November 24 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide provides a feature article this week profiling Turkish woman Semra Celebi’s decision to stop wearing a hijab. Celebi, who recently started a facebook page called “I took off my hijab” has been wearing a headscarf since she was two. Of her decision, she says, “It no longer suited the way I saw my religion. I don’t need it to be a good Muslim… It is part of my identity and I wore it for 16 years. I was afraid of how people would react”.
On Oct. 7, OneAmerica, along with Rights Working Group, released a report, “Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America.” The report demonstrated that there is a need to address racial, ethnic, religious, and national origin profiling.
The report featured testimonies from the six of Face the Truth hearings held by OneAmerica and the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington (CAIR-WA).
“Research shows racial profiling hasn’t kept Americans any safer,” said CAIR-WA Youth Civil Rights Coordinator Jennifer Gist. “If the goal is to strengthen national security, we should focus on using intelligence more effectively and look out for suspicious behavior. Profiling individuals on the basis of their skin color or religious expression is counterproductive to national security.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote President Obama a letter stating that Muslim women in hijabs may be targeted at airports.
A Muslim woman at Canada’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport was detained for four hours and interrogated harshly. She was boarding a plane to the US to see her husband in Ohio and was denied entry.
In the letter, CAIR President Nihad Awad told Obama he supports efforts to improve security, but pointed out that safety was not improved through profiling tactics.
“This is a society that has doubts about itself,” Tariq Ramadan told a French parliamentary panel mulling a burqa ban. “For me, this commission is born of a real self-doubt, and suddenly they’re looking at one element, at the most extreme slice. The problem won’t be solved like that.” Ramadan claims that the larger problem in France is discrimination which means that with an Arab-sounding name one won’t get a job or an apartment, pointing to findings by the Paris-based anti-racism group SOS-Racism, which indicated recently that some French recruitment companies are applying racist policies and ethnic profiling in hiring, filtering out non-white candidates. Ramadan positioned himself against a ban.
On December 3, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a Washington DC conference to release its 14th annual report, “Seeking Full Inclusion”. The study reviews the state of civil rights for Muslims in the United States.
The Council on American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR’s) new report will also examine the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election and highlight a number of issues of concern to the American Muslim community, including watch lists, surveillance of mosques and new FBI guidelines that allow religious and ethnic profiling.
The study shows that 80 percent of anti-Muslim incidents occurred in 9 states plus the District of Columbia: California Illinois, New York, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.
An investigative study has found that police in the French capital use racial and ethnic profiling against Arabs and blacks, triggering warnings from officials and experts on the risk of creating a sense of injustice among minorities. The Open Society Justice Initiative carried out the study from November 2007 to May 2008, analyzing police records to find that young Arab and black men are stopped for identity checks far more often than young whites. Nathalie Duhamel, general secretary of the National Commission on Security Ethics, which investigates complaints against the police, says the problem with police profiling is that identity checks leave no trail to call officers to account.
Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has proposed that police and judicial authorities be allowed to register the ethnic background of criminals. At the moment, only the nationality or birthplace of suspects are registered in the Netherlands. Ter Horst said that she believes that this would not create or propagate stigmas of certain ethnic groups, but would point to important and realistic trends. “If you want to solve a problem you have to know who is causing it. And if in Amsterdam it’s mostly Moroccans, then you have to give it a name. Otherwise you lose information. Moreover, you can also get the Moroccan community involved” said ter Horst. The Social and Cultural Planning Office is currently studying the need for ethnic backgrounds in registrations; in December, it will report to the Integration Minister on the idea.
Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)
Last week the Guardian uncovered a report by MI5 suggesting there is no single pathway to Islamic extremism. What a surprise! And in a further deconstruction of preconceptions, the report found evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation. If this is the case, what are the implications for racial and religious profiling? The report clearly dismantles any assumptions that can be made about the identity, background and religiosity of a would-be terrorist. The UK’s Muslim population is a mere 2.8% but is so ethnically diverse that the government could cynically use this report to sanction the continuing infringement of civil liberties of the entire population through ID cards, surveillance and so on. The sounding the death knell for racial profiling is something to celebrate, but I wonder whether my optimism is premature. Adam Khan, 28, from North London also has his reservations, after repeatedly being stopped and interrogated under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 when trying to return to the UK. Samia Rahman reports.
Twenty-five young women and men attended the second annual Young Muslim-American Leaders Summit-DC, to speak with national political leaders about they role they can play in shaping future American policies. The event was organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who’s executive director Salam Al-Marayati said that we need more Muslims in civil society in America; we need more Muslims in government and media; that is the only way to be part of the solution. Among the attendees, was Congressman Keith Ellison – the first Muslim ever elected to US Congress. Ellison urged young Muslim-Americans not to see themselves as outcasts or victims because of the surge in surveillance, airport interrogations, and ethnic profiling. He stated that in order to change policy, quietude and indifference won’t affect policy makers, but an active, honest, and sincere commitment to advocacy would create active change.
CAIR termed a proposed Justice Department policy change that would allow the FBI to investigate Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, unconstitutional and un-American, adding that the policy would permit religious and ethnic profiling. The new guidelines, which are expected to be implemented later this summer, the FBI would be permitted to use race and ethnicity when considering investigations. “Any new Justice Department guidelines must preserve the presumption of innocence that is the basis of our entire legal system,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “Initiating criminal investigations based on racial or religious profiling is both unconstitutional and un-American.” Saylor added that on previous occasions, even President Bush has denounced such profiling.