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]