(COLUMBUS, OH, 7/11/06) - Representatives of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) met recently with officials of that state’s Department of Homeland Security (OHS) and the Ohio Department of Public Safety to discuss the civil rights ramifications of certain OHS programs.
The meeting dealt with concerns over OHS programs such as “See Something, Say Something,” the School Bus Watch program, as well as the Terrorism Awareness and Prevention (TAP) Program. CAIR raised concerns that the programs may result in profiling and surveillance of ordinary law-abiding citizens.
The “See Something, Say Something” program is a statewide initiative that encourages people to report “suspicious behavior and people” to a terrorism intelligence tip line that is monitored by a consortium of public officials, who transmit the “tips” to law enforcement authorities. Questions have been raised about the integrity and potential misuse of databases generated by such tip lines.
CAIR and other civil liberties groups have also raised concerns that such programs resemble the failed Department of Justice Program Operation TIPS that was derailed by bi-partisan leaders in Congress in 2002 due to potential civil rights abuses.
“Muslim Americans, like all Americans, wish to ensure the safety and security of our nation,” said CAIR-Ohio President Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin. “But it is also important for homeland security programs to include oversight so that innocent people are not targeted merely because of their race, ethnicity or religion.”
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VIDEO SHOWS BULLET-RIDDLED QURAN THROWN AT TENN. MOSQUE
CAIR calls on DOJ to probe incident as violation of civil rights
(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/10/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Justice Department to investigate an incident in Tennessee in which a bullet-riddled Quran was thrown at the entrance of a mosque as a possible violation of civil rights.
CAIR said the perpetrators of the incident videotaped their actions and then posted the video online. (The video was placed online June 17, 2006, but the actual incident may have taken place last summer.) The two men are first shown shooting a copy of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, with a “Colt M-16.” (An M-16 is a fully-automatic military weapon that is not legal for personal use.) They then take the Quran to a mosque and throw it at the entrance while shouting what sounds like “Jesus rocks.”
SEE: Kill the Koran
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The Imam, or prayer leader, of the Islamic Center of Chattanooga said the minister of a nearby church told him he saw the men videotaping the mosque, “ran them off” and called local police.
The author of the www.myspace.com/mully88 site identifies himself as “mully88” and claims to live in Chattanooga, Tenn. “White Power” theme music plays on the site and the author’s profile lists as heroes “anybody that has killed a muslim or at least tried to kill a muslim.” The site also contains slurs targeting Hispanics and African-Americans.
“By throwing the bullet-riddled Quran at the mosque, we believe the perpetrators went beyond the limits of free speech by taking part in an overt act of religious intimidation,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar.
Iftikhar compared the men’s actions to those who burn crosses on the lawns of African-Americans. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that states can punish those who burn crosses with the intention to intimidate.
In addition, Iftikhar said the men’s actions may have violated provisions of federal civil rights statutes. He cited Title 18, United States Code, Section 241, “Conspiracy Against Civil Rights,” which makes it a crime to “conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States.”
On Friday, CAIR called on local and national law enforcement authorities to investigate vandalism at an Indiana mosque as a possible hate crime. The vandals shot holes in the copper dome of the mosque, smashed a number of windows and scratched “KKK” on the center’s sign.
There have been a number of similar incidents targeting the American Muslim community in recent months.
Just this week, a man was charged for throwing a pig's head into a mosque in Maine during evening prayers. Media reports indicate that investigators in Ohio are looking into the possibility that an arson fire and explosion at a business owned by a family of Middle East heritage was a hate crime. Last month, a hate message attacking the Prophet Muhammad and claiming “Muslims Worship Satan” was left near an Arizona mosque. In April, shots were fired into a Maryland mosque.
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 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.
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CAIR-NY: BILL PREVENTS EXAMS ON RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
(NEW YORK, NY, 7/10/06) - The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed passage of a bill in the New York State Legislature that prevents scheduling statewide school exams on religious holidays.
CAIR-NY said the legislation is a victory for religious freedom and civil rights in New York, particularly for the Muslim community. Earlier this year, Muslim students in New York were not able to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, one of two main Islamic holidays, due to state mandated exams which coincided with the event.
Following that incident, CAIR-NY, the New York City Human Rights Commission and other advocacy groups began an initiative to ensure religious freedoms were upheld in New York public schools.
"All students should to be able to observe their religion without worrying about jeopardizing their education," said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Nadia Mohammad. "The passing of this bill is a positive first step toward gaining recognition of Islamic holidays in New York public schools."
Originally drafted by State Senator John D. Sabini (D/WFP-Jackson Heights), the bill was to block testing during the Muslim holidays of Eid-ul-Adha and Eid-ul-Fitr. The bill was later amended to include all religious holidays and passed unanimously in both the Senate and the Assembly.
The legislation was carried in the State Assembly by Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry (D-Corona) and co-sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan (D-Ridgewood). It is currently awaiting the signature of Governor George E. Pataki.
CAIR-NY will be continuing its dialogue with state legislators and with New York City Mayor's office in its effort to address accommodations for religious holidays in public schools.
(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/7/06) - On Thursday evening, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) hosted a delegation of Nigerian Muslims at the group’s Capitol Hill headquarters. The delegation was headed by Nigerian presidential candidate Alhaji Ahmad Sani (Yariman Bakura), who is executive governor of that nation’s Zamfara State.
During the event, leaders and members of the Washington-area Muslim community had an opportunity to ask questions about the current social, religious and political conditions in Nigeria.