Act now to prevent more raids
CAIR is calling on Muslims and other people of conscience nationwide to defend their community against increasing governmental assaults on civil liberties and religious rights. Community members concerned about these assaults are asked to contact the White House and their federal representatives with a reminder that the Bill of Rights applies to all Americans, including Muslims.
The fourth article of the Bill of Rights states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants
shall issue, but upon probable cause…"
Article six states: "…The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
CAIR has decided to undertake this initiative because it is central to our mission to defend the civil rights of all Americans, including Muslims. Every American should understand that their own civil rights are
violated when the rights of Muslims are trampled.
RAIDS ON ISLAMIC INSTITUTIONS AND HOMES
Last week, Muslims nationwide expressed outrage over law enforcement raids on a number of Muslim offices and homes in Virginia and Georgia. Targets of the raids included some of the most respected leaders and organizations in the American Muslim community, including the International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences, the Muslim World League and the Fiqh Council of North America.
Those whose homes were targeted say frightened mothers and daughters were handcuffed for hours, Muslim citizens were treated as foreigners and were denied rights guaranteed to other citizens. Again, no criminal charges were filed and no evidence was produced to back up the government's actions.
In a packed news conference reacting to the raids, CAIR Governmental Affairs Director Jason Erb said: "Unfortunately, investigators are well aware that in the current climate of fear and prejudice, few people will
ask the tough questions about why these respected individuals and groups were targeted…As in past incidents targeting American Muslim institutions, no one is being given their day in court to confront accusers or refute allegations…security need not be gained by destroying the civil liberties and standards of due process that we all hold dear."
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:
CONTACT President Bush and elected officials in your state to let them know that Muslims should have the same rights as other Americans. Ask that he make a public statement in support of American Muslim civil rights. Also ask that he meet with American Muslim leaders. (Call CAIR to receive your free "Know Your Rights Pocket Guide.")
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
TEL: 202-456-1414, Press 1
Since September 11, 2001, our government has taken a number of actions against individual Muslims and Islamic organizations that created an atmosphere of intimidation and apprehension.
Within hours of the tragic events of September 11, every major American Muslim organization issued condemnations of the terrorist attacks. The Muslim community did what it could, through blood drives and other relief activities, to help alleviate the suffering of victims and their families. Many Muslims were also killed and injured in the attacks.
Unfortunately, these actions were not enough to prevent an anti-Muslim backlash that involved threats, assaults, harassment, discrimination, attacks on mosques, and even a number of murders. CAIR alone recorded more than 1800 such anti-Muslim incidents.
In the first few days after the September 11 attacks, government officials, including President Bush, made a point to reach out to the Muslim community. The president visited a Washington, D.C., mosque in the company of national Muslim leaders, including CAIR's executive director.
But since that initial period of support, a number of government policies have singled out Muslims and created the impression that they have fewer rights than other Americans.
An estimated 1,200 Muslims were detained nationwide after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They have been held mostly on immigration charges, but are treated as if they are terrorists.
In a report earlier this month, Amnesty International (AI) stated: "Six months after the September 11 attacks, a significant number of the approximately 1,200 non-U.S. nationals originally detained in the aftermath of the tragedy continue to be deprived of their human rights in violation of international law and the Immigration and Naturalization Service's own standards…While the detentions have been surrounded by extreme secrecy, the organization's research confirms that basic rights have been violated, including: the right to humane treatment; to be informed of reasons for detention; to have prompt access to a lawyer; to be able to challenge the lawfulness of the detention, and to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise…Amnesty International has received reports of cruel treatment, including: prolonged solitary confinement; heavy shackling of detainees during visits or when they are taken to court; and lack of adequate exercise…
The U.S. Justice Department says it plans to use secret evidence to justify the financial sanctions it imposed on a Chicago-area Muslim charity. Bridgeview-based Global Relief Foundation has filed a lawsuit saying the government violated the Constitution in freezing the charity's assets in December.
This the first time the government has tried to use secret evidence--which would not be shared with the charity or its attorneys--under a provision of the Patriot Act signed in October by President Bush.
