Friday, September 30, 2011

CNN: My Take: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11

Aman Ali | Special to CNN

New York (CNN) – As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11. What do you want me to say, seriously?
Do you want me to say, “It was a great plan, mwahahaha!” before I fly off on a magic carpet?
I was born and raised in this country and was just as shocked as everyone else to learn there were people on this earth so vile as to commit such a horrific attack - or to even think about doing it.
But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims. So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?
Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?
Just like Christianity and Judaism, Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism. Don’t take it from me, though. Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for yourself.
Don’t rely on some cherry-picked crackpot interpretation of the Muslim holy book that you read on some Islamophobic hack’s poorly designed website. Speaking of which, Islamophobes need to put down the Quran and pick up a book on HTML programming and Flash.
When 9/11 happened, I can understand why the average person would want to know what Muslims actually believe. After all, the terrorists claimed they were acting in the name of Islam.
That’s why hundreds of Islamic organizations around the globe condemned the attacks and told the truth about how Islam doesn’t condone terrorism whatsoever.
But that was 10 years ago. Why are mainstream American Islamic groups like the Islamic Society of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council still condemning the attacks and just about any other act of terrorism that pops up in the news?
Weren’t we clear before how we feel about terrorism? If people didn’t understand us for the past 10 years, what makes Muslims think they’re going to understand us now?
If I have to explain 10 times to my little brother how to operate the toaster in my apartment, that’s not my fault because of inadequate messaging. It’s my brother’s fault that he’s dumb.
It’s ridiculous for Muslims to continuously condemn and apologize for stuff when every religion has their fair share of crazies....[Read More]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot

Glenn Greenwald |

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade -- much of it valid -- but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots.  Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out -- only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI. 
Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success.  In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro.  And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using "remote-controlled" model airplanes carrying explosives.
None of these cases entail the FBI's learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI's purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI's Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers' bags).   I have several observations and questions about these matters: [Read More]

Even Those Cleared of Crimes Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List

Charlie Savage | NYT

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

[Read More]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Evidence of Anti-Islam Bias Underscores Deep Challenges for FBI’s Reform Pledge

By Spencer Ackerman |

[Read Full Story]

Following months of denials, the FBI is now promising a “comprehensive review of all training and reference materials” after Danger Room revealed a series of Bureau presentations that tarred average Muslims as “radical” and “violent.”

But untangling the Islamophobic thread woven into the FBI’s counterterrorism training culture won’t be easy. In addition to inflammatory seminars which likened Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a “cult leader,” Danger Room has obtained more material showing just how wide the anti-Islam meme has spread throughout the Bureau.

The FBI library at Quantico currently stacks books from authors who claim that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible.” The Bureau’s private intranet recently featured presentations that claimed to demonstrate the “inherently violent nature of Islam,” according to multiple sources. Earlier this year, the Bureau’s Washington Field Office welcomed a speaker who claimed Islamic law prevents Muslims from being truly loyal Americans. And as recently as last week, the online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces included claims that Sunni Islam seeks “domination of the world,” according to a law enforcement source.

“I don’t think anyone with half a brain would paint 1.2 billion people of any ethnic or religious persuasion with a single brushstroke,” Mike Rolince, an FBI counterterrorism veteran who started Boston’s JTTF, tells Danger Room. “Who did they run that curriculum by — either an internal or outside expert — to get some balance?”

The FBI declined to respond directly to such questions from Danger Room. But what’s clear is that the anti-Islam sentiment in the FBI’s training and orientation isn’t the marginal problem that the Bureau portrayed in its previous public statements and press releases. It’s not a historical problem, it’s ongoing. And it will require substantial effort to root out. Not even a July warning from the office of a powerful senator was able to spur the Bureau to purge itself of its anti-Islam material...

The excerpt from the JTTF orientation material was provided to Danger Room by a concerned law enforcement official, who says the material contains 20 paragraphs about Islam in a similar vein. Several Bureau and law enforcement officials who spoke to Danger Room on condition of anonymity believe that such instructions are detrimental to uncovering and thwarting terrorist plots, and that the FBI continues to be less than forthright with the press and the public about the extent of its teaching that Islam is at the root of the menace of terrorism. Evidence for this continuing belief can be found in Quantico, Virginia, at the FBI’s elite training academy....

