How One Policy Change Could Wipe Out Muslim Civil Liberties

Designating Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization could lead to major fallout for American Muslims.

Members of the hardline anti-Islam lobby are eagerly anticipating the possibility of the Trump administration designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, which is increasingly likely if conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney play a prominent role in Trump’s transition team. Gaffney believes the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government at every level and has even questioned whether Barack Obama was “America’s first Muslim president” implementing the Brotherhood’s plans.

While a terrorist designation would have several foreign policy implications, experts say the measure is being pushed primarily by stateside anti-Islam extremists like Gaffney who believe it would empower the Trump administration to target a number of major Muslim American nonprofits.

“Let me be extremely clear,” said J.M. Berger, a counterterrorism analyst at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. “This initiative is concerned with controlling American Muslims, not with any issue pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood in any practical or realistic sense.”

Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry, said such a designation could have chilling implications for Muslim civil society in the United States. Based on unfounded yet oft-repeated claims that American Muslim groups have ties to — or are outright fronts for — the Muslim Brotherhood, Lean said, the designation would provide cover for the administration to shut down nonprofits, maliciously prosecute individuals, and pursue other acts that would, in turn, leave ordinary American Muslims more vulnerable to marginalization and repression.

“I believe that Muslim civil liberties could potentially, with this policy move, be wiped off the map,” Lean said. “It sounds like hyperbole, but I mean that very seriously.”

ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES, CONFRONTING FEAR

Key Findings
This report presents a national strategy that aims to arrive at a shared American understanding of Islam in which being Muslim carries a positive connotation, and in which Islam has an equal place among the many faiths which together constitute America’s pluralistic society. The strategy has four priority areas of focus:
1. Advancing Islam’s principle of “be a benefit to humanity, avert harm from humanity” by enhancing Muslim involvement in the issues of other domestic communities which face challenges to full and equal protection and participation in society.
2. Establishing in the public conscience that Islamophobia is identical to other forms of prejudice and undermines American ideals. 3. Empowering a diverse range of legitimate voices to persuasively contribute, particularly in the news media, to the views of Islam and American Muslims within public dialogue. 4. Enhancing community ability to impact U.S. political and policy life through public service, voting, and meaningful political contributions. The report also examines Islamophobia in the United States and offers the following key findings: Key Finding 1: Seventy-four (up from sixty-nine in 2013) groups are identified as comprising the U.S. Islamophobia network. Key Finding 2: The U.S.-based Islamophobia network’s inner core is currently comprised of at least thirty-three groups whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims.
Key Finding 3: Between 2008 and 2013, inner-core organizations had access to at least $205,838,077 in total revenue.
Key Finding 4: An additional forty-one groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes, make up the network’s outer core. $205,838,077 Total Revenue: 2008 – 2013 33 INNER CORE GROUPS ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES | CONFRONTING FEAR viii U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender
Key Finding 5: As of the writing of this report, anti-Islam bills are law in ten states. This is one-fifth of the nation. To date, however, none of these laws have been invoked in legal proceedings.
Key Finding 6: At least two states, Florida and Tennessee, have passed laws revising the way they approve textbooks for classroom use as a direct result of anti-Islam campaigns. In many instances, teachers simply informing students of the tenets of Islam’s central belief system generated backlash and allegations of attempts to indoctrinate students to become Muslims.
Key Finding 7: In 2015, there were 78 recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted; more incidents than ever reported in a single year since we began tracking these reports in 2009. Incidents in 2015 have more than tripled compared to the past two years in which there were only 22 mosque incidents reported in 2013 and 20 incidents in 2014. In fact, in both November and December of 2015, there were 17 mosque incidents reported during each of these months, numbers almost equivalent to an entire year’s worth of reports from the previous two years. Additionally, 2015 saw the largest number of cases in both the Damage/Destruction/Vandalism category as well as the Intimidation category.
Key Finding 8: Progress has been observed in the reduction in frequency and shrinking acceptability of anti-Islam law-enforcement trainings
Key Finding 9: Two new phenomenon—Muslim-free businesses and armed anti-Islam demonstrations—raise deep concerns.

‘Happy Ramadan’: Postal worker threatens to destroy mail featuring Muslim holiday stamps

The US Postal Service is investigating threats made online by a woman identifying herself as one of its mail carriers, Buzzfeed reported.
The woman identifying herself online as Catherine An Ray threatened to tamper with mail on Monday after sharing a post by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller complaining about the release of a stamp commemorating the Muslim holiday of Eid.
“[As] A US Mail Carrier I can personally assure everyone here that anything with this stamp on it will be lost or destroyed in the system before is [sic] makes delivery,” Ray wrote. “Guaranteed. Happy Ramadan.”

