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Report: Western Union blocks funds over name 'Muhammad'

Report: Western Union blocks funds over name 'Muhammad'

A national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on Western Union to clarify its policy on racial and religious profiling after receiving a report that the money transfer service demands to know the national origin of any customer named "Muhammad."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said a Muslim by that name recently attempted to send $80 to relatives in Connecticut from a Western Union site in Brooklyn, N.Y. After returning home, the African-American customer says he received a call from Western Union's main office demanding that, because of his name, he must provide photo identification and state his country of birth, otherwise the funds would not be delivered. When the customer protested that policy and requested a refund, he was told that the funds would not be returned unless he met the company's demands.

"Western Union must clarify whether this incident truly reflects company policy or is merely the product of individual prejudice and stereotyping. To single out customers transferring funds within the United States based solely on a religiously-specific name, and then to demand that they reveal their national origin, violates basic principles of equality that all Americans hold dear," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper in a letter faxed to Western Union President Michael Yerington.

A year ago, Western Union had to apologize for freezing the funds of a Muslim family apparently based on religious and ethnic profiling. In that incident, an African-American Muslim was informed that the money his family sent him from Virginia was not in Western Union records. When his mother called to see what had happened to the funds she transferred, she discovered that the money was frozen until her son provided further documentation of his American citizenship.

There an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide.

ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE.)

Contact Western Union to ask that the company clarify its policy on racial and religious profiling.

CONTACT:

Mr. Michael C. Yerington
President
Western Union North America
12500 East Belford Avenue
Englewood, CO 80112

FAX: 720-332-0614
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Republican group asked to remove anti-Islam link from website

Republican group asked to remove anti-Islam link from website

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group tonight called on a Republican group in North Carolina to remove a link to anti-Islam rhetoric from its website and apologize to Muslims in that state.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the website of the Greensboro-based Guilford County Republican Party has a link to a site called "Islam Exposed" that states: "This website was designed with 1 (sic) objective in mind - to expose one of the greatest evils on our planet - Islam. We have the evidence and materials to prove that this false religion is nothing more than a barbaric occult (sic) invented by savages for savages."

SEE: http://www.guilfordgop.org/. Scroll halfway down the page on the left side.

The party maintains the link to the anti-Islam site despite past objections from concerned American Muslims. The GOP website itself offers a disclaimer and states: "We have received a few emails from Muslims who indicate that this material misrepresents their religion."

"It is unconscionable that a political party claiming to represent all Americans would associate itself with a site that expresses open hatred for the faith of millions of fellow citizens. The Guilford County Republican Party should remove this defamatory link and apologize to the Muslim community of North Carolina," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.

Ahmad compared the controversy over the GOP link to that of Senator Trent Lott (R-MI), who was recently forced to resign from his post as Senate Majority Leader over allegations that he was insensitive to the issue of racism in America. He added that recent attacks on Islam have come almost exclusively from the right-wing of the American political spectrum.

ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE. Hostile comments can and will be used to further defame Islam and Muslims.)

Contact the Guilford County Republican Party to ask that they take down the defamatory link and apologize to Muslims.

Chairman Marcus Kindley
Guilford County Republican Party
P.O. Box 29136
Greensboro, N.C. 27249-9136

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Civil liberties groups file lawsuit over mass INS arrests

Civil liberties groups file lawsuit over mass INS arrests

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Alliance of Iranian Americans (AIA), Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR), and the National Council of Pakistani Americans (NCPA) today announced the filing a class action lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Click here to download a copy of the filing. (PDF format)

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, asserts that the INS unlawfully arrested large numbers of people, December 16th through December 18th in Los Angeles as they came forward to voluntarily comply with new "special registration" requirements. Four of the hundreds of individuals arrested as a result of the new INS policy are co-plaintiffs, along with two others who are afraid to register due to the illegal arrests.

