Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accounts

March 5, 2014

 

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013. CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Mint Press: http://www.mintpressnews.com/cair-mn-welcomes-minneapolis-civil-rights-directors-probe-muslim-tcf-bank-account-closures/185615/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12399-cair-mn-protests-closures-of-muslims-bank-accounts.html

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.

Misery memoirs: why is it different for Muslim women?

Samira Ahmed writes in this post why women writing about suffering in Islamic states are slated for supporting a patronising attitude towards those societies. The success of harrowing true stories of abuse and poverty led to a special label for books such as Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called It or Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. But while we can disagree about the literary merits of such “misery memoirs”, neither was accused of being a slur on Irish or American nationhood or the Catholic faith. When it comes to women and women who happen to be Muslim, though, there seems to be a different attitude the author contends. The emerging genre of memoirs about the suffering of women in Islamic states or cultures – which, in western publishing terms, may be described as “misery memoirs” – have been variously criticised for reinforcing “Orientalism”; that is to say, they support the west’s archaic and patronising attitude towards Middle Eastern, Asian and North African societies, rather than actually saying something important about the women in these societies themselves. The author suggests that according to the British publishing world Muslim women can’t write a credible memoir of suffering without it being wrapped up in the struggles of a nation. Yet even if as she suggests we ignore such attitudes, the uncomfortable reality is that the western publishing world is fascinated by such tales of female suffering and misery.

Arizona GOP Favorite Doesn’t Want Middle Easterners In U.S. ‘Legally Or Illegally’

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.

Building East-West Bridges in Tune

Demonstrating the ways music has created connections among disparate cultures has become a minor industry within the classical concert world. Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project has ranged freely through musical history, reviving ancient works and commissioning new ones. Early-music specialists like Joel Cohen and Jordi Savall have taken a more scholarly but equally lively approach, and Mr. Savall’s offerings have been particularly ambitious.

One area he has mined devotedly is the interaction among the musicians of Arab cultures — including the Sephardic Jews who lived in Muslim countries after they were expelled from Spain in 1492 — and those of Christian Europe. That relationship animates “Orient-Occident: A Dialogue of Souls,” a program based on a 2006 recording, which he presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday evening.

This was a Middle Eastern ensemble at heart. But in the 14th and 15th centuries you might have found one like it playing in Spain or Italy.

Gourmet halal butcher shop opens in Mississauga, Ontario

The Toronto Star – April 25, 2012

 

Mohamad Fakih built Paramount Butcher Shop for his wife Hanan after she complained about the state of halal meat counters and asked him to do something about it. Driven by the urge to unite “halal” and “gourmet,” Mohamad Fakih built himself a beautiful butcher shop in Mississauga. Mohamad visited non-halal competitors, including Pusateri’s Fine Foods, Cumbrae’s, Olliffe and the Healthy Butcher in Toronto, and researched fine butcher shops in London, Paris and Australia before designing his own 3,400-square-foot shop.

 

He bought the struggling Paramount chain in 2007 and transformed it into a vibrant and growing empire that employs 250 people, many of them young and non-Muslim. The Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants showcase freshly grilled foods and breads.

For Mohamad, halal is about more than just slaughter. It’s about being conscientious about how animals are raised, a philosophy that dovetails nicely with the local food movement and the fact that consumers are asking more questions about what they eat. Mohamad has lived in Canada for 13 years and got his start at Tim Hortons.

Family fulfills dream of Pakistani victim of 9/11 revenge killing by becoming US citizens

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — Anum Hasan has seen many conflicting visions of America: the hope of a better life that brought her family from Pakistan, the hate-filled act that ended her father’s life in the name of American vengeance; and an outpouring of compassion that her family has come to feel is the true face of the country they now call home.

Hasan’s father, Waqar Hasan, was shot to death four days after Sept. 11, 2001, in Texas, targeted by a white supremacist looking for revenge against Middle Eastern men for the terror attack. The family had every reason to want to leave, but on Friday, Hasan’s widow and three of her four daughters were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

It was what happened in the aftermath of Hasan’s killing that reinforced the family’s decision to remain in the U.S.

Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Panel Discussion (video)

September 13, 2011

On September 8, 2011, the CMES Outreach Center, along with the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, hosted a campus-wide panel discussion on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The panel was comprised of Jocelyne Cesari, Director, Islam in the West Program and the Islamopedia Project; Research Associate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Senior Research Fellow at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris; Duncan Kennedy, Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence, Harvard Law School; and Charlie Clements, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

Video of the event is below. You can also read about the event on the Outreach Center’s blog and in the Harvard Gazette.

 

Introduction by Outreach Director Paul Beran

Jocelyne Cesari

Charlie Clements

Duncan Kennedy

Officials dispute decision to remove female passenger from Detroit flight on 9/11 anniversary

DETROIT — An airline that reported suspicious behavior by two men aboard a flight from Denver on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks said authorities in Detroit removed them — and a female passenger who is half Middle Eastern and claims she was later strip-searched — without consulting the pilots or crew.

However, airport police and the Transportation Safety Administration said authorities responded after getting an in-flight alert from Frontier that three passengers were engaged in suspicious activity.

The crew “responded to concerns expressed by passengers on their aircraft about the suspicious activity of two gentlemen . and only two gentlemen,” Kowalchuk said. “After that, what happened was out of the control of the Frontier crew or anyone at Frontier Airlines, for that matter.

Terror Suspects Arrested in Berlin

09.09.2011

On Thursday, the police in Berlin arrested two young men (24 and 28) of Middle Eastern origin, suspected of buying chemicals for a bomb attack. The two men had been under investigation for several months and were now arrested on the suspicion that a large attack was planned. The arrest was made after one the two men had ordered large quantities of chemicals on the internet. Two companies thought the orders were suspicious and informed the police. While some chemicals were found on one man’s apartment, concrete plans for an attack were not revealed. The suspects remain detained, but refuse to make any statements.

 

Following the arrests, Chancellor Merkel emphasized the threat posed by international terrorism and demanded better control mechanisms, such as the recently debated law on data retention, which would allow authorities to store personal information for up to 12 months.