Al-Azhar condemns anti-Islam cartoons on Dutch television

© epa
© epa

Al-Azhar, one of the most prominent sunni Islamic institutes of higher learning, has condemned a broadcast on Dutch television that showed cartoons about the Islamic prophet Muhammed. According to the institute located in Egypt the caricatures conceal a “sick fantasy”.

The video was produced by the anti-Islam political party PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) of Geert Wilders and was showed during the Dutch Broadcasting Time for Political Parties. In a declaration Al-Azhar calls upon Muslims to “ignore this act of terror.” “The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanity is too high and honorable to be damaged by drawings that do not respect moral or decent norms.”

The PVV leader Geert Wilders preceded the video with the words: “The best way to show terrorists that they will never win is by doing that which they are trying to prevent us to do. The cartoons were not shown to provoke but to show that we defend freedom of speech and will never bow to violence. Freedom of speech should always win vis-a-vis violence and terror.”

Assault against Islamic Cultural Center in Dresden

Tensions continue to grow between anti-Islam movement PEGIDA and the German government.
Tensions continue to grow between anti-Islam movement PEGIDA and the German government.

The Islamic Cultural Center “Marwa El-Sherbini” in Dresden has been targeted by anti-Muhammad graffitis. According to a chronic, which has been collected by press releases of the police and media reports, Dresden has witnessed a growing numbers of violent xenophobic attacks against refugees, immigrants and Islamic facilities. The right-wing anti-Islam movement, patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of Europe (PEGIDA) has initiated its marches in Dresden. Several branches have adopted the principal of PEGIDA in further German cities but were less successful in mobilizing adherents.

The Islamic Cultural Center Marwa El-Sherbini has been named after the Muslim woman with Egyptian origins. In 2009, the pregnant woman was stabbed to death by the accused at court process. His motive was recorded to be xenophobic.

Dutch extreme right group organizes anti-Islam demonstration

Pro Patria, a Dutch extreme right group, announced to yet again take to the streets to demonstrate for the freedom of speech and against fundamentalistic Muslims. The organization will hold a “March for Freedom” on Saturday 28 February. The extreme right group says it wants to call upon Dutch political figures to “defend our freedoms.” “Looking away is no longer an option,” Pro Patria writes on her Facebook page.

In August 2014 Pro Patria organized a similar demonstration in the multicultural neighborhood Schilderswijk in The Hague. This resulted in a confrontation with (Islamic) youth. Shortly after the incident the Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen announced a temporary ban on demonstrations in residential areas of The Hague. The leadership of Pro Patria is thought to consist of members of various extreme right groups that are active in the Netherlands or have been in the past.

CAIR 2014 Midterm Election Report

CAIR releases 2014 Midterm Election Report.
CAIR releases 2014 Midterm Election Report.

Key Points: The most significant anti-Islam action of the 2014 midterm election, Alabama’s Amendment 1, was approved by voters. Alabama is the eighth state to approve a law intended to vilify Islam. The measure was inspired by Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts legislation, which stigmatizes Muslims as a group from which the US needs protection. In Alabama, two organizations – Christians against Amendment One and the Christian Coalition of Alabama – organized opposition to the measure citing its threats to international adoptions, marriage law and religious liberty.

A Harris poll conducted prior to the election found that “just over half” of Americans would not vote for a Muslim candidate. However, observed usage of Islamophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail was present, but significantly down, from the 2010 midterm election.

Prior to election day, Republicans in New Hampshire modified their state party platform, signaling their intent to push a legal measure intended to vilify Islam. While Republicans were overwhelmingly responsible for pushing anti-Islam prejudice during the election, three separate incidents in 2014 showed that the party will, at times, act against Islamophobia.

The use of Islamophobic discourse to exploit voters’ fears remains an acceptable component of political campaigns. The overall effectiveness of employing such tactics remains in doubt.

As in the 2010 midterm election, Republicans were responsible for the overwhelming majority of anti-Islam electoral prejudice. Outside of an electoral setting, however, the party held some public officials accountable for employing anti-Muslim prejudice in 2014.

This brief on the presence of Islamophobia in the 2014 election offers only a snapshot of major highlights and does not purport to be a complete record. (CAIR)

Full Text of Report HERE.

Civil rights groups to feds: Purge your anti-Muslim training materials

August 14, 2014

(RNS) Civil rights and religious groups say efforts to rid federal agencies of anti-Muslim bias have faltered and prejudice against Muslims persists, particularly in the training of anti-terrorism officers.

On Thursday (Aug. 14), 75 groups — including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Auburn Seminary and the NAACP — sent a letter to the White House urging an audit of federal law enforcement training material.

