Israel uses U.S. weapons to massacre palestinian civilians
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/23/02) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today strongly condemned Israel's use of American taxpayer-supplied weapons to massacre at least 11 Palestinians, including women and children, in an attack on a residential building in the Gaza Strip.
The latest list of dead released by a nearby hospital included two babies ages 18 and 2 months, five children ages 3-5, an 11-year-old and three adults. Israel used an American-made F-16 fighter plane to launch the missile that struck the building.
"The blood of these innocent children is on the hands of those in America's pro-Israel lobby who use their influence to promote congressional and administration policies that provide American tax dollars and tacit support for such attacks," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. He said the attack was a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.
"Terrorism is defined as the use of violence against civilians to achieve political goals. This premeditated attack on a civilian building in the dead of night is a prime example of state-sponsored terrorism. If our government fails to condemn this massacre, all the official rhetoric about 'zero-tolerance' for terrorism will ring hollow around the Muslim world. There should be one standard for defining terrorism, not one for Israel and one for the rest of the world," said Ahmad.
He added that the recent administration shift away from an even-handed Middle East policy to one that bows to Israeli dictates was obviously viewed as a green-light for the attack. Ahmad also called on American Jewish groups to condemn the attack in the same way that American Muslim organizations have condemned other acts of terrorism.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned the attack, saying: "Israel has the legal and moral responsibility to take all measures to avoid the loss of innocent life; it clearly failed to do so in using a missile against an apartment building...The secretary-general calls on the government of Israel to halt such actions and to conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law."
U.S. Muslims call for 9/11/02 "Day of Unity and Prayer"
A national American Muslim political council today announced a "National Day of Unity and Prayer" designed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), made up of the nation's four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups,* called on all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance.
A web site will be established to allow local mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions to register their participation in the national event.
A joint AMPCC statement read in part: "It is imperative that all Americans come together on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks to show that we are united as a nation and to reject efforts by any parties, whether overseas or within our borders, to divide the United States along religious or ethnic lines. The Muslim community is part of this country, and we join our fellow citizens in mourning those who were killed or injured on that fateful day."
AMPCC member groups will help coordinate the American Muslim community's participation in the National Day of Unity and Prayer. As part of the AMPCC campaign, a step-by-step guide to holding local mosque open houses will be distributed to Islamic centers nationwide.
Other religious organizations, such as the National Council of Churches, are organizing similar observances.
American Muslim groups jointly and individually condemned the 9/11 attacks. An AMPCC statement issued within hours of the incidents stated: "American Muslims utterly condemn what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts."
Anti-Muslim graffiti found after FBI search in Michigan
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/22/02) - Relatives of a Dearborn, Mich., Muslim arrested last week while allegedly carrying counterfeit checks say they found anti-Islamic graffiti scrawled in the man's house following a search by the FBI and Secret Service. The man, a Jordanian-American, was arrested Wednesday after he arrived in Detroit on a flight from Indonesia.
Relatives told the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, they found the words "Islam is Evil" and " Christ is King" written on a Muslim prayer calendar attached to the man's refrigerator. (Contact CAIR to obtain a copy of the calendar.) CAIR is calling on Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the incident.
The man's brother said he and his wife were babysitting in the house last Thursday when officers of the two agencies came to search the premises. It was after being handcuffed, questioned and fingerprinted that family members say they discovered the slurs.
In a letter to Ashcroft, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
"While law enforcement authorities have the right, and even the duty, to follow all legitimate leads in the search for those who would cause harm to our nation, they do not have the right to insult the religious beliefs of those they are questioning.
"American Muslims want to do their part in protecting our nation and will offer any information that might be useful in that effort. However, indications that those questioned will be subject to religious slurs or bias only serve to impede legitimate investigations.
"This incident is of particular concern to us because it does not reflect the professionalism and concern for due process exhibited by the many FBI officials and other law enforcement authorities CAIR has been in dialogue with on civil liberties issues since the tragic events of September 11, 2001."
Awad recommended the creation of a national civil liberties advisory panel that would consult with law enforcement officials to ensure that citizens' civil rights are maintained during this time of crisis. There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide.
California Governor to sign Halaal Food Bill
California's Governor Gray Davis will today sign the Halal Food Bill (AB1828) into law at a Los Angeles Islamic center. The bill makes it a misdemeanor to, with the intent to defraud, sell or expose for sale, "meat, meat products, or any food product that is falsely represented as being halal, or as having been prepared according to Islamic religious requirements." (Halal food is that which satisfies Islamic guidelines on content and preparation. For example, Muslims are prohibited from consuming pork products or foods containing alcohol.)
The bill passed unanimously in the California State Legislature. Similar bills have passed in New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
CAIR-CA worked with Assemblyman Bill Campbell (R-71) to draft and introduce the bill. Dr. Ahmad Sakr of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) provided technical and scholarly assistance.
