Friday, November 14, 2014

Hassan Shibly: CAIR strikes right balance between protecting security and liberty

Hassan Shibly | Special to the Tampa Tribune | 11/14/2014 [Read Original]

Regarding “Don’t stifle FBI’s terror effort” (Our Views, Nov. 7):

It is easy for editors who are not attorneys and have not represented hundreds of victims of FBI abuse to give ill-informed legal advice and advise the public to waive the constitutionally protected right to have an attorney present when approached by the FBI.

America is one of the few nations in the world whose Constitution assumes that the people should take precautions to hold the government accountable. Exercising one’s constitutionally protected right to have a lawyer present when approached by the FBI helps ensure agents are behaving both constitutionally and efficiently. Meanwhile, people who feel their rights are secured with legal counsel present will have the confidence to be more open.

Our concern with the FBI selectively targeting the Muslim community for interrogation and recruitment of agent provocateurs is primarily because it has been documented that such profiling is ineffective, a waste of resources and actually makes our nation less safe and less free. Law enforcement must invest our limited public resources conducting investigations based on probable cause, not religious profiling. Having a lawyer present ensures that the FBI has a legitimate investigative purpose for interrogating Americans and are not acting based on politically acceptable biases that merely serve to intimidate religious minorities and waste taxpayer dollars.

Even though the Trib failed to request any such evidence from us, it claimed “there is no evidence local FBI agents have been abusive.” I’ll wager that the Trib’s own police reporters would find this assertion patently naïve. The Founders did not write the Bill of Rights and then reject it because there was no evidence that the new American government was going to be abusive.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has documented how the FBI has targeted law-abiding American Muslims for interrogation and coerced recruitment as agent provocateurs. According to Trevor Aaronson, executive director of the Florida Center for Investigative Journalism, such FBI tactics are similar to that used by the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) against the African-American civil rights movement decades ago and has included engaging in blackmail, extortion and threats of harm to self, family and friends. Coerced individuals are then forced into mosques to promote radical violent extremism — using taxpayer dollars — to unstable and mentally disturbed youths.

These programs are not only contrary to the protections enshrined in the Constitution, but are ineffective and make our nation less safe and less free. Even with the rise of Islamic State, those engaging in acts of terrorism on U.S. soil have more often attended churches or synagogue than mosques, and yet the FBI is not engaging in similar tactics against the Christian or Jewish communities — nor should they.

Engaging in criminal plans should make one the subject of a FBI investigation — not following a particular faith. When the FBI wastes resources in questioning individuals who have engaged in no wrongdoing, they may miss catching some of the overwhelming amount of criminals and terrorists who have nothing to do with that faith.

The Trib used Sami Osmakac as an example. The Trib does not mention that Osmakac would not have had the potential ability to harm our community without facilitation by paid FBI agent provocateurs or that in the same time frame several terrorist attacks were planned in Tampa by disturbed youths who, unlike Osmakac, were not Muslim.

Selective targeting of a religious minority by the federal government undermines the Constitution and harms America as a whole. CAIR has documented how many FBI agents have received false training that the entire Muslim community is a threat and that Muslims are not entitled to First Amendment rights. In Florida and nationwide, the Muslim community has often reported extremists espousing violence in mosques who turned out to be paid FBI agent provocateurs. Examples such as these abound.

Let us not forget that only last year an FBI agent who had a documented history of beating up suspects and witnesses and falsifying evidence, threatened several Orlando Muslims with false charges to pressure them to become informants, and then shot in the back and killed one of them after six hours of interrogation in their home three days later.

Counter-productive tactics that infringe upon the rights of religious minorities are not necessary to keep our nation safe. American Muslims are invested in the security of our nation and have a track record of voluntary cooperation with law enforcement on the rare occasion a threat should arise. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that “many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.” The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida also has repeatedly thanked the Muslim community for helping keep Florida safe.

We are not a nation of fearful people. Our rights are not things to be cast aside because someone scary threatens us. Groups such as IS strip people of their rights, and we should not do this in America. If we willingly cast aside the liberty that previous generations have bled for, then the terrorists win.

Just as taking precautionary measures to protect our security is reasonable, taking precautionary measures to protect our rights is also reasonable. That is why CAIR’s recommendation of having legal counsel present when talking to law enforcement is the right balance. Neither liberty nor security is sacrificed. Instead, both are protected.

Hassan Shibly, Esq., of Tampa is chief executive director of CAIR Florida.

Monday, September 1, 2014

“Spin” [Documentary] (Video)

READ MORE... http://thearcanefront.com/spin-documentary-video/


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friends of Israel

A must read on how the Zionist American community effectively organized themselves to strongly influence US politics and how that is changing, with key lessons our community can learn: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/01/friends-israel

It is very long but below are some key parts:

BY 


This is precisely the kind of ambivalence that AIPAC adherents describe as destructive. And yet even Israeli politicians recognize that AIPAC faces a shifting landscape of opinion. Shimon Peres, who served as Prime Minister and, most recently, as President, says, “My impression is that AIPAC is weaker among the younger people. It has a solid majority of people of a certain age, but it’s not the same among younger people.”..

