Press Releases

CAIR-Ohio Co-Hosts Civil Rights Forum

(CLEVELAND, OH, 2/15/05) – On Sunday, February 13, the Ohio office of the
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio), in cooperation with Beit
Hanina Social Club, held a “Know Your Rights” forum in Cleveland.

The forum was in response to the recent federal search and seizures
conducted at the office of a prominent certified public accountant, whose
firm housed the financial records of hundreds of Muslim businesses and
individuals in the Greater Cleveland area.

At the forum, prominent civil and immigration rights attorneys highlighted
challenges facing the Muslim community in post-9/11 America. Citing recent
FBI questioning about people’s political views, civil rights attorney Terry
Gilbert said, “Fear and paranoia have replaced reason and common sense.” On
a positive note, Gilbert cited the courts as the “last bastion” and praised
a judicial system where people can “still get relief when the other
branches of government fail them.”

An ACLU spokesperson criticized a series of measures that abridge civil
rights, including selective enforcement of immigration law, detention
without charge, no-fly lists, and the Patriot Act. He said the general
attitude toward Muslims in America now is that they are “guilty until
proven innocent.”

Nationally-known immigration attorney David Leopold told Muslims that they
must be vigilant in protecting their rights. He raised strong concerns
about the recent passage of HR 418, a bill that strips the rights of
immigrants and makes it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to win
refuge in this country.

Overall, the panel called for members of the Muslim community to unite in
defense of their rights. Leopold said that “Muslim Americans should call
their public officials and voice opposition to discriminatory legislation.”
He said, “Government and public officials are our servants and they need to
be reminded that they work for us.”

In speaking of the possibility of an FBI visit at his home, one audience
member said, “When something like that happens, it is a very lonely world
for you and your family.” Panelists were quick to point to resources
available in such situations. “Know Your Rights” pamphlets were
distributed, along with a worksheet to be filled out in case of a visit by
law enforcement. More than 100 people attended the meeting. Leaders agreed
to form coalitions and to hold additional educational seminars.

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and
chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding
of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American
Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to:
http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About

– END –

CONTACT: Julia A. Shearson, 216-830-2247 or 216-440-2247, E-Mail: Julia@cair-ohio.com;
Dr. Ahmad Al-Akhras, 614-989-5916

 

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