Thursday, October 27, 2011

CAIR-FL: Muslims Assist Fort Lauderdale Homeless
Video: Slurs Directed at Va. Muslim Limo Driver (CAIR)


CAIR: Tenn. Muslim Student Barred from JROTC Over Hijab
Muslim civil rights group asks school, DOD to accommodate religious rights

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/18/11) -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization is calling on a Tennessee school district and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to change a policy being used to effectively bar a Muslim student in that state from participating in a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) class because she wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the 14-year-old student at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., was forced to transfer out of the class after her JROTC commanding officers told her she could not wear hijab while marching in the September homecoming parade.

SEE: JROTC's Headscarf Rule Keeps Girl from Parade, Spurs Bias Claim (Tennessean)

"We hear much about the need for American Muslims to integrate in our society, which makes it all the more upsetting that a Muslim student's beliefs and practices bar her from participating in a patriotic endeavor," said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who is working with the girl's family to seek religious accommodation.

After being contacted by the student's family, CAIR contacted both the school district and the DOD to seek constitutionally-protected religious accommodations for the girl and for future Muslim JROTC participants.

In its letter to the school district, CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili wrote in part:

"It is unconscionable that a school district would enforce a third party's discriminatory policy. This failure to protect religious rights sends a negative message to students of all faiths and sets a precedent that could be used to restrict the rights of future JROTC participants ... We do not believe that a prohibition on students wearing religiously-mandated head coverings serves any compelling governmental interest."

In her letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Al-Khalili wrote:

"As it stands, existing policy effectively bars any Muslim female student wearing hijab from inclusion in the JROTC. This policy of denial sends a message of exclusion to all Muslims and should be amended."

CAIR offers a booklet, called "An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, E-Mail:; CAIR National Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, 202-646-6034, e-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

CAIR: JROTC to Review Hijab Ban (Tennessean)
Video: Tenn. Muslim Student Barred from JROTC Over Hijab (CAIR)
Muslim Dairy Queen Owner Gives Back to His Community
Texas Hotel Cancels Tea Party Event with Islamophobe Pam Geller

CAIR Action Alert #648:

Ask Congress to Remove Language Targeting Muslims from DHS Bills

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/19/2011) -- CAIR is urging American Muslims and other people of conscience to contact their elected representatives to request the removal of problematic language in two pending Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Acts that singles out American Muslims for additional scrutiny over the threat of violent extremism in the United States.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), each bill (S.1546 and H.R.3116) seeks to create a new coordinator position within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to direct efforts on "counter[ing] homegrown violent Islamist extremism" with particular focus on the "ideology of Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups" in the United States.

In September, CAIR addressed similar concerns over the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's consideration of the same legislation.

SEE: CAIR Says Bill Unfairly Singles Out U.S. Muslims

"CAIR believes that creating such a coordinator position would narrowly shift the DHS counterterrorism strategy away from following actual leads and preventing illegal and violent acts, to unconstitutionally monitoring the thoughts and beliefs of American citizens," said CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw.

In a recent letter to Senator Lieberman, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reaffirmed that, "DHS has made it a priority to counter all forms of domestic violent extremism, regardless of ideology," and that DHS has already established, "the Counterterrorism Advisory Board [led by a Counterterrorism Coordinator] to better coordinate the Department's ... efforts to prevent and protect against foreign and homegrown terrorist attacks."

SEE: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's Letter to Lieberman on Countering Violent Extremism

"Since the Department of Homeland Security has already established a coordinator to direct efforts on confronting violent extremism, there is no benefit in creating an additional position that conflicts with current counterterrorism programs and goals," said McCaw.

Immediate Action Requested: (As always, be polite and respectful)

1. Contact your elected representatives through:

On the right side of the page, enter your ZIP Code. On the resulting page, click the names of your elected representatives. Click the "contact" tab on the resulting page for your officials' phone numbers.

You may also contact the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (have your ZIP Code ready).

