Islamophobia in USA: Training Cops to Fear Somalis and Muslims
- Training Cops to Fear Somalis and Muslims
Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz under Society, Crime, Violence, Education and literacy, Government, Politics Updated: November 22, 2013 - 5:08 AM
On Thursday, November 21, 2013, a law enforcement training on terrorism was offered in Minnesota. This training was organized by former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher of the controversial new Center for Somali History Studies. Yes, terrorism is a real threat to our nation and law enforcement needs to be educated about that threat.
As an educator and a concerned citizen wishing for the safety and well-being of every civilian, I support educational trainings. Yet, I am concerned about this training. Is the training meant to strengthen our law enforcement or is it meant to selectively create a circle within our nation that hardens our deep-seated prejudices and biases to keep the Muslim community marginalized and outside this circle?
American Muslim leaders and leading organizations have been very vocal and firm in unequivocally condemning terrorism and terrorist organizations, including Al Shabab. Last month, Minnesota imams were the first to collectively condemn the horrific attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya. The Council on American Islamic Relations, a leading civil rights organization, has repeatedly stated that “any action that harms innocent civilians is reprehensible and deserves condemnation.” Muslim organizations and scholars are quite vocal condemning terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens, and whoever commits it.
So why am I concerned about this training?
As an educator, I focus on two important points: First, evaluate or question the source. Second, evaluate or question the methodology - the research, processes, critical thinking, omissions and numbers. I also immediately separate and remove any emotionally appealing statements.
Let us question the source.
Are the trainers experts on terrorism?
Are their credentials and backgrounds sound or are they individuals who have no qualifications or have deep-seated prejudice against Muslims?
Do any of these experts have the necessary qualifications or level of understanding to speak on terrorism or on the Muslim community?
Do any of these experts have a reputation for accuracy?
Do any of the experts have a motive for being inaccurate or overly biased?
Are there valid reasons for questioning the honesty or integrity of these presenters?
Let us begin with the organizer. Former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher was referred to as “Ramsey County's most controversial cop.” His own police department alleged that he "exaggerated or falsified" his investigation of domestic and international terrorism threats in the east metro.
SEE: Fletcher Defends Terror Probe (Star Tribune)
In an interview with the Twin Cities Daily Planet, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office stated that Fletcher's claims that Ramsey County residents were threatened by 22 domestic and 11 international terrorist groups "came from an active imagination" and that the Terrorism Information Briefs "never existed."
City Pages stated that "Fletcher's office apparently dreamed up the whole idea that his jurisdiction was under threat from dozens of domestic and international terrorism groups" and that "the research was done by staffers cruising the internet and watching CNN." It further states: "It's hardly the first time Fletcher and his office have been at the center of controversy. Some of his department's handiwork was employed in the run-up to the 2008 Republican National Convention, when he directed preemptive raids against Twin Cities activists who later became known as the RNC 8. Two years after they were arrested in the guns-drawn raid, the cases against them fizzled."
SEE: Meet Bob Fletcher: Ramsey County's Most Controversial Cop (City Pages)
Those 33 Terrorist Groups in Ramsey County? It Was "A Very Big Lie" (Twin Cities Daily Planet
Bob Fletcher, Former Ramsey County Sheriff, Fictionalized Terrorism Reports (City Pages)
Along with Fletcher, the co-presenters for the training include: Omar Jamal, Abdirizak Bihi, Mohammed Farah, Michael Rozin, Jeff Weyers, and Gary Olding.
Michael Rozin, "formally of the Israeli Defense Forces, trained at the Israeli Security Academy," was featured in an NPR story on racial and religious profiling at the Mall of America.
SEE: Shoppers Entangled In War On Terrorism (NPR)
Omar Jamal, a convicted felon, has made unsubstantiated, hate-inspired statements, such as referring to Minneapolis as a "slaughterhouse for immigrants."
SEE: When Somalis are in the news so is Omar Jamal (MPR)
Similarly, the Pioneer Press reported that Bihi has had run-ins with the law, including a restraining order for "threatening and stalking" a woman and DWIs. In March 2011, there was an "active warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his probation."
SEE: Domestic terrorism hearing witness from Minneapolis has had a troubled past (Pioneer Press)
Is this how legitimate community leaders behave? Are these individuals best suited to train law enforcement?
Fletcher has organized controversial trainings for law enforcement in the past. Concerned community members felt the trainings did not distinguish between terrorists and mainstream Muslims and Somalis. The training flyer referred to the terrorist organization Al Shabaab as an "Islamic" organization. It included pictures of Somali men with AK-47s on it with the headline, "Understanding the People of Somalia."
In November 2011, more than 30 Twin Cities Somali and Muslim organizations challenged the credibility of the seminar in Minneapolis. Several police departments across the state declined to participate.
SEE: Muslim groups to Bob Fletcher: There's No "Islam" in Terrorism (Minnesota Public Radio)
Groups Object to St. Paul Somali Seminar, Call It Anti-Muslim (Pioneer Press)
The training claimed that there is "an alarming trend of radical imams recruiting and radicalizing American-raised Somalis to be suicide bombers for the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab."
However, the FBI said it has no reason to believe the mosque was indoctrinating people:
"At this point, we have uncovered no evidence to show there was any effort of any mosque or mosque leadership or mosque imam to take part in any recruitment or radicalization of these young men," said Special Agent E.K .Wilson of the Minneapolis division of the FBI.
While investigators believe that some of the secret meetings happened in a mosque, it doesn't appear to be a case of a radical imam brainwashing his students. In most cases, Wilson said, it was likely friends influencing friends.
"It looks like the recruitment process of these men was on a very peer-to-peer type scale," Wilson said. "Some of the individuals were more culpable than others, but it was a very lateral chain of command when it came to who is responsible."