...And there is also Onward Muslim Soldiers by Robert Spencer. Spencer is one of the U.S.’ leading opponents of Islam. Along with the blogger Pamela Geller, Spencer leads a group called Stop Islamicization of America, which “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Spencer’s work was cited 64 times in the political manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo terrorist who killed 69 people earlier this year...

But some voiced worries that the presentation sent an implicit message to agents that they should be targeting Muslims in the name of stopping terrorism. And in the past few years, the FBI has accelerated its monitoring of mosques, community centers, businesses and other organizations run by Muslims. Several observers suspect that the persistence of training materials that casts Islam in a threatening light helps explain the increased surveillance. Others — including many counterterrorism professionals within the FBI who say they are disgusted by the bigoted material they’ve received — fear that the presentations will drive a wedge between the Bureau and the U.S. Muslim communities whose assistance it needs to prevent terrorism.

“Inappropriately enlarging the characterization of the threat to include all of Islam,” says Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a former official with the National Counterterrorism Center, “may inadvertently increase al Qaida’s ideological resonance and could facilitate recruitment of would-be terrorists.”...

Other materials reinforced the message delivered on the FBI’s internal network. A 2006 FBI intelligence assessment judged that “conversion” to Islam or intensifying Islamic faith (.PDF) could be early-warning signs of terrorism — a judgment that would apply to millions of American citizens. That assessment is still in official use, according to the FBI, even though one of its public responses to our expose was a public assurance that “Strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism. Views that are contrary should not and will not be taught to FBI employees.”

The FBI is now in damage-control mode. On Thursday afternoon, the FBI held a conference call with Muslim civil rights groups to apologize for its offensive training materials and admit that they were more extensive than it previously acknowledged. The FBI did not make any commitments on which outside experts or organizations it would consult for an updated training curriculum. But according to one participant, the FBI representative on the call said that many people within the Bureau disapproved of the anti-Islamic rhetoric. The FBI’s Allen declined to comment.

“We are glad that this very serious issue has finally received the attention of FBI leadership,” says Farhana Khera, executive director of the San Francisco-based civil rights group Muslim Advocates, “but an internal review is insufficient at this stage. In the last year, the FBI has either defended its use of bigoted trainers or emphatically assured the public that the various trainings were one-time, isolated incidents. Each time those assurances were later revealed to be false.”

[Read Full Story]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

F.B.I. Chided for Training That Was Critical of Islam

Arab-American and Muslim groups deplored on Friday the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of training material that characterized the prophet Muhammad as a “cult leader” and linked Muslims’ religious devotion to a potential for violence.

“It’s really troubling,” said Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Mr. Ayoub said the use of the material in counterterrorism training — first reported in a blog post on — was only one of numerous cases in which training materials for law enforcement agencies have portrayed Islam or Arabs in a negative light.

“The bigger question is how did this material get in there in the first place?” he said. “Do you not have rules or guidelines that will prevent this from happening?”

In a training segment called “Militancy Considerations,” posted on Wired’s Web site, a chart correlated a steady level of violence with “adherence by pious and devout” to the Koran. In contrast, the chart showed violence decreasing with “adherence by pious and devout” to the Bible or to the Torah.

[Read Full Article]

Monday, September 19, 2011

We need to challenge politics of fear 10 years after 9/11

By Dawud Walid
As we reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, our country has the opportunity to reflect upon how far we have collectively moved away from being seen as a moral authority on civil and human rights in the world and where we need to go in the future to restore this perceived authority.

Ten years ago, the world grieved with us as we lost our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and friends to the most deadly terrorist attack upon American soil. Even countries and organizations that have continued to be deemed extremist — Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah — denounced the attack by Al-Qaeda as a crime against humanity and “un-Islamic.” However, much of the sympathy and empathy that we received from the world has fundamentally eroded 10 years later.

In less than two months after 9/11, President George W. Bush signed into law the U.S. Patriot Act, which provided unprecedented powers to federal law enforcement entities to surveil persons without predication of terrorism-related activities, including the expanded usage of paid informants (15,000 FBI informatns alone, according to current data) to infiltrate religious institutions and the ability to detain citizens during border reentry without charges in the name of national security.

