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Asylum detention policy needs clarification say Muslims

Asylum detention policy needs clarification say Muslims

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked the Department of Homeland Security to clarify a government policy revealed this morning that would seem to call for the indefinite detention of legal asylum seekers in the United States.

The policy is part of "Liberty Shield," a national plan announced by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and designed to "increase protections for America's citizens and infrastructure." The part of Liberty Shield relating to asylum seekers states:

"Asylum applicants from nations where al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda sympathizers, and other terrorist groups are known to have operated will be detained for the duration of their processing period. This reasonable and prudent temporary action allows authorities to maintain contact with asylum seekers while we determine the validity of their claim. DHS and the Department of State will coordinate exceptions to this policy."

SEE: http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/press_release/press_release_0115.xml

"This policy announcement raises several important legal and moral questions. Will all asylum seekers who are in this country legally now be detained indefinitely? Will their families, including children, be detained as well? Will only Muslim and Arab asylum seekers be detained? If this policy only applies to new asylum applicants, will it result in the elimination of asylum requests from Muslim countries? These are questions that must be answered before the policy can be implemented without violating long-standing American values of equal justice and openness to those fleeing oppression," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad said the policy is eerily similar to Australia's "Pacific Solution" program, which relegated seaborne asylum seekers to impoverished Pacific islands while their claims were processed. That policy has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

 

Muslim university students threatened in California

Muslim university students threatened in California

The Northern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NCA) said today it met Friday with the FBI about threats made against Muslim students at San Jose State University (SJSU). The threats took the form of expletive-laden graffiti scrawled at locations around the campus. One threat stated: "Muslims will be shot on San Jose State University campus on March 10, 2003."

After being informed of the threatening graffiti by the campus Muslim Students Association, CAIR-NCA Executive Director Helal Omeira called for a meeting with SJSU police, the local FBI Hate Crimes Unit, the San Jose Police Department, and the university's Office of the President to address the security concerns of Muslim students. Participants in that meeting mapped out a plan to deal with the threats.

"It is encouraging to see that law enforcement authorities are taking these threats very seriously and are doing all they can to ensure the safety of San Jose State University students. We appreciate the quick response and the professional manner in which the Muslim community's concerns were addressed," said CAIR-NCA President Fouad Khatib.

In a message sent to Muslim students on campus, SJSU President Robert L. Caret stated in part: "It appears that all the messages were the work of one individual. The San Jose State University Police Department is working with other local and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate these incidents. If you see any similar messages, please call the San Jose State University Police Department 408-924-2222 immediately."

The threats are just one of a series of anti-Muslim incidents across the country reported to CAIR in the last few weeks. Physical assaults against Muslims have been reported in Northern California, Southern California, Georgia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. One incident in Yorba Linda, Calif., left a Muslim teenager badly beaten by a group that allegedly included white supremacists.

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 15 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

 

GOP asked to condemn walkout during Muslim prayer

GOP asked to condemn walkout during Muslim prayer

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on state and national Republican leaders to condemn a walkout by two members of that party during a Muslim prayer opening Monday's session of the Washington State House of Representatives.

The Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said Republicans Louis McMahan and Cary Condotta went to the back of the chamber during the invocation by Imam Mohamad Joban of the Islamic Center of Olympia. Condotta said he "wasn't particularly interested" in the prayer. McMahan said she did not remain in the chamber because: "It's an issue of patriotism...The Islamic religion is so…part and parcel with the attack on America. I just didn't want to be there, be a part of that…My god is not Mohammed."

SEE: 2 LAWMAKERS SPURN MUSLIM'S PRAYER

"How many times must American Muslims ask Republican leaders to repudiate Islamophobic hate within their own ranks? Americans must not allow the actions of a few, whatever their positions of authority, to divide our nation along religious and ethnic lines. Such divisive actions by elected leaders can only serve to increase discrimination against ordinary American Muslims and harm our nation's image and interests worldwide," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad urged state and national Republican leaders to repudiate the lawmakers' walkout and to apologize to Washington's Muslim community.

In his prayer, Imam Joban stated: "We open this session of the House of Representatives in the name of Allah, the one God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of Jesus, and God of Mohammed, peace be upon them all…We ask Allah or God to bless the state of Washington so it may continue to prosper and become a symbol of peace and tranquility for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We pray that Allah may guide this House in making good decisions for the people of Washington…At this time, we also pray that America may succeed in the war against terrorism. We pray to God that the war may end with world peace and tranquility."

In response to the walkout, Imam Joban said: "As a Muslim we have to respect what people believe and…we have to forgive something because of ignorance The Holy Quran says that (one should) always respond to bad action with good and those who used to be enemies become friends."

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 15 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

 

U.S. Muslims say war on Iraq not justified

U.S. Muslims say war on Iraq not justified

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today re-affirmed its long-standing position that an attack on Iraq by the United States is not justified and that United Nations weapons inspectors should be given sufficient time to complete their task.

The statement by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

"Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitute a serious threat to humanity. The possible use of such weapons by Iraq, North Korea, Israel, and other nations is of great concern to all Americans. But the elimination of banned weapons possibly held by Iraq should be dealt with through the United Nations, not through precipitous unilateral action by the United States.

"An American attack on Iraq would almost certainly lead to the death of many innocent civilians, further destabilize an already unstable region, harm international efforts to combat terrorism, drain much-needed financial resources from our struggling economy, and set a dangerous precedent for unilateral intervention in the affairs of other nations. Any American invasion and occupation of Iraq will fuel anti-American sentiment and would thereby harm our nation's image and interests in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world.

"Instead of pursuing a costly and globally unpopular interventionist policy that will likely result in many unintended consequences, the United States should agree to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to continue their work as long as those inspectors believe the effort to eliminate banned weapons is moving forward."

 

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