SEE: Minnesota Muslim leaders skeptical and disappointed after radicalization hearing (MPR)
In May 2012, Fletcher's training was canceled in Mankato after Somali leaders met with city leaders to discuss the controversial content of the seminar. As a result, all of the city organizers withdrew their support of the seminar.
In March 2013, Catholic Charities, who had agreed to host the training in Waite Park, apologized for the training's anti-Somali/anti-Muslim flyer. They also agreed to remove the anti-Muslim/anti-Somali content from the presentation slides.
The Executive Director of Catholic Charities publicly stated: “It used language that was wrong. It was a mistake on our part. No one should ever think of anyone from the Somali or Muslim community as affiliated with a terrorist organization."
SEE: Muslim Education Event Comes Under Fire (KNSI)
We must support educational trainings on terrorism. It is within our nation’s interest. However, we must stand against trainings by fearmongers. It is against our nation’s interest.
Fearmongering undermines our nation, in particular law enforcement’s ability to effectively protect our country. It undermines peace officers’ relationships with the American Muslim community, leading to a rise in racial and religious profiling. Reports have highlighted law enforcement's use of biased experts and anti-Muslim training materials nationwide. The United States Congress has scrutinized these practices.
SEE: Congress Grills FBI Chief About Anti-Islam Trainings
Let us question the methodology.
A sound methodology is a methodology that can be challenged openly and transparently. It stands on arguments that are complete, critical thinking processes that are cold, sterile and devoid of emotional manipulation. It is difficult to question the methodology of this training.
On Thursday, November 21, CAIR-MN reported that a Muslim contacted the civil rights organization to report that he was barred from this controversial law enforcement training seminar on terrorism. The man reported that he approached the registration table, registered his name and email address, and was provided with a folder containing training materials and the agenda. However, he said that Bob Fletcher then approached him and asked him to leave. Fletcher allegedly told him that the training was by invitation only, mostly for law enforcement and for Fletcher’s Somali friends. Yet, this appears to be pretext. The event was publicized in public venues, including the main page of the organization’s website. The website includes an online registration page open to the community, along with a link to Paypal.
This raises a serious red flag: Omission and suppression of alternative voices, hence the arguments are not complete or sound.
Educational trainings for law enforcement should test for hidden bias. Our ability to understand others can be obfuscated by our own hidden biases and stereotypes. It is easy to argue we are not biased, but the reality is that bias is outside our sense of awareness. Acknowledging hidden biases is the first step to an effective training. Test Yourself for Hidden Bias
In addition, trainings on terrorism should involve terrorism experts that do not have a motive in the training. Trainings that omit alternative voices and relevant evidence can appear to be stronger than they really are.
As we work together to protect our country, we must be vigilant and firm in the face of arguments or expertise embedded with fear mongering and bias. We must do the job well and right and rely on credible sources and factual information. We must not readily accept whoever speaks on the matter without sound investigation. When sources and experts prove to be questionable, we must be accountable and responsible to seek out more reliable information, sources and experts.
A word of caution, it is extremely easy to manipulate people with numbers. Hence, we must seek out experts on the fundamental principles of probability and statistics before believing statistical information offered to us in a manipulative manner.
SEE: How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff, and Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos.
When sources and experts are biased or have a self-interest, chances are numbers and arguments are being used to manipulate instead of educate the audience. This is not within the interest of our nation. We must stand against such trainings. Profiling, misrepresenting and alienating an entire community does not help combat terrorism.
Source: CAIR-MN Action Alert
Look At What Fox News Is Calling "Sharia Law"
Blog ››› December 2, 2013 11:19 AM EST ››› MICHELLE LEUNG
Fox News incited Islamophobic fears in its reporting on a weekly swim class at a YMCA facility that ensures the privacy of Muslim girls learning to swim, framing it as evidence that "Sharia law is now changing everything."
November 21, 2013 at 1:00 am
Civil rights advocacy group says banks closed more accounts of Muslims
MARK HICKS THE DETROIT NEWS
The Council on American-Islamic Relations–Michigan is asking federal officials to investigate more complaints that JPMorgan Chase is allegedly closing bank accounts of Muslim customers in Metro Detroit.
“It seems like it’s solidifying our idea more that there’s a disturbing pattern going on,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-MI. “These aren’t just isolated incidents.”
Spurred by about a dozen complaints in the past two months, the advocacy group has contacted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates banks, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CAIR-MI also received new complaints Thursday, Walid said.
One of the latest involved the checking and savings accounts for Annisa Patimurani, a Wayne State University graduate student.
The Indonesia native, who is married to an American and started attending WSU this year, said she applied and was approved without issue. But after weeks of local purchases for books and other necessities, her debit card suddenly stopped working last month, she said.
When Patimurani of Detroit visited her local Chase bank for answers, an employee told her the accounts had been closed. The explanation on file said the bank would not open one for people with ties to foreign officials, she said.
She later received a letter from Chase saying the bank is “no longer opening personal banking accounts for current or former non-U.S officials, their immediate family or their close associates.”
Patimurani was puzzled. When applying in person, wearing a hijab, she disclosed that her parents are retired Indonesian government officials, but was told this would not be an issue in securing accounts. “I just don’t understand why they need to discriminate against us,” Patimurani said.
A Chase representative said privacy reasons prevent the company from discussing details of its customer relationships. But “on occasion, Chase determines it can no longer maintain a customer’s account but those decisions are not based on the customer’s religion, ethnicity or any other similar basis.”
CAIR-MI asks people to report recent bank closures by calling (248) 559-2247 or emailing info@....
Meanwhile, a ruling is expected soon on a lawsuit involving similar complaints against Huntington National Bank.
