Payment, apology for store incident
Two Muslim women detained after being accused of stealing merchandise have received an apology and a payment from a clothing store in a Meriden mall.
May Department Stores Co., the parent of the Lord & Taylor outlet in the Westfield Shoppingtown mall, agreed to apologize and offer a cash settlement. "Settlements of $3,700 were reached with two customers who claimed they were falsely arrested and accused of shoplifting," May Co. officials said in a prepared statement.
The women filed a discrimination complaint after they were detained, but never charged with a crime in the September 2000 incident.
The two shoppers, who were dressed in traditional Islamic garb, were stopped as they left a fitting room, according to Hodan Hassan, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which represents
A store security guard checked their merchandise and sales receipts and determined they had taken nothing.
However, another guard insisted they were guilty of shoplifting and tried to remove the head coverings that the Islamic faith requires of all women believers, said Hassan.
"This happened in front of many people and it was very embarrassing for the two women," Hassan said.
Meriden police officers arrived a short time later and the women were allowed to go. No charges were filed, Hassan added.
Department store chain settles Muslim discrimination complaint
A national department store chain has settled a discrimination complaint by two Muslim shoppers in Connecticut who say they were falsely accused of shoplifting because of their Islamic attire.
May Department Stores Company, the parent company of the Meriden, Conn., Lord & Taylor store in which the incident took place, reached the settlement with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group. That settlement includes an apology and monetary compensation.
In September 2000, the two female shoppers were accused of shoplifting after exiting a ladies' fitting room. The Muslim women said that even after store security realized they had not stolen any merchandise, a security guard continued to accuse them of theft and attempted to remove the religiously-mandated headscarf of one of the women.
"Although many companies have clear non-discrimination guidelines, the real test for any policy comes when an incident such as this takes place. May Department Stores passed that test by demonstrating that they value Muslim customers," said CAIR Civil Rights Manager Joshua Salaam.
The May Department Stores Company currently operates 436 department stores
in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Israel rally seeks to "spin" brutal occupation say Muslims
A Washington-based Islamic advocacy group said today this afternoon's rally in support of Israel on Capitol Hill is a desperate attempt to put positive spin on that state's brutal occupation of another people and to distract attention from recent atrocities committed by Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories.
A statement by Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), read in part: (Awad and other CAIR representatives are available for interviews on this issue.)
"Those who offer blind support for Israel's brutal policies do a disservice to our nation's interests worldwide and violate the values of freedom and justice that all Americans hold dear. No amount of public relations 'spin' will convince ordinary Americans that complicity in Israel's denial of Palestinian rights is anything but a strategic liability that serves to isolate the United States and harm the ongoing war on terrorism. In fact, a
recent survey indicated that 60 percent of Americans believe the United States should cut off or reduce aid to Israel if it refuses to heed President Bush's call for withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territories. (Time/CNN Poll, 4/12/2002)
"Rally organizers claim they are standing up for 'democratic values,' yet would deny Palestinians the right to choose their leaders. They call for an end to incitement and hate-filled rhetoric, while at the same time
demonizing an entire culture and faith in a vain attempt to avoid discussion of the real source of the conflict, the occupation. They ask others to condemn attacks on civilians, but ignore or even deny atrocities
committed by Israeli forces in places like Jenin and Nablus.
"Just today, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned Israel for 'mass killings' of Palestinians. There is no moral equivalence between the war on terrorism and Israel's unjust and ultimately self-defeating war on Palestinian Muslims and Christians."
Awad reiterated Muslim condemnation of terrorism and support for President Bush's demand that Israel withdraw from the cities it has invaded, end settlement activity and cease its "daily humiliation" of Palestinian Muslims and Christians. He also said that spontaneous rallies in support of Palestinian rights drew hundreds of thousands worldwide.
U.S. Muslims say "War Crimes" committed in Jenin
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned what it called "war crimes" by Israeli occupation forces in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. According to media reports, the Israelis are preparing to raze the camp using bulldozers. The Washington-based Islamic advocacy group asked that President Bush stop the destruction of Jenin in order to prevent civilian deaths and to keep evidence of atrocities from being destroyed.
CNN's Rula Amin reported this morning: "…bulldozers now are knocking down houses there. And we have been hearing earlier in the day confirmed by units of officers in the field that the residents were asked through the loudspeakers by the Israeli army to leave their houses and to gather in locations on the outskirts of the camp. There is a lot of concern among the residents that what's happening is that Israeli bulldozers are bulldozing the houses. They are flattening the camp."
The French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reports that the Israeli army expelled some 800 women and children from the Jenin refugee camp on Wednesday. AFP quoted UNICEF officials who said, "The women and children were forced out on the streets of Jenin, where they have no protection, food or clothing." The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment cites eyewitness reports that Israeli forces are now digging what may be mass graves in the camp. Israel is refusing to allow aid groups or the media into Jenin.
Even Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres termed the army's actions in Jenin a "massacre."
"These war crimes, carried out using American-taxpayer-funded weapons, are being driven by blood lust and a thirst for revenge. We call on President Bush to stop this state-sponsored terror against innocent Palestinian civilians," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
Ahmad added that Israel's actions recall the destruction of more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages since 1948 and the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. He reiterated Muslim support for President Bush's demand that Israel withdraw from the cities it has invaded, end settlement activity and cease its daily humiliation of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.