HADITH OF THE DAY: GOD ACCEPTS A TRAVELER’S PRAYER – TOP
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The supplications of three people are accepted (by God), and there is no doubt concerning their acceptance: the supplication of a (parent), of a traveler and of one who has been wronged.”
Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 608
CAIR DIRECTOR PRESENTS AWARD TO NJ MUSLIM LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS – TOP
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 4/20/09) – The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Saturday presented an award to the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association (AMLEOA) at the annual banquet of the council’s New Jersey chapter.
More than 300 people turned out for the event in Edison, New Jersey. Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Michigan Legislature, spoke about the important role of Muslims in the political process. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad also addressed the crowd, and presented CAIR-New Jersey’s 2009 Champions of Justice Award to AMLEOA “for outstanding service to the community.”
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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-NJ Community Relations Director Afsheen Shamsi, Tel: 908-668-5900, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. BORDER SCREENING UNDER FIRE – TOP
Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 4/20/09
To read the Muslim Advocates report, go to: Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home
Civil liberties groups are renewing calls for the Obama administration to change screening at border posts by limiting questions about Americans’ political beliefs and religious practices and establishing a process for U.S. citizens and residents who are mistakenly included on terrorist watch lists to clear their names.
In a report to be released today, the Asian Law Caucus of San Francisco cited more than 40 complaints from U.S. citizens and immigrants that it has received since 2007 as evidence of “a much wider pattern of profiling and discrimination at U.S. borders.”
“Many people in America’s Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities have come to expect harassment and discriminatory treatment at our nation’s doorstep” when returning home, the report said.
Separately, Muslim Advocates, the advocacy arm of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, issued a report saying that citizens should not be threatened with detention for not answering questions that go beyond establishing their legal status to enter the United States or whether they are carrying contraband.
The actions come as civil liberties groups press for a swifter response by the new Democratic president and Congress to long-standing complaints that security measures adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have subjected innocent travelers to unwarranted delays and scrutiny. (More)
ACLU CALLS ON SECRETARY NAPOLITANO TO RELEASE YOUSSEF MEGAHED – TOP
USF Student’s Arrest Vindictive, Says ACLU
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 20, 2009
CONTACT: Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, (786) 363-2737 or email@example.com
TAMPA, Fla. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today sent a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging the release of Youssef Megahed, a University of South Florida student who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on April 6, in what the ACLU is calling a vindictive arrest.
Megahed’s arrest came just three days after he was acquitted by a federal jury of criminal charges relating to possession and transportation of explosive materials. The new arrest, which DHS and ICE have indicated are based on the same charges as in the criminal trial, undermines the jury system and illustrates the lack of due process for those caught in the web of the immigration courts.
“This arrest and the impending deportation charges highlight the flaws in our system,” said Rebecca Harrison Steele, ACLU of Florida West Central Regional Office Director. “A federal jury acquitted Mr. Megahed of all criminal charges. Now the government’s trying to get another bite at the apple in immigration court, where due process takes a lower priority. This latest arrest seems so vindictive. We are urging the federal government to release Mr. Megahed during the proceedings in immigration court and, if the charges in immigration court are indeed based on the very same facts as the criminal charges for which he has been acquitted, to dismiss the removal proceedings.”
Perhaps most telling was the release of statements by several of Megahed’s jurors, who also view ICE’s arrest as vindictive: “It strikes us as fundamentally wrong that the Government has put Mr. Megahed back in jail for suspicion of the same activities that he was acquitted of in the criminal case.” The jurors also stated: “More troublesome is the Government’s seeming blatant disregard of the will of its own people.”
The full text of the letter sent today is below, or can be downloaded in PDF.
U.S. MUSLIM COALITION REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO FBI TACTICS – TOP
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/19/09) – Following a meeting in Washington, D.C., the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major Islamic organizations, issued a statement re-affirming opposition to FBI tactics and government policies targeting the Muslim community.
SEE: U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI
Representatives from the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF), Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took part in Saturday’s meeting. Other member and observer organizations were briefed by phone.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, all AMT members and observer groups agreed that:
“We reaffirm our commitment to being full partners in the defense, development and prosperity of our homeland, the United States.
“We also reiterate our determination to continue to work for greater unity and mutual cooperation among ourselves and with like-minded fellow Americans. We recognize that we may have different approaches to the varied challenges facing our community and country, yet our resolve to advocate on behalf of our community remains solid.
