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This section compiles and archives pieces that were previously featured on the main page:

Feature # 193
"DO YOUR PART"
CAIR LAUNCHES 2008 VOTING INITIATIVE


By Sandy Abdallah

Visit: www.cair2008election.com

CAIR recently launched the “Do Your Part” initiative in preparation for the 2008 elections. The initiative promotes active participation and public education of the American-Muslim community. “Each election cycle America’s Muslims become better organized and more savvy about asserting our voice into our nation’s electoral dialogue,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “This is a community that is excited about the contributions our strong family values and foreign policy insights can make to this nation.”

The initiative is centered on the belief that active participation, such as voting, goes hand in hand with public education. According to the initiative, voting allows the public to choose the direction of the country by choosing the leader who best shares the collective vision. “Making educated decisions about the direction of this country is essential to making a positive difference,” said CAIR-Chicago’s Governmental Relations Coordinator, Sadiya Ahmed. CAIR-Chicago’s Government Affairs Department continuously works to help community members understand and utilize the political system to make it work for them. Projects include voter registration drives, community workshops, “know your rights” educational campaigns, and training in mosques and Muslim centers on how to contact local and national politicians.

The newly launched website for the "Do Your Part" initiative, www.cair2008election.com, will provide information about the candidates and their positions on particular issues. The site will be updated with new developments and events regarding the political race. In addition, it will soon feature a blog and voter guides.

The Civic Participation Handbook featured in the initiative and readily available on the website stresses the importance of communities uniting to make sure that their voices are heard by their elected representatives. Exercising the right to vote is one of the main tools identified by the handbook towards standing strong and being part of the solution. The section titled, “One vote counts,” stresses the impact of individual actions, especially as part of an entire community.

CAIR emphasizes civic participation and regularly puts out handbooks and guides that inform and educate the public about getting involved.

Copyright © 2008, CAIR-Chicago



CIVIC PARTICIPATION GUIDE: http://www.cair.com/Portals/
0/pdf/CAIR_Civic_Guide.pdf


"DO YOUR PART" CAMPAIGN HOMEPAGE:
CAIR 2008 Elections Initiative

THE MOBILIZER BLOG: http://mobilizer.blogspot.com

 
Feature # 191
CAIR WELCOMES OVERTURNING OF $156M JUDGMENT IN CHARITIES CASE

US court overturns ruling against Muslim charities
AFP

http://afp.google.com/article/
ALeqM5hOHvpwD3HFUcX3kc7mFKYENBswtQ


WASHINGTON (AFP) — A US court overturned Friday a ruling that ordered Muslim charities with alleged links to the Palestinian Hamas movement to compensate the family of a US teenager killed in the West Bank.

The groups had been ordered in a 2004 civil case to pay 156 million dollars to the family of 17-year-old David Boim, killed in 1996 in an attack. A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the groups' role was not fully established.

It ordered a new trial to examine more closely the links between the organizations and the boy's death.

"The Boims will have to demonstrate an adequate causal link between the death of David Boim and the actions" of the groups, the court ruling said.

"This will require evidence that the conduct of each defendant, be it direct involvement with or support of Hamas's terrorist activities or indirect support of Hamas or its affiliates, helped bring about the terrorist attack that ended David Boim's life."

The groups had been charged with taking part in terrorism by aiding or financing Hamas, a powerful Islamist movement in the Palestinian territories.

"The Boims' theory ... was that in promoting, raising money for, and otherwise working on behalf of Hamas, these defendants had helped to fund, train, and arm the terrorists who had killed their son," the ruling said.

The defendants included the American Muslim Society and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was the biggest Muslim charity in the United States until it was outlawed after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The foundation also faces separate criminal charges for alleged links with Hamas. It is charged with giving 36 million dollars to committees controlled by the movement from 1992 to 2001.

A leading US Muslim rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), welcomed the appeal court's decision Friday.

"This landmark ruling is a strong rejection of the recent disturbing trend of political lawsuits against American Muslims who have committed no crime other than providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians," it said in a statement.

"CAIR deplores the murder of David Boim and hopes that the actual wrong-doers are brought to justice."

Copyright © 2007, AFP





PRESS RELEASE: CAIR-Chicago Welcomes Overturning of $156 Judgment in Charity Case December 28, 2007

ASSOCIATE PRESS: $156M Terrorism Damage Award Thrown Out December 28, 2007

WASHINGTON POST: Ruling Against Muslim Group Is Overturned December 29, 2007

 
Feature # 192
IMMIGRATION ISSUE FIZZLES AGAIN

CHICAGO TRIBUNE


January 6, 2008

By Joshua Hoyt
Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

One of the rituals of going after that elusive big-game target, the "Middle-America White Male Voter," is the hunting trip. The day after Christmas, Mike Huckabee tromped through the Iowa fields with a contingent of newspeople. Huckabee's hunting party bagged three pheasants.

Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney boasted, "I've been a hunter pretty much all of my life," before it was revealed that his experience actually consisted of two hunting trips, separated by 45 years.

In Iowa's GOP presidential caucuses, one of the vote-hunting strategies for that Middle-America White Male Voter was some good, old-fashioned immigrant bashing. So how well did that anti-immigrant dog hunt? Once again we learned that the tired, old dog is all bark and no bite.

It always seemed odd to some of us that much of the Republican field thought that illegal immigration would be the defining wedge issue in a state that is 95 percent white and where the number of undocumented immigrants totals a bit more than 2 percent of the population.

But the pundits all said that finally, this year, illegal immigration would move votes for tough-talking politicians. So Tom Tancredo, a backbench congressman who appears to live only to bully immigrants, ran a commercial that claimed, "Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil," and ended with a backpack exploding in a shopping mall. The Colorado Republican congressman's "Before-it's-too-late" campaign to terrorize us into electing him president was thankfully interrupted by his withdrawal from the race, but Tancredo endorsed Mitt Romney on the way out.

Romney was a worthy recipient of the Tancredo mantle because Romney ran commercials that aired more than 12,000 times, mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire, promising to be rough and tough when it comes to illegal immigration. Romney used the debates and his commercials to blast his challengers, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Huckabee, for being soft on illegal immigrants. (All the while, Romney suffered from that peculiar hypocritical blindness that this issue seems to engender. Romney, it turns out, once employed a landscaper who used undocumented workers to landscape Romney's stately Massachusetts home. Romney continued to use the landscaping firm after that was reported, but dismissed the company when it was caught a second time using undocumented gardeners.)

Giuliani and Huckabee quickly turned themselves into political pretzels, trying to be what they had never been in real life: tough, enforcement-first upholders of our broken immigration "rule of law." Only McCain tried to maintain his self-respect on the issue.

The results are in. In a state where voters had a clear choice to vote for Romney's tough stance on illegal immigration in the Republican caucuses, they instead turned out in historic numbers to vote Democratic. There they picked Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who has unabashedly advocated an earned path to citizenship for the undocumented.

On the Republican side, Romney, despite his overwhelming funding advantage, came up short. University of Iowa polls showed that 57 percent of Iowa voters favored earned citizenship for the undocumented and only 23 percent favored deportation.

This is consistent with national polling. In 20 of 22 separate public opinion polls conducted between March and December, somewhere between 55 percent and 83 percent of the respondents favored some form of earned legal status. In the remaining two polls, the majority favored this option.

Immigrant bashing just does not move votes. The 2006 elections were a disaster for anti-immigrant demagoguery. Not only did the issue fail to stave off the Republican loss of the House and Senate, but leading Republican anti-immigrant campaigners such as Reps. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona and John Hostettler of Indiana and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania all lost their races. And in a telling portent of the future, Latino support for the GOP dropped to 26 percent from 44 percent.

Last November, Republicans trotted out their anti-immigrant dog again, trying to gain ground in Virginia and take advantage of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's botched attempt to grant driver's licenses to the undocumented in New York. The results: Democrats took the House of Delegates in Virginia and the Republican assault in New York was negligible.

Is there a take-home lesson that Republican leaders and politicians should learn from Iowa? Yes. Voters are concerned about our broken immigration system, but they want sensible solutions, not just loud barks from a toothless hunting dog.



Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune



View: CLICK TO ENLARGE



Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights

CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director Confirmed as ICIRR Board Member July 18, 2007

 
Feature # 189
Building Coalitions for Community Values
CAIR-Chicago, ICIRR, and the Campaign for Community Values

By Sandy Abdallah

Civil rights and immigration reform remain as major issues at the forefront of community concerns as the national election campaigns near their first party caucuses. CAIR-Chicago is proud to join the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) along with the Campaign for Community Values in addressing these issues. ICIRR works to promote the rights of immigrants and refugees in order to achieve full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of the United States. CAIR-Chicago advocates for the civil rights and political empowerment of Muslims and communities facing similar grievances. Together, both organizations have strengthened the voices of the communities they advocate for.

CAIR-Chicago was chosen to represent the Chicago community as well as ICIRR at the Heartland Presidential Forum, Saturday, December 1, 2007. Sponsored by non-profit organizations, the forum created the rare opportunity for direct interaction between the presidential candidates, grassroots organizations, and community members. Passionate stories and questions regarding civil rights, immigration, healthcare, corporate America, the economy, and the environment were discussed between the people and the candidates.

“It’s an amazing thing,” said CAIR-Chicago executive director, Ahmed Rehab. “Regular people and community values often take a back seat during political functions, but this forum gave the people a chance to question the politicians, one-on-one, on what matters most to them.”

Based on the principle that local and national leaders have a civic responsibility, the coalition works to ensure that these leaders address the people they intend on serving. The coalition helps create and maintain paths of dialogue between the community and its leaders. CAIR-Chicago and ICIRR work to ensure that voices are heard and progress is made.

CAIR-Chicago has worked with ICIRR over three years now; CAIR-Chicago’s executive director, Ahmed Rehab, currently serves on the ICIRR executive board.



Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago





Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights

Movement Vision Lab at the Center for Community Change

 
Feature # 190
VOLUNTEER FOR CAIR-CHICAGO'S ANNUAL BANQUET!

CAIR-Chicago works tirelessly on behalf of the Chicagoland community for civil rights, political empowerment, community outreach, and to promote the better understanding of Islam and Muslims. The Annual Banquet is a time for CAIR-Chicago to share its achievements and is made possible with the dedicated help of our volunteers. This year, the Annual Banquet Event will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2008, and CAIR-Chicago is once again looking for volunteers.

Come work for your community in a positive, fun environment!

Available opportunities include:

    1. Marketing and Registration Committee
    2. Phone Banking and Ushering Committee
    3. Babysitting Committee

All volunteer activists will be fully trained to ensure the success of their specific roles.

Please contact the Outreach Department at CAIR-Chicago for more info and to sign up: e-mail outreach@cairchicago.org or call 312-212-1520. When contacting CAIR-Chicago, please specify your committee preference.

CAIR-Chicago, a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, works tirelessly to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims.

COMMITTEES BEGIN SOON
SIGN-UP TODAY!


Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago

 
Feature # 187
CAIR Launches National Media Education Campaign
"Beyond Stereotypes" Initiative

November 26, 2007

By Sandy Abdallah

This fall, CAIR launched a national media campaign called "Beyond Stereotypes" to promote a more accurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the media. The campaign features a handbook titled “American Muslims: A Journalist's Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims" that presents significant facts and clears up common misconceptions about American Muslims.


www.cair.com/beyondstereotypes

As the main and sometimes only source of news and information on Muslims, the media has a significant impact in shaping public perception. According to a 2006 Washington Post-ABC News poll, negative attitudes about Islam are fueled in part by media reports. In an effort to balance the media’s portrayal, CAIR's handbook provides journalists’ with basic information intended to promote a more accurate understanding of Islam and improve future media coverage.

Designed to offer insightful information without overwhelming the reader, the guide is organized into six sections: Understanding Islam, The American Muslim Community, Islam in the Media, Interacting with Muslims, Making Contacts with Muslims, and Clearing Misconceptions. Each section explains the beliefs of Muslims and the application of these beliefs to everyday life. Many common inquiries, such as what kind of sentiments Muslims hold toward the West, are answered and explained as well. Unlike other resources, “A Journalist's Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims,” is a concise compilation of relevant and current information about Islam and its practitioners.

CAIR chapters work to ensure that more balanced perspectives on pressing issues and current events important to Muslims are represented in the mainstream media. With thirty-three chapters across the nation, CAIR works with many communities and local media to provide accurate information on American Muslims. It has become a respected and credible source for journalists and other media professionals seeking information on Muslims and Islam.

Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



CAIR: "Beyond Stereotypes" Media Education Campaign Homepage

CAIR-Chicago: Daily Herald Review - A Muslim Reader's Perspective

Washington Post: Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing - Poll Numbers in U.S. Higher Than in 2001

 
Feature # 188
HEARTLAND PRESIDENTIAL FORUM IN IOWA
REAL PEOPLE. REAL ISSUES.

“The Civil Rights Movement is Not Done Yet. We’re Still Fighting.”


WATCH VIDEO

On Saturday, December 1, Ahmed Rehab representing the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) took part in the Heartland Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa by asking a presidential candidate whether she or he would be ready to join the ongoing civil rights movement, if elected.

Candidates participating in the forum were Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Christopher Dodd, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Sen. Barack Obama.



The entire forum, which was sponsored by the Center for Community Change (CCC) and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), aired live on C-SPAN and TV One.

Rehab asked Senator John Edwards about American Muslims and the Civil Rights movement.

The Heartland Presidential Forum, drew 5,000 attendees, and differed from other forums with its unique format. Top-tier candidates took turns onstage and were asked real questions by real people, rather than giving canned speeches. This design was meant to put power back in the hands of the people and hold candidates accountable to what we the people really value.

“This is a historic day in which the grassroots communities of America informed participating presidential candidates that we are interested in real change,” Rehab said. “Americans are tired of fear-mongering and exclusion; we want leadership that will fight for the community values of America that made us the greatest nation on earth. We will tell them that we are all in this together.”



The forum is an important part of the Campaign for Community Values, a multi-issue and multi-year effort to challenge the divisive message of the right and to promote Community Values. The Campaign for Community Values is a collective by more then 100 community-based organizations from all over the country to have an impact on public opinion and the 2008 elections.

TRANSCRIPT OF REHAB, EDWARDS Q & A:

KATHY HUGHES (President, TV One): Our first community leader is...

(CHEERS)

SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: You’ve got some fans.

AHMED REHAB: Senator, my name is Ahmed Rehab from Chicago, Illinois. I'm from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

(CHEERS)

REHAB: As a full-time civil rights activist, I receive hundreds of complaints from American Muslims regarding the sort of abuses, and prejudices, and discriminations that they face on a regular basis simply because of their name, physical appearance, or faith



affiliation, whether it's housing discrimination, or employment discrimination, or having to wait two to five years over the average time limit in order to obtain their citizenship.

Sadly, it seems that we're facing a culture of fear-mongering that is replacing our collective constitutional vision for equal opportunity for all.

Senator, in the '60s, Malcolm and Martin gave up their lives fighting for justice for all. The civil rights movement is not over. It's not done yet. We're still fighting.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator, fighting the civil rights movement is what I do on a daily basis, and we would like to know if you will fight with us, if elected president.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

EDWARDS: … we've got to stop this racial profiling that's going on in the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And we've got to change the entire atmosphere. Here's what I'll do as president: I will close Guantanamo, which I think is a national embarrassment.

(APPLAUSE)



We will have no more secret prisons, no more rendition, no more -- and I use this word intentional -- no more illegal spying on the American people by the president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And then, finally, finally, it is so heartbreaking that we have a debate in America about what kind of torture is permissible. I have an answer to that: No torture is permissible in the United States of America. And those are all things that I would do as president.

HUGHES: Thank you, Senator.



Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago





Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights

View All Candidate Questions and Answers at Movement Vision lab

 
Feature # 185

Law Journal for Social Justice Launches
CAIR-Chicago Staff Published in Inaugural Edition

by Sandy Abdallah

SEE JOURNAL ARTICLE: "The Threat to Civil Liberties in America and its Effect on Muslims in America"

This month, the DePaul Journal for Social Justice was launched as the first law journal on social justice at DePaul University. In the inaugural edition, CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator, Christina Abraham and staff attorney, Heena Musabji, address challenges to civil rights affecting American Muslims

According to the journal, public law and social justice are embedded in American society but inequalities between them must be brought to light. It examines such inequalities and presents possible solutions. The journal offers a voice to academics, practitioners, and students working to tackle tough societal issues and to support others also advocating for a more equal and just society.

In their article, "The Threat to Civil Liberties in America and its Effect on Muslims in America," Abraham and Musabji dissect the problems associated with various laws such as the PATRIOT Act, in which basic rights are essentially legally violated. The denial of due process and restriction of Muslims from the right to travel are two of several such violations of rights put into effect by the U.S. government. According to Abraham and Musabji, “…it becomes incumbent on all members of society to collectively fight for the rights to which all members of society are entitled. This is the only way that society can build a system of support whereby the rights of all are ultimately protected.”

“I am proud to see that the DePaul Journal for Social Justice has finally come to fruition,” said Abraham. “It definitely furthers the fight for social justice that our community must take an active part in.”


Copyright © 2007 CAIR-Chicago

---



ARTICLE: "The Threat to Civil Liberties in America and its Effect of Muslims in America" by Christina Abraham and Heena Musabji.

DePaul Journal for Social Justice: Website

 
Feature # 186
Remember Amadou Cisse, fight urban crime

Chicago Tribune

November 20, 2007

By Ahmed Rehab

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion
/letters/chi-071120cisse_briefs,0,2904680,full.story


READ, POST COMMENTS

Amadou Cisse is not a statistic.

Amadou was shot and killed on the Hyde Park campus of the University of Chicago early Monday morning. This was just weeks after he had successfully defended his Ph.D thesis in Chemistry at the top-rated university.

Amadou started life with little advantage. He was raised in a modest home in Senegal, Africa, exacerbated all the more by his father's early death. But Amadou invested his hopes in the most precious gift God had afforded him, his mind. He won a scholarship worlds away to a U.S high school, went onto college and earned degrees in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

The Chicago Tribune reported that "At the U. of C., Cisse was known as much for his hard work as his passion for his religion, Islam" ("U. of C. reels from hour of violence," Page 1, Nov. 20).

During his lifetime and despite all odds, Cisse did his family proud, Africa proud and Islam proud - he was a direct product of all three.

He also did America proud - he was also a direct product of America.

Amadou was a minority three times over. He was black, Muslim and an immigrant. In a climate where each of those are often demonized, politicized, or rendered suspicious, he may have been prejudged by the ugly half of America.

But prejudice is not the world he saw in America. He saw only opportunity, just as the beautiful part of America had seen in him.

As we constantly hear the claptrap about the potential radicalization of Muslim youth, or witness the subtle vilification of Black youth or dark-skinned immigrants, we see in Amadou a more accurate representation of the real values a young Black Muslim immigrant might typically represent: intelligence, responsibility, aspiration -- and vulnerability. This is equally likely whether a PhD from the U. of C. or a cab driver.

His achievements were a reminder to all of us of the value of most who come to our shores: not a threat, but an asset.

Amadou's story is the best and worst of what we have to offer. In our top institutions, we afforded Amadou a ticket to the top. And in our unsafe inner-city streets, we afforded him his demise.

Fighting urban crime and cleaning up our streets is not just the police force's job; it is our collective responsibility. We cannot sit idly by as our top treasure, our youth, are taken down in senseless moments made possible by a lackadaisical community approach to urban safety.

In Amadou's honor, we call on Chicagoans to make a resolution for the year 2008 to do their part in changing that by volunteering for CAPS, the City of Chicago's valuable Community Policing program.

Let our great city remain a beacon of hope and a place of opportunity to people around the world, but let it also be a leading city in the fight against street crime.

Our hearts go out to Amadou's family, friends, and the University of Chicago community.

Ahmed M. Rehab
Executive Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago)
Chicago, IL

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune



Chicago Tribune: Amadou Cisse remembered

 
Feature # 182
Fighting imaginary terrorist threats

Chicago Tribune

October 28, 2007

By Ahmed Rehab

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion
/chi-mistrial_thinkoct28,0,6992056.story


LEAVE A COMMENT

Growing up in Chicago as a soccer-crazed teenager in the 1990s, I never gave the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development much thought. It was a respected Muslim-American charity known to me mostly for its heart-wrenching appeals sometimes accompanied by annoying music.

