CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Muslim Inmate’s Religious Rights [PRESS RELEASE]

PRESS RELEASE: “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a Muslim inmate in Arkansas be permitted to grow a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

That decision overturned a state prison policy banning beards. The justices rejected the claim that the policy was needed for security reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that prison officials already search clothing and hair and had not offered a reason they could not search beards as well. Alito wrote: “[I]nterest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard.” “Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard, and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” Alito wrote. “Nevertheless, the department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”

CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Muslim Inmate’s Religious Rights [Press Release]

Muslim inmates in the Jumu'ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Muslim inmates in the Jumu’ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/20/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a Muslim inmate in Arkansas be permitted to grow a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

That decision overturned a state prison policy banning beards. The justices rejected the claim that the policy was needed for security reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that prison officials already search clothing and hair and had not offered a reason they could not search beards as well. Alito wrote: “[I]nterest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard.” “Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard, and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” Alito wrote. “Nevertheless, the department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”

SEE: Supreme Court Rules for Muslim Inmate Over Prison Beard Policy (Reuters)
Supreme Court Upholds Religious Rights of Prisoners (USA Today)

“We applaud the ruling in this important case, which firmly underscores that courts should not blindly defer when the government invokes ‘security’ as a reason to curtail rights,” said CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks. “The state has the burden of proving that a compelling government interest justifies its burden on the exercise of religion beliefs and practices. In this case, the court rightfully rejected arguments the growing of a beard in any way harmed prison safety and security.”

Wicks noted that CAIR recently filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief on inmate religious rights with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is considering whether the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) policy requiring direct supervision by a chaplain or outside volunteer of inmates who gather in groups for religious services is unconstitutional.

Late last year, CAIR also filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering whether clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to hire a Muslim woman wearing a religious headscarf (hijab) was discriminatory.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

BBC Current Affairs Programmes failing to address radical Islam

The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.
The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.

The BBC is failing to address the “awesomely difficult questions” facing Britain, including the economy and the threat of radical Islam, according to the corporation’s former chief.

John Birt, director-general of the BBC from 1992-2000, said its current affairs analysis was falling short. He was not referring to Newsnight, which he described as “a programme of the day, about issues of the moment.” But he said he was “talking about a much more strategic need on all the big questions we face. Every economy bar one in the G7 is more productive than the UK – these are the big issues that go undiscussed,” he told a media conference at London’s City University.

Digital journalism is giving people access to more information than before. “What it is not creating is more quality journalism,” Lord Birt said. “We get more knowledge of things happening around the world but pulling it all together and addressing the big policy questions – what should we be doing in respect of radical Islam, the National Health Service – that’s what we’re not doing very well and nobody’s doing very much.”

He added that the BBC must “get back to those very high purposes which are appropriate to a publicly funded broadcaster”.

 

 

Sarkozy speaks about Islam, integration and Rachida Dati’s roots

2370775838_d0ec7e746eSeveral days before the vote for the UMP presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy mentioned “one of his favorite themes,” that is, “integration the French way.” According to Sarkozy, it is the “biggest failure in thirty years.” He quickly elaborated on this statement, saying, “It is not a question of our fellow Muslims, most of whom bring honor to France.” He added, “The question, is not only to ask what the Republic can do for Islam, but what Islam can do for France.”

The next day, after being questioned by activists about his views on diversity, he discussed Rachida Dati’s appointment as Minister of Justice. “I said to myself that Rachida Dati, with an Algerian father and Moroccan mother, to talk about penal policy, that made sense,” he added.

While several were quick to question his decision, many believe it he chose Dati because of the large North African population in prison. Sarkozy’s entourage defended his decision and said that Dati’s appointment sent an important signal to immigrants.

“When you always speak of origins and skin color in a certain way, you divide citizens into different categories, and it’s not my vision of things,” says Francois Bayrou concerning Sarkozy’s statement.

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives [PDF download]

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives [PDF download]

State senators advance controversial ‘anti-Sharia’ bill

TALLAHASSEE—A controversial measure dubbed an “anti-Sharia bill” advanced out of the Florida Senate on a 24-14 vote Monday.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, touted SB 286 as “an American bill.”

It would restrict judges from considering foreign law in matters of divorce, alimony, child support and custody.

Under the language of the bill, an order of a foreign court would not be enforceable if it “offends the public policy of the state.”

It goes on to say: “Any attempt to apply the law of a foreign country is void if it contravenes the strong public policy of this state or if the law is unjust or unreasonable.”

Several senators said they were baffled by perceived need for the bill, feared it would inhibit foreign trade and adversely affect the state’s large Jewish population and their Israel-granted divorces.

“There is no record of Sharia law being implemented in the courts of Florida or any other state,” Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat said, in opposition.

Sharia is the moral code and religious laws that governs Muslim life.

CAIR-MN Welcomes New Hennepin Co. Policy Allowing Hijabs in Jails, Booking Photos

March 20, 2014

 

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a new Hennepin County policy that will allow religious headwear, including hijabs (Islamic head scarves), in jails and booking photos. Hennepin County is the first in the state to create a comprehensive policy on religious headwear.

CAIR-MN received cases recently from Muslim women arrested for unpaid traffic fines, protests and other relatively minor crimes who were denied the hijab in booking photos and provided inadequate religious accommodations in jail.

“We welcome this new policy on religious headwear as another example of Hennepin County showing leadership and setting positive precedents for other counties,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla. “The new religious headwear policies sends a strong message throughout the state that, regardless of who the individual is or what their situation, we must uphold our principles and follow the law.”

