Florida girl attacked after wearing hijab to school

February 4, 2014

 

Teen says she has been bullied in school
HAINES CITY, Fla. —A Florida girl said she has been verbally and physically assaulted because she wears a hijab, or head scarf, to school.

Zahrah Habibulla, 14, said she didn’t have problems at school with other children until she started wearing her hijab on Dec. 14. The Polk County teen said she wears the hijab for religious reasons.

“I’ve been bullied in school,” she said. “I had verbal assaults, physical assaults.”

Each time the teen was attacked, she told her mother, who then called the principal of Ridge Community High School.

Zahrah’s parents told WESH 2 News in an exclusive interview that they want something done before their daughter is hurt.

“It breaks my heart. I don’t want to see that,” said Zameena Habibulla. “I’m hoping for a safer school for her. Every day she goes to school I’ve got fear.”

The Polk County School District released the following statement Monday:
“Since learning of these concerns, school officials have taken a proactive role in addressing any issues to ensure the safety and welfare of the student. The School Board remains committed to providing an educational environment that is safe, secure and free from harassment or bullying.”

A member of the American Muslim Youth Leadership Council has also met with the school’s principal to urge action from school officials.

WESH(NBC):  http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/florida-girl-attacked-after-wearing-hijab-to-school/-/11788162/24271022/-/x92r5g/-/index.html#ixzz2tXijNW1r

CAIR: Fla. Muslim Files Suit Against Feds After Being Imprisoned for Months

December 5, 2013

 

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today announced the filing of a federal complaint against the United States by Irfan Khan, an American Muslim citizen, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Khan was arrested and imprisoned for 319 days and made to endure what he describes as “some of the worse conditions imaginable” in solitary confinement in federal prison. The government dropped all charges against Irfan before trial. He is being represented by Morgan & Morgan, P.A. and CAIR-FL.

“Being an American is about having the right to be who you are. We look forward to pursuing justice on behalf of Mr. Khan,” said Michael Hanna, a discrimination attorney at Morgan & Morgan.”The decision to take away someone’s liberties is a serious responsibility. We are seeing a troubling pattern of overzealous prosecution when it comes to the Muslim community. We look forward to a transparent proceeding to reveal the facts,” said Nezar Hamze, spokesman for CAIR-FL.

Morgan and Morgan is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to protecting the people, not the powerful.CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12282-cair-fla-muslim-files-suit-against-feds-after-being-imprisoned-for-months.html

CAIR-FL Organizes Muslim Veterans Parade Participation

November 11, 2013

 
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR–FL) organized the particiaption of South Florida Muslims veterans in the November 8 Miami-Dade County Golden Veterans Parade 50th Anniversary Commemoration.

The parade was an initiative of County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and the Miami-Dade County Military Affairs Board, and with the support of 34 Miami-Dade municipalities, local military organizations and a diverse group of community leaders.

Attorney Wilfredo A. Ruiz, legal counsel for CAIR-FL and a Navy veteran officer who served in the JAGC Corps and in the Chaplain Corps, participated in the parade.

Ruiz, who is also the Secretary for the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board, said: “This type of event is necessary and welcomed as it honors those who have served this nation. It is good that the general public witness Muslim veterans of America participating because it is another way for them to realize that our community is an active contributor in upholding our most cherished values of liberty and democracy.”

 
Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12251-cair-fl-organizes-muslim-veterans-parade-participation.html

Florida Parents Protest Textbook With Chapter About Islam

November 6, 2013

 

Parents upset about a history textbook that they say emphasizes Islam more than other religions protested outside Volusia County school district headquarters.

The parents claim that the book contains too much information about Islam and not enough about Christianity and other religions. There was even a call by organizers asking students to go home and tear the section on Islam out of their books.

Because tearing up (or burning?) books is always the proper response to such things.

The county district was forced to postpone a Tuesday meeting “in the interest of public safety.”

“This group is holding a protest and rally to oppose the teaching of the historical and basic pillars of Islam to students in Volusia County,” said Hassan Shibly, Florida executive director of CAIR, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

“It is displaying an alarming level of intolerance and brazen disregard of minority religions… We find their actions un-American and against every core principal that makes this country so great.”

The textbook in question, Prentice Hall World History, protesters claim, devotes an entire chapter to Islam and teaches children about how it came to be and about the building of the Muslim empire, while Christianity and Judaism are referenced only in small paragraphs here and there.

And we can see the problem here: Where in America will the children learn about Christianity?

