Civil rights advocacy group says banks closed more accounts of Muslims

November 21, 2013

 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations–Michigan is asking federal officials to investigate more complaints that JPMorgan Chase is allegedly closing bank accounts of Muslim customers in Metro Detroit.

“It seems like it’s solidifying our idea more that there’s a disturbing pattern going on,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-MI. “These aren’t just isolated incidents.”

Spurred by about a dozen complaints in the past two months, the advocacy group has contacted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates banks, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CAIR-MI also received new complaints Thursday, Walid said.

One of the latest involved the checking and savings accounts for Annisa Patimurani, a Wayne State University graduate student.

The Indonesia native, who is married to an American and started attending WSU this year, said she applied and was approved without issue. But after weeks of local purchases for books and other necessities, her debit card suddenly stopped working last month, she said.

When Patimurani of Detroit visited her local Chase bank for answers, an employee told her the accounts had been closed. The explanation on file said the bank would not open one for people with ties to foreign officials, she said.

She later received a letter from Chase saying the bank is “no longer opening personal banking accounts for current or former non-U.S officials, their immediate family or their close associates.”

Patimurani was puzzled. When applying in person, wearing a hijab, she disclosed that her parents are retired Indonesian government officials, but was told this would not be an issue in securing accounts. “I just don’t understand why they need to discriminate against us,” Patimurani said.

A Chase representative said privacy reasons prevent the company from discussing details of its customer relationships. But “on occasion, Chase determines it can no longer maintain a customer’s account but those decisions are not based on the customer’s religion, ethnicity or any other similar basis.”

 
Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131121/METRO08/311210142#ixzz2laPVdRVY

Gay, Muslim groups relieved by changes to bullying bill

Gay and Muslim groups say they are relieved after a Michigan lawmaker agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying bill that would have carved out an exemption for religious or moral beliefs.

State Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican, inserted a carve-out for a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” in the Senate version of the bill. The state House of Representatives’ version of the bill did not include the provision.

Jones on Monday (Nov. 14) said he would drop his amendment and vote for the House version after critics said the language could allow gay, Muslim or other minority students to face harassment.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, agreed that enumerations would strengthen the bill but said Muslims were still “relieved” that the Senate bill is likely dead.

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.”

CIA Reaches Out to Muslims: Dinner in Dearborn will come on ‘wrong night’ amid Ramadan

By Paul Egan

Dearborn — CIA Director Leon Panetta plans to visit Dearborn on Sept. 16 for an invitation-only dinner and speech with 150 leaders of the Arab and Muslim communities, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The visit comes amid an unprecedented outreach effort by the Central Intelligence Agency and as Panetta seeks to double the number of CIA analysts who are proficient in Arabic and other Mideast languages.

But the date chosen for the meeting — the 27th night of Ramadan or “night of power,” when many devout Muslims and imams spend the entire night worshiping in the mosque — is drawing criticism.

“They picked the entirely wrong night on this,” said *Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations*. “This is our leading intelligence agency who doesn’t know this.”

Youths top US mosques challenges

IslamOnline.net has posted a feature piece noting the significance of youth and young people in the changing face of US Muslims in their local Islamic centers and communities. “Islamic centers must include youth on their boards and in their decision-making process,” imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of MAS Freedom.

New generations of Muslims top a long list of tough challenges faced by mosques and Islamic centers across the country, citing a relevance for their perspective and inclusion in decision making processes. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan Chapter, says reaching out to youths should be in both classical Islamic knowledge and its practical application in America. “In this endeavor, Islamic centers need to develop young leaders and encourage them to study Islam academically,” he believes.

Michigan Muslim group says FBI is asking people to spy

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.

The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.

Obama’s Muslim Outreach Director Resigns

Barack Obama’s national Muslim outreach coordinator resigned amid a controversy over his connections to man whom the Justice Department named as a co-conspirator in the racketeering trial of several alleged Hamas fundraisers. Mazen Asbahi joined Obama’s campaign just last week, and resigned in a letter to the campaign less than two weeks later, saying that he was stepping down to avoid distracting from Barack Obama’s message of change. Asbahi’s move came after the Wall Street Journal inquired about his relationship with Jamal Said, who served on a subsidiary board of the North American Islamic Trust with Asbahi in 2000, and was named in an investigation of alleged Hamas fundraisers. Asbahi himself, however, is not considered to have been part of the fundraising activities. Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter said that Asbahi is a victim of internet rumors, and a example of Islamophobia in politics.