" Members’ contributions were often bundled. “AIPAC will select some dentist in Boise, say, to be the bundler,” a former longtime AIPAC member said. “They tell people in New York and other cities to send their five-thousand-dollar checks to him. But AIPAC has to teach people discipline—because all those people who are giving five thousand dollars would ordinarily want recognition. The purpose is to make the dentist into a big shot—he’s the one who has all this money to give to the congressman’s campaign.” AIPAC representatives tried to match each member of Congress with a contact who shared the congressman’s interests. If a member of Congress rode a Harley-Davidson, AIPAC found a contact who did, too. The goal was to develop people who could get a member of Congress on the phone at a moment’s notice."


In the early days, Howard Berman said, “AIPAC was knocking on an unlocked door.” Most Americans have been favorably disposed toward Israel since its founding, and no other lobby spoke for them on a national scale. Unlike other lobbies—such as the N.R.A., which is opposed by various anti-gun groups—AIPAC did not face a significant and well-funded countervailing force. It also had the resources to finance an expensive and emotionally charged form of persuasion. Dine estimated that in the eighties and nineties contributions from AIPAC members often constituted roughly ten to fifteen per cent of a typical congressional campaign budget. AIPAC provided lavish trips to Israel for legislators and other opinion-makers.

Nevertheless, the lobby did not endorse or rank candidates. “We made the decision to be one step removed,” Dine said. “Orrin Hatch once said, ‘Dine, your genius is to play an invisible bass drum, and the Jews hear it when you play it.’ ” In 1982, after an Illinois congressman named Paul Findley described himself as “Yasir Arafat’s best friend in Congress,” AIPAC members encouraged Dick Durbin, a political unknown, to run against him. Robert Asher, a Chicago businessman, sent out scores of letters to his friends, along with Durbin’s position paper on Israel, asking them to send checks. Durbin won, and he is now the Senate Majority Whip. (Findley later wrote a book that made extravagant claims about the power of the Israel lobby.) In 1984, AIPAC affiliates decided that Senator Charles Percy, an Illinois Republican, was unfriendly to Israel. In the next election, Paul Simon, a liberal Democrat, won Percy’s seat. Dine said at the time, “Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And American politicians—those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire—got the message.”…

In the spring of 2008, AIPAC moved from cramped quarters on Capitol Hill to a gleaming new seven-story building on H Street, downtown. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Howard Kohr introduced Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate who had been a generous donor to AIPAC since the nineties, and who had helped underwrite congressional trips to Israel (paying only for Republican members). On this bright spring day, according to someone who was in the audience, Adelson recalled that Kohr had telephoned him, asking him to have lunch. Adelson remembered wondering, How much is this lunch going to cost me? Well, he went on, it cost him ten million dollars: the building was the result. He later told his wife that Kohr should have asked him for fifty million….

AIPAC’s hold on Congress has become institutionalized. Each year, a month or two before the annual policy conference, AIPAC officials tell key members what measures they want, so that their activists have something to lobby for. “Every year, we create major legislation, so they can justify their existence to their members,” the former congressional aide said. (AIPAC maintains that only members of Congress initiate legislative action.) AIPAC board meetings are held in Washington each month, and directors visit members of Congress. They generally address them by their first names, even if they haven’t met before. The intimacy is presumed, but also, at times, earned; local AIPAC staffers, in the manner of basketball recruiters, befriend some members when they are still serving on the student council. “If you have a dream about running for office, AIPAC calls you,” one House member said. Certainly, it’s a rarity when someone undertakes a campaign for the House or the Senate today without hearing from AIPAC.

In 1996, Brian Baird, a psychologist from Seattle, decided to run for Congress. Local Democrats asked if he had thought about what he was going to say to AIPAC. “I had admired Israel since I was a kid,” Baird told me. “But I also was fairly sympathetic to peaceful resolution and the Palestinian side. These people said, ‘We respect that, but let’s talk about the issues and what you might say.’ The difficult reality is this: in order to get elected to Congress, if you’re not independently wealthy, you have to raise a lot of money. And you learn pretty quickly that, if AIPAC is on your side, you can do that. They come to you and say, ‘We’d be happy to host ten-thousand-dollar fund-raisers for you, and let us help write your annual letter, and please come to this multi-thousand-person dinner.’ ” Baird continued, “Any member of Congress knows that AIPAC is associated indirectly with significant amounts of campaign spending if you’re with them, and significant amounts against you if you’re not with them.” For Baird, AIPAC-connected money amounted to about two hundred thousand dollars in each of his races—“and that’s two hundred thousand going your way, versus the other way: a four-hundred-thousand-dollar swing.”…

Soon after taking office, Baird went on a “virtually obligatory” trip to Israel: a freshman ritual in which everything—business-class flights, accommodations at the King David or the Citadel—is paid for by AIPAC’s charitable arm. The tours are carefully curated. “They do have you meet with the Palestinian leaders, in a sort of token process,” Baird said. “But then when you’re done with it they tell you everything the Palestinian leaders said that’s wrong. And, of course, the Palestinians don’t get to have dinner with you at the hotel that night.”…

In early 2009, after a brief truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed in a series of mutual provocations, Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead, an incursion into Gaza in which nearly fourteen hundred Palestinians were killed, along with thirteen Israelis. Baird visited the area a few weeks later and returned several times. As he wrote in an op-ed, he saw “firsthand the devastating destruction of hospitals, schools, homes, industries, and infrastructure.” That September, the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a report, based on an inquiry led by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone, that accused Israel of a series of possible war crimes. AIPAC attacked the report, saying it was “rigged.” A month later, an AIPAC-sponsored resolution to condemn the report was introduced in the House, and three hundred and forty-four members voted in favor. “I read every single word of that report, and it comported with what I had seen and heard on the ground in Gaza,” Baird said. “When we had the vote, I said, ‘We have member after member coming to the floor to vote on a resolution they’ve never read, about a report they’ve never seen, in a place they’ve never been.’ ” Goldstone came under such pressure that threats were made to ban him from his grandson’s bar mitzvah at a Johannesburg synagogue. He eventually wrote an op-ed in which he expressed regret for his conclusions, saying, “Civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” Other members of the council stood by the report.