Of course, the protesters claim that this is in no way about getting all worked up and encouraging kids to vandalize a schoolbook because they think Islam is un-American and evil.

It’s about religious equality!

You know, with all the crazy things going down in Florida, such as a law that makes it perfectly legal for a person to shoot and kill another person because he or she feels threatened, and with people with serious medical conditions that can be alleviated only with medical marijuana having their homes raided by cops like they’re the leader of a drug cartel, it’s good to know there are citizens out there tackling the truly important issues.

 

Broward-Palm Beach New Times: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2013/11/florida_parents_protest_textbo.php

 

Why So Many U.S. Latinos Are Becoming Muslims

October 10, 2013

 

Most Latinos know the country is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month right now. What far fewer Latinos know is that next week marks Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s most sacred holidays.

And yet the two observances are more related now than most Latinos realize.

Just as the U.S. Latino population is on the rise — Hispanics are now the nation’s largest minority — so is the number of Latino Muslims. And it’s not just a result of Arab Latin Americans emigrating to the United States.

According to organizations like WhyIslam.org, Latinos are one of the fastest growing segments of the Muslim community. About six percent of U.S. Muslims are now Latino — and as many as a fifth of new converts to Islam nationwide are Latino.

The American Muslim Association of North America, based in North Miami, says heavily Hispanic South Florida in particular is home to a rising number of Latino Muslims.

If it’s a surprise that many Latinos are moving from a predominantly Roman Catholic culture to an originally Arab faith, perhaps it shouldn’t be. For one thing, like African-Americans in the 1960s, Latinos are discovering their own historical and cultural ties to Islam and the Arab world. And that starts with what most defines Latinos: Spanish.

“Our language is nurtured by more than 4,000 words that come from Arabic,” says Wilfredo Ruiz, a Puerto Rican-born Muslim who converted a decade ago and is a lawyer for the South Florida chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. “Every word in Spanish that starts with ‘al,’ for example, like alcalde, alcantarilla, almohada.”

“What most Latinos who have embraced Islam find most amazing is their cultural affinity to the Muslim culture,” says Ruiz. “It’s like rediscovering your past. That area of our past has been hidden from us.”

Ruiz points out that both Latinos and Arabs highly value the extended family and traditions like offering hospitality to strangers. In religious terms, Latinos like Gonzalez say Islam provides a simpler, more direct form of worship than Catholicism does. They also feel more structure than they see in the evangelical churches so many Latinos join today.

“The connection I have with God now is better than before,” says Gonzalez.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12193-why-so-many-latinos-are-becoming-muslims.html

WLRN.org: http://wlrn.org/post/why-so-many-latinos-are-becoming-muslims

Florida imam sentenced to 25 years in prison for financially supporting Pakistani Taliban

MIAMI — An elderly Muslim cleric was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison following his convictions on terrorism support charges for sending tens of thousands of dollars overseas to finance the Pakistani Taliban, which has launched numerous violent attacks against both Pakistan’s government and U.S. targets.

Hafiz Khan, 78, had faced up to 60 years behind bars on four terrorism support-related charges. But U.S. District Judge Robert Scola opted for less than the maximum term, although it is 10 years more than the sentence recommended by federal prosecutors.

The case against Khan, who was imam at a Miami mosque prior to his 2011 arrest, was built on hundreds of FBI recordings of both telephone calls and Khan’s face-to-face conversations with an undercover informant. In the calls, Khan discusses details of numerous wire transfers to Pakistan over a three-year period that totaled about $50,000.

“I did not send one dollar to the terrorists or the fighting Taliban,” Khan said. “I am absolutely against the terrorists and the violence.”

Two of Khan’s sons, Izhar and Irfan, were initially charged along with their father but the charges against them were dismissed. Three others in the indictment, including Khan’s daughter, remain free in Pakistan, which will not allow them to be extradited to the U.S.

Father of Chechen man shot by FBI trying to get answers in Florida

The father of a Chechen man shot by an FBI agent in Orlando is in Florida, where he is trying to get answers about his son’s death.

 

Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida Council on American Islamic Relations in Tampa, told the Orlando Sentinel his organization planned to meet Tuesday with Abdulbaki Todashev — who traveled to the U.S. from Russia.

 

His son, 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev, was killed May 22 while he was being questioned by a Boston-based FBI agent, Massachusetts state troopers, and other law-enforcement officers.

