Muslims pleased by arrests, caution against speculation
A national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today congratulated law enforcement officials for the arrest of two suspects in the series of sniper attacks in the Washington, DC, area, and at the same time cautioned against speculation and stereotyping based on the name of one suspect.
"Along with all Americans, Muslims hope today's arrests will bring an end to this tragic episode. The swift apprehension of the suspects can only be attributed to effective law enforcement by a number of local, state and national agencies. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in these senseless attacks," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"We are concerned that because a suspect in this case has the last name of 'Muhammad,' American Muslims will now face scapegoating and bias. Police reports indicate the suspects acted alone, based on their own motivations. There is no indication that this case is related to Islam or Muslims. We therefore ask journalists and media commentators to avoid speculation based on stereotyping or prejudice. The American Muslim community should not be held accountable for the alleged criminal actions of what appear to be troubled and deranged individuals," said Awad.
He urged American Muslims to go about their normal routines, but with added caution.
Last week, CAIR asked members of the American Muslim community to help the survivors of the sniper attacks and the families of those killed by donating to a fund set up for that purpose.
Hawaii Mosque targeted by hate literature
The FBI is investigating hate literature distributed at an Islamic center in Hawaii warning that Muslims in that state will be watched by "patriotic residents." Officials with the Muslim Association of Hawaii in Honolulu report that hundreds of small leaflets, headlined "ATTENTION RAG HEADS," were thrown into the fenced yard of the mosque sometime after 8 a.m. today.
The incident prompted a national Islamic civil rights group to call for increased police protection in the area of the mosque.
The leaflets distributed at the center read in part: "During the war on terrorism, the vigilant, patriotic residents of Hawaii will be keeping an eye on our Muslim 'friends'…[vulgar references deleted.]…every curry fundraiser will be checked to ensure that funds are not being funneled to support terrorist groups. Anyone found in violation will be strapped with explosives and shipped to Iraq. MAY GOD (NOT ALAH) BLESS AMERICA!! (The word "Allah" was misspelled in the original leaflet.)
"We believe the small minority of bigots in our society are being encouraged to take such actions by the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from right-wing and evangelical leaders. Purveyors of hate believe they can act with impunity because of the silence of elected officials on the issue of Islamophobia," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group. He called on local law enforcement authorities to step up security in the vicinity of the Honolulu mosque and asked local religious and political leaders to support the Muslim community.
As evidence of the rise in anti-Islamic hate speech, Awad cited attacks on Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. A coalition of Muslim groups recently asked President Bush to repudiate those attacks. The president has not yet responded to that appeal.
In just the last two months, there was a shooting attack on an Ohio mosque, vandalism at Islamic centers in Virginia and Idaho, and the revelation of a detailed plan to attack some 50 Florida mosques and schools. Other American mosques and Islamic institutions have received threatening messages.
CAIR is seeking to counter anti-Muslim hate in American society with its Library Project, a campaign to encourage Muslim individuals and groups to sponsor 18-item "library packages" of accurate and objective books, videos and audio cassettes about Islam and Muslims for distribution to as many as 16,000 public libraries nationwide. (SEE: www.libraryproject.org) There are an estimated 3,000 Muslims in Hawaii and some seven million in the United States.
Muslims urged to donate for D.C. sniper victims
A national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today asked members of the American Muslim community to help those impacted by recent sniper attacks in and around the nation's capital by donating to a fund set up for that purpose.
FOR BACKGROUND, SEE: "Fatal Shooting Of FBI Analyst Tied to Others"
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urged Muslims to send donations to the National Capital Area Healing Fund, established by United Way of the National Capital Area in partnership with SunTrust Bank. The fund is designed to "support the unmet immediate and long term needs of the victims, survivors and their families."
"As Muslims, we have a duty to help those who have been so cruelly targeted. The Prophet Muhammad said, 'Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should be generous to his neighbor,'" said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad also offered sincere condolences to the families of the victims.
Checks should be made out to "National Capital Area Healing Fund" and mailed to:
National Capital Area Healing Fund
95 M. Street SW,
Washington, DC 20024
Donations can also be made at any SunTrust Bank location in the Greater Washington Region. For additional information or to donate online, log onto www.unitedwaynca.org.
Anyone with information related to the investigation of the sniper attacks should call the police tip line at 1-888-324-9800.
CAIR publishes guide to Muslims in North America
On Monday, September 30, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, will hold a news conference in the nation's capital to announce the publication of a first-of-its-kind guide to the North American Muslim community.
The 350-page book, called "The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and Canada [Routledge]," is the first comprehensive analysis of the structural make-up of Muslim communities in both countries. It provides an in-depth look at the history of Islam on this continent, an introduction to Islamic institutions and an assessment of North American Muslims' perception of themselves.
Along with an outline of the response of Muslim media outlets, charities and community support structures to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, the book also offers an analysis of population statistics, immigration, participation in the political process, and a 127-page directory listing contact information for Muslim organizations in North America. (Charts from the book will be on display at the news conference.)
"The North American Muslim Resource Guide is an indispensable road-map for any reader who hopes to move past the boundary of ethnic and religious stereotypes to view the human face behind one of the fastest-growing and most vital populations in North America," said Research Director Dr. Mohamed Nimer, the book's author.
WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, September 30
WHERE: CAIR's Capitol Hill Office, 453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. (Near South Capitol Metro stop.)