Macron proposes extension of counterterrorism powers

President Macron’s government proposed an expansion of authorities’ powers to fight terrorism, alarming civil liberties advocates even as defenders said the plans would help keep French citizens safe.

The draft law was introduced after a series of attempted terrorist strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent weeks and several bloody attacks in Britain that were claimed by Islamic State-inspired militants.

The changes proposed Thursday seek to wind down a state of emergency that gave French security officials broad powers and was imposed after the November 2015 Paris attacks, which claimed 130 lives. Some of those powers would be made permanent, including the ability to temporarily shutter places of worship that promote extremism and conduct searches with fewer restrictions. The draft also strips some oversight powers from judges and gives security officials more latitude to act without judicial review.

 “I think we have achieved a good balance,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb told reporters after a meeting of the French cabinet Thursday during which he proposed the law. “The aim is to put an end to the state of emergency.”

 

Macron and his predecessor, François Hollande, have sought to end the state of emergency, which has been extended several times since the 2015 attacks. It is slated to expire July 15, although Macron has asked for it to be prolonged until November.

The proposal “tries to preserve the balance between controlling terrorism and respecting liberties,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Wednesday on France’s TF1 television station. “We cannot give up what we are.” 

He acknowledged that the law was a work in progress, saying that consultation with parliament, where Macron has a majority, would “enrich the text.” Macron last month announced the formation of a terrorism task force that would streamline communication among branches of intelligence and law enforcement, an idea praised by terrorism experts.

 

Since November 2015, French police have conducted over 4,000 searches and raids using emergency powers and placed about 400 people under house arrest, according to statistics collected by Amnesty International.

 

CAIR: Fla. Muslim Files Suit Against Feds After Being Imprisoned for Months

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.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12282-cair-fla-muslim-files-suit-against-feds-after-being-imprisoned-for-months.html

Florida Parents Protest Textbook With Chapter About Islam

November 6, 2013

 

Parents upset about a history textbook that they say emphasizes Islam more than other religions protested outside Volusia County school district headquarters.

The parents claim that the book contains too much information about Islam and not enough about Christianity and other religions. There was even a call by organizers asking students to go home and tear the section on Islam out of their books.

Because tearing up (or burning?) books is always the proper response to such things.

The county district was forced to postpone a Tuesday meeting “in the interest of public safety.”

“This group is holding a protest and rally to oppose the teaching of the historical and basic pillars of Islam to students in Volusia County,” said Hassan Shibly, Florida executive director of CAIR, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

“It is displaying an alarming level of intolerance and brazen disregard of minority religions… We find their actions un-American and against every core principal that makes this country so great.”

The textbook in question, Prentice Hall World History, protesters claim, devotes an entire chapter to Islam and teaches children about how it came to be and about the building of the Muslim empire, while Christianity and Judaism are referenced only in small paragraphs here and there.

And we can see the problem here: Where in America will the children learn about Christianity?

Of course, the protesters claim that this is in no way about getting all worked up and encouraging kids to vandalize a schoolbook because they think Islam is un-American and evil.

It’s about religious equality!

You know, with all the crazy things going down in Florida, such as a law that makes it perfectly legal for a person to shoot and kill another person because he or she feels threatened, and with people with serious medical conditions that can be alleviated only with medical marijuana having their homes raided by cops like they’re the leader of a drug cartel, it’s good to know there are citizens out there tackling the truly important issues.

 

Broward-Palm Beach New Times: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2013/11/florida_parents_protest_textbo.php

 

SF Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Condemning Islamophobic Bus Ads

MUNI-press-conf(SAN FRANCISCO 3/21/13) — On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the content of Islamophobic advertisements placed on San Francisco buses.

Board President David Chiu sponsored the resolution, introduced at last Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution is the first of its kind in the nation, sending a clear message that San Francisco’s elected leaders stand against hate and Islamophobia.

The group underwriting the ads, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has sued several U.S. cities for the First Amendment right to place the ads. The group’s founder, Pamela Geller, has been designated an anti-Muslim hate extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, and at the request of 75 organizations and 35 leaders who spoke out following the first round of ads in August, the resolution calls for the proceeds from the offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities.

CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, 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.

The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Asian Law Caucus is a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

Muslim NGO scores a major victory against “strip search” body scanners

4 February 2013

 

UK based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) finally succeeded in its campaign against “strip search” body scanners that are expected to be introduced in the UK airports. It was a government measure to prevent a terrorist strike similar to 9/11; the scanner was thought to be more efficient in detecting explosive material.

 

However, a number of faith and civil liberties groups, especially Muslims, globally objected the scanners on several grounds. These included the breach of civil liberties, health issues, the explicit nature of the body scanners and storage of images taken by the scanner. In addition it has been argued that the scanners could not detect plastics and liquids which had been given as a reason for their introduction.

 

IHRC has been a leading campaigner against the scanner and it supported the legal action by a former a IHRC employee against the government’s policy on scanners. The legal action had been given the right to proceed to a full judicial review.

 

Upon the decision of the court the UK government announced the cancellation of the plan to install the scanners.

 

The Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh considered the decision as “a massive victory for the Muslim community:

“IHRC has campaigned and lobbied against airport scanners, which cost £100,000 each, since their introduction and contributed to government consultation on the issue as early as 2010.  With continued campaigning and action by IHRC, this decision by the British government is a massive victory for the Muslim community and all who believe in civil liberties.”

LAPD to alter policy on data possibly related to terrorism

Reports on suspicious activity determined to be harmless will be deleted. They had been stored in a database for a year, sparking fears that the information could wind up with the federal government.

In the face of privacy concerns, the Los Angeles Police Department has agreed to change the way it collects information on suspicious activity possibly related to terrorism.

The department, after coming under fire from civil liberties and community groups, will no longer hold on to so-called suspicious activity reports that the LAPD’s counter-terrorism unit determines are about harmless incidents.

Until now, the department stored the innocuous reports in a database for a year. That gave rise to worries among critics of the reporting program that personal information about people who had done nothing wrong could be entered inappropriately into the federal government’s vast network of counter-terrorism databases and watch lists.

Detroit-area Muslims sue US, say agents repeatedly quiz them about their faith at border

DETROIT — Some Detroit-area Muslims have been held at gunpoint, handcuffed and repeatedly harassed about their religion when returning to the U.S. from Canada, according to a lawsuit that seeks to bar government agents from asking questions about religion.

The Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said border agents and the FBI are violating the First Amendment and a 1993 federal law that guarantees freedom to practice religion.

“Since the tragedy of 9/11, we have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties of Muslim-Americans,” CAIR director Dawud Walid said Friday, a day after a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Detroit.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the allegations but said profiling based on race or religion is strictly prohibited. The lawsuit also names the FBI director and two agents. The FBI declined to comment.

Group blasts Gingrich for limiting hires to Muslims who renounce Shariah law

The largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States on Wednesday condemned Newt Gingrich for saying he would only hire Muslims to his administration if they renounced the use of Islam’s Shariah law as a tool for U.S. government.

Calling Gingrich “one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry,” the Council of American Islamic Relations suggested the Republican presidential candidate is a segregationist.

“Newt Gingrich’s vision of America segregates our citizens by faith. His outdated political ideas look backward to a time when Catholics and Jews were vilified and their faiths called a threat,” said CAIR Legislative Director Corey Sayolor in a statement.

“The time for bias in American politics has passed and Newt Gingrich looks like a relic of an ugly era,” Sayolor said.

CAIR said the release was prompted by the candidate’s remarks Tuesday in Columbia when, asked if he would ever endorse a Muslim running for president.

“It would depend entirely on whether they would commit in public to give up Shariah,” Gingrich said.
“A truly modern person who happened to worship Allah would not be a threat, a person who belonged to any kind of belief in Shariah, any effort to impose it on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat,” Gingrich told the crowd, adding that he’s “totally opposed” to Shariah law being applied in American courts and favors a federal law that “preempts” its use.

GOP candidates show sharp differences on national security and terrorism

Clash on civil liberties: The Republican presidential candidates clashed repeatedly over foreign policy and national security issues Tuesday night, revealing clear differences on the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan, the Iranian threat, immigration, and the balance between protecting the homeland and preserving civil liberties.

The debate opened with a clash over the USA Patriot Act and the trade-off between civil liberties and homeland security. Paul called the Patriot Act “unpatriotic.” He said that there is no need to “sacrifice liberty for security” and that the criminal justice system had effectively dealt with Timothy J. McVeigh, who was responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Gingrich responded: “Timothy McVeigh succeeded. That’s the whole point. Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans. I don’t want a law that says after we lose a major American city, we’re sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says, you try to take out an American city, we’re going to stop you.”

As part of the discussion, Santorum said he would support profiling “radical Muslims” to prevent terrorist attacks. But he was quickly criticized by Paul, who offered: “What if they look like Timothy McVeigh? He was a tough criminal.”

In anticipation of Tuesday’s debate, the Democrats mounted a full-court press to preemptively challenge Romney and the Republicans and to promote the president’s foreign policy record. Polls show that the public gives Obama good marks on foreign policy and terrorism, in contrast to low numbers on the economy and the deficit.

UK Universities Asked to Report “Vulnerable” Muslim Students

29.08.2011

As part of the government’s revamped Prevent strategy, British universities have been ordered to inform the police about Muslim students who may be vulnerable to radicalisation due to feelings of depression or isolation. According to the new guidance for countering Islamist radicalism, students reported at being “at risk” will then be monitored and Scotland Yard will assess any terrorist threat. However, the students will not be made aware of this investigation. The backdrop to this new focus on universities is the realisation that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabhad, who has come to be known as the “underpants bomber” of Christmas 2009, had studied at the University College London.

The new guidance has resulted in discomfort amongst both lecturers and student unions who are concerned about the infringement of students’ civil liberties. As the Guardian reports, the National Union of Students, for instance, instructed their officers to not provide the police with details about students unless they presented a warrant. Similarly, James Haywood, president of Goldsmiths college student union, said he was appalled to be asked to spy on Muslim students. The University and College Union criticised the new strategy for risking to damage the relationship between staff and students. Similarly, Ted Cantle warned of the risk to stigmatise Muslims. Despite these criticisms, however, the Home Office defended the new strategy and expressed the expectation on universities to play their role in achieving its objectives.