Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

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Muslim American News Briefs, August 5, 2009

Hadith: Remember God’s Beauty, Majesty and Glory
CAIR-Tampa Rep Meets with Pastor Over Anti-Islam Sign (Sun)
The Next Wave in Civil Rights Heroes: CAIR-New York’s Aliya Latif
CAIR-LA Seeks Aspiring Muslim Screenwriters
CAIR: Virginia Muslims Feed the Homeless
CAIR-MI: Abolish Torture Without Exceptions (Detroit News)
CAIR: Imams Win Right to Sue Feds over Air Arrests
CAIR-Chicago: Mocked for Arab Roots, Guard Awarded $200K (Sun-Times)
Maine Police Attend Training to Learn Muslim Culture (Press Herald)
CAIR-Cincinnati: Hundreds Turn Out for Community Cookout
"Remember Me, and I will remember you."
The Holy Quran, 2:152
A person once said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "The laws of Islam are too much for me, so tell me something that I can follow easily." The Prophet told him: "Let your tongue be always busy remembering God's beauty, majesty and glory (dhikr)."
Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 99
Megan Rolland, Gainesville Sun, 7/29/09
Click here to watch a short video interview.
An advocate for the Muslim community in Florida, during a one-on-one meeting Tuesday, was unable to persuade the senior pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville to remove a sign that reads "Islam is of the devil."
"I was pleased that at least he was making the bridge to meet with me," said Ramzy Kiliç, Tampa's executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It doesn't seem like (taking down the sign) is going to happen, and he didn't want to know more about Islam."
Kiliç met with Jones for about 25 minutes Tuesday at the Dove World Outreach Center, 5805 N.W. 37th St., which has a series of hand-painted signs that read in red "Islam is of the devil." …
Kiliç said his concern isn't based on the fact that the sign is offensive to him personally, but rather the fear that it might galvanize a subset of the population to act violently against a Mosque or even worse a Muslim individual.
"I don't think (Terry Jones) had any intent to be hateful to Muslims, but I just think he sees the Bible as the only way to God," Kiliç said of Jones and the church.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is a national non-profit organization that works on civil rights issues on behalf of Muslim Americans.
The center in Tampa received calls from concerned citizens in Gainesville and Kiliç said that prompted him to set up the meeting Tuesday to try to convince Jones to remove the sign.
Kiliç said that Jones demonstrated very little knowledge about Islam during the meeting.
Jones has an honorary doctorate in theology from the California Graduate School of Theology.
"A lot of the things he was raising were not even about Islam. They were about countries with Muslim majorities," Kiliç said. "Many Muslims come to America so they can practice Islam freely. I don't even consider Osama bin Laden a Muslim." (More)
Yara Souza, Elan Magazine, 7/23/09
“Law and Order” might be her go-to television show, but CAIR NY’s Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif asserts Jack and Abbie had nothing to do with her choice to lunge at a law degree. The tough time she endured wading through law school prepared her that much more to be dedicated and commited to organizing and mobilizing American Muslims. Plus, her work for CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations) has enhanced her exposure to the spectrum of discrimination cases facing the community.
The utmost professional and modest to a tee, the only time Latif slips is when she says the word “water” in her native New Jersey accent. In this Profile interview with elan, Latif takes her noteworthy duties and accomplishments all in stride.
Q: How has your experience working for CAIR been thus far?
A: The experience has made me into a tanner, more clothed version of Julia Roberts from Erin Brockovich! By that comparison, my role as CAIR-NY’s civil rights director has given me an opportunity to experience the realities on the ground through meaningful interactions with my clients, community leaders and advocates, and as such has allowed me to better vocalize the concerns and aspirations of the New York Muslim community to offending agencies, elected officials and media.
The past two years have definitely been EMOTIONAL: I’ve met the human faces behind the statistics. It’s hard not to become desensitized and compare the egregiousness of one case to another. To mention a few: I remember talking to the father of a Yemeni student who was locked in a closet by classmates, telling him to go back to his country while his teacher was well aware of the whole ordeal. (More)


(LOS ANGELES, CA, 7/29/09) - On Tuesday, August 11, CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles Area chapter (CAIR-LA) and the Writers Guild of America-West will host a “Writing for Hollywood” seminar for Muslim college students and recent graduates who are pursuing writing and filmmaking careers in the entertainment industry.

