CAIR Releases Results of Muslim Voter Survey in 6 States

intent-to-vote(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/23/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released the results of a survey indicating that 69 percent of registered Muslim voters will go to the polls on November 4 and that more than half will vote for Democratic Party candidates.

Domestic issues like the economy and health care continue to top the Muslim voters’ list of priority concerns in this election. Growing Islamophobia in American ranked as the third most important issue for Muslim voters.

*CAIR’s poll of more than 1500 registered Muslim voters in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and Virginia* was conducted using an independent automated call survey provider and asked three questions:

1. “Do you plan to vote in the November 4th midterm election?”
2. “Which political party do you support in the upcoming election?”
3. “What is the most important issue to you in this upcoming election?”

How the Islamic State is recruiting teenage girls

Two Austrian teeangers, 16-year-old Samra Kesinovic (left) and her 14-year-old friend Sabina Selimovic, ran away from home to join ISIS.
Two Austrian teeangers, 16-year-old Samra Kesinovic (left) and her 14-year-old friend Sabina Selimovic, ran away from home to join ISIS.

In an editorial with The Washington Post, Professor Mia Bloom describes how IS is using social media to recruit and radicalize teen girls through social media. Further, there is a need to balance the security of the United States (preventing the return of dangerous foreign fighters) with allowing young people who made a mistake a way back home and back to their families.

Twitter features #muslimapologies

On Tuesday, September 23rd, Muslims with Twitter handles Tweeted #muslimapologies, a tongue-in-cheek response to President Obama’s speech at the United Nations where the President of the United States told the General Assembly that it is time for Muslims to stand-up against ISIS. As The Washington Post points out, “#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.

Many of the tweets express weariness about having to apologize for the actions of extremists who claim to represent Islam, a religion with an estimated 1.6 billion adherents worldwide.”

Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama's speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.
Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama’s speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.

In Washington, Muslims gather to get ‘Happy’ for the camera

April 22, 2014

 

A young man drummed on a bucket as a portable speaker played the uber-upbeat song “Happy,” Pharrell Williams’s anthem to joy and to the pure communal value of boogying in the street that has engendered countless copycat videos across the globe.

Because I’m happy — Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth . . .

Malik, 39, and Salma skipped through a gantlet of applause and cheering.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you . . .

Jamal, wearing a thobe, and Kareem, in jeans, performed a high-stepping routine of their own. Behind them and in front of them, husbands and wives, parents and children, and total strangers bounced and shimmied and twirled as curious passersby stopped to watch and the camera rolled.

They were brought together by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which advocates for U.S. Muslims, and which last week announced a plan to help steer susceptible members of their communities away from radical Islamist ideology, and Make Space, a Washington-area organization for Muslim professionals and youth.

The video comes on the heels of a version depicting British Muslims that has garnered 1.2 million YouTube views. Like that one, this will show Muslims old and young, male and female, wearing headscarves or letting their hair flow freely — all embracing the concept of happiness.

“It sort of happened in a grass-roots sense — a couple of days ago I posted on Facebook and we put the word out yesterday,” Hasan Shah, Make Space’s board chairman, said Tuesday. “It was something that everyone wanted to do, because it could be done within the boundaries of our religion. It’s not provocative, it’s not risque in any sense.” After all, he said, happiness “is neither Eastern nor Western, it’s universal.”

Still, the British version, called “Happy British Muslims” has been controversial in some circles, underlining the challenges Muslims can face when trying to create art in a Western context.

While many Muslims were elated by the video and wanted to copy it immediately, some said it violated Islam’s law or at least its spirit of modesty, particularly with women dancing and singing in public. Others felt it was humiliating and unnecessary to prove that members of the planet’s second-largest religion are, in fact, happy.

But the 50 or so Muslims who gathered at McPherson Square were hardly encumbered by these concerns — though the organizers did remind them to limit their gyrations to the upper half of the body.

The song’s contagious popularity seemed like a perfect vehicle for that, said Haris Tarin, the D.C. director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Since this song has gone viral, we thought, why not take advantage of it? It may be a little wacky, a little out of the ordinary . . . but it gives that idea of the American Muslims in the public square.”

