CAIR APPLAUDS LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS IN FOILING TEXAS BOMB PLOT - TOP
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/24/11) -- The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded the efforts of the FBI and members of the public in preventing an alleged bomb plot in Lubbock, Texas.
CAIR said a Saudi Arabian citizen living in Texas has been charged with plotting to bomb targets in the United States. The FBI was tipped off to the alleged plot by officials of a company from which the suspect ordered chemicals that could be used to build a bomb.
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"We applaud the efforts of the FBI, the Lubbock Police Department and all those who helped prevent this deadly plot from being carried out. Without public vigilance and swift action by law enforcement authorities, many Americans could have been killed or injured.
"We note that this case involves a foreign individual, was apparently planned before the suspect came to this country and was motivated by extremist views acquired outside the United States."
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, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com
VIDEO: ALLEN WEST ON DEFENSE AFTER ANTI-ISLAM COMMENTS (CAIR) - TOP
The head of a local Muslim organization is accusing U.S. Rep. Allen West of attacking the religion.
CAIR: MIKE HUCKABEE KEEPS UP CRITICISM OF ISLAM IN AMERICA - TOP David Gibson, Politics Daily, 2/23/11
Just days after stirring Muslim ire for ripping Islam as "the antithesis of the gospel of Christ," Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee again sharply critiqued the religion, telling an evangelical magazine that Muslims are receiving special treatment "at the expense of others" -- apparently referring to Christians -- and that is "un-American."
In the interview with Christianity Today, Huckabee was asked about New York Rep. Peter King's controversial plan to hold hearings in March on the alleged radicalization of American Muslims, and Huckabee responded by talking about concerns that Muslims wanted to "impose" the Islamic religious law code known as Sharia on Americans.
Sharia law cannot be used to trump U.S. laws, but conservatives, including Newt Gingrich -- another GOP hopeful for 2012 -- have gained traction with their base by arguing that it can, and Huckabee seemed to be joining that camp. ...
Appearing on a Fox News show over the weekend, Huckabee also took aim at Islam as he criticized two Protestant churches that allowed Muslims to worship in their facilities when mosques in the area were too small or under construction.
"If the purpose of a church is to push forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then you have a Muslim group that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated, I have a hard time understanding that," Huckabee, a Fox host, said while he was a guest on "Fox & Friends." "I mean if a church is nothing more than a facility and a meeting place free for any and all viewpoints, without regard to what it is, then should the church be rented out to show adult movies on the weekend?"
Huckabee added that Islam "is the antithesis of the gospel of Christ." A leading Islamic advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called Huckabee's remarks "inaccurate and offensive" and asked him to apologize. CAIR said it would also help arrange a meeting between the former Arkansas governor and Muslim leaders "to discuss growing Islamophobia in American society."
Huckabee has not responded to either request. (More)
KING: PHARES NOT TESTIFYING - TOP Ben Smith, Politico, 2/24/11
A potentially controversial witness, Walid Phares, isn't expected to appear at Pete King's hearings on Muslim radicalization, King told POLITICO just now.
Robert Costa's report this week that the witness included Walid Phares, a Fox News analysts and conservative terrorism scholar, raised some eyebrows.
That's because King has told us, among others, that he plans to rely on Muslim witnesses. That angered some outside critics of the community, but King hoped it would lend the hearings credibility and avoid some distracting controversy.
But Phares is of Lebanese Christian descent, and Muslim groups accuse him of ties to Christian militias in Lebanon's brutal civil war (whose sectarian battles echo in various ways through the current American politics of Islam.
"As of now, he is not testifying," King said through a spokesman.
CAIR-NY: HEARINGS ON MUSLIM EXTREMISTS IGNITES PROTEST - TOP Kristina Skorbach, Epoch Times, 2/24/11
NEW YORK--An estimated 130 to 200 protesters gathered at Massapequa Park on Long Island in front of Rep. Peter King's district office on Tuesday in response to his planned congressional hearings on Muslim extremists.
There were roughly equal numbers of protesters and counter-demonstrators on the scene, accompanied by 30 or so police officers in front of the Republican's Park Boulevard office.
Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager at the Council on American-Islamic Relations in New York (CAIR-NY) responded to the day's event's via e-mail by saying: "Peter King's irresponsible hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslims will further divide America," he said. "The hearings support the idea that an entire faith community can be held responsible for the actions of a very few, a notion which has rightfully been rejected as absurd when any other community is called into question," continued McGoldrick.
Earlier this month, ranking member in the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-D.C.), proposed to shift the focus of Congressional hearings from "al Qaeda's efforts to radicalize and recruit within the Muslim-American community"-- to "examine extreme environmentalists and neo-Nazis." (More)
DON'T PUT AMERICAN MUSLIMS ON TRIAL - TOP Newsday, 2/24/11
The United States Constitution provides for the equal protection of all, regardless of race, religion or nationality. This includes, of course, Americans who happen to be Muslim.