In July, the Arab-American Civil Rights League filed a class-action lawsuit against the bank after allegations accounts for area Muslims and residents of Middle Eastern descent were closed without cause or explanation.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the bank’s actions suggest “racial, ethnic, national origin and religious discrimination,” which violate state and federal civil rights laws. Damages were estimated at millions of dollars, and the suit seeks a temporary restraining order barring Huntington from closing accounts for discriminatory reasons.
The civil rights league this year asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and launched a complaint hotline.
Since then, more complaints — all from the minority group allegedly targeted — have frequently poured in, attorneys said.
While 25 are represented in the suit, as many as 1,000 or more in Metro Detroit could be affected by the alleged practices, said attorney Nabih Ayad, board chairman for the Arab-American Civil Rights League.
According to the complaint, a former Huntington employee has come forward with details on periodic lists bank superiors circulated instructing branches to close the accounts of customers perceived to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent.
But lawyers for Huntington Bank are asking a federal judge to have the case dismissed. In a motion filed last month, they said there was not sufficient evidence to support claims the bank discriminated against or treated them differently than other customers.
The attorneys representing the bank in the suit did not respond to requests for comment.
#CAIR-St. Louis to Release Islamophobia Report
(SAINT LOUIS, MO, 11/5/13) – On Thursday, November 7, the St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-St. Louis) will hold a news conference in the Iqra Library to release its groundbreaking report, “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States 2011-2012.”
Muslim mom says she was victim of road-rage assault
October 31, 2013|By Desiree Stennett, Orlando Sentinel
Rose said strangers have spat on her. Her scarf has been ripped from her head. And she has been physically assaulted — all because she is Muslim.
Now the Kissimmee woman is calling for a thorough investigation of what she describes as a hate crime: A pickup driver last week repeatedly tried to run her sedan off Poinciana Boulevard while mocking her head scarf, she told the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.
Times Square Man Hits Hijab-Wearing Woman With Sign, Calls Her a "Fucking Terrorist"
By Tessa Stuart Mon., Sep. 23 2013 at 8:00 AM
Ah, Times Square. That place has everything--Broadway shows, naked body painting, anti-Semitic Elmo.
This weekend, it was also the site of an ugly race-based attack. An unidentified man was captured on video swearing at Times Square demonstrators, including a woman wearing a hijab, whom he called a "fucking terrorist" before hurling a sign at her.
"Are you out of your mind?" the woman, Rachel Gunnoe, is heard starting to say before the man charges toward her. He was quickly handcuffed by two NYPD officers, but it remains unclear whether the man will face any charges.
Sikh Columbia University Professor Dr. Prabhjot Singh Attacked By Gang of Young Men Who Called Him "Osama" [UPDATED]
By Anna Merlan Mon., Sep. 23 2013 at 8:30 AM
It was an ugly weekend. On Saturday night, not long after a woman in a hijab was attacked in Times Square and called a terrorist, a Columbia University professor was beaten in Harlem in an unrelated incident. Dr. Prabhjot Singh was attacked just after 8 p.m. near 110th Street and and Lennox by a large gang of young men, some of them on bicycles, who yelled, among other things, "Osama" and "terrorist." Dr. Singh is Sikh.
Police See Bias Motive for New Hampshire Mosque Vandalism
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/17/13) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today that law enforcement authorities in New Hampshire are investigating a bias motive for extensive vandalism of the construction site for the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester.
CAIR said the vandalism, which cost more than $30,000 to repair and included a number of smashed windows and attempted arson, occurred in July but was not determined to be bias-motivated until recently. The perpetrators were caught on video surveillance cameras.
The mosque site was targeted with a similar act of vandalism in April.Muslim community leaders and local police told CAIR that the juvenile perpetrators bragged of the vandalism online and left comments on anti-Muslim hate sites. Officials say New Hampshire does not have a hate crime statute but that a judge can hand down an enhanced sentence if the alleged vandals are convicted.
Muslim poem, lack of 'Pledge' on 9/11 angers some parents at Concord-Carlisle High
By Grant Welker, gwelker@...
School District Cancels Muslim Speaker After Parents Speak Out
September 11th, 2013
09:24 AM ET
Since 9/11, U.S. policy enforces Islamophobia
Opinion by Nathan Lean, special to CNN
(CNN) – The attacks of September 11, 2001, were unthinkable, and are rightfully memorialized with the somber reflection that marks other tragedies of our nation’s past.
From the Oval Office that Tuesday evening 12 years ago, President George W. Bush addressed the stricken nation with a message of hope.
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America,” he said. “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace.”
Sadly, though, out of that dark hour came more darkness.
Throughout the past 12 years, government agencies and local law enforcement have often turned inward, eroding the liberties of ordinary, law-abiding citizens.
In the name of defending national security, they’ve fractured relationships with American Muslim communities and undermined the foundations of freedom on which this land was built.
Anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has not only manifested itself through mosque arsons, assaults, murders and invariably hostile rhetoric from society’s extreme fringes. It has also become a permanent fixture of the very institutions that should provide safeguards against those things.
A long view of the response to terrorism since 9/11 suggests that Islamophobia — an irrational fear or suspicion of all Muslims and Islam based on the actions of a few — is increasingly legislated and enforced.
The most recent example of this comes from the city that bore the brunt of the 9/11 attacks.
Revelations surrounding the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities in Brooklyn and Manhattan show that, without specific evidence of criminal activity, police officers teamed up with the CIA to form a clandestine intelligence program that spied on ordinary Muslim Americans.
The program sent “rakers” into Muslim neighborhoods to observe restaurant owners and shop keepers, deployed “mosque crawlers” into Muslim houses of worship to monitor sermons, and planted undercover agents on a university rafting trip in Buffalo where they took notes on how many times Muslim students prayed each day.
It gets worse.