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-washington-muslims-gather-to-get-happy-for-the-camera/2014/04/22/c2dd9108-ca34-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html

The FBI Is Trying To Recruit Muslims As Snitches By Putting Them On No-Fly Lists

April 22, 2014

 

Awais Sajjad, a lawful permanent U.S. resident living in the New York area, learned he was on the no-fly list in September 2012 after he tried to board a flight to Pakistan at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was turned back.

At the airport, FBI agents questioned Sajjad, a Muslim, before releasing him. But they later returned with an offer. In exchange for working for them, the FBI could provide him with U.S. citizenship and compensation. The FBI, the agents reminded Sajjad, also had the power to decide who was on the no-fly list.

When he refused, the FBI agents “kept him on the list in order to pressure and coerce Mr. Sajjad to sacrifice his constitutionally-protected rights,” according to an amended lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in New York.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Sajjad and three other men, accuses the United States of violating their rights by placing or keeping them on the no-fly list after they declined to spy on local Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey and Nebraska.

“The no-fly list is supposed to be about ensuring aviation safety, but the FBI is using it to force innocent people to become informants,” said Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law at the City University of New York. “The practice borders on extortion.”

The Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project, which Kassem supervises, and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit on behalf of the men.

In the case of; Dr Rahinah Ibrahim, who is not a national security threat.

It took a lawsuit that has stretched for eight years for the feds to yield that admission. It is one answer in a case that opened up many more questions: How did an innocent Malaysian architectural scholar remain on a terrorism no fly-list—effectively branded a terrorist—for years after a FBI paperwork screw up put her there? The answer to that question, to paraphrase a particularly hawkish former Secretary of Defense, may be unknowable.

Last week, there was a depressing development in the case. A judge’s decision was made public and it revealed that the White House has created at least one “secret exception” to the legal standard that federal authorities use to place people on such lists. This should trouble anyone who cares about niggling things like legal due process or the US Constitution. No one is clear what the exception is, because it’s secret—duh—meaning government is basically placing people on terror watchlists that can ruin their lives without explaining why or how they landed on those lists in the first place.

Ibrahim’s attorney, Elizabeth Pipkin, said she can’t say for sure how the authorities first became interested in her client. “That was speculation on our part,” she said. “The sad thing is, even after eight years of litigation, we weren’t able to get to the bottom of what was the underlying information that lead an FBI agent to her door and brought this whole thing about.”

But as great as a “Feds Suck at Googling” headline would be, it could be even more simple and ridiculous. According to one judge, an FBI agent made a basic paperwork error by filling out the form the opposite way from the instructions: ticking the lists she thought Ibrahim should not be on rather than the ones that she should. That screw up might be to blame for turning eight years of her life into a hellish pit of litigation.

In 2007, a Justice Department audit found that the “management of the watchlist continues to have weaknesses” and that the department needed “to further improve its efforts for ensuring the accuracy of the watchlist records.”

U.S. citizens have also been stranded abroad and never told why they couldn’t fly home. Yahye Wehelie, who was raised in Fairfax County, couldn’t leave Egypt for weeks in 2010; he was stopped in Cairo on his way to Yemen to find a wife.

In a previous interview with The Washington Post, Wehelie said FBI agents asked him if he was willing to inform on the Muslim community in his area when he got home.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawsuit-alleges-fbi-is-using-no-fly-list-to-force-muslims-to-become-informants/2014/04/22/1a62f566-ca27-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

Vice.com: http://www.vice.com/read/no-fly-list-rahinah-ibrahim-danny-mcdonald?utm_source=vicefbus

16 years in prison for man in NYC terror bomb plot

March 25, 2014

 

An al-Qaida sympathizer who admitted trying to build pipe bombs to carry out a homegrown terror campaign was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison, capping a case authorities called an illustration of the threat of lone, local would-be terrorists but his lawyers portrayed as an example of police entrapment.

Jose Pimentel, his hands shackled and enclosed in mitts, declined to speak as he was sentenced in the rare state-level terror case; most are federal. City Department of Correction representatives had no immediate information on what the mitts were for.

Pimentel, 29, last month admitted he tried to fashion a pipe bomb out of household items in an informant’s basement in November 2011 and aspired to use it to “try to undermine public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He had been recorded brainstorming about attacks ranging from killing returning soldiers to blowing up a police station to bombing the George Washington Bridge, authorities said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the case demonstrated the growing threat “from radicalized local actors” and local authorities’ ability to stem it.

