December 23, 2013
DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit area’s Jewish community is once again working with Muslims this week to do some good deeds while their Christian neighbors celebrate Christmas.
About 1,000 Jewish volunteers from several congregations are expected to join local Muslims Wednesday for Mitzvah Day, the largest single day of volunteering by the local Jewish community. The Michigan Muslim Community Council is coordinating volunteers from its communities.
The volunteers will be helping social service agencies at about 40 sites throughout the day. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit has sponsored Mitzvah Day for more than 20 years. Muslims have been part of the effort for the past five years.
Mitzvah means “commandment” in Hebrew and is generally translated as a good deed.
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 8/25/09) – On August 26, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) will hold a news conference in Southfield to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against a Wayne County judge who demanded that a Muslim woman remove her religious headscarf (hijab) in court. The Muslim plaintiff felt so intimidated by the judge’s repeated demand that she eventually removed her headscarf.
CAIR-MI is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit being filed on behalf of the Michigan woman, who is a member of CAIR.
“The judge’s actions contradict both the constitutional right to freedom of religion and President Obama’s recent statement in support of the right to wear hijab,” said CAIR-MI Attorney Melanie Elturk. “This judge targeted a Muslim woman’s religious attire, but he could just as easily have demanded the removal of a Sikh turban, Jewish yarmulke or a Catholic nun’s habit.”
In President Obama’s June address to Muslims worldwide, he stated: “[F]reedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion…That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.”
The judge’s demand came one month after the Michigan Supreme Court voted to give judges full discretion over courtroom attire. At that time, CAIR called for clarification of the new administrative rule and said that, if broadly interpreted, it might allow judges to demand that witnesses remove religious head coverings during testimony.
Video available here.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan said that it is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking followers to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. The Michigan Muslim organization sent a letter to Holder after mosques and other groups reported that members of the community have been approached to monitor people coming to mosques, and what kinds of donations they make.
The FBI’s Detroit office has denied the allegations, and special agent Andrew Arena, in charge of the local office, said that no allegations of wrong had been brought to his attention. However, based on complaints by worshippers, the agency appears to be on a “fishing expedition,” said the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “If there was a specific imam who they felt was telling people to support Osama bin Laden, that’s a different story — we wouldn’t have a problem with that. Community members would be the first people to report to federal law enforcement if such things were being said,” said Dawud Walid.