FBI Muslim spying vs. personal liberties

A federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency’s spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets.

Times court reporter Victoria Kim will join L.A. Now Live for a web chat at 9 a.m. to discuss the class-action lawsuit, which was brought by a group of Orange County Muslims who contended their constitutional rights were trampled when the FBI sent an undercover informant into their midst to illegally spy on them.

Comparing himself to Odysseus navigating the waters between a six-headed monster and a deadly whirlpool, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security.”

The judge said he reached the decision reluctantly after reviewing confidential declarations filed by top FBI officials, and he was convinced the operation in question involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.”

Carney allowed the suit to stand against individual FBI agents and supervisors on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-related claims.

Calif. Muslims want fed probe of pig-leg vandalism

ONTARIO, Calif.—Pig’s legs were thrown on the proposed site of a Southern California mosque, and a Muslim civil rights group is asking federal officials to investigate.

Worshippers said two women threw the three legs onto the driveway of the proposed Al-Nur Islamic Center in Ontario shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday and sped away in a white pickup, said Munira Syeda, spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Pork is forbidden to practicing Muslims and pigs are considered unclean animals.

“This is Ramadan. It’s the holiest time of the year for most Muslims, so it’s especially offensive,” Syeda said Friday.

A security guard saw the incident and a vandalism report was filed with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

No arrests have been made, sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday, the council urged the government to open a hate-crime investigation.

The vandalism came only days after four teenagers were arrested for allegedly throwing lemons and oranges at a mosque in the San Francisco Bay area of Hayward. It occurred last Saturday during prayers at the American Muslim Association.

Four Hayward boys, ages 13 to 16, were arrested on suspicion of vandalism that interfered with the civil rights of the worshippers.

It was one of several recent vandalism attacks on the mosque, authorities said.

CAIR’s national headquarters issued a community safety advisory for U.S. mosques this week following “other incidents targeting mosques” in Missouri and Rhode Island and after the deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the group said.

Ramadan in Murfreesboro

Id al-Fitr — the end of Ramadan’s monthlong fasting and sacrifice — has turned out to be an especially joyous holiday for the Islamic American community of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Hundreds of worshipers were finally able to occupy their new suburban mosque this month, prevailing in their constitutional right after a two-year assault of bigotry, persistent court challenges, arson and a bomb threat at the construction site.

The community’s religion became a heated issue when residents at a public hearing angrily maintained that Islam was not a religion and that the mosque was an outpost in a plot to undermine the Constitution with Shariah law. The ugly fervor quickly spread to the political arena, where an openly anti-Islamic candidate enjoyed hefty donations from a conservative Nashville businessman in a run for Congress.

To its credit, the Rutherford County government upheld the rights of the Muslim congregation and approved the new mosque. But a local judge stopped work on the mosque in May, bending to opponents in ordering local planning officials to reopen hearings because of the controversy stirred by opponents. Judge Todd Campbell of Federal District Court in Nashville put an end to this nonsense last month, ordering occupancy after federal officials filed a religious discrimination suit. With patience and dignity, the Islamic Americans of Murfreesboro learned the hard way the endless American lesson that constitutional rights don’t come guaranteed.

Bacon Scattered Before Muslim Celebration May Be Bias Crime

NEW YORK — Muslims gathering to celebrate the end of Ramadan at a New York City park found uncooked bacon scattered around, and police are investigating it as a possible bias crime.

Organizers say the bacon pieces were found in a small section of the New Dorp Beach park Sunday morning.

Muslims are prohibited from eating pork products. The New York chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations says pork is often used to offend or taunt Muslims. It says there have been similar taunts around the country.

Arab-American leader’s grave desecrated at suburban cemetery

The Palestine-born resident of Hickory Hills served in the Arab League, helped build the Bridgeview mosque, and worked as a government diplomat until his death at 73-years-old.

Abdallah was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in 1999, left to rest underneath a stone obelisk bearing his name beside about 500 other Muslim graves in the cemetery.

On Thursday, a Muslim man discovered someone had written “Raghaed Killer,” (sic) homosexual slurs, and gang signs on Abdallah’s tombstone, the sixth time the tombstone was hit since March 2011.

US synagogue welcomes Muslims seeking a place to pray

Muslims around the world are gathering for Friday prayers, and in one neighbourhood in the US state of Virginia, the worshippers will enter a building that could hardly be further from a traditional mosque.

At a time when religious differences are sparking conflict in the Middle East and beyond – it is cooperation between two faiths which is allowing this unique programme flourish.