WHAT: ‘Writing for Hollywood’
WHEN: Tuesday, August 11 at 2:30 p.m.
WHO: Speakers include leading Hollywood filmmaker & writer

The seminar will go over how to become a successful screenwriter, qualities industry executives are looking for, and various opportunities available for American Muslims in Hollywood. The program will also feature an overview of resources and opportunities available at the Guild and a tour of the Writers Guild Foundation library.

Spaces are limited and will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis. If you are interested, please contact CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda via e-mail at Include your full legal name, major, and year in college or year of graduation.

Deadline for RSVP is Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 5 p.m.

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda via e-mail, Deadline for reserving your spot is Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 5 p.m.



(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/29/09) Northern Virginia Muslims gathered today at a local mosque to prepare and deliver lunches to homeless shelters in Herndon and Reston. The “Feed the Homeless” program is co-sponsored by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the Al-Kareem Foundation and the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

CAIR’s sponsorship of the event is part of its ongoing "Muslims Care" initiative, which is designed to encourage volunteerism in the American Muslim community.

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.


The Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Imam Dawud Walid and Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Detroit News, 7/29/09
The recently released White House legal torture memos call us as religious leaders to speak out against torture.
The memos authorize slamming detainees into walls, placing them in "cramped confinement" in coffin-like boxes and placing insects in the confinement box. The memos say "the use of waterboarding (a form of simulated drowning) constitutes a threat of imminent death." Nevertheless, they authorize its use.
These practices violate core teachings of our different traditions, as well as the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
As religious leaders, our primary concerns are moral and spiritual, but we are also concerned about the practical issues of torture.
Some people support torture, believing that it will make them safe. Torture will not keep us safe. It puts us more at risk.
Torture does not provide sound intelligence, and there are more reliable ways to get information. Brad Garrett, the former FBI special agent who repeatedly obtained uncoerced confessions from terrorist suspects, explains "If we want the intel, there are approaches that will render the information without torture."
What's worse, torture puts U.S. citizens and Americans abroad at greater risk. As 38 retired military leaders, including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explain, "If degradation, humiliation, physical and mental brutalization of prisoners is decriminalized or considered permissible ... we will forfeit all credible objections should such barbaric practices be inflicted upon American prisoners."
We need to face the truth about U.S.-sponsored torture. That is why we call for an impartial, nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry to study to what extent our interrogation practices have constituted torture and "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." (More)
[The Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, Imam Dawud Walid is executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations-Michigan and Robert Dobrusin is an Ann Arbor rabbi.]

Le Templar, East Valley Tribune, 7/28/09
Six Valley imams who were ejected from an U.S. Airways flight, then detained and questioned for hours, have received permission from a federal judge to seek a jury’s ruling on possible violations of their constitutional rights.
The month-old court ruling from U.S. District Court in Minnesota hasn’t attracted nearly as much attention as when the imams and the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the lawsuit claiming religious discrimination. In November 2006, the imams were removed from a flight before it left for Phoenix after they attended a clerical conference in Minneapolis. The imams were accused of “suspicious behavior” for praying to Allah in the terminal before the flight, for sitting in seats spread throughout the plane, for criticizing the U.S. involvement in Iraq, and for requesting seat belt extenders. (More)

