New Study Finds that Arabs and Blacks Face Biases from Paris Police

An investigative study has found that police in the French capital use racial and ethnic profiling against Arabs and blacks, triggering warnings from officials and experts on the risk of creating a sense of injustice among minorities. The Open Society Justice Initiative carried out the study from November 2007 to May 2008, analyzing police records to find that young Arab and black men are stopped for identity checks far more often than young whites. Nathalie Duhamel, general secretary of the National Commission on Security Ethics, which investigates complaints against the police, says the problem with police profiling is that identity checks leave no trail to call officers to account.

StatsCan Notes Decline in Hate Crimes Against Arabs and West Asians in 2007

The Canadian Statistical Agency, Statistics Canada has released data which claims that police services reported 785 crimes that were motivated by hate in 2007, down from 892 in 2006.

Statistics Canada says race or ethnicity continues to be the most common motivation for reported hate crimes. There were 185 religiously-motivated incidents in 2007, down from 220 in 2006. There were fewer incidents targeting Jews and Muslims. Incidents against Jews continued to account for about two-thirds of all hate crimes motivated by religion.

Michigan elects first Muslim woman state lawmaker

Thirty-two year old Rashida Tlaib has made history by winning a seat in the Michigan legislature, becoming the first Muslim woman to serve in the state legislature. Rashida, who was born in Michigan to Palestinian immigrants, said that: “Allah had chosen me for this job.” Tlaib is a community activist and lawyer, and defeated her Republican opponent by a wide 9 to 1 margin on the November 4th elections. “My parents had taught me the importance of hard work, honesty and commitment. And those values today paid me in the form of being electing to the prestigious position of Michigan State Legislature, representing a diverse community of Latino, African American and Arabs,” said Tlaib.

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Muslim Democrats make political impact despite negative attacks

Faced with a choice of presidential hopefuls that many Muslims fear are not very sympathetic to their issues, American Muslims are stepping up their activism in hopes to influence the next administration. The efforts stem from the difficulties felt by many Arab and Muslim Americans who have found themselves on the defensive facing unprecedented skepticism and suspicion after September 11th. “The number of people who have become more active and visible o n the national political front has increased dramatically because people have suddenly sensed that they have to be more active in order to … defend themselves as Americans, defend themselves as Arabs and Muslims,” said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East scholar at the University of Maryland and fellow at the Brookings Institution. Many Muslim Democrats are also feeling anger over the casting of Barack Obama as Muslim, painting his association to the religion in a wholly negative light. “So What? He is not a Muslim and he says that. But I am a Muslim and if I was running for office would it be right to hold that against me?” says Inayat Lalani, a Muslim doctor in Texas. Nonetheless, many Muslims see this election as a chance to make their voices and votes count and be heard in what will undoubtedly be a historic election.

Sensitivity Training to Guarantee Better Treatment of Arabs and Muslims at Toronto’s Pearson Airport

Five hundred officers at Toronto’s Pearson International, Canada’s busiest airport, will receive sensitivity training to guarantee better treatment of Muslim and Arab passengers. Patrizia Giolti, spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said, The CBSA constantly takes steps including outreach and training to ensure our services are not discriminatory or perceived to be discriminatory. The courses will take place from September to March 2009 to help officers effectively perform their enforcement responsibilities in a respectful manner, according to the CBSA. Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress has hailed the courses as an excellent idea. The courses are similar to the seminars and workshops his organisation has put together for federal employees in the past two years. Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation agrees, adding that That sort of proactive act, or measure, didn’t come out of the blue, but was the result of an intensive lobby.

Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) makes News in So-called Radicalism

According to the National Post, controversy has emerged on its editorial blog as the CAF (Canadian Arab Federation) recently sponsored an essay contest on The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine where it urged high school students to write about Israel’s wrongdoings. The group has recently announced a second controversial event, a July 14 Toronto speaking event entitled The 9/11 Deception Continues. The evening features Bob Bowman, who believes that the U.S. government participated in the 9/11 attacks, and Michael Keefer, a University of Guelph English teacher sympathetic to the same view. The CAF purports to represent both Christian and Muslim Arabs.

Muslims launch US-wide census

This summer, a team of Islamic advocacy groups and statistical organizations will begin a nationwide census of American mosques. The initiative is one in which organizers hope will paint a more accurate picture of composition of Muslims in the US. Challenges of the plan include finding all venues in which Muslims pray – as man Islamic communities do not have organized mosques, but still meet for congregational prayers in homes, workplaces, universities, and other multi-purposes places. The release of the study is planned for early 2009. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a similar study in 2001, which found that South Asians comprised 33% of mosque attendance, African Americans 30%, and Arabs 25%. Groups sponsoring the 2008 census include the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, The Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, and the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Critics accuse Hollywood of vilifying Arabs

American films and TV programs post September 11th have reinforced screen images of Muslims and Arabs as fanatics and villains, argues author Jack Shaheen. Shaheen, in his book Guilty — Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11, praises some post Sept. 11th films for offering more sympathetic images of Muslims and Arabs, but argues that much work is needed in the industry to change the Hollywood castigation of them for decades. Shaheen claims that across all genres of film – from action, to children’s movies, to romantic comedies, that the film industry has perpetuated damaging stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims. […] The images have remained primarily fixed and have only been changed in the sense that they have become more vindictive and damaging.” Shaheen says that there is no authority, or political leader, or Hollywood personalities that have taken a stand, and that this kind of castigation is no different than demonizing Jews or blacks or Asians or any other racial or ethnic group.

Axis of Evil Breaks FBI-Muslim Barrier

WASHINGTON – Desperate to build bridges and possibly recruit new elements, the FBI is using ethnic comedians to reach out to suspicious Arabs and Muslims. “We want to demystify the FBI and show people that we are human, not just cold FBI agents coming out to arrest people,” Gwen Hubbard, chief recruiter for the FBI’s National Recruiting/Testing Office, told Reuters. Revamping an image damaged by a wave of arrests and searches since the 9/11 attacks, the law enforcement agency has sponsored a show of the “Axis of Evil” comedy group during a recent meeting of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The group is made up of comedians of Arab and Muslim roots who have formed a niche by taking on Mideast stereotypes and making subjects such as war and terrorism funny. With large posters reading: “Today’s FBI. It’s for you”, the agency paid $10,000 to sponsor the annual event attended by 1,000 people in a ballroom at a Washington.