The Council on American Islamic Relations has representatives from as many as 30 cities on Capitol Hill holding meetings in as many as 100 Congressional offices --- meeting directly with members of congress and or their staff.
Lobbying on Capitol Hill is part of an overall campaign by CAIR before the March hearings. The group has also created a website called "Capturing the Facts," to solicit testimonials of positive interactions between American Muslims and law enforcement agencies. CAIR has also created an online tool kit.
CAIR is questing why Congressman Peter King is not inviting any law enforcement or counterterrorism officials to testify when the hearings are apparently based upon anonymous statements by officials that they receive little or no cooperation from Muslims.
51 groups plan to send a letter to House Leaders John Beoner and Nanci Pelosi requesting King's hearings be broadened to explore radical extremism among other religions in addition to Islam.
Congressman Peter King vows not to bow to "political correctness" and rebuffed a request by Muslim groups that the hearings be expanded. King plans to begin hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims on March 7th.
CPAC TAPS ALLEN WEST FOR TOP SPEAKING SPOT - TOP Alexander Mooney, CNN, 2/9/11
(CNN) - Rep. Allen West, the at-times controversial congressman from Florida in his first term, will deliver the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday. . .
The new GOP congressman recently faced heat over comments directed at Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, who he said represents "the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established."
West defended those comments last week in a town hall when pressed on the issue by Nezar Hamze, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Miami. (More)
VIDEO: CAIR CHALLENGES ANTI-MUSLIM BIAS IN PLANNED HEARINGS - TOP Fox News, 2/9/11
CAIR-CHICAGO: DUPAGE SAYS MOSQUE CAN'T EXCEED HEIGHT LIMITS - TOP Robert Sanchez, Daily Herald, 2/8/11
A mosque still might be constructed in southeast DuPage County, but supporters say it could end up missing a key religious component.
The DuPage County Board on Tuesday postponed a final decision on the Muslim Educational and Cultural Center of America's request for a conditional-use permit. However, board members then voted 15-2 to deny a height variance request for the proposed mosque along 91st Street near Willowbrook.
Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, MECCA president, said he was disappointed. Not being allowed to have a 69-foot dome and 79-foot minaret means the mosque, if built, would look like "any other building," he said.
"It wouldn't look like a mosque," Hamadeh said. "It's like building a church without a steeple." . . .
On Tuesday night, the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a written statement calling the county board's decision "unacceptable."
"While certain county board members claim this is not about religion, we demand that the county reflect this in its actions," said Kevin Vodak, a staff attorney. (More)
MOST TENNESSEANS FAVOR MUSLIMS' RIGHT TO BUILD HOUSES OF WORSHIP - TOP Michael Cass, Tennessean, 2/9/11
The recent battle over plans to build a mosque in Murfreesboro put tensions about the meaning of Islam in high relief, generating noisy denunciations of Muslims' faith.
But the people making the most noise were outnumbered, a recent poll found. (More)
FACING DOWN ISLAMOPHOBIA: INTERVIEW WITH ZAHRA BILLOO - TOP Hana Baba, KALWA News, 2/8/11
The majority of the estimated 79 million Egyptians identify themselves as Muslim. Here in the U.S., Muslim population estimates vary from 2.5 to 7 million Muslims. American Muslims were just another ingredient in the melting pot ... until 9/11. After that day, suspicions of terrorism and radicalization grew, racial profiling increased, and hate crimes were on the rise. The media even coined a word to describe the trend of anti-Muslim rhetoric and behavior: Islamophobia.
Next month, Congress is scheduled to consider the issue, as republican Representative Peter King from New York has called for hearings on, among other things, "radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism." Here's Congressman King speaking with Politico's Dan Riley.
REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R-NY): Unfortunately, we have so many mosques in this country. There's too many people sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully. We should be finding out how to infiltrate. We should be much more aggressive in law enforcement. Obviously we have to look out for civil liberties violations, but I think there are cautions and procedures in place, and to me, just using the 2004 Republican convention as an example, the police acted in an exemplary way.
A letter signed by dozens of Muslim organizations and others condemned the planned hearings, saying, "Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong." One of the signatories was CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. KALW's Hana Baba visited CAIR's Bay Area offices in Santa Clara and talked with director Zahra Billoo. Baba asked Billoo if she believes Islamophobia is on the rise. (More)
MANSFIELD BACKS AWAY FROM ARABIC STUDIES PROGRAM - TOP Amanda Rogers, Star-Telegram, 2/8/11
The Mansfield school district has backed off plans to implement an Arabic studies program after almost 200 people showed up with questions at a parents meeting at Cross Timbers Intermediate School on Monday night.
Superintendent Bob Morrison apologized for not communicating with parents and invited them to be part of developing the curriculum.
"Nothing will be taught in the classroom until the curriculum is rolled out," said Richie Escovedo, Mansfield district spokesperson.
The Arabic studies program, funded by a federal five-year $1.3 million Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant, was to begin this semester at Cross Timbers, then spread to Davis Elementary and Howard Middle Schools in the fall and to Summit High school by the fall of 2012.
Arabic culture was to be integrated into the curriculum in elementary and intermediate schools, then offered as a language credit in the middle and high schools. Davis, Cross Timbers and Howard are feeder schools to Summit High School.
"Part of the grant language brings in targeted instruction that will be embedded in the classes," Escovedo explained. "Algebra comes from the Arabic world. You talk about things while you're doing your lessons. Instead of a Valentine's cake, you might make a Moroccan dessert."
Parents attending Monday night's meeting ranged from supportive to upset, said Willie Wimbrey, assistant principal at Cross Timbers.
"We had people who were animatedly fearful of anything to do with Islam," Wimbrey said. "Others want their children exposed to everything. Others who say we teach about Christmas, why not other religions? All cultures and major religions are taught throughout the state." (More)
DOJ WATCHDOG INVESTIGATING THE ABUSE OF MUSLIM FEDERAL INMATES - TOP Ryan J. Reilly, TPM, 2/8/11
The Justice Department's Inspector General is investigating two incidents involving Bureau of Prisons employees who allegedly abused federal prisoners who were Muslim in the second half of 2010 due to their choice of religion -- and has referred 16 other incidents to BOP for further investigation. (More)
FBI WATCHING MUSLIM AMERICANS WITH COINTELPRO-LIKE DIVISION - TOP Nicole Balin, News One, 2/8/11
Most Americans may believe that COINTELPRO--when the FBI infiltrated civil rights era activists groups like The Black Panther Party and SNCC--is a thing of the past. But these days, Muslim-American communities are increasingly under surveillance by the FBI, including the use of informant provocateurs and spying. While statistics remain elusive, grass-roots activist organizations charge that surveillance practices have spiked. Furthermore, according to the LA chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the number of Muslims who have reported being contacted by law enforcement to gather information has skyrocketed over the past few years. (More)
TWO BILLS TO BAN SHARIA LAW IN GEORGIA COURTS - TOP AJC, 2/8/11
Because we can't let Oklahoma get ahead of us, state lawmakers could soon debate the "American Laws for Georgia Courts Act." (More)
ISLAMIC RAPPERS SPREAD THE WORD - TOP Farwa Zahra, Express Tribune, 2/9/11
KARACHI: Much celebrated for calligraphic designs, Islamic art now takes a modern turn with the streak of rap music. Native Deen, a Washington, DC based group focuses on combining the hip-hop and R&B elements with Islam-themed lyrics. (More)