Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2011
Mosque Fire in Stockton, CA, Denying Permits in WI
Verse: Give Good News to the Humble
Calif. Obama-as-Chimp Emailer Expressed Anti-Muslim Views
Anti-Islam Bill Sends Wrong Message About Tennessee
Still No Answers in Calif. Mosque Fire
Wisconsin Commission Rejects Mosque Plan
VERSE OF THE DAY: GIVE GOOD NEWS TO THE HUMBLE - TOP
"And give good news (O Muhammad) to the humble, whose hearts tremble at the mention of God; who endure adversity with patience, who establish regular prayer and spend in charity out of what we have given them."
The Holy Quran, 22:34-35
CAIR WELCOMES DHS DECISION TO DROP NSEERS PROGRAM - TOP
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/27/11) -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today welcomed a decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to effectively drop the controversial National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).
"We welcome the decision by DHS officials to drop an ineffective and burdensome program that was perceived as a massive profiling campaign targeting individuals based on their religion and ethnicity," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "We support our government's efforts to secure America while remaining an open society that is true to the Constitution."
NSEERS, set up in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, required nonimmigrant men and boys from predominantly Muslim countries to report to an immigration office to be photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed. Those targeted by the NSEERS program were also required to leave the United States through specified ports. Anyone who failed to comply with the program faced arrest and deportation.
A DHS notice published today states: "Over the past six years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented several new automated systems that capture arrival and exit information on nonimmigrant travelers to the United States, and DHS has determined that recapturing this data manually when a nonimmigrant is seeking admission to the United States is redundant and no longer provides any increase in security."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-MI TO TAKE PART IN NAACP FORUM ON IMMIGRATION BILL - TOP Melanie D. Scott, Detroit Free Press, 4/27/11
Pending legislation that could allow for increased enforcement and regulation of immigration laws has prompted the Hamtramck branch of the NAACP to host a program on such laws and racial profiling.
Similar to Arizona's immigration law, Michigan House Bill 4305, which is pending in the Legislature, would give law enforcement officers the right, with reasonable suspicion, to request proof of immigration status from people stopped or detained for other offenses, including traffic violations.
Police also would have the power to arrest someone -- with or without a warrant -- if they have probable cause to believe the person committed an offense that makes him or her deportable.
"This bill could restrict immigration rights," said Bill Meyer, vice president of the Hamtramck branch. "One of our main charges is to address discrimination, and it all ties in because many people of color are immigrants."
The program Friday is to open with video clips and feature four panelists, including Ryan Bates, director of Alliance for Immigration Rights; Wayne State University professor Saeed Khan, Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Seema Ahmad, first vice chair at the Michigan Muslim Democratic Caucus. (More)
PASTOR JONES' BIGOTRY PROTECTED BY FREE SPEECH - TOP Daily Tribune, 4/27/11
Any request by a public entity such as a city or police department to require a protester to post a peace bond is a violation of the First Amendment that protects free speech.
In the case of Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who has burned a Quran in the past and wants to demonstrate in front of the Dearborn Islamic Center, even a $1 bond is an infringement of his Constitutional rights.
The potential exception, however, is if his speech is on a private venue and has a high probability of inciting others to violence.
Burning the holy book of any religion is disrespectful, morally reprehensible and could trigger violence.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of American troops in Afghanistan, himself warned Jones in September 2010 not to burn the Quran for fear of putting lives at risk. However that didn't stop Jones from burning the Islamic holy book in late March.
Before Jones and his associate, Pastor Wayne Sapp, got the chance to protest in front of the Islamic Center of America, where the largest mosque in the United States is located in Dearborn, they were required to appear in 19th District Court. ...
Dawud Walid, who is the executive director of the Council of American Islamic Relations in Michigan, said Jones should not have had to post a peace bond. (More)
CALIF. POL COMMENTS ON PEOPLE 'WEARING RAGS AROUND THEIR HEADS' - TOP Ray A. March, Modoc County Daily News, 4/27/11
Members of the Sacramento Sikh Temple have asked for a meeting with Modoc County Supervisor Loren "Shorty" Crabtree after he remarked that people attending a Woodland auction were "wearing rags around their heads."