Such powers have led to systematic abuses ranging from United State Border Patrol agents having the authority to detain and question persons — including citizens up to 100 miles from the U.S. border — without proof of criminal activity and anti-war activists having their homes raided and being served with grand jury subpoenas due to their lawful political expressions to citizens being placed on the no-fly list while being overseas, then being barred from flying home to their own country, America.

Besides problematic laws such as the Patriot Act being instituted post-9/11, a growing cottage industry of Islamophobes has shaped the political discourse in our nation and has influenced policy makers at the highest levels of government.

The Center for American Progress recently documented that some of the top Islamophobes have received up to $43 million dollars of funding from conservative foundations, not including other donations and honorariums, in which these same bigots have met with top federal law enforcement officials, testified in congressional hearings about American Muslims and the need to erode civil liberties more in the name of national security and even trained FBI and Homeland Security agents.

The increase in domestic abuses coupled with the culmination of reports such as the high levels of civilian casualties, labeled “collateral damage,” in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and de facto war in the Waziristan area of Pakistan by American military personnel along with CIA drones and the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp have severely tarnished our reputation abroad.

Thus, even with President Obama giving speeches with much fanfare in Egypt, Ghana and Turkey about America’s commitment to human rights and our stated desire to “partner with the developing world,” polls such as a recent report released by the Arab American Institue show that America’s approval rating around the globe is at a record low.

While some Tea Party politicians and acolytes clamor about “taking America back” — meaning turning the clock back to the pre-civil rights movement era — we must be bold enough as Americans to stand up for the spirit of civil and human rights, be more vocal in confronting systemic bigotry and offer solutions to contemporary problems before some misguided souls push us toward the brink of fascism.

This starts with the awareness that many laws and policies that were basically shaped to confront Muslims who were deemed national security threats did not stop with Muslims, but has adversely impacted all American’s constitutional rights.

We need to continue to raise concerns about problematic provisions within the Patriot Act and call out unabashedly racist and xenophobic political rhetoric. Moreover, despite it being uncomfortable, we need to engage as a nation in intellectually honest national discussion about why most of the world is not fond of America and what are the root causes of the despicable disease of international terrorism, besides fear-mongering and Mickey Mouse explanations such as extremists attack us because “they hate us because of our freedoms” that have led our nation into unjust military conflicts.

As we remember those who were lost in the tragedy of 9/11, who we cannot bring back, let us be resolute in bringing back what we can, which is the American spirit of striving toward making our nation “a more perfect union” by ensuring “liberty and justice for all,” while standing against the politics of fear.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI)

American Muslims come of age in post-9/11 era

Kari Huus | MSNBC

...The decade since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been tough for many Muslim Americans — from the anti-terror surveillance aimed at mosques, schools, organizations and individuals to the wave of hostility fanned by those who see their religion as fomenting hatred and violence.

But the scrutiny and suspicion have also galvanized a new generation of more assertive, confident and politically involved Muslim American leaders, and a more integrated Muslim immigrant population. After 10 years of struggle, the community is better positioned to defend its interests and more willing to reach out to the broader population

“The national tragedy of Sept. 11 put us — by no choice of our own — on the hot seat,” said Imad Hamad, national adviser for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. “For a time people were intimidated and confused by this unprecedented shock. I think we managed to get our act together… define our role (as Americans) and keep moving forward.”...

U.S. authorities rounded up thousands of young men for questioning, often with little or no grounds. And just weeks after the attacks, Congress adopted the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and other measures that gave law enforcers unprecedented leeway to tap private information and additional discretion to deport non-citizens...

