FBI kills Michigan imam, Muslims urge “fair and just investigation”

A local imam in Dearborn, Michigan was killed by FBI agents. Luqman Ameen Abdullah 53, died in a shootout in the raid of a warehouse just outside the city, in Dearborn, where he stored goods. The raid was one of three in which federal agents said were intended to arrest Mr. Abdullah and 10 other men on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods, mail fraud and illegal possession of firearms. But the authorities said Mr. Abdullah, who had a lengthy criminal record and was forbidden to have a firearm, opened fire on the agents.

“I’m comfortable with what our agents did,” said Andrew G. Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit division of the F.B.I. “They did what they had to do to protect themselves.”

Abdullah’s mosque has defended itself against allegations that he was part of a radical group with an anti-government ideology.

American Muslim organizations hold mixed opinions on the imam and the incident.

While the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in Los Angeles and The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) are both calling for an investigation of the killing, describing it as “deeply disturbing,” the Islamic Center of America (an interfaith outreach project in the Midwest) is critical of the imam and his supporters.

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.”

Dutch officials visit Dearborn, Michigan to learn about improving Muslim relations

Dutch officials visited the Dearborn area this week to discern why Muslims are more accepted in the United States than in the Netherlands. Dutch Cabinet Minister Francis Timmermans and an entourage of officials met with 35 local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders at the Islamic Center of America. We are good at allowing people to make their own choices,” said Timmermans, the European minister of The Netherlands, reflecting on the long tolerance for multiple Christian denominations in his country. “But were we good at dialogue? This world needs dialogue.”

Timmermans stated that there has been an ideological shift in the way that Muslim-Dutch issues are viewed in Dutch society, and that this shift changed after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Before this, problems of integration of immigrants were often described as issued related to youth and young people, but “since 9/11, all of these people have simply become Muslims. This is simply, probably a knee-jerk reaction to fear in the society. The Dutch officials spent an entire day engaging with representatives from the Dearborn community, to examine ways in which social and religious tensions, and difficulties sometimes caused by “free speech,” are dealt with differently in the United States.

Coach loses job amid Muslim-Christian concern

A coach at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan has been dismissed from a longtime wresting coaching position after complaints that the coach’s former assistant was trying to convert Muslim students to Christianity. The assistant coach, Trey Hancock, an evangelical pastor, said that he never mixed religion with sports – the coach supported Hancock. The school’s principal, Imad Fadlallah, decided not to renew the contract of the coach due to his at-will status.

Wal-Mart tweaks store for Arab-Americans

The world’s largest retailer has opened an innovative new supercenter in Dearborn, Michigan. Wal-Mart’s new 200,000 square foot store will offer a special line of products geared towards the American Muslim and Arab American communities in the Detroit metro area, which is home to one of the largest communities of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. The store offers a variety of Middle Eastern food such as tahini, olive, traditional spices, and halal meat section. The store, which is still in the hiring process, presently employs about thirty-five Arab Americans. Many local business members are, however, worried. “There is a fear factor in the business community,” says Osama Siblani, publisher of Dearborn’s Arab American News. The fear rests on Wal-Mart’s all-in-one store and slogan of low prices will make prosperity difficult for many local business in the area. Wal-mart has agreed to make a promise not to undercut the prices of small local stores, and agreed to be examined by a community advisory board made up of local Arab-American leaders, to make sure that it isn’t endangering mom and pop shops. For example, Wal-Mart agreed to charge one dime more than local grocers for a package of pita bread.

Sharing his story: Muslim cleric writes a book about Islam and his family’s suffering in Iraq

By Niraj Warikoo Born into a prestigious Iraqi family descended from Islam’s prophet, Imam Hassan Qazwini started life anew when he moved to the United States in 1992. He knew little English, was unfamiliar with American culture and uncertain about his future. But now, Qazwini of Dearborn heads one the largest U.S. mosques — the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn — and has become a nationally known figure who has advised President George W. Bush, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Muslims from metro Detroit to Baghdad.

Metro Arabs Don’t Feel France’s Alienation, Discrimination Here

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Abed Hammoud had an OK life in France. After graduating with an engineering degree from a top university in Lyon, the Arab immigrant secured a job at a heating and cooling company. But despite his achievements, Hammoud sensed he would never be considered French. At work, he said, he was referred to as “the Lebanese guy.” His Arab friends struggled to find work. And Hammoud saw how hard it was for people like him to enter politics and start businesses. So in 1990, he left France for the United States. In just over a decade, the Dearborn resident earned master’s degrees in law and business, became a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and emerged as an activist recognized nationwide for politically organizing Arab Americans. “It’s easier here,” said Hammoud, a 39-year-old married father of two sons. “People are more open. … In France, you’re never considered French” if you’re of Arab descent. That sense of alienation among France’s large Arab and Muslim populations — among the largest in Europe — may help explain the outbreak of violence this month that resulted in thousands of torched cars and a lingering unease that the country had failed its minority communities. That violence, coupled with last summer’s suicide attacks in London, has raised the question: Can Arabs and Muslims integrate into Western countries? Arab Americans say their success proves that they can. Indeed, across metro Detroit, many have found success in a number of fields — a marked contrast to the high unemployment and unrest that pervades much of Europe’s Arab and Muslim communities. […]