Baird said, “When key votes are cast, the question on the House floor, troublingly, is often not ‘What is the right thing to do for the United States of America?’ but ‘How is AIPAC going to score this?’ ” He added, “There’s such a conundrum here, of believing that you’re supporting Israel, when you’re actually backing policies that are antithetical to its highest values and, ultimately, destructive for the country.” In talks with Israeli officials, he found that his inquiries were not treated with much respect. In 2003, one of his constituents, Rachel Corrie, was killed by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier, as she protested the demolition of Palestinians’ homes in Gaza. At first, he said, the officials told him, “There’s a simple explanation—here are the facts.” Or, “We will look into it.” But, when he continued to press, something else would emerge. “There is a disdain for the U.S., and a dismissal of any legitimacy of our right to question—because who are we to talk about moral values?” Baird told me. “Whether it’s that we didn’t help early enough in the Holocaust, or look at what we did to our African-Americans, or our Native Americans—whatever! And they see us, members of Congress, as basically for sale. So they want us to shut up and play the game.”…

“I think there is a growing sense among members that things are done just to placate AIPAC, and that AIPAC is not really working to advance what is in the interest of the United States.” He concluded, “We all took an oath of office. And AIPAC, in many instances, is asking us to ignore it.”

A few months later, the Gaza war began, and AIPAC mobilized again. “There were conference calls, mass e-mails, talking points for the day,” a congressional aide said. “AIPAC activists would e-mail me, with fifteen other AIPAC activists cc’d, and then those people would respond, saying, ‘I agree entirely with what the first e-mail said!’ ”…


It didn’t hurt AIPAC’s cause that the enemy was Hamas, whose suicide bombings a decade ago killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, and whose rocket attacks in recent years have terrorized citizens, particularly in southern Israel. As Israel pressed its offensive, and hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed, AIPAC argued, as did Netanyahu, that the casualties came only because Hamas was using human shields. Online, AIPAC posted a short film, “Israel’s Moral Defense,” which depicted an Israeli major in a quandary. Looking at a schoolyard filled with girls in neat uniforms, he sees fighters with a rocket launcher not far behind them. Should he order his men to fire their machine guns, and risk hitting the girls, or hold back, and risk the rocket killing Israelis? “I didn’t pull the trigger,” the soldier says. “We are totally different. . . . I am very proud to be in an army that has this level of morality.” A couple of weeks after the film appeared, Israeli shells struck a United Nations school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing twenty-one people and injuring more than ninety; it was the sixth U.N. school that Israel had bombed. The next day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, pointed out that, as Israeli forces attacked homes, schools, and hospitals, the U.S. was supplying them with heavy weaponry. Almost simultaneously, the House passed an AIPAC-supported resolution denouncing Hamas’s use of human shields and condemning an inquiry into Israel’s Gaza operations that Pillay was sponsoring.

According to congressional staffers, some members of Congress seemed eager to make up for their recent apostasy on the Iran negotiations. While Reid and his colleagues went to extraordinary lengths to fund the Iron Dome missile-defense system, the House leadership engaged in the same mission. The vote in the House came late on the night of Friday, August 1st—the last possible moment before the summer recess. The earlier resolutions that AIPAC had sponsored during the war had passed unanimously, with no record of individual votes, but on this vote the roll was called. (AIPAC sometimes asks congressional leaders to call the roll when a decisive victory seems likely.) “I think AIPAC thought this vote would be one hundred per cent,” Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, said. It was close: out of four hundred and thirty-five members, only eight voted no. Moran, who has been in Congress since 1990, and is retiring this year, was one of four Democrats who voted against the resolution. As a longtime member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, he did not believe that there was any urgent need for the funding. “We have put about nine hundred million dollars into the Iron Dome,” he argued. “We know that there are many millions unexpended in Israel’s Iron Dome account. And Israel was to get three hundred and fifty-one million on October 1st, for Iron Dome.”