For example, the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a Muslim advocacy group that had been mainly handling workplace discrimination cases, abruptly changed gears.
“The existing law is supportive of (equal rights for workers), so we would just go to the workplace and talk to the employer. We didn’t need to sue anybody,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “But in the (post-9/11) atmosphere, the public relations initiatives don’t do what you need, so you need to sue.”
Almost overnight, CAIR expanded from eight to 30 chapters and began adding lawyers in every branch. Now, in addition to helping on legal and discrimination cases, CAIR offers “Know Your Rights” classes, which brief Muslim Americans on their rights and obligations when approached by the FBI. [Click Here to read Full Article]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

REPORT: $42 Million Dollars Fueling Islamophobia Movement in America

Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

Following a six-month long investigative research project, the Center for American Progress released a 130-page report today which reveals that more than $42 million from seven foundations over the past decade have helped fan the flames of anti-Muslim hate in America. The authors — Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matt Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, and myself — worked to expose the Islamophobia network in depth, name the major players, connect the dots, and trace the genesis of anti-Muslim propaganda.
The report, titled “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America,” lifts the veil behind the hate, follows the money, and identifies the names of foundations who have given money, how much they have given, and who they have given to:
Donors Capital Fund$20,768,600 Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Middle East Forum (MEF), Clarion Fund (Clarion), David Horowitz Freedom Center (Horowitz)
Richard Scaife foundations$7,875,000 Counterterrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation (CTSERF), Center for Security Policy (CSP), Horowitz
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$5,370,000 MEF, CSP, Horowitz
Russell Berrie Foundation$3,109,016 IPT, CTSERF, MEF
Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund$2,818,229 IPT,CTSERF, MEF, CSP, Clarion, Horowitz
Fairbook Foundation$1,498,450 IPT, MEF, CSP, Jihad Watch, Horowitz, American Congress for Truth
Newton and Rochelle Becker foundations$1,136,000 IPT, CTSERF, MEF, CSP, Clarion, Horowitz, American Congress for Truth
The money has flowed into the hands of five key “experts” and “scholars” who comprise the central nervous system of anti-Muslim propaganda:
FRANK GAFFNEY, Center for Security Policy – “A mosque that is used to promote a seditious program, which is what Sharia is…that is not a protected religious practice, that is in fact sedition.” [Source]
DAVID YERUSHALMI, Society of Americans for National Existence: “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…the Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.” [Source]
DANIEL PIPES, Middle East Forum: “All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.” [Source]
ROBERT SPENCER, Jihad Watch: “Of course, as I have pointed out many times, traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful. It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.” [Source]
STEVEN EMERSON, Investigative Project on Terrorism: “One of the world’s great religions — which has more than 1.4 billion adherents — somehow sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine.” [Source]
These five “scholars” are assisted in their outreach efforts by Brigitte Gabriel (founder, ACT! for America), Pamela Geller (co-founder, Stop Islamization of America), and David Horowitz (supporter of Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch). As the report details, information is then disseminated through conservative organizations like the Eagle Forum, the religious right, Fox News, and politicians such as Allen West and Newt Gingrich.

Over the past few years, the Islamophobia network (the funders, scholars, grassroots activists, media amplifiers, and political validators) have worked hard to push narratives that Obama might be a Muslim, that mosques are incubators of radicalization, and that “radical Islam” has infiltrated all aspects of American society — including the conservative movement.

To explain how the Islamophobia network operates, we’ve produced this video to show just one example of how they have mainstreamed the baseless and unfounded fear that Sharia may soon replace American laws:

Click here to read the full report.

NYPD Spies on Muslims with CIA Help

By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press – Aug 24, 2011
[Click here to read full report]

Since 1985, the NYPD had operated under a federal court order limiting the tactics it could use to gather intelligence. During the 1960s and 1970s, the department had used informants and undercover officers to infiltrate anti-war protest groups and other activists without any reason to suspect criminal behavior...

At the CIA, one of the biggest obstacles has always been that U.S. intelligence officials are overwhelmingly white, their mannerisms clearly American. The NYPD didn't have that problem, thanks to its diverse pool of officers.

Using census data, the department matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. Pakistani-American officers infiltrated Pakistani neighborhoods, Palestinians focused on Palestinian neighborhoods. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them....

Browne, the NYPD spokesman, said the Demographic Unit does not exist. He said the department has a Zone Assessment Unit that looks for locations that could attract terrorists. But he said undercover officers only followed leads, disputing the account of several current and former police and federal officials. They do not just hang out in neighborhoods, he said.

"We will go into a location, whether it's a mosque or a bookstore, if the lead warrants it, and at least establish whether there's something that requires more attention," Browne said.

