Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kevin James-Muslim Firefighter in NYC from Unity Productions Foundation on Vimeo.


CAIR to Launch PSAs Featuring Muslim 9/11 First Responders
Public service announcements designed to challenge bigotry, Florida Quran burning

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/31/2010) -- On Wednesday, September 1, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a news conference in Washington, D.C., to launch a national public service announcement (PSA) campaign featuring Muslim 9/11 first responders and designed to challenge the growing anti-Muslim bigotry sparked by opposition to the planned Park51 project in Manhattan.

CAIR's campaign will also include a PSA that features interfaith leaders offering an implicit challenge to the Florida church that plans to burn copies of the Quran, Islam's revealed text, on September 11.

WHAT: CAIR to Launch Muslim 9/11 First Responder PSA Campaign
WHEN: Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: National Press Club, Zenger Room, 13th Floor, National Press Club Building, 529 14th Street N.W., Washington, D.C.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:ihooper@cair.com

"The stepped-up rhetorical and physical attacks on the American Muslim community and Islam require a positive, proactive response that will help counter the almost hysterical campaign of misinformation by a vocal minority of bigots," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "These public service announcements have the potential to reach millions of Americans with a message of religious inclusion and mutual understanding."

SEE: Fire at Tennessee Mosque Site: Part of a 'Perfect Storm'?

Two of the three PSAs, which will be distributed to television stations nationwide and online through social media sites, feature Muslim first responders to the 9/11 terror attacks, with the theme "9/11 happened to us all."

The third PSA features Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders describing the "golden rule" as expressed by their respective faiths –- and ends with the phrase, "We have more in common than we think." That PSA is designed to show the commonalities between faiths and to challenge those who –- like the members of a Florida church who plan to burn Qurans on September 11 –- would divide American along religious lines.

Other national American Muslim organizations will take part in the news conference to outline each group's individual and joint initiatives designed to promote religious freedom, challenge growing anti-Muslim bigotry in American society and to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

SEE: Muslim Leaders Seek to Unify Community in Wake of Hostility, Mosque Controversy(Washington Post)

The other American Muslim organizations taking part in the news conference include: (in alphabetical order)

  • Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations in the Washington Area (CCMO)
  • Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
  • MAS Freedom

Earlier this month, CAIR released an online toolkit designed to help Muslim communities organize proactive local educational and outreach initiatives tied to events such as a "National Day of Unity and Healing" on the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The toolkit, called a "Teachable Moment Community Response Guide," offers guidance, tools and resources to help Muslim communities respond to specific current events such as the end of Ramadan Eid al-Fitr holiday occurring near September 11, the upcoming "Burn a Koran Day" by a church in Florida, the anti-Muslim bigotry generated by the smear campaign against a planned Islamic community center in Manhattan, and the ongoing tension and misunderstanding surrounding the building or expansion of mosques nationwide.

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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Suit claims discrimination against Sheikh Kifah in revocation of chaplaincy position

(CHICAGO, IL, 8/30/10) -- The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today filed a discrimination complaint in federal court against the Illinois State Police (ISP) on behalf of Kifah Mustapha, a leading Muslim religious leader (Imam) based in Chicago.

The ISP had previously hired Imam Kifah as the first and only Muslim chaplain for its workforce after the completion of a thorough background check. Shortly after news of Imam Kifah's hiring, the ISP revoked its decision citing a dubious Internet report attacking Imam Kifah. The report was written and distributed by Steven Emerson, an anti-Muslim blogger notorious for fighting against American Muslim civic participation.

SEE: Steven Emerson's Crusade

Among other false allegations, Emerson's report claimed that Imam Kifah served on the "Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood," when no such committee exists.

CAIR-Chicago's lawsuit alleges discrimination based on race, religion and national origin. The suit also cites the denial of Imam Kifah's First Amendment right to freedom of association, which bars the government from imposing guilt by association.

"Imam Kifah is an upstanding citizen who has served this country and his community time and again," said Christina Abraham, CAIR-Chicago's civil rights director. "It is time to put an end to the fear-mongering and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has senselessly engulfed our nation."

"The ISP's actions here are reminiscent of Red Scare in the 1950s, when our nation smeared individuals based on suspicion and paranoia rather than evidence of wrong doing," said CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney, Kevin Vodak. "The McCarthy era taught us that our government cannot engage in guilt by association."

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.


CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, 202.870.0166, E-Mail:arehab@cair.com
CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, 312.212.1520, 630.935.5562, E-Mail:asharif@cair.com; CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham, 312.212.1520, 847-971-7989: E-Mail: cabraham@cair.com


Breaking News Center, 8/30/10

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations filed a federal discrimination lawsuit today against Illinois State Police on behalf of a local Muslim cleric whose appointment as chaplain was revoked last month. (More)


Associated Press, 8/30/10

Gov. David Paterson said today that he doesn't need to apologize to Muslim groups who criticized him for comments last week in which he described developers of an Islamic center and mosque planned near Ground Zero as peaceful and "almost westernized" Muslims. ...

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Paterson's broadcast comments "grossly misinformed" and derogatory. (More)



View the video.

Religious Leaders Challenging Anti-Muslim Rhetoric, Violence
By Robert Marus, ABP, 8/30/10

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Against a background of mounting anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence, Baptist and other religious leaders spoke out Aug. 30 against Islamophobia and urged federal officials to take a more proactive role in safeguarding Muslims' civil rights.

A group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders held a press conference at a Washington church denouncing the rhetoric and attacks – including a suspicous Aug. 28 fire at the construction site of a mosque that has stirred significant controversy in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; the Aug. 24 attempted murder of a Muslim taxi driver in New York; and a conservative Florida church's plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 as an anti-Islamic protest.

"We're shifting from fear to fear-mongering, from misunderstanding to misinformation, from legitimate speech to hate speech to hate violence" said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, in the conference at Washington's Western Presbyterian Church. The church was chosen as the setting for the briefing partially because its sanctuary hosts Friday prayer services for Muslim students at the adjacent George Washington University campus. (More)


Fox, 40, 8/29/10

View the video.

An area mosque has been drawn into the debate over a religious center near ground zero in New York City. A plastic pig was put in that mosque's mailbox, toxic messages were scribbled across it.


ABC 7, 8/30/10

View the video.


By Raheem Hanifa, The Oakland Press, 8/29/10

Columnist Cal Thomas' "We are at war with radical Islam" is the epitome of hollow fear mongering wrapped in misinformation and McCarthyism.

He begins by asserting that the true threat to the U.S. is "radical Islamist." He then says mosques being built across the U.S. clearly show that "radical Islamists" are covering America with bases for terrorism to wage their offensive. To prove these claims, he quotes a former Israeli diplomat who begins beating the war drums against Iran in a strikingly reminiscent manner as did the neo-cons with their fantastical "evidence" of Iraq's WMD possession and about how war with Iraq was necessary to divert total annihilation of every American man, woman, and child. We all know how credible the "intelligence" was for that endeavor.

No one is denying that there are individuals across the world that will use religion to justify their violent aspirations. This unfortunate phenomenon takes place in every faith tradition as well as in multiple political ideologies. As pertaining to acts of terrorism committed by Muslims, Muslims across the world have consistently condemned, protested and exerted efforts to apprehend terrorists. There are FBI statistics detailing acts of terror explaining that the "Muslim threat" is exaggerated. (More)


By Robert Mackey, The Lede, 8/30/10

On Sunday, one day after a fire at the site of a planned Islamic center and mosque in the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, Muslim community members reported hearing gunshots as they inspected the damage.

Saleh Sbenaty, an engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University who is on the Islamic center's planning committee, told The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro that nine shots, in two volleys, were fired near the property while he and female family members looked at construction equipment burned in the fire. Mr. Sbenaty, who has lived in Tennessee for three decades, said, "It was nothing like a hunting rifle."

He added: We hope for the best, obviously, but this isn't hunting land. There's plenty of houses around here. ...To say we're nervous is a huge understatement. It's terrorism.

On Saturday morning, the local sheriff's department informed members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro that one piece of construction equipment at the site had been burned and three others were doused with some sort of fluid but not set alight. (More)


The Tennessean, 8/29/10

Rutherford County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a complaint about shots being fired this afternoon near the construction site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike.

The report came just hours after a fire of suspicious nature damaged construction equipment at the site.

A group of congregation members was at the site looking at the damage done to construction equipment by the fire overnight when they heard nine shots fired from two directions.

The incident occurred around 3:15 p.m. The congregation members reported hearing six shots coming from one direction, and about three minutes later they heard three more shots from another direction, said Saleh Sbenaty, a congregation member and MTSU professor.

He wasn't sure if the shots were being fired at the Muslim group, but in the aftermath of the fire, he said they felt it necessary to report, the Daily News Journal reported on its website. (More)


By Davi Barker, San Francisco Muslim Examiner, 8/29/10

60 KFMB AM is a talk radio station hosting such conservative luminaries as Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Today, below the Wiener Dog racing and ads for Glen Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally is a fun little poll that asks listeners:

During a time of war, should we register as many practicing Muslims as we can find in a national database?