"Given recent hate crimes and attacks against Sikhs in the Sacramento area, the remarks by Chairperson Crabtree are very troubling," said Amar Shergill, attorney and board member for the Sacramento Sikh Temple in an e-mail to the Modoc County Daily News.
Hate crimes and attacks against Sikhs in the Sacramento area referred to by Shergill include the fatal shooting last November of an Elk Grove grandfather who was gunned down during his daily afternoon walk with a friend who was also struck in the gunfire and remains in critical condition. Both were wearing turbans.
Last November a Sikh taxi driver in the Sacramento area was robbed and severely beaten by two men calling him Osama Bin Laden. The taxi driver was wearing a turban because he was Sikh, according to a KTXL-TV report. ...
Crabtree confirmed he would meet with Shergill and members of the Sacramento Sikh Temple at a meeting tentatively set for Thursday, and that he intended to make a statement about his "rags" comment at tomorrow's (April 26) Board of Supervisors meeting.
"They want to hear my side of the thing and what kind of guy I am and tell me about their religion and how it works," Crabtree said. "Their religion doesn't bother me a bit and I don't know anything about it and I don't want to know anything about it. What I said was a slip of the tongue, I guess. I'm just sorry I said it and I wish I could back it off." (More)
CALIF. OBAMA-AS-CHIMP EMAILER EXPRESSED ANTI-MUSLIM VIEWS - TOP R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly, 4/26/11 Marilyn Davenport may have been able to escape protesters outside of her Fullerton home last Saturday, but the embattled Orange County Republican Party official might have a more difficult time fleeing her past.
According to Republican Party sources, Davenport's controversial email depicting President Barack Obama and his parents as chimpanzees wasn't the first time the 74-year-old grandmother and political activist sent bigoted Internet communications to fellow Tea Party sympathizers.
The Weekly has obtained an email in which Davenport expressed her disapproval of a September 2009 prayer meeting of 3,000 Muslims in Washington, D.C.
Her written pre-meeting response: "Extremely troubling!"
The woman who sent Davenport the announcement of the Muslim gathering observed, "This is very frightening, indeed! Our country definitely needs our prayers!"
But there was one problem.
There was nothing frightening about the event. People with sympathies for Osama bin Laden, the Taliban or any other terrorist organization did not spark the meeting. The gathering was the brainchild of Hassen Abdellah, a patriotic American and former football star, and its theme was, "We love America!"
Indeed, as media accounts recorded at the event, Muslim-American speakers heaped praise on the United States for allowing them to practice their faith freely without government control. (More)
ANTI-ISLAM BILL SENDS WRONG MESSAGE ABOUT TENNESSEE - TOP Sabina Mohyuddin, Citizen-Times, 4/27/11
Sabina Mohyuddin is a youth coordinator for the Islamic Center of Nashville and lives in Tullahoma.
As a proud Muslim American and a native Tennessean, I support efforts to provide security, but I feel that SB 1028 is an oppressive bill that disregards due process and the First Amendment and, most importantly, does not make Tennesseans any safer.
This bill was written by David Yerushalmi, the head of the Society of Americans for National Existence, which is listed as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League. If a bill was written by the Ku Klux Klan, would it be considered, even if it was amended? Although the most egregious parts of the original bill that make adherence to parts of Shariah or Islamic law a crime were removed, the intent of the bill -- to demonize Muslims -- remains the same.
As it stands, the attorney general and governor can designate an organization as a terrorist organization. This can be based on secret evidence that can never be challenged. In fact, there is no way to challenge the logic behind the designation; you can only petition to revoke it. With the anti-Muslim climate because of the proposed Murfreesboro mosque, you can see how unfounded accusations may lead to political pressure on the attorney general and governor to use their extra-judicial powers to make a designation.