Beto O’Rourke, a freshman Democrat from El Paso, also voted against the funding. “I tried to find him on the floor, but I couldn’t,” Moran said. “I wanted him to switch his vote. Now, he might not have switched it anyway, because—as shocking as it may be—he’s in Congress solely to do what he considers to be the right thing. I’m afraid he may have a tough race in November.” The morning after the vote, O’Rourke e-mailed a local AIPAC activist, Stuart Schwartz, to explain his vote, according to a knowledgeable person. In his explanation, which he also posted on Facebook, he pointed out that he had voted for Iron Dome in the past, and had supported the funds that were scheduled to arrive in October. But, he wrote, “I could not in good conscience vote for borrowing $225 million more to send to Israel, without debate and without discussion, in the midst of a war that has cost more than a thousand civilian lives already, too many of them children.” Within hours, O’Rourke was flooded with e-mails, texts, and calls. The next day, the El Paso Times ran a front-page story with the headline “O’ROURKE VOTE DRAWS CRITICISM.” In the story, Stuart Schwartz, who is described as having donated a thousand dollars to O’Rourke’s previous campaign, commented that O’Rourke “chooses to side with the rocket launchers and terror tunnel builders.” A mass e-mail circulated, reading “The Following Is Shameful, El Paso Has an Anti-Israel Congressman. . . . Do Not Reëlect Beto O’Rourke.” At the bottom was the address of AIPAC’s Web site, and a snippet of text: “AIPAC is directly responsible for the overwhelming support this legislation received on the Hill. If you are not a member of AIPAC, I strongly recommend that you join. Every dollar helps fund this important work in Congress.”

The day that Congress passed the Iron Dome bills happened to be an especially deadly one in Gaza. In the city of Rafah, Israeli troops pursued Hamas fighters with such overwhelming force that about a hundred and fifty Palestinians were killed, many of them women and children. Israel’s critics in the region have been energized. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator, told me that Congress had sent a clear message by funding Iron Dome that day. “Congress was telling Israel, ‘You go ahead and kill, and we will fund it for you.’ ” She argued that Israelis had dominated American political discourse on the war, as they have for decades on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “They say, ‘The Palestinians are all terrorists, they are the people we don’t know, they are alien, foreign, strange—but Israelis are like us.’ Who shaped the presentation, in the U.S.? AIPAC, to a large degree.”



Friday, August 29, 2014

Palestine, American Muslim Leadership & Assimilationist Strategic Math


Director, Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project

Yet another problematic aspect is related to the broader issues coming from the War on Terrorism. The US government’s constant involvement in the Muslim world and Palestine/Israel conflict necessitates a modicum of engagement with American Muslim leadership in such a way to lend support for the administration’s efforts. American Muslim leaders were asked to partner with America’s elite in the soft imperial power project directed at the Muslim world. Even though the soft power is anything but soft with drones used at will and bombing campaigns every so often, Muslim leaders engaged public diplomacy and became America’s soft power faces across the Muslim world and in return the government provided access to grants, resources and status for the participants. Winning the hearts and minds through public diplomacy while bombing campaigns never stopped.


Yet, what is sad and funny is that most if not all American Muslim leaders who travel for the purpose of soft power and public diplomacy are subject to secondary screening upon return, treated like terror suspects and are kept on the government watch list themselves. In this way they are treated like prisoners, which creates a psychological pressure to continue to participate so as to demonstrate they are ‘good’ people having nothing to hide and have no ill-feelings toward America. Thus, when one reads American Muslim organizational statements on Palestine and tracks it with administration language, one finds that the difference is minor because they have accepted the role of being in-bed with Washington and its policies toward the Muslim world.

Read full article: 
http://www.turkeyagenda.com/palestine-american-muslim-leadership-assimilationist-strategic-math-1082.html 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tariq Ramadan: My Absence Would Certainly Be The Most Powerful Speech I Have Ever Given At ISNA

http://www.theislamicmonthly.com/tariq-ramadan-my-absence-would-certainly-be-the-most-powerful-speech-i-have-ever-given-at-isna/

As Western Muslims and American Muslims, we need to understand that the values and principles we promote are not only Muslim values.  American Muslims live in a country where justice, dignity, freedom and equality are essential values. The Muslim contribution to the future of America is to not only speak out as Muslims, but to also speak out as citizens in the name of our common values. Our main contribution is to reconcile the American society with its own values, those that are not in contradiction to Islam.  We have a duty of consistency.

TIM: There is scant evidence that moral outrage or moral clarity have any impact on American foreign policy. In politics, morality is the handmaiden of special interests. America has stood by idly during genocides (like Rwanda), but then invokes genocide as a rationale for intervention (like ISIS) when intervention serves a strategic political or economic goal. At the same time, there is ample evidence that well-organized, well-funded political machinery can not only influence, but also actually dictate American foreign policy. How do you expect your words, or any words, to change what America does? Or is that not the goal of what you espouse?

Ramadan: It is important to understand that we are dealing with politics, and politics is mainly about interests. As Muslim citizens, we understand these interests but we should put principles and dignity beyond everything. As Muslims, our interests are our values.  In any society, be it in Western or Muslim-majority countries, our duty is that of critical loyalty: Staying loyal to our countries by always being critically engaged in the name of the principles of justice, equality and human brotherhood. We should be the ethical and moral voice wherever we are by saying that, even though we understand economic and geo-strategic interests, we cannot accept a violation of these principles by any society. In the West or anywhere else, the treatment of people in an undignified way (structural and institutionalized racism against Latinos or African American citizens) as well as a dangerous dehumanization of some people (in Palestine, Iraq, Africa or Asia) are simply unacceptable. As Muslims, we must have an active presence based on ethical and moral consistency. We need to be very vocal, to inform people, to demonstrate when necessary. We need to write so that the people understand that what they are getting from the media and politicians is biased and not accurate. And this is true especially when it comes to some communities within the U.S. or with respect to the Middle East and Africa. This is what I am expecting from a new generation of leaders: Meet these expectations of moral consistency.