FEDERAL COURT | Officer sued sheriff's office over slurs via radio, graffiti
Art Golab, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/25/09
A Cook County correctional officer who claimed he was harassed by colleagues because of his Arab ancestry was awarded $200,000 in damages by a federal jury Friday.
Officer Abraham Yasin sued the Cook County sheriff's office in 2007, saying he was constantly targeted by fellow officers with slurs such as "camel jockey," "bin Laden," and "shoe bomber" -- over the the radio and via graffiti scrawled on his locker.
Once, according to the court documents, a correctional officer called Yasin on the radio, and when Yasin did not respond, somebody said that "he's making a bomb."
The sheriff's office did not respond to his repeated complaints, according to the suit, which was filed on Yasin's behalf by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"This was an unprecedented decision," CAIR staff attorney Kevin Vodak said. "The case stands as a legal precedent and a symbol of hope for Arab Americans to expect to be free of harassment in their workplace." (More)
David Hench, Portland Press Herald, 7/29/09
PORTLAND, Maine — Police officers planning to interview members of a Muslim household approached the door, only to spot a woman inside dashing into a back room. Was she grabbing a weapon? Warning a suspect? Fleeing out a back door?
''She did not want to answer the door without getting her head covering,'' said Foria Younis, a former terrorism investigator with the FBI. In many Muslim cultures, ''if a woman doesn't have a head scarf on, it's almost as if she's nude.''
Younis tells the true story to help illustrate the importance of understanding Muslim traditions if police are to work effectively within their local Muslim communities.
Younis was the key presenter Tuesday at a daylong training program at the University of Southern Maine, attended by 62 officers from across the state.
Organized by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, the training was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice in hopes of helping local and state authorities build ties with people in Muslim communities. It's also meant to give officers the tools to conduct investigations in those populations.
''People want to know how to do it right rather than being told they did it wrong,'' said Sheriff Mark Dion, who has worked in recent years to develop relationships with members of the local Muslim community. ''You don't have to become an Islamist expert, but all we have now are stereotypes, which don't work for anyone.'' (More)


(CINCINNATI, OH, 7/29/09) - More than 250 people turned out on Sunday for a “Community Cookout” hosted by the Cincinnati office of CAIR-Ohio. Attendees enjoyed the picnic and received CAIR civil rights literature. There were crafts, games and prizes for the children and an Islamic quiz competition for the adults.
“Every year, this event attracts a wide array of people from the Cincinnati-area Muslim community and brings participants together in an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation,” said CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub,
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.
CONTACT: Karen Dabdoub, 513-281-8200, E-mail:; Zeinab Schwen,