Fast-forward a decade: I'm on a stage in Dallas for a large rally in support of officials of the now-defunct foundation who were facing charges of providing material support to a terrorist organization. The nationally riveting case was about to go to trial, and I was joined by prominent American Muslims and civil rights activists hoping to educate the local Muslim community about the legal and public-relations battle ahead.

The past few years have brought a lot of changes, the sorts of changes that see a young Muslim consultant for a Fortune 500 company -- yours truly -- morph into a full-time civil rights activist, and that see a celebrated Muslim charity such as the Holy Land Foundation face trial as an enemy of the people. In that fateful way, and on that Dallas stage, our once divergent paths converged.

In my three years as the head of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Muslim civil rights group, I have encountered a plethora of civil rights abuses leveled against American Muslims. But more than any other, the case against the foundation represented a decisive moment in this stormy episode of the Muslim immigrant community's young history.

There was too much of the Muslim community invested in this case. The foundation had been the largest Muslim-American charity during its time of operation. The prosecution's unindicted co-conspirator list of 306 groups and individuals read like a who's who of Muslim-American leadership: groups such as the council I work for; the Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim educational group; and the North American Islamic Trust, the largest Muslim holding company.

A guilty verdict threatened to engulf the Muslim-American establishment into a legal war of attrition spelling its slow demise. A not-guilty verdict held the promise of ending the nightmare that began six years ago and restoring the community's trust in the system.

This was not only about demanding justice as an outcome, but more importantly, justice as a process. American Muslims increasingly worry that the word "terrorism," even when uttered as an allegation, is sufficient to trump the "innocent until proven guilty" axiom that is a cornerstone of our justice system.

The case against the foundation was particularly worrisome because of its dubious legal arguments. While the government acknowledged that every penny the foundation raised went to peaceful charitable relief, it argued that by providing legitimate charity to needy Palestinians, the foundation was intentionally freeing up Hamas' charitable funds for terrorist activity. The government's evidence to substantiate this ludicrous argument ranged from mention of the word "Hamas" by the defendants to textbook guilt by association.

Not surprisingly, the jury did not return a single guilty verdict on any of the 197 counts, and the case ended in a mistrial on Monday.

Yet the question remains: Why does the Bush administration continue to prosecute such far-fetched cases? Why does it see threats where none exist?

Time and again, we watched as the Bush administration announced a major "terrorism" case to much fanfare, only for the case to end with a fizzle. The administration's most hyped-up terrorism cases -- those of Sami Al-Arian in Florida and Muhammad Salah here in Chicago -- both ended in full acquittals on all terrorism-related charges.

The government's numbers since Sept. 11 don't look good: A 29 percent conviction rate on cases alleging terrorism, compared with a 92 percent conviction rate for felonies. Georgetown law professor David Cole and University of Pittsburgh law professor Jules Lobel rightly note in The Nation that, "This is an astounding statistic, because presumably federal juries are not predisposed to sympathize with Arab or Muslim defendants accused of terrorism. But when one prosecutes prematurely, failure is often the result."

Since Sept. 11, and in the name of the war on terror, the administration has invested our resources in pursuing parties that have nothing to do with Al Qaeda and the threat of another Sept. 11. If, God forbid, another attack were to occur, this administration will have to answer for years of barking up the wrong trees, here and abroad.

Ahmed Rehab is the executive director of the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune



View: CLICK TO ENLARGE



Thank the Editor: ctc-tribletter@tribune.com

 
Feature # 184

Spring 2008 Internship & Externship Opportunities at CAIR-Chicago

Internships and externships at CAIR-Chicago, a chapter of the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, offer students and activists a great opportunity to learn, interact, and grow in a friendly and diverse environment.
CAIR-Chicago is currently offering 18 new internship opportunities. The organization's 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.

VISIT THE INTERN CENTER:

Departments and internships are listed below. Please visit the Intern Center for complete information and details on how to apply.

All Spring applications are due by December 16th. (Please note: Spring internships usually run from early January through early June). Students interested in receiving class credit, should indicate so in their cover letters.

Intern/Externships by Department:

Civil Rights:
CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
LAW CLERK (Open to Law Students Only)

Communications:
COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN
PHOTO JOURNALIST INTERN

Governmental Relations:
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS COMMUNITY ORGANIZING VOLUNTEER RECRUITER
VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
POLICY RESEARCH INTERN  

Operations:
INFORMATION DESK
OPERATIONS INTERN
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN

Outreach:
PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN


CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT

Our Civil Rights Department handles cases that range from prejudiced gestures to full blown discrimination. Our clients are Muslims as well as non-Muslims who have had Islam imputed upon them.

Interns and Law Clerks may work on any of the following projects:

Citizenship Delay project - seeks to address the lengthy delays Muslims are facing in applying for citizenship
Police Misconduct project - addresses incidents where police officers have discriminated or used excessive force against Muslims
Prison project - secures the rights of Muslim inmates to practice their religion freely, and ensures that inmates are treated humanely
Airport Profiling project - helps Muslims who have been discriminated against at airports
Employment Discrimination project - helps Muslims discriminated against based on religion at the workplace.


COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Communications Department monitors the local media closely and flags coverage of issues relating to Islam and Muslims. The Department also holds Press Conferences and issues press releases, media advisories, and story pitches in order to ensure that Muslim perspectives on pressing issues and current events are represented in the mainstream media. Interns work on pieces that deconstruct sensational and biased coverage of issues pertinent to Muslims and Islam, highlight their inaccuracies, and offer thoughtful analyses to diffuse misconceptions using traditional and the latest in new media. Intern work will be published in a variety of ways.


GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Government Affairs Department seeks to organize, mobilize, and empower Chicagoland's Muslim community with long-term civic participation. Its educational initiatives help community members understand the political system and utilize it to work for their issues. Projects include voter registration drives, community workshops, "know your rights" educational campaigns, and training sessions at mosques and community centers on how to contact and engage local and national politicians. The department also systematically works to educate local political representatives about their Muslim constituents while ultimately engaging these representatives with the Muslim community's unique issues and concerns.


OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT

The Operations Department manages a variety of tasks and processes in order to facilitate the maintenance and improvement of daily functions within the organization and its constituent departments. Internally, this includes HR related tasks, updating organizational records and files, corresponding with government offices and vendors, IT support, and directing incoming communication via email and phone to their respective departments.

The Operations Department also coordinates HTML and graphical composition for the creation of printed materials, website updates, and email campaigns. The Operations Department performs ongoing research and undertakes special projects designed to improve CAIR-Chicago's function and efficiency.


OUTREACH DEPARTMENT

The Outreach Department seeks to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with local and national institutions. It also works to foster an understanding between Chicago's Muslim and non-Muslim communities via educational collaborations. Lastly, it recruits and pairs the right talent (volunteers and interns) with the appropriate CAIR-Chicago projects.

Copyright © 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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CAIR-Chicago: CAIR-Chicago Celebrating Activism, Courage (VIDEO)

CAIR-Chicago: CAIR-Chicago Features

 
Feature # 181
CAIR-Chicago Ramadan Outreach 2007 Digest

During the blessed month of Ramadan, CAIR-Chicago's Ramadan Outreach effort ended successfully after having met with various mosques and Islamic centers in the Chicagoland area and beyond.

CAIR-Chicago embraces the special importance of the month of Ramadan, and as an institution that seeks to serve Muslims as a tool for community empowerment, we sought to connect with our former and future constituents by visiting various mosques to introduce our organization.

It is our goal to provide outreach and services to as many communities as possible during this month, and as Ramadan comes to a close, we take inventory of our recent visits to local communities:


We would like to thank each of our host masjids and centers for their participation, and hope to reach even more Muslims throughout the year and in the next Ramadan.

copyright © 2007, cairchicago.org

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For more information on CAIR-Chicago's Outreach program, contact Dina Rehab at outreach@cairchicago.org.

 
Feature # 183
CAIR-Chicago on PBS: Muslims Facing Citizenship Delays
PBS WTTW 11 Chicago Tonight
Beyond Borders Series

http://www.cairchicago.org/inthenews.php?
file=wttw10162007


WATCH VIDEO

CAIR-Chicago attorney Bitta Mostofi and CAIR-Chicago client discuss how Muslims, immigrants and non-immigrants alike, are common targets of suspicion and unreasonable citizenship delays on PBS-Wttw 11 Chicago Tonight, Chicago Matters: Beyond Borders series

Copyright © 2007 PBS WTTW 11

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CAIR-Chicago: Four CAIR-Chicago Clients Gain Citizenship

Medill Reports: Journey to Citizenship Not Without its Bumps

 
Feature # 179
Four CAIR-Chicago Clients Gain Citizenship Following Delays

October 8, 2007

By Sandy Abdallah

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

That message, engraved on the Statue of Liberty, once called out to immigrants with open arms. Today, immigrants are finding it tougher and tougher to get through the basic immigration process. CAIR-Chicago has been at the forefront of working on such cases and is pleased to announce that four clients have recently been sworn in as citizens of the U.S.

Increased Citizenship Delays

Acquiring citizenship is becoming more challenging as citizenship delays reach an all-time high. By law, the average time between the final steps of the immigration process and naturalization is 120 days. However, even after successfully going through the standard process, an increasing number of cases are delayed for as much as three years without reason. The American government has provided the explanation that heightened security measures have led to a longer, more complex immigration and naturalization procedure.

New Citizens All Faced Years of Delays

One of CAIR-Chicago’s oldest clients applied for citizenship in December 2004. Although he was a U.S. resident for six years and successfully completed the naturalization interview and passed the exam, his application was delayed well beyond the 120-day mark by almost three years.

He turned to CAIR-Chicago in August 2005 after receiving no explanation for the prolonged state of ambiguity. His case was filed in federal court by July 2006, and the only stated reason for the continued delay was attributed to a “background check clearance.” By the end of May 2007, a hearing date was set for September 27. Two days prior to the scheduled hearing, he was suddenly given clearance for citizenship.

"It is sad that this client not only had to wait years for adjudication, but he also had to be burdened with filing a lawsuit only to find that there was nothing to justify the wait," said CAIR-Chicago Attorney Bitta Mostofi.

In a similar case, about two years after successful completion of the citizenship exam in early 2004, another client turned to CAIR-Chicago. A case was filed on his behalf, followed by settlement negotiations with opposing council. The case was resolved on September 25, 2007.

Soon after, two more CAIR-Chicago clients were sworn in after similar delays ranging from two to three years.

CAIR-Chicago Files Class Action Suit

Faced with an increasing number of citizenship delay cases, CAIR-Chicago filed a class action suit in January 2007. Unreasonable citizenship delays remains an inefficient process since applicants are neither accepted nor rejected, but kept in a state of uncertainty for years. Many of these applicants have been residents of the U.S. for at least five years. In order to force a resolution, many applicants have been compelled to sue the government, allowing resolutions only on a costly case by case basis.

Today, the welcome message engraved at Ellis Island remains unfulfilled pending a lasting solution to the unreasonable citizenship delays by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Copyright © 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 180
Muslim students learn to fight stereotypes
Daily Southtown
By Stephanie Gehring

http://www.dailysouthtown.com/news/57
6901,092707citizenship.articlecle


VIEW PHOTOS

Standing in front of Muslim high school students, Ahmed Rehab asked the girls at Universal School in Bridgeview what non-Muslims might think when they see them at the shopping mall in their hijabs, or headscarves.

"Terrorists, crazy, oppressed," the students shouted.

"Where did they get those stereotypes?" he asked.

It's human nature to be afraid of what you don't understand, and that fear and misunderstanding can lead to stereotypes, he said.

"I know a ... stereotype," Rehab said. "(A woman who wears a hijab) is more likely to be a good student, likely to be in college and one of the most committed students. She's likely not to drink, use drugs or steal your credit card and use it.

"She's more likely to be good to her parents and siblings and neighbors. It's a positive one if only people knew. How are they going to know if you don't show yourself?"

Rehab and Yaser Tabbara, CAIR's national director of development, led a leadership training seminar Wednesday to help students define themselves as Muslim Americans and fight stereotypes. The two men developed the Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium, which they hope to launch nationwide.

As part of the workshop, students develop social service projects rooted in the values of Islam to help promote a positive image.

"Each and every one of them are inspired to serve the community and grow as individuals and leaders of tomorrow," Assistant Principal Hanan Abdallah said.

The projects ran the gamut: visiting hospitals and nursing homes, working with orphans, making documentaries about Muslim life, developing a pen pal program with students in other schools.

The students said they felt inspired and more informed after the workshop.

"It helps us to revolutionize what is going on," said Tasmiha Khan, 17, a senior from Bridgeview. "After (the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks), there were a lot of barriers. It has toned down a little, but this will help us to bridge the gap."

Her classmate Nadia Ahmed said a friend who wears a hijab was asked if she was a nun. Other hijab-wearing women have had their scarves pulled off, she said.

"We have to fix that, by making people aware of who we are," she said.

Amin Elsaeed, 17, a senior from Chicago Ridge, said he and his classmates have their work cut out for them.

"As youth, we have a huge role in defining how America works," he said. "If we want to be leaders, we have to push away the negative stereotypes."

Sophomore Zaid Zayad, of Hickory Hills, said education is the key to changing the image of Muslim Americans.

Rehab and Tabbara also told the students that as Muslims, they may have problems with American foreign policy in the Middle East, but as Americans, they have the freedom of speech to protest.

Zaineb Abdulla, a junior from Chicago's near West Side, said she has struggled with the idea of being a Muslim American as someone whose family comes from Iraq.

"I think about this issue all the time," the 15-year-old said. "They reminded me of something I'd forgotten: I don't have to support (President George Bush and his policies). "

Copyright © 2007 Daily Southtown

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org



Website: Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium

Photos:VIEW PHOTOS

 
Feature # 177
This Ramadan: Reclaiming the common ground

Daily Illini


By Reem Rahman

This past weekend, 1.6 billion Muslims around the world welcomed the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Given the turmoil of current events and denials of common ground, people often want to know what Islam is; Ramadan provides part of an answer to this question. Understanding the month of Ramadan not only highlights the essence of Islamic practice but also reveals elements of a profound journey that is common across the spectrum of human experiences.

Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the 12 months of the Islamic calendar, and it shifts back about 12 days each year in accordance to the lunar calendar. It is a month intended for return, introspection, compassion and community, and is a foundation for the rest of the year. It is the month of the Qur'an - when the Angel Gabriel, as Muslims believe, began the 23-year period of revealing the chapters of divine instruction and guidance.

In Islam, Ramadan is described as the blessed month of God in which its days are the best of days, its nights the best of nights, and its hours the best of hours. It is a month of increased spiritual vigilance during which God is believed to be especially forgiving and generous. As the contemporary European scholar Tariq Ramadan describes "This month is a feast... not of noise, but silence; not of banquets but restraint; not of forgetfulness but remembrance. This month is a feast for the faith."

For those who are physically and mentally able to, every day is marked by fasting-restraining from food and drink from the sunrise until the sunset. This simple act of withholding sustenance resonates with significance. By being cut off from many of the worldly comforts, even for a short period of time, a fasting person seeks to realize and gain sympathy for the entrenched prevalence of hunger, sickness and poverty. Within the context of Generation Y's culture of instant gratification, the denial of basic food and drink is an exigent exercise in the unthinkable.

The separation of physical concerns from daily activities further serves to allow more attention to faith. A vital dimension of fasting is heightened consciousness of behavior and vigilance over action. Among others, behavior such as anger, backbiting, vulgarity and senseless argumentation are challenged and curbed to maintain the integrity of the fast, and to build good habits to be continued throughout the year. The Prophet Muhammad described that "fasting is a shield. On the day you fast, do not use obscenity, nor yell at others, nor act ignorantly towards them. However, if anyone abuses you verbally or attempts to draw you to fight with him, say 'I am fasting', 'I am fasting.'"

It is thus that the most profound dimension of fasting may be achieved: fasting of the heart in focus on the divine, God. It is then that Ramadan truly becomes a source of peace and solace.

The ultimate intent of Ramadan is for the total experience to reverberate beyond the individual and beyond the single month, incorporating faith and social responsibility as a central part of everyday life and community. It is a time intended for teaching and for the infusion of mechanic ritual with meaning. It is intended for charity to win over avarice, generosity over selfishness and love over hate.

These overarching elements are similarly found across the spectrum of religious traditions - from the abstinence of Lent, the fasting of Yom Kippur and the introspection of Rosh Hashanah, to the emphasis on establishing harmony amidst the impermanence of the body within Hinduism and Buddhism.

In large part this is a month directed at creating a common experience. During Ramadan, we find ourselves as a part of something larger; we join over a billion other people fasting and engaging in intense spiritual purification, but we also join billions more continually struggling to infuse greater meaning to life and to establish increased charity and social responsibility. It is a journey of struggle and discovery that echoes universally across the human experience.

Copyright © 2006 Daily Illini

http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/
paper736/news/2006/09/28/Opinions/Guest.
Column.This.Ramadan.Reclaiming.The.Common.
Ground-2313519.shtml


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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 178
“The Crucible” Chosen for “One Book, One Chicago”
Join CAIR-Chicago for City-Wide Book Club

September 26, 2007

By Sandy Abdallah

CAIR-Chicago’s executive director Ahmed Rehab is scheduled to participate in a timely discussion about the latest choice for the citywide book club, “One Book, One Chicago.” On October 15, he will join Jean Fujiu, executive director of the Japanese American Service Committee, other community leaders, and the performing arts Steppenwolf Ensemble at the Chicago Public Library’s Washington Harold Center to read and discuss Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible.” (SEE: Event Details)

Mayor Daley described the continued relevance of “The Crucible” by explaining to local newspapers how, “Many times after 9/11, unfortunately, a lot of people have looked at the Muslim community, the Arab community, in a much different way than other components of American society. Also, the immigrant community -- many people are looking at the immigrant community in a completely different way. ...We can learn from our lessons in history, and maybe we haven't, and I think this is important to discuss.”

Miller’s play remains well-read for its call to social conscious amidst an atmosphere of intense fear. By definition, a crucible is a bowl-shaped receptacle made to endure great heat in order to fuse metals. Metaphorically, it can refer to a severe test, or a situation where different forces interact to cause immense pressure and changes in a society.

The plot for “The Crucible” play is based on the 1692 witch trials in the small town Salem, Massachusetts and was initially inspired by its similarities to the hunt for communists that took place in the U.S. during the 1950s. During that period, known as McCarthyism, many Americans were accused of having ties to communism, were asked to sign loyalty oaths, and placed on blacklists by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee. In “The Crucible,” Miller uses the witch hunt trials to reveal the unjustifiable and groundless conduct of McCarthyism.

More than fifty years later, the U.S. once again finds itself in the grips of suspicion and baseless profiling, termed by some as “new McCarthyism.” As the hunt for communists has been replaced by the hunt for terrorists, Americans deal with the escalating infringement of their basic civil rights. Infringements such as racial profiling, the presumption of guilt until proven innocent, and the violation of due process are increasingly affecting Muslim-Americans. In 2006, CAIR joined the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in filing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for launching a surveillance program that targeted American citizens without court authorization. CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed commented how “the First and Fourth Amendment protections of free speech and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizure are hallmarks of the Constitution that should not be tossed aside so casually by any branch of our government.”

Recent evidence demonstrates the extent to which hysteria and paranoia about terrorism have supplanted rationality and logic. An American Airlines flight was recently turned around because a woman became nervous upon hearing a conversation in the Arabic language. According to a 2006 Gallup poll of more than 1,000 Americans, thirty-nine percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification. Reminiscent of the red scare during McCarthyism, this “green scare” is just one adverse characteristic of new McCarthyism.

In its 12th year of the program, the subject matter of book selections have continued to challenge all community members to build stronger communities. Last fall’s selection, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies,” featured a series of short stories narrating the barriers created by cultural tensions. With this year’s selection, the “One Book, One Chicago” initiative continues to weave the people of Chicago together by encouraging thoughtful evaluation of issues facing our communities.

