Seattle Interfaith Leaders to Seek Probe of Imam’s Forced Removal from Delta Flight

March 31, 2014

 

On Tuesday, April 1, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), along with a group of pastors, rabbis, imams, and labor leaders, will hold a news conference to ask Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the apparently bias-motivated removal earlier this month of a Seattle-area imam (Muslim religious leader) from a flight by Delta employees.

The imam, who is a Delta Platinum Elite member, was forced to disembark his flight and take another flight. He was reportedly informed by the Delta employee who escorted him off the plane that this was being done because a crew member judged “the way you used the restroom” to be “doubtful.”

“The Department of Transportation must investigate this shocking incident to hold Delta Air Lines accountable for discriminating against a respected religious leader,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari. “Not all passengers who go to the bathroom get kicked off their flight, so Delta’s discriminatory act was due solely to the imam’s perceived racial, ethnic and religious affiliation.”

Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim leaders and community members have been forcibly removed from airplanes after boarding due to their language, religious attire or appearance.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12431-seattle-interfaith-leaders-to-seek-probe-of-imams-forced-removal-from-delta-flight.html

Muslim woman asked to remove headscarf during bar exam in Springfield

On Wednesday and Thursday, law school graduates aspiring to practice in the Commonwealth gathered in Boston and Springfield to take the 16-hour bar exam, broken into several parts. During the morning portion of the test Thursday, recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School Iman Abdulrazzak was handed a note from an exam proctor asking her to remove her headscarf.

 

The note, written in capitalized block letters read, “Headwear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. We have no record of you being given prior written approval. Please remove your headwear and place it under your seat for the afternoon session.”

While “headwear including hats, scarves, caps, hoods, bandanas, visors, costume headgear or sunglasses” are prohibited from the examination room, religious headwear is permitted. “Headwear that has been granted prior approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for religious or medical reasons only,” according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners’ security policy.

Such religious headwear includes Jewish yarmulkes, Muslim hijabs and Sikh dastars.

Though it is clear that prior approval is needed for headwear, Abdulrazzak said her request to wear the hijab was approved Monday. Additionally, it is unclear why the proctor gave her the note during the exam instead of waiting until the lunch break.

During the break for lunch, Abdulrazzak called the Bar office to request she be allowed to take the exam in the afternoon with her hijab on.

Executive Director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners Marilyn Wellington told law news website Above The Law the issue was resolved quickly.

Oklahoma Senate panel approves bill prohibiting judges from basing decisions on foreign law

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma lawmakers are considering banning judges in the state from basing any rulings on foreign laws, including Islamic Sharia law.

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A Senate panel on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the bill, which has broad support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. The bill would specifically make void and unenforceable any court, arbitration or administrative agency decision that doesn’t grant the parties affected by the ruling “the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions.”

“This is a way to protect American citizens … where somebody may try to use any kind of foreign law or religious law to affect the outcome of a trial,” said Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, who sponsored the bill. Shortey described it as “American Law for American Courts.”

“This bill is entirely unnecessary and creates significant uncertainty for Oklahomans married abroad as well as those Oklahomans who have adopted a child from another country or are seeking to do so,” Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said in a statement. “These Oklahoma families don’t deserve to have this type of doubt cast over them.

“It also creates an atmosphere of uncertainty for foreign businesses seeking to do business with Oklahoma businesses.”

CAIR: Okla. Muslim Told She Needs Bank Escort Because of Hijab

Muslim civil rights group asks Tulsa bank to review discriminatory ‘no hats’ policy

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Tulsa’s Valley National Bank to review its “inappropriate and discriminatory” policy that treats customers wearing religious head coverings differently than other patrons.

CAIR-OK said a Muslim customer at a Valley National Bank branch in Tulsa reported that she was singled out by bank officials because of her religiously-mandated head scarf, or hijab.

The Muslim customer was allegedly told she would not be able to enter the bank unless accompanied by a bank employee to and from the teller because of a “no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses” policy.

Valley National Bank has confirmed in a letter to CAIR-OK that it is their policy to single out women who wear a head scarf, whether for religious reasons or otherwise.

“Singling out Muslim women or other people of faith who wear religiously-mandated head coverings that do not hinder identification is inappropriate and discriminatory,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani. “All customers should be treated equally regardless of their faith or religious practices.”

Soltani said the bank’s policy on head coverings would also impact Sikh and Jewish men who wear turbans and yarmulkes, and would logically be applied to Orthodox Jewish women who often wear wigs for religious reasons or Catholic nuns who wear habits.

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration

The video of the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference is now available for on-demand streaming.

Speakers:  

Paul Pillar

Former National Intelligence Officer,
National Intelligence Council; Professor, Georgetown University

Scott McConnell

Founding Editor, The American Conservative

 

Jocelyne Cesari

Co-director, SAIS Global Politics and Religion Initiative; Research Associate, Harvard University

Nathaniel Kern

President, Foreign Reports

 


Moderator:

Thomas R. Mattair

Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council

 

PRESS RECAP

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration
Post-debate conference highlighted the domestic constraints to foreign policymaking

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2012 — The morning after the 2nd presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney, analysts convened for the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference. The conference addressed policy challenges in the Middle East awaiting the winner of the November election. The event speakers and a summary of their comments are below; for members of the press seeking a full transcript from the event, please e-mail mepc.press@gmail.com. Visit our website for full video from the event.