Muslim American News Briefs, July 25, 2009

Verse: Benefits of Perseverance
CAIR Applauds Decision to Allow Hijab in Georgia Courts
CAIR-Chicago Wins Bias Suit for Arab-American Officer
CAIR-OH Speaks Out against Hate-Crime Sentence
CAIR-OH: Muslim Woman Harassed at Dayton Airport (Daily News)
CAIR-OH: Are Muslim's Being Targeted at Dayton Airport?
CAIR-NY: Closing Schools for Two Muslim Holidays?
CAIR-Seattle: Muslim Groups Host Candidate Forum
CAIR-OK Co-Hosts Interfaith Dialogue at Hindu Temple
CAIR: Observing Religious Dress Does Not Equal Promoting Religion
CAIR-MN: Why Would a Manager Ban Prayer During a Work Break?
IL: Muslims Hope for New Era of Understanding
CAIR: U.S. Muslims Decry Closed Trial for American Held in U.A.E.
“O you who believe, seek help with patient perseverance and prayer. For God is with those who patiently persevere.”
Noble Quran, 2:153
Muslim civil rights group had challenged ban on religious attire in courtrooms
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/24/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded a decision by the Judicial Council of Georgia to allow religious attire such as Islamic headscarves, or hijab, in that state’s courtrooms.
SEE: Muslim Headscarves to be Allowed in Georgia Courtrooms (Atlanta Journal)
In a press release issued today, the Judicial Council of Georgia said in part:
“The measure stems from the December 2008 arrest of Lisa Valentine after she refused to remove her hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women. She said to do so would violate her faith. But Judge Keith Rollins of the Douglasville Municipal Court found her in contempt of court and ordered her to serve 10 days in jail.
“The incident prompted a formal complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Anti-Defamation League, Council on American-Islamic Relations and American Civil Liberties Union also lodged complaints.
SEE: Muslim’s Scarf Leads to Arrest at Courthouse (Atlanta Journal)
The new policy states:
“’Head coverings are prohibited from the courtroom except in cases where the covering is worn for medical or religious reasons. To the extent security requires a search of a person wearing a head covering for medical or religious reasons, the individual has the option of having the inspection performed by a same-sex officer in a private area. The individual is allowed to put his or her own head covering back on after the inspection is complete.’”
“We applaud the decision of the Judicial Council of Georgia to uphold freedom of religion and unencumbered access to the legal system for Georgians of all faiths,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “This decision once again demonstrates that America is a diverse and inclusive nation.”
Hooper said CAIR recently expressed concerns about a proposed Oregon law that would reinforce an existing ban on religious attire for teachers in that state.
SEE: Oregon Bill Reinforces Ban on Muslim Teachers
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.
- END -
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:
Jury awards correctional officer $200K for racial harassment at the workplace
(CHICAGO, IL, 7/24/09) - The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced a verdict in favor of an Arab-American correctional officer in a discrimination case litigated pro bono against the Cook County Sheriff's Department by CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak.
The verdict awarded Officer Abraham Yasin $200,000 in damages for harassment found to be pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile and abusive work environment.
CAIR-Chicago began litigation on behalf of Officer Abraham Yasin in 2007 after he reported experiencing harassment by other correctional officers starting in December 2004. Cook County officers continuously and anonymously targeted Yasin with racist slurs such as "terrorist,""Hussein," "sand ni**er," "bin Laden," "shoe bomber," and "camel jockey" verbally and via graffiti on his locker. Yasin testified that his co-workers made calls over the radio and telephone about his ancestry and national origin as many as ten times a day and countless times for over a one-year period.
SEE: Cook County Deputy Testifies that He Felt 'Demonized' by Racial Harassment (Chicago Tribune)
Despite repeatedly reporting the incidents, multiple supervisors and the Internal Affairs Division failed to take adequate corrective action.
In a statement today Officer Yasin said, "After having agonized for so long, I can finally feel a sense of relief and vindication. I served my country in uniform with dignity and honor and felt betrayed that my service would be met by some of my fellows with racial slurs, harassment, and ridicule. This is not what our country is about. Today's victory is not only for me, but for justice, fair play, and equality regardless of race, gender, or creed."
"This was an unprecedented decision by jury trial in the state of Illinois," said CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak. "The case stands as a legal precedent and a symbol of hope for Arab-Americans to expect to be free of harassment in their workplace. The jury sent a clear message that no one is above the law in this matter, including the Cook County Sheriff."
Chicago attorney Jim Fennerty was co-counsel on the case. Cook County is the second most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County.
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.
- END -
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail:, 312-212-1520; or 202-870-0016; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail:, 217-493-0912 or 312-212-1520; Kevin Vodak, Attorney, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail:; 312-212-1520; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:
Stephanie Czekalinski, Dispatch Fronteras, 8/24/09
Activists are saying the punishment wasn't strict enough in a Knox County case in which a teenage boy was convicted of a hate crime.
But what happened between two 17-year-olds in a parking lot in downtown Mount Vernon in May 2008 is murky.
Dale Klein, now 18, pleaded no contest to ethnic intimidation in June in connection with an assault that involved Robert Cantu, a Latino teen, and a noose.
He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $100.
Cantu's mother, Marcie Cantu, said the charge should have been attempted murder…
"Any time someone puts a noose around someone's neck and tells them we're going to take you to the park and hang them, I assume that's attempted murder," she said.
Regardless of the inconsistencies, civil-rights and minority-advocacy organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens Ohio, the Ohio Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Council of American Islamic Relations Ohio will participate in a "vigil for justice" scheduled for noon today in Mount Vernon's public square.
In a news release, LULAC Ohio called the sentence that Ronk handed down "completely appalling" and requests the Department of Justice to investigate.
Babak Darvish, executive director of CAIR, said his group will be there today because "the fact that they had a noose, to me that sounds like a lynch mob ... what are they used for? To hang people." (More)

Letter of complaint calls her 'pat-down' at security checkpoint 'humiliating.'
John Nolan, Dayton Daily News, 7/22/09