Copyright © 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org



Upcoming Event: CAIR-Chicago joins "One Book, One Chicago" Community Discussion on "The Crucible" October 15, 2007

 
Feature # 175
CAIR-Chicago Hosts Youth Leadership Symposium
September 7, 2007

http://www.cairchicago.org/myls/

This Saturday September 8, CAIR-Chicago will be hosting its Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium to cultivate a positive and refreshing outlook on what it means to be a Muslim-American. It encourages youth to explore how Muslims, true to their own values, can become model citizens that help make America a better place for all Americans, regardless of race or creed.

The core mission of the Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS) is threefold: to provide American Muslim youth with a proactive agenda for positive activism; empower them to guide their communities from the margin to the mainstream; and foster a healthy American Muslim identity that fits comfortably within pluralistic American society.

Whether at the level of the street, the neighborhood, or the municipality, Muslim-American youth will be encouraged to play an active role in making their community safer, smarter, and more prosperous in recognition of good citizenship beginning with service to local community.

MYLS sessions offer young Muslims concrete ways through which they can leverage their faith values and identities towards constructive citizenship that benefits community and country.

More information about the symposium and this year's program can be found at its home website: www.cairchicago.org/myls

Copyright © 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 174
The Islamophobe who cried Islamist
Media Monitors Network
September 12, 2007

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/45927

By Ahmed Rehab

It is a token of the farcical times in which we live when an agenda-driven “scholar” with a track-record of attacking his “subject matter” should feel entitled to be taken seriously.

Daniel Pipes is as much a scholar on Islam and Muslims as David Duke is a scholar on Judaism and Jews. He does not seem to know where scholarship ends and where political advocacy begins. He does not initiate his research by asking questions for which he seeks answers, but by providing answers for which he cherry-picks evidence.

Pipes is wedded to his personal political agenda to such a point that it dominates his worldview invalidating his ability to act as a neutral scholar on Muslim-related topics. Concerned with the interests of Israel above all else, he consistently defines Muslim-Americans exclusively as a function of their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For Pipes, a “bad” Muslim is a Muslim who challenges his views on Israel and a “good” Muslim is one who agrees with them; in his “scholarly” lingo, the code terms are “Islamist” and “moderate” respectively.

The fact that Pipes is taken seriously by anyone is an indication of how low the bar of discourse on Islam is today (see M.T. Akbar: “We are not done with racism – yet”). With fear and suspicion clouding reason and critical thinking, it is not difficult for a Harvard graduate with a grim face and a set of intriguing theories to wrestle some media attention.

The type of racism espoused by the likes of Pipes is not the usual banter. There is raw racism and then there is sophisticated racism, and Pipes is a sophisticated man.

Raw racism is where you, for instance, attribute miscreant behavior to blacks as a group. Sophisticated racism is where you come up with a new term like, say, “blackists” and then:

a). Readily state that you do not attribute negative behavior to blacks, but to “blackists”.

b). Turn around and define the great majority of blacks or grassroots black leaders as “blackists”.

So you are back to square one, and hopefully no one noticed.

That is precisely what we are seeing with the “Islam and Islamists” rhetoric. Pipes did not invent the term Islamist, but abusing it as per step (b) above is his trademark contribution to the discourse on Islam in the West. Today, there are many others who have jumped on the bandwagon; there is even a documentary film entitled - you guessed it - “Islam vs. the Islamists” that falsely portrays most Muslim-Americans as “Islamist.”

The film’s producer, Frank Gaffney, is a fellow contributor to that sham bastion of critical thinking and intellectual rigor that Daniel Pipes pontificates on regularly, David Horowitz’s notorious “Front Page Mag.”

But back to Pipes.

Pipes is quick to parrot that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.

That is all very well - until you realize that his raison d’etre is to claim that every Muslim individual or group of mentionable influence is a conveyer of radical Islam - particularly if they are outspoken against the illegal Israeli occupation.

On the other hand, everyone upon whom he bestows the “moderate” badge is either a lone wolf with no credibility in the Muslim mainstream, an apologist for Pipes’ own radical views on the Middle East, or both. It is even plausible that Pipes would refer to a Muslim who leaves Islam altogether as a “moderate” Muslim, as he has in the case of Wafa Sultan.

Pipes constantly whines about influential Muslim groups like MPAC, CAIR and ISNA, mustering up the audacity to call them “Islamist” despite the fact that these groups do not advocate Shariah-rule in the US; they not only accept the US constitution, they are at the forefront of those advocating for the full application of all its codes. Hardly the ethical journalist, Pipes will shamelessly quote questionable sources like the virulently anti-Muslim Pipeline news website to prove his point. A megalomaniac, he is one stop short of quoting himself.

As more and more Americans have come to realize that Daniel Pipes is a one trick pony who never lets facts get in the way of fables, his attacks against CAIR and other critics have sounded more and more desperate.

My advice to Mr. Pipes: pack up and move your tired anti-Muslim conspiracy theories to paid late-night cable programming – there maybe a spot right before Minister Jack Van Impe’s apocalyptic hour.

Copyright © 2007 Media Monitors Network

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Contact: director@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 173
Religious Profiling
Civil Rights Organizations Question
New TSA Policy on Head Wear


August 27, 2007

Civil rights and community organizations are urging their constituents to take note of revised screening procedures at airports for all head coverings and to know their rights as travelers.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a statement today confirming reports of new head covering screening procedures as of August 4, 2007. The Sikh Coalition, the largest civil rights organization of American Sikhs, was the first to learn of the new policy and to seek its clarification. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has joined the Sikh Coalition as a signatory to a petition asking the current Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to address concerns about the new policy.

The new Standard Operating Procedure includes a guidance recommending that America's 43,000 airport screeners pull aside travelers for secondary screening if their head wear is suspected to conceal a “threat item,” regardless of whether they pass the metal detector. The secondary screening will include a pat-down search and possibly a request to remove the head wear.

The TSA has not made copies of the new screening procedure or guidelines on its implementation available to the public. According to the Sikh Coalition, the turban is the only form of religious garb specifically identified by the TSA as an example of head wear that could lead to secondary screening at security checkpoints. Failing to distinguish between religious head coverings and fashion wear, the TSA provides cowboy hats and berets as other notable examples of head wear.

The new procedure’s recommendation of physical pat-downs fails to acknowledge the religious sensitivities involved and does not include any guidance on how to perform these manual checks.

Earlier Standards Reversed

The new policy is a reversal of standard procedures created in November 2001 to address Americans' national security concerns while safeguarding religious freedom. The previous policy required TSA screeners to search head coverings such as the turban only if the metal detector was not cleared. Screeners were required to do as much as possible to avoid physically touching the head covering.

Religious Profiling

The specific singling of the turban and the apparent disregard for religious practice has sparked concern over religious profiling.

"The policy allows screeners to single out travelers on the basis of their religion,” said Amardeep Singh, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition. "..That attitude challenges the spirit of religious pluralism on which our country was built."

The policy has led Sikhs to feel that one of their most precious articles of faith has become part of a government-mandated profile of a person who is a terrorist threat. According to Sikh Coalition officials, since September 11, 2001, hundreds of Sikhs have been harassed, beaten, and even killed because of the association of their turbans and beards with terrorism.

A number of civil rights organizations and community groups led by the Sikh Coalition seek to resolve concerns raised by the new policy with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including charges that the practical implementation of the policy will lead to rampant religious profiling. They are urging the TSA to implement a policy that is both respectful of religious pluralism and meets America’s safety needs

Know Your Rights

The Council on American-Islamic Relations encourages Muslims to respond in the following manner:

1. Please remain calm and courteous during the process.
2. Request that the screener check the headdress with a wand rather than with a pat-down process, explaining that the hijab (head covering) is a religious article of great importance.
3. If the screener cannot oblige ask that the second screening take place in a private room with guards of the same gender. Travelers have the right to request such accommodation.
4. Report any incidences you believe may be ethnic, religious, or racial profiling to civilrights@cairchicago.org or call 312-212-1520.

The Sikh Coalition also provides a response guide and is encouraging Sikhs to report their turban screening experience.

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org



CAIR: Know Your Legal Rights as an Airline Passenger

Petition: Stop Religious Profiling in US Airports

Sikh Coalition: TSA Releases Statement on New Airport Screening Procedures

 
Feature # 174
We are Not Done With Racism - Yet
Media Monitors Network
September 6, 2007

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/45736

By M.T. Akbar

There is a new racist dogma that is taking hold in this country that if allowed to fester any further will result in the greater marginalization of minority groups and increase the prevalent atmosphere of fear and mistrust. The most glaring manifestation of this phenomenon is the unbalanced and intellectually impoverished discourse about Islam and American Muslims.

America’s last accepted form of racism tolerates statements about Muslims that would be unacceptable if referring to other groups of people. In this paradigm multiculturalism is a threat to the foundations of democracy and any voices raised in protest are branded as opposed to freedom of speech. The great American melting pot is conspicuously thrown to the wayside.

This school of thought is brought to its logical and most radical end in such destructive and violent actions as occurred recently in Florida. On July 6th 2007, a Bosnian Muslim family who were on vacation had their home torched and the words “F*** Islam” spray painted over all their walls. This family moved to America for the express purpose of leaving their war torn nation for safer shores. When the wife was asked “If this reminded her of back home?” she replied, “Pretty much.” If the occupants of that home had been part of any other race or religion there is no doubt that the media coverage would have been much larger.

Pop culture personalities such as Don Imus, Glenn Beck, and Anne Coulter feed the hysterical atmosphere of racism and Islamophobia that lead to such tragedies as the one in Florida. These figures target all Muslims as a single group, advocating the same ideas of inferiority and systemized discrimination that define racism.

Don Imus is known as the radio host who for 36 years made his name known as a shock jock with a wide audience and influence. He was heavily courted by politicians for support and endorsements until recently when he "finally" stepped over the line by making racist and sexist comments about the female Maryland basketball team. While this comment rightly got him fired, it wasn’t the first time he had made outrageous racist statements.

Muslims, one of his most consistent targets have invariably been called “ragheads,” “goat humping weasels,” “filthy animals,” and he has even suggested that they “all be killed.” The question is: where was the outcry, the suspensions and the apologies when these racist and xenophobic statements were being made. Most glaringly, why are they tolerated when it comes to one group and not to another?

Syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck has made bashing Islam a major objective of his show. When the first Muslim elected to Congress, Keith Ellison, was interviewed on Beck’s show he was asked to “[p]rove to us you are not working for the enemy.” Aside from the condescending tone of this question, it reveals the extent to which suspicion is automatically magnified by a mainstream media personality onto anyone associated with Islam. It also raises a critical point about the psychology of difference that is deeply rooted in the thinking of individuals such as Beck. It is the height of absurdity to ask such a question to an individual whose family has been in America since the early 18th century as Ellison’s has.

Anne Coulter, a regular guest on the cable networks and lecture circuit has famously been quoted stating “we should invade their (i.e. Muslims) countries, kill all their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.” Yet she continues to be invited to appear on TV networks, at universities, and organizations in effect legitimizing Islamophobia as a part of the overall discourse on Islam and American Muslims.

In the midst of this growing phenomenon there are a few voices that are noticeably missing. The most deafening silence comes from liberals and conservatives who seek true understanding and espouse American values of human rights, freedom, and tolerance for multiculturalism. It may be that they are dismissive of these radical personalities or hope that by ignoring them they will just go away, but if that is the case it is not working.

Asking "Who is doing the talking?" is imperative. By remaining silent in the face of hate speech and demagoguery, well-intentioned liberals and conservatives allow their voices to be drowned out by radicals.

One of the most enduring qualities of America is its ability to bring together different cultures and allow them a space to settle into the fabric of this nation. It is the secret of our success as a nation, yet it is increasingly under attack from those who espouse a mono-cultural America. We need to take a shared responsibility and give voice to a consistent message, that hate speech and marginalization of any group must not be tolerated.

Copyright © 2007 Media Monitors Network

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 171
Journey to citizenship not without its bumps
Medill Reports

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.asp
x?id=41069


By Ambreen Ali

Yong Zhang woke up Wednesday to her last day as a Chinese citizen.

She joined 144 other immigrants for an oath ceremony at noon and surrendered her green card for a glossy certificate officially deeming her an American.

“I’m not nervous, just excited,” Zhang said. But she almost didn’t make it.

The CTA announced while she was on the red line to the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago that all passengers would have to disembark and go to the northbound platform to get on another train.

Lucky for Zhang, she has been taking English classes to help her navigate her new country.

“If she didn’t understand what they said, she would probably have stood and waited,” said Daisy Liu, Zhang’s English and citizenship teacher at the Chinese Mutual Aid Association. The organization provides free classes and assistance in the citizenship application process.

Zhang is one of nearly 700,000 citizens who are naturalized annually, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Record numbers of immigrants have applied for citizenship since the government announced that the application fees will more than double on July 30. More than 4,000 new citizens were sworn in July 4 alone.

One of this year's newest citizens, Sally Velasco, waited 16 years before applying for citizenship in December. She emigrated from the Philippines in 1990 and maintains dual citizenship, available for some countries.

“I was too lazy to apply,” said Velasco, whose husband was born an American citizen. “But when we travel, if you’re a resident, you have to fall in a different line at immigration. It’s more of a convenience than any other reason to be a citizen.” Velasco’s application was processed in five months, considered a little longer than typical. But compared to what Tariq Saeed faced, hers was a walk in the park.

Saeed, who lives in Lombard, waited three years while the FBI conducted a name check, a process that typically takes a few days. He and his wife applied together in March 2004; she received her citizenship later that year.

“We thought it was OK and [that] the procedure took this long,” Saeed said. “But after a few months I learned that in Chicago at least five other husbands had not cleared their citizenship and were in the same situation.”

Saeed contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which filed a class-action suit on behalf of the individuals. He became a citizen in March.

“We found that only 1 percent of individuals are caught up in this delay,” Bitta Mostofi, CAIR staff attorney, said. “But the numbers as to how many people were delayed used to be two [or so] a year. In the past two years, they have been in the hundreds of thousands.”

A government report said that as of May of this year “a staggering 329,160 FBI name check cases [were] pending, with approximately 64 percent of those cases pending more than 90 days.”

The report recognized the burden that delays can cause applicants -- including loss of employment, difficulty obtaining drivers’ licenses, difficulty obtaining credit and student loans, and disqualification from in-state tuition -- and recommended a more streamlined process.

The fee increases will help pay the cost of the streamlining.

But many community organizations, including Chinese Mutual Aid Association argue that the increased fees place a greater burden on the already-strapped budgets of working class immigrants.

“Maybe it’s not a lot of money for an individual to pay $675,” Liu said. “But for a family of four, $2,700 is really not a small amount.” A fee waiver is available, but only a small pool of poor applicants qualifies.
Liu said the current citizenship process is already difficult for limited English-speaking applicants or those who can’t afford lawyers.

“I moved to this country for a better and more peaceful life,” Saeed said. “I raised my kids in this country. I have been paying taxes the whole time. When I contribute to this country, I want all the rights and responsibilities as well. I believe it’s my civil obligation [to become a citizen].”

Zhang too cites wanting a better life for her 4-year-old daughter as an important reason for becoming American -- that, and sponsoring her parents and siblings for visas.

“I really miss them and want them here with me,” Zhang said. “They will have better opportunities in America, especially for their children.”

The Senate immigration bill threatened to limit family-sponsored visas in favor of high-skilled worker visas. Although the bill was killed last month, any future legislation is likely to restrict the number of family-sponsored visas.

That riled Asian-American organizations. Many Asian immigrants -- including Zhang and Velasco -- come to the U.S. through family sponsorship. Some family members wait many years before being considered for visas.

The Chicago area ranks fifth nationally in the size of its immigrant population. In 2003, Roosevelt University's Institute for Metropolitan Affairs reported that 1.4 million immigrants live in metro Chicago, representing nearly 18 percent of the region's population.

“The remarkable thing is people wait for up to two decades to get into this country,” Liu said. “And two decades later, they still want to come.”

Copyright © 2007, Medill Reports


 
Feature # 172
Religious Discrimination Case Moves Forward

By Rima Kapitan

August 20, 2007

Amani Abbasi had worked at Ritz Camera Centers for more than ten years when she was fired, allegedly for timecard fraud. In early May of 2006, the district manager showed up at her store and told her that her position as store manager would be terminated, claiming it was against company policy to record work hours when she was outside the store. Ms. Abbasi refuted each of his claims and was led to believe that she was fired due to anti-Muslim bias.

Ms. Abbasi began wearing hijab in 2005, but faced no hostility until the new district manager arrived in April of 2006. The new district manager was so hostile to Ms. Abbasi from the beginning of his transfer that she felt he was looking for any reason to fire her.

One month later, her worst fears were realized.

In response to the accusations of timecard fraud while outside of the store, Ms. Abbasi explained that all out-of-store hours on her timecard were for performing her managerial responsibilities. Other managers had also recorded the hours they worked outside the store when they attended out-of-store meetings. Ms. Abbasi was also required to check e-mails despite the fact that her workplace had no access to e-mail, and would do that portion of her work from home.

The district manager did not accept Ms. Abbasi’s explanation and he faulted her for working extra hours outside the store despite the fact that as a salaried employee, Ms. Abbasi would in no way profit from falsely reporting extra hours.

Ms. Abbasi went on to file a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), alleging that the district manager discharged her because of her religion, not because she committed timecard fraud.

Discrimination Case Faces Setback

In February of 2007, the IDHR dismissed Ms. Abbasi’s claim, finding a lack of substantial evidence to support her claim of discrimination. The IDHR accepted Ritz Camera Center’s claim that it discharged Ms. Abbasi because of timecard fraud. Ritz claimed that Ms. Abbasi was not being singled out or treated differently since other employees had also been discharged for timecard fraud in the past.

CAIR-Chicago filed a Request for Review of the decision, arguing that Ritz had presented insufficient evidence to prove that Ms. Abbasi committed timecard fraud. CAIR-Chicago found that Ms. Abbasi’s actions did not meet Ritz’s own definition of what constitutes timecard fraud. Additionally, Ms. Abbasi was able to show that she was working on the days that Ritz accused her of reporting false timecard hours.

CAIR-Chicago also noted that other store managers routinely worked out-of-store hours and that Ritz was not able to prove that other employees discharged for timecard fraud were accused of violations similar to Ms. Abbasi’s alleged violations. Finally, it argued that Ritz was disingenuous in its claim that it did not know Ms. Abbasi was Muslim since she wore a hijab and the district manager admitted knowing that she wore it for religious reasons.

“She deserved better”

A loyal customer wrote a letter in Ms. Abbasi’s support, complimenting Ms. Abbasi on her management of the store and saying, “I was truly devastated to arrive at the store to find out that Amani was let go. . . . I work in the business, so I know quite a bit already, but she always knew more and what she didn’t know she found out. She treated every customer with respect and understanding. . . . She tirelessly kept her eye on every detail with pride and motivation for the job at hand. . . . She deserved better.”

Favorable Ruling: Case Moves Forward

On July 23, Ms. Abbasi received news of a favorable ruling from the IDHR. The Chief Legal Counsel ordered that the dismissal of Ms. Abbasi’s charge be vacated and ordered the Department to investigate the matter further. He explained, “It is unclear how [the] Complainant committed timecard fraud if she was a salaried store manager.” He ordered the IDHR to investigate 1) how she could have committed timecard fraud as a salaried employee, 2) whether she committed timecard fraud, and 3) whether the people who were actually discharged wore clothes that suggested they were not Muslim.

Ms. Abbasi is waiting for the Department to continue the investigation and reassess its previous findings. CAIR-Chicago will continue to pursue the case on behalf of Ms. Abbasi.

Since 2005, CAIR-Chicago has counseled and represented over 150 clients with cases of employment discrimination and currently has cases pending with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, United States District Court, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

 
Feature # 169
CAIR-Chicago Volunteers at Local Food Drive
view event photos

July 27, 2007

CAIR-Chicago volunteers helped at the Kenwood Food Pantry this Saturday, July 21st, 2007. Volunteers participated by preparing bags of groceries later collected by several low-income or homeless families and individuals in the area. Located at the Hyde Park Union Church, the food pantry is able to serve emergency food to about 500 in-need residents of Hyde Park-Kenwood and Bronzeville.

