
Chandra said the bank's timing for firing Awad was very suspicious and happened right after he complained about discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The judge's ruling said there is enough evidence to show Awad was mocked and harassed by fellow co-workers for three and a half years.
"At one point he was simply making an inquiry about accident insurance and somebody said, 'Oh Rami's gonna bomb all of us,' I mean just nasty things," said Chandra.
The Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is working as co-counsel and filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Awad.
"We're just hoping that PNC does the right thing and do right by Awad, and I think it's unfortunate that it had to come to a point where we had to go to trial," said CAIR attorney, Romin Iqbal. (More)
VIDEO: MD. MUSLIM FOSTER MOM REJECTED FOR NOT SERVING PORK - TOP
CENSUS REACHES OUT TO DETROIT AREA MUSLIMS - TOP Catherine Jun, The Detroit News
Dearborn -- At the close of a recent afternoon prayer, Muslim congregants filing out of a mosque on Outer Drive were instructed to do more than go in peace: Return their census forms.
"I remind you if you have not yet, return it," Imam Mohammad Mardini told about 500 congregants leaving the American Muslim Center on Friday. "It's our duty upon each and every one of us to return the forms."
After nine years of scrutiny post-Sept. 11, some American Muslims have become wary of the federal government, and census officials have been working with Metro Detroit mosques to ensure that people return their census forms. (More)
First Arab-American appointed to N.J. Superior Court in Hunterdon County - TOP Jennifer Golson, The Star-Ledger, 4/18/10
He may be only 36, but when Hany Mawla recently donned the robes of a Superior Court judge, colleagues said he was well-prepared to ascend the bench.
Mawla was sworn in Jan. 27, and is currently assigned to the Family Division in Hunterdon County, part of the vicinage that includes Somerset and Warren counties. He started hearing cases in March.
For New Jersey’s Arab-Americans, it marks another milestone. The son of Egyptian immigrants, he is the first Arab-American Muslim — or Muslim of any background — appointed to state Superior Court. (More)
WHITE HOUSE QUIETLY COURTS MUSLIMS IN U.S. - TOP ANDREA ELLIOTT, New York Times, 4/18/10
When President Obama took the stage in Cairo last June, promising a new relationship with the Islamic world, Muslims in America wondered only half-jokingly whether the overture included them. After all, Mr. Obama had kept his distance during the campaign, never visiting an American mosque and describing the false claim that he was Muslim as a “smear” on his Web site. (More)