No - it's an invasion of privacy.

Yes - gun owners have to, why not Muslims?

Currently, 70% of those polled are in favor of forced registration for American Muslims. Granted, this is not a representative sampling of the general population, but it none the less contributes to a disturbing trend of national opinion about Islam.

Jenn Chou is the National Anti-establishment Examiner and a member of CopBlock, a decentralized project of writers and activists dedicated to holding rogue cops accountable by filming their behavior and publishing it online. Jenn writes:

"Forced registration is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jewish population of Germany. The Nazis did not kill 6 million Jewish people overnight and go from being perfectly amicable one day to burning them in ovens the next. It started with small steps. (More)


By Glynnis MacNicol, Mediaite.com

Chris Matthews revealed an interesting statistic on his show Sunday: More than half of Republicans polled say they have a negative attitude toward Islam, this compared to only 27% of Democrats. Asked Matthews: Is this negative feeling what's propelling American Muslims (i.e. the Times Sq. Bomber, and the Fort Hood shooter) to attack America? Joe Klein thinks it's a contributing factor.

Said Katty Kay: "The risk for America is if you start putting all of those extremists in with all of Muslims."

Reihan Salam thinks the differential in the numbers has to do with the fact that less conservatives identify with the Republican party than Liberals with the Dems. And Joe Klein thinks it's merely representative of a larger anxiety prevalent in the older generations about changing social values combined with the struggling economy. As for how much President Obama has to do with these numbers, the panel generally agreed it was less than people might conclude. Said Norah O'Donnell: "I do think if Hillary Clinton were president some of this would still exist." (More)


By Lisa Miller, Newsweek, 8/28/10

Here is the latest semantic assault from the party that brought you "Islamo-facism" (circa 2005) and "Axis of Evil" (2002). The term "stealth jihad" is suddenly voguish among politically ambitious right wingers who see President Obama's approach to terrorism as insufficient. If it sounds like a phrase from a military-fantasy summer blockbuster, that's on purpose: in its cartoonish bad-guy foreignness, "stealth jihad" attempts to make the terrorist threat broader and thus more nefarious than it already is. The only thing scarier than an invisible, homicidal, suicidal enemy with a taste for world domination is one who's sneaking up on you. In the words of former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at a July speech at the American Enterprise Institute, "stealth jihad" is an effort "to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia."

The term wasn't Gingrich's invention. It's the title of a two-year-old book by Robert Spencer, whose hyperventilating antiterror blog, Jihad Watch, is cited and circulated widely on the far right. But the recent vicious debate over the proposed community center and mosque near Ground Zero gives Gingrich an excuse to use "stealth jihad" and its variants frequently—not just at the AEI but in an interview with this magazine. (In an essay on the conservative Web site Human Events, he referred instead to "creeping sharia.") Gingrich's like-minded peers have seized on the language, too. "Muslim Brotherhood operatives, like [Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center's founder and leader] are extremely skilled at obscuring ... their true agenda," said Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, on FOX's Glenn Beck show. "It's part of the stealth jihad." (More)


By Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, CNN, 8/30/10

My job as an imam and outreach director for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, located minutes from the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, was created September 11, 2001, to convey a more accurate image of the American Muslim community and to create opportunities for interfaith cooperation and understanding distinct from the stereotypical image of Muslims as intolerant and violent religious anti-American extremists.

On the morning of the 9/11 attack, while I was calling my patients from the waiting room at Howard University Hospital, I saw the plumes of smoke in the distance coming from the Pentagon, and on the TV monitor watched the twin towers of the World Trade Center being destroyed.

I had been volunteering as the Muslim chaplain and imam at Howard University at that time, and the media began calling me for interviews.

By 2002, the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center asked me to be their first outreach director. I left my work as a biomedical researcher, working on my doctorate studying sickle cell disease, and took up this work.

Much like the tradition of the black church, I believe I was "called" to this ministry to bring people back together, to try to heal a lot of the pain, fear and anger that persisted. (More)


Educational event counters anti-Muslim rhetoric and seeks to reach out to neighbors of all faiths

(SAN DIEGO, CA, 8/30/2010) -- La Jolla Cross Roads Muslims last night held a "Share the Quran" Ramadan fast-breaking dinner, or "Iftar," at the La Jolla Cross Roads clubhouse in San Diego. The purpose of the event was to invite neighbors of all faiths to come together and to get to know one another in light of the anti-Islamic rhetoric surrounding the New York City Islamic center project in Manhattan and the planned "Burn the Koran" in Florida.

CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, who was invited to be a guest speaker at the event, spoke about the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric nationwide and the urgent need to get to know each other as neighbors. The program consisted of the Muslim sunset prayer, an iftar dinner, a short talk, and a question and answer session. More than 50 guests attended the event.

Several copies of the Quran that were also given out to guests as part of CAIR's "Share the Quran" campaign.

SEE: Share the Quran

"In the midst of the anti-Muslim rhetoric being stoked around the country, it is comforting that our local American Muslim community is taking the initiative in reaching out to their neighbors and inviting them to break bread in the spirit of friendship and mutual respect," said CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida

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 San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, 619-913-0719 or 858-278-4547, E-Mail: ehopida@cair.com

Ramadan in Jerusalem 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: CAIR-NY Condemns Governor's Comments on Muslims
CAIR-PA: Area Muslims Keep the Fast, Even as They Feed Others
CAIR-OK: Tulsa Muslims Hold Open House to Share Their Faith


CAIR: 'No Mosque in NYC' Pig Left at Calif. Islamic Center
Muslim civil rights group asks that incident be investigated as hate crime

(SACRAMENTO, CA, 8/29/10) -- The Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) today called on law enforcement authorities to initiate a hate crime investigation of an incident in which a mock pig inscribed with "No Mosque in NYC" was left at a California Islamic center.

CAIR-SV said the pig, which was left earlier this month in the mailbox of the mosque, was also inscribed with "Remember 9-11" and "MO HAM MED the Pig."

SEE: Images of Mock Pig Left at Calif. Mosque

[NOTE: Islam prohibits the consumption of pork products and anti-Muslim bigots often use a pig theme as a way to cause maximum insult. Representatives of the local Muslim community have contacted law enforcement authorities, but have asked that the name of the facility not be made public due to security concerns.]

"This incident is a further symptom of the growing anti-Muslim bigotry nationwide sparked by the hysterical smear campaign targeting the planned Islamic community center in Manhattan," said CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra. "We again ask mainstream religious and political leaders to speak out against such un-American intolerance."

SEE: Tea Party Reveals Real Reason Behind Mosque Opposition Frenzy

He said this is the second recent incident targeting a California mosque. Vandals targeting a Madera, Calif., Islamic center left signs stating "No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB," "Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB" and "American Nationalist Brotherhood." Yesterday, CAIR called for a hate crime investigation of arson at the future site of a Tennessee mosque.

SEE: Calif. Mosque Vandalized with Hate Signs Referring to NY Controversy

CAIR is urging American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."

CAIR-MI: Michigan Muslims step Up Security Procedures
CAIR-OK: Muslims' Eid Festival Falls Close to 9/11 Anniversary
Minn. Man Won't Pay Fines Over Posting Anti-Islamic Fliers

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.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Video: CAIR-LA Rep Discusses Disney Hijab Case on 'O'Reilly' (FOX)
Video: CAIR Rep Discusses Mosque Opposition with Olbermann (MSNBC)
CAIR: Armed Christian Militia Pulls Support for 'Burn a Quran' Event (CNN)


CAIR: NY Cabbie Stabbed After Asked 'Are You Muslim?'
Muslim civil rights group asks leaders to repudiate Islamophobia

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/25/10) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on religious and political leaders to repudiate Islamophobia following an attack on a New York taxi driver who was allegedly stabbed by a passenger who had asked him if he was Muslim.

According to media reports, a 21-year-old man hailed a cab in Manhattan on Monday night. He reportedly asked the driver "Are you Muslim?" and when the driver said yes, the man slashed him with a knife on the throat, arm and face. The driver stopped the cab and approached a police officer, who arrested the attacker. The attacker has since been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.

SEE: Man Is Held in Anti-Muslim Stabbing of Cabdriver (NY Times)
Police: Cab Driver Stabbed By Passenger Who Asked 'Are You Muslim?' (NY1)
Anti-Islam Ads Removed from Chicago Taxis

"As other American minorities have experienced, hate speech often leads to hate crimes," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Sadly, we've seen how the deliberate public vilification of Islam can lead some individuals to violence against innocent people. It's time for responsible leaders to speak up to stop irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric."

Awad encouraged actions such as those taken by interfaith leaders in Connecticut, who held a vigil yesterday at the First Congregational Church in Stamford, Conn., in a display of unity and solidarity with the Muslim community.

SEE: Members of All Faiths Gather in Support of Islam (CT Post)
CT: Interfaith Vigil Urges Religious Tolerance

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.