Each month CAIR-Chicago organizes several volunteer opportunities to serve the Greater Chicagoland area. This initiative is part of a national movement initiated by CAIR headquarters known as Muslims Care. It was started three years ago to promote volunteerism, and emphasize the role of community service as an integral part of the Islamic faith.

CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach department tries to work with various organizations of diverse faith and culture in the area. "Not only do volunteers have the opportunity to help their fellow citizens, but they also have the opportunity to learn first hand about the diverse communities around them", said CAIR-Chicago Outreach Coordinator Dina Rehab. "Working hand in hand with members of a local church, synagogue or a cultural center is a powerful learning experience for all involved."

Community Service Intern, Abeer Azam, worked closely with CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator in organizing this month’s community service event. "The event, being both an interfaith and community service opportunity, was a rewarding experience for our volunteers", Abeer stated. “As volunteers of both Christian and Muslim faiths discussed issues in their community, we found surprising similarities.”

The communal spirit generated throughout the event was felt by many of the volunteers. “Even though the volunteers had just met and didn't really know each other, they were all so eager to help one another prepare groceries for the needy”, said Lutfi Siswanto, a first time CAIR-Chicago volunteer. Volunteers had already started to inquire about upcoming volunteer opportunities before the event was over.

Local church members and the pantry’s coordinator also shared the same enthusiasm. Janet Deckenbach, the pantry’s coordinator, stressed her appreciation of CAIR-Chicago’s volunteers by taking a moment to state that she was greatly satisfied with the enthusiasm of the volunteers. The Church’s volunteers repeatedly expressed their gratitude and were impressed by CAIR-Chicago’s desire to be diverse in their service of community.

Volunteering at the food pantry was the first community service experience in the United States for Kweon Kook Tak, a Community Service Intern at CAIR-Chicago and a graduate student from South Korea at DePaul University. "I was a little nervous because this was my first time volunteering, especially in the United States," Kweon said, "but I ended up having a lot of fun. All I can say is: do not delay it. Just try it!”

The Kenwood Food Pantry is available to serve the community every Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Stay tuned to CAIR-Chicago’s website for more Muslims Care events and information on how to get involved.

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: outreach@cairchicago.org



VIEW EVENT PHOTOS




 
Feature # 170
CAIR-Chicago Rep at Drum Major Institute


By Mirza Baig

August 3, 2007

CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator Reem Rahman is scheduled to participate in the Drum Major Institute’s summer public policy intensive this August 1 to August 12 2007 alongside other young leaders from across the nation.

Founded by Harry Wachtel, lawyer and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the institute has a rich legacy in the civil rights movement.

As a non-partisan, non-profit organization, the Drum Major Institute is dedicated to challenging the orthodoxies of the left and the right while promoting progressive public policy for social and economic fairness. It seeks to change policy by conducting research into overlooked but important social and economic issues, leveraging strategic relationships to engage policymakers and opinion leaders, and offering platforms to amplify the ideas of those who are working for social and economic fairness.

Recently, the Drum Major Institute, along with Rev. Dr. James Forbes and Dr. Cornel West, presented its Drum Major For Justice awards to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, for PlanNYC - his sweeping plan to make New York City a model for environmentally sustainable cities in the 21st century - and talk show host and author Tavis Smiley, for being an outstanding voice for social change in the news media and beyond.

All selected participants demonstrated a commitment to activism and a desire to learn how public policy can advance an agenda of fairness and equity. The rigorous training institute offers young activists the public policy lens, analytical and practical skills, resources and experiences to allow them to understand and navigate public policy.

A recent study reaffirms the need for the greater civic and political participation of Muslims. The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs Task Force released a report in June of 2007 titled “Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, 2007.” The main conclusion of the independent Task Force is that the greater Muslim American civic and political engagement is urgently needed to prevent alienation in a community that is vital to U.S. security and relations with the Muslim World.

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org



Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, 2007


 
Feature # 167
CAIR-Chicago Gives Media Presentation
Daily Herald Review:
A Muslim Reader’s Perspective


By Musab Siddiqui

July 17, 2007

This July, CAIR-Chicago presented a review of the Daily Herald’s reporting on Islam and issues pertaining to Muslims. The CAIR-Chicago report was commissioned by the Daily Herald and presented as part of a weeklong diversity forum at the Daily Herald to increase awareness in media coverage. [VIEW REPORT]

The presentation was welcomed by a room full of Daily Herald reporters and editors, forging greater awareness among journalists interested in reporting on Muslim American communities.

As a case study, CAIR-Chicago reviewed news sections of the Daily Herald from May 20, 2007 to June 3, 2007. In the selected two week span, the majority of stories involving Muslims covered the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, violence in Lebanon and Palestine, and to a lesser extent, events in Iran and Afghanistan.

Muslims were primarily presented in contexts of foreign affairs, and predominantly in relation to terrorism and war.

CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator Reem Rahman and Executive Director Ahmed Rehab outlined the significant role the media’s choice of editorializing and reporting plays in shaping the public perception and understanding of Muslims. Most Americans are poorly informed about their Muslim neighbors and their role in society. For many, the media may be the only source of knowledge regarding Muslims.

Analysis of Iraq war coverage found that the majority of stories discussing the human toll focused on U.S. causalities, citing the number of U.S. loss and personalized stories of its effects locally. Few discussed the toll on Iraqis or personalized their loss. The few stories in which Iraqis were the focus were accompanied by photographs featuring U.S. troops. The choice of reporting and editorializing reveals an unequal presentation of the human cost of the war on U.S. lives versus Iraqi lives.

The review stressed the need for Muslims to be shown in contexts that reflect shared humanity and experiences. Vital opportunities were either missed or misplaced. The few images available of Muslims often featured Muslims in either anger or strife. Even when the story content spoke of grief and tragedy, images that may have humanized Muslims and reflected empathetic emotions were not shown.

In coverage of the Muslim population, the review highlighted problematic titles such as “Hanging Angers Sunnis” (Daily Herald 1/07). Titles such as these reduce the entire “Muslim World” to a single, often angry, monolithic entity. Such reductionism obscures accurate understanding of Islam and Muslims. The fact that Islam is the faith and that its practitioners are Muslim are often conflated. Consider the terms: ‘Islamic fundamentalism,’ ‘Islamic militants,’ Islamic fascism,’ etc. The use of “Islamic” as a qualifier inaccurately associates the whole of the religion of Islam with radicalism. It is necessary to distinguish the faith from its practitioners as a reminder that all faiths are subject to human myopia. It is much more accurate to use Muslim as the qualifier.

The need for greater understanding about the Muslim community grows more urgent. Since the 9/11 attacks, acts of discrimination and hate crimes have annually averaged double-digit growth rates.

The media plays a significant role in the understanding of Muslims and has significant impact based upon its choice of reporting and editorializing.

Chicago has among the most vibrant, diverse, and historically based Muslim Communities in the nation. Islamic centers, Mosques, and organizations are abundant throughout Chicagoland and are good starting points for reporting on the Muslim community.

Comedian and lecturer Azhar Usman followed CAIR’s findings with an intelligent routine intended to dispel stereotypes of Muslims. The presentations fostered a unique contribution to the framing of Muslims by the media.

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org



CAIR-Chicago: “Daily Herald Review: A Muslim Reader's Perspective 2007"

CAIR-Chicago: “Glossary of Common Muslim Terms and Phrases"


 
Feature # 168
Chicago Writer & Activist Discusses Muslim Leadership

Chicago Public Radio

July 23, 2007




TRANSCRIPT:

STEVE EDWARDS:

When destructive acts happen around the globe in the name of Islam, the reputation of the religion itself, particularly in the post 9/11 era, is also tarnished. Chicago writer and activist Ahmed Rehab feels that while those outside the faith need to think before they generalize those inside the faith need to reassert its peaceful roots.

AHMED REHAB:

Every time I receive news of a terror attack carried out by someone professing to be Muslim, I brace myself for what is to come.

Sure enough, a few moments after the Glasgow airport car-ramming incident took place, the phone calls started trickling in. Reporters wanted to know how Muslims felt about it. So I cut short a day at Brookfield Zoo with my nephews in order to appear on camera and, once again, state the obvious: mainstream Muslims everywhere are just as outraged by this shocking incident as anyone else, criminal acts are personal choices that reflect on the perpetrators and no one else.

But it’s post 9/11 America, and reason is not the token of our time.

In a way though, I empathize with the general public. They get to see or hear little else about Islam outside of the evening news when cars - or flags - are burning. As such, I am quick to entertain any opportunity I can get to reclaim my faith and set the record straight.

Terrorism is not only un-Islamic, it is anti-Islamic. The murder of, or intent to murder, innocent civilians is blatantly rejected in Islam regardless of the legitimacy of any personal or political grievances one may claim to have.

Extremism, even if non-violent, is starkly antithetical to the spirit of Islam which is rooted in the notion of “compassion for the world.”

As a Muslim activist and leader, I have a duty to lead the fight against terrorism in the most decisive battlefield of all: the young impressionable mind. No government, terrorism expert, or talking head can do as much there. I believe I can best challenge deviant minority ideologies by enkindling the beauty latent in our faith.

Islam shuns self-victimization and cultivates self-accountability, restrains rage and releases the intellect, rejects self-righteous isolation and embraces humanity; it is tolerant in recognizing the diverse expressions of truth, yet unflinching in its condemnation of injustices, including those at the hands of Muslims.

This is Islam as taught by Muhammad and all the prophets before him, it is the one embraced by enlightened Muslims around the world. It is the one I aspire to personify when at the pulpits of Chicago's largest mosques or in private conversation with disaffected youth. It is every terrorist recruiter’s nightmare.

For me, challenging extremism, both within the Muslim community and against the Muslim community, is a passion. I am in to win - even if it means never having to see the baby Gorillas.

STEVE EDWARDS:

Ahmed Rehab is the Executive Director of the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Copyright 2007 Chicago Public Radio

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Contact: director@cairchicago.org




Eight Forty-Eight with Host Steve Edwards
Writer Ahmed Rehab contemplates his role as a Muslim leader.




 
Feature # 165
CAIR Releases Report:
The Status of Muslim Civil Rights 2007

By M. Loraine Slimp


VIEW ENTIRE REPORT

VIEW ABC7-NEWS COVERAGE

This June, CAIR released its annual report on the status of Muslim civil rights in the United States. This year’s report, entitled “Presumption of Guilt,” finds a 25% increase in civil rights complaints nationwide. Since the first report in 1996, the number of reported incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim bias, discrimination, harassment, physical attacks, and hate crimes has risen every year. The last year alone saw a 25% increase in the number of such reports. The report analyzed the complaints according to the place of occurrence, alleged type of abuse, and factors triggering discrimination.

Illinois Top State for Complaints

The 2007 report shows the highest per-capita complaints, 13% of all complaints, as having occurred in Illinois. This number is second only to California in the number of reported complaints (29%). The District of Columbia reported the third most complaints, with 7%.

Most Complaints Deal With Immigration

The percentages in most categories of reported civil rights violations were relatively stable, but some showed changes from last year’s report. A major increase was seen in the category of government agency complaints, which rose more than 15% and was topped by citizenship delay complaints.

The workplace was the second most common place of occurence after government agencies.

Race/Ethnicity Most Frequent Trigger

Race/ethnicity was the most frequent trigger of civil rights abuse, identified as a trigger in 52% of all reported discrimination. A Muslim-sounding name was the next most common trigger, prompting 21% of the reported incidents. Other frequent factors include involvement in activism or organizational membership, and wearing the hijab or scarf.

The Report’s Recommendations

The report outlined five main recommendations:

1. Elected representatives, interfaith religious and community leaders must speak out more vocally against Islamophobia, particularly when there is a reported anti-Muslim incident in their local areas. Those people, who promote bigotry targeting any faith or minority group, should be repudiated by all Americans.

2. American Muslims should increase efforts to reach out to their fellow citizens to educate them about Islam and to create opportunities for interaction with ordinary American Muslims. CAIR’s research has found that prejudice decreases when people know more about Islam and when they personally interact with ordinary Muslims.

3. Congress should hold hearings on the rising level of Islamophobia in America and its negative impact on our society and on our nation’s image and policy interests worldwide.

4. Federal agencies should expedite the processing of citizenship/naturalization applications that have far exceeded the amount of time allowed by federal law.

5. Because much of the Islamophobia in our society is a byproduct of international events, our government should work in cooperation with the American Muslim community to implement domestic and foreign polices that reflect American traditions of justice and respect for the human dignity for all people.

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago



CAIR: “Presumption of Guilt” The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States

ABC7-NEWS: CAIR-Chicago Releases Muslim Civil Rights Report


 
Feature # 166
Religious views test families
By Cathy Lynn Grossman


USA Today
July 9, 2007

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/
2007-07-08-kids-parents-religion_N.htm
?csp=34


Pamela Moss worships every Sunday at Messiah Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., where they preach the Bible straight up, sing the old hymns "and then let me get on with my day." But her son, George, 24, is a fervent Evangelical, witnessing to strangers and praying "in a church that looks like a gym. To me, he's just out the gate," his mystified mom says.

Stephen Rochester, 32, grew up "Jewish lite" in St. Louis, says his father, Marty. "So I was stunned when Stephen went religious with a capital R," switching to his Hebrew name, Shaya, and adopting the black hat of Hasidic Jews.

Mari Beth Nolan, 22, grew up a "Christmas and Easter" Catholic. Now she plans to go to work at a missionary clinic in Ecuador, leaving her parents proud — but confused.

Small wonder parents are befuddled. Though Gallup polls dating to the '50s say young adults are less likely to attend services or say religion is very important in their lives, clergy of all stripes say they are seeing a small wave of young adults who are more pious than their parents. And they're getting an earful from boomer moms and dads who range from shocked to delighted.

Statistically, these devout young people are "floating below the radar," says Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin of Chabad.org, which encourages Jews to deepen religious practice.

Such stories are ancient: Abraham smashing his father's idols; young Jesus teaching his elders; Buddha leaving his father's home.

"Freaked-out parents are nothing new here," says the Rev. Jeremy Johnston, executive pastor of First Family Church, a Baptist megachurch in Overland Park, Kan..

"The parents are intimidated by their child's depth of feeling. They threaten college students to 'cut off tuition support if you're going to be such a fanatic.' They think the normal way to be a young adult is the way they were. But it's not.

"We tell young people when they are all wound up in new faith that the best thing you can do is show your parents the changes God is working in you. Parents can decide for themselves whether they want to follow."

Brooke Havarty, 21, says her parents struggled when she transferred from Arizona State to Liberty University in Virginia, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

"I had a great childhood in a great family," she says. "We went to church on Sundays, but it was just what you did. I was never shown the value of the Bible, the role God had in my life. I saw the consistency and joy in the lives of faithful Christians, and I wanted that in my life."

Havarty, whose parents are divorced, adds that her dad "is an amazing father, but he doesn't want to give every area of his life to Christ the way I do. It's hard for him to understand why I'm so black and white about things."

Her father, Mike Havarty of Overland Park, says Brooke is "an incredible young lady, academically and in her faith." He says his daughter has "earned the right" to study where she pleased.

Parents will go along when they "realize their kids are becoming more spiritually attuned, not rejecting their parents or their past but growing from within, finding new and deeper ways to interact with God," Shmotkin says.

Catholic writer Scott Hahn, who teaches at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, says parents may be reluctant if "kids are casting their parents' lives into question. I hope when kids come home, naturally zealous but not always tempered by reality or maturity, they will appreciate their parents more."

'A little obnoxious'

Nolan says she felt a deep connection to Catholicism as a teen when her family had just moved cross-country for the second time. She insisted her parents, nominal Catholics, send her for religious studies and drive her to Mass.

"At first I was a little obnoxious. There were a few conversations like, 'You need to calm down,' " she recalls. And when she chose Franciscan, known for its traditionalist fervor, "I know my dad was leery."

Her father, Tom Nolan, 53, of Atlanta, says the demands of a divorce, a move and travel in his sales job have left him "disconnected from church." Yet he supported her, as he does now that she's going to do social work in the Andes instead of going straight to graduate school.

Mari Beth says her parents "have a knowledge of God, but they don't always like to follow the ways of the church. I absolutely wish they were more into it. It brings me so much joy, love and peace. It's hard not to be able to share that with the most important people in my life."

George Moss also feels that divide. He finds it "harder to sit down with your own mother and talk about Christ than it is to share the Gospel in the streets of Jamaica."

"My mom was always very churched," Moss says. "But it was a habit without heart behind it. I wanted real faith, not just church. I wanted my faith to play out in everything I do, all the time — raising my son, rapping Christian music, DJ at a Christian radio station."

But his faith, like his non-denominational church, is too "free-spirit" for his mother. "I dress up and give the Lord his respect," says Pamela Moss, 53. "But I even saw someone barefoot there. And the pastor was out walking around in a shirt and pants, not on the pulpit in a robe.

"I was brought up in the Word, and I will never depart. But George does take it to another level. He's out there rapping, and I can't catch the words. He's going on mission trips. He's always out there witnessing. Now, I don't have a problem with witnessing, but I'm sorry, I have a job, and when I get home, I'm tired. On Sunday, I go, hear the Word and leave."

The religiosity gap runs across faiths. Marty and Ruth Rochester rode an emotional roller coaster after Shaya, a philosophy major at Yale, deferred law school for intense Jewish studies at a yeshiva.

Ruth says that when Shaya called to tell her he'd bought his first Hasidic black hat, "I burst into tears."

"To me, it means he had gone off the deep end, setting himself apart from the family and Judaism as I knew it. But he's my son, I love him dearly, so I decided this is just something else to get through."

Shaya, now a lawyer at a Manhattan firm, believes "my father was more opposed than my mother. He was concerned I would drop law school and be this crazy religious guy who would waste my education and never be able to support myself."

Yet, his father says other things, small things, have been harder. He misses their father-son heart-to-heart evenings, talking over beer and burgers at a favorite hangout, O'Connell's. The end of evenings at the unkosher pub "symbolized a break in the normal rhythm of our family life. It upset me."

The swoops and dips have leveled out now with Shaya's more mature faith, his marriage and the arrival of grandchildren. Although Marty sees Shaya "gently noodge us to become more observant, it's never been in-your-face, never been pushy, always gentle. Shaya is flexible wherever he can be."

'They're so visibly Muslim'

Ruby and Inem Rahman of Naperville, Ill., are puzzled to find that their daughter, Reem, is more publicly religious and active in Islamic life in the Midwest than they were in their youth in Pakistan.

Reem, 21, founded student chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and an interfaith youth action group at the University of Illinois-Urbana, and she inspired her younger brother to step up observance and activism, too.

Ruby, 50, praises her children's "good faith and strong characters. I know they are pure, that they are working for peace and liberty. But I'm concerned they'll be stereotyped by prejudiced people because they are so visibly Muslim."

Her own faith is strong, says Ruby, a substitute teacher, but beyond dressing modestly, she feels no need in the USA, "a cosmopolitan country, to proclaim it to the world by wearing a scarf."

Inem, 55, loves that everyone here can follow his or her own faith, "but it should be a personal path. All religions give you your ethics and moral values, but it's best to keep your passion private."

Reem, now working in the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says wearing the hijab allows her to be "in a state of God consciousness and readiness to pray to God at all times." Still, she agrees, it can attract unwelcome attention. "People think you're oppressed if you're covered. People ask me all the time now where I'm from. I say Detroit. I have a degree in cognitive neuroscience. I can be a working woman, a scholar, a lawyer, a teacher, whatever I want. Do I sound oppressed to you?" For all her devotion, however, Reem won't call herself more religious than her parents. It wouldn't be Islamic, she says, "to place myself as judging anyone. It's only for God to know who is practicing, who's more observant."

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Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

Copyright 2007 USA Today


 
Feature # 163
Pundit’s Lens of Gloom Distorts Significant Findings
By Amina Butt-Sharif


In response to the Chicago-Tribune article: When Topic is Terror, Surveys Are Misleading

Kathleen Parker’s Article, “When Topic is Terror, Surveys Are Misleading” is in fact itself a very misleading interpretation of the recent Pew Research Center survey that found American Muslims to be largely moderate and mainstream.

