Number of Incidents Targeting U.S. Mosques in 2015 Highest Ever Recorded

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/17/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a preliminary report on incidents targeting American mosques and religious institutions in 2015 that shows a greater frequency of damage, destruction, vandalism, and intimidation than in any other year since CAIR started tracking such cases in 2009.

VIEW GRAPHIC OF 2015 MOSQUE INCIDENTS

Of the total of 71 incidents to date in 2015, 29 occurred since the November 13 terror attacks in Paris. Of those 29 incidents, 15 occurred prior to the December 3 San Bernardino killings and 14 took place after that attack.

CAIR’s preliminary data is being issued in advance of a soon-to-be-released comprehensive report on Islamophobia in the United States.

[Report Located Here]

‘Face of Moderate Islam’ quits job

Yasin Elforkani, spokesperson for Contactbody Muslims and Government ( and known as the ‘face of moderate Islam in the Netherlands’ is quitting his job as a spokesperson. Elforkani, who is also imam, tried (and tries) to start a debate on extremist Islam and youth leaving to fight the jihad in Syria and Iraq, received several threats in the past which made him to decide to stop preaching temporarily. He is now working again as imam, but has quit his job as spokesperson for above mentioned organization.

© anp. Yassin Elforkani.
© anp. Yassin Elforkani.

Sisters in Islam co-founder gets France’s highest award

March 7, 2014

 

Advocacy group Sisters in Islam (SIS) co-founder Zainah Anwar, from Malaysia, who will be conferred the French government’s highest award, the Legion of Honour, regards it as a recognition of the advocacy group’s courage in standing up for its cause.

“It is also a recognition that a group like ours is regarded by many nationally and internationally as a model of what the leadership should be in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Malaysia.

“We should be coming together to share the nation and not look at it as one winning over the other,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

French Ambassador to Malaysia, Martine Dorance, will confer the honour on Zainah. The order, created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, rewards men and women, French and foreigners, for their distinguished merits and the exemplary services rendered to causes supported by France.

Sisters in Islam’s main cause is to promote an understanding of Islam that recognises the principles of justice, equality, freedom and dignity within a democratic nation state. “International recognition of Zainah’s work is also a testament to the moral courage and commitment it takes to challenge injustices, particularly those committed in the name of religion,” said Suri Kempe, the programme manager for SIS.

 

U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents

January 16, 2014

 

The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said Wednesday.

The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.
Since taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been under pressure from Democrats in Congress to eliminate those provisions. “These exceptions are a license to profile American Muslims and Hispanic-Americans,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said in 2012.

It is not clear whether Mr. Holder also intends to make the rules apply to national security investigations, which would further respond to complaints from Muslim groups.

“Adding religion and national origin is huge,” said Linda Sarsour, advocacy director for the National Network for Arab American Communities. “But if they don’t close the national security loophole, then it’s really irrelevant.” Ms. Sarsour said she also hoped that Mr. Holder would declare that surveillance, not just traffic stops and arrests, was prohibited based on religion.

While the rules directly control only federal law enforcement activities, their indirect effect is much broader, said Fahd Ahmed, the legal director of the Queens-based South Asian immigrant advocacy group Desis Rising Up and Moving. For instance, he said, immigration bills in Congress have copied the Justice Department profiling language. And civil rights groups can use the rules to pressure state and local agencies to change their policies. “Federal guidelines definitely have an impact,” Mr. Ahmed said. “Local organizers can say, ‘These policies are not in line with what’s coming from the federal level.’ ”
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/us/politics/us-to-expand-rules-limiting-use-of-profiling-by-federal-agents.html?_r=0

Civil rights advocacy group says banks closed more accounts of Muslims

November 21, 2013

 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations–Michigan is asking federal officials to investigate more complaints that JPMorgan Chase is allegedly closing bank accounts of Muslim customers in Metro Detroit.

“It seems like it’s solidifying our idea more that there’s a disturbing pattern going on,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-MI. “These aren’t just isolated incidents.”

Spurred by about a dozen complaints in the past two months, the advocacy group has contacted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates banks, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CAIR-MI also received new complaints Thursday, Walid said.

One of the latest involved the checking and savings accounts for Annisa Patimurani, a Wayne State University graduate student.

The Indonesia native, who is married to an American and started attending WSU this year, said she applied and was approved without issue. But after weeks of local purchases for books and other necessities, her debit card suddenly stopped working last month, she said.

When Patimurani of Detroit visited her local Chase bank for answers, an employee told her the accounts had been closed. The explanation on file said the bank would not open one for people with ties to foreign officials, she said.

She later received a letter from Chase saying the bank is “no longer opening personal banking accounts for current or former non-U.S officials, their immediate family or their close associates.”

Patimurani was puzzled. When applying in person, wearing a hijab, she disclosed that her parents are retired Indonesian government officials, but was told this would not be an issue in securing accounts. “I just don’t understand why they need to discriminate against us,” Patimurani said.

A Chase representative said privacy reasons prevent the company from discussing details of its customer relationships. But “on occasion, Chase determines it can no longer maintain a customer’s account but those decisions are not based on the customer’s religion, ethnicity or any other similar basis.”

