The Center for Constitutional Rights gathered a panel of experts to discuss the history and the ramifications of solitary confinement and experimental isolation units in the U.S. prison system.
In 2006, a new type of isolation unit in federal penitentiaries was established called Communications Management Units (CMUs), despite objections from civil liberties organizations. These new facilities offer no contact visits and only four hours a month with family and friends.
Over 65% of inmates in CMUs are Muslim. The next largest populations are political prisoners, either environmental and animal activists who are now classified as “terrorists” by law enforcement agencies and those who have become prison civil liberties activists while behind bars.
Despite the comparative lack of attention, the session chaired by Durbin (D-Ill.) made history as the first congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims. About 50 people waited in line for the door of 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building to open, including a half-dozen high school students who had been sleeping on the floor since about 7 a.m. It was 90 minutes shorter, with noticeably less security and media attention — and fewer fireworks. But Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s hearing Tuesday on Muslim civil rights featured the same partisan sparring and many of the same arguments as Rep. Peter T. King’s hearing on Muslim radicals just three weeks ago.
Like the Homeland Security Committee hearing chaired by King (R-N.Y.), Tuesday’s Judiciary subcommittee session attracted Muslim leaders, civil liberties attorneys, curious graduate students and advocates for everything from conservative Christian marriage to interfaith tolerance.
Nearly a decade after 9/11, anti-Muslim harassment cases are now the largest category of religious discrimination in education cases. In addition, there has been a 163 percent increase in workplace complaints from Muslims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since the 2001 attacks, Perez said.
The hearing seemed to crystallize some of the key arguments made in current discussions about Islam: The importance of Muslims cooperating with law enforcement vs. some Muslims’ wariness of officials who they suspect of entrapment. Concern about discrimination against Muslims vs. concern about Muslims being discriminated against in their own community for being too outspoken against radicalization. Whether the rise in anti-Muslim incidents is being overblown when the vast majority of discrimination complaints reported to the FBI are about discrimination against Jews.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used informants successfully as one of many tactics to prevent another strike in the United States. Agency officials say they are careful not to violate civil liberties and do not target Muslims. But the FBI’s approach has come under fire from some Muslims, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. FBI technicians had supplied the device.
In Irvine, California, a sting backfired when the infiltrated FBI informant, Craig Monteilh, himself was turned in by the mosque leaders as a possible jihadist. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him. He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a mosque member, but that also collapsed.
Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his “handlers” trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.
Some Muslims in Southern California and nationally say the cascading revelations have seriously damaged their relationship with the FBI, a partnership that both sides agree is critical to preventing attacks and homegrown terrorism.
“The FBI wants to treat the Muslim community as a partner while investigating us behind our backs,” said Kurdi, the Loyola student. “They can’t have it both ways.”
The US administration has lifted a ban on Tariq Ramadan, in a move hailed by a rights group as a victory for civil liberties. Ramadan had been barred from the United States due to alleged terrorism ties, which he denies. He was also a strong critic of the Iraq war.
Ramadan is “delighted” and believes this “brings an end to a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation.”
Ramdan, who has Swiss citizenship, told Reuters that as a result of the decision he would apply soon for a visa to visit the United States.
Adam Habib, a professor at the University of Johannesburg, is now allowed to visit the US as well.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is celebrating 15 years of defending the civil rights of Muslims in the United States. Since 9/11, the organization has been more involved with Congress and law enforcement to advocate Muslim issues and ensure policies and investigations target the right groups while protecting the rights of law abiding Muslims.
To commemorate its success, IslamOnline.net discusses CAIR and its effectiveness with Muslims from an array of backgrounds.
This report discusses Britain’s “Prevent” program, a government anti-terror initiative that allegedly spies on innocent Muslims. In violation of civil liberties, the program allegedly collects data on thoughts, political views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information. All information can be stored until Muslims concerned reach age 100. It has been dubbed Britain’s largest spying program in modern times.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is demanding via federal court that the FBI release docusments on its surveillance of Muslim groups and mosques in the area.
Earlier this year, 46-year old father of three Craig Monteih said that he worked as an FBI informant and given the task to uncover suspected terrorist plots. Monteih came fortward saying that he feared for his life beause people may think he is a terrorist.
The ACLU of Southern California alleges that Monteih “baited religious leaders, created suspicion with his extremist rhetoric, and sent a chilling effect into an already wary community.” “Documents show that the FBI conducted extensive surveillance on lawful First Amendment activities of Muslim Americans where there appears to be no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” the ACLU/SC said in a statement.
The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, will hold a briefing to discuss President Obama’s visit to Turkey and how his visit relates to the issues of: the rise of Islamophobia in the US, deteriorating relations between the FBI and American Muslims, the dissemination of inaccurate and agenda-driven information by DHS-recognized “fusion centers,” and Muslims’ concerns about new Justice Department guidelines that allow ethnicity and race to be factors in opening an FBI probe. The press conference will take place on Monday, April 6th at noon, in Washington DC.
AMT chairperson Agha Saeed stated that “While it is vitally important for President Obama to reach out to the Muslim world, it is equally important that he address serious concerns American Muslims have about domestic policies that negatively impact civil liberties and seem to reflect the growth of Islamophobic attitudes in our nation.”
Practicing Islam in the United Kingdom has become as easy – if not easier – than in many majority-Muslim states, according to a leading British Muslim cleric. But concerns have been raised over rumors that the British government is preparing anti-terror legislation (known as Contest 2) that would classify British Muslims as extremists if they have refused to condemn the killing of British soldiers in conflict or have described homosexuality as a sin.
Supporting jihad in any form, including in the Palestinian territories, or promoting the institution of Shari’a law or the establishment of a Caliphate (an Islamic state transcending national borders) would also legally fall within the parameters of extremism.
Even so, many British Muslims believe that leading a truly pious Islamic life is facilitated by the benefits of living in a liberal democratic society such as the United Kingdom.
“In some respects, living in the UK can actually make leading a ‘God-centered’ life easier than living in some, or even many Muslim countries,” said Abdur Raheem Green, an imam at the London Central Mosque. “This is partly due to certain freedoms, civil liberties and adherence to a code of human rights that are essential components of liberal democracies.”
A British convert to Islam, Green explained that because of these key features of democratic societies, “one is able to practice all of the essential components of the religion and even many non-essential ones, as well as being able to invite others to accept this truth.”
An article by Newsweek describes and follows the connection between ‘Muslim’ and the 2008 US presidential election, from fabrications concerning president-elect Obama’s religious background to the rise in Muslims working on the campaign and surge in Muslim support for Barack Obama.
In this election, many Muslim Americans changed their party affiliation from Republican to Democratic – a stark change from the strong Muslim support for George Bush in 2000. Today, more than 2/3 of Muslim Americans consider themselves to be Democrats, while just four percent see themselves as Republican.
A major rift and shift occurred as many Muslim Americans became subject to wiretapping, mishandling of civil liberties, religious, ethnic, and racial profiling, in addition to mounting concerns over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With an estimated 89 percent of Muslim Americans voting for Obama, many cite him as the American every-person, the quintessential American mutt with veins to a pluralistic and diverse background that many in the diverse Muslim American community can relate to.
Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)