Muslims Blacklisted For U.S. Citizenship Under Secret Government Program, Says ACLU

August 21, 2013

By Amy Taxin

 

LOS ANGELES — A government program to screen immigrants for national security concerns has blacklisted some Muslims and put their U.S. citizenship applications on hold for years, civil liberties advocates said Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said in a report that the previously undisclosed program instructs federal immigration officers to find ways to deny applications that have been deemed a national security concern. For example, they flag discrepancies in a petition or claim they didn’t receive sufficient information from the immigrant.

The criteria used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to blacklist immigrants are overly broad and include traveling through regions where there is terrorist activity, the report said. The criteria disproportionately target Muslim immigrants, who often wait years to get a response on their citizenship applications and in some cases are denied, advocates said.

The ACLU learned about the program through records requests after detecting a pattern in cases of Muslim immigrants whose applications to become American citizens had languished.

“It is essentially creating this secret criteria for obtaining naturalization and immigration benefits that has never been disclosed to the public and Congress hasn’t approved,” said Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU staff attorney and the author of the report.

“I feel like ultimately this is just about politics. They don’t want to be seen as having granted citizenship to somebody who’s going to be the next Boston bomber,” she said.

It was not immediately clear how many immigrants have been reviewed under the program, which began in 2008 and is formally known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program.

Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency routinely checks the background of immigrants applying for benefits and prioritizes the country’s safety and the integrity of the immigration system.

“We are vigilant in executing these responsibilities, and will not sacrifice national security or public safety in the interest of expediting the review of benefit applications,” Bentley said in a statement.

Under the program, immigration officers determine whether a case poses a national security concern and confer with the appropriate law enforcement agency that has information about the immigrant. Officers then conduct additional research and put many cases on hold for long periods of time. Most applications are eventually denied, as the program states that officers are not allowed to approve such cases without additional review, the report said.

Ahmad Muhanna, a 53-year-old Palestinian engineer, said he and his wife applied to become Americans as soon as they were eligible six years ago. They waited nearly four years for a response and were rejected because immigration officers said they failed to note on their application form an association with a Muslim charity to which they had donated money that U.S. authorities later declared a terrorist organization, he said.

Muhanna said the couple has appealed, but the wait has taken its toll. The couple, who lives in a Dallas suburb, missed their eldest daughter’s engagement in Gaza because they feared traveling abroad might jeopardize their green cards. And they haven’t been able to vote, something they’ve wanted to do for some time.

“You can’t just assume every Muslim is a guilty person, and every Muslim is a terrorist,” said Muhanna, adding that he agreed to be interviewed by the FBI with a lawyer present and has lived in the same house, with the same phone number for 15 years, making him easily traceable. “I have chosen this country to be my home and I want to be a citizen.”

 

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/muslims-blacklisted-us-citizenship_n_3791799.html

Proposed medical office would accommodate Muslim-American patients

May 7, 2013

By Ashley Rueff,

 

Orland Park could become home to what’s described as a “first-of-its-kind” outpatient surgical center with a mission of accommodating the religious and cultural beliefs of Muslim patients.

Dr. Naser Rustom has applied for state approval to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center at 10 Orland Square Drive, the site of the former Plunkett Furniture store, according to a state permit application for the project. The medical office, Preferred SurgiCenter LLC, would welcome patients of all faiths and beliefs, but it would employ staff who are familiar with and facilities designed to accommodate the needs of patients who follow Islamic Divine Law.

“We’re going to service every race, every nationality. We’re not going to discriminate against anyone,” said Manager Robyn Fina. “However, in the Orland Park and the southwestern suburbs, there is a huge concentration of Arab-Americans. I think there is a lack of facilities for them to receive the care that they need while taking into consideration their special religious and ethnic background.”

In its permit application, the project is described as a facility “that appeals to the general population as a whole; but, to the trained eye, the ASTC will also be the first-ever surgery center that is designed and operated in a manner that is fully compliant with the Shari ‘a Law.”

The proposed 11,000-square-foot space would offer pain management, gastroenterology and general surgery, according to the project application. The total cost is estimated at about $5.5 million with an anticipated completion date of July 2014, but that will depend on approval from the state.