So when a prominent politician decides to hold congressional hearings on one religious group within our society, it should give us all pause - as Americans - about whether these proceedings are fair or warranted.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) plans to hold House Homeland Security Committee hearings in March on radicalization within the American Muslim community - and claims Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement in the effort to disrupt terrorism plots. As King puts it, "There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate."
These are shocking words. The very idea that Congress should focus national security hearings on an entire community of faith should be deeply troubling to all Americans, and harkens back to the dark days of the McCarthy era.
First, law enforcement officials have disputed King's assertions about Muslim Americans cooperating with police. For example, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca dismissed King's remarks. "Muslim Americans," he said, "have been pivotal in helping to fight terrorism." (More)
Asim Rehman is vice president of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, a professional association for Muslim lawyers and law students living in New York.
TENN. LAWMAKERS TRY TO MAKE ISLAM ILLEGAL - TOP Amanda Hara, News Channel 5, 2/23/11
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Muslims have long looked to what's known as Shariah Law for moral guidance. But on Wednesday, state lawmakers took aim at the Islamic practice, claiming that it promotes terrorism.
State Senator Bill Ketron said there are Muslim extremists who interpret Shariah law as a license to commit terrorist acts. That's why he has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to follow the moral code.
The local Imam, or spiritual leader for the Islamic Center of Nashville, said Shariah Law is very much like the Ten Commandments, teaching Muslims "do not steal, do not kill, and do not commit adultery."
"I don't think you or I, or anyone, would agree that we want to revoke such concepts such moral standards. We are in need of it regardless of our race our tradition or our region is," Imam Mohamed Ahmed said.
Imam Ahmed said State Bill 1028 comes from a place of fear and misunderstanding of Islam and confuses most Muslims with extremists linked to Al Qaeda. (More)
EDITORIAL: ANTI-SHARIAH BILL IS LEGISLATIVE NONSENSE - TOP Jackson Sun editorial, 2/24/11
Tennessee lawmakers again have veered off course by introducing outrageous and offensive legislation that only helps paint Tennessee as backward and narrow-minded. A bill that would make following Islamic Shariah law a felony punishable by 15 years in jail should be rejected.
Republican lawmakers Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro proposed a bill targeting Islamic code known as Shariah, which addresses a set of strict religious rules and practices. The bill goes so far as to specifically exempt what the authors deemed to call the "peaceful practice of Islam" while calling the practice of Shariah treasonous.
Methany and Ketron appear to know even less about the U.S. Constitution than they do about the practices of Islam. Their bill is an insult to freedom of religion in America. It disregards the First Amendment's order that government make no laws regarding religion.
We will not argue about or try to analyze aspects of Islam or Shariah and more than we will try to argue that the Baptist Church is better or worse than the Methodist Church. We believe in freedom of religion and that people should choose to worship, or not, as they see fit. It is not up to the state of Tennessee or any arm of government to tell anyone how to worship, let alone accuse them of a felony for doing so.
Attempting to make adherence to a religious belief a felony punishable by 15 years in jail is ludicrous. Tennessee jails are overflowing with people who have committed serious crimes. The thought of jailing people because of their religious beliefs is offensive. Anyone who would use a religious belief to commit a crime already is subject to criminal prosecution. (More)
CAIR-LA, ACLU/SC SUE FBI FOR ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE OF MUSLIMS - TOP Suit filed over broad surveillance of S. Calif. Muslims based solely on religion
(LOS ANGELES, CA, 2/23/11) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC), and the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP today announced that they have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the FBI for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance solely because of their religion.
For over 14 months between 2006 and 2007, FBI agents planted an informant in Orange County mosques who posed as a convert to Islam and through whom the FBI collected names, telephone numbers, e-mails, and other information on hundreds of California Muslims. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik, and Yassir AbdelRahim - plaintiffs in the case-are three of the many individuals who came in contact with the bureau's informant.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI directed the informant, a convicted felon named Craig Monteilh, to gather as much information as possible on members of the Muslim community, and to focus on people who were more devout in their religious practice, irrespective of whether any particular individual was believed to be involved in criminal activity.
"The FBI gathered information on hundreds of innocent Americans simply because they worship at a mosque. It's hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the First Amendment's guarantees against religious discrimination," said Peter Bibring, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC).
The First Amendment guarantees that no person should be singled out for different treatment by the government because of his or her religion, which is exactly what the FBI did to the Muslim community, according to the suit.
Ameena Mirza Qazi, Deputy Executive Director and Staff Attorney for CAIR-LA, said: "Targeting American Muslims for surveillance not only destroys community cohesion, it erodes the trust between law enforcement and Muslim communities, which, in turn, undermines our national security interests. This broad investigation by the FBI that failed to produce even a single terrorism-related conviction was not based on suspicion of criminal activity, but rather on the targets being Muslim."
Montheilh's role as an FBI informant was not revealed until February 2009, first in court documents, in which the FBI and local law enforcement revealed his role, and then through his own statements which have been reported widely in the press.