Parker aims to undermine the positive responses that the study has garnered by highlighting, or rather manipulating, the negative findings of the study.

She laments that “sixty percent of the young (Muslims) consider themselves Muslim first, American second.” However, she fails to point out that only 47% of the overall Muslim population see themselves this way, which is comparable to the 41% of Christians and the 62% of White Evangelical Christians who also identify themselves in this manner.

This begs the question: Is it wrong to identify oneself primarily by religion?

Parker is selective about what she reports and deliberately excludes many essential facts from her analysis.

She writes, “In less than happy news…Among all young Muslims, 26 percent think suicide bombing is justified often, sometimes, or rarely.” Then, by assuming that the 5% who do not answer the question secretly support the act, she erroneously advocates that 1/3 of Muslim youth support “terrorism” and “9/11.”

A classic example of Parker’s routine selective reporting is demonstrated here as she fails to mention that only 13% of the overall Muslim-American population feels that “suicide bombings of civilian targets” can be justified (5% saying rarely, and 8% saying sometimes). Compare this to a recent study from the University of Maryland which reveals that a whopping 51% of the American general public feels that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” can be justified. This contrast gives an impression of the Muslim community that is contrary from the one Parker attempts to forge.

She fails to put statistics into context and disregards the conditions under which those surveyed would support these acts. Instead she demeans the issue by ridiculing those who left questions unanswered, saying, “To kill civilians or not to kill civilians is not a tricky question.”

The results of this study deserve further investigation because the beliefs of the Muslims surveyed diverge from basic Islamic teachings. The killing of civilians is clearly condemned by the Prophet Mohammed and also in the Quran which says, "If anyone slew a person...it would be as if he slew all of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved all of mankind"(5: 32). Countless episodes during the life of Mohammed profess the value of innocent life and the grave sin of suicide. Mohammed said, "He who kills himself will be awarded the same torment on the Day of Judgment” (Sahih Muslim). These are widely accepted principles in Islam, so why would any Muslim support an act that should land them in hell? This fact suggests the necessity of placing the results of the recent study in a political rather than a religious context, as this study reveals nothing about the religion of Islam.

The purpose of the study was to better understand the Muslim members of American society. This necessitates accurate interpretation of the research, rather than flippant and outright fallacious interpretations that are made by Islamophobic fear mongers such as Kathleen Parker.

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Amina Butt-Sharif is a communications intern at the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago



Pew Research Center Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream

CAIR-Chicago Closer Look at Recent Pew Study


 
Feature # 164
Holding Fast to the Principles of Liberty
By Reem Rahman

July 4, 2007

On the "Spirit of Liberty" in 1944, Justice Learned Hand wrote "liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. . . while it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it." Celebrating this Independence Day, we recall the founding values of liberty, justice, and equality for all and pause to consider the state of liberty in the hearts of the American people.

Since September 11th, 2001 non-citizens have been targets of government sanctioned discriminatory measures of frightening breadth. We have seen special registration of male visitors from twenty Muslim and Middle Eastern countries, mass arrests by the INS, and an attack on lawyer-client privilege by the unconstitutional monitoring of communications. “Project Lookout” brought unregulated "watch lists" that trickled into the screening of job applicants and "Operation Green Quest" brought personal monies under scrutiny. Under the context of increasing executive branch secrecy, the hunt for an unknown enemy from within has resulted in broad sweeps, domestic spying and vigilantism. 1

The constant discrimination and surveillance has extended to citizens as well. The recent annual report release by CAIR on the Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States finds an alarming increase of civil rights abuse of citizens and non-citizens alike. Since the first report in 1996, the number of reported incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim bias, discrimination, harassment, physical attacks, and hate crimes has risen every year. The last year alone saw a 25% increase in the number of such reports. The land of liberty remains conspicuously elusive for those entangled in the presumption of guilt in the name of the “War on Terror.” 2

In the name of preserving the American way of life, hundreds of thousands of civilians and thousands of troops lie dead in Iraq with no end in sight to the devastation.3 The protection of liberty must coincide with upholding the sanctity of all human life—not just those of American citizens.

This far from exhaustive list finds us mired under the shadow of our flag. Liberty is obstructed when checks on freedom allow only few to be free from civil and human rights abuses. Liberty must stand firm in our hearts such that it does not allow our most basic constitutional principles to be trampled upon.

Well over two hundred years ago, our founding father, Benjamin Franklin, conveyed with moral clarity what we must not realize in hindsight: those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security accomplish none, and deserve neither.

---

Reem Rahman is Communications Coordinator at the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

Copyright 2007 CAIR-Chicago



1 Murray, Nancy. "Profiled: Arabs, Muslims, and the Post-9/11 Hunt for the 'Enemy Within.'" Civil Rights In Peril: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims. London: Pluto Press, 2004.

2 CAIR: “Presumption of Guilt” The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States

3 Washington Post 10/10/06: “Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000”


 
Feature # 161
Time for a break from the neocons
The Free Lance-Star


http://www.classicrock969.com/News/FLS/2007/
052007/05132007/282776/index_html


By Ahmed Rehab

WASHINGTON--History has shown on more than one occasion that what might be clear to most of us may not seem so obvious to the Bush administration.

Was it not obvious to everyone but this administration that Saddam Hussein did not have links to either the Sept. 11 attacks or bin Laden?

And is it not increasingly obvious to everyone but this administration and its supporters that our intransigent Mideast foreign policy--not "our freedom"--is what alienates Muslims in the region, bolstering the credibility of extremists and enhancing their ability to promote anti-American attitudes?

The Bush administration eventually caught on that Saddam had no links to Sept. 11 and that he did not possess weapons of mass destruction, but not before hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars had been lost.

Now it remains to be seen how long before the administration finally figures out "why they hate us," and what the cost there will be.

Neoconservatives scoff at the thought that our own actions could have any impact on how others feel about us. Their explanation for "why they hate us" is that "they" are inherently evil and "we" are inherently good.

When someone dares suggest that our political and economic transgressions in certain regions of the world contribute to anti-American sentiments, the response is one of anger and demonization. He or she is dismissed as unpatriotic, anti-American, or even an "apologist for terror."

While we should not discount the role extremist religious beliefs have in indoctrinating young terrorists, it would be foolish to pretend that exploitative U.S. policies do not facilitate recruitment.

The administration's rhetoric is problematic because it is borrowed from the WWII and Cold War eras, when America fought a conventional war or faced a conventional threat.

Today, the fight against global terrorism is so unconventional and so unlike any threat that has ever been fought that the term "war" hardly fits.

Semantics aside, every American wants to see our nation's enemies vanquished. And while some believe that anything less than beating the drums of conventional war is complacency, our best bet is to fight smart.

How can we defeat an ideology--a metaphysical threat--through the sheer use of physical force?

The ideological threats we face today, of which al-Qaida is only one example, require us to do a few things we have not done in a long time: understand our world, engage people of other nations, and win hearts and minds by basing our action on American values of justice and equality, not brute force.

Given the fact that the overwhelming majority of human beings, including Muslims, oppose the extremists within their ranks, the "unconventional war" against global terrorism is ours to lose.

Ahmed Rehab is executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.



Copyright 2007 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company



 
Feature # 162

The Islamophobic Industrial Complex:
What are the Quasi Muslims Really Selling?

Media Monitors Network
June 23, 2007

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/
view/full/44416


By M. T. Akbar

Every day newspapers, TV shows, radio programs, new books and lectures revolve around the topic of the ‘threat’ of Islam and its relation to the West. Islam has become a commodity, a business to be exploited. The list of super stars and ‘experts’ that are part of this Hollywood-esque movement of cashing in on Islam has become quite long; at the head of the list are Quasi Muslims such as Brigitte Gabriel, Walid Shoebat, Nonie Darwish, and Ibn Warraq.

Quasi Muslims may not necessarily be born Muslims. Most haven’t lived in the Islamic world for decades and are far removed from the societies to which they once belonged. Most have left Islam long ago and hold positions in or are funded by special interest groups that seek “reformation” of Islam from the outside, unconditional support for Israel and a militant secularization of Islamic societies.

All of these personalities are united in the common claim to exclusive and special authority on Islam with intimate ‘insider’ knowledge of the “[h]earts and minds of Arabs…” and Muslims. Peddling their wares to an uncritical public, the expectation is that since Quasi Muslims are some combination of Arabs, ex-Muslims, and former “terrorists” their words are impenetrable and all those who criticize them either lack legitimacy or are engaged in a campaign of censorship. Attempts to hold debates or dialogue in a neutral platform are almost always rejected. In some cases, such as the case of Ibn Warraq, the very identity of these Quasi Muslims is unknown using the excuse that they would be killed if they didn’t hide their identity.

Quasi Muslims are not only united in a deep distrust of Islam and Muslims but also in a program of vile hatemongering thinly disguised as intellectual criticism and absolute truth. In a lecture at the University of Memphis, Brigitte Gabriel called Arabs "Barbaric." Walid Shoebat and Ibn Warraq have consistently claimed that Islam is the new totalitarian threat to the world, the new "fascism," the new "Nazism" even though these concepts are uniquely Western products. In any other circumstance or in reference to any other religion this rhetoric would be dismissed for what it is: hate speech. The apparent strategy is to repeat these lies enough times for a long enough time until they become gospel truth.

Though the motivations behind this movement vary in the end what they all have in common is the drive to reform Islam and--as stated on the ACT (American Congress for Truth) website that many are sponsored by--to “fearlessly speak out in defense of America, Israel and Western civilization.” Shoebat, a Christian Zionist, believes in a dispensationalist theology in which the return of Jesus is predicated on the existence and unconditional support of Israel and its policies. Nonie Darwish is a member of an Evangelical Church and the creator of the website “Arabs for Israel” which claims to be an organization of Arabs and Muslims who “support Israel” and seek to “reform Islam.” One has to question the legitimacy of a movement which aligns itself so closely to the interests of another nation. These Quasi Muslims have no real or practical ability to affect any kind of true change in the Islamic world or on the Muslim mind. Their distance from the reality on the ground and their deep association and support for particular ideologies and states leaves their criticism hollow and falling on deaf ears.

So what are the Quasi Muslims really after? A brief look at some of the sensational titles of their literature reveals much: “Why We Want to Kill You,” “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror,” “Infidel,” “Leaving Islam,” “Why I am not a Muslim.” All of the titles point at some sort of uncovering. Personal testimonials claiming to reveal the truth behind some secret, hidden agenda become instant bestsellers. Books bashing Islam have become conspicuously lucrative

A grave consequence of legitimizing these hate mongering and obscurantist personalities is that it takes away from the true scholars, academics, and knowledgeable lay people that are engaged in real reform and criticism. Voices such as those of Tariq Ramadan, Khaled Abu Fadl, Heba Ezzat, Suhaib Webb and others are voices that have a finger on the pulse of the Muslim community and are much more deserving of a hearing from the wider public.

M.T. Akbar is a communications intern at the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Contact: communications@cairchicago.org

Copyright 2007 Media Monitors Network



 
Feature # 159
Advertisements' Role in Portraying Muslim-Americans
By Whitney Nickels


May 5, 2007

JWT, the Nation's largest advertising agency recently conducted a study with an aim to gain an understanding of Muslim-American perspectives about general advertising. The results, considered surprising by some, reveal that Muslim-Americans hold the same values and goals as the American mainstream population.

Maria Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of JWT Worldwide says that "One of the most crucial things to emerge from the study is that American Muslims want to feel less singled out and to be simply acknowledged and accepted.

The research conducted revealed that "over two-thirds (69 percent) of American Muslims say they are often judged by events outside of their control." Merely having an Arabic name or Islamic clothing is often all that is required to acquire unwelcome attention.

Also, fifty-seven percent of American-Muslims feel that they are unjustly represented by a biased anti-Muslim media. However, the largest complaint JWT has identified among American-Muslims is that advertisements do not recognize their existence. Seventy-one percent of Muslims surveyed felt that "Advertisers rarely show anybody of my faith/ethnicity in their advertising."

The issue of cultural representation in advertisement is not new and has been encountered by many American minorities. The absence of certain groups in our advertisements creates an unconscious reinforcement of that group as a minority. Minorities are often not perceived as a part of the culture, but rather as a group outside of it. Inevitably, this point of view labels minorities as "others" and leads to an apathetic position regarding any desires minorities may have, such as inclusion into the culture.

The results of the JWT study of Muslim-American attitudes should not be considered surprising. America is a pluralistic society with open goals to incorporate individuals of all ethnicities and belief structures. If any individual or group feels isolated, or defined as the "other," then America has not fulfilled its ideological purpose.

Muslim-Americans are indeed part of the American population and should be acknowledged as such. In being left out of advertising, while at the same time being demonized by the media, Muslim-Americans are pushed out of the American social fabric and associated with fringe extremes for which they have nothing to do with.

The JWT study has helped to identify injustice perceived by Muslim-Americans in general advertising. While leaving a specific group out of advertisements may seem to be insignificant to some, it arguably contributes to the perception that Muslim-Americans are seeking to isolate themselves. In reality, Muslim-Americans are not being recognized as part of our culture, and the most dominant aspect of our culture at that: the free market.

The study of Muslim-American attitudes is certainly a great step in helping our American neighbors' voices be heard. By including Muslim-American voices in mainstream culture, the extremist ideology that has become associated with the faith of Islam will fade as we begin recognizing Muslim-American men and women for who they actually are - human citizens.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



Feature # 160
Americans on Hold: Profiling, Citizenship, and the "War on Terror"

May 17, 2007

Excerpt from April 25, 2007 CHRGJ Press Release:

The U.S. government is illegally delaying the naturalization applications of thousands of immigrants by profiling individuals it perceives to be Muslim and subjecting them to indefinite security checks, charged the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) in a new report released today.

The 63-page report, titled Americans on Hold: Profiling, Citizenship, and the "War on Terror," documents the impact of expanded security checks on the lives of those experiencing citizenship delays, often for years on end. The report analyzes these delays and their impact within an international human rights framework, and offers specific policy recommendations to help end discrimination in access to citizenship and other human rights violations.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



Feature # 157
Offended by the Offensive
By Anas Muhafzah


April 17, 2007

In response to the Chicago-Tribune article: Ignore them, and be spared the drama

Apparently, Parker believes that people do not have the right to be offended by offensive material. Although I am no advocate of Donohue or the Catholic League, I do firmly believe that all sane and civilized people - be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist, or otherwise - should be respectful of the beliefs and values cherished by others.

People who ridicule the religious and/or cultural beliefs of others should not be surprised when those who hold such beliefs express offense. This doesn't mean that such people don't believe in the freedom of expression for those who seek to ridicule their beliefs - far from it. But they also believe in the right to freely express their dismay at such attacks, and appeal to those who ridicule them to exercise restraint.

That said, couldn't Parker have done without the anti-Muslim bigotry in order to buttress her point? Only someone who is truly biased can refer to death threats as just something "outraged Muslims do." I am certainly not going to defend the excessive reactions of some Muslims to the Danish Cartoons. But to refer to the cartoons as merely an "act of protest" is just plain silly.

Even if the drawings were published following the vicious murder (by no more than a single Muslim extremist) of Van Gogh, it was a bigoted attack on the faith of 1.3 billion people, and should be acknowledged as such. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Then there's the quip that we should distinguish between Catholics and Muslims in this regard. Whereas, according to Parker, the death threats issued by some Catholics were merely "random threats from random people," Muslims who do so are "anarchists" who act with the blessings of the amorphous "state."

At first, I was confused. If the death threats made by some reactionary Muslims were not "random threats from random people," then what were they? Parker isn't insinuating that Muslims in the United States or anywhere else in the world are all radicals is she? No one can be that bigoted in these times, can they? Based on the following statement she just may have indicted herself as just that:

"Let's face it, no one seriously fears that U.S. Catholics are going to take down the Sears Tower with passenger planes."


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 158
PBS Film Documentary explores 'Muslims in America'

April 25, 2007

Watch video

Heena Musabji, CAIR-Chicago staff attorney, appeared in 'Muslims in America,' one of an eleven part PBS documentary film series, titled 'America at the Crossroads.'

Musabji voiced concern for Muslim Americans subjected to a politicized climate of suspicion. She states, "It’s almost like a community living in fear within America despite the fact that they are American and American citizens they constantly feel suspect and shouldn't have to."

Overview of Muslims in America:

http://www.pbs.org/weta/crossroads/about/
show_muslim_americans.html


"Why haven’t Muslims in America been radicalized like some European Muslims? What is different in the United States? Muslims have a long history in the United States, dating back to the founding of the republic. Some of the first Muslims in America arrived as slaves, while others came from the Ottoman Empire to work as farmhands and peddlers. The oldest existing mosque in America, built in 1934, sits improbably on a quiet residential street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Today, the United States is home to one of the most diverse Muslim communities in the world, with a total population estimated between three and six million people."- PBS

copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 155
Executive Director Speaks Out: Muslim activist takes on his group's critics
By Noreen Ahmed-Ullah
Tribune staff reporter

March 25, 2007

To view full, unedited interview click here

The nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has come under increasingly heated suspicion from critics trying to connect it to a radical Islamist political agenda and even link it to terrorist groups.

The group held a panel discussion in a U.S. Capitol meeting room March 13 over the objections of House Republicans.

Ahmed Rehab, 30, is executive director of the group's Chicago office. He joined CAIR in 2004 as spokesman for the Chicago office and was promoted last year. Following is an edited transcript of a recent e-mail conversation with him.

Q. Why have an advocacy group in the U.S. like CAIR?

A. To accurately inform the American public about Islam and Muslims where misconceptions are rampant; to advocate for the civil rights of Americans who suffer discrimination, hate crimes and other violations for no other reason than being Muslim or being perceived as such ... to encourage Muslims to be active civic participants where they are politically marginalized; and to build coalitions and partnerships with other community organizations.

Q. What are some recent projects launched by the group?

A. Nationally, CAIR projects include the Muslim Care campaign, which encourages Muslims to volunteer in their communities. Local projects include the Employment Discrimination Project, which advises victims on their rights as employees; the Youth Leadership Symposium, which promotes civic responsibility among Muslim students; and the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006.

Q. Tell me a bit about you.

A. I am an American Muslim of Egyptian background and a proud Chicagoan. Before joining CAIR more than two years ago, I worked as a software engineer for a major consultancy firm and was active in global interfaith. During a trip to Kenya as part of an American religious delegation exploring the plight of the world's refugees, I felt a social awakening that brought out the activist in me. Upon my return, I found a compelling cause in a post-9/11 climate where Islam and Muslims were increasingly viewed with suspicion.

Q. What is the source of the latest criticism/accusations being launched against CAIR at the national level?

A. Every one of the dozen or so urban legends about CAIR that are circulating out there can be traced back to a single and homogenous source of interlinked individuals and groups with such deceptively benign names as the Investigative Project, the Middle East Forum, Jihad Watch and Americans Against Hate. These groups typically flourish in the unmoderated, chaotic world of the blogosphere; they attempt to sell themselves to political and media circles as experts on Islam and terrorism and as patriots who are looking out for American interests. A second look exposes them as career Islamophobes who are deathly afraid of Muslim-American enfranchisement and its possible effects on the Israeli lobby's interests.

(CAIR put up a document directly addressing all these urban legends at: www.cair.com/urbanlegends.pdf.)

Q. Is CAIR linked with Hamas and Hezbollah?

A. No, CAIR is not associated with Hamas, Hezbollah or any other foreign group. CAIR unequivocally condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.

Q. Does CAIR pursue an extremist Islamist political agenda?

A. You would have to be living under a rock to buy that. CAIR's contribution to the democratic process of this country is hard to miss. In dozens of American cities, we have helped guide Muslim Americans toward political enfranchisement: voter registration, education and mobilization.

We consistently urge our constituents to funnel political grievances to their elected representatives. Conspiracy theories will be just that, and right now, Muslims make for a convenient lightning rod.

Q. How much money has CAIR accepted from individuals or foundations associated with wealthy Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia? What has the money been used for? Why take such donations when many non-profit Islamic organizations have faced problems post-9/11 because of this?

A. All CAIR chapters, which are independent corporations, solicit contributions only from people residing in the states where they are incorporated. Neither CAIR chapters nor the national office solicits or accepts money from any foreign government.

The CAIR national office does on occasion receive donations from private citizens of foreign countries. Such donations are the exceptions, not the rule, and have to meet three conditions: They come with no strings attached, they go toward supporting existing CAIR projects ... and they come from people who have standing within their societies as upright citizens engaged in legitimate professional pursuits.

Much has been made about a $500,000 donation received by the national office from Alwaleed bin Talal. If CAIR is taken to task for this endowment (which went to buy books for U.S. public libraries), then so should Fox network, Citigroup, Four Seasons Hotels, AOL, Apple Computer, Amazon.com, Donna Karan International and Motorola. Bin Talal owns significant fiduciary interests in each of these American companies.

Q. What do you believe is the key dilemma faced by Muslims in the U.S. today?

A. Like all Americans, we have to worry about the security of our country, our communities and our children in the face of potential terror attacks. At the same time, we have to worry about being cast as scapegoats by some of our very own compatriots whose predicament we share.


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune




 
Feature # 156
Muslim Americans; Always have been, Always will be
By Elizabeth Basa


April 5, 2007

Do you know what is really strange? How little Americans - myself included- know so little about America, and our history. The recent popularity of the TV show, “Do You Know More than a 5th Grader?” is authority enough to back my claim. When polls are taken about Muslims in America, most people respond with fear, unrest and down right dislike. The fact is Muslims have been living in America from the start of the European colonization.

Remember Keith Ellison’s recent use of Jefferson’s Quran? Did you stop to think about that? Thomas Jefferson had a Quran, read it and even encouraged Arabic to be taught at the university level. Hmmm…guess it can’t be all bad then can it? The presence of Islam in America has roots as deep as the Quakers, yet has somehow existed below the surface of the average American experience.

Since 9/11 and Bush’s War of Terror the sensationalist media has chosen, by in large, to embrace a mantra on covering Muslims that reeks of unprofessionalism, and down right un-American bias. Islam, a way of life centuries older than our young country, and its followers around the globe are seen by most Americans in a negative manner. How is that logical to anyone with a very basic understanding of the world?

Come on people, when are we as Americans going to get past this ugly habit of demonizing entire groups of people based on the actions of a few? When are we going to heed Yoda’s warning that fear only leads to hate, which leads to anger, which leads to suffering?

Yes, I understand, it’s hard to ignore the sensational stories gracing magazine covers, enthusiastic radio-talk show hosts and news features about children being strapped with bombs, or crowds of angry screaming Arab men burning American flags, but the time is ripe for the hot air to drift away, and let reality get a shot on the front page. Here is an interesting fact to help put things into perspective- only 18% of Muslims are Arabs),

What is that reality? That Muslims are just another colorful patch on America’s quilt, and no, they aren’t here to blow everyone up. On the contrary, thousands of full-blooded Americans, (not children of immigrants) are choosing Islam as a way of life, (myself included), because it is nothing more, and nothing less than the last in a trio of Abrahamic faiths, embracing the same God, morals and goodness as its older cousins.

For those that doubt, ask yourself this simple question, “Do I fear a quarter of the population of Earth because of something I saw on the news, heard on some radio show, read on a blog, possibly driven by people with their own agendas, or because I know my Muslim neighbors, co-workers, relatives and have come to the conclusion that they are all violent fanatics?”

When you hear some person going on about how dangerous Muslims are, ask them point blank which Muslims they personally met that fit that description. Ask if it is Christian, (or whatever your moral framework might be) to generalize negatively about 1.4 billion people you have never met? WWJD?

There is a culture of Muslim-bashers that feed off the lack of knowledge the basic American citizen has about Muslims. Why are they doing that—to protect America? I don’t think so, for how can a country confront adversity divided?

We must not forget that many a Muslim died in the 9/11 attacks too. We must not forget thousands of Muslims serve in the American Military. We must not forget that to be a Muslim is an association with one thing and one thing only—a religion. To say I am a Muslim no more means support of Osama bin Laden as a Christian to see himself in support of Hitler, Stalin or Slobodan Milosevic.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 154
Civil Rights Coordinator appears on WISE TV (WYCC-PBS)

March 20, 2007

CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator, Christina Abraham, recently appeared on WISE TV (WYCC-PBS) where she discussed the state of American Muslims Civil Rights on the Northwestern News Networks program, Medill Reports, with host Tanja Babich.

The following are excerpts from the interview as well as the video:

Click here to watch the video:




Transcript Excerpts:

Tanja Babich: Christina Abraham is the Civil Rights Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chicago. She says last year more than 400 Muslim Americans reported civil rights violations.

Chiristina Abraham: They say, ‘I don’t understand why this is happening to me because I came here and lived here for so many years and all I want is to be a part of this society. I just don’t understand why I’m not being accepted.’

copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 153

Chicago Tribune: U.S. says local man sent cash to Iraq
By Matthew Walberg and Jeff Coen
Tribune staff reporters

March 9, 2007

Chicago Tribune Link

Palos Heights resident in Islamic charity case

A Palos Heights man appeared Thursday in federal court in Chicago after he and four other men were indicted on charges of financial crimes involving an Islamic charity they once operated.

Abdel Azim El-Siddiq, 50, of the 12200 block of South 69th Avenue, appeared before Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan facing three counts of money laundering, one count of forfeiture and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for the Islamic American Relief Agency--the IARA.

Charged along with El-Siddiq are Mubarak Hamed, 50, of Columbia, Mo., IARA's former executive director and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Sudan; Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 53, of Iowa City, Iowa, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Libya and former member of the agency's board of directors; Ahmad Mustafa, 54, of Columbia, Mo., an Iraqi citizen and former fundraiser for IARA; and Khalid Al-Sudanee, 55, a Jordanian who served as regional director for the agency's office in Jordan.

All were arrested Wednesday except Al-Sudanee, who was being sought in Jordan, said Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, which will prosecute the case.

IARA was an offshoot of an agency by the same name based in Khartoum, Sudan, officials said. The U.S. agency, formed in 1985, was shuttered in October 2004 after the Treasury Department deemed it a global terrorist organization.

Prosecutors allege that from March 1991 to May 2003 the defendants, through the IARA, funneled more that $1.4 million in charitable contributions to Iraq, in violation of U.S. economic sanctions against the country. The indictment does not detail how the funds were spent.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council for American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, said Thursday: "Since 9/11, we have witnessed a McCarthyesque witch hunt against Muslims in this country generally, and Islamic charities specifically. In this case, no accusations of supporting terrorism have even been made.

"With hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of taxpayer dollars lost on a misguided war in Iraq, the timing and positioning of this superfluous campaign raises plenty of questions. If prosecuting charity-givers is our government's idea of homeland security, time and again, then we are all in trouble."


The indictment also accused the defendants of bilking the U.S. Agency for International Development--USAID--out of nearly $85,000 that was to be spent on humanitarian projects in Mali, Africa. Instead, they allegedly laundered approximately $50,000 in USAID funds to lobby the federal government to remove the agency from a list of organizations suspected of terrorist involvement. A number of defendants also face charges of obstructing or impeding the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition, the indictment alleges the IARA lied when it denied ever employing the now-deceased agent for al-Qaeda, Ziyad Khaleel, who helped procure satellite phones that Osama bin Laden used to direct the terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies in East Africa.

In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Joe Alesia said El-Siddiq faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted and a fine of $500,000.

Prosecutors told Nolan they believe El-Siddiq poses a flight risk, and a detention hearing was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Monday. He was being held in federal custody pending the hearing.

At El-Siddiq's home Thursday afternoon, a teenage girl who identified herself as his daughter declined to comment on the charges.

----------

mwalberg@tribune.com
jcoen@tribune.com


copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune




 
Feature # 152

CAIR-Chicago's Third Annual Event a Success!
by Ahmed Rehab
February 20, 2007 Watch the new CAIR-Chicago promo, courtesy of Emmy Award Winner Alif Muhammad and team

View Event Pictures

CAIR-Chicago's 3rd Annual Event, held last Sunday evening, was a stunning success both in the numbers and diversity displayed.

A full house of 943 people included members of Chicago land's Muslim community, mosque leaders, public officials, the FBI, law enforcement, members of the media, and friends from other faith communities.

The diversity was hard to miss with an equal mix of South Asian and Arab, and a significant constituency from Chicago's notable African-American Muslim community led by Imam WD Muhammad. There was a strong showing from Shia Muslims, as well as from Egyptian Copts.

Over 60 institutions were represented including every major mosque in metropolitan Chicago, Christian and Jewish not-for-profits, and organizations like ICIRR, Human Rights Watch and the Human Development Foundation.

"Because of its commitment to the common good, CAIR-Chicago is impressive in its ability to bring together such a diverse crowd of people," said Azam Nizamuddin, a prominent Chicago lawyer attending the dinner.

Speakers included CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab; CAIR National's Chairman, Dr. Parvez Ahmed; Guest Speaker Congressman Danny Davis, and Keynote Speaker, Professor David Cole.

The emcee for the evening was IFYC's Dr. Eboo Patel.

CAIR-Chicago's Chairman, Safaa Zarzour and Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham presented awards to ABC 7's Leah Hope (media award), and community members Faisal Khan (courage award) and Azam Azeem (community service award). Member organizations of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) officially thanked Congressman Davis for his immigration reform efforts. Sheikh Kifah Mustapha of the Mosque Foundation led the fundraising efforts.

A David Cole book signing and sale at the reception sold out.

The event entitled "Rising to the Challenge" sought to promote constructive citizenship and community empowerment via healthy civic engagement and youth leadership development.

At the conclusion of the event, more than 75 youth activists comprising CAIR-Chicago's staff, interns, and volunteers gathered on the stage for a standing ovation.

CAIR-Chicago's board wishes to thank the community for its wonderful display of support, we look forward to serving you in another great year filled with new and exciting acheivements, God willing.

Watch the new CAIR-Chicago promo, courtesy of Emmy Award Winner Alif Muhammad and team




Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 151

CHICAGO TRIBUNE REDEYE: POP GOES RELIGION
by Kyra Kyles
February 2, 2007

TV, music and movies push faith into the spotlight

Ari Gold, wearing a traditional yarmulke, attends his daughter's bat mitzvah on an episode of HBO's "Entourage."

Fictional football players on NBC's "Friday Night Lights" pray solemnly before games.

And a character on NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is a devout Christian.

Religion is popping up in pop culture on TV and movies—and pop culture is making its way into religion in the form of magazine-style Bibles and modernized sermons—showing Americans' increasing willingness to integrate faith into all aspects of their lives, experts say.

But some traditionalists worry that the blending of the sacred and the secular can go too far.

"There's always a danger of cheapening the Gospel by slick marketing and products," said Scot McKnight, a professor at North Park University, a local Christian college. McKnight cited the "Christianizing" of products from Trivial Pursuit editions to ska music.

"It really depends on the content and the impact," McKnight said. "Does it draw people to the Christian message or is it simply clever and fun?"

Andersonville resident Sarah Follmer, who said she sometimes showcases her Jewish faith with a "Ko'sher Fo'sher" T-shirt, is mindful that such casual expressions of faith could be misunderstood.

"I don't wear it in front of people from my grandparents' and parents' generations because they still remember a time when anti-Semitism was very strong," Follmer, 24, said. "They may see[the T-shirt] as inappropriate. You want to be proud of your faith, but it is important to be respectful."

Even some who embrace blending religion and pop culture questions whether religious references—in music, TV and even video games—cater toward Christianity at the expense of other religions.

"To some extent this is financial," McKnight said. "'Passion of the Christ' shocked Hollywood because not only did they out market Hollywood, they showed that there are dollars to be made developing programming to attract those in conservative Christian culture. That's why we're seeing more subjects of Christianity and Christ on television."

Follmer said she sees many more references to Christianity than Judaism in pop culture. And if there are Jewish symbols of worship on TV and film, they are less complex.

"When you see Jewish faith, there are more rituals being shown," Follmer said, citing bar mitzvah and candle-lighting Shabbat ceremonies on popular TV shows including "Friends" and "Entourage." "I do wish we could see more aspects of Judaism to spark people's curiosity about what the religion is really about."

One local Muslim said it's an even more dismal picture for those of Islamic faith.

"When you see Islam in pop culture, you get a steady diet of weirdos," said Ahmed Rehab, an Oak Park resident and executive director of the local Council of American-Islamic Relations. "You are either seeing a character who is a terrorist or, on occasion, a ‘good Muslim' helping authorities catch a terrorist."

Members of the Council of American-Islamic Relations protested a recent episode of "24" that depicted Islamic terrorists detonating a nuclear bomb in an L.A. suburb, The Associated Press reported. Rehab, 30, said religions like Judaism and Christianity are normalized by pop culture, the source of information for a society that relies more on sitcoms than newspapers for information.

"It would be great just to see a Muslim character leavinga mosque, just the same way you can see a character leaving a church," said Rehab, who watches a lot of TV and movies. "I wouldn't want Islam to be made a big issue on a show or in a movie, just shown as part of someone's life."

And if Christianity has managed to infiltrate pop culture, pop culture has certainly returned the favor.

Last January, Dr. Richard Hunter introduced the "Gray's Anatomy" sermon series, spelling the show's title incorrectly to demonstrate what he called the moral ambiguity of its fictional medical interns. The sermons, which center on the ambition of character Cristina Yang or the insecurity of George O'Malley, are a hit with Snellville United Methodist Church members, Hunter said.

"Literally, people have come out of the walls," said Hunter, senior pastor of the church. "So many are attending worship now that would have never set foot in a church."

Hunter added that at least one-third of his 1,600 members are between the ages of 18 and 34. "[The Christian] mission has always been to convert the hearts and minds, but now they are using technology and pop culture elements to get the message out in a compelling way, particularly with the youth," said Jeremy Biles, a religion instructor at the University of Chicago.

Those pop culture elements include a Bible that resembles an issue of TeenPeople.

BibleZines, launched in 2003 by Thomas Nelson Inc., are a line of glossy, photo-heavy publications with names like Revolve, Becoming and Refuel. The similarities to popular magazines doesn't end at the covers, as these New Testament Bibles also feature quizzes, relationship advice and colorful calendars with suggestions ranging from "pray that God will show you something wonderful through your bible reading today" to "clean your room without being asked."

BibleZines are so popular, a Thomas Nelson spokeswoman said, that the company launched tween-focused versions called Blossom for girls and Explore for boys.

"It enables them to get involved with the Word in the form of a magazine," said Brenda Smotherman, a spokeswoman for the company's Bible group. "We also include culturally relevant articles involved in scripture[which] helps them apply it to life."

University of Chicago's Biles predicts even more blurring of religion and pop culture.

"It's obvious that these pop culture approaches to religion are very effective," Biles said. "When you're talking about preaching about ‘Grey's Anatomy' to a congregation that likely spends a lot of time outside of church watching TV, you are catering to your audience." Biles said.

kkyles@tribune.com


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune



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Feature # 150

The Muhammad Salah Bottomline
By Ahmed Rehab
February 1, 2007

(WASHINGTON D.C., 2/1/07) - For many years now, Mr. Muhammad Salah lived life in the infamy of being labeled as the only designated US terrorist. He suffered the repercussions of this judgment, long before he could face an open and fair trial in a US Court of law. His assets were frozen, and his life shattered. His family carried the burden of this label to their schools, workplaces, and to the local supermarket.

Today at the completion of an emotionally tolling trial on Mr. Salah and his family, the final verdict is out.

Though, he was found guilty of obstructing justice, he was found not guilty of racketeering – the major charge. The third charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization had been dropped mid-trial.

And so, here's the final word: Mr. Muhammad Salah is neither a terrorist nor a criminal for having supplied charitable aid to the most vulnerable factions of his occupied and war-ravaged country of origin, Palestine; a jury of his peers understand that to be true.

Our justice system has affirmed what many in his family have long claimed, that Muhammad Salah, a conscientious and upright family man and community member was only guilty of being a bold Palestinian activist. His fate is one that befalls many of his kind. It is to my personal relief, that our justice system is where the buck stops on the political persecution of the embattled Palestinian people.

My sense of pride in our court system, however, comes with reservation. Justice as we know it in America involves more than just an endpoint, it invovles the process of how to get there. And while the verdict vindicates Salah and his name, the process, the trial, raises questions for those of us who are concerned about the rule of law, and the sanctity of our constitutional rights.

As a civil rights organization, our aspiration is to see every American granted his or her full rights under any and all circumstances.

Muhammad Salah's right to a fair trial was forgone when the court decided to accept statements he made under torture. It is a cause for concern to the American people when a U.S. court endorses foreign interrogation methods and detention practices that would be considered illegal under U.S. law.

Mr. Salah was systematically tortured by the Israeli Secret Service and interrogated for 80 days. In some countries, such brutality is typically used to break down the psychological condition of a suspect. Because the manner in which the confession was extracted would be inadmissible in the United States, it is repugnant to the public policy of American courts.

Muhammad Salah's 6th Amendment right to a public trial was also violated when the court ruled that portions of the suppression hearings and trial would be closed to the public.

Also, Muhammad Salah's due process rights were violated when his assets were frozen before he could have the opportunity to defend himself in a public trial.

We hope that the suffering of the Salah family is over. We also hope that the "terrorism" label be reserved in the future for those found guilty of that charge in an open and fair trail administered in a respected court of law.

CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director (847) 971-3963 or (312) 212-1520 director@cairchicago.org

copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 149

OPEN MOSQUE SERIES:
The Downtown Islamic Center (DIC)

By Dina Rehab
January 25, 2007

The Downtown Islamic Center (DIC) is located in downtown Chicago. The five storey building, close to the intersection of Jackson and State, includes three prayer halls and a main room used for diverse activities.

The mosque facility also rents out its ground level to a retail store and its 3rd floor is home to the CIOGC office. The DIC serves the downtown Chicagoland area, with more than 700 attendees at both Jummuah prayers every Friday.

"It is a much needed service in prime location," said Shaik Maqsood Quadri, DIC Board Member for eight years.

Mosque congregants are predominantly of South Asian descent, but “you can find almost every nationality here," said Quadri. “Female attendance is roughly 10% of total attendees," he added.

History
The birth of DIC came with the need to pray Jummuah (Friday prayer). In the late 60s, a few congregants, approximately ten to twenty, gathered to pray at a vacant office in Sargent & Lundy at the intersection of Adams and Michigan.

In the early 80s, congregants rented a floor on Adams to accommodate the increasing numbers, now reaching more than 200 congregants each week. The building was later purchased by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; however, and the congregants had to find another location to fulfill their weekly prayers.

In 1998, the mosque board rented a floor at 218 S. Wabash but the need for a larger and more permanent location prompted board members to concentrate their efforts on raising enough funds to make this goal a reality.

In 2004, with the generous contributions of members of the Greater Chicagoland area, DIC's board purchased the current construction at 231 S. State Street.

Although the DIC was created to address the prayer needs of community members in the Downtown Chicagoland area, the mosque's mission also extended to creating a place that would serve as a community center and a platform for dialogue.

Outreaching to members of different faiths in an effort to understand and be understood, started as early as the late 70s. Congregants met with members of neighboring churches where members of each religious faith learned about the other.

Programs & Services
The DIC is home to a variety of services which include two Friday sermons and prayers (with approximately 700 attendees each week), interfaith activities, and Chicago public school and university visits where students come to watch how Muslims pray and learn more about the Islamic faith. The mosque also has a small library.

Other programs and services include: adult Arabic language classes - once a week; weekly Qur'an and Tafsir classes; pantry collections, hot meal drives, homeless dinners in Ramadan, clothing drives, blood drives and charity distribution.

The Board
The board currently has 20 members (4 female/16 male). Board members are nominated by mosque congregants and the existing board then follows-up on the nomination. Each board member receives a four year term; however, newly elected members are given an initial 2 year term that is extended to a total of 4 years based on performance. Membership terms are staggered to ensure continuity.

Current board members include: Syed Khan, Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, Dr. Yakub Patel, Abdullah Mitchell, Salman Azam, Fazal Mehmood, Farooq Rehman, Maqsood Quadri, Faiz Ahmed, Naheed Adhami, Amanatullah Ansari, Mohammad Rafati, Bashir Julien, Kamran Hussain, Mohammad Hosain, Shama Ahmed, Nizam Arain, Inam ul-Haque, Shehla Syed and M. Wajahat Ali Khan.

Goals
The Downtown Islamic Center is looking to expand its library. Board members are accepting donations for books and computers. Board members are also accepting book donations; all books must be in good condition.

The board is also extending their outreach services to the community and is appointing a board member for that sole purpose. Quadri expressed his desire to outreach further to Muslims in the downtown Chicagoland area: "There are more Muslims in downtown Chicago than the existing 700 Muslim congregants that attend. We need to understand what is stopping them from coming".

Those who wish to contribute to the Downtown Islamic Center's future goals can do so by contacting the DIC board at bod@dic-chicago.org

Dina Rehab is CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator; contact her at outreach@cairchicago.org for more information on the Open Mosque series.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 148

THE MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OF MUSLIMS
by Christina Abraham

January 23, 2007

Muslims in America worry every day about being singled out because of their religion. They fear that their religious ties will make them targets of law enforcement, employers. colleagues, or hate-filled criminals. For many Muslims, this fear has been actualized.

One phenomenon recently observed by CAIR-Chicago is the malicious prosecution of Muslims. It begins when federal law enforcement investigates a Muslim for purported ties to terrorism. Then, when nothing can be found against them, other unrelated charges are brought. Many times, the charges are tenuous. Often, the charges are eventually dropped or the individuals are cleared through a trial, but not without an emotional and financial toll.

Such is the case with a Muslim doctor in Macomb, Illinois. Federal authorities began investigating him because of a tip that was received soon after he had fired an employee for stealing medications. Federal authorities seized much of his charts and other documents, visited patients at their homes and informed them that their doctor was being investigated for links to terrorism. They were unable to find any evidence to incriminate him. Despite this, the States Attorney has brought forth fraud charges against the doctor for a $2100 discrepancy in his books that took place during a week when the doctor was out of the country.

Although the Muslim doctor has been uplifted by the outpouring of support from the Macomb community, including rallies and letters written on his behalf, the charges against him have negatively affected his professional and personal life. When all is said and done, the doctor will very likely be acquitted for the weak charges against him. However, his freedom will not come without a price. The price will have been paid over three years of intense scrutiny under the eye of the government, the loss of prestige, and the emotional toll of a long court battle that was unnecessary from the beginning.

Sometimes the law is used as a tool for discrimination, as in the case of the Macomb doctor. As the civil rights community monitors the laws and policies that fly in the face of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, we must also look vigilantly at the other ways that individuals in this country may be discriminated against. These other forms of discrimination are no less taxing, and no less of a threat to the civil liberties of us all.

Christina Abraham is CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Coordinator and can be contacted at civilrights@cairchicago.org


Copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 147

SEEKING TIMEOUT FOR PRAYER
by Manya A. Brachear

January 19, 2007

Muslim students weary of huddling under bleachers to pray during sporting events want Northwestern to come up with an alternative

As the Ohio State Buckeyes pummeled the Northwestern Wildcats on Ryan Field last November, senior Amir Siddiqui and his friends slipped below the bleachers, removed their shoes and knelt on pieces of poster board to pray.

As the sea of purple cheered and jeered above, Siddiqui tuned out the world around him to perform salaat, the Islamic ritual prayer that faithful Muslims recite five times daily.

Siddiqui will do the same in Welsh-Ryan Arena next week when the Buckeyes basketball team goes up against the Wildcats. But rather than pray amid raucous crowds, some Muslim students are pressing Northwestern's athletic department to set aside a secluded space for the ritual, or grant them permission to come and go from the arena before the buzzer.

"If we attend the game in its entirety, we would miss one of our five daily prayers," said Siddiqui, president of the Muslim cultural Student Association. "I can leave the game early, come later, or pray somewhere in the stadium on dirty floors with lots of noise and lots of people around, which isn't a huge problem. But we'd love to have a small area."

In a statement, associate athletic director John Mack said the athletic department was not yet ready to make such an exception for Muslim fans. He has agreed to meet with Muslim student leaders next week.

"There were some logistical issues involved, particularly in regards to people leaving the arena or Ryan Field while a game is in progress and then seeking re-entry, which is normally not allowed," Mack wrote. "But we understand that Northwestern is an institution that values diversity, so we're continuing to take a look at it to see if there is a way we can accommodate the needs of our Muslim students."

Space is set aside

Northwestern has set aside two sacred spaces within secular buildings where Muslims can pray. The multicultural center on campus includes a prayer space for students of all faiths. And classrooms are reserved weekly at the Technical Institute, which houses the school of engineering, a popular major among Northwestern's approximately 200 Muslim students.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council for American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, said the beauty of salaat is that it can be performed just about anywhere. Prayer space is often set aside in airports and hospitals, he said.

"If you don't have that option, you just close your eyes and concentrate," he said.

Rehab understands the discomfort about praying among crowds, however. He recalled that a group of Muslim fans were detained at a New York Giants game in September 2005 after they left the stands to pray. Space was set aside at the stadium after the incident.

Rehab said the quest for prayer space could be an opportunity to close the knowledge gap about Islam and teach more Americans about the central role of prayer in the Muslim faith.

Some students oppose request

The campus newspaper has published at least one letter to the editor in opposition to the Muslim students' endeavor to set aside space.

"Any spectator attending a sporting event recognizes that certain sacrifices must be made to attend a live event," wrote 2005 graduate Scott Barnett. "If attending a game interferes with one's religious rituals, I suggest they watch it at home or simply postpone the rituals until after the game."

But Ruediger Seesemann, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Northwestern, said academic institutions have a responsibility to encourage spiritual formation.

"These Muslim students want to integrate their Muslim identity with their identity as college students," he said. "Why not let them bring their prayer rugs, let them pray and let them enjoy the basketball game?"

"I personally think it can be settled in a very easy and uncomplicated way," Seesemann added. "The fact that it becomes a matter of debate is significant and points to the sensitivity of the issue."

That sensitivity, he said, stems from fear and a lack of knowledge about the Islamic faith--nothing a dialogue can't fix. A student senator representing the Muslim constituency on campus, sophomore Hibah Yousuf, hopes to launch that dialogue with administrators next week.

While she often prayed either before or after the fall football games, the matter took on greater significance after she performed hajj during the winter break. The pilgrimage to Mecca is required of all Muslims at least once in their lifetime. For Yousuf, the spiritual sojourn reinforced the importance of a sacred place to pray.

"Before I was going through the motions," Yousuf said.

Now she reads translated verses of the Koran beforehand and seeks a clean, quiet space for her communion with Allah.

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mbrachear@tribune.com


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune




 
Feature # 146

THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FORTY-THREE YEARS LATER: ARE WE STILL PROTECTED?
by Sadiya Ahmed

January 15, 2007

From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the marches in Washington, with the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., activists protested and fought against the discriminations that lay at the very foundation of America.

They questioned the notion of "separate but equal" institutions, which were always separate but never equal. Everyday heroes emerged and demanded what they felt was owed to them: equality.

Rosa Parks, an African American woman, refused to give up her seat on the bus to a Caucasian man. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech while Thurgood Marshall argued the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court.

The struggle for civil rights is a deeply-rooted one in American history, reaching its climax with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Forty-three years later, Americans enjoy the right to be free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and sexual orientation.

The existence of such protections is not the result of everyday legislation; it is an end product of the civil rights movement which we observe each year, on the third Monday of every January.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become a day that celebrates the struggle which has brought Americans closer to equality.

The civil rights movement redefined the meaning of "being American." For the first time being American was not contingent upon one's skin color. The inclusion of minorities as Americans meant that, for the first time, they were citizens, without strings attached; individuals, regardless of their race were able to call themselves American citizens and expected, and were entitled, to be treated equally.

Today, an alarmingly high number of individuals of Middle Eastern decent face delays getting their citizenship. They are denied their American identity, similar to the way African Americans were prior to 1964. They are denied the right to vote, participate in their government, or be active constituents, regardless of what their actual rights are. They are discriminated against because of their ethnicity and religion, something that was outlawed decades ago.

The early civil libertarians came together with one vision: all people must be ensured the same protections and liberties. However recently, civil rights violations have become so frequent that they have become a part of our lives.

The universal protections promised forty-three years ago do not stop discrimination against people who seem different. Reports of discrimination against individuals at the workplace, retaliation, and hate crimes flood the media yet often go ignored.

We have taken several steps backwards and resorted to legislation such as the Patriot Act, stripping people of the protections that were granted a mere four decades ago.

We are facing an erosion of civil rights which has sent us several steps backward. Legislation such as the Patriot Act permits secret and warrantless searches. In addition, the current provisions of the controversial legislation permit the indefinite detention of individuals, a problem that has become more widespread.

Our civil rights, which prominent figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X dedicated their entire lives to, are being trampled upon and we all continue to remain silent.

Sacrifices made by everyday people a mere four decades ago seem to have been forgotten, and we are left with a reminder that there was a time when our nation fought for the rights of individuals.

We celebrate Martin Luther King Day each year without asking ourselves if those rights are still secure. We seem to have forgotten about the dangers of a tiered citizenship system, where a person is considered first or second class, based upon his race.

It is high time that we not only recognize the grave danger we face of having all of our fundamental rights stripped away, but we must also actively strive to protect them, especially on a day that honors the notion of civil rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day should not become the token day for civil rights, where we congratulate ourselves for having come so far while ignoring the fundamental problems we face today. Rather, it should be an active part of what was once the civil rights movement.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 145

RACE HEATS UP IN CHICAGO'S MAYORAL ELECTIONS
by Erin Hartnett


The midterm Congressional elections are over but politics in Chicago are just starting to heat up. Round two of the elections in Chicago is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, February 27. In this year's municipal elections, the Mayor is up for reelection, along with selected members of the Chicago City Council and various local offices.

Following Representative Jackson and Representative Gutierrez's decisions to remain in Washington for another term, this year's mayoral campaign places five-term Mayor Richard M. Daley against Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls, III.

THE CANDIDATES

Mayor Richard M. Daley
If he is elected to and serves his entire sixth term, Mayor Richard M. Daley would be in office for 22 years, besting his father's record by one year. However, for the first time since his 1989 campaign, Daley seems to be facing a credible challenger.

The Mayor has heralded the various accomplishments of his past five terms, including the building of Millennium Park, an increase in tourism to the Chicago area, updates to the Chicago Transit Authority, a potential 2016 Olympic hosting bid, and continued North Side development. However, his administration has been plagued with the "Hired Truck Program" scandal, discontent over the destruction of Meigs field, and allegations of patronage.

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown
An attorney and a Certified Public Accountant, Dorothy Brown has been the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk since 2000 and has received the 2002 Hillary Rodham Clinton Leadership Award from the Illinois Democratic Women, the 2003 Marks of Excellence Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the 2003 Women of Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League, and the 2004 NAACP Proviso/Leyden Medal of Freedom.

She has spoken out against Mayor Daley's management of the Chicago Public Schools, proposing her own "Ten Point Plan" for educational reform which has been attacked as "cosmetic" by Walls. Where Brown wants educational funding to derive from state sales and income taxes, Walls endorses using state income and property taxes. Brown also wants an end to what she deems "educational apartheid." This term, which has been seen by many as inappropriate, is used by Brown to reference the vast disparity between elite and low-income public schools.

William "Dock" Walls
William "Dock" Walls, III was an assistant to former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington from 1983 to 1986. A graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, he served as National Political Director for the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's Rainbow PUSH organization and was the Illinois Primary surrogate for John Kerry's primary campaign. He garnered nearly 40,000 nominating signatures, and was the first challenger in six years to submit more signatures than Daley. Currently, Walls is director of the Committee for a Better Chicago. He has yet to release an education plan in response to Brown's, though he claims his is more structural and will be released sometime in January.

POINTS OF CONTENTION

One of the predominant issues arising in the race involves the 12,500-signature petitions required to place candidates on the ballot. William "Dock" Walls, III has challenged the validity of the Mayor's over 24,100 nominating petition signatures, claiming that at least 17,000 of them are either forgeries or from non-registered voters. In order to remove Daley from the ballot, Walls needs to nullify over 11,600 of the signatures—a daunting task.

In a Chicago Board of Elections hearing on the issue, Walls' and Daley's campaigns were each allowed to choose 500 signatures to be reviewed along with 6 additional pages of signatures. The Daley campaign has stood behind their signatures, going so far as to allow the Election Board to select the 500 names. In addition, Walls and Brown have agreed not to challenge each other's petitions.

Another area where the Daley, Brown, and Walls campaigns have come into disagreement is the scheduling of debates. The Mayor has announced that he will not participate in any of the debates, citing that he has continually answered questions from the press on issue positions multiple times a week throughout his time in office, and debates are only an opportunity for his opponents to gain free publicity.

Brown has characterized Daley's failure to participate as a fear of "answering tough questions," and an attempt to "hide from people." Walls has taken his objection a step further—threatening to follow the Mayor to public appearances, stating "Mayor, debate me or they'll be no surcease. I'll follow you everywhere."

For the first time since his election in 1989, Mayor Daley appears to be facing serious challengers for control of Chicago. It remains to be seen whether the various allegations plaguing his administration will be strong enough to overpower his strong base of support in the city.

If, on February 27, none of the candidates receive more than fifty percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in April between the two highest finishers. The presence of two viable contenders increases the likelihood of a runoff election, so for the first time in nearly twenty years the citizens of Chicago may witness a hotly contested mayoral race.

However, both challengers will need to run more than "Anti-Daley" smear campaigns if they want to unseat the political powerhouse. Brown and Walls must put aside petty mudslinging and juvenile character attacks in order to introduce real policy alternatives and establish credibility. If not, Mayor Daley can look forward to a record-breaking 22 years in office.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago



For more information on the candidates above, visit:


 
Feature # 144

CIVIL RIGHTS COORDINATOR DISCUSSES MUSLIM CIVIL RIGHTS CASE ON RADIO ISLAM


CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Coordinator, Christina Abraham, spoke on Radio Islam regarding the trial of Muhammad Salah. The interview aired on Friday, December 29th and was hosted by Ayesha Mustafaa.

Radio Islam Interview:



Abraham discussed the constitutional issues surrounding the case and the case’s impact upon civil liberties, explaining, "this is of concern to all Americans, because there are a lot of issues about this case that deal specifically with the rights that we have that are guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution."

For months the civil rights community in the Chicago area has held its breath awaiting the outcome of a trial with such far-reaching implications. The trial of Mohammad Salah and his co-defendants, now in its final week, is more than just a trial about alleged money-laundering; it is about how far a government can go in sacrificing the civil liberties and due process guaranteed by the Constitution.

"The Government was responsible for taking away [Mr. Salah's] property and his liberty without the due process of the law... he didn't get to face his accusers, he just had his liberties taken away from him without any kind of way to address it" stated Abraham.

Contact Christina Abraham at civilrights@cairchicago.org

Radio Islam is on WCEV 1450 AM Monday through Sunday from 6pm to 7pm. Under the umbrella of Sound Vision Foundation, RadioIslam.com launched its first show December 14, 1999 with the goal of providing informative and creative Internet and broadcast radio programming.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 143

KEITH ELLISON'S USE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON'S QURAN
by Sadiya Ahmed

January 4, 2007

Newly-elected members of Congress, as well as returning members, were sworn in on January 4, 2007. They promised to protect and uphold the Constitution and its principles. Later, in their private chambers, they then had a chance to "swear in" on a text of their choice. Whereas most use the Bible, for the first time in American history a congressman took his oath with a copy of the Quran.

Keith Ellison, the newly-elected Democrat from Minnesota, used the Quran for the second part of his ceremony. As an American-Muslim, he has made history by being the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives. Spurring a media buzz, many have not been receptive to Ellison's choice.

After weeks of debate about the preservation of "American culture" and "Judeo-Christian values," Mr. Ellison announced another unique twist: The Quran he used during the ceremony was lent to him by the Library of Congress' rare and special collections division, as it belonged to one of America's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.

What, exactly, does his choice of text mean?

A little known fact is that Thomas Jefferson, during the course of his legal education, studied the Quran as a book of law. He not only studied, but he began to learn Arabic, the original language of the Quran. He later pushed to include Arabic in the language curriculum at the College of William & Mary.

Further, Jefferson believed in an individual's right to be able to practice his/her religion freely, a key component of the Bill of Rights. He feared that the United States would face similar problems to those in England, which persecuted anyone who did not adhere to the state-sponsored religion. Jefferson's vision (as well as that of some other founders of the Constitution) was of a society that prohibited religious discrimination. The following statement, made by a group of American pioneers can be found in one of the United States' most sacred texts, the American Constitution:

"The Senators and Representatives...and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Ellison's use of Jefferson's copy demonstrates the framers' endorsement of religious tolerance and practice of openness. Jefferson's interest in the Quran during a time when people wanted to exclude "the Mohammedans" from holding office suggests his willingness to support people of different faith backgrounds as members of the American society. Additionally, Jefferson's use of the Quran as a book of law implies that perhaps being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive, an idea that is still hotly contested today.

Jefferson's interest in protecting people from religious persecution is one that seems to have been recently forgotten. Though we, as Americans, pride ourselves on our democratic practices of free elections, term limits, and holding our representatives accountable, we seem to have forgotten the very first part of the Bill of Rights. We attack anything that we are not familiar with, and currently that attack is heavily focused upon American-Muslims. Currently on the front-lines of that attack is an American-Muslim who has been democratically-elected, and his right to use the book of his choice in his swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Ellison's decision to use the Quran during the private part of his ceremony not only allows him to practice his religion freely but it demonstrates the intent of our country's founders. They not only believed in the right to practice one's religion freely, some of them practiced it by learning about the beliefs of others. So then the question is no longer why Mr. Ellison chose to use Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Quran, but rather, why wouldn't he?

Sadiya Ahmed is CAIR-Chicago's Governmental Relations Coordinator and can be reached at gov.relations@cairchicago.org.


copyright © 2007, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 142

MEDIATING EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION DISPUTES
by Maaria Mozaffar

January 2, 2007

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is an institution that allows individuals to file complaints of discrimination, and offers mediation for employment disputes. The specific purpose of EEOC mediations is to allow an injured employee to resolve any employment issues with his/her employer without pursuing litigation. However, the overall benefits that mediation gives go well beyond the formal scope of a mediation session. It allows an individual to face his/her employer and have an opportunity to defend their personal dignity. This ambitious result is due to two key factors.

Firstly, the mere structural components of a mediation session facilitate the opportunity for injured employees to be heard fairly and clearly.

To start, an EEOC mediation allows the injured party to introduce, in his/her own words, the basis of their claims of discrimination. Prior to this stage, the injured party has already attempted to contact the employer through correspondence, internal grievance procedures, or simple verbal communication. Unfortunately none of these attempts at communication have resulted in any substantive change for the employee that has faced the discrimination.

The introduction or opening statement part of the mediation allows the injured employee for the first time to look his/her employer dead in the eye and air out their version of the story. In addition, mediations are usually attended by not only the employee's direct supervisor but also high level corporate officers of the employer.

Most recently, CAIR-Chicago represented a client in a mediation session in which an elderly Muslim gentleman who had been employed for more than 15 years at his company was allowed to finally stand up and air grievances against his immediate manager. The immediate manager had a history of being disrespectful and discriminatory towards the client. The client confronted his manager in front of the employer's CEO. We watched the dignity our client portrayed as he spoke about his loyalty to the company, but his disappointment in how he was being treated. The client's calm demeanor and firm class was inspiring.

After the introduction of opening statements, the employer is required to verbally respond to the injured employee. Prior to this, the employer would have been able to evade the employee by not responding to requests for meetings with the injured employee, delaying correspondence, or playing the excuse card of over-packed schedules. During this particular mediation, the CEO of the employer apologized sincerely and profusely for the manager's actions; indicating to the client that his immediate manager's behavior was not reflective of the company's overall approach towards conflict resolution. In addition, the client's immediate manager was silent and offered no explanations for his poor behavior and instances of evading managerial responsibility. One could see the sense of victory in the eyes of our client.

