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National Muslim groups condemn ADL "Anti-Muslim McCarthyism"
A coalition of American Muslim political organizations today condemned what it called “anti-Muslim McCarthyism” by a Jewish newspaper and a prominent Jewish organization. The American Muslim Political Coordinating Council (AMPCC),* issued a statement criticizing attacks on New Jersey Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bret Schundler for speaking at a meeting of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), an AMPCC member group. (Schundler is currently the mayor of Jersey City, NJ)
Shai Goldstein, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he found Schundler's attendance at the AMA meeting “troubling” because of unspecified statements challenging policies of the state of Israel made by group leaders. The newspaper quoted Schundler as saying that he would be caving in to anti-Muslim bigotry if he shunned AMA representatives. According to the Star-Ledger: “Schundler said 'most’ Muslims have anti-Israel sentiments and that if he ruled out talking to anyone with such views, he would isolate an entire community.” (The controversy was sparked by a recent article in the New Jersey Jewish News.)
In its statement, the AMPCC wrote: “We denounce the anti-Muslim McCarthyism now being used by the New Jersey Jewish News and the Anti-Defamation League in their apparent attempt to politically marginalize the Muslim community in New Jersey by equating legitimate opposition to Israeli brutality with anti-Semitism. In this and similar Islamophobic smear campaigns, ethnic and religious stereotypes, distorted information, partial citations, and complete fabrications are used as tactics of intimidation. Mr. Schundler deserves to be congratulated for his courageous stance in the face of such defamation.
“We believe this attempt at political exclusion is being prompted in part by the pro-Israel lobby's alarm at the increased presence of American Muslims in this country's political process. The ADL must end its campaign of vilification and apologize to the Muslim community in New Jersey.”
The attack on Schundler and on the AMA is similar to one that came during last year's New York Senate race between Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton. A Washington Post writer called those attacks “political pornography.” Lazio lost the election to Clinton.
“Our response, as always, should be increased political mobilization to support those who stand for justice,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
* The AMPCC is made up of: America Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Rep. Conyers calls for investigation of Israeli arms violations
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) is calling on President Bush to investigate whether Israel’s use of American-supplied weapons against Palestinians violates the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. That move is being hailed by CAIR as a first step in challenging Israel’s disregard for American laws and interests. “Ordinary Americans are beginning to realize that Israel receives billions of taxpayer dollars each year and then uses those funds in ways that harm our country’s reputation worldwide,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
In his letter to President Bush, Conyers wrote: (http://www.house.gov/conyers/pr060801.htm)“Every year, the United States supplies Israel with more than $1 billion in military aid. These sales are governed by the Arms Export Control Act, which requires that the equipment provided be used only under its terms…
“…Several years ago, the United States agreed to provide Israel with advanced air strike technology including American F-16s, under the Arms Export Control Act. This military equipment was provided with the stipulation that the equipment be used 'for legitimate self-defense’ (22 U.S.C. '2754). It appears on the face of numerous international reports that attacks on Palestinian Authority Headquarters and regional police stations fall outside these terms.
“In light of the continuing violence and its potential to destabilize the entire region, I request that the Executive Branch begin an investigation of Israel's use of American supplied military equipment in the series of recent retaliatory strikes now taking place and in other previous activities in which this equipment may have been used. Specifically, I am interested in hearing your assessment of the Israeli air strikes in the West Bank and whether or not the use of this equipment violated the Arms Export Control Act.”
FEDEX ordered to allow religious beards for employees
Alhamdulillah, CAIR today announced that international shipping giant Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) has been ordered to allow employees to wear beards for religious reasons.
CAIR says FedEx entered into a “consent decree” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordering the company to “clarify its current Personal Appearance Policy…to specifically provide that an employee with a sincerely held religious belief that prevents the employee from removing his beard, or requires a particular hairstyle, may request an exemption to the policy.” (Civil Action No. CV100-50 [S.D.Ga.])
The order originated with a complaint filed in March of last year by a Muslim FedEx employee in Georgia who said the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by prohibiting what he considered to be a religiously-mandated beard. CAIR was in contact with the EEOC and the worker during the complaint process.
FedEx also agreed to pay $70,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to the Muslim worker and to hold training sessions in for managers that will outline EEOC obligations “relating to preventing religious discrimination and retaliation.”
“We appreciate the EEOC’s efforts to support religious accommodation for all workers in the United States. It is unfortunate that it took a court order to provide this accommodation for FedEx employees,” said CAIR Legal Counsel S. Eric Shakir. Shakir added that CAIR has received a number of complaints against FedEx from Muslim workers. One such complaint is currently under discussion with the company.
Muslims win rights in MO, VA, NE, and NJ
Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), CAIR has recently helped several incidents of anti-Muslim bias in communities across America. If you or anyone you know experiences similar acts of discrimination, contact CAIR’s Civil Rights Department (202-488-8787).
Ford workers allowed to attend Jummah
A Muslim autoworker at a Ford Motor Company plant in suburban St. Louis, Mo., is now allowed to attend Jummah prayers after initially being suspended for leaving work for that purpose. Company officials agreed to give the employee a two-hour break to attend the prayers after he filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). CAIR worked with Ford officials to encourage the accommodation.
Staples employee permitted wear hijab
A Vienna, Va., Muslim employee has been reinstated and given back pay after being sent home from a Staples office supply store for refusing to remove her religiously-mandated headscarf. When CAIR informed Staples’ Framingham, Mass., corporate headquarters about the incident, company officials were sent to the store to apologize to the woman and to educate the manager about an employer’s legal obligation to allow religious dress.
Subway employee receives back pay
An Omaha, Neb., fast-food franchise has offered an area woman back pay after what store officials said was a misunderstanding over permission to wear a headscarf. The store’s owners also agreed to post notices in other stores they own, informing employees and managers that they must grant requests to wear religious clothing. CAIR congratulated store officials on their professionalism and sensitivity in resolving the issue.
Store owners apologize to Muslim customer
A Muslim woman in Atlantic City, N.J., received a written apology after she was turned away from a grocery store for wearing Islamic attire. The store’s owners also said the matter arose from a misunderstanding.
“Corporations need to make sure their managers are aware of the legal obligation to respect religious practices before an incident occurs, not after,” said Civil Rights Coordinator Ismail Royer. CAIR publishes a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to prevent these types of incidents from occurring.
New Jersey candidate stands by Muslims
CAIR is calling on Muslims in New Jersey and nationwide to express their support for a gubernatorial candidate’s refusal to disassociate himself from that state’s Muslim community, despite pressure to do so. (NOTE - Because CAIR is a tax-exempt organization, it cannot endorse specific political candidates.)
Since June, New Jersey Republican candidate Bret Schundler has come under fire for speaking at a meeting of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA). The New Jersey chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that it found Schundler's attendance at the AMA meeting “troubling” because of unspecified statements challenging policies of the state of Israel made by group leaders. The newspaper quoted Schundler as saying that he would be caving in to anti-Muslim bigotry if he shunned AMA representatives. At that time, national Muslim groups issued a joint statement condemning the ADL’s “anti-Muslim McCarthyism.”
The latest flare-up began about a week ago when the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim McGreevey, met with local Jewish leaders and gave them two newspaper articles about Schundler’s meeting with the AMA. McGreevey's spokesman said that the leaders were offered the clippings to show that Schundler was “outside the mainstream.” The McGreevey campaign backed up its charges against the AMA by distributing materials produced by Steven Emerson, an infamous Muslim-basher who accused Muslims of perpetrating the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The New Jersey chapter of the ADL once again supported criticism of the AMA.
In response to McGreevey’s accusations, Schundler said his opponent was attempting to divide voters and said one of his own goals was to meet with all religious and ethnic groups. The New York Times quoted Schundler as saying he “will not apologize for holding a dialogue with its [AMA] members to discuss his vision for New Jersey's future.”
Schundler accused McGreevey of being hypocritical and revealed that his opponent spoke at a leadership conference of the AMA’s New Jersey chapter. McGreevey also sponsored a resolution in the New Jersey State Legislature praising the AMA for its efforts to educate Muslim Americans about the American political process.
“By using tactics of political exclusion, the pro-Israel lobby is demonstrating its alarm at the increased presence of Muslims in America’s political process. These campaigns of vilification must end,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
The attack on Schundler and on the AMA is similar to one (also involving Steven Emerson) that came during last year's New York Senate race between Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton. A Washington Post writer called those attacks “political pornography.” Lazio lost the election to Clinton.