Once a designation is made, even if it is eventually removed, the damage to the community will be irrevocable. This is reminiscent of McCarthyism, when people were accused of being communists and their careers ruined. Catholics, Jews and African-Americans faced similar discrimination throughout American history. Each was a scar in our history. Let's not repeat this. (More)
MUSLIMS CAN'T SWAY LAWMAKERS - TOP Chas Sisk, Tennessean, 4/27/11
Anti-terrorism legislation that critics say unfairly targets followers of Islam survived a pair of important votes in the legislature Tuesday, moving closer to becoming law despite opposition from Muslim and civil liberties groups.
A Senate committee voted to approve the Material Support to Designated Entities Act late Tuesday, following up on an earlier vote in favor of the bill in the House. Both votes took place after hundreds of Tennessee Muslims turned out at the state Capitol for the second straight week to protest the measure.
The legislation, often referred to as the Shariah bill, gives the governor and the state attorney general the power to declare organizations to be terrorist groups. Opponents say the legislation is a thinly veiled attack on Muslims and Islamic law, or Shariah, but supporters say it is needed to give Tennessee law enforcement the means to root out domestic terrorism. (More)
----- STILL NO ANSWERS IN CALIF. MOSQUE FIRE - TOP Tim Daly, News 10, 4/26/11
STOCKTON, CA - Federal fire investigators were finally able Tuesday to get inside a heavily damaged mosque to look for the cause of a weekend fire.
That work wasn't possible Monday because of severe damage to the building's roof. Tiles and air conditioning equipment had to be removed for the building to be considered safe to enter.
Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were asked for assistance, partially because of the religious nature of two of the offices in that building.
"We don't have any information to suggest it's targeted," said Stockton Fire Department spokesman Paul Willette. "Because it's a mosque and there's a Christian occupance next to it, the profile is more than a run of the mill fire." (More)
WISCONSIN COMMISSION REJECTS MOSQUE PLAN - TOP Doug Erickson, Wisconsin State Journal, 4/27/11
UN PRAIRIE -- The city's Plan Commission is recommending that an Islamic mosque not be granted a permit to operate in the Nature's Preserve Office Park, citing opposition from neighboring businesses over traffic and parking concerns.
The 6-0 commission vote against the permit application came Tuesday at a meeting attended by about 40 members and supporters of the mosque.
Afterward, Fayaz Suleman, the secretary and treasurer of the mosque board, said he was disappointed and unsure of the mosque's next move.
"Our faith believes we should love and respect our neighbors," he said. "We certainly didn't want to cause any problems."
Tuesday's vote was advisory only. The Sun Prairie City Council is expected to take up the issue May 3. (More)
MOSQUE BACKERS IN BRIDGEWATER FILE FEDERAL LAWSUIT - TOP Stephen Reed, Daily Record, 4/27/11
BRIDGEWATER -- The backers of a mosque proposed for the site of the former Redwood Inn banquet hall have filed suit in federal court, alleging that the township discriminated against them on the basis of religion in passing a zoning law that derailed their plans.
The suit, filed Tuesday, names the township, its planning board, Mayor Patricia Flannery, and individual members of the Township Committee and Planning Board as defendants.
The plaintiffs are Al Falah Center, the name used by the mosque's backers for the facility, and nine individuals.
"After a years-long search to find a suitable location to establish a mosque and Islamic community center, Muslims from Bridgewater and surrounding communities finally identified an ideal location - a former banquet hall in Bridgewater,'' reads a press release from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law, which is participating in the suit.
"For months the Al Falah Center worked with township officials to develop a suitable plan to renovate the building, which was located in a zone permitting houses of worship, into a mosque to serve the surrounding area as a house of worship, day care, religious school, and community center. But then - following an anti-Muslim internet campaign - hundreds of people showed up to protest the mosque project at a Planning Board meeting to consider the proposal, and the Township suddenly changed course.'' (More)
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