2. Talking points:

  • As your constituent, I urge you to oppose any legislation that singles out the American Muslim community for unwarranted scrutiny. I also ask that you support measures that persue criminal action, not beliefs.
  • To U.S. Senators: I also ask you to ensure that if the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 comes to a vote in the Senate, that Section 213 is amended to remove all problematic language that targets ideology and singles out American Muslims for additional scrutiny.
  • To U.S. House Representatives: I also want you to ensure that if the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 comes to a vote in the House, that Section 102 is amended to remove all problematic language that targets ideology and singles out American Muslims for additional scrutiny.
  • I believe that DHS counterterrorism strategy should remain focused on following actual leads and preventing illegal and violent acts, not unconstitutionally monitoring the thoughts and beliefs of American citizens.
  • Religious and racial profiling is not effective law enforcement. Anti-government, violent extremists like Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified by a coordinator focused on religious ideology.

3. Inform your friends and family by forwarding this alert to at least five other people. Tell them you took action and ask them to do the same.

For more information, contact CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw, Tel:202-742-6448, E-Mail:

Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, 10/21/11

Now that Herman Cain is officially a front-runner for the Republican nomination, the vetting process has picked up in a hurry. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf stumbled upon a treasure trove of syndicated columns the Atlanta businessman wrote between 2006 and 2009, which doesn't do much to shatter the perception of Cain as a loose cannon (he refers to Iraq war opponents as "Hezbocrats" and calls them "the enemy.")

But I was drawn to a different piece: A 2006 column from Cain on Islam that copiously cites the work of Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley--the same pastor whose Islamophobic writings and sermons would later force Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to reject his endorsement. Parsley, as MoJo's David Corn first reported in 2008, argued that American Christians have an obligation to destroy Islam. Cain, though, saw Parsley not as a polarizing religious figure, but as an expert on Middle Eastern affairs:

The roots of Islam began in modern day Saudi Arabia in the year 610 A.D. The Arabian city of Mecca was, and still is, the Arabs' center of worship. According to Pastor Rod Parsley, author of Silent No More, Arabs from over 270 tribes regularly gathered around a building called the Ka'aba to worship their individual tribal gods. The Quraysh tribe, of which Muhammad was a member, worshipped the god Allah. (More)


George Hunter, The Detroit News, 10/21/11

Dearborn -- Documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union confirm the FBI's concern about possible terror cells in Michigan, and have reignited the debate over how to balance civil rights with security.

The ACLU on Thursday unveiled its "Mapping the FBI" initiative, which accuses the FBI of racial and ethnic profiling, a claim federal officials dispute.

Arabs locally and nationwide on Friday said they were outraged, but not surprised, by the ACLU report, which claims federal authorities are "mapping American communities around the country based on crude stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes," according to an ACLU release.

"Nationwide, the FBI is gathering reports on innocent Americans' so-called 'suspicious activity' and sharing it with unknown numbers of federal, state and local government agencies," the ACLU said in a statement.

The Michigan office of the Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan) released a statement Friday saying it already felt the FBI views the Muslims in Michigan as a "suspect community."

"To map Arabs and Muslims as suspect communities tells us that the FBI believes that we are predisposed to criminality, which is not only untrue but is also an inaccurate means of investigating crime. These newest revelations as we approach the two-year anniversary of the tragic death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah is but another troubling chapter in how the FBI views and interacts with Michigan Muslims," said Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR-Michigan. (More)


Ryan J. Reilly, TPMMuckraker, 10/21/11

The Justice Department has a message for the Senators worried that federal funds are flowing to anti-Muslim training programs: no worries, we've got this thing.

TPM obtained a copy of a letter DOJ sent to Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins nearly six months after the lawmakers first asked for answers about biased counterterrorism training sessions being funded by taxpayers.

Basically there are two ways that federal dollars from the Justice Department could potentially fund biased training. First, there's DOJ's State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program, which officials say they've got a pretty good handle on.

