Judge rules in favor of Muslim woman on no-fly list

January 16, 2014


A Muslim woman now living in Malaysia struck a blow to the U.S. government’s “no-fly list” when a federal judge ruled Tuesday (Jan. 14) that the government violated her due process rights by putting her on the list without telling her why.

Muslims and civil rights advocates say the no-fly list disproportionately targets Muslims, and they hope the ruling will force the government to become more transparent about the highly secretive program.

The lawsuit, filed by San Jose-based McManis-Faulkner in 2006 on behalf of the mother of four children and PhD student at Stanford University, alleged that the government violated Dr. Ibrahim’s due process rights when it placed her on the “no-fly” list. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that Ibrahim had standing to challenge the government’s actions, ordered the government to correct Ibrahim’s position on the “no-fly” list and to disclose to her what is her current status on the “no-fly” list.

The lawsuit is the oldest of three currently being litigated to challenge the government’s secretive “no-fly” list, which effectively bars individuals the government often mistakenly believes to pose a security threat from flying. The Obama administration vehemently opposed Ibrahim’s lawsuit, sought to keep the December trial secret and is currently requesting that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals keep the ruling sealed.

“Judge Alsup’s ruling affirms that basic notions of transparency and accountability apply to even the U.S. government’s ‘no-fly’ list. We welcome this ruling and look forward to further clarity as to how one can navigate the maze created by the ‘no-fly’ list and other similar listings,” said AAAJ–ALC staff attorney Nasrina Bargzie.

“Each year our offices hear from hundreds of individuals who are visited by the FBI and face related travel issues,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Many have lost hope about clearing their names, but this case will renew our collective desire to continue forward with the courts on our side.”

Under the guidelines, people who have been stopped from boarding flights may file an inquiry with the Department of Homeland Security, but responses do not include information about whether the person is on the no-fly list, according to the ACLU. The only way to find out whether a person has been removed from the no-fly list is to buy a ticket and try to board a flight.
RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/16/judge-rules-favor-muslim-woman-fly-list/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12322-civil-rights-groups-welcome-legal-victory-against-no-fly-list.html

Beniaján opens a mosque open to all people

06 May 2012

Two hundred people attended last night the launch of a communitarian center, which aims to serve those in need regardless of their religion.
The population of Beniaján, Murcia has since yesterday a mosque to receive the more than 600 Muslims estimated to be living in the area, including nearby towns such as El Bojal, San Jose de La Vega, San Jose de la Montana and Los Ramos, among other. But it also aims “to meet local people in need, regardless of their religion,” explains Ghouti Beghdadi Hamhami, president of the Islamic Community Alfirdaus, who is driving the project.
The Muslim community in the area wants to “be part of society with full integration into the village,” according to the remarks of Beghdadi Hamhami, who hopes the mosque will serve as “a space to share with neighbors in an atmosphere of cordiality and transparency demonstrating that we are not radicals or terrorists, just peaceful people, like the others. “