TIM: Can Muslims be within the system?

Ramadan: American Muslims are already within the system. We should stop isolating ourselves by thinking we are powerless. The youngest generations of Americans have a better opinion of Islam because they interact with Muslims. Half of young American citizens now are supporting the Palestinians rather than the Israelis. Things are moving. If you do your work, if you are committed at the grassroots level, if you have a vision for the long run (not only short-sighted interest), you can change public opinion. You are within the system.  But if you are only concerned with international issues and/or the power of some lobbies that are influencing American policy, then you are isolating yourselves. You are powerless in your mind when you don’t understand the meaning and quality of your own real power. This is the problem we have with many Muslim leaders: They claim to differentiate between domestic and foreign issues and they are obsessed with being accepted, at sitting at the table of power in order to talk (or rather to listen) and to be tolerated. This is the starting point of our weakness. It is in our minds because we do not realize we are part of the system.

Read full article:

Monday, June 16, 2014

If American Muslims Can Change…

If American Muslims can change their selves, they could change the world.

American Muslims are often higher educated and earning more than the national average. The American Muslim community is spread in key swing states and can have a tremendous impact on local and national elections.

More than just about any other so called “Muslim country,” the U.S. offers American Muslims the legal freedom and protection to practice their faith.  Life in the United States also presents the opportunity to grow financially, intellectually and participate in civic affairs, law, politics and the pursuit of justice.  Unlike most countries in the Middle East, Muslims in America have both freedom to be who they want to be and practice their faith, and freedom to engage in meaningful work and civic engagement.

Many academics have explained in detail how the Islamophobia industry spends millions of dollars to demonize Islam and Muslims in America because they fear the impact American Muslims will have if they flourish.  The Islamophobia industry slanders Islam and Muslims in an effort to make Muslims ashamed of their identity and thus turn us away from the source of our strength: our faith, unity and community.

There is never an excuse for Muslims not to practice Islam in America. Allah swt is with us and so is the law. Very few other countries have laws that protect the right to practice our faith in the public, schools, and workplace like the US. This is a blessing we must acknowledge, appreciate and protect.
Granted, the system is not perfect. Mistakes have been made. America has a history of gross civil rights violations from the slave trade to Jim Crow Laws to the internment of Japanese Americans. Today the indefinite detention without trial of humans in Guantanamo Bay Prison, the unjustified spying on Muslims by the NYPD, attempts to outlaw the practice of Islam in several states, and the FBI entrapment program targeting the Muslim community are a few example of how America continues to struggle with forces of tyranny that try to make this nation stray from its great ideals of liberty, equality and justice.

Authors like Trevor Aaronson even detail government programs intended to provoke Muslims to engage society destructively, which can in effect hinder the Muslim community’s ability to effectively engage constructively.

Despite these wrongs, we have the freedom to challenge these injustices and will overcome them just as other minorities have overcome them in the past and continue to struggle to do so today.
Few other nations allow minorities the opportunity to challenge injustice and oppression as America, and while our nation is not perfect, through the dedication of those devoted to striving for justice, civil rights, and human dignity, it will, inshallah, improve.

However, American Muslims are not as effective or active as we should be.

We are the second largest religious minority in America, yet Islamophobic attacks against Islam and Muslims are tolerated in mainstream discourse which would never be tolerated against other minorities. Over 300 Muslims globally are killed in wars started or supported by western nations every day, and the American Muslim community has yet to be effective in lobbying for a more peaceful and just US foreign policy. Actually, we are still struggling to protect civil rights domestically.

The amount of civil rights violations committed and liberty lost in the name of fighting “Muslim extremists” has taken America back many years when it comes to civil rights and justice. Ironically, it has also made American Muslims stand out as leaders of the civil rights movement.

Experience has shown me however that most American Muslims are unaware of the civil rights and Islamophobia challenges our community is facing. As a result, few Muslims are taking action to fulfill our obligation as Americans and as Muslims to defend civil rights and promote understanding of our faith and community.

American Muslims have the immense potential and opportunity to be leaders for change. But we will not realize that potential unless we make the most of the blessings of freedom and wealth God has blessed us with.  We must invest our time, energy, and wealth more constructively than those who embrace hate and are investing their resources to undermine our faith and liberty.

We must first care about our faith, community, and civil rights. Then we must understand the nature of the challenges we are facing.  Only then can we constructively engage the system to create positive change.

By working together with interfaith allies to push back against efforts to promote fear and hatred that undermine liberty, we can ensure America remains a free nation where children of people of all faiths can grow up proud of their identity with the opportunity to learn about the diverse faiths that make up our society.


A free and just society is the best society for our faith and community to flourish.

94% Of All Terrorist Attacks Are Invented By The FBI – New Study Shows

“What they were trying to do is to convince the American public that there is this large army of potential terrorists that they should all be very-very scared about. They are very much engaged in world-wide surveillance and this surveillance is very valuable to them. They can learn a lot about all sorts of things and in a sense control issues to their advantage. And the entire legal justification for that depends on there being a war on terror. Without a war on terror they have no right to do this. So they have to keep this war on terror going, they have to keep finding people and arresting them and locking them up and scarring everybody,” states Steven Downs, attorney for Project SALAM. 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If the Las Vegas Killers Were Muslims, We'd Call Them Terrorists

Conor Friedersdorf | The Atlantic |  June 10th 2014 | [Original Article]

If a 22-year-old Muslim man stabbed his roommates to death in their sleep, embarked on a killing spree, and claimed in written and video manifestos that he acted to teach hated women a lesson, there's little doubt that many would label him a terrorist. That label was scarcely appended to the Santa Barbara killer after his murders.

