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Secret Service bars Muslim guard from DC hotel floor

Secret Service bars Muslim guard from DC hotel floor

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on the Secret Service to explain why a Muslim security officer at a Washington, D.C., hotel was denied access to a floor in the building because of his faith and ethnicity.

The Muslim guard at The Madison hotel, a native of Ethiopia and a U.S. citizen, told the Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that his supervisor said he could not go to a floor occupied last month by a visiting Israeli official because "you are Muslim and Arab."

According to the guard and a top hotel official, that order came directly from the Secret Service, the agency charged with guarding the Israeli guest. The hotel's general manager cited the "Patriot clause," an apparent reference to the USA Patriot Act, as justification for the agency's request. Another Muslim employee, a housekeeper, allegedly told the Muslim guard that she too was barred from the floor based on the same Secret Service directive.

"We are concerned that an American citizen may have been singled out for discriminatory treatment based solely on his religion and ethnicity," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad called for an investigation and an apology to the Muslim employees.

Last year, the Secret Service took responsibility for sending an Arab-American waiter home from his job at a Baltimore hotel before a presidential fundraiser. The waiter said he was sent home by a manager who asked him just one question: "Is your name Mohamad?"

Awad noted that the alleged discrimination by the Secret Service would contradict recent government actions in defense of American Muslims and their religious rights. Just this week, the Justice Department was allowed to join a lawsuit supporting a Muslim girl in Oklahoma suspended for wearing an Islamic head scarf to school.

In today's Oklahoman newspaper, CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper praised the Justice Department for its support of religious accommodation. "The government is sending a message that it will defend its Muslim citizens," said Hooper.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.

 

Muslim Chaplain cleared of all charges

Muslim Chaplain cleared of all charges

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tonight welcomed a decision by the U.S. military to dismiss the convictions against a Muslim Army chaplain who was initially suspected of espionage at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

The decision by Army Gen. James Hill clears the record of Capt. James Yee, who was found guilty in March of noncriminal charges of committing adultery and storing pornography on a government computer. Yee was arrested on suspicion of espionage in September and was held in solitary confinement for 76 days. The Army later dismissed all criminal charges.

See: Yee Cleared On Appeal"

"We welcome what amounts to total vindication for a man who only wished to serve his country by ministering to military personnel of all faiths," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Following the announcement of the dismissal of his convictions, Yee told CAIR: "I want to thank the many Americans and those around the world who have given me an enormous outpouring of support through the entirety of this ordeal and who continue to support the cause of justice and freedom."

CAIR's Seattle office undertook a number of efforts on Yee's behalf during his eight-month ordeal.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.

 

Florida Muslim Child Assaulted in School

Florida Muslim Child Assaulted in School

The Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today called on law enforcement authorities to investigate an assault on a Muslim child at a school in that state as a hate crime.

The 12-year-old victim, a student at a middle school in Boyton Beach who wears an Islamic head scarf, says she was assaulted in the hallway of her school last week by four teenage boys who hit her across the face with a leather belt, injuring her lip.

During the assault, the boys allegedly called the Muslim child "Osama" and used derogative remarks about her head scarf and about her ethnic background. (The child is of Pakistani heritage.) The perpetrators also threatened further attacks if the victim notified school authorities.

The same student told CAIR-FL that she was the target of several similar but less violent incidents of harassment in the recent past. She says school officials failed to take corrective action following those incidents.

"We call on our elected leaders and law enforcement authorities to once again send a message that attacks against American Muslims, particularly children, will not be condoned and that perpetrators of such attacks will be punished to the full extent of the law," said CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali.

Last week, a Muslim woman was similarly attacked in Tampa. The victim, who also wears an Islamic head scarf, says she was assaulted by three people who told her to "get out of (America)" and said her religion is "hateful and violent." The assailants allegedly blamed the woman for the recent Madrid train bombings.

According to CAIR's national office, the Florida assault is part of a recent rise in anti-Muslim incidents. In Texas, a suspect was arrested last Friday following four arson attacks on Muslim-operated businesses. Last month, vandals wrote "sand n**gers" and "America rocks b*tch" on the interior walls of the Islamic Center of the South Plains in Lubbock, Texas. In Maryland, the wife of the Imam, or spiritual leader, of an Annapolis mosque was assaulted.

CAIR-FL officials say Florida Muslims have witnessed an alarming rise of bias-related incidents in recent years. In 2001, a Tallahassee man drove his truck into a local mosque. In 2002, a Pinellas county man was arrested for plotting to attack some 50 Islamic institutions in Florida.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.

 

CAIR calls for release of Iraq hostages, ceasefire

CAIR calls for release of Iraq hostages, ceasefire

The ongoing violence in Iraq is creating a humanitarian crisis that not only causes immense suffering among the civilian population, but also negatively impacts America's image and interests throughout the Middle East.

Hundreds of innocent Iraqis have been killed and a number of hostages have been taken by insurgents. Today, the director of the main hospital in Fallujah said at least 450 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded in this week's fighting. Three Japanese hostages are being threatened with death.

In an incident that is still subject to conflicting claims, American forces bombed a Fallujah mosque earlier this week, causing outrage in the Muslim world.

Even members of Iraq's American-selected Governing Council are calling for an end to operations in Fallujah. Adnan Pachachi, a senior member of the Council, called the American actions there a "form of mass punishment." Another Council member threatened to resign in protest.

We therefore call for:

"The immediate and safe release of all hostages held by Iraqi insurgents.

"A ceasefire by all parties in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities to allow entry of humanitarian supplies, medical treatment for the injured and proper burial of the dead.

"A complete investigation into the bombing of the Fallujah mosque.

"A United Nations Security Council discussion of the crisis in Iraq.

"Complete reappraisal of America's deteriorating policy toward Iraq.

America's Muslim community stands ready to do whatever it can to help bring stability, freedom and true independence to the people of Iraq."

 

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