It's when you get into the grants that DOJ has issued to states and training providers that it starts to get a bit more complicated.

"It is the [State Administering Agency] and the service provider's responsibility to determine how these funds will be distributed among local and state law enforcement agencies and how they will be used to vet potential instructors and ensure training content relevancy," Weich writes. "While BJA provides guidance to the SAAs regarding how these funds should be used, it is ultimately up to the SAAs and service providers to select and award sub grantees." (More)



CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad on Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., to discuss Libya's future after demise of that nation's dictator.

Watch the video.


Perry Chiaramonte, FOX News, 10/21/11

You can wear a Muslim head scarf, and you can wear the uniform of the Junior ROTC. Just not at the same time.

That's the word from the U.S. Army, which is supporting an officer's ruling last month that a 14-year-old Tennessee girl could not wear her traditional head covering while in uniform at a parade.

The student, Demin Zawity, of Brentwood, Tenn., quit the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Ravenwood High School and returned to regular gym classes when commanding officers said she had to take off her hijab if she wanted to march in the homecoming parade.

"It was during Spirit Week. We were getting ready for the homecoming parade and the head officer said that I wouldn't be able to wear the head scarf while I had the uniform on," Demin said. ...

But Demin's family feels she is being discriminated against, and has reached out to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is calling on the school district and the Department of Defense to change a policy that it says "effectively bars a Muslim student from participating in the class."

"It's an unwise policy," CAIR staff attorney Gadeir Abbas said. "It's acceptable for a Jewish student to wear his yarmulke under his uniform hat. The regulations already reflect that there are religious obligations among members." (More)


Louise Boyle, Daily Mail, 10/21/11

A 14-year-old girl has been told she cannot wear her traditional Islamic headscarf while on parade with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).

Demin Zawity was forced to quit the programme at her high school after a commanding officer said she must remove the hijab while in uniform on parade.

The student, from Brentwood, Tennessee, told Fox News: "It was during Spirit Week. We were getting ready for the homecoming parade and the head officer said that I wouldn't be able to wear the headscarf while I had the uniform on." ...

Speaking of her senior officer, Miss Zawity added: 'We were practising all week and the day before the parade he pulled me over to the side and said that I couldn't march.

'I wanted to break down and cry right there, but I held it in and went into stoic mode.'

The student's family has sought the advice of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which is calling for a change to policy. (More)


Stephan Salisbury, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/21/11

One of the earliest formal portraits of an African American - a well-known oil painting of a kufi-wearing free black man painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1819 - has been sold by the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The striking portrait of Yarrow Mamout, an elderly Muslim and former slave living in Washington, is the most recent in a string of art and artifact sales made by the history museum, largely to finance its $5.9 million building renovation project. (More)


Sergio Bichao,, 10/21/11

The Township Council is beefing up its defense team, hiring a second lawyer to handle a lawsuit filed by a Muslim group alleging religious discrimination in a zoning battle over a proposed mosque.

The Al Falah Center filed its suit in April in federal district court in New Jersey, claiming that a township zoning ordinance was drafted with the sole purpose of preventing the group from turning a former 7.6-acre banquet hall property on Mountain Top Road into a house of worship.

The case, meanwhile, has caught the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which has requested the township turn over copies of zoning documents and reports as part of a routine investigation into whether officials may have violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. (More)


Amanda Pellegrino, The Tower, 10/20/11

New charges have recently been filed against the University on counts of illegal discrimination against its Muslim and female students. The allegations are being reviewed by the District of Colombia Office of Human Rights (OHR), which has the strictest discrimination laws in the country. President John H. Garvey and the University is being urged to respond to the charges.

John F. Banzhaf III, the George Washington University Professor of Public Interest Law who initiated the legal controversy surrounding same-sex residence halls, is also the one behind these new charges.

