Supreme Court Justices give gov’t time to address second travel ban ruling

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Trump administration more time to file legal papers in its bid to reinstate a ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

The justices agreed to a request from Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall to address Monday’s ruling from the federal appeals court in San Francisco. That ruling said the executive order violated federal immigration law. It was the second time a federal appeals court had refused to lift a hold on the revised travel ban.

 

Black Muslims aim for unity in challenging time for Islam

Many Muslims are reeling from a U.S. presidential administration that’s cracked down on immigrants, including through the introduction of a travel ban that suspends new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and is now tied up in court. But black American-born Muslims say they have been pushed to the edges of the conversations — even by those who share the same religion.

They say they often feel discrimination on multiple fronts: for being black, for being Muslim and for being black and Muslim among a population of immigrant Muslims.

Central to the issue, experts say, is that Islam is largely portrayed as something foreign. That’s a misconception University of San Francisco professor Aysha Hidayatullah encounters when teaching an “Islam in America” class where she looks at Islam’s presence in America from the slave trade to civil rights — something that is a surprise to many of her students.

“It’s a class that is focused mainly on recovering the black memory of Islam in this country,” she said. “That’s the element that’s forgotten.”

 

‘We tried to do everything right. Doesn’t that matter?’

Hamid Kargaran was pacing in his San Francisco living room Sunday, not watching the news, trying to stay positive, waiting for his wife to call from Iran. She was due to leave for the airport within the hour, hoping that this time she wouldn’t be prevented from boarding a plane back home.

“I never thought when I moved here and made this country my home that this would happen,” he said. “I employ people, I pay taxes. We love this country. But I feel like the hard work has been meaningless. We’re second-class citizens.”

Now he was waiting, and he knew there would be no relief until his wife actually walked into the sun in San Francisco. In three hours, she would find out whether Lufthansa agents in Tehran would let her onto a plane. In Germany, she would learn whether officials there would let her transit to California. At home, she still had to pass through U.S. passport control.

“I don’t know,” Kargaran said. “We’ve tried to do everything right. Doesn’t that matter?”

Trial begins in legal challenge to no-fly list

December 2, 2013

 

SAN FRANCISCO — An eight-year legal odyssey by a Malaysian university professor to clear her name from the U.S. government’s no-fly list went to trial on Monday in federal court in San Francisco.

Rahinah Ibrahim claims she was mistakenly placed on the list because of her national origin and Muslim faith. She has fought in court since her arrest at San Francisco International Airport in January 2005 to clear her name.

Several similar lawsuits are pending across the nation, but Ibrahim’s legal challenge appears to be the first to go to trial.

Unlike a typical U.S. trial, where details important and mundane are disclosed in the name of justice, Ibrahim’s legal challenge has run head-on into the U.S. government’s state secret privilege that allows it to decline to disclose vital evidence if prosecutors can show a threat to national security.

Ibrahim’s lawyer is barred by court orders and national security provisions from delving too deeply into the inner-workings of the government administration of its suspected lists of terrorists.

Ibrahim, 48, lives in Malaysia with her husband and four children and is dean of the architecture and engineering school at the University of Malaysia.

Ibrahim said her trouble with the government began on Dec. 23, 2004, when two FBI agents showed up at her home near Stanford University, where she was pursuing a doctoral degree in architecture. She said the agents told her Malaysia was blacklisted by the U.S. government and they asked her if she had heard of the Malaysia-based terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah.

Ibrahim said she replied that she knew of the group only through news accounts. She said she was also asked about her involvement with the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area and told the agents where she and her family worshipped.

Federal prosecutor Lily Farel told the judge the government could not respond to any of Ibrahim’s claims because of national security interests.

The U.S. government has refused to disclose how many people are on its no-fly list. The list is drawn from the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center list of suspected terrorists that authorities said contained 875,000 names as of May.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/trial-begins-in-legal-challenge-to-no-fly-list/2013/12/02/aa98d9f2-5baa-11e3-801f-1f90bf692c9b_story.html

SF Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Condemning Islamophobic Bus Ads

MUNI-press-conf(SAN FRANCISCO 3/21/13) — On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the content of Islamophobic advertisements placed on San Francisco buses.

Board President David Chiu sponsored the resolution, introduced at last Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution is the first of its kind in the nation, sending a clear message that San Francisco’s elected leaders stand against hate and Islamophobia.

The group underwriting the ads, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has sued several U.S. cities for the First Amendment right to place the ads. The group’s founder, Pamela Geller, has been designated an anti-Muslim hate extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, and at the request of 75 organizations and 35 leaders who spoke out following the first round of ads in August, the resolution calls for the proceeds from the offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities.

CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, 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.

The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Asian Law Caucus is a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

In Bay Area, a Fragile Relationship Between Muslims and the F.B.I.

Early one morning in 2007, Muhammad Chaudhry showed up at the Islamic Center of East Bay in Antioch, Calif., and found seven bullet holes in one of the building’s front windows.

Soon, agents from the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived and documented it and previous incidents at the center. In 2005, someone had left messages including “racial slurs” on the center’s answering machine, the agents wrote. In 2006, a single shot had damaged a window; a few months later, the same window was destroyed with a brick.

In a report written three weeks after the shots were fired, and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, an agent wrote that no investigation would continue “since there is no current evidence to show this incident as being a hate crime.”

Six months later, arson gutted the center. F.B.I. agents opened an investigation, but members of the center wondered whether the fire could have been prevented if the agency had pursued the fusillade that preceded it.