The head of Global Relief, Rabih Haddad, has been held in solitary confinement without knowing why he is detained. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) stated: "The treatment of Imam Haddad has highlighted
everything that is abusive and unconstitutional about our government's scapegoating of immigrants in the wake of the September 11th attacks…This is a case of guilt by association where we haven't seen a shred of evidence that the accused party is guilty…I am deeply disturbed that the Bush Administration is championing secret proceedings, the use of secret evidence and cruel conditions of confinement against a man with no criminal record who has publicly condemned the terrorist act against our country…Imam Haddad is entitled to the full disclosure of any evidence against him."
In a Florida immigration case, Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar, a stateless Palestinian, has been held in solitary confinement, on the basis of secret evidence since November 24 of last year. He is only allowed one hour of
exercise each day and is strip-searched twice a day.
Al-Najjar had previously been detained for 3 1/2 years as the United States worked to deport him. A U.S. appeals court forced his release, saying that prosecutors could not try him with secret evidence. But that did not stop the government from jailing him again.
As a March 24 St. Petersburg Times editorial stated: "Secret evidence turns our civil legal process into a farce. If we allow its use, especially at a time when every Muslim enterprise is viewed with suspicion, we are setting the stage for one injustice after the next."
CLOSURE OF MUSLIM CHARITIES
Along with the closure of Global Relief, the government shut down two other prominent and well-respected American Muslim relief organizations.
In December, President Bush froze the assets of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), one of the nation's largest Muslim charities. The charity had been targeted by pro-Israel organizations and
individuals for several years.
In a joint statement issued at that time, the leaders of every major national American Muslim organization said: "We ask that President Bush reconsider what we believe is an unjust and counterproductive move that can only damage America's credibility with Muslims in this country and around the world and could create the impression that there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam."
Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), another Muslim charity hit with financial sanctions by the Treasury Department, has charged federal officials with violating its Constitutional rights and jeopardizing its
survival. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, BIF said the government improperly and unfairly froze its assets without a hearing and without any evidence of wrongdoing.
No criminal charges have been filed in any of these closures. The frozen funds belonged to the Muslim community, not to any particular organization.
UNCHALLENGED ANTI-MUSLIM STATEMENTS
According to an interview with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas published on the internet site crosswalk.com, Attorney General John Ashcroft said: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you." President Bush failed to speak out in condemnation of these bigoted remarks. (Ashcroft says he was misquoted. The reporter stands by his article.)
Since September 11, conservative commentators have launched a barrage of attacks on the faith of Islam. Referring to Muslims, televangelist Pat Robertson said, "They want to coexist until they can control, dominate, and then if need be destroy."
Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, stood by remarks in which he claimed: "The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion…I don't believe this [Islam] is this wonderful, peaceful religion."
William S. Lind, with the Free Congress Foundation, said: "There is no such thing as peaceful Islam…Islamics cannot fit into an America in which the first loyalty is to the American Constitution. They should be encouraged to leave. They are a fifth column in this country."
The Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes goes so far as to recommend "vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country."
Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter said America "should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Coulter also called for the "mass deportation of Muslims.
This Islamophobic rhetoric has gone largely unchallenged by top government leaders.
An editor of a prominent conservative publication even suggested "sarcastically" that "nuking Mecca" would "send a signal" to Muslims.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced that the government will conduct "voluntary" interviews of an additional 3,000 legal Muslim foreign nationals similar to almost 5,000 conducted since November. In reaction to that announcement, CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad said: "We believe…that
rounding up the 'usual suspects' based on nothing more than race, religion or national origin is not an effective law enforcement technique and creates the perception of profiling."
Again, Rep. Conyers criticized the move, saying: "While the Bush Administration speaks of uniting the nation, its continued racial profiling, interrogation and detention of thousands of Arab and Muslims is having the opposite effect. It is time for the President to realize that the only thing these practices will secure is the downfall of democratic freedoms in America."
Fewer than 20 of the initial interviewees were arrested, all on charges unrelated to terrorism. The new interviews will be conducted with men from specific unnamed countries.
An editorial in today's Christian Science Monitor states: "…concerns among Arab-Americans and Muslims that their communities are being targeted shouldn't be ignored. Building trust and honoring rights has to go
hand-in-hand with the data-gathering. Civil liberties abuses of the past, as during the 'red scare of the 1950s or the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, should not be forgotten."
TARGETING MUSLIM "ABSCONDERS" - Law enforcement authorities announced they will focus on apprehending illegal Muslim and Arab immigrants who have ignored deportation orders, despite the fact that the vast majority of 314,000 so-called "absconders" are not Muslim or Arab.