The NYPD parked a yellow taxicab, bugged with cameras and voice recorders, outside a popular mosque in Brooklyn, hoping to capture Friday prayer-goers mumbling something about terrorism.
They also designated all mosques in the city as terrorist organizations, meaning that anyone who attends worship services is a potential subject for investigation, and they attempted to infiltrate the board of the nonprofit Arab American Association of New York, labeling the group a “terrorism enterprise.”
The six years of surveilling American Muslims led to no arrests or leads, the head of the NYPD's Demographics Unit admitted in court testimony.
The NYPD says its surveillance programs are lawful and orchestrated to keep the city safe from "those who are intent on killing New Yorkers."
The FBI criticized the NYPD spying program, however, saying that it produces a “negative impact” and makes their job harder than ever.
But it was the FBI who, in 2010, paid informant Craig Monteilh more than $11,000 a month to disguise himself as a convert to Islam, infiltrate Southern California mosques, and have sex with Muslim women. The plan was to entrap young Muslims by initiating conversations about “jihad” and terrorism.
In the end, the very people he was spying on reported him to the FBI — the organization that sent him there. Last year, Monteilh expressed his regret for participating in the sting operation, saying, “There is no hunt. It’s fixed.”
The FBI said its program, called "Operation Flex," was "focused on fewer than 25 individuals and was directed at detecting and preventing possible terrorist attacks."
The FBI came under fire again in August of this year as we learned about a covert security program in conjunction with U.S. immigration authorities.
The American Civil Liberties Union reports that the FBI and immigration officials have the authority to blacklist law-abiding Muslim Americans who have applied for citizenship, flagging their applications on the basis of “national security concerns” and sidelining their path to nationality for years on end.
Those applications are primarily docked on the basis of the applicant’s name, their country of origin, or as a result of their travels to countries on a watch list.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services says its reviews comply with immigration laws.
Film tackles Islamophobia with humor
By PATRICK GAVIN | 9/2/13 8:57 AM EDT
Two comedians are tackling the sensitive topic of Islamophobia in the way they know best: laughter.
Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah are the co-directors of “The Muslims Are Coming!” which tracks a group of Muslim-American stand-ups as they perform across the country and tackle people’s stereotypes.
“Around the election of Barack Obama and the controversy regarding a mosque near the World Trade Center, we were both kind of struck to the extent to which being Muslim was such an accusation,” Farsad said. “And I think that it continues for some people five years later.”
Obeidallah said they want to “counter those who are preaching hate and those who don’t know about Muslims.”
The two have some powerful friends in their corner; the film features cameos from such notables as Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black and Aasif Mandvi. Negin was named “One of the Fifty Funniest Women” by The Huffington Post, and Obeidallah has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour” and is a weekly contributor to CNN.com.
“I think comedy is a great vehicle to reach out to people,” Obeidallah said. “I think comedy has been used since the 1960s — with people like Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and, today, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert — using stand-up comedy to entertain and educate people.”
“It just disarms people,” Farsad said. “It stops them in their tracks.”
The two are keenly aware, however, of the thin line they walk in their comedy.
“I think there’s always this kind of battle with comedians between poking fun at our societal tendency to stereotype and perpetuating stereotypes,” Farsad said. “You have to be careful that you’re not perpetuating the stereotype and that, instead, you’re trying to undo the stereotype.”
The film begins opening in theaters on Sept. 12, and the two say they’re working with Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, on getting a screening on Capitol Hill. The two say Congress needs more people like Ellison on Capitol Hill.
“From my point of view, we had comments that were completely irresponsible from Michele Bachmann to Louie Gohmert to Joe Walsh to Allen West,” Obeidallah said.
“I believe overwhelmingly that people are open-minded in this country and tolerant and want to learn about other cultures. Yet, some, for their own political agenda, both demonize Muslims, like they demonized Jews in the past or Catholics, and fear monger for political points to make it a political wedge issue.”
Cable news doesn’t always help, either.
“We wanted to reach people that were like, ‘I read, I heard on Fox News that Muslims are totally violent!’” Farsad said. “And so we wanted to reach that person because that person is a reasonable person, they just don’t have that much access to information. They’re flooded with negative images of Muslims walking in the desert with crusty faces. … They’re not given any other information, and so those are the people we want to reach.”
This Is the NYPD's Secret Spy Cab
In Enemies Within, the new book from Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman on the NYPD's indiscriminate and probably illegal spying program, reference is briefly made to a "real yellow cab, complete with an authentic taxi medallion registered under a fake name" used by the department's intelligence division to conduct surveillance operations. This is that cab.
The photo, which doesn't appear in the book, was provided to Gawker by Goldman and Apuzzo, who will be here next week to chat about Enemies Within. According to Apuzzo, the cab—medallion number 6Y11—is outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance gear, and is routinely parked outside of New York mosques in an effort to keep tabs on New York's Muslims—all of whom, in the NYPD's estimation, are potential threats to the public order.
NYPD Secretly Designated Entire Mosques As Terrorism Organizations (VIDEO)
By ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO 08/28/13 03:27
Kansas lawmaker ‘appalled’ by Islamic display in school
By Travis Perry / August 19, 2013
Bulletin board at Wichita school showing Five Pillars of Islam removed
By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle
Published Monday, August 19, 2013, at 2:53 p.m
'Radical Islamists' Learn Spanish, Pretend To Be Hispanic, Claims Rep. Louie Gohmert
By Michael Allen, Fri, August 09, 2013
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, believes he has figured out a terrorist tactic.
While speaking to the Longview, Texas Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Gohmert claimed "radical Islamists" were learning Spanish “because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country.”
Gohmert added that he is opposing immigration reform based on the theory, noted News-Journal.com.
