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.

Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accounts

March 5, 2014

 

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013. CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Mint Press: http://www.mintpressnews.com/cair-mn-welcomes-minneapolis-civil-rights-directors-probe-muslim-tcf-bank-account-closures/185615/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12399-cair-mn-protests-closures-of-muslims-bank-accounts.html

CAIR-Cincinnati to Announce EEOC Complaints Against DHL for Firing 24 Muslim Workers Over Prayers

November 7, 2013

 

Later today, the Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Cincinnati) will hold a news conference to announce the filing of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) civil rights complaint on behalf of 24 former workers at the DHL Global Mail facility in Hebron, Ky., who were fired for exercising their legally protected religious rights.

CAIR-Cincinnati says the DHL workers were dismissed from their jobs for asserting their right to reasonable accommodation for their religious practices, including daily prayer.

“CAIR has informed the company of its obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate these workers’ religious practices,” said CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub. “Instead of abiding by the law and doing the right thing, DHL has decided to stand behind their violation of these workers’ civil rights.”

Background:

On October 9, DHL Global Mail fired a group of 24 workers, some of whom had been working at DHL for up to 6 years, for refusing to accept a new workplace rule that violated their rights under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In this case, the DHL workers had been using their break time to perform the evening (Maghrib) prayer. The company reportedly decided to eliminate flexible break times, thereby preventing the men and women from practicing their faith. When the workers asserted their legal rights, they were all fired.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12243-cair-cincinnati-to-announce-eeoc-complaints-against-dhl-for-firing-24-muslim-workers-over-prayers.html

Good News: NJ Banks Remove Posters Banning Hijab

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 10/4/2013) — Following intervention by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), Century Savings Bank officials say they have removed posters announcing a policy banning “hats, hoods, headgear, and sunglasses” for security purposes.

The posters had an image of a woman wearing hijab (head scarf), along with images of a woman in sunglasses, a man in a hard-hat, and a man wearing a cap.

Yesterday, CAIR-NJ asked the bank to review that “inappropriate and discriminatory” policy that would impact Muslim women wearing scarves, observant Sikh and Jewish men who wear turbans and yarmulkes respectively, and would logically be applied to Orthodox Jewish women who often wear wigs for religious reasons or Catholic nuns who wear habits.

“We thank Century Savings Bank for taking prompt action to avoid the appearance that they discriminate against those who wear certain attire for religious reasons,” said CAIR New Jersey Civil Rights Director Khurrum Ali

Ali said CAIR-NJ will work with bank officials to craft a policy that ensures both security and religious freedom.

CAIR Seeks Probe of Whether FBI Sought Torture of U.S. Muslim

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to investigate whether an American Muslim citizen detained last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was tortured at the behest of the FBI.

In its letter to the DOJ, CAIR cites an exclusive report by Mother Jones magazine about the case of Yonas Fikre, an Oregon Muslim who was detained and tortured while visiting the UAE last June. The letter was also signed by Fikre’s attorney Thomas Nelson.

Fikre reports that he was “beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators demanded he ‘cooperate’ and barked questions that were eerily similar to those posed to him not long before by FBI agents and other American officials who had requested a meeting with him.”

According to Fikre’s lawyer: “When Yonas [first] asked whether the FBI was behind his detention, he was beaten for asking the question. Toward the end, the interrogator indicated that indeed the FBI had been involved.”

Fikre said he had previously rejected an FBI demand that he act as an informant. He is currently seeking asylum in Sweden because he fears what U.S. officials may do to him if he returns.

Oklahoma Police Captain Faces Disciplinary Action for Refusing to Attend Islamic Event

The Tulsa Police Deptartment is investigating a captain who refused an order to assign officers to attend an upcoming Islamic event because he said it would violate his religious beliefs. Capt. Paul Fields was reassigned after he refused to order officers under his command to attend the Islamic Center of Tulsa’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a spokesman for the department said.

“It is my opinion and that of my legal counsel that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my Civil Rights,” Fields wrote in an internal police department memo obtained by Fox News.

Human rights concerns kept MI5 from passing on information about Abdulmutallab

MI5 failed to alert US intelligence about the extremist links of the Detroit plane bomber because of concerns about breaching his human rights and privacy. The spy agency withheld its files on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from Washington until after the near-catastrophic Christmas Day attack because of guidance from its legal department.

Asked why the information had not been passed to the US, a Home Office official said the security service did not pass information to its allies about the thousands of Britons who were merely suspected of having radical Islamic views. It did so only after it classified individuals as progressing into the much smaller category of “violent extremists”, a term used by MI5 to define potential or actual terrorists.

CAIR report says US Muslims still face civil rights issues

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) annual report on the status of civil rights for American Muslims has been released.

The findings indicate that while hate crimes against Muslims are down, reported complaints of discrimination and civil rights violations continue to rise. In fact, the numbers are the highest they have been since CAIR was founded.

“Hate crimes and vandalism are down but we are seeing more workplace and media bias,” says Dawud Walid, local CAIR executive director.

While discrimination issues at school and work are cause for concern, there is also room for optimism.

“At least we had someone like Colin Powell saying publicly ‘what if Obama was a Muslim,’ and we had a senator McCain rejecting the claim that Obama is a Muslim in a public forum,” says Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR Communications Director. “There are two competing trends, and we hope new emerging one wins up.”

CAIR celebrates 15 years of Muslim civil liberties defense; Muslims weigh in on effectiveness

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.

CAIR: Islamophobia machine targets American Muslims

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today distributed an editorial, entitled “Islamophobia Machine Targets American Muslims,” outlining what the Washington-based Muslim civil rights group says is a campaign by “extremists of all stripes who coordinate and cooperate in a relentless effort to demonize Islam and deprive American Muslims of their civil rights.”

CAIR distributed the editorial through ISLAM-OPED, a syndication service designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues.