Secretary of State Colin L. Powell hosted a Ramadan "Iftar" dinner this evening for representatives of the American Muslim community. Dinner attendees included several Muslim fire department and police personnel who took part in the relief efforts following the recent terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
(Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. An Iftar is the meal that comes after the sunset prayer. Dinner attendees first broke their fast with traditional dates and water before offering their prayer.)
Powell told the gathering that there still remains "much ignorance and confusion" about Islam. He encouraged American Muslims to reach out and educate others about their faith. Secretary Powell also noted that, as a member of a minority community, he had to deal with the same kind of profiling that many Muslims and Arab-Americans have experienced since September 11. SEE: http://www.state.gov/secretary/
"Secretary Powell is to be congratulated for his efforts to reach out to American Muslims. Muslims have unique perspectives on many important policy issues that need to be considered as the war on terrorism goes forward," said Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR) Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who attended tonight's dinner. Hooper presented Powell with Ramadan greeting cards made by local Muslim students. The cards wished him a happy Ramadan and asked that America help feed the hungry in this country and in Afghanistan.
"American Muslims can play a valuable role in the fight against terror by serving as a bridge of understanding to the Islamic world. Events like these offer a good opportunity to let policy-makers get to know Muslim leaders on a personal level," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. (To download CAIR's "Ramadan Media Kit," go to http://www.cair-net.org/ramadan2001. The kit includes "Ramadan Facts," "Ramadan Q&A" and "Q&A About Islam and American Muslims.")
Racial profiling has finally hit home for me. One of my closest friends from college, Usmaan Ahmad, a graduate of Washington University and a student at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University, was escorted off of an American Airlines plane because of his appearance (Nov. 24 news article).
It enrages and saddens me that our country, a nation founded on the bedrock of civil liberties and freedoms, is now succumbing to the greatest form of terrorism, which is ignorance. How are we to combat terrorism at its root if we perform acts of terror on our peaceful citizens?
What did Usmaan do aside from being Muslim? Did he not pass through the security checkpoint? Were his bags not conforming to FAA standards?
Usmaan attends the best diplomacy school that our nation has to offer. For years, he has been directly involved in human rights struggles in East Timor, Tibet and Kashmir -- regions that we in our charmed lives fail to consider.
"Safety concerns" were the rationale for throwing him off the flight. Even though he may have been embarrassed by this, as his friend and brother, I promise you that he will continue to struggle for the betterment of humankind and that the flight attendant who threw him off will, one day, be ashamed of her blatantly racist, ignorant and un-American gestures.
Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar
Midwest Communications Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Results of an independent probe into allegations that an Orange Coast College instructor vilified his Muslim students are expected to be released this week, with findings certain to draw intense scrutiny nationwide from Islamic groups and watchdogs for academic freedom.
The Orange County Department of Education has been conducting the investigation…
One national Islamic organization say Hearlson's discussion on terrorism and Islam crossed the line of scholarship into personal attack and discriminatory speech. They want to see him disciplined, if not fired,
saying he accused the students of being "terrorists," "Nazis" and "murderers."
"We view this as an important case," said Ra'id Faraj, a spokesman for the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We definitely don't want a situation where someone feels uncomfortable in a learning institution because their religion is mocked."
C.C. Abdelmuti, a 20-year-old Muslim in the class, said Hearlson directed all his comments to the four Muslims who sat near the back of the auditorium.
"He was talking to us, not to the class," she said. "Maybe he was saying [Muslims in general], but he was talking to us. I was in shock…"