OC Muslims Connect With Japanese-American Internment Struggle at Manzanar

John Asanuma was 11 years old when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, paving the path for mass imprisonment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. The Los Angeles native, and his parents were sent to Manzanar in 1942–one of the largest camps housing more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. The desert weather at the camp, located near Death Valley, brought in scorching summers and chilling winters. When it snowed, John and his friends built makeshift snow slides. During the other seasons, they played softball with sticks and pine cones. Three years later, officials closed the camp, and John and his parents moved to Fresno.

“When I left camp, the first thing I did was kiss the street,” he said. “I felt my sense of freedom again.”

Asanuma revisited the camp on Saturday at the yearlyManzanar Pilgrimage, a day-long program dedicated to remembering that dark era in American history and the lessons that came out of it. The annual program draws approximately 1,000 participants; among them was a group of about 50 Muslim Americans, hosted by the Anaheim-based chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Abas Idris, Muslim Security Guard, Gets $465,000 In Calif. Harassment Suit

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco jury awarded $465,000 to a Muslim security guard who says his co-workers and supervisors called him a terrorist and an al-Qaida member.

The 27-year-old says he quit his job as a security guard for Los Angeles-based Andrews International in February 2010 after the company failed to take his complaints about harassment seriously. He had served as a guard at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio.

US attorney general invokes state secrets privilege in suit Calif. Muslims filed against FBI

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion.

In a legal declaration filed late Monday, Holder makes a rare assertion of the state secrets privilege, arguing that it could cause significant harm to national security if the government is forced to reveal the subjects of a mosque-surveillance operation in 2006 and describe how the monitoring was carried out.
The FBI has said it does not initiate counterterrorism operations based solely on a group’s religion.

Federal Law-Suit Accuses F.B.I. of Spying at Mosques in California

The ACLU and the Council on Islamic American Relations, held a news conference Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles to announce a lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of three plaintiffs. They accuse the FBI and seven employees of infringing on the 1st and 4th amendment rights of hundreds of members of the local Muslim community by using paid informants to infiltrate mosques and record interactions with its members. They claim that the FBI informant, Craig Monteilh, violated members’ civil rights and subjected them to “indiscriminate surveillance” because of their religion.

For over 14 months between 2006 and 2007, FBI agents planted an informant (Mr Monteilh) in Orange County mosques who posed as a convert to Islam and through whom the FBI collected names, telephone numbers, e-mails, and other information on hundreds of California Muslims. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik, and Yassir AbdelRahim – plaintiffs in the case-are three of the many individuals who came in contact with the bureau’s informant.

F.B.I. officials said that they could not comment on the lawsuit, but that they based any investigation on allegations of criminal activity. They said that they did not single out specific religious or ethnic groups.
Mr. Monteilh has also sued the F.B.I., saying that it failed to protect him from charges of grand theft that he says were related to his work in a drug-ring operation. The class-action lawsuit seeks a court order for the F.B.I. to destroy or return the information Mr. Monteilh obtained.

Egyptian Americans in Southland amazed, excited by revolt

As the revolt has transfixed the world, scores of Egyptian Americans throughout Southern California have also joined the call for the embattled Mubarak to step down.

They have demonstrated at the Egyptian Consulate in Los Angeles. They are fasting in solidarity with the protesters. They have written missives of support for the people, including Nobel laureate and Caltech professor Ahmed Zewail, who returned to Egypt this week and is widely seen as a leading candidate for a post-Mubarak government position.

Suliman A. Suliman, president of the Los Angeles-based Society of Egyptian Americans, said he would be open to allowing Mubarak to step down at the end of his term this fall so long as his corrupt government officials were swept out and genuinely free and fair elections were held.

Temecula California: Mosque Is Approved

The Temecula City Council voted 4 to 0 Wednesday to allow about 150 Muslim families to build a mosque after months of angry debate over the plan. Opponents say that the Islamic Center of Temecula could bring extremist activity and traffic woes to the region in Riverside County, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The Islamic Center was formed in 1998, and its members have been worshiping in a warehouse. The group plans to build a 25,000-square-foot mosque.

After an eight-hour hearing that didn’t wrap up until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the council approved the mosque by unanimous vote. It did so after City Atty. Peter Thorson warned council members that they had to base their decision on such mundane municipal concerns as the project’s environmental impact or compliance with zoning rules, not on whether they approve of Islam. To do otherwise, Thorson pointed out, would be to violate the 1st Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion.

Feds to Drop Charges Against Muslim Man Unfairly Targeted by the FBI

On Wednesday, Assistant United States Attorney Patrick R. Fitzgerald filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Niazi, which included five counts of making false statements, unlawful procurement of naturalization, use of a passport obtained by fraud, and perjury. Niazi was facing a maximum possible sentence of 35 years in jail.

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to drop charges against the Afghan-born brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, saying a key overseas witness was unavailable to testify. The motion to dismiss was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in the case against Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who had been accused by prosecutors of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship application.

“Saifullah” allegedly recruited Americans for jihad training in Pakistan

As Pakistani law enforcement officials began questioning the group from a multiethnic, working-class enclave in Virginia, investigators sought more information about a suspected Pakistani militant they knew only as Saifullah.

Investigators believe that Saifullah recruited the Americans, some of whom were college students, through an exchange of emails in late summer and the fall. Saifullah then tried to arrange for them to head to Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border, sanctuaries for the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida.

Note: this summary was taken directly from the article (linked to above) in the Los Angeles Times.

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.

On ballots this November: More Muslim American women

While many things have changed for Muslim Americans since the September 11th terrorist attacks, one remarkable and positive change is currently unfolding – more Muslims, particularly Muslim women, are running for political office.

Agha Saeed, founder of the American Muslim Alliance, has tracked Muslim candidates for over a decade. Before September 11th, less than 5 percent of the candidates were women, and now one in three Muslim candidates is a woman.

On local levels, there is Jamilah Nasheed, a female Missouri Democratic state representative vying for re-election. Ferial Masry is facing a tough state assembly race in a heavily conservative district near Los Angeles.

While dozens of Muslim Americans hold seats on city councils and are busy in Washington, only two serve in Congress – Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana. “9/11 had a big impact. We kind of came to the conclusion that sitting on the sidelines… was not going to be a successful strategy, and that people needed to get involved,” said Ellison.

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Associated Press

International Herald Tribune