March 20, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A gym in Albuquerque refused to let a Muslim woman wear her religious head covering when she tried to work out, according to a new lawsuit against the company.
An attorney for Tarainia McDaniel, 37, recently filed the lawsuit in a New Mexico district court stemming from a 2011 clash at a Planet Fitness that prevented McDaniel from using the gym while wearing the head covering, even though court documents said another Planet Fitness in the area had previously let her do so, the Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/lqi6Xj).
On Oct. 3, 2011, she was turned away at her new gym and was told the informal head covering didn’t meet its dress code, the lawsuit states. The gym had a sign that said “no jeans, work boots, bandanas, skull caps or revealing apparel.”
McDaniel said she asked to be allowed to wear the informal head covering to accommodate her Muslim faith, and she even asked if she should come back wearing a formal head covering known as the hijab, according to the lawsuit.
But the gym denied her requests, the lawsuit states.
Planet Fitness attorney Erika Anderson said the head covering violates the gym’s dress-code policy. “My client’s position is that they didn’t know the head covering was for religious purposes,” Anderson said.
McDaniel’s civil lawsuit, filed under the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Unfair Practices Act, alleges that Planet Fitness illegally based the decision to deny her access upon her religion, or alternatively upon her race — she is African-American — and that the gym had no legitimate reason to deny her entry.
Planet Fitness, in its formal answer to the claims, denies violations of either the Human Rights Act or Unfair Practices Act. It says McDaniel failed to participate in good faith and that the company has legitimate business reasons for its practice as well as measures to prevent discrimination.
October 17, 2013:
A California man charged with attempting to join al-Qaida and lying on a U.S. passport application to aid international terrorism was planning to travel to Pakistan before he was arrested, a court document showed on Thursday.
A federal court order to detain Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, of Garden Grove states that arresting agents said he was due to travel to Mexico City by bus and then board a flight to Pakistan.
The order, which was made available online Thursday, also states Nguyen was holding a fake passport and had recently traveled to Lebanon and Syria to help the Free Syrian Army.
Nguyen, who is a U.S. citizen, was arrested last week in Santa Ana while waiting to board a bus to Mexico. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Monday.
Nguyen, who is also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, attempted to work under the direction of al-Qaida, according to an indictment returned last week. The four-page document provides no details about the alleged terrorism act.
2 May 2013
A Dutch businessman under investigation in a Europe-wide probe into a horse-for-beef food scandal has been given a suspended sentence and fined 50,000 euros by a district court in Den Bosch for selling horsemeat as Islamic halal-slaughtered beef in France.
Jan Fasen, 63, bought horsemeat in Brazil and Mexico which was sold on paper as halal-slaughtered beef to French suppliers. Specific names of suppliers were not provided in the court brief. A broader investigation against Fasen and his company is still underway.
A growing community of Hispanic American immigrants, as well as Hispanics in their home country, are choosing to convert from their predominantly Christian religions to Islam. It’s especially common for women.
Tucked away in a quiet rural neighborhood in Somerset, N.J., is an old brownstone that houses the New Jersey Chapter of the Islamic Center of North America’s WhyIslam Project.
Within its confines, in a second floor office decorated with rose-colored walls, sits the administrative assistant and only female employee of the department, Nahela Morales.
In a long black garment and gray headscarf, Morales sits in front of a computer entering notes and taking phone calls from the program’s hotline, 1-877-WhyIslam, a resource for individuals hoping to learn more about the religion. A Mexican immigrant and recent convert, Morales is the national Spanish-language outreach coordinator for the program, part of ICNA’s mission to disseminate information about Islam nationwide.
But Morales’ efforts go beyond U.S. borders: the 37-year-old recently led a trip to bring Islamic literature, food and clothing to her native Mexico.
Morales, who was born in Mexico City but later moved to California and then New York, is part of a growing population of immigrant Muslim converts from Latin America, many of them women, now helping to bring the religion back to their home countries.
According to WhyIslam’s 2012 annual report, 19 percent of the some 3,000 converts it assisted in 2011 were Latinos, and more than half of those (55 percent) were women. The 2011 U.S. Mosque Survey, which interviewed leaders at 524 mosques across the country, found the number of new female converts had increased 8 percent since 2000, and that Latinos accounted for 12 percent of all new converts in the United States in 2011.
Experts attribute the phenomenon to recent migration trends.
Wilfredo Ruiz, a native of Puerto Rico who converted to Islam in 2003, is an attorney and political analyst specializing in the Islamic world. In addition to working with various non-profit organizations, including the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), he also serves as the imam at his local mosque in South Florida.