The BBC’s Katty Kay reports on how the Jewish community opened its doors because the area’s mosques could not accommodate all of the growing Muslim population.

Fort Hood Shooting Trial Delayed Pending Ruling on Beard

HOUSTON — The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in a 2009 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army base in Killeen, Tex., won a temporary delay of his trial on Wednesday, after a military appeals court halted the proceedings to allow it time to rule on whether the judge in his case can order him to be forcibly shaved.

The psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, grew a beard in recent months, an expression, his defense lawyers said, of his Muslim faith. Beards violate Army regulations, and Fort Hood’s chief circuit judge, Col. Gregory Gross, has forbidden Major Hasan to sit in the courtroom during several pretrial hearings at Fort Hood as a result.

Colonel Gross has allowed the major to watch via a closed-circuit television feed in a trailer near the courthouse.

The judge has repeatedly fined Major Hasan and held him in contempt over his beard, stating that his appearance was a disruption and that he would have him forcibly shaved unless he complied. But his lawyers asked the highest military appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, to prevent the shaving and issue a stay.

How the beard issue is handled has serious legal implications. If Major Hasan is allowed to keep the beard but watch the proceedings from outside the courthouse during his trial, he could appeal a conviction by arguing that his Sixth Amendment rights, which grant the accused the right to be “confronted with the witnesses against him,” were violated.

John P. Galligan, the lawyer whom Major Hasan released last year, said he was pleased by the appeals court’s order. “Finally somebody stepped in and said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ ” he said. “A forcible shave would be inappropriate and almost illegal in the context of this death penalty case.”

Controversial Islamic rally in Ontario gets go-ahead

News Agencies – August 17, 2012

 

Jewish groups are expressing disappointment and alarm over a decision today by Ontario’s speaker of the house and sergeant-at-arms to permit a controversial Muslim rally at Queen’s Park. International Day of Al-Quds, which bills itself as a protest against Palestinian oppression, but which others call an anti-Zionist hate rally, will go ahead on legislative grounds. Last year’s event drew criticism and concern after demonstrators were seen waving Hezbollah flags, carrying pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini and the head of York Region’s Islamic society was videotaped criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama, “this black man in the White House” who can’t say no to “Zionist parasites”.

 

Dave Levac, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, said in a statement released today that he has spoken with a number of groups and individuals about the demonstration and, because rally organizers have indicated their willingness to conform to guidelines, he will allow the event to proceed.

 

Chris Yaccato, executive assistant to the Speaker of the House, said he understands Queen’s Park security services won’t permit Hezbollah flags “or any signs promoting known terrorist organizations” during this year’s rally. “If they do, we’ll have to shut it down.”

Mosque threat ‘troublesome,’ says B.C. Muslim Association

News Agencies – August 18, 2012

 

The president of the B.C. Muslim Association says a Facebook post indicating a new Victoria mosque should be blown up with a rocket launcher is “very concerning.” Victoria police are investigating after someone using the name Dan Speed posted on the  “I Love Downtown Victoria” Facebook page that the new Masjid Allman Mosque on Quadra Street should be blasted with a high-powered rifle. Musa Ismail, president of the B.C. Muslim Association, called the comments “very concerning and troublesome.” Ismail says the Muslim community has been present in Victoria for 50 years without incident.

French Muslims under Hollande’s new socialist government

The National – August 17, 2012

 

Francois Hollande‘s new socialist government shows early signs of being less tolerant towards France’s large Muslim community than the previous centre-right administration of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the co-founder of a body promoting the interests of Arabian Gulf and African nations. The charge is at first glance surprising given the lengths to which Mr Sarkozy went, in vain, to lure voters in the May presidential election from the far-right, anti-immigration Front National.

But Yana Korobko, secretary of the Paris-based Observatory of the Black, Gulf and Mediterranean Seas (OBGMS), said Mr Hollande’s positions were “unusually firm for a leftist in France”.

“The question of new mosques construction remains undecided because of the firm unwillingness of the Europeans to accept another culture on their territory, especially in such large numbers,” Ms Korobko said. “It is mainly caused by the historic, social and psychological specificities of the Europeans, and the French people in particular.”

She is not alone in being concerned about the outlook of the left as a whole. As if to prove her point that there is no clear-cut distinction between the main strands of French politics, a centre-right local administration in the southern town of Saint-Esteve ruled this week that no separate space could be found in the municipal cemetery for Muslims.