“The FBI director has confirmed more than once that we know that there are radical Islamists that change their names to Hispanic-sounding last names, they come to Mexico and get and ID, and some of them even learn a little bit of Spanish so that they can try to act as if they’re Hispanic,” Gohmert said (video below). “Why? Because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country, but we’ve got concerns about radical Islamists.”
He also suggested that real undocumented Hispanic immigrants might lie about how long they have been in the United States in order to stay under the DREAM Act, which is supposed to be for immigrant children who were brought to America by their undocumented parents.
Gohmert also said the United States was the best country “because most Americans, generally speaking, had a faith in God, they had a devotion to family and they had a hard worth ethic,” but lamented that might not be true today.
Mass. bar examiners to review religious wear rules
Test taker who had authorization interrupted due to her hijab
By Lisa Wangsness | GLOBE STAFF AUGUST 13, 2013
Ibragim Todashev was 'a very good boy who wanted to live' dad says of son killed by FBI in Orlando
Todashev family attorneys said they will seek a meeting with Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who announced last week he is reviewing the FBI shooting.
August 13, 2013|By Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel
Muslims love Jesus, too
August 1, 2013 12:00 AM
By Hesham A. Hassaballa
You're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?"
These were the beginning words of a now-viral Fox News interview with American religious scholar Reza Aslan about his new book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." As breathtaking as the ignorance of the question was, his calm and measured response was equally breathtaking:
"Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim. So, it's not that I'm just some Muslim writing about Jesus, I am an expert with a Ph.D in the history of religions."
His interviewer, Lauren Green, did not stop pressing the issue: "It still begs the question: why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?"
For Mr. Aslan, it is his "job as an academic," but the basis of her question seems to be that a Muslim would simply not be interested in Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is so much a part of Islamic belief that the more accurate question would be: Why wouldn't a Muslim be interested in Jesus?
The Quran mentions Jesus Christ more by name than the Prophet Muhammad himself. There are dozens of verses that speak of Jesus, including his birth (3:45-49), his miracles (5:110), the Last Supper (5:113-115). Chapter 19 is named "Mary" after his mother, and many verses speak very highly of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, as the Quran says, "shall be of the righteous" (3:46). "Peace be upon me the day I was born," says Jesus in the Quran, "and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!" (19:33). The Quran also calls upon its readers to remember "she who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol [of Our grace] unto all people" (21:91), referring to Mary and Jesus.
As a Muslim, I have been raised with Jesus in my mind, heart and spiritual consciousness, even though I do not worship him as God or part of the Godhood. Indeed, this is the most glaring difference between Islam and Christianity: Islam rejects the divinity of Christ.
Still, the common love for and devotion to Jesus and his basic teachings is something around which Muslims and Christians can come together. One of my favorite Biblical passages is the Sermon on the Mount, and many of the same concepts were expounded by the Prophet Muhammad centuries later. There should be nothing nefarious or suspicious about a Muslim being interested in Jesus.
Though I am not an academic with unimpeachable credentials like Reza Aslan, he seemed to be talking about someone like me when he said, "It's not that I'm some Muslim writing about Jesus," because I have been writing about Jesus and his prominence in Islamic belief for more than a decade.
This should surprise no one. Islam and Muslims have been praising, honoring and loving both Christ and his mother for over 14 centuries. If more people like Fox News' Lauren Green knew that about Islam, such a terribly embarrassing interview, like hers with Reza Aslan, may not have taken place.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago-based doctor and writer. Copyright (C) 2013 Hesham A. Hassaballa -- distributed by Agence Global.
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
California Gurdwara Vandalized
Marine Videotaped Urinating On Taliban Corpses Speaks Out (Video)
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
By Beth Ford Roth
Muslim group excluded from July 4 parade
Sertoma organizer cites ‘safety’
July 10, 2013
Say F. H. Man Stabbed Victim Over His Faith
Made Verbal Threats To Qns. Mosque
by Robert Pozarycki
July 4, 2013
Accused of stabbing a man at a Kew Gardens Hills mosque last November, a Forest Hills man charged last Friday, June 28, for the hate crime allegedly vandalized and telephoned threats to the house of worship days before and after the attack, law enforcement sources said.
Bernhard Laufer, 55, of 65th Road, was taken into custody by the NYPD Bias Incident Investigations Unit last Friday on counts of seconddegree attempted murder, second-degree assault and first-degree attempted assault—all of which were classified as hate crimes—and two additional counts of second-degree assault and first-degree attempted assault.
Prosecutors stated Laufer allegedly knifed a 57-year-old man attempting to open the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque, located at 72-55 Kissena Blvd. in Kew Gardens Hills, for morning prayers on Nov. 18, 2012. The victim was treated at a local hospital for stab wounds about his body.
The suspect was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last Saturday, June 29, before Judge Deborah Stevens-Modica, who ordered him held on $200,000 bail Laufer was ordered to return to court on July 8. If convicted, he faces between eight and 25 years behind bars.
“[Laufer] is accused of having repeatedly stabbed the victim in a hate crime attack and to have used hateful speech. Remarkably, the injuries sustained by the victim, though serious, were not fatal,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement last Friday. “Crimes fueled by hate will never be tolerated here in Queens County, the most diverse county in the nation. When they do, regrettably, occur, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
Rights groups "express alarm" after Israeli professor in US calls Palestinian student a "cockroach"
Submitted by Nora Barrows-Fr... on Thu, 04/04/2013 - 19:13
The Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the National Lawyers Guild, the Asian Law Caucus, American Muslims for Palestine and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have expressed their concerns in a seven-page letter to administrators at the Claremont Colleges last week about a recent incident on campus. In early March, a professor at Claremont McKenna College — who is an Israeli citizen — called a Palestinian student “a cockroach” during a mock checkpoint action on campus as part of Israeli Apartheid Week events.