And if a Muslim couple stormed into a fast-food restaurant armed with a duffel bag full of military gear, shouted, "This is the beginning of the revolution!" and pinned a flag associated with their political movement to the dead bodies of the police officers they executed at point-blank range—then killed another innocent person and carried out a suicide pact rather than being taken alive—there is no doubt that many media outlets would refer to the premeditated attack as an act of terrorism. With a few exceptions, that's not how this week's news from Las Vegas played out.

When mass killers are native-born whites, their motivations are treated like a mystery to unraveled rather than a foregone conclusion. And that is as it ought to be. Hesitating to dub the Santa Barbara and Las Vegas murder sprees "terrorist attacks" is likely the right call. The label casts more heat than light on breaking-news events. Americans typically respond more soberly and rationally to mass killings than to "terrorist attacks." And while both sprees obviously targeted civilians, the varying degrees to which they sought to influence politics is unclear.

That said, the pervasive double-standard that prevails is nevertheless objectionable. As Glenn Greenwald once observed, "terrorism" is "simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon. The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity."... [Read Full Article]

Thursday, June 5, 2014

POLICY: NATIONAL SECURITY The FBI prospers by feeding public safety fears

BY: Steve Chapman| Washington Examiner| May 25th, 2014 | [Original Article]

...Comey is upholding the tradition that once the government identifies an evil, the evil never goes away — it only gets bigger and tougher, requiring ever-increasing efforts to combat it. The Department of Energy was created during the "energy crisis" of the 1970s. The crisis didn't last, but the department did.

The same pattern holds here. In the decade after Sept. 11, the number of terrorist episodes in this country averaged 17 a year, compared to 41 a year in the 1990s. Nor is al-Qaida gaining ground. Since 9/11, reports the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, it has carried out no attacks in the U.S.

But progress is never taken as progress. It's always interpreted as the calm before the storm.
When Comey arrived, nerves were raw from the Boston Marathon bombing, which sparked fears of a wave of domestic attacks. Since then, there has not been a single death from homegrown terrorism in the U.S. In the following 12 months, the number of Muslim-Americans arrested on terrorism charges was 15, below the annual average of 20.

"Almost all of these arrests were for attempting to join a foreign terrorist organization abroad, not for planning attacks in the homeland, and were motivated by sympathies with rebels in Syria and elsewhere rather than by al-Qaida's call for Muslims to attack the West," wrote David Schanzer of Duke University and Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in The News and Observer of Raleigh.


None of this matters to Comey or his associates in the federal government, which has an unbreakable addiction to dire forecasts. When it comes to national security, they see every silver lining as attached not just to a cloud, but to a skyful of black thunderheads. Read Full Article

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why You Should Never Speak to the FBI Without a Lawyer

BY: Harvey Silvergate| FORBES | June 3rd, 2014 | [Original Article]

DOJ's New Recording Policy: The Exceptions Swallow The Rule






...FBI agents routinely conduct their interviews in pairs, with one agent asking the questions and the other taking notes which are eventually typewritten into what is known as a form 302 report. It has previously been strictly against FBI policy to electronically record any of these interviews. Without an objectively accurate, verbatim record of the interview, the witness is compelled, forced even, to follow the script of the 302 report if it is presented in a court of law. If the witness’ testimony strays from the agent’s report, she opens herself up to a felony charge, for either making “false statements” to a federal agent (at the time of the interview) or for perjuring herself on the witness stand. This is how the FBI is able to coerce witnesses (or suspects) and shape their testimony.

Given the obvious dishonesty of this system, and the extent to which the truth can be corrupted by FBI agents and federal prosecutors who are able to teach their witnesses not only how to sing but also how to compose, it seemed only a matter of time before the interview procedure would change. While many think this memo will precipitate that shift, the devil is in the details of the document, which provides so many exceptions that the new rule, to be implemented on July 11th, will arrive stillborn. 

This policy thus is so riddled with exceptions that it is less a policy than a half-veiled attempt at improving the troubled public image of the DOJ and FBI.  Instead, such self-cancelling policies should only add to the dubious reputation that federal law enforcement has gained in recent years for its often over-zealous, selective and coercive prosecutions.
All citizens – both of the law-and-order variety as well as civil libertarians– should want to see federal law enforcement practices become more transparent and less accommodating to rogue agents and overzealous prosecutors. Such reform will not be accomplished by enacting compromised policies like this one.  [Read More]


Monday, May 12, 2014

An Open Letter to Bill Maher From a Muslim American

BY: Rabia Chaudry | Time.com | May 12, 2014 | [Original Article]

The problem isn't Islam. It's your movement to demonize Islam in the liberal left.


Hey there, Bill. You hate religion. You particularly hate Islam. We get it. Your liberal bigotry against Muslims and Islam is no secret. For a while now I’ve just avoided watching your show, which kind of stinks because for many years I was a great fan and really loved it. I wasn’t even bothered when you called out Muslims doing stupid, criminal or horrific things. You do that with a lot of groups, and it’s important to do. But I stopped watching when it became clear that you loathed a faith I was devoted to.