Although the F.B.I. requires that agents examine all such claims, not all result in a full investigation. Some lack dependable evidence, and agents may determine that others do not include hate-crime components as defined by federal law. Ms. Sohn said that it could be hard to find proof of intent, a key element in demonstrating that a hate crime took place.

Also troubling, Mr. German said, was the decision not to start a hate-crime investigation after shots were fired at the Islamic Center of East Bay, given the escalating nature of the attacks there. An investigation, he said, could have solved or deterred crimes and helped foster trust between the F.B.I. and the center.

“Here was an opportunity to do something to protect the community,” Mr. German said. “There is concern in the community that the F.B.I. is viewing them through only one lens, as potential suspects.”

My Jihad, Controversial Ad Campaign, Rolls Out On San Francisco Buses

For the second time in recent months, billboards on side of San Francisco’s fleet of buses have become the front lines in a fight over the place of Islam in American popular culture.

A new series of ads from the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ spinoff group My Jihad promote an awareness campaign directed at redefining the widespread conception of the meaning of the controversial word. The advertisements are slated to run on 35 city buses throughout the month of January.

 

“The intention of the campaign is to educate our fellow Americans on what the word ‘jihad’ means,” Zhara Billoo, the executive director of CAIR’s Bay Area chapter, told ABC 7 News. “A common misconception of the world ‘jihad’ is that it means armed struggle or holy war…The proper meaning of jihad, as many of us frequently describe it, is ‘to struggle’ and that’s it…For many that means building relationships with their neighbors to making it to work on time or doing better on their diets.”

 

Billoo explained to The Huffington Post that her organization has seen an rise in anti-Muslim attitudes across the country in the past few years and this campaign is an effort to counter that. “We’re troubled by how the word ‘jihad’ has been hijacked by people who…have made careers out of pushing anti-Muslim sentiment,” she said. “For too long people outside the Muslim community have been telling us what our religion really teaches.”

 

These ads come in the wake of a series of controversial advertisements sponsored by conservative blogger Pamela Gellar’s American Freedom Defense Initiative that ran on buses both in San Francisco and around the country last year. Those ads, which immediately sparked a firestorm and denouements from both local Jewish and Islamic groups, read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man…Support Israel Defeat Jihad.”

 My Jihad

Hatem Bazian: Anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses put Muslims at risk

Ads running on San Francisco municipal buses, paid for by noted anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative, have sparked controversy about hate speech and fears they could stoke more violence against the American Muslim community. The ads come at a time when American Muslims have suffered at least nine attacks across the nation over a two-week period in August.

The advertisements, cribbed from an Ayn Rand quote, state: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the American Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate group.

The outcry has focused on discrimination against adherents of Islam, and rightly so. On Aug. 10, pigs’ feet were strewed on the lawn of a mosque in Ontario, while Muslim worshipers in Hayward were pelted by oranges and lemons as they walked into prayer. In Illinois, an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school and shots were fired at a mosque. In both cases, worshipers were inside attending to Ramadan prayers. A mosque in Joplin, Mo., was torched and burned to the ground, and other mosques in Oklahoma and Rhode Island reported incidents of vandalism. In Panama City, Fla., a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Muslim family’s home.

Geller’s ads demonize Muslims at a time when they are under attack.

As an educator, I fully support free speech and the open exchange of ideas.

But hate speech like the bus ads has a destructive, cumulative impact on society. The term “savages” has been used to demonize people of color and marginalize them throughout this country’s history.

The San Francisco Transportation Authority has posted ads condemning Geller’s language next to her ad, and has set up a commission to review its advertising policies.

Anti-Islam Ads Remixed in San Francisco and New York

As my colleague Benjamin Weiser reported last month, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had violated the First Amendment rights of a pro-Israel group by refusing to run an ad that refers to Arabs as “savage” on 318 city buses.

The ad campaign was devised by Pamela Geller, the crusading anti-Islam blogger who fought to block the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center two summers ago. The full text of the ad, which refers to a statement by Ms. Geller’s intellectual hero Ayn Rand, reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Then, between two Stars of David, the tag line appears: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

While the judge gave the New York City transit system 30 days to consider its options for appeal, the ads have already appeared on the sides of buses in San Francisco, provoking anger from Muslims and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

As the local ABC affiliate in San Francisco reported, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency took the unusual step of denouncing the ads and running huge disclaimers on the sides of the buses to disavow what a spokesman called the “repulsive” message from Ms. Geller’s group it was forced to accept.

Calif. Muslims want fed probe of pig-leg vandalism

ONTARIO, Calif.—Pig’s legs were thrown on the proposed site of a Southern California mosque, and a Muslim civil rights group is asking federal officials to investigate.

Worshippers said two women threw the three legs onto the driveway of the proposed Al-Nur Islamic Center in Ontario shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday and sped away in a white pickup, said Munira Syeda, spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Pork is forbidden to practicing Muslims and pigs are considered unclean animals.

“This is Ramadan. It’s the holiest time of the year for most Muslims, so it’s especially offensive,” Syeda said Friday.

A security guard saw the incident and a vandalism report was filed with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

No arrests have been made, sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday, the council urged the government to open a hate-crime investigation.

The vandalism came only days after four teenagers were arrested for allegedly throwing lemons and oranges at a mosque in the San Francisco Bay area of Hayward. It occurred last Saturday during prayers at the American Muslim Association.

Four Hayward boys, ages 13 to 16, were arrested on suspicion of vandalism that interfered with the civil rights of the worshippers.

It was one of several recent vandalism attacks on the mosque, authorities said.

CAIR’s national headquarters issued a community safety advisory for U.S. mosques this week following “other incidents targeting mosques” in Missouri and Rhode Island and after the deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the group said.