The Electronic Intifada reported that since the incident became public last month, the student, Najib Hamideh, says he has faced violent threats written on his reserved seat in the campus library, and someone flattened one of the tires of his car with a sharpened key. The Claremont McKenna College administration has not yet taken administrative action against the professor.
The Center for Constitutional Rights states in a summary of the letter on its website:
Rather than investigating the professor’s behavior, Claremont McKenna college responded to the incident by investigating Students for Justice in Palestine for alleged violations of campus rules. The unwarranted investigation further chills student speech in favor of Palestinian human rights. The letter emphasizes Claremont Colleges’ obligation to protect student speech rights, and protect all students from racist speech, including Arab, Muslim and Palestinian students.
Najib Hamideh is a student at Pitzer College, which is part of the Claremont College consortium, and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. Pitzer’s Faculty Executive Committee, concerned with how the Pitzer administration had at first dealt with the situation, reasserted “that the right for peaceful demonstrations is an integral piece of an open, intellectually vigorous college community” and called for “protection from verbal assault and harassment.” Pitzer’s administration has since come forward and stated that SJP’s action was not in violation of campus demonstration policy, and reiterated that faculty conduct at Claremont McKenna College is not under Pitzer’s purview.
Islamophobia in the US is mainstream
Submitted by Nora Barrows-Fr... on Fri, 06/28/2013 - 20:14
This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast:
A student in Texas wins the right to carry the Palestinian flag at her high school graduation
Israel refuses to investigate the torture of a Palestinian teenager by border police
Israel breaks its pledge to allow family visits to a Gaza engineer imprisoned for two years without trial
New reports demonstrate the rampant bias against Muslims in “liberal” California: we’ll have an interview with The Electronic Intifada contributor Charlotte Silver about the rise of Islamophobia in the US
News from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement including a report on how Israel’s top government officials are stepping up their fight to undermine the boycott movement
The F.B.I. Deemed Agents Faultless in 150 Shootings
By CHARLIE SAVAGE and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
Published: June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — After contradictory stories emerged about an F.B.I. agent’s killing last month of a Chechen man in Orlando, Fla., who was being questioned over ties to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the bureau reassured the public that it would clear up the murky episode.
“The F.B.I. takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally,” a bureau spokesman said.
But if such internal investigations are time-tested, their outcomes are also predictable: from 1993 to early 2011, F.B.I. agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified, according to interviews and internal F.B.I. records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The last two years have followed the same pattern: an F.B.I. spokesman said that since 2011, there had been no findings of improper intentional shootings.
In most of the shootings, the F.B.I.’s internal investigation was the only official inquiry. In the Orlando case, for example, there have been conflicting accounts about basic facts like whether the Chechen man, Ibragim Todashev, attacked an agent with a knife, was unarmed or was brandishing a metal pole. But Orlando homicide detectives are not independently investigating what happened.
“We had nothing to do with it,” said Sgt. Jim Young, an Orlando police spokesman. “It’s a federal matter, and we’re deferring everything to the F.B.I.”
Occasionally, the F.B.I. does discipline an agent. Out of 289 deliberate shootings covered by the documents, many of which left no one wounded, five were deemed to be “bad shoots,” in agents’ parlance — encounters that did not comply with the bureau’s policy, which allows deadly force if agents fear that their lives or those of fellow agents are in danger. A typical punishment involved adding letters of censure to agents’ files. But in none of the five cases did a bullet hit anyone.
Critics say the fact that for at least two decades no agent has been disciplined for any instance of deliberately shooting someone raises questions about the credibility of the bureau’s internal investigations. Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha who studies internal law enforcement investigations, called the bureau’s conclusions about cases of improper shootings “suspiciously low.”
Current and former F.B.I. officials defended the bureau’s handling of shootings, arguing that the scant findings of improper behavior were attributable to several factors. Agents tend to be older, more experienced and better trained than city police officers. And they generally are involved only in planned operations and tend to go in with “overwhelming presence,” minimizing the chaos that can lead to shooting the wrong people, said Tim Murphy, a former deputy director of the F.B.I. who conducted some investigations of shootings over his 23-year career.
The F.B.I.’s shootings range from episodes so obscure that they attract no news media attention to high-profile cases like the 2009 killing of an imam in a Detroit-area warehouse that is the subject of a lawsuit alleging a cover-up, and a 2002 shooting in Maryland in which the bureau paid $1.3 million to a victim and yet, the records show, deemed the shooting to have been justified.
With rare exceptions — like suicides — whenever an agent fires his weapon outside of training, a team of agents from the F.B.I.’s Inspection Division, sometimes with a liaison from the local police, compiles a report reconstructing what happened. This “shooting incident review team” interviews witnesses and studies medical, ballistics and autopsy reports, eventually producing a narrative. Such reports typically do not include whether an agent had been involved in any previous shootings, because they focus only on the episode in question, officials said.
That narrative, along with binders of supporting information, is then submitted to a “shooting incident review group” — a panel of high-level F.B.I. officials in Washington. The panel produces its own narrative as part of a report saying whether the shooting complied with bureau policy — and recommends what discipline to mete out if it did not — along with any broader observations about “lessons learned” to change training or procedures.
Important lawsuit alleging discrimination against Muslim Americans moves forward
Submitted by Charlotte Silver on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 23:46
Hate Comes to Manchester, Tennessee
June 7, 2013
This guest column is an exclusive first-hand account by one of the Muslim attendees/organizers of the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum, that was disrupted by anti-Islam hate groups in Manchester, TN. Although this incident was widely reported on in various media, many outlets left out the depth of hate that was on display Tuesday evening.
by Drost Kokoye
In recent years, there has been an alarming surge in anti-Islam hate group activity in Tennessee, especially in areas such as Rutherford and Coffee Counties. This virulent hate was fully on display Tuesday night at the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum in Manchester.