You recently discussed the kidnapping of hundreds of girls by Boko Haram, followed by the new sharia laws in Brunei, and rounded out the segment with a nod to your buddy Ayaan Hirsi Ali—quite the trifecta of examples to support your conclusion that Islam itself is, as you said, “the problem.” Your reasoning is essentially that Muslims are doing many horrible things around the world, and they all believe in Islam, so naturally Islam is the nonnegotiable culprit.

Let’s ignore for now the numerous logical fallacies in your premise and instead follow your exact line of reasoning. If we are to accept your rationale, we have to also accept that, if many Muslims are doing good things around the world, and they all believe in Islam, then Islam is responsible for the good that they do. We also accept, given that Ali’s criticism of Islam is based on her personal experience, that the positive personal experience of other Muslims, including converts, are just as valid reflections on the faith.

For the sake of argument, and being as generous as possible, let’s say Islam has been a force of destruction for 50% of Muslims and a source of empowerment, peace and comfort for the other 50%. Where exactly does that leave us? Whose experience of Islam is legitimate? If Boko Haram is, in your estimation, an authentic expression of Islam, what do you make of the hundreds of Nigerian Muslim families who were sending their daughters to school? Why isn’t their dedication, like Malala Yousafzai’s dedication, to girls’ education an authentic expression of Islam? What do you deduct from the fact most Muslim women in the world are not circumcised? Are they just doing Islam wrong? Are all the good, peaceful Muslims doing Islam wrong?

You noted that women are treated at best like second-class citizens, but most often like property in Islam. The first Muslim woman, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, a successful businesswoman, boss-lady and wife to the Prophet Muhammad, and the other Muslim women of his time would have snickered at you. Women of the region were chattel before Islam, treated and traded as such, until the Quran freed them through revelations such as “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will.”

I could tell you that Islam was the first system to establish women’s property rights, inheritance rights, the right to education, to marry and divorce of their free will, to be religious scholars, business owners, soldiers. I could tell you that while Christianity was debating the status of women’s souls and declaring them a source of sin, Islam had already established authoritatively the spiritual equality of men and women and absolved Eve, and womankind at large, of sin. I could tell you that the world and history is full of highly educated, successful Muslim women who are empowered by their faith, not debilitated by it. I could tell you terrorism is categorically forbidden in Islam, and that between 1970 and 2012, 97.5% of terror attacks in the U.S. were carried out by non-Muslims. I could tell you that female genital mutilation is never mentioned in the Quran; the only reference to it is found in a weak narration, and scholars find it objectionable to the point of being classified as impermissible... [Read More]

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't give divisive lecturer GOP forum

Don't give divisive lecturer Jonathan Matusitz, GOP forum

I am appalled at the Orlando Republican Women's Network's announced plans to host UCF's Jonathan Matusitz's lecture on "The Islamic Threat to America."

The title of the talk alone serves to demonize and alienate an entire minority and is counterproductive to a free, diverse and tolerant community. Nothing good can come out of targeting an entire group based on faith.

Besides being unproductive, asserting that an entire faith is a threat is simply incorrect.
As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, American Muslims are "essential partners in the fight against terrorism."

Inviting such an offensive speaker, who, according to Pinellas Republican Executive Committee leader Chris Latvala, "bash[es] a religion practiced by many ... including fellow Republicans," can harm the long-term viability of the GOP, and effectively undermine the goals of the network. Similar concerns have been raised by GOP leader Grover Norquist: "When you hear snide comments about Jews in the '50s or Muslims today — we've been through this. The Republican Party chased away the Catholic vote for over a hundred years."

The network certainly has a right to hold events that demonize an entire faith.

But the fact that members choose to do so says more about them and their values, ethnocentrism, and double standards than the faith they are attacking.

Our country needs leaders who unite us, not leaders who use fear to divide us.

Hassan Shibly, Executive Director, CAIR-Florida in Tampa

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NBC’s Richard Engel misleading take on Muslim violence

