Hasan’s ties to cleric and possible homegrown radicalism analyzed

Debates are ensuing amongst intelligence analysts, counterterrorism officials and Congress over whether Hasan is part of a larger trend of “homegrown radicalization” and whether changes are needed in how law enforcement investigates individuals absent evidence of crime, what kind of information intelligence agencies can collect on U.S. citizens, or how such sensitive information can be used and shared with others.

“These are questions we’ve been asking ourselves for years,” a current U.S. counterterrorism official said, adding that they remain “largely unanswered.”

Lifeguard in Montreal Allowed to Wear “Burkini”

A 21 year-old woman who works at the YMCA in Montreal has been permitted to wear a “burquini” as a lifeguard at a local sports complex. The young woman had filed a complaint with the Human Rights Board when the centre refused to allow her to wear a hijab when working at the pool. Previously the pool complex had installed tinted glass windows to accommodate women’s requests for privacy. The centre’s administration decided that the burkini, a headscarf made of polyester materials that cover the hair completely, would be the best alternative.

Mosque’s Curtain Rises Again; After Much Debate, Sexes Pray Apart

A red polyester curtain that once separated men from women during prayers at the Muslim Community Center on Chicago’s Northwest Side never divided the 1,400-member congregation until it disappeared. A janitor took the curtain down in October 2004 during renovations of the prayer hall. The 6-foot-tall curtain was misplaced and never returned. Some Muslim women lauded the removal as a chance to participate more equally. Other women left the mosque, unable to fathom praying in the presence of men. But after an 18-month debate that may not be quite done, a curtain of the original size replaced a smaller partition on Sunday, becoming a symbol of the struggle in the American Muslim community between tradition and modernity. Some say the sudden move signals an ideological shift on the horizon for the historically multicultural and progressive mosque. The ceremonial curtain-raising followed an emotional two-hour meeting at which board members instructed the president to work over the next month with the women of the mosque to permanently resolve the conflict. “There is a verse in the [Koran], Chapter 33, in which it is said to the Muslims when they ask anything of the prophet’s wife they should ask behind the curtain,” said Dr. Abdul Sattar, the mosque’s newly elected president, who supports barriers to separate men and women. “This is not only something that we are making up. It is in the holy book.” But even Islamic legal experts–including three scholars commissioned by the Muslim Community Center’s board of directors–disagree on whether the missing curtain violated the Shariah, the Islamic legal principles that guide Muslim life. They say such debates are quite common in largely immigrant communities where cultural backgrounds vary and Shariah scholars are in short supply. “One of the principles of Shariah law is you have to be conscious of the context,” said Inamul Haq, adjunct professor of Islam at Benedictine University in Lisle. “Orthodox clergy in America come from back home. It is hard for them to respond to the change in the American situation because they have not lived that situation. Since Islam insists on modesty … this is the way Islamic law is interpreted.” When the case of the missing curtain began, Uzma Sattar, the president’s daughter, said women immediately hung saris and other pieces of fabric to block men’s stares. The curtain was replaced last year by a 3-foot-tall fabric partition. Earlier this month, three scholars submitted written opinions on what kind of barrier, if any, was required by the Shariah. One scholar was Imam Jamal Said of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. “My personal advice to the leadership of the MCC is to let the sisters decide for themselves what would make them more comfortable in their worship,” Said wrote. “If they prefer a divider or curtain for their privacy or comfort, then give them this freedom.” On Sunday, a band of believers sealed off the back corner of their prayer hall with a 6-foot-tall sheet of pink fabric in time for the fourth prayer of the day. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a leading Islamic jurist and professor of law at UCLA, said these kinds of squabbles, which seem trivial on the surface, emerge in communities where leaders feel threatened by modernity. “In the case of Muslim men–especially Muslim men–that feel Islam is under siege and the West has invaded Muslim culture in every other way, the way they express this anxiety is by being restrictive toward women, making sure women are not going to become more Americanized,” he said. That perceived threat escalated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Abou El Fadl said, when many Muslim women began to assert their autonomy and question the origin of common practices that limited their participation in the community. “We are seeing more Muslim women reading the Koran, reading the tradition of the Prophet, reading the original teachings of Islam and coming back and challenging the role defined for them,” Abou El Fadl said. “A lot of these women were born Muslim, but grew up in the United States and grew up in the West so they have a `my rights’-oriented mentality.” Mary Ali, one of five women on the center’s board of directors, opposed putting up the curtain. She said the mosque has always been a progressive place to worship and only since the recent mosque election has its membership exhibited conservative leanings. Over the years, the 40-year-old mosque has served as the house of worship for Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, people from South Asia and Africans. But Uzma Sattar said the debate has nothing to do with progressive vs. conservative. It has to do with a woman’s right to worship the way she wants. In the time of the Prophet Muhammad, women did not wear cosmetics or perfume to the mosque, and they covered themselves from head to toe, said Abdul Sattar, who is from Pakistan. Today, they wear makeup, blue jeans and loosely wrapped headscarves, so a curtain is necessary, he said. Whether the Koran calls for a curtain is still debated, but it does address modesty in front of the opposite sex, scholars say. Because Muslim prayer is a physical exercise that requires bowing, kneeling and prostrating, some prefer seclusion. “It’s about having your personal, private space where you can connect with God,” Uzma Sattar said. “In my mind, it’s completely in line with feminism to say women deserve their own space. The men took the curtain down. The women are standing up and claiming space for themselves.” “We want the curtain. We want our privacy,” said Noor Aliuddin, 49, who removes her hijab, or head covering, when she prays. “We have to open our face to God.” But at a time when American Muslims face discrimination, poverty and injustice, Shama Aleemuddin said she cannot comprehend why her congregation is consumed by a curtain. She is on the mosque’s board. She said the center, which occupies a converted theater, must focus on building a new mosque, facing down anti-Muslim bias and hiring a new imam. The curtain debate has drained time and energy from those issues that matter. “It seems that everyone is obsessed with the curtain issue,” she said. “It’s a shame.” Abou El Fadl said leaders should focus on what will move Islam forward in the 21st Century, not decisions they really have no right to make. “If it’s God’s law,” Abou El Fadl said, “then it shouldn’t be up to people to decide.”

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.