The official allegations claim that CUA, "does not provide space – as other universities do – for the many daily prayers Muslim students must make, forcing them instead to find temporarily empty classrooms where they are often surrounded by Catholic symbols which are incongruous to their religion," according to a press release on

This formal complaint also maintains that the new same-sex residence halls are particularly discriminating against female students, which is a new position on the same-sex lawsuit that began last month.

Banzhaf claims that the University is denying Muslim students the same benefits that students of other religions are able to enjoy since there is no formal Muslim association sponsored by Catholic University but the Columbus School of Law has an association for Jewish students

"Denying Muslim students the opportunity for form a student group on campus could hardly be based upon any fundamental Catholic doctrine since Georgetown University not only has such a Muslim student group, but also provides its Muslim students with a separate prayer room and even a Muslim chaplain," said Banzhaf in that press release. (More)


Associated Press, 10/21/11

More than two dozen Somali Muslim drivers for Hertz at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are being fired after refusing to clock out for daily breaks during which they normally pray. (More)


Glenn Greenwald,, 10/20/11

Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike inYemen -- far from any battlefield and with no due process -- it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager's life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people.

News reports, based on government sources, originally claimed that Awlaki's son was 21 years old and an Al Qaeda fighter (needless to say, as Terrorist often means: "anyone killed by the U.S."), but a birth certificate published by The Washington Post proved that he was born only 16 years ago in Denver.

As The New Yorker's Amy Davidson wrote: "Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the quality of the government's evidence -- or the honesty of its claims -- and about our own capacity for self-deception."

The boy's grandfather said that he and his cousin were at a barbecue and preparing to eat when the U.S. attacked them by air and ended their lives. There are two points worth making about this:

(1) It is unknown whether the U.S. targeted the teenager or whether he was merely "collateral damage." The reason that's unknown is because the Obama administration refuses to tell us. (More)

Engy Abdelkader, Huffington Post, 10/24/11

"You boys were so much fun on the 8th grade trip! Thanks for not bombing anything while we were there!" read the yearbook inscription penned by the middle school teacher.

The eighth grade yearbook was littered with similar remarks by classmates linking Omar to a "bomb."

"To my bomb man!" read one note. "Come wire my bomb," read another.

"What is this?" asked Omar's mother incredulously. He had handed the yearbook over to her moments earlier when he arrived home that afternoon.

Omar answered quietly, "I know, Mom, I know." He stared down at the kitchen floor. His eyes could not meet his mother's but he began to tell her what had happened just one month earlier.

In May 2009, Omar joined his classmates on a school trip to Washington, D.C. As they toured the Washington Monument, visited area museums and passed by the White House, the kids repeatedly told Omar they hoped he wouldn't "bomb" any of the sites. A teacher chaperoned the children, heard the comments and responded by doing... well, nothing, except leave a denigrating remark in Omar's yearbook a month later.

It was clear to Omar's mother that her American born and raised son was harassed because of his Muslim faith and Arab ancestry.

Unfortunately, this was not the first bias-based bullying incident involving Omar that school year. Only several months earlier a peer was intimidating Omar, calling him a "terrorist," during an elective trade course. Omar finally told his mother about the bullying when his report card indicated that he was failing that same class, while acing the others where he was not subjected to such humiliating treatment. (More)


Michael Hernandez, The National, 10/24/11

WASHINGTON // There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller's newest graphic novel, Holy Terror. The book opens with the quote: "If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel", which Mr Miller attributes to the Prophet. From there the jingoism, violence and Islamophobia take off.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the famous Batman mini-series, The Dark Knight Returns, and comics-to-film 300 and Sin City, regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey. Any nuance, however, is all but absent in his latest work.

Originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City.

For some, the best-seller underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment.

"We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre ... It's unfortunate that Islamophobia is becoming mainstream," said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim civil-rights group. He described the work as "shameful". (More)


Spencer Ackerman,, 10/24/11

It started out as a crimefighting tool. But over the years, an FBI effort known as "geo-mapping" evolved into something more expansive -- a method to track Muslim communities, without any suspicion of a crime being committed.