Tv Skewing Americans’ View Of Peaceful Islam, Muslim Leaders Say

DETROIT – It was an image of Islam that might have startled many Americans: a young Muslim woman wearing a traditional head scarf standing in the center of a chandeliered banquet hall singing the U.S. national anthem. “It saddens me,” Denise Hazime, a 25-year-old, Muslim American law student remarked after watching the woman sing to kick off an Arab student fundraiser. “The way things are now, I bet the average American would never think of the image of a covered girl singing our national anthem.” The way things are now is this: American Muslim leaders say they are facing an increasingly tough public relations battle as they fight to portray their faith as non-violent. Some Muslims say conveying a peaceful image of Islam is tougher now than it was after the Sept. 11 attacks, and they blame a daily barrage of negative media images. They are referring to stories such as a Christian convert being threatened with execution in Afghanistan, coverage of thousands of Muslims expressing outrage at Danish cartoons and shouting anti-Western threats, and daily bloody images from Iraq. “We say we’re peaceful people, but it doesn’t matter what we say,” said Irfan Rydhan, 31, a spokesperson and organizer for the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose, Calif. “They see these violent images on TV, and those people look like us.” American views of their Muslim neighbors had been improving. A Pew Research Center poll released in July 2005, after the London terrorist bombings, showed that 55% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Muslim Americans. But a Washington Post/ABC News poll released in March showed that a majority of Americans have a negative view of Islam. ‘It’s really hard right now’ It seems as if extremist voices “have taken over,” said Rana Abbas, a 26-year-old Muslim American who is deputy director of Michigan’s American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a nationwide civil rights group based in Washington, D.C. “It makes your struggle so much harder. It makes it seem as if all your efforts are in vain. It’s really hard right now for moderate Muslims to get their message out.” A large part of the public relations problem is that most Americans do not have a basic understanding of the turmoil that exists in parts of the Muslim world, said James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, a political advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Zogby said that many heavily Islamic regions have been destabilized by war. “The problem is not the nature of the religion; it is the dislocation and disruption of normal society brought on by the trauma of war,” he said. “It’s similar to what happened in our own country during the post-Civil War period where you had lynchings and the emergence of extremist currents that lasted for decades.” Imam Hassan Qazwini heads the largest mosque in the USA, the Islamic Center of America, based in Dearborn, Mich. Qazwini said he and other imams have grown weary of being made to answer for every violent act committed in the name of Mohammed. “This has become a daily nightmare for Muslims,” Qazwini said. “We’re upset. We’re frustrated. We cannot control every Muslim. We cannot be held responsible for everything.” Qazwini said he is confounded when Islam as a whole is blamed for the actions of individuals, while other religions are not. “How is it that when Pat Robertson calls for the murder of the president of a sovereign country that nobody said Christianity is promoting violence and murder?” Qazwini said, referring to Robertson’s call last August for the assassination Venezuelan President Hugo Ch_vez. Robertson later apologized. Qazwini said his mosque is trying to do its part to open dialogue. The mosque offers tours of the elaborate, 76,000-square-foot community and worship center, which is topped with a huge dome and accented with teak and mahogany doors carved in Turkey and the Philippines. ‘We’re not so different’ A group of 27 eighth-grade girls and boys from a Catholic school about an hour outside Detroit recently toured the mosque. The girls fidgeted with their makeshift headscarves, straw-blond hair poking out. A boy with shaggy bangs and pale skin asked the tour guide, a 46-year-old nurse consultant who sent her daughter to Catholic school, “How come you can’t draw Mohammed?” He was referring to recent news stories about the controversial Danish cartoons and the belief that any images of Mohammed are considered sacrilege in Islam. As guide Najah Bazzy waved goodbye to the students, one of their teachers stopped to thank her, saying it was her first time in a mosque. The teacher added, “We’re not so different.” Bazzy agreed. “That’s why these tours are so important,” Bazzy said after the teacher left. Muslims in San Jose are making special efforts at public relations, too. “Images are more powerful than any words,” the South Bay Islamic Association’s Rydhan said. With that in mind, Rydhan organized “Muslim Unity Day” last year at Paramount’s Great America amusement park. He said part of his mission was to provide an image of Muslims being carefree, and that’s his mission for this year’s unity day, too, which is Aug. 27. More than 4,000 Muslims from the area showed up for a day last year at the park in Santa Clara, Calif. The South Bay Islamic Association’s imam, wearing traditional loose, white religious clothing and a thick, long beard, got off a water ride with some friends at one point during the festivities. He was soaking wet and laughing. That’s a good picture, Rydhan says he thought to himself.