According to its application documents, the facility would be staffed with employees who understand Muslim-Americans’ needs when approaching health care. The facility would include a prayer room and additional washing facilities to more easily accommodate the prayer schedule and rituals followed by some patients.

As much as possible, she said the facility will also accommodate patients who would prefer to be seen by staff of their own gender and will attempt to offer increased privacy.

Fina said such a facility is expected to improve health behaviors of Muslim-Americans who may have had negative experiences when attempting to follow their religious beliefs while seeking health care in the past.

“There are individuals who feel uncomfortable going into facilities because the staff don’t recognize their special needs,” Fina said. “What we are attempting to do is to address as many of those needs as we can within the confines of state and national laws and health care.”

Imam Nazir Chahin of the Prayer Center of Orland Park said he is unfamiliar with the details of the proposed medical office, but he thinks the concept would be welcomed by the Muslim community of the southwest suburbs.

 

Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/ct-tl-0509-proposed-muslim-accomodating-medical-ce-20130508_1_health-care-patients-application

Canadian Muslims encounter increasing hostility: Siddiqui

October 13, 2013

By Haroon Siddiqui

 

Jews have historically been falsely accused of wielding too much power. Now Canadian Muslims are, especially in Quebec.

A national poll has taken a measure of bigots who exaggerate the power of those they dislike. Nearly a third of Canadians believe Muslims have too much influence in their province. In Quebec, 43 per cent think so. This is ironic, given that Canadian Muslims report feeling under siege and helpless to stop the demonization directed at them because of Muslim mayhem elsewhere in the world.

A second poll corroborates the increasing hostility toward Muslims — again, more so in Quebec.

The findings come amid an ugly debate in Quebec over its plan to ban religious symbols and clothing, especially the hijab, for those on the public payroll. And there are increasing incidents of hijabi women being harassed — not just in Quebec but in Ontario and elsewhere.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, as it is in the U.S. and Europe. The 2011 national census estimated the Canadian Muslim population at 1,053 million, up 73 per cent since 2001. In Quebec, it is 243,500.

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival that marks the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, a gathering of about three million, including an estimated 1,500 from Canada.

Forum Research Inc. asked a representative sample of 1,527 Canadians about theirperception of the power of minorities.

Thirty per cent say Muslims have too much power. Twenty-one per cent think that about the Sikhs. And 18 per cent each say that about Jews and “Asians” (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.)

In Quebec, suspicion of Muslims and Jews is much higher. While 43 per cent think that Muslims are too powerful, 32 per cent think that of Jews. Tellingly, more separatists think that way than others. “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia common among Indépendendistes,” reads the headline on the Forum findings.

“If the Charter of Quebec Values is an example of the Parti Québécois practising dog whistle politics, it appears there are plenty of ears tuned to that particular frequency,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum.

I presented him with an argument: The poll merely quantifies the bigotry that’s always present in society; that he asked leading questions (“Do Muslims have too much influence in your province?”); and that respondents mouth off against whatever group is in the news negatively.

Bozinoff had a crisp answer: “Respondents had a right to say no but a great many didn’t. It was an IVR (interactive voice response) poll — people were pressing 1 and 2 on their phones in response to questions. There was no human being influencing them.

“The results are shocking but informative.”

An Angus Reid poll asked a sample of 2,025 Canadians — divided into Quebec and the rest of Canada — their views about different faiths.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t like Islam. In the rest of Canada, 54 per cent don’t.

Next on Quebecers’ hit list is Sikhism, disliked by 43 per cent, followed by Judaism, disliked by 41 per cent.

In the rest of Canada, 39 per cent view Sikhism negatively, 29 per cent Hinduism and 22 per cent Judaism.

Who holds the most negative views? Both polls point to the old, the less educated and the less wealthy.

Forum also shows that across Canada, Conservative supporters are more likely, 36 per cent, than supporters of other parties to presume that Muslims are too powerful. In Quebec, 47 per cent of PQ and 53 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters think so.

Angus Reid shows that younger and university-educated Canadians hold more favourable opinions of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

We may shrug off all this as a passing phenomenon.

After all, similar views have been held in the past against Catholics, Japanese, blacks and, especially, Jews. Over time, prejudices shift toward newer minorities, including by those who had once been victims of just such prejudice.