That conflicts with testimony from an undercover officer in the 2006 trial of Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was convicted of planning an attack on New York's subway system. The officer said he was instructed to live in Brooklyn and act as a "walking camera" for police....

Some in the department, including lawyers, have privately expressed concerns about the raking program and how police use the information, current and former officials said. Part of the concern was that it might appear that police were building dossiers on innocent people, officials said. Another concern was that, if a case went to court, the department could be forced to reveal details about the program, putting the entire operation in jeopardy....

The department clashed with civil rights groups most publicly after Cohen's undercover officers infiltrated anti-war groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. A lawsuit over that program continues today.

During the convention, when protesters were arrested, police asked a list of questions which, according to court documents, included: "What are your political affiliations?" ''Do you do any kind of political work?" and "Do you hate George W. Bush?"

"I was told to act like a civilian — hang out in the neighborhood, gather information," the Bangladeshi officer testified, under a false name, in what offered the first narrow glimpse at the NYPD's infiltration of ethnic neighborhoods....

For years, detectives used informants known as mosque crawlers to monitor weekly sermons and report what was said, several current and former officials directly involved in the informant program said. If FBI agents were to do that, they would be in violation of the Privacy Act, which prohibits the federal government from collecting intelligence on purely First Amendment activities....

"If you're sending an informant into a mosque when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, that's a very high-risk thing to do," Caproni said. "You're running right up against core constitutional rights. You're talking about freedom of religion."

That's why senior FBI officials in New York ordered their own agents not to accept any reports from the NYPD's mosque crawlers, two retired agents said...

Following the foiled subway plot, however, the key informant in the case, Osama Eldawoody, said he attended hundreds of prayer services and collected information even on people who showed no signs of radicalization.

NYPD detectives have recruited shopkeepers and nosy neighbors to become "seeded" informants who keep police up to date on the latest happenings in ethnic neighborhoods, one official directly involved in the informant program said.

The department also has a roster of "directed" informants it can tap for assignments. For instance, if a raker identifies a bookstore as a hot spot, police might assign an informant to gather information, long before there's concrete evidence of anything criminal.

To identify possible informants, the department created what became known as the "debriefing program." When someone is arrested who might be useful to the intelligence unit — whether because he said something suspicious or because he is simply a young Middle Eastern man — he is singled out for extra questioning. Intelligence officials don't care about the underlying charges; they want to know more about his community and, ideally, they want to put him to work.

Police are in prisons, too, promising better living conditions and help or money on the outside for Muslim prisoners who will work with them.

Early in the intelligence division's transformation, police asked the taxi commission to run a report on all the city's Pakistani cab drivers, looking for those who got licenses fraudulently and might be susceptible to pressure to cooperate, according to former officials who were involved in or briefed on the effort...

NYPD's intelligence operations do not stop at the city line.

In June 2009, a New Brunswick, N.J., building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.

The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.

From that apartment, about an hour outside the department's jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea....

Cohen has also sent officers abroad, stationing them in 11 foreign cities. If a bomber blows himself up in Jerusalem, the NYPD rushes to the scene, said Dzikansky, who served in Israel and is the co-author of the forthcoming book "Terrorist Suicide Bombings: Attack Interdiction, Mitigation, and Response."...

"One of the hallmarks of the intelligence division over the last 10 years is that, not only has it gotten extremely aggressive and sophisticated, but it's operating completely on its own," said Dunn, the civil liberties lawyer. "There are no checks. There is no oversight."...

American Muslims Anti-Radicalization | Jewish & Muslim Understanding

Muqtedar Khan | Huffington Post:

A US Department of Justice study about Muslim American radicalization, conducted in 2010 by researchers from two North Carolina universities, argued that terrorism actually committed by American Muslims was surprisingly low. They attributed this low number to the anti-radicalization efforts of various Muslim communities and mosques in the United States. This in-depth study not only reassures law enforcement agencies that the fear of Muslim radicalism in America is overblown, but it also underscores the reality that US mosques are allies in the struggle against extremism -- not a source of extremism as some right-wing pundits and politicians insist....