Thomas Mattair, Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council, moderated the event. Four distinguished panelists joined him: Scott McConnell (Founding Editor, The American Conservative), Jocelyne Cesari (Co-director, SAIS Global Politics & Religion Initiative), Nathaniel Kern (President, Foreign Reports) and Paul Pillar (Former National Intelligence Officer, National Intelligence Council).

While addressing different topics, each speaker stressed the role of domestic politics — both here in the United States and the Middle East — to influence policymaking on a variety of fronts. Amidst the hyper-partisan climate in the United States at the moment, our speakers were in general agreement about the challenges the two U.S. candidates would ultimately face.

Scott McConnell observed that the powerful Israel lobby is exhibiting “cracks” and that the Democratic Party and mainline churches are tempering their support for Israel. He thinks that a two-state solution will no longer be feasible and the new administration will be challenged to maintain a “special relationship” with Israel while Palestinian interests are not met.

Jocelyne Cesari explained the nuanced political realms in nations transformed by the Arab Awakening and encouraged the next U.S. administration to appreciate the role of Islam in these emerging governments, discard the assumption that democracy is synonymous with secularism, and communicate with domestic societies to change their image of the United States.

Nathaniel Kern described the progress made in the U.S.–Saudi strategic dialogue since 2005 on issues including counter-terrorism, Saudi student visas and oil production but cautioned that the continued stability of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia could be complicated by a lack of progress on issues like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and on Iran and Syria.

Paul Pillar conceded there is little the United States can do to shape events in Syria, while advocating a more flexible negotiating posture with Iran that will offer sanctions relief for Iranian cooperation. He thinks that President Obama will be more inclined to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis than Governor Romney.

An edited video by speaker, including a full transcript from the event will be posted in a few days at www.mepc.org and then published in the next issue of the journal Middle East Policy.

Contacts:
For interviews or other content associated with this event, please contact Rebecca Leslie– (202) 296 6767 – Rleslie@mepc.org

 

CAIR: Shots Fired at Illinois Mosque

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) said today that two air rifle shots were fired last night at the outer wall of the Muslim Education Center (MEC) mosque in Morton Grove, Ill.

The shots were heard by worshipers who were outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building’s brick wall. (The Muslim Community Center (MCC), of which the MEC is a suburban branch, is the oldest Muslim center in Illinois.)

A neighbor, who has a history of opposition to the mosque, allegedly fired the shots. Morton Grove police, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office are all investigating the incident.

“This is obviously an alarming situation that all parties are taking very seriously. The weapon allegedly used in this incident is powerful enough to kill, and the projectiles reportedly came within inches of the head of the security guard on duty,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

Rehab toured the mosque site today with Muslim community leaders, the local police commander and the assistant state attorney. He said mosque leaders and community members are cooperating with the investigation and that a variety of charges are being considered.

“We have full trust in the professionals handling this investigation. They are doing everything in their power to keep communities safe and ensure that justice is served,” said Rehab.

Earlier this week, CAIR’s national headquarters issued a community safety advisory for American mosques following other incidents targeting Muslim houses of worship in Missouri and Rhode Island and after the deadly shooting attack Sunday on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

US Navy to remove Muslim images from target range

The US military has agreed to remove targets depicting a Muslim woman and verses from the Qur’an from shooting ranges, it was announced at the weekend, where they were being used for target practice.

“We have removed this particular target and Arabic writing in question from the range in the near term, and will explore other options for future training,” Lt David Lloyd, a Navy spokesperson, said in a statement.

The move comes after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Muslim advocacy group, sent a letter to US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta on Friday asking for the targets and religious text to be removed from a military facility based at Joint Base Fort Story on the east coast of the US.

“We welcome the Navy’s prompt action to address community concerns and hope this incident serves as a reminder that credible scholars and experts need to be consulted when designing training materials relating to Islam and Muslims for our nation’s military personnel,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

Police Identify Man Who Stabbed Sikh at Airport

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A Sikh man waiting for a plane at Fresno Yosemite International Airport has been stabbed in a seemingly unprovoked attack. Police say 26-year-old Mitchell Dufur stabbed the victim in the upper torso Sunday evening. No words were exchanged before the attack.

Dufur was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a knife in an airport. Lt. Don Gross says investigators have not determined whether it was a hate crime because Dufur has given no indication about his motive.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the FBI and police Monday to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.

“Sikh men who wear beards and turbans as part of their faith are often targeted by bigots who mistake them for Muslims,” said Sacramento CAIR Executive Director Basim Elkarra.

Sikhism developed in the Punjab region of northern India. Sikhs in the U.S. have occasionally been the target of anti-Muslim sentiment because they wear turbans and beards.

Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Panel Discussion (video)

September 13, 2011

On September 8, 2011, the CMES Outreach Center, along with the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, hosted a campus-wide panel discussion on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The panel was comprised of Jocelyne Cesari, Director, Islam in the West Program and the Islamopedia Project; Research Associate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Senior Research Fellow at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris; Duncan Kennedy, Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence, Harvard Law School; and Charlie Clements, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

Video of the event is below. You can also read about the event on the Outreach Center’s blog and in the Harvard Gazette.

 

Introduction by Outreach Director Paul Beran

Jocelyne Cesari

Charlie Clements

Duncan Kennedy