Or it may be that more people these days are willing to admit their biases and do so with a stridency we used to think of as un-Canadian.

Still, Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid says that leaving aside Quebec, the results do suggest that the rest of Canada, while more open-minded than Quebec, “may be operating under a veneer of acceptance rather than actual acceptance” of religious minorities.

For sure, Canada is not immune from post-9/11 fear of Muslims. We see that in the crude public discourse, especially in right-wing media and among some politicians, especially in Quebec, who feed at the Islamophobic trough.

 

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/13/canadian_muslims_encounter_increasing_hostility_siddiqui.html

Muslim mothers should be trained in computing ‘to help to spot radicalisation’

January 6, 2013

 

The mothers of Muslims should be trained in basic computing skills so they can spot online radicalisation of their children, a report says.

The study of 350 Muslim women, conducted between last June and October, found that 92 per cent did not understand the term “online radicalisation”, nor that their children could be radicalised online. It said three-quarters of all mothers surveyed had seen or heard their children accessing Islamic lectures, yet 90 per cent were unaware of their content.

“We believe that mothers are trusted anchors within many homes which means, if equipped with the right skills, they have a unique capacity to safeguard their children against internet radicalisation,” the report from women’s charity JAN Trust concluded.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/muslim-mothers-should-be-trained-in-computing-to-help-to-spot-radicalisation-9040289.html

UK anti-Muslim hate crime soars, police figures show

December 27, 2013

 

Hate crimes against Muslims have soared in the UK this year, figures show. Hundreds of anti-Muslim offences were carried out across the country in 2013, with Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recording 500 Islamophobic crimes. Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London, in May.

But the figures could be much higher as nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims. Some forces admitted they did not always record the faith of a religious hate-crime victim.

Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had dealt with 840 cases since April, with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March. This compared with 582 anti-Muslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013.

Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, has called for police forces to improve monitoring of Islamophobic crimes.”There are three problems we come across,” Mujhal said. “Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the language of Islamophobia thrown at victims in any incidents. Secondly, there is very little training on how to ask relevant questions to pull out anti-Muslim cases. Thirdly, recording processes are not in line with each other. One force will allow an officer to flag an incident as anti-Muslim, another force will flag it as religious hate crime. There is no uniformity.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “As set out in CPS guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, content has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law. In order to preserve the right to free speech the threshold for prosecution must be high and only communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false are prohibited by the legislation.”

A justice ministry spokesman said: “These are despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities. The courts already hand out tougher punishments where race or religion are found to be aggravating factors. The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for these appalling crimes is higher than ever before.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/27/uk-anti-muslim-hate-crime-soars

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/islamophobia-surge-revealed-in-antimuslim-hate-crimes-9026873.html

Dutch Politician Posts Anti-Islam Sticker

December 20, 2013

 

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has recently generated public controversy after posting a sticker on the door of his parliamentary office resembling a Saudi Arabian flag and reading “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.”

The government condemned the sticker, with deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher calling it ‘disgusting’ and aimed only at hurting people. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans stated that, “Insulting their religion is not the way to combat extremism but plays into extremists’ hands… the Dutch government is distancing itself from this.”

Lobby group Landelijk Beraad Marokkanen, led by former GroenLinks MP Mohammed Rabbae also issued a complaint against the sticker.

Following the attention to the sticker, Wilders established an email account to field comments, islamsticker@gmail.com. He later claimed that Gmail had blocked the account.

 

Dutch News (1): http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/12/government_condemns_wilders_an.php

Dutch News (2): http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/12/gmail_blocks_wilders_anti-isla.php

Young man arrested for praising Jihad online

December 23, 2013

 

The Madrid XL Group of the Provincial Information Brigade, which specializes in Islamic Terrorism, has arrested a 24-year Spanish man and convert to Islam at his home of Entrevias (Puente de Vallecas). He is charged with an offense of glorifying terrorism and the Jihad and the case is in the hands of the High Court.
According to investigators, Abdallah used his Facebook account to defend the “jihad” in Islamic wars or conflicts such as Syria or Palestine. The Police found manuals for weapons and explosives in his house. Abdallah made ​​his first trip to Mecca last year.

 

Abc.es: http://www.abc.es/madrid/20131223/abcp-detenido-joven-enaltecer-yihad-20131222.html