FBI’s bus ads taken down over Muslim/terrorist stereotyping

After a wave of criticism from politicians, advocacy groups and the public, 46 bus ads featuring photos of wanted terrorists will be taken down within the next few weeks, officials said Tuesday.

The “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad was criticized for promoting stereotypes of Muslims and painting a broad brush against one group.

The ad is part of a campaign launched earlier this month by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force for the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program. It features 16 photos of wanted terrorists sandwiched between the taglines “Faces of Global Terrorism” and “Stop a Terrorist. Save Lives. Up to $25 Million Reward.”

The decision to remove the bus ads was “a result of our continued engagement with the community and the feedback we are getting,” FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt said.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott wrote a letter last week to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concern over the ads, saying the ad would “only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim-Americans.”

“When you start saying that this is the face of terrorism, you are really stigmatizing a whole group of people,” McDermott, D-Seattle, said Tuesday.

King County Metro received a half-dozen complaints through the customer information line, Switzer said.

CAIR Welcomes S.C. Jail’s New Policy Allowing Hijab

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/14/13) — The nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today welcomed a decision by a South Carolina jail to allow female inmates to wear religious head coverings, called “hijab.”

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made the request for a policy change following a complaint from a Muslim woman who was taken into custody on December 31, 2012, and was allegedly told to remove her hijab so she could have her booking photograph taken. The booking officer reportedly disregarded the woman’s religious concerns and “intimidated” her into removing her scarf in the presence of a male officer. The Muslim inmate’s husband was allegedly informed that “all Muslim women take off their scarves” when in custody.

In a letter to CAIR, Ronaldo D. Myers, director of the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, S.C., wrote:

“As requested, we have reviewed and updated our policies to ensure clarity with our staff on the processing and searching of female detainees of the Muslim faith, and specifically have exempted the wearing of religious headwear from our facility’s ‘Prohibited Acts’ policy.”

“We welcome the detention center’s decision to allow detainees to exercise their constitutionally-protected religious freedom,” said CAIR National Legal Director Nadhira Al-Khalili. “We have recently received reports of denial of religious rights at correctional institutions in other states and are working to achieve similarly positive resolutions in those cases.”

It’s not often a Muslim woman ends up in jail, say King County officials.  But, a few years ago, a woman was forced to remove her headscarf – or Hijab — during her one-night stay in jail. She described it as humiliating, similar to being forced to take off her clothes.

“This is a larger issue of how is our jail balancing peoples’ right to express their religion … even in a correctional environment,” says Jennifer Gist of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group for Muslims.

Jews and Sikhs have come to King County jails requesting they keep their headwear too. While the county jail and court staffs were open to accommodating religious beliefs, they did have some problems to solve.

Police: Anti-Muslim bigot beat Sikh cab driver

A Federal Way man accused of viciously beating a Sikh cab driver while shouting anti-Muslim slurs now faces a hate crime charge.

King County prosecutors contend Jamie W. Larson attacked the cab driver during an Oct. 17 ride after commenting on the man’s turban.  According to charging documents, Larson, 48, tore out chunks of the man’s beard during the assault, which also loosened one of the driver’s teeth.

According to charging documents, the STITA Taxi driver arrived at the Auburn police station to retrieve Larson. During the drive to Larson’s Federal Way home, Larson began questioning the driver about his turban.

Larson then attacked the driver while making anti-Muslim comments, a Federal Way detective told the court. The driver was able to stop the car in the 1200 block of Southwest 301st Street, where police found him injured and Larson attempting to return to the parked taxi.

During the attack, Larson pulled out parts of the driver’s beard and punched him repeatedly, according to charging documents. Police report the attack left the driver dazed and with a loose tooth.

25 former Hertz drivers in Seattle sue, saying they were targeted as Somali Muslims

SEATTLE — Twenty-five former Hertz drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have filed a lawsuit claiming they were fired based on their race, religion and nationality.

The former employees are Muslims who were born in Somalia.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court claims Hertz Corp. terminated them after they refused to clock out for prayers. The lawsuit claims they had not been required to clock out previously and the rules were changed to target Somali Muslims.

Hertz officials could not be reached for comment after business hours. But a spokesman said previously that other drivers who were suspended in September returned to their jobs after agreeing to clock out.
The workers who are suing want to be reinstated with back pay, plus reimbursement of lost benefits and attorneys’ fees.