Josh Piovia-Scott, an attorney with the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP said, "This practice is an abuse of the Constitution, and this case will force the FBI to destroy its illegally obtained information."
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief on behalf of all people targeted by the FBI agents and their informant, requiring the FBI to turn over or destroy all information collected through the discriminatory investigation, as well as damages for emotional distress for the three named plaintiffs.
There are approximately 120,000 Muslims in Orange County, a dynamic part of the Southern California Muslim community, which is home to the second largest population of Muslims in the United States.
CAIR-LA: FBI VIOLATED 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF MUSLIMS, SUIT ALLEGES - TOP Shan Li, Los Angeles Times, 2/24/11
An FBI operation violated the 1st Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslims by using a paid informant to illegally monitor several Southern California mosques based solely on religion, a federal lawsuit filed this week alleges.
Filed on behalf of three Muslim plaintiffs, the lawsuit accuses the FBI and seven employees, including Director Robert Mueller, of paying Irvine resident Craig Monteilh to go undercover, infiltrate mosques and record conversations in order to root out potential terrorists.
Legal experts describe the case, filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as an uphill battle that pits national security interests against religious freedom.
Over the course of 14 months beginning in 2006, the FBI used Monteilh to "indiscriminately collect" personal information on possibly thousands of Muslim Americans, the lawsuit alleges. (More)
MUSLIM GROUP SUES FBI OVER SURVEILLANCE AT CALIFORNIA MOSQUES - TOP Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor, 2/23/11
In a case that could test law enforcement's ability to identify and monitor potential terrorists inside the United States, an Islamic organization has sued the FBI for the actions of a paid spy who infiltrated several Orange County mosques in California in the mid-2000s.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations allege in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, that a paid informant named Keith Monteilh violated the First Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslim worshipers when he performed "indiscriminate surveillance" on "people who were more devout in their religious practice, irrespective of whether any particular individual was believed to be involved in criminal activity."
The FBI responded that it doesn't ask its informants or agents to target people for their religious affiliations, and maintains it has done a good job of balancing civil liberties with its ongoing antiterrorism work.
Nevertheless, the case threatens to erode already-tenuous relationships between law enforcement and the broader American Muslim community, which has the best potential to spot suspicious behavior in its midst. That ability – and willingness – was illustrated in this case.
Mr. Monteilh "became an agent provocateur," says Ibrahim Hooper, national CAIR spokesman. "He was the one suggesting all these kinds of bizarre activities to the extent that community itself turned him in."
The Monteilh affair was particularly galling to Los Angeles-area Muslims, since he was working in a mosque where an FBI official had promised no such surveillance would take place under his watch.
More broadly, targeting mosques and even fervent believers is a sure way for the FBI to alienate moderate, law-abiding Muslims, says Ameena Mirza Qazi, staff attorney of CAIR-Los Angeles.
"When Muslims perceive that they are viewed as a suspect community by law enforcement or the FBI, it really has a devastating effect on relations between law enforcement authorities and American Muslims," says CAIR's Mr. Hooper. (More)
VIDEO: FBI MOSQUE SURVEILLANCE DAMAGED TRUST IN GOVERNMENT (CAIR) - TOP
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles and the Southern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of three Muslims.
The suit accuses the FBI of paying Southern California resident Craig Monteilh to go undercover, infiltrate mosques and record conversations in search for potential terrorists.
ARLINGTON MOSQUE VANDAL PLEADS TO HATE CRIME CHARGE - TOP Jim Douglas, WFAA, 2/24/11
ARLINGTON -- According to court documents, the man who vandalized an Arlington mosque last July told investigators he did it because he hated Arabs and people of Middle Eastern descent.
Prosecutors charged 34-year-old Henry Glaspell under federal hate crime statutes that could have sent him to prison for 20 years.
But Glaspell cooperated with investigators and pleaded guilty Wednesday morning in exchange for a 14-month sentence.
"I just want to wish him all the best, even though he wished us all the harm," said Jamal Qaddura, the former president of the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in south Arlington, which is not far from where Glaspell lived.
Investigators said Glaspell admitted shouting racial slurs at worshipers and throwing used cat litter at the front door.
Surveillance video shows him painting anti-Islam obscenities on the mosque parking lot and setting the playground on fire. (More)
Presentation by: Jean Clickner, Esq., attorney for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Pittsburgh Office
When: March 3, 2011; 7-9 p.m. Where: 801 N. Negley Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206
(Refreshments will be served)
* Laws enforced by EEOC to protect you in the workplace * Illegal discrimination and harassment * Categories of discrimination: race, national origin, religion, color, sex, age, and disability * Types of discrimination: hiring, firing, unfair assignments, reasonable accommodation, pay inequities, harassment, and hostile work environment * Discrimination in the Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities
You will receive (Spanish) bi-lingual handouts. Special Topic: 9-11 Backlash
Co-Sponsored by: Council on American-Islamic Relations-Pittsburgh chapter (CAIR-PA Pittsburgh) and Union Project