 
Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131121/METRO08/311210142#ixzz2laPVdRVY

Jacob Bender Is First Jew to Lead Chapter of CAIR

October 17, 2013

 
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has hired a Jewish filmmaker and interfaith activist as executive director of the advocacy group’s Philadelphia office.

Jacob Bender is the highest ranking non-Muslim in the Washington-based organization, and the first to lead one of its chapters.

“Many Muslims face daily suspicion, not unlike other immigrant groups throughout history,” said Bender, explaining that he felt people had a responsibility to confront bigotry. “When one group of Americans is attacked, it lessens the quality of democracy for all of us.”

Jacob Bender is set to be the voice of Philadelphia-area Muslims, to take on discrimination they encounter in workplace and in the public sphere, and to fight expressions of hate.

The Council on American Islamic Relations’ Philadelphia branch announced the appointment of Bender as its executive director October 15. Bender is the first Jew, and the first non-Muslim, to serve as director of a CAIR branch.

“The needs of the Muslim community are really the needs of any minority community in the United States,” said Iftekhar Hussein, chairman of CAIR-Philadelphia’s board of directors. “Jacob, being Jewish, understands that from his own background.”

An activist on Jewish-Muslim interfaith issues who has been involved in the past on the progressive end of Middle East peace advocacy, Bender will face two entirely different sets of expectations in his new position

He will meet a local Muslim community expecting a non-Muslim to represent its needs just as well as would a member of their own faith.

He will also face a national Jewish leadership that has all but deemed CAIR off-limits for any dialogue.

 

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/17/cair-taps-jewish-filmmaker-lead-philadelphia-chapter/

Allen West’s One-Word Letter To American-Islamic Advocacy Group Being Auctioned Off On Ebay For $1,000

Former House Representative Allen West (R-FL) hasn’t always had the easiest relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), but now, things seem to be heating up even more. Last year, CAIR sent West a letter requesting that he cut ties with anti-Islamic extremists and the congressman graced them with this one word response: “NUTS!” The Florida chapter of the advocacy group is now auctioning the letter off on eBay, hoping to make some money from West’s terse communication.

CAIR-FL describes the piece as “possibly [the] shortest letter from Congress in US History,” and the starting bid is $1,000. The group says the proceeds will be used to “defend the civil rights of all Floridians.”

West may have had a strained relationship with Muslims during his tenure — he once told a CAIR questioner not to “blow sunshine up my butt” — but seeing as how the group is now selling the letter, it appears that they’re not opposed to making some money off of having been one of the congressman’s favorite targets.

Interview with Kenan Kolat”: We Need an Open Debate about Institutional Racism”

The failure of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency to halt the activities of a neo-Nazi terror cell and recent revelations about the destruction of key files have led to accusations of institutional racism. Kenan Kolat, the head of the Türkische Gemeinde in Deutschland (the Turkish Community in Germany), an advocacy group representing the interests of Turkish people in Germany, says faith in the country’s security organs has hit rock bottom. Samira Sammer spoke to him.

 

PEW: Lobbying for the Faithful

Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C.

The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both. These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life that examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.

The study finds that about one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington have a Roman Catholic perspective (19%) and a similar proportion are evangelical Protestant in outlook (18%), while 12% are Jewish and 8% are mainline Protestant. But many smaller U.S. religious groups, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, also have established advocacy organizations in the Washington area. In fact, the number of Muslim groups (17) is about the same as the number of mainline Protestant groups (16). And the largest category today is interreligious: One-quarter of the groups studied (54) either represent multiple faiths or advocate on religious issues without representing a specific religion.

This report is based on a systematic examination of the websites, mission statements, tax documents and other public records of religious advocacy groups spanning the years 2008-2010. Researchers also relied on responses to a written questionnaire that was sent to 148 separate, active groups included in the study and completed by 61 of them. Additionally, lead researcher Allen D. Hertzke conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of 36 groups and observed the advocacy efforts of many other groups at congressional hearings, lobby days, press conferences and other Washington-based events.

Religious groups spend nearly $400 million on D.C. advocacy

WASHINGTON — The number of religious advocacy groups in the nation’s capital has more than tripled since the 1970s, with conservative groups seeing the biggest growth, according to a new report.

Together, faith-based lobbying and advocacy groups spend $390 million a year to influence lawmakers, mobilize supporters and shape public opinion, according to the report, released Monday (Nov. 21) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

There are now as many Muslim advocacy groups as mainline Protestant groups, and evangelicals and Roman Catholics constitute a strong 40 percent of religious lobbyists in and around Washington.

“Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and the primary author of the report.

Hertzke’s report surveyed 212 religious advocacy groups, ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the American Jewish Committee to the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers).

Using financial reports from public tax forms, Hertzke said the biggest spender is the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent $87 million on advocacy in 2008. U.S. Catholic bishops were second, with $26.6 million spent in 2009, followed by the Family Research Council, with $14 million in 2008.

The Muslim American Society boosted its budget by 29 percent, and the American Islamic Congress by 41 percent, between 2008 and 2009 as Islamophobia intensified in the form of opposition to mosque building and the so-called Ground Zero mosque.