The lawsuit takes issue with four aspects of the recent arrests and seeks an immediate injunction to avoid similar detentions during upcoming registrations scheduled for January 10, 2003 (citizens of 13 countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) and February 21, 2003 (citizens of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia):

  1. The arrests were illegal because the government did not obtain the necessary arrest warrants;
  2. It is unlawful and unjust to arrest and deport people who are eligible to apply to legalize their status based on family relationships or their employment;
  3. Some detainees with avenues available to legalize their status are being detained without bail or bail hearings;
  4. The fear of mass illegal arrests created by these detentions will obviously inhibit compliance by people facing similar registration deadlines in the near future.
The groups are seeking:
  1. An injunction ordering the government not arrest any additional persons in the "special registration" process without appropriate arrest warrants as required by existing federal laws;
  2. An injunction preventing the deportation of detainees who have avenues available to legalize their status; and
  3. An injunction requiring that the INS not hold detainees without bond or bond hearings if the detainee has available a mechanism to legalize their status.
Although the special registration policy has been presented as a national security measure designed to counter potential terrorist threats, the INS has been using the registration process to not only enforce immigration law but to arrest and deport people who have complied with the law at every stage and are on the road to becoming permanent residents.

The effort to deport law-abiding people who could just as easily be allowed to continue the immigration process seriously undermines prospects for future compliance and constitutes an absurd waste of resources. The mass arrests have further eroded confidence in the fairness of the INS and immigration system among Arab and Muslim communities.

Dec. 16 was the first in a series of deadlines for special registration, which are set to culminate in 2004 with the registration of all foreign nationals in the United States. The mass arrests which took place in Los Angeles last week, and the lawsuit filed today, have profound significance for the future of the registration process in many immigrant communities, and immigrants' rights in general.

The lead attorneys in the case are Peter A. Schey and Carlos R. Holguin of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. Other co-counsel include several attorneys in the ADC Legal Department, Babak Sotoodeh of AIA, Khurrum Wahid of CAIR, Joannie Chang of the Asian Law Caucus, and several California law firms.

 

Syndicated cartoon portrays Muhammad as terrorist

Syndicated cartoon portrays Muhammad as terrorist

A national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today expressed outrage at a Doug Marlette syndicated editorial cartoon, headlined "What Would Mohammed Drive?" showing the Prophet Muhammad driving a nuclear bomb-laden truck similar to that used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for an apology from Marlette's syndicator, Tribune Media Services, and from his employer, the Tallahassee Democrat.

The cartoon is apparently a play on a recent light-hearted public debate over what kind of car Jesus would drive. Its publication comes following worldwide outrage over a similar accusation of terrorism against Muhammad by American evangelist Jerry Falwell.

"Defamatory attacks on Islam and on the Prophet Muhammad by media outlets or religious leaders only serve to harm our nation's image worldwide and divide America along religious lines. Unfortunately, it now seems to be 'open season' on Islam in certain religious and political circles," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad also objected to what he termed a "racist and stereotypical" portrayal of "Muhammad." (Muslims object to any visual representations of the Prophet.)

"By learning more about the Prophet Muhammad, people of conscience will discover that he was a prime example of tolerance and mercy," said Awad. He suggested viewing the documentary, "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet," aired recently on PBS.

The cartoon is the latest in a series of negative religious portrayals addressed by CAIR. The group recently protested the depiction of a Jesus-like figure in a TV Guide Channel commercial promoting professional wrestling. After being contacted by many concerned Muslims, the network cancelled the commercial. (Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet of God.)

Hundreds of Muslims also contacted the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper to protest another editorial cartoon that linked Islam with intolerance and violence. The newspaper later issued a clarification of the cartoonist's intent.

ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE. Hostile comments will only serve to further harm the image of Islam and Muslims.)

Contact the Tallahassee Democrat to request an apology for their defamatory attack on the Prophet Muhammad.

Mary Ann Lindley
Editorial Page Editor
Tallahassee Democrat
277 N. Magnolia Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32301

TEL: (850) 599-2100

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