“The use of anti-Muslim trainers and materials is not only highly offensive, disparaging the faith of millions of Americans, but leads to biased policing that targets individuals and communities based on religion, not evidence of wrongdoing,” the letter reads.

A National Security Council representative said the letter will be reviewed and a response issued.

Anti-Muslim sentiment, flagged several years ago, prompted the White House to order an assessment of the intelligence community’s training materials and policies — but that never happened, the letter charges. Instead, the groups wrote, administration officials settled on expanded sensitivity training and other measures that don’t directly address the continued use of anti-Muslim materials.

The letter states that its allegations are based in part on a July 9 article in The Intercept, an online publication created by journalist Glenn Greenwald. According to its website, its immediate goal is “to provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,” the former National Security Agency systems analyst now a fugitive living in Russia.

5 years later, Fla.-Va. terrorism case in limbo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For five years, a federal judge upset with the prosecution of a Florida professor once accused of being a leading terrorist has simply refused to rule on his case. It’s left the government unable to deport him, unable to prosecute him, and flummoxed on how to move forward.

In April 2009, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told lawyers she would rule “soon” on whether to dismiss criminal contempt charges filed in Virginia against former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, a longtime prominent Palestinian activist, who refused to testify in a separate terror-related investigation.

The ruling hasn’t come, and nothing has happened in the case. The delay is unusual for Alexandria’s federal courthouse, known in legal circles as the Rocket Docket for its swift disposition of cases. Legal experts say they can’t think of a similar case elsewhere that has languished for so long.

On the surface at least, Al-Arian — who has declined to invoke his speedy trial rights — benefits from his silence and the standoff. If the Virginia case were dropped, Al-Arian, 56, born in Kuwait to Palestinian refugees before coming to the U.S. in 1975, would be deported under the terms of a Florida plea.

Al-Arian’s critics said he was a leader of one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the world — the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — and that he used his position as a computer science professor as a base to quietly raise money for attacks. His supporters saw a man who was trapped by anti-Muslim hysteria, unfairly snared in a vague, amorphous web of guilt-by-association when his real goal was to help his native people in the Palestinian territories.

In 2003, federal prosecutors in Florida filed an indictment alleging Al-Arian was a leader of the terrorist group and complicit in the murder of innocent civilians. A jury acquitted him on numerous counts, and was hung on others. A mistrial was declared.

Pete White, a former prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia who is now a defense attorney, said it is rare for a criminal case to sit this long under these circumstances, especially in the Rocket Docket. There are no official statistics that document the rarity of a criminal case sitting in limbo for such a long time, but White and others said they could not think of a similar case, especially one that grew out of a terror-related investigation.

White said the only option prosecutors have to propel the case forward would be to file something called a writ of mandamus against Brinkema — basically asking another judge to order her to take action.

Islamic group accuses Republicans of fostering anti-Muslim sentiment

A Florida Islamic group is accusing some Republican Party lawmakers and local party organizations of fostering anti-Muslim sentiment.

 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, sent letters to almost every Republican Club or party extension in the state, asking the groups to stop bringing speakers who espouse anti-Islamic views. The letter said it represented the interests of more than 150,000 registered Florida Muslim voters.

 

Hassan Shibly, executive director for CAIR, based in Tampa, said such speakers not only inflame anti-Islam tensions but have also led to discriminatory legislation: namely Senate Bill 386, which would ban foreign laws from being enacted in Florida; and House Bill 921, which allows school districts to select textbooks instead of adhering to the statewide curriculum.

Sen. Nancy Detert, who represents Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County, refused to comment on the two bills and the letter sent out by CAIR.

“Why should I care about a letter sent out by someone I know nothing about? Is that really worth a story?” Detert said.

SENATE BILL 386 & HOUSE BILL 903

 

Referred to as the “Anti-Foreign Law Bill” and the “Anti-Sharia Law Bill,” this legislation would keep Florida judges from applying foreign laws. The only exception would be if the foreign law guarantees the same constitutional protections found in the Florida and U.S. constitutions.

 

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, in the Senate and Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, in the House.

 

Gov. Rick Scott has voiced his approval for the measure, but critics say the law is unnecessary and there are virtually no examples of foreign law previously intervening with state laws.

Shibly said the bill is thinly veiled anti-Islam legislation, citing a booklet Hays handed out to other Senators.

 

According to the Miami Herald, the booklet was called: “Shari’ah Law: Radical Islam’s threat to the U.S. Constitution.”

Shibly of the Council on American-Islam Relations said the bill would create a patchwork of curricula that would make it more difficult for the state to set standards for achievement. He also worried some districts might use the measure to push their ideas onto students.