“More women than men convert, both in AMANA offices and in the mosques in Southern Florida,” Ruiz said.
LOS ANGELES — Sebastian Flores walked out of Al Salam Pollería with a free bag of white-feathered chicken heads.
Mr. Flores, 26, an immigrant and a regular customer of Al Salam, a Muslim, family-owned halal poultry shop, was driving home when he developed a craving for the treat. He was planning on sprinkling the chicken heads with poultry seasoning and roasting them in the oven, the way they did back home in Puebla, Mexico.
Customers like Mr. Flores are the lifeblood of Al Salam Pollería, a thriving shop that opened 28 years ago “by accident,” according to its founders. Abdul Elhawary and his brother-in-law, Safwat Elrabat, who died 12 years ago, opened the shop in East Los Angeles because the zoning there allowed the sale and on-site slaughter of live poultry, in accordance with their religion’s dietary requirements.
Animals must be killed according to Islamic law for their meat to be halal, a practice followed at the store only when a customer requests halal meat.
“Around 1989, when we found out that 90 percent of the customers are Latino and we only had 10 percent that are non-Latino, we changed the name in the business cards to Al Salam Pollería,” Mr. Elhawary said. Originally, it had been Al Salam Farms; “salaam” means peace in Arabic and “pollería” is poultry shop in Spanish.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Latinos and Muslims had many things in common.
Adrian Pantoja, a professor of politics and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said the family showcased the ways some of the city’s ethnic entrepreneurs had learned to adapt.
Mr. Flores, the customer with his bag of chicken heads, said he was a regular patron, and not just because of the quality of the food.
“Here they treat you well and they speak Spanish,” Mr. Flores said. “It’s good that they are willing to learn from another culture.”
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer hasn’t even won the Republican primary for Congress in Arizona yet, but she is already facing attacks from the Democratic Congressman she is hoping to unseat in November over some incendiary comments she made in the past about Middle Eastern immigrants.
In an interview with a conservative website last year, Saucedo Mercer talked in depth about her views on immigration. A Mexican immigrant herself who became a U.S. citizen, she said the issue was important because people from places other than Mexico were among those coming across the border illegally.
“That includes Chinese, Middle Easterners,” she said. “If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican or they look, you know, like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes. And they mix. They mix in.
“And those people, their only goal in life is to, to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here, either legally or illegally? When they come across the border, besides the trash that they leave behind, the drug smuggling, the killings, the beheadings. I mean, you are seeing stuff. It’s a war out there.”
Saucedo Mercer was facing fellow Republican Jaime Vasquez in Tuesday’s primary in Arizona’s 3rd congressional district, with the results due later tonight. But her supporters and opponents both clearly expect her to win.
Born in New Mexico and raised in Yemen, Anwar Awlaki learned to preach in the U.S. As a young man, he studied in several U.S. states, including California.
At the local mosque where he preached, he delighted in playing soccer with young children and taking the teenagers paint-balling. “He had an allure. He was charming,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director of an Islamic center in Falls Church, Va., where Awlaki later gave sermons, told reporters in 2009.
With his fashionable eyeglasses and fluent English, the U.S.-born radical cleric also had been called a “Pied Piper of jihadists,” an Internet phenomenon who produced video and audio recordings to lure Westerners to his extremist ideologies. Awlaki, who had been linked to several terrorist plots in the U.S., was killed Friday in a joint CIA-military airstrike, U.S. officials said. He was 40.
His was born in 1971 in Las Cruces, N.M., where his father had moved from Yemen to study agricultural economics at New Mexico State University. At 7, Awlaki returned with his family to Yemen, and his father served as the country’s agriculture minister.
National Post – January 27, 2011
A controversial imam who was deported to Tunisia from Canada in 2007 is in U.S. custody after being discovered in the trunk of a BMW shortly after crossing over from Mexico. Said Jaziri, 43, was one of two illegal aliens apprehended on Jan. 11 just east of San Diego, said Steven Pitts, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.
Canada revoked refugee status and deported the Muslim cleric, who encouraged demonstrations in Montreal against the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, after discovering that he had concealed the fact he had served jail time in France for assault.
CNN has broadcasted a new audio made by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric with links to several terrorist plots. In the audio, a voice similar to Mr. Awlaki’s says: “with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim.” Mr. Awlaki, born in New Mexico, left the US to live and work in Yemen in 2002.