Arizona FBI asked to investigate anti-Muslim threat
The Arizona office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today asked that state's office of the FBI to investigate an Internet threat against Muslims.
The threat was received December 28, 2002, in an e-mail message to the Washington, D.C., office of the Islamic civil rights and advocacy group. In that e-mail, the person who provided her full name and may live in Arizona wrote: (A person with the same name as the author of the threat maintains a personal web page on the Internet.)
"You [Muslims] just got off the friggin boat and you already are the most hated immigrants of all time----your ties to home are still thousands of times stronger then any ties you will ever have to REAL Americans! Like I said---you are unwanted SCUM---If you had any honor at all--you'd leave!!!!!!! I still hate all Muslims and will hurt you in some way!" In an earlier message, the same person wrote: "You are a curse on the USA! LEAVE!!! You dont even have enough honor to leave a country that you are destroying!! I HATE ALL Muslims!!"
CAIR-AZ sent the threat to the Phoenix office of the FBI requesting an investigation. To date, and despite several follow-up messages, the group has only received an acknowledgement of its initial report.
"We hope threats against Muslims will be taken as seriously as threats against any other Americans," said CAIR-AZ Executive Director Deedra Abboud.
National Muslim group opens new office in Texas
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that it has opened a new office in Houston, Texas. CAIR-Houston joins 15 other offices the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group has nationwide and in Canada.
The new CAIR-Houston office will assist the local Muslim community in dealing with issues related to political participation, civil rights and interfaith dialogue. Upcoming events planned by the office include a public forum on new INS registration requirements for Muslim visa-holders and a voter registration drive at local mosques. There are existing CAIR offices in Austin and Dallas/Fort-Worth.
(The CAIR-Houston INS forum will take place February 11 at the University of Houston.)
"We will work to address the needs of a growing Muslim population and will promote tolerance and religious diversity in our community," said CAIR-Houston President Tarik Hussein. Hussein said a recent CAIR-Houston fundraising event was sold out.
"The expansion of CAIR nationwide reflects a growing awareness in the American Muslim community that civil liberties and religious freedom can only be maintained through active social and political participation at the local level," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. Ahmad added that CAIR plans to open four more offices around the country over the next few months.
There are several hundred thousand Muslims in Texas, seven million in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world. For background on the American Muslim community, see The Mosque in America: A National Portrait.
Travel advisory issued for U.S. Muslims
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today issued a travel advisory for American Muslims who may face harassment or denial of entry when returning to the United States from travel abroad.
The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group issued that advisory following an incident in which a Chicago-area Muslim activist was prevented from returning to this country after visiting his family in Jordan. Sabri Samirah, president of the United Muslim Americans Association in Palos Hills, says he was barred from returning to Chicago last weekend when Irish officials cited an INS fax revoking his permission to leave the country. Samirah says he had been assured of his right to return by the INS.
SEE: U.S. Bars Leader of Chicago Muslim Group
In a similar incident, the Hartford Courant reported yesterday that an Iranian graduate student at a university in Connecticut has been stranded in Canada for months after he traveled there to visit relatives.
SEE: UConn Student Picked the Wrong Time to Visit Relatives
The advisory also comes at a time when thousands of American Muslims are traveling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrims will return in the second half of February, and may face similar treatment by immigration authorities. CAIR officials say they have received a number of complaints of ill-treatment of Muslims and Arabs entering this country following the implementation of the INS' so-called "special registration" program that targets visitors from Islamic countries.
The group's travel advisory reads in part: "The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reminds Muslims living in the United States who are not citizens or do not have permanent resident status that they are at risk of harsh and humiliating treatment by immigration authorities when returning to America from travel abroad. Muslim travelers are also at risk of being barred from entering the United States based on allegations or suspicions that need not be revealed by law enforcement authorities.
"It is recommended that all non-emergency travel abroad be postponed. Anyone who must travel, and experiences what they believe to be harsh or discriminatory treatment by INS officials, should file an incident report with CAIR. Report forms are available for download at: http://www.cair-net.org/ireport/Incident_Report.doc, or by calling 202-488-8787. Pilgrims returning from Hajj are advised to inform friends and relatives of their travel itinerary so that inquiries can be made if an incident occurs on the return leg of the journey."
FBI urged to rescind Mosque tally policy
A Prominent national civil rights and advocacy group is calling on the Department of Justice to rescind a new policy directive that would have FBI field offices count local mosques to determine goals for counter terrorism investigations and secret wiretaps. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made that demand following the publication of an article in Newsweek magazine detailing the policy instituted by FBI Director Robert Mueller earlier this month.
According to Newsweek, FBI field offices nationwide are to develop demographic profiles of their regions, including the number of local mosques. The profiles will then be used to set specific numerical goals for investigations and wiretaps in each area. If field offices do not meet their goals, they may be subjected to special reviews by teams from FBI headquarters.
"This policy makes about as much sense as counting Catholic churches in America in order to initiate an investigation of the Mafia, or as claiming the number of African Methodist Episcopal churches in a given area is indicative of the level of criminal activity. It is religious profiling of the worst kind and must be rescinded if America is to maintain respect for religious freedom and for equal justice under the law," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
He said that CAIR representatives have had a number of meetings with FBI officials to discuss issues related to anti-Muslim bias and that his group has encouraged American Muslims to do whatever they can to defend the United States against terrorism.
Awad added that the mosque-counting policy comes in the midst of an INS registration program under which hundreds of American Muslims have been detained, and sometimes deported. Muslim community leaders and immigration-rights activists say that program is also based on religious and ethnic profiling, a law enforcement tactic that is being heavily promoted by right-wing pundits.
Just this past week, a right-wing pro-Israel commentator who many American Muslims regard as the nation's leading Islamophobe, suggested that all Muslims in this country be placed under surveillance.
Daniel Pipes wrote in the Jerusalem Post: "Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military, and the diplomatic corps need to be watched for connections to terrorism, as do Muslim chaplains in prisons and the armed forces. Muslim visitors and immigrants must undergo additional background checks. Mosques require a scrutiny beyond that applied to churches, synagogues and temples."