Finally, there is an interesting sub-story in this report, especially for those Muslims who believe that all Jews are "out to get" Islam and Muslims. According to the Gallup poll, American Jews more than any other group recognize the prevailing Islamophobia and prejudice against Muslims in America. In fact, 80 per cent of American Jews, next only to American Muslims (93 per cent), believe that American Muslims are loyal to America. Of all religious communities, Jewish Americans are least likely to believe that American Muslims might be Al Qaeda sympathizers. Both Muslims and Jews in America also have very similar views about the Arab-Israeli conflict: 78 per cent of Jews and 81 percent of Muslims support the vision of a Palestinian state coexisting alongside Israel.

[Read Full Article]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

After 9/11, Muslim Americans More Assertive Of Their Identity

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

...While many Muslim Americans sought invisibility after 9/11, others did the opposite: growing beards, donning headscarves and skull caps, and making sure people knew they were Muslim.

The point? To be visible, and to challenge the notion that Muslims are oppressed, uneducated, dangerous or extremist.
"There's nothing wrong with being an outwardly devout Muslim, and a proud loyal American," said Hassan Shibly, who was in 7th grade on 9/11. As a teenager, he was taunted by classmates who called him "Osama" or "terrorist."
But when Shibly began his studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he grew out his beard and started wearing a kufi, or skullcap. Sometimes he wore a jubah, a traditional Arabic gown, when he chaired meetings of the student senate.
"People got to know me and like me in regular clothes, and then they'd see me in something they wouldn't expect, and that would really help break down the stereotypes," said Shibly.
He went on to law school and worked for judges over summer break. And while he opted for suits instead of the jubah, he wouldn't let go of the beard or kufi. People were "astonished," he said, to see him "chilling with the judge."
Shibly said Muslim Americans have a lot to learn from Sikhs who wear turbans or Jews who wear yarmulkes without a sense of shame. If they can do it, he says, there's no reason Muslims can't.
"Why are other groups not afraid to show their identity, and we're so afraid?" he asked. "If we're so ashamed of it and we're trying to hide it, people will respect us less. I really believe that when you're proud of your identity and you stand-up for your culture, people respect you more." [Read Full Article]

Muslim travelers say they're still saddled with 9/11 baggage

By Kari Huus

Imagine it is 5 a.m. and you’ve landed in New York after a 12-hour overseas flight. Standing in the line for U.S. citizens, you wait as a border agent asks passengers ahead a few cursory questions, then waves them through. Your family is instead ushered into a separate room for more than an hour of searching and questioning.
This was the welcome that Hassan Shibly, traveling with his wife and infant son, said they received in August 2010, when they returned to the United States from Jordan, after traveling to Mecca.
“Are you part of any Islamic tribe? Have you ever studied Islam full time? How many gods do you believe in?” “How many prophets do you believe in?” the agent at New York’s JFK Airport asked, according to Shibly, 24, a Syrian-born Muslim American. He said the agent searched his luggage, pulling out his Quran and a hand-held digital prayer counter.
“At the end — I guess (the agent) was trying to be nice — he said, ‘Sorry, I hope you understand we just have to make sure nothing gets blown up,’” said Shibly, a law school graduate who grew up in Buffalo.
A decade after Islamic extremists used airplanes to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Muslim American travelers say they are still paying the price for terror attacks carried out in the name of their religion. At airports, ports and land crossings, many contend, they are repeatedly singled out for special screening and intrusive questioning about their religious beliefs. Others say they have been marooned overseas, barred from flights to the United States. [Read the Full Story]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Humanity through tragedy: The community moves forward with interfaith dialogue post 9/11

Zachary Tomilnson   |   NewRootsNews

In commemoration and memory of Sept. 11, the Islamic community of Tampa aligned with Christian and peace-centric organizations from throughout Tampa Bay to break bread and speak on how a multicultural humanity copes with horror and what action, as an entire people working across lines of belief and conviction, can be taken to restore dignity and community abroad. These are the wounds of an entire nation and culture, and one must wonder if they are healing.

“9/11 happened to us all,” a featured speaker said in a video presentation from the Council for American-Islamic Relations. It was that sentiment which encapsulated the event: the boundaries of faith and politics were exceeded by the will to foster a sense of cosmic unity.

Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR Tampa, desires a world that is unbridled by fervent nationalism and bigotry, where diversity and humanity are essential. “Let us unite today and say no to those who wish to justify violence and hatred to our brothers and sisters in humanity ...,” he said. A decade of expansive warfare has engendered his passion. “Is a life worth less because of the passport it carries?” he asked.

Shibly and CAIR seek a brighter tomorrow on the horizon. Shibly proposed a three-step initiative to be taken to restoring not only America, but also nations and peoples beyond that were affected by the attacks: providing proper healthcare to the first responders at the World Trade Center, a unity of country via compassion and understanding, and an immediate end of warfare.

Shibly identifies this benevolence as universal in the teachings of prophets and figures from Abrahamic faiths and beyond: “If we are more concerned when our children are hurt and starving, but less concerned when our neighbor’s children are hurt and starving, then we are not true believers,” he said.

The Tampa chapter of CAIR presented the Unity and Renewal Award to both Bishop Chuck Leigh of the Apostolic Catholic Church and the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson of the First United Church of Tampa for embodying the progressive movement in a post-9/11 society that teaches, despite ideological and religious differences, members of diverging faiths can love one another as human beings and pursue the greater good... [Read Full Article]

CAIR-Tampa Awards "Unity & Renewal Award" to Christian Leaders

Bishop Chuck Leigh & Rev. Dr. Bernice Jackson awarded $2,000 for "helping move America forward from the tragic events of 9/11"
Jackson & Leigh 2011 Unity Award

This past weekend, CAIR-Tampa presented Bishop Chuck Leigh of the Apostolic Catholic Church and Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson of the United Church of Christ with the "Unity and Renewal Award" in recognition of their "exemplifying the spirit of moving America forward from the national tragedy of 9/11."

CAIR-Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly stated: "Bishop Leigh has consistently used his position and authority as a nationally-recognized Christian leader to advocate for fair and just treatment of all people. He seeks to redefine our nation as a place of justice and compassion, especially in these most difficult times. His efforts embody the ideals of liberty and unity that make America such a great nation."

"Dr. Jackson has been an activist on behalf of human and civil rights and women's rights and an advocate for peace with justice around the world for four decades. Her activism is an example of the ideals needed to unite our country against hatred, oppression, and injustice and keep America the safe and free nation we so cherish. "

Shibly continued to explain how Bishop Leigh and Dr. Jackson's work both exemplify the true meaning of interfaith work: "True interfaith friendship is not where we pretend to agree with each other by misrepresenting our views and then building a false friendship based on that. Rather, true interfaith dialog is where we recognize that we may and can disagree on many issues of faith and politics, but recognize that such differences need not prohibit us from loving each other as neighbors and human beings and working towards the common good."

Bishop Leigh accepted the award stating: "I am so very pleased to be accepting this award since for me it represents the consistent and positive effort of the Islamic community to reach out in friendship to people of good will in our nation. Among true believers of any faith there can certainly be disagreement, but never animosity or ill will. "

Rev. Dr. Jackson said: "Words are really inadequate to express my thanks to CAIR and to the Islamic Community of Tampa for this award. It means so much to me...we should be giving an award to CAIR, both here in Tampa and across this nation, for the work you are doing, not just on behalf of the Muslim community but on behalf of us all. For every time you challenge stereotypes or discrimination on behalf of Muslims, you challenge them on behalf of us all. As an African American who has been involved in working for justice in this nation for many, many years, I know how important it is that our nation live up to the ideals we espouse. We can't just talk the talk, we must walk the walk. So thank you for helping us to be a better nation. "

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.

At Tampa Mosque 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, safe haven is created from hate & war

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Hassan at 9/11 10th remembrance

After September 11th some Christians and Muslims viewed each other as the enemy. But on Saturday people of these two world religions gathered at the Islamic Community of Tampa's mosquein Temple Terrace to pay tribute to the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks.
In a small worship space at the end of a tiny road lies a family of Muslims that welcomes other faiths. But after the September 11th attacks, Muslims were not as welcomed by some Americans.Hassan Shibly, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said it was wrong for Muslims to be so quickly be equated to being terrorists after September 11th.

Many Muslims came to America in order to enjoy rights they weren't afforded in their own countries. Shibly said 9/11 has changed his life immensely. [Click Here to Read Article or Here to Listen]