New Mexico Iraqi woman hurt in possible hate crime

June 13, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Iraqi Catholic refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime by an attacker who yelled obscenities about Muslims, police said.

According to Albuquerque police, a man last week forced his way into the home of Seham Jaber, shouting nasty remarks about Muslims and punching her in the head and stomach. The intruder then tore up her family’s citizenship papers in the June 5 attack, investigators said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

Jaber, who speaks Arabic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family’s life savings. The assailant also stole jewelry, she said.

The FBI now is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime, Albuquerque police said Friday.

New Mexico television interview with local Muslim captures passerby’s ‘Taliban’ insult

An Albuquerque Republican hoping to unseat a Democratic incumbent is unsettling many — but not all — potential voters with his anti-Islamic social media posts.

KRQE interviewed Khadija Chudnoff, a member of the University of New Mexico’s Muslim Student Association, about Louis Tafoya’s anti-Islamic posts on Facebook.

The posts include one titled “Pedophilia & Islam” (picture below) which links to a site that informs readers that “pedophilia is widely accepted in many Muslim countries” and encourages them to burn a virtual Koran.

“New Mexico deserves somebody who is going to check their facts before they click, ‘share,’ on their Facebook page,” Chudnoff told KRQE.

“This is something a teenager would do. It’s not something someone searching for political office should be doing.”

“As New Mexicans, as people who have lived through this, we should be aware of this kind of hateful rhetoric and we shouldn’t allow it,” she said, only to be interrupted by a passerby who loudly inquired why KRQE was interviewing “a Taliban.”

According to KRQE, a crying Chudnoff continued to explain how she hoped that some day, such hateful rhetoric will not be a part of political discourse.

Gym faces lawsuit over Muslim head covering

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.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/gym-faces-lawsuit-over-muslim-head-covering/2014/03/20/755d6f7c-b074-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html

Anti-Shariah movement loses steam in state legislatures

The wave of anti-Shariah legislation has broken in recent weeks, as bills in several states have either died or been withdrawn, raising questions about whether the anti-Shariah movement has lost its momentum.

At this point in 2011, 22 state legislatures had either passed or were considering bills to prohibit judges from considering either Islamic law, known as Shariah, or foreign law in their decisions.

What a difference a year can make.

According to Gavel to Gavel, an online newsletter that tracks state laws affecting courts, similar bills have also recently died or are likely to die in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, and New Mexico, although at least a few of them could be revived next year.

Last year, anti-foreign law bills died in the Arkansas, Maine, Texas, and Wyoming legislatures, and were not revived this year, according to Gavel to Gavel.

“There really wasn’t much time or interest in discussing this,” said John Schorg, a spokesman for Indiana’s House Democrats.

While the anti-Shariah movement may be losing momentum, it certainly hasn’t gone away. On March 12, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed an anti-foreign law bill, joining Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee in passing such laws.

And in Florida, Democratic state Sen. Nan Rich, the minority leader, acknowledged that practicality, not principles, is what undid the anti-foreign law bill there.

US Born radical cleric took winding path to become ‘Pied Piper of jihadists’

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.

Radical Yemeni cleric calls for killing Americans

A U.S.-born radical Yemeni cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, linked to previous attacks on the U.S. called for Muslims around world to kill Americans in a new video message posted on radical websites Monday. In the 23-minute Arabic language message entitled “Make it known and clear to mankind,” al-Awlaki said that for Americans and Muslims it was “either us or them.”

Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki has used his website and English-language sermons to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and has been tied by U.S. intelligence to the 9/11 hijackers, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in November at Fort Hood, Texas.

“Don’t consult with anybody in killing the Americans, fighting the devil doesn’t require consultation or prayers seeking divine guidance. They are the party of the devils,” he said. “We are two opposites who will never come together.” Al-Awlaki also attacked rulers in the Arab world, particularly Yemen, describing them as corrupt and he called on religious scholars to declare them “non-Muslims” for betraying the Muslim people.

An American calls to “Jihad”

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.

CAIR Welcomes GOP Call for Resignation of Anti-Muslim Leader

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed a resignation call by the New Mexico Republican party concerning local GOP leader Marcia Stirman, who wrote that Barack Obama is “a Muslim socialist” and “Muslims are our enemies” in a recent letter.

A party official said that Ms. Stirman’s statements do not speak for the Republican party. A CAIR executive said that the group welcomed the response and criticism of “Ms. Stirman’s disturbing and un-American views,” saying that “no political party should accept or excuse religious intolerance.”

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Wall Street Journal

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Denver Post

United Press International

Market Watch

Jury Awards $2.45 Million To Man Cleared Of Terrorism Link; Egyptian-Born Doctor Target Of 9/11 Probe

By Torsten Ove An Egyptian-born radiologist initially suspected of having terrorist ties in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 and later cleared was awarded $2.45 million yesterday by a federal jury that decided his right to privacy was violated. Dr. Basem Moustafa Hussein, 40, won the award from his former landlord in Neshannock Township outside New Castle, where he was living in 2001. The jury said his building manager at The Meadows Apartments, Sherri Lynn Wilson, was liable along with her company for violating his privacy when she walked into his unit on Sept. 11 and saw, among other items, a compact disc jacket that showed a jetliner flying through two buildings next to a fireball. Wilson called state police, leading to a federal investigation that ended a few days later when the FBI concluded Hussein had nothing to do with terrorism. The disc jacket turned out to be part of a flight simulator computer game, as was a flight manual Wilson saw next to it. Hussein filed suit later that year, saying he had endured repeated questioning from agents, lost his job in New Mexico, was evicted from his apartment and had his name mentioned as a potential terrorist in news reports. He said Egyptian police also ransacked his parent’s apartment in Egypt at the request of U.S. authorities and caused $200,000 in damage. Hussein named Wilson and her employer, Universal Development Management Inc., of Girard, Ohio, as defendants, along with UDE of Mitchell Road Ltd., of Girard, a limited partnership that owns the building. The jury actually ruled against Hussein on three of his four civil rights claims, saying the defendants did not trespass and did not discriminate against him because of his race. Hussein had said Wilson targeted him because he’s Arabic. But the jury did say she invaded his privacy. He won $850,000 in compensatory damages and another $1.6 million in punitive damages for “malice or reckless indifference” to his rights. Hussein, who travels the country as a contract radiologist, was on his way to a new job in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday and couldn’t be reached. His lawyer, Craig Fishman, said Hussein didn’t want to talk to the news media. Eric Hall, an Allentown-based lawyer for the defendants, didn’t return a call yesterday. For a while, the incident completely disrupted Hussein’s life. On Sept. 11, Hussein was reading X-rays at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., where he had started work Sept. 4. After the search in Neshannock, FBI agents in New Mexico began questioning him. He took a leave of absence from his job but said he was fired Sept. 13. That same day, he said, the apartment building management served notice that his lease was being terminated because his conduct “constitutes a health and safety risk to the apartment complex and other tenants.” That night, an FBI agent in New Mexico exonerated him in the investigation. He was later subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, but on Sept. 26 he met with federal prosecutors here to answer questions without having to testify. The U.S. attorney’s office said he was not a suspect. Hussein had said previously he was singled out because he appeared to be the ideal suspect. He has Arab roots, he’s Muslim and he’s a single doctor without social ties to his neighbors. It didn’t help that he has an affinity for aviation. Hussein moved from Egypt to Canada with his family when he was 6 years old. Although he’s a Canadian citizen, he has been a permanent resident of the United States since the 1980s and had been living in Neshannock for about two years when the terrorist attacks occurred.