Since 2010, our community has seen a concerted effort being made to demonize the religion of Islam and its adherents, with hate groups from all over the nation using our state as a staging ground for spewing negative propaganda. This includes the effort to block the construction of the Murfreesboro Mosque, to the faux-outrage created when an elected official mistook a mop-sink in the state legislature for a “Muslim foot-bath.” Legislators who have fallen under the influence of these groups introduced an “anti-Sharia bill,” which would have made the practice of Islam punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, we have seen a normalization of increasingly violent rhetoric – such as a Facebook posting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West, depicting a gun being pointed at Muslims.
Commissioner West’s posting “How to Wink at a Muslim” garnered national attention, due to the overt call to violence against a specific minority group. Local Muslim groups such as the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) and the American Center for Outreach (ACO) immediately asked West to issue an apology, due to the aggressive nature of the post in addition to Mr. West being a public official. As this story went viral on social media, many key players in the Islamophobia industry latched themselves to the story, criticizing AMAC and ACO for demanding an apology. Much to the chagrin of the anti-Islam groups, Mr. West issued an apology for his irresponsible post the next day.
Tuesday evening, the American Muslim Advisory Council hosted about “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” in Manchester, TN, as an open forum to discuss the dangerous effects of the rhetoric that was espoused by Mr. West in his post. Those within well-funded Islamophobia Industry – such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) saw this as an ideal opportunity to fan the flames of hate in our back yard. And while their so-called protest was done so under the guise of “defending free speech,” the reality is that the public is unaware of the nefarious affiliations of such groups.
Geller and Spencer and their organizations are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate group leaders.” They hold close affiliations with the English Defense League – a Neo-Nazi affiliated group that has employed violent tactics against the Muslim community in the UK. Both Geller and Spencer were cited extensively (174 times between the two) in mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, which was written shortly before he murdered over 80 people in Norway. To put it plainly, these individuals recognized widely as being extremists – therefore it is highly concerning that so many citizens of Tennessee have bought into their overt message of hate and bigotry.
Groups like the TN Eagle Forum and ACT for America (also listed as nativist and hate groups, respectively) called for thousands of their followers to come to this public forum to “stand up for their first amendment rights” that they claimed AMAC is trying to limit. These groups turned out people from all over Tennessee. Personally, I spoke with folks from Bristol, Sparta, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Tullahoma. They showed up in front of the Manchester Coffee County Conference Center hours before the forum. Geller and Spencer joined in around 5:30pm, ensuring the crowd was primed and riled up – including rhetoric that alluded to justifying violence.
After the outdoor protest, waves of people flooded the hall at 6:20pm. All the seats were taken with in the first five minutes so people started to post up along the walls, near the doors, outside the doors, in the lobby, and all the way out to the entrance of the building.
The AMAC program had yet to begin, when Eagle Forum members (who also brought their own American flag) took it upon themselves to stand up and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Everyone else in the room, Eagle Forum member or not, joined them, for one of the most aggressive recitations of the Pledge that I’ve ever heard, followed by a long and loud applause.
At 6:30 pm, Zak Mohyuddin, an AMAC Board Member and long time resident of Coffee County, began the forum with an introduction to who and what AMAC is.
Before he could even get a sentence out, he was interrupted by a comment from the audience, “speak English!”
The panel continued as follows:
Zulfat Suara – AMAC Board Chair
Dorothy Zwayyed – AMAC East Tennessee Coordinator
Sabina Mohyuddin – AMAC Board Member and long time Coffee County resident
Bill Killian – U.S. Attorney DOJ Eastern District of Tennessee
Kenneth L. Moore – special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division
Throughout the program, the speakers were plagued with interruptions, jeers and epithets being lobbed at them. Whenever examples of cooperation between the American Muslim community and law enforcement were highlighted, the crowd would yell, “Infiltrators,” Terrorists,” and “go home!
As a representative of the Muslim community who was participating in the forum, the words of hate that I heard spoken on this day are something that I will not forget for a long time.
As I stood up to gather index cards for the Q&A session, a man from the crowd said, “Watch out, she might blow up!” – Which was met by rousing laughter, rather than disgust.
As one of the Muslim speakers from the event finished, another individual exclaimed “FINALLY! Can we burn her at the stake now?” – which was also met by laughter and cheers.
When bullying and discrimination that kids face in schools was brought up, one woman yelled, “Leave our children out of this. They hate you.”
Finally, during a portion of the presentation – a picture of a mosque, which had been destroyed by arson, was shown. Rather than responding with compassion, the hateful attendees responded with applause and cheers.
Although the goal of the forum was to foster dialog and positive engagement – it is clear that Geller, Spencer and the hate groups came to cause divisiveness and hate. It is saddening that some Tennesseans have succumbed to this temptation, as it brings back dark memories from our nation’s past. On a positive note, many in attendees from the community greeted us with goodwill and assured us that the haters do not represent them or the majority of people out there. Though a small gesture, this helped end an otherwise tense night on a positive note. As we move forward from this eye-opening evening – the hope is that Tennesseans will take the lead in denouncing and marginalizing these fringe groups, while fostering an environment of positivity and inclusion.
Drost Kokoye is a recent graduate from Middle Tennessee State University with a liberal arts degree in Political Science. She is currently the Multicultural Organizer with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition where she organizes the immigrant and refugee communities in Middle Tennessee to learn to defend their rights. Drost is a board member with the American Muslim Advisory Council, where she works to further communication lines between the Muslim community and law enforcement agencies. She is also extensively involved with efforts to encourage leadership of Muslim youth with the Muslim Youth Network of Tennessee.
