US Muslim charity leaders get 65 years in jail for Hamas support

Two former leaders of the Texas-based Holy Land foundation were sentenced to 65 years in jail for supporting Palestinian militants. Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering, and tax fraud. “These sentences should serve as a strong warning to anyone who knowingly provides financial support to terrorists under the guise of humanitarian relief,” said David Kris, assistant US attorney general for national security. Holy Land CEO Shukri Abu Baker and chairman and co-founder Ghassan Elashi, were both sentenced to 65 years in jail. Holy Land cofounder Mohammad El-Mezain, and Abdulrahman Odeh, the charity’s New Jersey representative, both received lesser sentences of 15 years. The Justice Department vowed in October 2007 to retry the five Holy Land leaders after jurors could not agree on verdicts on nearly 200 charges, and a new jury was seated in mid-September. Holy Land was one of several Muslim organizations the Bush administration shut down in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for Islamic extremists overseas. Muslim charities that remained open suffered significant drops I contributions because of fears of prosecution.

Muslim Democrats make political impact despite negative attacks

Faced with a choice of presidential hopefuls that many Muslims fear are not very sympathetic to their issues, American Muslims are stepping up their activism in hopes to influence the next administration. The efforts stem from the difficulties felt by many Arab and Muslim Americans who have found themselves on the defensive facing unprecedented skepticism and suspicion after September 11th. “The number of people who have become more active and visible o n the national political front has increased dramatically because people have suddenly sensed that they have to be more active in order to … defend themselves as Americans, defend themselves as Arabs and Muslims,” said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East scholar at the University of Maryland and fellow at the Brookings Institution. Many Muslim Democrats are also feeling anger over the casting of Barack Obama as Muslim, painting his association to the religion in a wholly negative light. “So What? He is not a Muslim and he says that. But I am a Muslim and if I was running for office would it be right to hold that against me?” says Inayat Lalani, a Muslim doctor in Texas. Nonetheless, many Muslims see this election as a chance to make their voices and votes count and be heard in what will undoubtedly be a historic election.

In Hartford, Thousands Gather To Celebrate Islam

The annual Islamic Circle of North America convention drew thousands at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, bringing Muslims from a wide variety of backgrounds, mixing “tradition” with the “modern.” Women with headscarves holding Starbucks coffee cups, American converts, and Muslim Americans from states including Texas and the Carolinas came to the convention, drawing more than 15,000 people. Themes of the convention included family, educating young people on the “true meaning” of Islam, and helping overcome misperceptions of Muslims to non-Muslims.

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In Hartford, Thousands Gather To Celebrate Islam

The annual Islamic Circle of North America convention drew thousands at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, bringing Muslims from a wide variety of backgrounds, mixing tradition with the modern. Women with headscarves holding Starbucks coffee cups, American converts, and Muslim Americans from states including Texas and the Carolinas came to the convention, drawing more than 15,000 people. Themes of the convention included family, educating young people on the true meaning of Islam, and helping overcome misperceptions of Muslims to non-Muslims.

CAIR releases Results of Muslim Voter Survey: Poll finds 80% of Muslim voters will participate in presidential primaries

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today released the results of a national survey indicating that Muslim voters are civically engaged, remain well integrated in American society and are politically active. Although most are still undecided on their pick for the next president, nearly 80 percent said they would vote in the primaries.

The survey, commissioned by the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, asked 1,000 registered Muslim voters about their demographic profiles, political views and levels of social integration. Respondents were randomly drawn from a pool of some 400,000 registered Muslim voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

The survey’s results show a family-oriented, highly-educated and diverse group of voters who condemn terrorism and believe anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is a serious problem.

The poll also shows that the more devout Muslim voters are also those who are most likely to believe that Islam and modernity are compatible.

Respondents were asked which issues will most influence their vote. Education was the top pick indicated by 89 percent, followed by civil rights (86 percent), health care policy (85 percent) and the economy (85 percent).

“Our survey shows that most Muslim voters are still undecided on their preferred presidential candidate, yet are politically engaged and extremely likely to vote,” said CAIR spokeswoman Amina Rubin. “This means that a potential bloc of Muslim swing voters in several battleground states is ready to support a candidate who will commit to acting on issues that concern America’s Muslims.”

CAIR’s survey also indicated that many Muslim voters are concentrated in 10 states: California, 19 percent; New York, 13 percent; Illinois, 10 percent; Texas, 9 percent; Virginia, 7 percent; Michigan, 6 percent; Florida, 6 percent; Maryland, 5 percent; Pennsylvania, 4 percent; and Ohio, 3 percent.

The full results of CAIR’s survey may be viewed here.

Bank agrees to review its closing of accounts that belong to Muslim charity

A campaign by Muslim activists against Wachovia Corp. to protest the unexplained closing of bank accounts belonging to a Herndon-based Muslim charity is on hold pending an investigation by the bank. Any actions against the North Carolina-based bank, which has branches on the East Coast and in Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee, could include protests and boycotts, the activists said. That depends on what it ends up doing and saying.