Federal transportation security officers subjected a Muslim woman to a humiliating search as she was traveling through Dayton International Airport, a Muslim advocacy organization said Wednesday, July 22.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it mailed letters of complaint on Monday to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights office, and was awaiting their responses. The TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
The woman wore a full-length dress and an Islamic head scarf when she was stopped and pulled out of line on June 2 for a “pat-down” search at an airport security checkpoint, the council said in a statement sent to news organizations.
She agreed to undergo the search in a private room, where she was taken by three female TSA employees, the council said. The traveler alleged that she was forced to lift her dress to expose her entire body and that one of the TSA employees searched under the woman’s undergarment with her hand. (More)
Click here to watch the video.
Are Muslim's being targeted at Dayton International Airport? That's the question that launched recent investigation.
On Wednesday a Muslim woman by the name of Constance told Dayton's News Source, during a lay over back in June she was humiliated by Airport Transportation security Administration Officers.
Constance was on a lay over and had wondered outside the security check point, but when she came through the screening TSA workers told her they needed to check under her long dress and headscarf.
According to Constance she set off no alarms and was told repeatedly it’s because she's Muslim. (More)

Willow Belden, Queens Chronicle, 7/23/09
The City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the Department of Education to incorporate two major Muslim holidays into the city school calendar.
The resolution, which passed 50 to 1, bears no legal weight; it is simply a formal request that the DOE schedule school holidays for Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael.
More than 800,000 Muslims live in the city, and at least 10 percent of the city’s school students are followers of Islam.
“This is an opportunity for the city to uphold American ideals of inclusion and diversity,” said Faiza Ali, community affairs director of the NY branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a steering committee member of the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays. “The Coalition urges Mayor Bloomberg to ensure that a significant population of Muslim students does not have to make an unfair choice between religious observance and educational opportunities.” (More)

Mary Stevens Decker, Redmond Reporter, 7/20/09
The Greater Seattle Muslim Community hosted a forum with the King County Executive candidates, July 19 at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, with the county's budget shortfall, integrating diversity and land-use issues being the hot-button topics.
Present were former KIRO news anchor Susan Hutchison, Sen. Fred Jarrett, State Rep. Ross Hunter, King County Council Chairman Dow Constantine, engineer and businessman Alan Lobdell, former accountant and amateur astronomer Mike Goodspaceguy and Stan Lippmann, whose background is in alternative energy research and law. Another candidate, King County Councilmember Larry Phillips did not attend.
Guests at the forum represented such organizations as The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Washington, Muslim Students Association Northwest (MSAnw), Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Association of Puget Sound and Alsadaqa.
The forum's moderator, Amro Youssef, said the goal was to help attendees get to know the candidates and for the candidates to learn of their concerns, especially to challenge anti-Muslim bigotry.
Candidates were asked about how to fill a $46 million hole in the county's general fund, transparency in government, whether brown bag lunch meetings might educate county employees about diversity and how to simplify permitting for the construction of churches, mosques, synagogues or temples. (More)


(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 7/24/09) ­ The Nithyananda International Youth Foundation recently hosted an interfaith dialogue in conjunction with the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK). The interfaith event, which brought together youth from various faith traditions, took place at the Nithyananda Vedic Temple of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.

Topics of discussion included how spiritual beliefs help young people deal with problems in their lives.

The Life Bliss Foundation and Nithyananda Vedic Temple OKC are dedicated to Paramahamsa Nithyananda's message of Living Enlightenment through yoga, meditation and forming an enlightened community.

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.


Frederick News Post editorial, 7/22/09
In general, school districts and the courts have tended to rule against expressions of religion in public schools, even to the extent of barring a brief mention of faith from a high school valedictorian's speech.
Sunday's edition of The Washington Post carried a story on this theme, this one from the Pacific Northwest. Oregon has just passed a law called the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, now awaiting the governor's signature. Essentially, it requires all employers to allow their workers to wear religious items -- a victory for religious expression in everyday life.
The one exception to Oregon's new law involves its public schools. On that subject, the new law reads: "No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher."
The problem is that this law sets up a classic confrontation between two clauses in the First Amendment. The Establishment clause forbids the state from favoring or disfavoring one religion over another, but the Free Exercise clause instructs government to let religious folks do their thing.
Predictably, the Oregon school exception is already under fire from several quarters. Muslims and Sikhs are among those who object. One group, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says: "In effect, observant Sikh Americans would still be barred from working as teachers in the public schools of Oregon because of their religiously mandated dastaars (turbans), and observant Jews and Muslims would also be subjected to the ignominy of having to choose between religious freedom and a teaching career in the state of Oregon." …
Not really, counters spokesman Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations: "Those who wear religiously mandated attire are not proselytizing; they are practicing their faith, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Concerns about religious neutrality in schools can be adequately addressed through professional codes of conduct." Hooper's position on this is sound and rational. (More)

