March 31, 2014
On Tuesday, April 1, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), along with a group of pastors, rabbis, imams, and labor leaders, will hold a news conference to ask Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the apparently bias-motivated removal earlier this month of a Seattle-area imam (Muslim religious leader) from a flight by Delta employees.
The imam, who is a Delta Platinum Elite member, was forced to disembark his flight and take another flight. He was reportedly informed by the Delta employee who escorted him off the plane that this was being done because a crew member judged “the way you used the restroom” to be “doubtful.”
“The Department of Transportation must investigate this shocking incident to hold Delta Air Lines accountable for discriminating against a respected religious leader,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari. “Not all passengers who go to the bathroom get kicked off their flight, so Delta’s discriminatory act was due solely to the imam’s perceived racial, ethnic and religious affiliation.”
Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim leaders and community members have been forcibly removed from airplanes after boarding due to their language, religious attire or appearance.
March 22, 2014
ABC Family recently ordered a pilot of a potential new series called Alice in Arabia, about an American teenager who’s kidnapped and kept as a prisoner at a distant relative’s home in Saudi Arabia. The pilot script was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously worked as a cryptologic linguist in Arabic while serving in the U.S. army, but it came under intense fire from Muslim advocacy groups for concerns it would paint unfair, broad stereotypes of the Muslim faith.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations panned a leaked copy of the script, with its “familiar narrative of a beautiful girl kidnapped from the United States by sinister Arabs, held against her will in the desert, and threatened with early marriage.”
And now ABC Family has officially shelved the pilot for good. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee touted the victory against a show that “perpetuates demeaning stereotypes” about Muslim individuals, and used the opportunity to highlight other issues they believe ABC should be addressing as well.
March 20, 2014
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a new Hennepin County policy that will allow religious headwear, including hijabs (Islamic head scarves), in jails and booking photos. Hennepin County is the first in the state to create a comprehensive policy on religious headwear.
CAIR-MN received cases recently from Muslim women arrested for unpaid traffic fines, protests and other relatively minor crimes who were denied the hijab in booking photos and provided inadequate religious accommodations in jail.
“We welcome this new policy on religious headwear as another example of Hennepin County showing leadership and setting positive precedents for other counties,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla. “The new religious headwear policies sends a strong message throughout the state that, regardless of who the individual is or what their situation, we must uphold our principles and follow the law.”
Ms. Abd Alla said both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against incarcerated individuals based upon religion.
CAIR-MN provided Hennepin County with sample policies from county jails around the country to help them develop “policies that allow inmates to follow their religion and still satisfy safety concerns.”
Hennepin County agreed to provide jail-issued hijabs and other religious headgear to individuals who request it.
In 2011, CAIR-MN asked the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office to accommodate a Muslim woman’s religious beliefs and let her wear a hijab in jail. The jail refused and the woman was transferred.
March 1, 2014
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The St. Paul Police Department is now allowing employees to wear a police-issued hijab headscarf, according to an announcement Saturday.
St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith said he knows of only one other department in Washington, D.C., that allows the hijab in the United States, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1gJtpFc).
Cities in Canada and Great Britain allow Muslim officers to wear police-issued hijabs while in uniform.
The St. Paul announcement comes in tandem with the recent hiring of their first Somali woman, Kadra Mohamed. She serves as a Community Liaison Officer.
Although the Twin Cities has the nation’s largest Somali-American population, Garaad Sahal was St. Paul’s first and remains the only sworn Somali-American police officer, joining in late 2012.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised Saturday’s announcement in a news release.
Muslim women who wear the hijab believe it’s their religious obligation and asking them to remove it is akin to asking them to remove a shirt or other piece of clothing, Saroya said in the news release.
March 4, 2014
DAYTONA BEACH — A professor known for his controversial views about Islam and terrorism will field questions at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this week.
Professor Jonathan Matusitz of the University of Central Florida maintains that “coexistence with Islam is not possible,” citing extremist groups responsible for mass violence, including attacks in Syria and Egypt in recent weeks. In a recent public appearance he said Islam is “a religion of pieces — piece of body here, piece of body there.” He will be discussing his views and fielding questions Thursday night as part of the annual President’s Speaker Series, which covers topics ranging from aviation to education.
Embry-Riddle officials have received a wave of emails over the past few days from people who take issue with his stance. Hassan Shibly, Florida executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group, described Matusitz’s statements about Muslims as “un-American.”
“We do feel it is very irresponsible for the university to give him a platform to promote such bigoted views,” said Shibly, who is a practicing Muslim.
Marc Bernier, a talk radio host on WNDB-AM 1150, will interview Matusitz, then open the floor to the audience. Bernier, a special assistant to the president at Embry-Riddle, said he doesn’t reveal his planned questions to guests or the public before his interviews, but he tries to “run a very balanced discussion.” The university isn’t paying Matusitz.
The Dayton Beach News Journal: http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20140304/NEWS/140309746?p=1&tc=pg
February 28, 2014
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today called on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to apologize for stereotypical statements made about Muslims during recent debate over Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from lawsuits if employees acted on religious beliefs to discriminate against customers.