By: Zaid Jilani | Salon.com | October 22, 2013          [Read Original Here]
For conservatives, the hype about “black on black violence” has become a campaign slogan — despite evidence to the contrary that violence is really about concentrated poverty and geography, leading disingenuous conservatives to complain about this phenomenon. “Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them?” complained Juan Williams last year as protests for slain teenager Trayvon Martin were gearing up.
In a television news segment aired last week, NBC’s decorated foreign correspondent Richard Engel offered a similar take on “Muslim versus Muslim violence.” Like complaining about black on black violence, it seemed calculated to absolve the audience of blame.
Engel is one of America’s most prominent foreign correspondents. He has lived in the Middle East since 1996 and speaks and reads Arabic that he learned from many years living in Cairo. So it’s particularly disappointing to see him engage in a form of Orientalism.
Engel’s segment begins by setting the scene: “Anyone who follows the Middle East and Islamic world in general can’t deny it is often a very violent place, that a band of instability now stretches from Algeria to Pakistan. Every day it seems there are car bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, and refugees and crying children. From the outside it looks like a violent mess to be avoided. But the violence baffles many of the people who live in the region. Why? they ask. Why is the Islamic world these days so violent? And who’s responsible.”
Engel then reminds his viewers that Muslims aren’t predisposed to violence: “Islam, like all major religions, preaches tolerance and coexistence. Most sermons on most mosques on most days preach about living a good and moral life. Very normal stuff.”
Then he gets to his thesis, that Muslims can’t explain all that Muslim-on-Muslim violence and that they shroud themselves in conspiracy theories: “Which leads many in the Islamic world to conclude that there must be a conspiracy. Some war against Islam waged by non-Muslims. This is a very common philosophy in the Islamic world reinforced by television shows and taken as fact at many of the same mosques where people are told to live good and decent lives.”
Engel then concedes that there might be some truth to the idea that Muslims are being killed by non-Muslims: “In just a generation, starting roughly in 1980, about 4 million Muslims have died violently in wars, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Bosnia to Chechnya. Understand, numbers like these are hard to nail down. But the scale makes a point. More than 300 Muslims killed a day, every day, for 30 years. And about half of them, think Afghanistan attacked by the Soviet Union, Bosnia by Serbs, and America’s two wars in Iraq, it was Muslims who were killed by non-Muslims. The worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, the massacre at Srebrenica, and the worst air assault on a city, Grozny, were both directed at Muslims by armies of other faiths. So looking from the inside out, it’s not unreasonable to see a war against Islam.”
Then he pivots to his conclusion: It’s really the Muslims killing each other, and they don’t like to admit it: “But increasingly, the argument doesn’t hold up. Increasingly, it’s been Muslims killing Muslims. In civil wars in Syria, Algeria, Sunni versus Shiite violence seems to be the new terrible trend. And one that is likely to continue as the Arab world struggles to find a new status quo after the revolution of the Arab Spring. It could take a decade for a new system to lock in place. Until then, there’s likely to be a lot more Muslim versus Muslim violence. But this narrative isn’t very popular in the region. It isn’t talked about as much in the mosques and in the Arab media. Perhaps it’s easier to blame the outside than to explain the interfaith violence.”
There are a number of troubling flaws in Engel’s argument. First of all, he seems to posit that the Muslim world is uniquely violent, with 4 million Muslims  killed there over the past 33 years. While the region has indeed seen horrific violence, let’s not forget that it’s a group consisting of over 1.6 billion individuals.
By contrast, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 95 percent of the population is Christian, the International Rescue Committee estimated that 5.4 million people died in conflict in eastern Congo from 1998 to 2007 out of a current population of 65.7 million people.
There are also parts of the Muslim world that have relatively little violence. For example, much of the Middle East has lower homicide rates than the U.S.
Then Engel concedes that half of the violence he was referring to came from outside the Muslim world. He then quickly moves on. Think about that. In 2001, 2,750 Americans were killed by Muslim terrorists. The same year, 15,980 Americans were killed by … each other in homicides. If you polled most Americans that year about what they were most outraged about, it’s very likely that the terrorist attacks would rank higher than common murder, even though the murders accounted for almost six times as many deaths. Would Engel really take Americans to task for uniting against a foreign enemy – the al-Qaida organization – rather than the violence from within? Every society, not just Muslim ones, are quicker to rally against a foreign enemy.
That brings us to the last flaw in Engel’s argument. He claims that Muslims and Arabs are not focusing on violence by other Muslims, and that they’d rather blame foreigners, in the press and in their mosques. But is that even true?
I took a couple of snapshots of the current home page of Dawn.com, the Web presence of Pakistan’s most influential newspaper. The home page features items on a girls’ school receiving a threatening letter from an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, an article on a bomb attack on a train in Balochistan, a piece on Pakistan’s female police officers taking on criminals and terrorist militants, among others related to “Muslim versus Muslim violence.”
did the same for the Khaleej Times, a major news outlet based out of the United Arab Emirates. As I write this, there are three articles about Syria’s civil war and one article about Malala, the famed Pakistani teenage girl who stood up to the Taliban.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t certain individuals that peddle conspiracies and try to blame the West for all of the Muslim world’s problems. But they aren’t too different from our own Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh – they’re providing red meat to a small but fervent audience that rejects rational discussion.
Engel’s portrayal of “Muslim versus Muslim violence” is simplistic. The issues and animosities that have created sectarian warfare in some parts of the Muslim world are nuanced, and many of them can at least partially be blamed on the West: See Syria where the civil war has turned into a proxy conflict between the American and Russian governments, which are both fueling the bloodshed with arms.
Yet a greater problem may be Engel’s role as a narrator himself. Like white conservatives who scold the black community for violence, Engel is playing the role of a white Western outsider, lecturing Muslims on their inability to govern themselves. Yes, there is bitter sectarian violence in some parts of the Muslim world, but addressing that is primarily a job for Muslim activists and the Muslim public sphere. A white non-Muslim lecturing Muslims on American television will hardly help soothe sectarian divisions, and it may even exacerbate them.
Perhaps a better use for Engel’s reporting talent would be to inform Americans about the nuances of conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim world, and to give them the information they need to change what’s most directly under their control: U.S. foreign policy. Engel could explain how the United States’ one-sided policies with respect to Israel and the Palestinians prevent a resolution, or how our extreme sanctions against Iran are hurting ordinary people there, not government officials – a former U.S. ambassador recently warned that it could “become a humanitarian disaster in five years.”
A reporter of Engel’s background and talent should consider these alternatives and others rather than championing a simplistic and condescending narrative toward 1.6 billion people.