Islamophobia in North America
- Aspers sponsor hate film, say critics
Tue May 30 2006
By Carol Sanders
LAST night's Canadian premiere of the controversial
documentary Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the
West was a sellout.
"People are basically excited about the film," said
Rabbi Daniel Klatzkow with the Jewish faith group Aish
Aish, the Winnipeg Zionist Initiative and the Asper
Foundation sponsored the screening last night at Imax
in Portage Place. A second screening in the theatre,
which seats about 300 people, was added for tonight.
The movie will also be shown in Toronto next month,
with Canada's Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day
as a featured guest.
Local Muslims and some non-Muslims who obtained a copy
of the film last week said it's hate propaganda that
Howard Davidson, who has spent time in the Middle East
and is a director of aboriginal focus programs at the
University of Manitoba, attended the screening and
questioned the intentions of the film and its
"A huge problem with the film is at no time does the
film give any explanation for why people would be
saying these things," said Davidson.
"If the Asper Foundation is bringing in the film that
is clearly propaganda and clearly fear-mongering and
this is the organization that is a leader in the human
rights museum, that is not only baffling, it's
astounding. Where is their credibility? Their
Klatzkow said before last night's screening that he
believes the film is "an exposé of human rights
abusers that do not represent the majority of
"In fact, it is in the interest of all people, in
particular moderate Muslims, to be aware of the issues
that the film exposes."
A Winnipeg police officer and private security guards
watched over the theatre during the screening.
The film includes interviews with policy analysts,
terrorists and journalists. It shows bloody carnage
from terror attacks and snippets of translated
speeches from religious leaders and young children.
"I don't like Jews because they're apes and pigs,"
says a three-year-old girl on Saudi Iqraa TV.
"I hope Bush dies in flames and I want to go to Ariel
Sharon and kill him with a gun and stab him with a
sword because of the poor Palestinians," said a
six-year-old on Bahrain's Abu Dhabi TV.
In a written statement, the Asper Foundation said it
regularly sponsors "stimulating educational events
that seek to explore issues of a national and
international nature. This film has no relationship to
our development of The Canadian Museum for Human
Have Your Say
Tue May 30 2006
Why would the Asper family, which is working so hard
to establish a human rights museum in Winnipeg,
sponsor the IMAX screening of Obsession: Radical
Islam's War Against the West? I saw this awful film
last Friday. It is a vicious piece of anti-Muslim
propaganda that comes at you in a steady stream of
images of violence and of Muslims chanting angry
threats and shaking their fists. Throughout the film,
talking heads make assertions that reveal either a
profound ignorance or crass disregard of the
socio-political context of these events and a lack of
critical thought. There is not a single image of the
multitudes of dispossessed Muslim people who live in
miserable squalor, nor of the vast majority of
peaceful, law-abiding Muslims among us who regularly
must deal with racism in their everyday lives.
Instead, there is some black-and-white footage of a
sheik meeting with Hitler, and from that the dire
assertion that radical Islam is today's Naziism.
As I understand it, the purpose of the human rights
museum is to remember many human rights abuses and
struggles and, thereby, stimulate reflection and
promote understanding of the roots of hate and
violence and their terrible personal and social costs.
Why then, I ask, would the Aspers promote a film that
can only breed intolerance and, worse still, provoke
violence against Muslims in their own community?
Incitement: 'Rock Against Islam' Concert in Oregon
MAN IN INFAMOUS HATE-CRIME KILLING ARRESTED ON
VIOLATION OF PAROLE TERMS
One of the three men convicted in the 1988 Southeast
Portland killing of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw
was arrested Friday on accusations that he violated
his parole by contacting members of a white
supremacist group, authorities said.
Kyle Brewster, 36, was arrested without incident
during a routine visit with his parole officer Friday
morning. He was booked into the Multnomah County
Detention Center with no bail allowed. . .
Brewster's MySpace.com Web site contains racist
writings and shows a photo of him with a known
Volksfront member who was wearing a Volksfront
T-shirt, Freda-Cowie said.
Volksfront has been associated with numerous crimes in
the Northwest. In 2003, Volksfront members murdered a
homeless man in Tacoma. The group has created fliers
promoting a July 4th weekend "Rock Against Islam"
campout and party somewhere in northern Oregon
featuring the bands Aggressive Force, Frontline and
Judge sides with Muslim in Ramadan scarf lawsuit
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.31.2006
PHOENIX A national car rental firm illegally
discriminated against a Muslim woman in the wake of
9/11 by refusing to let her wear a scarf during the
holy month of Ramadan, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver rejected arguments
by Alamo Rent-A-Car that it could not exempt Bilan Nur
from its corporate dress code. Silver said the company
made no efforts to reasonably accommodate Nur's
beliefs and failed to show that making any
accommodations would have caused the company undue
In fact, Silver noted that the company's regional
manager admitted under questioning that the only
hardship Alamo might suffer is the image that the firm
has with customers.
Nur's claim was among the first filed by EEOC dealing
with anti-Muslim discrimination after the terrorist
Silver's ruling means that the only issue to be
determined is how much the company will need to pay
the woman, who has since left Arizona.
Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney for the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed suit on
Nur's behalf, said her agency is seeking lost pay,
other compensatory damages and punitive damages.
O'Neill said the commission is seeking a punitive
award because the evidence shows that the decision to
deny Nur the right to wear a head scarf was not made
solely by the manager of the Phoenix office where she
worked. O'Neill said this decision went to corporate
offices as well as the firm's attorney.
"They should have known" about the requirements of
federal law, O'Neill said.
A spokesman for Alamo refused to comment, saying the
litigation is still an open issue.
O'Neill said there is a link: She said Nur, who had
worked for Alamo since 1999, had been allowed to wear
a scarf during Ramadan in two prior years.
It was only during Ramadan of 2001 three months after
the attacks that Nur was told she could not wear a
scarf while waiting on customers. O'Neill said Nur
even offered to wear an Alamo scarf but was rebuffed.
She eventually was fired.
O'Neill said federal law does generally recognize the
right of companies to have a policy of what employees
can and cannot wear. But she said that is not
"When it comes to religion you have to bend a little,"
For example, she cited another EEOC lawsuit against
Blockbuster Video which had refused to let a Jewish
employee wear a yarmulke. The company had a policy
against letting workers wear headgear.
"Well, a yarmulke is not the same as a baseball cap,"
"Businesses have to recognize that when there's a
religious belief or practice, that they need to bend
unless there's a darn good reason why they can't."
Nur, a Somali immigrant, has moved to Minneapolis.
In a statement released through the EEOC, Nur said she
was pleased by Silver's ruling.
"No person should ever have to be forced to choose
between her religion and her job," the statement read.
Nur said Alamo was willing to accommodate her before
the 9/11 attacks. "Then something changed," she said.
In its response to the lawsuit, Alamo argued that
federal law does not require companies to accommodate
a worker's religious beliefs if it would impose undue
hardship. And that has been defined by the courts to
mean some financial burden beyond minimal costs.
But Silver said the company's assertion of hardship
was based merely on speculation.
For example, the judge noted that Alamo said
accommodating Nur would open the door to other
workers' violating dress code. But Heather Phillips,
the company's western regional manager, could identify
Instead, Phillips acknowledged during questioning that
the only hardship on Alamo would be customers' image
of the company.
Arab-sounding immig? Wait 1,001 nites
Daily News Exclusive
BY LESLIE CASIMIR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
The World Trade Center site was still a raw mound of
twisted steel and debris when Muhammad Jawwad applied
for naturalization in November 2001.
Less than a year later, he was called for both his
test and interview - the final step before he was to
be sworn in shortly afterward as a U.S. citizen.
"I remember the woman asking me, 'Why is your name
Muhammad?'" said Jawwad, 46, a health insurance
enrollment caseworker at Coney Island Hospital who
came from Pakistan 11 years ago. "I told her that's
what my parents put down on my birth certificate."
Jawwad, whose wife and kids already have become
citizens, has waited 3-1/2 years for his swearing in
even though immigration officials are required to
complete the process within 120 days of the interview.
They say the holdup is his FBI clearance.
Immigrant advocates say hundreds - if not thousands -
of men with Arabic-sounding or Muslim names are
experiencing endless delays in what should be the pro
forma final step of the citizenship application
"I understand the burden that the government has in
wanting to make sure that all security checks go
through," said Dev Viswanath, a Queens attorney who
said he has two clients who have waited years for
their swearing-in ceremonies. "But having to wait two
or three years ... is just ridiculous."
Azhar Sajawal was unable to join the Police Academy in
January because his name was placed on hold by the FBI
- delaying his swearing-in ceremony for a year. At the
time of enrollment, a cadet is required to be a U.S.
"I passed the NYPD exam, I even passed their
background check, eye exam, plus the hearing exam and
other medical exams," said Sajawal, 26, of Elmhurst,
Queens. "I just want to serve this city. I want to be
Mohammed Nasser, 34, an advertising writer for
Citibank, has been afraid to travel for a year now,
fearing that he'll be called in for his naturalization
ceremony and miss the notice.
"I want to know that my papers are okay and they're
being looked at," said Nasser, who lives in Astoria,
and hails from Egypt.
Last month, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee launched a national legal campaign to get
the government to resolve hundreds of cases. More than
40 lawyers filed lawsuits in federal courts,
requesting that a judge step in and force U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services to complete the
stalled naturalization cases.
In response, CIS decided it will stop interviewing
people whose FBI background checks have not cleared.
Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said the delays began
in 2002, when CIS booted 2.7 million names of
applicants back to the FBI for additional checks,
causing a backlog.
"It's a very complicated process - it involves dozens
of agencies and often foreign governments," said
Carter, adding that only 1% of citizenship applicants
have had to wait more than the 120 days.
Mohammed Razvi, the executive director of the
Brooklyn-based Council of Peoples Organization, said
he is working with more than two dozen men who don't
know what else to do to finalize their citizenship
"These are people who did everything that they were
asked to do," Razvi said. "We're holding back our new
Originally published on May 28, 2006
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