Kurt Greenbaum, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/22/09

It seems that a dispute with a St. Paul Wal-Mart has ended happily for an employee who was fired for praying during work breaks. Abdi Abdi has been rehired and Wal-Mart is running diversity training for about 10 of its store’s employees.
Abdi, a four-year employee at the store, had been praying during his work breaks. That was fine by a previous supervisor, who had no problem with that use of time during breaks. A new supervisor came in and issued an edict banning prayer on breaks — a violation of federal law, as long as accommodating the prayer doesn’t cause “undue hardship.”
Abdi was fired. After the Council on American-Islamic Relations intervened, the store reversed course and rehired the worker. According to a story by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Michelle Bradford said that “respect for the individual is one of our company’s core values, and we practice it every day in our stores and clubs. (More)


(LOS ANGELES, CA, 7/23/09) The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today expressed deep concern over the lack of openness in the trial of U.S. citizen Naji Hamdan in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).

Hamdan, 43, was put on trial this week after having been detained for almost a year. Judge Shahab al-Hamadi closed the trial to the public without giving any reasons, according to news reports.

SEE: Emirates closes terror trial of U.S. citizen (AP)
ALSO SEE: American Held in U.A.E.: “Proxy Detention”?

The judge’s decision, a clear affront to international judicial norms, is the latest challenge hampering efforts to bring justice to Hamdan, whose detention since August 2008 has been marred by reports of torture, lack of due process and involvement of one or more U.S. government agencies.

Hamdan lived in Southern California for more than two decades, where he has been a well-respected community leader. He is a father of three children. In a sworn statement to a U.S. consular official in U.A.E., he said he was kicked, made to sit in an electric chair with threats that he might be electrocuted, punched and slapped, blindfolded, and beaten with a large stick and subsequently forced to sign false statements statements that will likely be submitted as evidence in his closed trial.

Additionally, according to his attorneys, six weeks before Hamdan's arrest by U.A.E. security forces, he was questioned by FBI agents at a U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi. He was also previously questioned and monitored by the FBI while in the U.S. However, no charges were ever filed against him in America.

In April, CAIR-LA along with seven other advocacy, religious and interfaith groups, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to intervene and investigate immediately allegations of torture, lack of due process and involvement of any government agencies.

SEE: Link to Clinton Letter

“We are appalled by the continued disregard for due process of an American detained and reportedly tortured abroad, coupled with our government’s seeming inaction to protect one of its own citizens,” said CAIR-LA Staff Attorney Ameena Qazi. “Such inhumane treatment flies in the face of President Obama’s message of respect for all Americans and building positive relations with the Muslim world.”

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.

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847,


Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, 7/24/09
It was an early morning for Driss El Akrich. But armed with Moroccan green tea and joined by his wife, Amina, in front of a television set, it was a moment he had been eagerly anticipating.
President Barack Obama was in Cairo last month, giving a major speech to the Muslim world. The speech reverberated across the world to Springfield, home to about 300 Muslim families from 28 countries.
For El Akrich, a doctoral candidate in the public administration program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Obama hit all the right notes: Speaking in a tone of respect; quoting the Quran, the Torah and the Bible; and even mentioning El Akrich’s native Morocco as the first country, in 1777, to publicly acknowledge the newly sovereign United States.
El Akrich, who came to the United States in 2002 as part of the Fulbright exchange program, says it’s an emerging moment for Springfield Muslims whose efforts are boosted by Obama.
“It was a change in paradigm,” El Akrich says one evening in the fellowship hall of the Islamic Center of Greater Springfield’s masjid, or mosque, on Stanton Avenue. “Rather than focusing on tension, (Obama) has shifted the focus on common interests and mutual respect.”
Local Muslims say stereotypes against them still persist: disdainful looks, sneering comments and water-cooler jokes. But they also note progress is being made as people of different faiths learn more about what Muslims believe, and as Muslims themselves get more involved in the community. (More)




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent