Appeals court delays Gitmo genital search ban

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court is allowing the U.S. government to continue genital searches of Guantanamo Bay detainees — at least temporarily.

A three-judge panel of the court Wednesday granted the Obama administration’s emergency motion for a temporary delay in enforcing U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth’s order banning the practice.

Detainee lawyers say the searches began after prisoners were told they would have to travel from their resident camp to another site at the base to meet with or talk on the telephone with their lawyers. The lawyers say some detainees had refused to make the trip because of the new searches.

In court papers, the government argued that Lamberth’s order would weaken security at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba by making it harder to prevent smuggling of contraband. And it said that the ruling went where no other court has gone before.

“For the first time to the government’s knowledge, a federal court has restricted a military commander from implementing routine security procedures at a detention facility holding enemy forces, notwithstanding the universally recognized need for the maintenance of discipline and order in those facilities,” the government wrote in its motion with the appeals court.

2 Libyan-Americans from Oregon now being allowed to return to US after unexplained delays

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two Libyan-Americans from the Portland, Ore., area who were denied re-entry to the United States from Libya have been granted permission to return home, although one man’s return has been delayed.

The two men — Jamal Tarhuni, 55, and Mustafa Elogbi, 60 — traveled separately to Libya last year after the revolution that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

The pair has now received assurances from the State Department that they can travel home, said Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer for the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group that has advocated for both men. Tarhuni has already departed Libya and is expected to arrive in Oregon Tuesday.

Elogbi was told he can leave but was ordered to delay his departure for unexplained reasons. He now plans to depart on Sunday.
Last month, both were barred from boarding return flights to the U.S. The two said they were being subjected to an overzealous and groundless investigation by the FBI.

Head of Mosque in Montreuil Seeks to Purchase the Buildings

The person responsible for a mosque in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) requested the tribunal of Bobigny to restrict ownership of the buildings where his prayer halls were built in 1995 so that he can purchase them. The transaction between Mohammed Ta_four and Marie-Louise Duport, the current owner of the buildings, has stalled since 1996 by the pre-emption of the mayor and the ex-mayor who was opposed to Ta_four`s project. The lawyer of the “Association des B_tisseurs Musulmans de France“ requested the tribunal to honor the transaction. Despite these delays, the mayor has said that the promise of the space will be upheld.

Muslim Private School in Parisian Suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine to Open March 6

Following a number of delays, the fourth private Islamic school in France will open its doors March 10, 2008. The _ducation et Savoir school will open one primary class for 10 students to complete the academic year. Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, the school will accommodate 40 high school students. Located in the southern Parisian suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), the school will follow state-mandated curriculum and offer classes in Arabic and Islam. The school’s director, Mahmoud Awwad, claims that their biggest challenge has not been obtaining an operation license, but has been funding. The school has been funded by private donors and associations in France.

Fourteen Muslims sue U.S. government over lengthy citizenship application delays

Fourteen Muslims who have been waiting 2 to 5 years for their applications to be processed, are alleging that the US government has stalled their citizenship applications with indefinite background checks. In a lawsuit filed in February 19th in Florida’s Middle District federal court, the plaintiffs do not allege religious discrimination. However, they say that the CIS’ expansion of FBI background checks required for naturalization has ensnared several Muslims.

Lines of people waiting before the Moroccan consulate of Barcelona

Taking advantage of the holiday and the beginning of the Ramadan, many Moroccan citizens have gathered in front of the consulate of their country in Barcelona to take care of legal issues. These lines are now routine since the embassy opened a year ago. This consulate serves the entire region of Catalonia, the Spanish Mediterranean islands and part of France, which explains the long lines and complaints of the Moroccan citizens of delays in service.

The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States, 2007

A report released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group indicates a 25 percent increase in the total number of complaints of anti-Muslim bias from 2005 to 2006, with citizenship delays being the major issue.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report — the only annual study of its kind — outlines 2,467 incidents and experiences of anti- Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2006, the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in the Washington-based group’s report. (Hundreds of anti-Muslim incidents reported immediately following the 9/11 attacks were detailed in a separate report.)

According to the study, called “Presumption of Guilt,” that total is a 25.1 percent increase over the preceding year’s total of 1,972 cases. One of the most significant increases is in the category dealing with government agencies, which rose sharply from 19.22 percent of total reports in 2005 to 36.32 percent in 2006. This increase was due primarily to the number of cases related to immigration issues such as citizenship and naturalization delays.

CAIR also received 167 reports of anti-Muslim hate crime complaints, a 9.2 percent increase from the 153 complaints received in 2005.

Nine states and the District of Columbia accounted for almost 81 percent of all civil rights complaints to CAIR in 2006. They include (in descending order): California (29 percent), Illinois (13 percent), District of Columbia (7 percent), Florida (7 percent), Texas (6 percent), New York (5 percent), Virginia (4 percent), Michigan (3 percent), New Jersey (3 percent) and Ohio (3 percent).

This year, most categories of reported cases remained relatively unchanged from last year’s report. There were a few decreases, in both real and proportional terms, in certain categories from the previous year. For example, civil rights complaints involving the workplace declined significantly from 25.41 percent in 2005 to 15.57 percent in 2006.

In the report, CAIR offers public policy recommendations to address anti- Muslim sentiments in American society. Those recommendations include: 1) asking elected representatives and religious and community leaders to speak out strongly against Islamophobia and to repudiate anti-Muslim bigots, 2) urging American Muslims to increase outreach and education efforts, 3) holding congressional hearings on the rising level of Islamophobia in America, 4) expediting the processing of citizenship/naturalization applications, and 5) adopting domestic and foreign polices that reflect American traditions of justice and respect for the human dignity of all people.

“Like the history of other minority groups in America, the experience of the American Muslim community after the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is seen by many as the next chapter in American civil rights history,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, the report’s author. “The findings in this report should serve as a reminder that discrimination is still a major issue in our nation.”

CAIR began documenting anti-Muslim incidents following the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The council is America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, with 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

Chicago Muslim Granted Citizenship After Five-Year Delay

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced the resolution of a citizenship delay case that has been pending for the past five years. Despite successfully passing his citizenship exam in 2002 and taking part in repeated interviews, CAIR-Chicago’s client had his naturalization delayed pending a background check. The client was recently sworn in by the presiding Northern Illinois District Federal Court judge instead of in the usual group oath ceremony. His case was resolved before a June 15th court hearing. “Law-abiding Muslims throughout the nation are facing unreasonable delays in being granted citizenship,” said CAIR-Chicago attorney Bitta Mostofi. “CAIR-Chicago will continue to advocate for and represent individuals who have experienced these unnecessarily lengthy delays.” CAIR-Chicago launched an ongoing class action complaint again the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005 seeking to place a cap on the amount of time allotted to conduct the background checks necessary for acquiring citizenship and to prohibit discrimination based on religion in applying for citizenship. CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.