Last month, Danger Room revealed that the FBI was training its agents that religious Muslims tended to be "violent" and that Islamic charity is merely a "funding mechanism for combat." In response, both the FBI and the Justice Department promised full reviews of their training materials. But the geo-mapping effort indicates that the FBI may have more than just a training problem: The suspicion of ordinary Muslims promoted in those lectures may be spilling over into its counterterrorism tactics.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union acquired some of the FBI geo-maps (.pdf), like the one pictured after the jump, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Although many of the maps are heavily redacted, they represent the first public confirmation that the FBI compiles maps of businesses, community centers and religious institutions in ethnic enclaves around the United States.

The ACLU -- where, full disclosure, my wife works -- blasted the mapping effort, and in an interview with the New York Times, FBI agent turned ACLU attorney Mike German tied the maps to the incendiary anti-Islam trainings first revealed by Danger Room. Agents who received the briefings might be "predisposed to treating everyone from a particular group as suspect," German said. (More)


Jarad Vary, The New Republic, 10/24/11

Robert Kagan. Eliot Cohen. Michael Hayden. Dov Zakheim. Michael Chertoff. Skim through the names of Mitt Romney's recently announced foreign policy team, and you will be struck by the high level of experience, erudition, and pragmatism across the list. Indeed, since Romney announced his advisors on October 6, he has won praise for a foreign policy group that is unusually large and uncommonly strong.

But one name sticks out: Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian academic who has come under fire from Muslim advocacy groups and academics alike since his inclusion on Romney's team. Muslim groups are decrying Phares's close involvement with right-wing Christian militia groups during the Lebanese civil war. Academics note his relatively sparse credentials.

But both complaints beg an obvious question: Just who is Walid Phares, and why would the risk-averse Romney add an obscure and controversial pundit to his star-studded foreign policy team? (More)


Tom Perkins,, 10/24/11

The Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees will consider a rezoning request by a group wanting to build an Islamic school at the intersection of Ellsworth and Golfside roads.

The decision at the board's regular Wednesday night meeting comes after the planning commission voted 3-2 in August to recommend that the trustees reject the request made by the currently Ann Arbor-based Michigan Islamic Academy.

The planning commission only makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees, which has the final say on rezoning requests.

Opponents' biggest issue has been traffic concerns, but officials involved with the school say two separate traffic studies have found there would be little effect on traffic. They say the planning commission bases all its traffic planning decisions on the studies and questioned why, suddenly, the traffic studies are meaningless. ...

The Council on American-Islamic Relations recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice alerting them to the situation. Lena Masri, a CAIR and Islamic Academy attorney, said the department is not yet monitoring the case, but CAIR did send a letter detailing MIA and Cair's concerns.

She said if the proposal is rejected, then the department could be asked to review the case.

"We hope that the township will not adopt the recommendation of the planning commission and allow Michigan Islamic Academy to move foreward with building a school," she said. "In the event of a denial, we are prepared to look into other options available to us, such as potentially asking for a justice department investigation." (More)


Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent, 10/24/11

Anti-abortion activist Gary Boisclair announced on Saturday that he is challenging Rep. Keith Ellison for the DFL primary. But Boisclair's campaign isn't about defeating Ellison, it's about exploiting a campaign loophole that will force Twin Cities media outlets to air explicit anti-abortion advertising. Boisclair works for Society for Truth and Justice, a group that opposes abortion whose employees are registering to campaign in elections across the country. (More)


CNN, 10/24/11

Millions of Muslims of all nationalities are expected to make the annual Hajj pilgrimage toMecca, Saudi Arabia, beginning Nov. 4. It's a trip that every Muslim is expected to perform at least once if they are healthy and financially-able.

Are you planning to make the holy pilgrimage? CNN iReport is looking for travelers who are interested in documenting their journey for CNN. In a video of 2 minutes or less, tell us who you are, where you live and why you're embarking on this journey of a lifetime.