"The passage of the Halal Food Bill reaffirms California's commitment to religious diversity," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-LA.
WHEN: Monday, July 8, 2002, 11:15 a.m. (Pacific)
WHERE: Islamic Center of Southern California, 434 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90020 (CALL 213-382-9200 for directions.)
CONTACT: Sabiha Khan, 714-776-1847 or 714-390-0334 (Cell)
Ill. Sheriff's deputy denied right to Islamic Scarf
A national Islamic advocacy group is calling on Illinois' Cook County Sheriff's Department to allow a Muslim deputy to wear a religiously-mandated headscarf. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says sheriff's department officials have repeatedly denied the deputy's requests for religious accommodation, claiming it violates uniform guidelines.
The woman, a Cook County Deputy Sheriff since 1993, converted to Islam in January of this year and began wearing an Islamic headscarf at that time. When she went to work wearing a scarf matching her uniform, she was told to file a written request for religious accommodation. (The Muslim deputy provides security at a county courthouse.)
When the deputy did not receive a timely reply to that request, she asked if she could wear her scarf pending a decision. That request was denied. She now wears her scarf off duty and removes it while at work.
The department's denial of religious accommodation came despite the fact that such accommodations have been offered to employees of other faiths. According to an EEOC complaint, the department currently allows a Jewish uniformed officer to wear a yarmulke, or skullcap.
"An inflexible, and arbitrarily applied policy aimed at uniformity of appearance is insufficient to override an individual's deeply-help religious beliefs. America's increasing religious, cultural and ethnic diversity requires that creative solutions be found to balance the needs of employers with the religious rights of employees," said CAIR Civil Rights Manager Joshua Salaam.
In a letter to Cook County Sheriff Michael F. Sheahan, CAIR demanded that his department: 1) allow the Muslim deputy to wear her Islamic headscarf while at work, 2) clarify its policy on religious accommodation, 3) institute religious sensitivity training for department staff, and 4) compensate the Muslim employee for the negative financial and emotional impact resulting from the department's denial of religious accommodation.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religious beliefs or practices. The act requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless to do so would create an undue hardship. CAIR publishes a booklet, "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," designed to prevent these types of incidents.
There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims in the Chicago area.
Pro-Israel lobby buys Alabama house seat say Muslims
A prominent national Islamic advocacy group is calling Rep. Earl Hilliard's (D-AL) loss Tuesday in a runoff primary in Alabama's 7th Congressional District a "defeat for democracy," an insult to African-Americans and a victory for pro-Israel extremists. (In the heavily Democratic district, the winner of the primary will almost certainly be elected to the House.)
Hilliard's opponent, Artur Davis, had been heavily backed by out-of-state supporters of Israel who opposed the five-term incumbent's criticism of American policies in the Middle East and his support for Palestinian rights. In fact, a CAIR analysis of a recent Davis donor list revealed that 81 percent of his campaign contributions came from outside Alabama, mostly from New York. The donations from the pro-Israel lobby began to flow after Davis traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The effort to impose a candidate on a majority African-American rural district in Alabama caused tension between pro-Israel activists and the Congressional Black Caucus. Many African-American leaders and elected officials saw the move as a return to the time when outsiders tried to pick leaders of their community. (Both Hilliard and Davis are African-American.)
"Rep. Hilliard's loss shows that the domestic lobby for a foreign government is willing to use its considerable financial resources to force hand-picked 'leaders' on the African-American community. This is a defeat for democracy and civil rights and a victory for those who would institute a pro-Israel litmus test for American political candidates," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. Ahmad added that our nation's voters deserve representatives who put America first, and are not compromised by allegiance to special interest groups.
Bush's speech "fell short" say Muslims
A prominent national Islamic advocacy group today said President Bush's speech outlining his vision for peace in the Middle East put too much emphasis on Palestinian concessions and too little pressure on Israel to act in accordance with international law.
In a statement reacting to the president's speech, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"There were a number of positive aspects to President Bush's proposals for peace and stability in the Middle East. These positive initiatives include the demand for a freeze on Israeli settlement activity, increased
humanitarian assistance, an end to the Israeli occupation based on U.N. resolutions, and a call for freedom of movement for ordinary Palestinians. We also appreciated the president's recognition of the 'anger and despair' brought on by Israel's brutal occupation.
"The speech was a step in the right direction, but it fell short of offering a clear vision of the ultimate destination. Core issues such as the status of Jerusalem and existing Israeli settlements, final borders and
the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, were not addressed in a way that offers hope for a just and comprehensive settlement to the Middle East conflict. It was the failure to address these vital
issues that brought us to the current impasse.
"The right to freedom should never be conditioned on the whims of a hostile party and must not face a veto by any individual, group or government opposed to peace. It is up to the Palestinians themselves to choose their leaders in a free and independent political process. That leadership should reflect the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians.