Youths Return To Islam Group Wages War On Stereotyping

By Lisa Fernandez Huda Shreim used to be a bad girl: Cutting class, fighting, lying, scrawling graffiti. Today, the 19-year-old Jordanian immigrant prays five times a day and covers herself from head to toe, following the Islamic mandate to dress modestly. She’s easy to spot in a full-length tie-dyed pink abaya robe and matching head covering as she stops in at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble in Fremont, where she lives. Shreim is a member of a new wave of Muslim youth in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere, who are breaking with their secular upbringing and becoming more devout. In many ways, the phenomenon is nothing new or unique to being a Muslim. But this group is special in that their desire to become more observant intensified after Sept. 11. Their motivation? To show the world that they can be religious Muslims, dress traditionally and not be terrorists. Surprisingly, these young people say that putting on austere-looking garb from Saudi Arabia is a very American thing to do. “These kids are saying, `I was born in America, and the Constitution says that I can practice my religion, and my religion says I must dress this way,’ ” said Yvone Haddad, a Georgetown University professor who studies Muslims in the West. “Though one option is to just go into hiding and `be like us,’ these kids are saying, `No.’ ” Shreim and other newfound Islamic enthusiasts know their highly distinctive clothing is an invitation for others to ask about their backgrounds — and they welcome the challenge. They also realize their appearance can be a magnet for verbal abuse and violence. Haddad likens the post-Sept. 11 trend to the Black Power movement, when young African-Americans embraced their cultural identity most visibly, by sporting large Afros. “Islam is beautiful,” Haddad said, playing off “Black is beautiful,” the civil rights era slogan. “Women who have never put on the veil are now putting it on. They are taking on the burden of showing the world that Islam is not terrorism.” There’s no way to document how many young Muslims are becoming more observant, but scholars and Islamic leaders say a significant number are closely studying the Koran for answers. Nadia Roumani, a researcher for the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, has found that Sept. 11 caused a number of Muslims, who previously didn’t know much about their own background or faith, to “redefine their religion and rearticulate it.” In some cases, she said, that meant “exercising their faith in a more outward manner.” Many previously non-practicing Muslims re-energize their interest by taking classes. In 2003, the AlMaghrib Institute (of Islamic Studies) started teaching 81 students in three cities. Today, the program has 2,800 students in 14 cities, including those in classes at San Jose State University and Fremont’s Ohlone College. About one-third of these students, discovering new depth in their faith later in life, are loosely considered reborn fundamentalists, said the institute’s manager, Irtiza Hasan. “There was an increased desire for Muslims to learn more about their own religion after 9/11,” Hasan said. “They didn’t know a lot of the deeper stuff, and they want to be able to answer others.” Shreim’s new religious insights and her garb — which includes a colorful assortment of full-length robes to cover her jeans and flip-flops — caused some initial grief for her family. Now, her parents are proud and have become more observant themselves. “You might find this surprising,” said her father, Jalal Shreim. “But you can be more Muslim in the United States than in so-called Islamic countries. There is more freedom here.” Parental concern about possible abuse for their Muslim children turning super religious is common. Omair Ali, 28, of San Jose said his parents have stopped “freaking out” about his spiritual journey, but they are far from being completely supportive. Before Sept. 11, the man known as Disco Omair, and DJ Iceberg described himself as a “party animal” with orange-frosted spiked hair. But after the terrorist attacks, he wanted do to something to defend his faith against false stereotypes. “First and foremost,” he said. “I knew that I would have to reform and purify myself before telling the world about Islam.” On his radio show at San Jose State University, Ali discussed the richness of Islamic art, rules of marriage, roles of women — anything he could to expand the outside world’s limited knowledge of a faith associated with suicide bombers. Now, he hosts a weekly Islamic-topic show called “MeccaOne” on KSJS-FM (90.5) and runs a Web site for Zaytuna Institute, an internationally renowned Muslim academy in Hayward. But he said his parents — immigrants from India and Pakistan — saw him growing a long beard and donning a kufi cap, and feared he’d become a “lazy bum, praying all day,” or worse, head off to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and get captured by the FBI. “They wanted me to work in the corporate world,” he said. “That was their American dream.” But for Ali and Shreim, their American vision involves expressing themselves in a free society as God-conscious Muslims. Their choice is not without struggle. Four years ago, exactly on Sept. 11, just hours after the attacks, Shreim ventured out of the house wearing a dramatic black abaya and veil from Saudi Arabia for the first time. That day, she got her share of hateful looks and taunting. And even now, she gets an odd stare, or someone will plead with her to convert to Christianity. “But this doesn’t make me feel weaker, only stronger,” Shreim said. “One woman came up to me and said, `This is America. You don’t have to do this.’ I said, `I do this because I want to.’ ”