Shibly said CAIR officials and Abdulbaki Todashev planned to discuss what options the family has, including taking legal action against the FBI.

 

“We’re exploring those options right now,” Shibly said.

 

The FBI has released little information about the Orlando shooting or explained publicly what transpired that night.

 

Ibragim Todashev was “primarily” being questioned about a September 2011 triple slaying in Waltham, Mass., but he was also being questioned about his friendship with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Initially, the FBI said Todashev initiated a “violent confrontation” during the questioning at a condo near Universal Studios.

“During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries,” the FBI said shortly after the shooting.

Shibly told the Sentinel that CAIR’s investigation into the shooting turned up very “troubling” information.

He said Todashev’s friends have said they were questioned by the FBI in the days before the fatal shooting, and threats were made suggesting if the friends did not spy on local mosques they would risk having their immigration statuses changed.

Meanwhile, the ACLU said Abdulbaki Todashev has also requested to meet with organization representatives while he is visiting the U.S. The ACLU asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Ibragim Todashev shooting, but the agency declined late last month, stating it would be inappropriate because it is a federal case.

 

Florida mosque leaders called authorities on arrested teen who talked of violence, jihad

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shelton Bell stood out at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville.

Not because he was a strawberry blonde American who converted to Islam. It was more because of the way he dressed — in headgear that resembled garb worn by remote tribes in Afghanistan — and mostly because of what he said.

In mid-2012, a parent was concerned that Bell, who now faces federal terrorism charges, was “in conversation with his son about inciting violence and talking about jihad and talking about weapons,” said Parvez Ahmed, the center’s board secretary.

Mosque leaders called the FBI, setting into motion a case that came to light this week. Bell, now 19, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the two charges.

Punished for Refusing to Disrespect Jesus: Muslims show solidarity

A student at Florida Atlantic University was suspended from class this month for declining to write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper and step on it.

 

The Florida Atlantic University junior’s act of reverence resulted in suspension from his college class and a barrage of attention he neither sought nor anticipated.

“The story illustrates the degree to which traditional Christian beliefs are held in contempt in the secular academy [of higher education],” said Patrick McNamara, director of communications for the New York-based Catholic League.

Rotella was in a March 4 lecture in his intercultural communication class when instructor Deandre Poole told students to each write “Jesus” on paper and then step on it. Rotella set his paper on a surface and told Poole he was offended by the request.

“Anytime you stomp on something, it shows that you believe that something has no value,” Rotella explained to Boca Raton’s CBS affiliate. “So, if you were to stomp on the word ‘Jesus,’ it says that the word has no value.”

The New York-based Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was among an array of religion-affiliated organizations that defended Rotella, a devout Mormon.

“We love and revere Jesus,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR. “No Muslim would step on Jesus. If the professor demands it, the proper response for a Muslim is: ‘No, and I’m about to call my lawyer.’”

CAIR’s communication manager, Amina Rubin, said Rotella’s ordeal was a “shocking example of harassment and discrimination.”

“A lot of people tell Muslims that we should be more like Christians and just take it when someone does something irreverent to that which we hold sacred,” Rubin said. “Yet part of being reverent involves standing up, as this student did, when someone tries to denigrate that which is sacred.”

“If we replace ‘Jesus’ with ‘Gandhi’ or ‘Muhammad,’ the liberals in academe should see this sort of thing as harassment and discrimination,” said Rotella’s lawyer, Hiram Sasser–of the Texas-based Liberty Institute, which defends religious liberty.

Florida State Senator: We Need to “Vaccinate” Against Shariah

As I reported in a piece for the print magazine last summer, Florida has emerged as sort of the Thunderdome of the anti-Shariah movement, with a host of lawmakers at the municipal, state, and federal level working hand-in-hand with a dedicated group of activists to combat the invisible spectre of Islamic law. Shariah isn’t coming to South Florida, but that hasn’t stopped the state legislature from trying—again—to ban it from being used in state courts.

 

On Friday, the South Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations blasted out this video, in which state Sen. Alan Hays, the bill’s Republican sponsor, compares stopping Shariah to getting a polio vaccination:

 

By all accounts, Hays considers the threat posed by Islamic law quite dire. The Miami Herald reported earlier in March that the senator had distributed anti-Shariah literature in the halls of the state capitol. Per the Herald, the fliers “present Islam as a threat to the United States,” and invoke lawmakers to pass legislation to “save us from an internal attack” and “protect our freedom.”

 

That is, if the pythons don’t get us first.