"Our policies in the Middle East should be based on American national interests and on universal values of freedom and justice, not on the political and religious agenda of an influential domestic lobby for a foreign government."
Awad thanked the president for his statements in praise of Islamic culture and its contributions to world civilization. He said those comments were particularly significant given the current atmosphere of anti-Muslim rhetoric.
U.S. Muslims barred from Israel hold News Conference
On Monday, June 17, the group American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) will hold a news conference outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., with some of the 20 American Muslims barred from Israel on Sunday.
The Muslim "Peace Through Understanding" delegation, organized by AMJ, went to the Middle East on a fact-finding tour to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Delegation members were held under guard for eight hours at Ben Gurion airport before being denied entry because of "security concerns." A delegation spokeswoman told Associated Press she believed her group was expelled because it was made up primarily of American Muslims.
Israel recently detained, and then released, two American Muslim relief workers who sought to help Palestinian civilians whose lives were disrupted by the Israeli invasion of the Occupied Territories. A number of other American and European peace activists have been detained and deported by Israeli authorities.
WHEN: Monday, June 17, 11 a.m. (Eastern)
WHERE: Outside Union Station, Washington, D.C. (Group members will arrive at Newark airport in New Jersey and then travel by train to Washington, D.C.)
President Bush asked to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks
A national Islamic advocacy group today called on President Bush, other elected officials and leaders of national Christian and Jewish organizations to help defend America's image and interests in the Muslim world by repudiating "hate-filled" Islamophobic remarks made at the annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in St. Louis, Mo. (SEE: http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc02/)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made that request after the Rev. Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., told SBC conventioneers that the Prophet Muhammad was a "demon-possessed pedophile." (Vines is a former SBC president.) Vines added that, "Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people." When asked by reporters to condemn those bigoted remarks, both the outgoing and incoming SBC presidents said they supported Vines and his statements.
"This type of deeply offensive, bigoted and inaccurate rhetoric hands a victory to those who wish to drive a wedge between Muslims, Christians and Jews," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. "Reckless Islamophobic statements from individuals regarded as leaders in their faith community will harm America's image and interests worldwide and will serve to divide Americans at this time of national crisis," said Ahmad. He added: "Muslims revere the Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad as the ultimate moral and ethical role models who would never commit any act contrary to God's eternal message."
Ahmad quoted the Quran, Islam's revealed text, which states: "Say ye: 'We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one and another of them.'" (2:136)
He added that anti-Islamic rhetoric by respected religious leaders could lead to more hate-crimes against ordinary American Muslims. (CAIR is already receiving a number of hate messages from those who say they agree with Vines' statements.) A recent national poll indicated that "nearly 75 percent of Muslim Americans either know someone who has or have themselves experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since September 1l." See: "Accounts of Anti-Muslim Discrimination Not Exaggerated," at http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0530-124.html
Fingerprinting proposal is discriminatory say Muslims
A national Islamic advocacy group said today that new Justice Department guidelines requiring Muslim and Middle Eastern visa holders to register with the government and be fingerprinted are discriminatory and counterproductive.
More than 100,000 students, workers, researchers, and tourists from designated Muslim and Arab countries already in the United States would be covered by the proposal. New arrivals will be fingerprinted at points of entry.
In a statement released today at a Capitol Hill news conference, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"In the post-9-11 world, we all understand the need for increased security. American Muslims, like all other citizens, want to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. Unfortunately, policies that single out particular religious and ethnic groups create a false sense of security and end up further damaging America's image and reputation around the world.
"Recent policies targeting Muslims and Arabs, including the interviewing of 8,000 legal visa holders, the detention without due process of some 1,200 individuals, the targeting of Muslim and Arab 'absconders,' the use of secret evidence, the raids on Muslim homes and institutions, and the new FBI guidelines allowing surveillance of mosques engaged in legal activities, all failed to result in a single terrorism-related arrest. Law-abiding residents in this country should not be made the scapegoats for past intelligence failures.
"The United States was founded on the ideal of equality and nondiscrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or religion. These latest steps are nothing but the imposition of guilt by association. They show that the Department of Justice cannot distinguish between people planning or engaged in criminal activity and law-abiding residents. If these new procedures are to be introduced, they must be applied across the board, or not at all.
"Finally, we call on people of conscience to contact their elected officials to challenge the continuing erosion of civil liberties in America."
Representatives from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Muslim American Society, and the ACLU also spoke at today's news conference.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. For background, see CAIR's "The Mosque in America: A National Portrait," at http://www.cair-net.org/mosquereport/, and "Stereotypes and Civil Liberties," at http://www.cair-net.org/civilrights2002/
A recent national poll indicated that "nearly 75 percent of Muslim Americans either know someone who has or have themselves experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since September 1l." SEE: "Accounts of Anti-Muslim Discrimination Not Exaggerated," at http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0530-124.html