Freedom of speech under attack by Islamophobes in Tennessee - updated
Posted Jun 8, 2013
American Muslim Alleges FBI Had a Hand in His Torture (Updated with Video)
EXCLUSIVE: Yonas Fikre believes the US government played a role in his hellish three-month detention in the United Arab Emirates.
—By Nick Baumann | Mon Apr. 16, 2012 11:01 PM GMT
Study finds Muslim women wearing headscarfs face job discrimination
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:Dolly M. Omiya, (808) 956-5645
Public Information Officer, College of Business-External Relations Office
Posted: May 23, 2013
Was discrimination displayed against the Islamic Society of Mobile? (poll)
By John Sharp | jsharp@...
CAIR Lawsuit Claims U.S. Muslims Detained, Asked About Religion
Ibragim Todashev's father: FBI 'bandits' murdered my son
Chechen man's family to formally request federal inquiry as reports claim Todashev was unarmed when FBI agents shot him
Richard Luscombe in Miami and agencies
theguardian.com, Thursday 30 May 2013 19.56 BST
The father of a Chechen man shot dead while being interviewed by the FBI in Florida last week over his connection to one of the Boston bombing suspects has accused US agents of killing his son "execution-style".
Speaking in Moscow, Ibragim Todashev's father, Abdul-Baki Todashev, said his son was "100% unarmed" but had been shot six times in the torso and once to the back of the head. He showed reporters photographs of the body which he said he had been taken in a Florida morgue by a friend, Khusen Taramov.
"I'd only seen and heard things like that in the movies – they shoot somebody and then a shot in the head to make sure," Todashev said. "These just aren't FBI agents – they're bandits," he added.
The dead man's family will submit a formal request on Friday for a federal inquiry into the shooting, the Guardian has learned.
An Islamic advocacy group insists that Todashev was unarmed, and that he was hit by at least seven bullets during the interview in his Orlando apartment on 22 May, contradicting earlier law enforcement accounts of the incident.
Hassan Shibley, executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Todashev's family and friends were meeting lawyers on Thursday to finish off a report that will support the request.
"We're not accusing anybody of anything, but we do want to know how an unarmed man who had not been charged or convicted of anything was shot seven times, once in the head, and killed," he said.
He said his group had a source close to the FBI investigation who confirmed that Todashev was not armed, and that all but one of the agents had left the room when the fatal shots were fired.
"We had heard from day one from his family that he didn't have a weapon," Shibley said. "We just want to find out what happened and make sure that Mr Todashev's civil rights were not violated."
The FBI, which initially suggested that Todashev, 27, had "flipped out" and initiated a "violent confrontation", during which he lunged at agents with a knife, would not comment to on the new allegations, although unnamed sources close to the inquiry told the Washington Post that it now seemed apparent he was not armed.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in a statement that an agency taskforce from Washington was already in Orlando reviewing the case.
"The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally," he said in a statement.
"The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances."
He said that the panel, which included Justice Department investigators and the FBI's shooting incident review group, "examines all of the information and determines the reasonableness of the application of deadly force in accordance with the Department of Justice's deadly force policy and the law."
At the time of his death, Todashev was under investigation over his friendship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two Chechen men suspected of the April 15 bombing attack on the Boston marathon that killed three people and injured more than 260.
He and Tsarnaev were also suspects in a triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2011, and he was reported to have been about to sign a confession for those killings when he was shot.
Todashev's family, however, say the pair only knew each other casually through a shared interest in martial arts when they both lived in Boston, and that he had always denied any connection with the bombing during numerous FBI interviews in the weeks following.
His widow, Reniya Manukyan, appeared at a press conference in Orlando on Wednesday, hosted by CAIR, to support the call for a federal review of the case. "We want to know why it happened; we want to know what is the truth," she said.
Manukyan, who lives in Georgia, said she had been married to Todashev for three years. She claimed she had documents that proved they were together on September 11, 2011, the day of the Waltham murders in which a close friend of Tsarnaev was killed. The three victims were found with their throats slit and their bodies covered with marijuana and banknotes.
At the press conference, Shibley also showed reporters photographs of Todashev's body, taken by Taramov.
"They were talking to both of us. And they said they need him for a little more, for a couple more hours, and I left, and they told me they're going to bring him back. They never brought him back," he said after the shooting.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with Boston police four days after the bombing. His brother Dzhokhar, 19, was captured a day later and remains in custody on federal murder charges. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Airport Profiling: A Familiar Story for Muslims
Posted: 05/19/2013 5:41 pm
I went to Puerto Rico last weekend to celebrate a bachelor party for a friend of mine. On my way to the airport I joked with my friend that I was going to be picked for a random search because that's what happens to you when you have a Muslim name like I do. As I went through security, making sure to take all of the items out of my pocket to go through the scanner, I decided I had gotten it all into those ugly plastic bins. The official running the bags through the machine commented on my Yankees hat because he is a fan himself. I was feeling like maybe I was going to get lucky today, and not be searched just because I'm brown. After he told me to have a nice day I walked through the metal detector. It began to beep. I started to think to myself "here we go again." So I asked the TSA official in front of me if my glasses had set off the machine. He replied, "No, this is a random search."
What happened next was that I was brought over to an area in front of everyone. I was told that my bag would be checked. They proceeded to open my bag, and go through everything in it while asking me what each item was. It was hard not to give snarky responses when asked each question because it was just a duffel bag filled with a bag of dirty clothes and damp board shorts. I knew there was nothing in there they would find of interest, but it's not like voicing that to them would have been helpful at all. If anything, it would have just brought me to a back room where I would get interrogated and probed further just because I decided to stand up for myself.
I have a huge issue with what happened that day. And what happens to me every single time I go to an airport. This was supposedly a random search. But it wasn't a random search at all. It was a "you're a Muslim" search. I'm tired of being told that it's a random search every single time. I have fewer rights when I walk into an airport because I'm br<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)