“We are fully united in asking the Obama administration to address the following issues: 1. Infiltration of mosques and systematic manipulation of Muslim religious affairs, 2. Use of agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth, 3. Unfair targeting and deliberate vilification of CAIR, a national Muslim civil rights organization, 4. Use of McCarthy-era tactics, most notably dissemination of Islamophobic analysis by federally-funded ‘fusion centers’ to local law enforcement agencies.”
CONTACT: AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed, Tel: 510-299-9313, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAIR-LA: SOME INFLUENTIAL MUSLIM GROUPS QUESTION FBI’S ACTIONS – TOP
Revelations that the agency has been surveilling popular leaders and infiltrating mosques and schools has many organizations turning away from their post-9/11 cooperation.
Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 4/20/09
As they sipped tea and nibbled on dates, more than 100 men and women listened to a litany of speakers sounding the same message: The FBI is not your friend.
“We’re here today to say our mosques are off limits,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Greater Los Angeles, told the crowd last month at an Anaheim mosque.
“Our Koran is off limits,” Ayloush said. “Our youth, who they try to radicalize, are off limits. Now is the time to tell them, ‘We’re not going to let this happen anymore.’ “
Such strong words from a man who once was a vocal advocate of ties with federal law enforcement was yet one more signal that the fragile relationship between Muslim American groups and the FBI is being tested.
In the months and years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, FBI officials met privately with Muslim leaders, assuring them that a spate of hate crimes would be vigorously investigated and at the same time asking for help in the campaign against terrorism. Local leaders promised to encourage cooperation.
But even as relations warmed, a series of revelations — including allegations that the FBI sent an informant into a mosque in Orange County, surveilled community leaders and sent an agent to UC Irvine — caused some to begin questioning the FBI’s real intentions. (More)
CAIR-MI: MUSLIMS DESCRIBE FBI OFFERS TO ACT AS INFORMANTS – TOP
Several claim they have been asked to act as informants; agency denies targeting mosques
Gregg Krupa, Detroit News, 4/20/09
The FBI has come under fire from Muslim leaders in Metro Detroit who say the agency is threatening or coercing local residents into informing on people in their communities and mosques.
The prospective informants, their lawyers and community leaders said the federal agents identify themselves and tell them their immigration status could be blocked or revoked if they turn down FBI requests to report on activities of people who attend mosques.
“Cooperation will not be gained through the twisting of arms,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “We have worked extensively with the FBI and others in the past, and certainly we would provide any information of a national security concern. But the issue now is this: Will they treat us as partners, or suspects, or both? We want to know.”
Several Muslims agreed to talk to The Detroit News about their experiences, amid recent revelations about FBI activities. Those who say they were contacted to become informants express alarm at what they call intrusion
in places of worship and private lives without reasonable cause. They say the federal initiative is bruising feelings and making Muslims fearful of cooperating with federal officials…
As he waited on tables in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, a recent immigrant with a pending citizenship application told his story. “First, they asked me about my status in the country, why I am here, and what work I do,” said the man, who asked for anonymity because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his citizenship efforts.
“They said, ‘We want you to work with us, and we’ll help you with your (immigration) status.’
” … But I feel I cannot be spying on my mosque or my neighbors. That is not right. That is not American,” he said. “But a threat to my country, to the United States? My goodness, me and my family would run to them to alert them.
“… Now, my citizenship seems like it is permanently on hold, on hold, forever,” he said. “I constantly worry, and I feel I have no life since they approached me.” (More)
ACLU DEMANDING THAT FEDS TURN OVER OC MOSQUE SPYING RECORDS – TOP
Daffodil J. Altan, OC Weekly, 4/20/09
The case that erupted with ex-con man Craig Monteilh’s confession that he’s been spying on OC mosques for the FBI will hit local federal courts this afternoon, when the ACLU makes arguments asking for the release of all the information attached to the FBI’s infiltration of various local mosques. ACLU missive below:
SANTA ANA, Calif. – In the wake of news that an FBI informant infiltrated several Orange County mosques, the ACLU of Southern California will demand in federal district court Monday that the bureau release full information about its surveillance of the lawful activities of Muslims in Southern California. For nearly three years, the bureau has refused to release this information.