Pimentel, a Dominican native, grew up in the United States, converted to Islam around 2004 and became an outspoken extremist who also went by Muhammad Yusuf, authorities said. He maintained a website with articles lauding Osama bin Laden, saying it was valid to target those killed on Sept. 11 and giving reasons to “nuke the USA,” and he repeatedly clashed with relatives over his militant views, prosecutors said in court papers.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/16-years-in-prison-for-man-in-nyc-terror-bomb-plot/2014/03/25/67691086-b47c-11e3-bab2-b9602293021d_story.html

California man charged with aiding terror group

March 26, 2014

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted a California man on a single charge of attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Nicholas Teausant had previously been held on a criminal complaint since his arrest last week near the Canadian border.

The one-paragraph indictment handed down Wednesday alleges that Teausant, an American citizen, attempted to join al-Qaida in Iraq. The indictment says the group changed its name last year to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Teausant agreed last week to be returned to Sacramento to face the charge.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/california-man-charged-with-aiding-terror-group/2014/03/26/f894e3be-b53f-11e3-bab2-b9602293021d_story.html

Washington: Arrested Man Is Accused of Seeking to Join Militants in Syria

March 18, 2014

 

A California man who prosecutors said was on his way to Syria to join a Qaeda group was arrested on Monday near the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., on a terrorism charge, federal officials said. The Department of Justice said in a statement that the man, Nicholas Teausant, 20, an American-born convert to Islam, had planned to cross into Canada and travel to Syria to join Islamist militants. A student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., he was also a private in the United States Army National Guard but was in the process of being released as of December, according to the complaint.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/us/politics/washington-arrested-man-is-accused-of-seeking-to-join-militants-in-syria.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%231&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry19%23%2FIslam%2F7days%2Fallresults%2F2%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

‘Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity’ by Shabana Mir

March 7, 2014

 

It should come as no surprise that being a Muslim American woman on an American college campus, surrounded by social pressures involving drinking and dating, makes for a complex young-adult experience. What’s surprising is that these conflicts are not much discussed.

Shabana Mir, who teaches global studies and anthropology at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., spent 10 months in Washington during 2002-03. She interviewed 26 Muslim American women at Georgetown and George Washington universities about how their choices concerning dating, alcohol and clothing made them feel around their non-Muslim peers. Each woman had her own way of melding her two modifiers into a “third space” that is “neither stereotypically American, nor stereotypically Muslim.”

One theme of the book is a subtle current of dismay on the part of non-Muslim students, who tended to be misinformed at best and fearful at worst about interacting with Mir’s subjects. Here is the author’s summation of what one young woman experienced after deciding to go to parties where there was drinking but not indulge in it herself: “Though Fatima optimistically assumed that her peers would respond to her compromise and ‘just accept’ her teetotalism, the tolerance proffered by her peers was far shallower than the acceptance they received from Fatima because of the cultural power differential.”

The book may leave readers feeling confused about what it is young Muslim American women are seeking or needing from those peers. In any case, the reticence Mir found on both campuses is unfortunate in a university setting, where dialogue and mutual understanding should be the norm.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2014/03/07/6c3058b4-844c-11e3-8099-9181471f7aaf_story.html

Supreme Court Agrees to Weigh Arkansas Inmate’s Right to Grow a Beard

February 28, 2014

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether prison officials in Arkansas may prohibit inmates from growing beards in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The policy was challenged by Gregory H. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery. Mr. Holt said his Muslim faith required him to grow a beard.

The state’s policy allows trimmed mustaches, along with quarter-inch beards for those with dermatological problems. Prison officials said the ban on other facial hair was needed to promote “health and hygiene,” to minimize “opportunities for disguise” and to help prevent the concealment of contraband.

Mr. Holt sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prison officials to show that policies that burden religious practices advance a compelling penological interest and use the least restrictive means to do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in June that the justifications offered by the officials satisfied that standard.

Mr. Holt filed a handwritten petition in September asking the justices to hear his case, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827, pointing out that other courts had struck down policies banning beards in prisons. In an interim order in November, the Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Holt be allowed to grow a half-inch beard.

 

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/supreme-court-agrees-to-weigh-arkansas-inmates-right-to-grow-a-beard.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0