In testimony before a state Senate committee the ADL’s assistant regional director posed a scenario in which, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”
“It is unconscionable that a group purporting to defend civil rights would resort to religious bigotry to promote its political agenda,” said CAIR-AZ Board Chair Imraan Siddiqi. “The introduction of this stereotypical scenario gave way to the narrative that Muslims are in some way serial abusers of ‘religious freedom based denials of service,’ which is completely baseless.”
Siddiqi noted that Muslims, like the majority of other Arizonans, believe that those serving the public must treat all customers equally, or be prepared to seek another line of work.
In 2010, CAIR’s New York chapter called on the ADL to retract its statement against the construction of an Islamic community center in New York City.
January 23, 2014
A federal judge on Wednesday allowed a Virginia man’s challenge to his placement on the no-fly list to go forward, three years after he was stranded in Kuwait.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga issued a 32-page written ruling rejecting arguments of government lawyers who wanted the case dismissed. Trenga said that Gulet Mohamed suffers significant harm from his apparent placement on the list and the Constitution gives him the right to challenge his no-fly status.
Trenga acknowledged that Mohamed’s travel rights must be balanced against the government’s duty to protect its citizens from terrorism, but wrote that “the No Fly List implicates some of our basic freedoms and liberties as well as the question of whether we will embrace those basic freedoms when it is most difficult.”
The Justice Department is reviewing the ruling, department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email late Wednesday.
The government has refused to say why it would have placed Mohamed on the no-fly list; in fact, the government won’t even confirm that Mohamed, or anyone else, is on the list at all. The government says only that people are placed on the list when it has “reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is a known or suspected terrorist.”
Mohamed, an Alexandria resident and naturalized U.S. citizen, was 19 when he was detained by Kuwaiti authorities in 2011. Mohamed says he was beaten and interrogated at the behest of the U.S. and denied the right to fly home.
U.S. authorities allowed Mohamed to fly home after he filed a federal lawsuit, but Mohamed says he remains on the list without justification.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Gadeir Abbas, who is with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the ruling “a stinging rebuke to the government’s use of the no-fly list.”
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/va-mans-challenge-to-no-fly-list-clears-hurdle/2014/01/23/7e063730-8432-11e3-a273-6ffd9cf9f4ba_story.html
January 24, 2014
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a call by the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) for the resignation of a Michigan GOP official who made anti-Muslim and other bigoted remarks. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak called on Dave Agemato step down as that state’s representative to the RNC.
“We applaud the RNC’s forceful rejection of Dave Agema’s bigotry,” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia. “This response to community concerns sends the message that the GOP will not tolerate stereotyping of minority groups.” In 2012, A coalition of 11 major American Muslim organizations called on the Republican Party to reach out to Muslim voters by rejecting anti-Islam bias and discriminatory legislation.
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/01/24/dave-agema-faces-additional-pressure-from-gop-party-leaders-to-step-down/
December 5, 2013
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today announced the filing of a federal complaint against the United States by Irfan Khan, an American Muslim citizen, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Khan was arrested and imprisoned for 319 days and made to endure what he describes as “some of the worse conditions imaginable” in solitary confinement in federal prison. The government dropped all charges against Irfan before trial. He is being represented by Morgan & Morgan, P.A. and CAIR-FL.
“Being an American is about having the right to be who you are. We look forward to pursuing justice on behalf of Mr. Khan,” said Michael Hanna, a discrimination attorney at Morgan & Morgan.”The decision to take away someone’s liberties is a serious responsibility. We are seeing a troubling pattern of overzealous prosecution when it comes to the Muslim community. We look forward to a transparent proceeding to reveal the facts,” said Nezar Hamze, spokesman for CAIR-FL.
Morgan and Morgan is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to protecting the people, not the powerful.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.
November 11, 2013
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), in partnership with the Virginia American Muslim Civic Coalition (VAMCC), today released the results of an exit poll survey indicating that Muslim voters in that state turned out to vote and that the majority of Virginia Muslim voters picked Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday’s state election.
The poll, conducted Thursday by an independent interactive voice response survey provider on behalf of CAIR and VAMCC, indicated that 78 percent of registered Virginia Muslim voters turned out to the polls in the off-year election.
CAIR and VAMCC’s poll of more than 300 Virginia Muslim voters found with a 5.5 percent margin of error that:
• 78 percent of registered Muslim voters said they went to the polls on November 5.
• 68 percent of respondents that voted in the Virginia state election cast their ballots to elect Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe to Virginia State Governor.
• Of those respondents, only 12 percent said they voted for Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli and 4 percent for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.
• 17 percent of respondents declined to say who they voted for Virginia State Governor.
National and state Muslim organizations estimate that Virginia has some 60,000 registered Muslim voters. McAuliffe’s win over Cuccinelli was a narrow victory with 54,870 votes between the two candidates.
“Virginia Muslim voters’ large turnout in an off-year state election and their support for McAuliffe certainly had a part to play in the newly elected governor’s victory,” said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw.
Get-Out-the-Vote Drive at Muslim Association of Virginia, November 3, 2013 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TncmRZajqJM