ACLU attorneys will talk to reporters after the hearing in front of the Santa Ana federal courthouse at approximately 2:30 p.m. See our coverage of the alleged spying here.
CAIR-NY, JAPANESE-AMERICANS DISCUSS CIVIL RIGHTS ABUSES IN TIMES OF WAR – TOP
(NEW YORK, NY, 4/20/09) – Representatives of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) and Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) recently took part in a workshop, entitled “9066 to 911: What Happens When You Start Looking Like the Enemy,” as part of a conference themed “Act: Empower Our Generation” at New York University (NYU).
(In World War II, Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded” through relocation. The order led to the internment of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were held in internment camps for the duration of the war.)
Some 600 people attended the all-day conference hosted by New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC) a committee of Asian American students from NYU, Columbia University, Fordham University, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College.
“From Manzanar to Gitmo, civil liberties of minorities have been dismissed as collateral damage under the false guise of national security,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif. “Our united call must be to uphold the rule of law at times of war through coalition building, community engagement and government accountability.”
Latif said that the Islamic civil rights group’s California chapter recently took an educational trip with a group of Muslims to attend the 40th Annual Pilgrimage at Manzanar one of 10 internment camps that held more than 10,000 innocent Japanese-American men, women, and children during World War II.
SEE: CAIR-LA Manzanar Pilgrimage Documentary
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. 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-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212-870-2002, 732-429-4268, email@example.com; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali, 212-870-2002, 718-724-3041, firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY MUSLIMS LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY – TOP
Kamran Pasha, Watan, 4/17/09
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently gave a radio interview in San Francisco where she questioned the patriotism of her colleague Rep. Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress. As a Muslim and a former Republican, I would like to respond.
Bachmann’s comments, where she derided Ellison for seeking to bring Muslims into the Obama Administration, reveal why Muslims like me left the Republican Party in droves over the past few years.
The fact that American Muslims historically identified and voted Republican will likely shock many people. But it shouldn’t, if we remember what the Republican Party used to represent. Growing up as an immigrant from Pakistan in Brooklyn, every Muslim I knew embraced the Republican brand of economic growth and family values. We were entrepreneurs who left our countries to find a better life in America, and loved the Republican promise of free enterprise and social mobility. As people of faith, we embraced the Republicans’ traditional values and social conservatism. And we saw Republicans like President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker as statesmen who were sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and willing to work hard to bring peace between Arabs and Israelis.
And then something started to change within the party. An ugly cancer of anti-Muslim bigotry began to reveal itself during the first Iraq War. I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, where the student body was perhaps the most conservative of the Ivy League schools. At meetings of the College Republicans, I began to hear distressing venom against Muslims. American Muslims were being openly talked of as a fifth column in the country, and my fellow students applauded rumors that internment camps were being set up in the Midwest for Muslim subversives. I was shocked to see my friends suddenly speak of my faith as the enemy. Our fight against Saddam had finally revealed the deeply held hatred for Islam among my fellow conservatives. (More)
STILL NO ANSWERS IN WEST KENDALL MOSQUE SHOOTING – TOP
Mosque members met with police and FBI officials Tuesday after a shooting left the Masjid of Noor building with bullet holes back in early January. The case is still ongoing with no leads or suspects.
Paradise Afshar, Miami Herald, 4/19/09
There are still no leads or a suspect in an early January shooting at Masjid o
f Noor that left the mosque with 51 bullets on the building’s north side.
Officials from the Miami-Dade Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke to the Miami-Dade Asian American Advisory Board and mosque members on Tuesday about the ongoing investigation.
At the meeting, held at the Islamic School of Miami, police said they have been working diligently, but so far no leads have developed.
“As of now, it is still an open investigation,” Sgt. Thomas Martinez said. “We were able to quantify some evidence on the scene. We haven’t received any leads from the community.”
This was not the first time the mosque was the target of an attack; there have been four prior incidents where swastikas have been drawn on the walls of the center, or rocks thrown. (More)
SOURCES: WIRETAP RECORDED REP. HARMAN PROMISING TO INTERVENE FOR AIPAC – TOP
Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 4/19/09
Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.
Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.
(Join Jeff Stein for a live online chat at 3 p.m. today about his story, or submit a question for Jeff.)
In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.
Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.” (More)