Ms. Abd Alla said both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against incarcerated individuals based upon religion.

CAIR-MN provided Hennepin County with sample policies from county jails around the country to help them develop “policies that allow inmates to follow their religion and still satisfy safety concerns.”

Hennepin County agreed to provide jail-issued hijabs and other religious headgear to individuals who request it.

In 2011, CAIR-MN asked the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office to accommodate a Muslim woman’s religious beliefs and let her wear a hijab in jail. The jail refused and the woman was transferred.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12411-cair-mn-welcomes-new-hennepin-co-policy-allowing-hijabs-in-jails-booking-photos.html

Supreme Court Agrees to Weigh Arkansas Inmate’s Right to Grow a Beard

February 28, 2014

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether prison officials in Arkansas may prohibit inmates from growing beards in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The policy was challenged by Gregory H. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery. Mr. Holt said his Muslim faith required him to grow a beard.

The state’s policy allows trimmed mustaches, along with quarter-inch beards for those with dermatological problems. Prison officials said the ban on other facial hair was needed to promote “health and hygiene,” to minimize “opportunities for disguise” and to help prevent the concealment of contraband.

Mr. Holt sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prison officials to show that policies that burden religious practices advance a compelling penological interest and use the least restrictive means to do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in June that the justifications offered by the officials satisfied that standard.

Mr. Holt filed a handwritten petition in September asking the justices to hear his case, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827, pointing out that other courts had struck down policies banning beards in prisons. In an interim order in November, the Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Holt be allowed to grow a half-inch beard.

 

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/supreme-court-agrees-to-weigh-arkansas-inmates-right-to-grow-a-beard.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0

Nigel Farage distances himself from MEP over ‘Muslim code of conduct’

February 5, 2014

 

UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage has disowned “insulting” proposals from one of his MEPs for Muslims to be asked to sign a peace charter. In a statement, Mr Farage said: “This was a private publication from Gerard Batten (Ukip MEP) in 2006 and its contents are not and never have been Ukip policy. No such policy proposals would have been accepted by Ukip in any case. Ukip believes in treating people equally.”

His reaction comes after, Gerard Batten, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee, told The Guardian that he stood by the “charter of Muslim understanding” which he co-authored in 2006. It calls on Muslims to reject parts of the Koran which he claims promote “violent physical jihad”.

The Conservative leader in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall, left a letter on Mr Batten’s empty seat at the Parliament chamber in Strasbourg, offering him a guarantee that he had no intention to commit acts of violence or promote extremism. “Do you have a form I can sign already?” asked Mr Kamall. “I am anxious to assure you that I have no intention of mounting any attacks on unsuspecting infidels, nor of attempting to radicalise you or anyone else. If the forms aren’t ready yet, perhaps you would take this note as my guarantee? My wife and family would be most reassured to know you will allow me to stay in Britain, especially since I was born here. Please feel free to drop into my office to discuss this over a cup of tea. I promise you will be entirely safe.”

Mohammed Shafiq, the Chief Executive of Muslim think-tank the Ramadhan Foundation, said that suggesting that one particular community should be required to sign a “loyalty pledge” against violence was “offensive and an insult to all decent people”.

Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford, who speaks for the party on justice and human rights, said: “Gerard Batten’s comments rip apart Ukip’s pretence to be Eurosceptic but not racist. His offensive blanket stereotyping of Muslims as jihadists speaks volumes about Ukip’s extremism and should warn voters that voting Ukip means associating with hatred and Islamophobia.”

Rehman Chishti, the Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham, said Batten’s position was “shocking”, particularly the “charter of understanding” suggestion that parts of the Qur’an should be rendered “inapplicable”. “If Nigel Farage had any credibility, he would quite clearly not allow this individual to stand for office in Ukip,” he said.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s shadow London minister, also said he was “appalled at the ignorance that Gerard Batten appears to have shown when speaking about the faith that I and hundreds of thousands of British Muslims practice”.

Mary Honeyball, a Labour MEP for London, said that Batten “represents the ugliest side of Ukip. Batten’s views overlap with the far-right. The idea that Muslims should be singled out in the way he suggests is a relic from a darker, more prejudiced time.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ukip-leader-nigel-farage-rejects-muslim-charter-9109806.html

The Guardian:http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/05/nigel-farage-ukip-mep-batten-muslim-code-conduct

Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

January 30, 2014

 

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed an agreement proposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city to reach a settlement in its legal battle over the controversial NYPD “stop-and-frisk” policy.
That policy involved stopping, questioning and frisking people in primarily African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Last year, a federal judge found that the police tactic was unconstitutional, calling it “a policy of indirect racial profiling.”

The mayor and the Center for Constitutional Rights announced a deal to drop the city’s appeal of a court ruling and that would accept the remedies ordered by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin including the appointment of outside monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, to oversee reforms.
In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”
The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, found that the department’s stop-and-frisk tactics were unconstitutional, and that it had resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.” At the height of the program, in the first quarter of 2012, the police stopped people — mostly black and Latino men — on more than 200,000 occasions. A vast majority of those stopped were found to have done nothing wrong.

Judge Scheindlin had ordered the appointment of a monitor to develop, in consultation with the parties, widespread reforms of the department’s “policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline regarding stop-and-frisk.” That process will go forward as part of the agreement.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/nyregion/de-blasio-stop-and-frisk.html?_r=0
Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12351-cair-ny-welcomes-mayors-deal-to-end-nypd-stop-and-frisk.html