The second part of the mediation allows each party to ask questions and openly discuss possible alternatives to satisfy both parties at the table. At this point, the injured employee displays the most control over his/her options in resolution. This gives the client the indication that he/she has a right to a positive resolution of their case. These moments, from discussion to negotiation to actually signing a settlement, displays to the injured party a sharp contrast from his/her experiences of humiliation and personal degradation. Whereas before, the injured party was made to feel inferior, they now face their discriminators on equal footing. CAIR-Chicago's most recent client took the opportunity to negotiate a resolution to every single issue that was facing him; resulting in a detailed comprehensive seven point settlement agreement. The agreement provided substantive changes for our client, but more importantly it gave him the sense of control over his circumstances, his response to his employer's actions and his personal dignity.

The second and more significant attribute of EEOC mediations that give injured employees a feeling of victory is its legally binding authority. Our clients all know that they have not taken a back seat of asserting their rights by not litigating; instead they managed to find a faster, more efficient method in resolving their issues without paying legal fees. This allows injured employees to go back to their place of employment with their held head high. All settlement agreements, if violated, are enforceable in a court of law. All injured employees know full well why their employer agrees to mediation. Specifically, employers come to mediation when they know that indeed a court of law may find them guilty of civil rights violations.

Mediation gives employees an opportunity to be heard, to be seen, and to be protected. However, the most important attribute of mediation is that it allows the employer to hear, to watch and understand the purpose of legal protections. The moment the ink hits the paper the employer begins to learn of its responsibilities and is also reminded of the strength and dignity of its employee.

Maaria Mozaffar is CAIR-Chicago's Legal Advisor and can be reached at legal@cairchicago.org.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 141

TAKING ISLAM OUT OF RADICALISM
by Reem Rahman

December 29, 2006

In response to the Chicago Tribune article: Why the rise of radical Islam?

I am disappointed that the Chicago-Tribune chose to print Victor Hanson's "Why the Rise of Radical Islam?" Hanson's commentary is characterized by selective slicing of history and simplistic suggestions for solutions to the problem of a global rise in extremism.

Hanson offers a gross reduction of current events in order to support his views of "the rise of radical Islam." He selectively cites events of violence, genocide, terror, and oppression as acts united by the factor of "radical Islam." Such complex global crises are real and serious. Issues of such import should not be so expediently categorized or diagnosed.

To use the word Islam to qualify the problem of radicalism is highly problematic. Such reductive terminology asserts that anti-civilization radicals are inspired by Islam; standing in flagrant opposition to the vast majority of peaceful Muslims who reject that Islam informs such activity.

Hanson's argument gives credibility to marginalized groups hijacking Islam and empowers their intended projection as a legitimate and growing force.

Terrorists by definition are marginalized elements of society—sub national, clandestine and difficult to locate or identify. Terrorists are not united, and certainly not by any credible ideology.

Islam-i-cist, radical Islam, Islam-o-facism—or whatever the popularized quantifier of the moment may be—is not the problem.

"The data show that, [what] nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland," and have little to do with "Islamic fundamentalism or any one of the world's religions," states terrorism expert, Robert A. Pape, Associate Professor at the University of Chicago.

The terror tactics of radicals are to Islam what adultery is to marriage: antithetical to its moral foundations; reprehensible.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 140

PRESERVING AMERICAN VALUES: WHOSE FREEDOMS ARE BEING THREATENED?
by Sadiya Ahmed

December 25, 2006

There has been a lot of talk lately about America being stripped of its traditional values. Newly-elected Congressman Keith Ellison has not even started his job yet and he is already facing criticism from the conservative right for wanting to take his oath on the Qur'an. What started off as Mr. Ellison's right to practice his religion freely (a fundamental principle of the Constitution), has turned into a hodge-podge of Islamophobic and anti-immigrant remarks.

The most recent entry into the debate has been Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA). In a letter sent to his constituents, Representative Goode warns of the so-called negative effect that Mr. Ellison's election, as an American-Muslim could have on traditional American values. He wrote of his fear of more Muslims getting elected into office in the future, if we "let" Mr. Ellison take his oath on the Qur'an. In fact, he went so far as to say, "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped." Is a strict, limited immigration policy the panacea to preserving "American values?"

Mr. Ellison happens to be an American who can trace his genealogy in the United States as far back as 1742. So where does the "Goode" approach to immigration come in again?

Even if the immigration argument was somehow relevant to the issue at hand, let us go through a very quick history lesson.

The Pilgrims immigrated (yes, contrary to popular assumption, they were not the first people in the Americas) to the present-day United States to escape religious persecution in England; that's why one of the most fundamental tenets of the Constitution is the right to practice one's religion freely. So to attack Mr. Ellison, or any individual for that matter, for practicing his faith and prevent him from doing so is a constitutional violation.

The Constitution strictly bars the use of religion to screen members of Congress, therefore no religious texts are used during the swearing-in ceremony. Religious texts are used during private, ceremonial sessions.

So, the issue really isn't about preserving "traditional American values" as Representative Goode puts it. Preserving American values means one ought to protect the rights of an individual to practice his religion freely, without fear of persecution, as the framers of the Constitution intended. Preserving American values means continuing to incorporate and welcome people, regardless of race, creed, religion, or ethnicity into our American society.

The fear is not of losing American values—it is a fear of the unknown. Selective, negative publicity that demonizes immigrants and categorizes them as national security threats creates an ‘us versus them' dichotomy which marks immigrants as burdens on American society and makes the idea of being American while being an immigrant a mutually exclusive concept.

If we really believe in preserving American values, then we must strive to protect our very basic rights, the ideas that the Constitution was founded upon. We must also strive to respect, not merely tolerate, cultural and religious differences between us. After all, isn't that why America is referred to as "The Melting Pot?"

Sadiya Ahmed can be contacted at gov.relations@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 139

SPRING 2007 INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AT CAIR-CHICAGO

CAIR-Chicago, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is currently offering 18 new internship opportunities. CAIR is the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization. The organization's 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.

All internships are unpaid. Internships last one semester and include a 12-hour/week commitment. Applicants should email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: internships@cairchicago.org.

APPLICATION GUIDELINES:
clearly indicate which internship opportunity you are applying for in your cover letter. If you are applying for more than one position, please list in order of preference. All spring applications are due by December 31st (please note: spring internships usually run from January through May). Applications that do not list the above information will not be processed. If you have any questions, please email all inquiries to internships@cairchicago.org. Students interested in receiving class credit, should indicate so in their cover letters. Credit will be arranged during the first week of the academic semester.

Listing of all internships by department:

Civil Rights:
CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
LAW CLERK (Open to Law Students Only)

Communications:
COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN
PHOTO JOURNALIST INTERN

Governmental Relations:
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS COMMUNITY ORGANIZING VOLUNTEER RECRUITER
VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
POLICY RESEARCH INTERN  

Operations:
INFORMATION DESK
OPERATIONS INTERN
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN

Outreach:
PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN


CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT

Our Civil Rights Department handles cases that range from prejudiced gestures to full blown discrimination. Our clients are Muslims as well as non-Muslims who have had Islam imputed upon them.

Interns and Law Clerks may work on any of the following projects:

Citizenship Delay project - seeks to address the lengthy delays Muslims are facing in applying for citizenship
Police Misconduct project - addresses incidents where police officers have discriminated or used excessive force against Muslims
Prison project - secures the rights of Muslim inmates to practice their religion freely, and ensures that inmates are treated humanely
Airport Profiling project - helps Muslims who have been discriminated against at airports
Employment Discrimination project - helps Muslims discriminated against based on religion at the workplace.

CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Civil Rights Coordinator and staff attorney on resolving cases of discrimination reported to CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents
  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit
  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center
  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago

Qualifications:
  • Organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community


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CIVIL RIGHTS LAW CLERK (Open to Law Students Only)
Extern will work closely with the Civil Rights Coordinator and staff attorney on resolving cases of discrimination reported to CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents
  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit
  • Legal writing: drafting arguments, memos and complaints
  • Participate in representing complainants in dispute resolution, EEOC mediation, filing complaints and law suits
  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center
  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago

Qualifications:
  • Organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community


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COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Communications Department monitors the local media closely and flags coverage of issues relating to Islam and Muslims. The Department also holds Press Conferences and issues press releases, media advisories, and story pitches in order to ensure that Muslim perspectives on pressing issues and current events are represented in the mainstream media.

COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on projects and/or daily tasks per CAIR-Chicago's organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Work on pieces that deconstruct sensational and biased coverage of issues pertinent to Muslims and Islam. The purpose is to flag such pieces, to highlight their inaccuracies, and to offer thoughtful analyses that diffuse misconceptions.
  • Students work will be published and featured in a variety of ways:
a. Published as letters to the editor and as perspective pieces in Chicago's main newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, Daily Herald, and Daily Southtown, as well as community papers, Final Call and Muslim Journal

b. Submitted to fourteen community newspapers published by the Southwest News Messenger

c. Published on the CAIR-Chicago website as well as other well-traversed websites such as Media Monitors (archived by Google)

d. Featured in the upcoming Chicago Media Review Blog (to be launched)

The targeted audience of these pieces is the general American public readers of the main Chicagoland newspapers and web surfers. Journalism students preferred.

  • Interns will work on long term research projects assisting with the development of qualitative and quantitative reports, such as the Chicago-Tribune Review, analysis of the Chicago-Tribune's coverage of Islam and Muslims over the year and the Barnes and Nobles Shelf Study, analysis of the proportion of books available on Islam and Muslims.
  • Interns will participate in BLOG Watch, where major BLOGs are monitored and responded to, so as to address inaccuracies and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.

Qualifications:
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Proficient with Windows XP, Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Explorer
  • Proficient with internet research
  • Experience with general administrative support a plus


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CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on this new initiative which seeks to build bridges of dialogue and understanding between the Muslim community and other Chicago religious communities.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in public speaking engagements at different religious centers in Chicago
  • Research Chicago religious communities and current religious and political issues on the international, national, and local levels
  • Speech writing
  • Community relations

Qualifications:
  • Knowledgeable about international, national, and local religious and political issues, and comparative religion
  • Experience and comfort with public speaking, engaging with diverse faith perspectives, and articulating a Muslim faith perspective.


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FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on Faith Core, a new biweekly journal, which seeks to provide an open forum for thinkers of diverse backgrounds to share faith-based reflections on a common theme.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Editing and soliciting articles to be published in Faith Core
  • Community relations

Qualifications:
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Knowledgeable about comparative religion and contemporary religious issues


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PHOTO JOURNALIST INTERN
Intern will work with CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director, coordinators, and team members to create visual messaging for web display, campaigns, and presentations

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Provide photo coverage to document CAIR-Chicago's activities and events
  • Coordinate schedule to ensure that events are covered from start to finish
  • Capture proceedings, activities, and event highlights to convey event theme
  • Upload pictures for organization and archiving purposes
  • Take general photographs to portray routine, relevant organizational processes
  • Identify key figure and themes to assist with captioning and photo layout

Qualifications:
  • must have a flexible schedule to accommodate weekends and evenings
  • access to appropriate equipment preferred
  • a portfolio illustrating previous experience and work desired


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GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Governmental Relations Department seeks to organize, mobilize, and empower Chicagoland's Muslim community with long-term civic participation. Its educational initiatives help community members understand the political system and utilize it to work for their issues. Projects include voter registration drives, community workshops, "know your rights" educational campaigns, and training sessions at mosques and community centers on how to contact and engage local and national politicians. The department also systematically works to educate local political representatives about their Muslim constituents while ultimately engaging these representatives with the Muslim community's unique issues and concerns.

GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Governmental Relations Coordinator with projects and/or daily tasks within the scope of CAIR-Chicago's organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Updating and maintaining departmental files
  • Contributing written pieces to “The Mobilizer” (the Governmental Relations Blogs)
  • Running errands outside of the office as needed
  • Update voter files
  • Occasionally assisting in legislative and/or electoral research

Qualifications:
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Power Point)
  • Self starter and ability to multitask


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GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS COMMUNITY ORGANIZING VOLUNTEER RECRUITER
Intern will closely with the Governmental Relations Coordinator and Political Organizer to recruit volunteers for the 2006 voter mobilization effort.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Develop comprehensive strategy to recruit volunteers for political campaigns
  • Assist the political organizer in coordinating volunteer activities in the Bridgeview area
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to be used across Muslim communities for political volunteer recruitment
  • Create a centralized database of volunteers to be used in the future

Qualifications:
  • Be familiar with the Muslim community
  • Have experience in working with mosque leadership
  • Be familiar with the Bridgeview area
  • Have previous experience in recruiting volunteers/working with large groups of volunteers


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VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
Intern(s) will work with the Governmental Relations Coordinator to develop creative educational material for the Muslim community.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Develop voter education materials to distribute to the Muslim community
  • Research new civic education materials to be distributed to the community
  • Assist in planning civic duty 101 classes for mosques and local area community centers
  • Assist in establishing communication with elected officials' personnel to obtain information as needed

Qualifications:
  • Self starter and ability to multitask
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office applications
  • Outgoing and able to communicate with offices of elected officials


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POLICY RESEARCH INTERN  
Intern will work with the Governmental Relations Coordinator to develop CAIR-Chicago's position on all relevant legislation and policies.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Research new legislation relevant to CAIR-Chicago
  • Assist the Governmental Relations Coordinator in analyzing current and proposed legislations
  • Developing detailed analysis for internal use
  • Occasionally working with other intern(s) to develop educational materials for the Muslim community

Qualifications:
  • Strong background in research
  • Strong writing and verbal skills
  • Self starter and ability to multitask


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OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT

The Operations Department manages a variety of tasks and processes in order to facilitate the maintenance and improvement of daily functions within the organization and its constituent departments. Internally, this includes HR related tasks, updating organizational records and files, corresponding with government offices and vendors, IT support, and directing incoming communication via email and phone to their respective departments.

The Operations Department also coordinates HTML and graphical composition for the creation of printed materials, website updates, and email campaigns. The Operations Department performs ongoing research and undertakes special projects designed to improve CAIR-Chicago's function and efficiency.


INFORMATION DESK
Intern will work with the Operations Coordinator to assist clients and facilitate requests from external partners, agencies, and organizations.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Understand scope and implementation of functions within CAIR-Chicago
  • Serve as the first point of contact for all internal departments
  • Document incoming requests for demographic analysis
  • Coordinate efforts between departments to resolve incoming requests
  • Direct and assist media, legal professionals, clients, and general public with relevant information
  • Assist with general administrative work as needed

Qualifications:
  • Candidate must be detail oriented, possess a high level of awareness and initiative
  • Must display an accommodating, professional image and demeanor
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Must display a high level of reliability and resourcefulness
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Office products, e.g. Word, Excel


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OPERATIONS INTERN
Intern will assist the Operations Coordinator with projects and/or daily tasks within the scope of CAIR-Chicago's organizational needs.

Duties are dependent upon candidate's skill sets and may include the following responsibilities (other duties may be assigned):
  • Provide orientation and support for office staff and interns regarding office protocol and procedures.
  • Audit existing records, files, databases, and web material
  • Research applicable equipment grants, offers, and reimbursement programs.
  • Provide assistance with a variety of daily and periodical tasks, including donation processing, file organization, and compiling information.
  • Create procedure logs to document CAIR-Chicago's profile, current procedures and new protocols.

Qualifications:
  • Business and accounting majors are encouraged to apply.
  • Ideal candidates will possess strong problem solving skills and the ability to handle a variety of challenges.
  • Strong oral & written and interpersonal skills required.
  • Proficiency with MS Word, Excel, and the ability to learn internet applications to document, organize, and perform work assignments.


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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Operations Coordinator to support the office LAN and assigned application based data projects.

Duties are dependent upon candidate's skill sets and may include the following responsibilities (other duties may be assigned):
  • MS Access Database development
  • Network Management and Troubleshooting
  • Maintaining office computers running Windows XP
  • Providing helpdesk support for CAIR-Chicago Staff, interns, and volunteers
  • Independently researching solutions for developing network and application needs
  • Intern/Volunteer will be expected to help train staff, interns, and volunteers with basic Desktop Support to help build their skills Document solutions for future reference and training

Preferred Qualifications:
  • Familiarity with MS Office applications, Windows XP
  • Ability to research and implement solutions to new problems
  • Hardware maintenance skills
  • Knowledge of freeware resources
  • Ability to work independently and without supervision, to complete assignments, and communicate solutions to problems effectively with team members.


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EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Executive Director on projects and/or daily tasks within a focus on organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned).
  • Corresponding with organizations & individuals on behalf of the Executive Director
  • Logistical planning for the Executive Director's speaking engagements / Events/ Business Travel
  • Daily office assistance: answering & making phone calls / scheduling / typing letters / writing emails
  • Filing / data entry / sorting mail
  • Research and reporting
  • Conducting out-of-office projects

Qualifications:
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Power Point)
  • Working knowledge of the Internet / E-mail
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Self starter and ability to multitask
  • Dependable and trustworthy


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OUTREACH DEPARTMENT

The Outreach Department seeks to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with local and national institutions. It also works to foster an understanding between Chicago's Muslim and non-Muslim communities via educational collaborations. Lastly, it recruits and pairs the right talent (volunteers and interns) with the appropriate CAIR-Chicago projects.

PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on establishing or maintaining relations with Chicago-based organizations on issues that are of CAIR-Chicago's scope.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Research organizations that overlap with CAIR-Chicago in scope
  • Meet with representatives of various organizations in the Chicagoland area
  • Conduct Intro to CAIR-Chicago presentations
  • Maintain appropriate files and databases
  • Maintain Online Partners Page
  • Design promotional materials for different events and different audiences
  • Publicize CAIR-Chicago events
  • Post events to appropriate websites and list serves
  • Manage the CAIR-Chicago Publicity Committee

Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing and self-motivated
  • Strong organizational and multi-tasking skills
  • Excellent critical thinking and visual skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure


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PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator or Cultural Sensitivity Trainer on developing educational material on Islam and Muslims, as well as coordinating and/or conducting presentations on topics relating to Islam.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Create educational material on Islam and Muslims
  • Create a speaker's bureau database on topics relating to Islam
  • Conduct presentations on topics relating to Islam (training provided)
  • Coordinate workshops relating to Islam, as needed

Qualifications:
  • Organized, multi-tasked and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Possess excellent oral and written communications skills as well as the ability to do extensive research
  • Familiar with Excel, Access and Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Ability to integrate graphical software within Power Point presentations
  • Education, Middle Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies majors preferred


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HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on maintaining both the internship and volunteerism programs of CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in setting up for-credit internships for undergraduate and graduate university students by completing the appropriate paperwork and maintaining the necessary databases
  • Conduct presentations on the importance of volunteerism and discuss existing volunteer opportunities at CAIR-Chicago within the Greater Chicagoland area
  • Direct volunteers and liaisons as needed
  • Plan and coordinate social outings for volunteers
  • Assist in developing CAIR-Chicago volunteer gear
  • Follow-up on new volunteer applications using SmartFTP (training will be provided)
  • Maintain Online Volunteer Center Blackboard (training will be provided)

Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing, and demonstrate strong leadership skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Detail-oriented and excellent organizational skills


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MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on managing the Muslims Care project: a national initiative which promotes volunteerism.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Plan and coordinate 1-2 community service events per month
  • Work in conjunction with other Chicagoland organizations on monthly community service events
  • Publicize events to CAIR-Chicago constituents
  • Attend events and report back to the Outreach Department

Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing, and demonstrate strong leadership skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Detail-oriented and excellent organizational skills


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copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago



  • None


 
Feature # 138

WILL AMERICA OVERCOME THE WILLFUL IGNORANCE OF DIXIECRAT MCCARTHYISM?
By Sultan Muhammad

December 18, 2006

In response to the Chicago Tribune article: U.S. will survive one hand on Koran

It is hard to understand why there is a growing editorial tendency toward willful ignorance and Islamophobic extremism. It is growing at the expense of intellectual honesty and moral reason.

Not that a columnist should not have an opinion, but when opinion morphs into overt hatemongering and dualist propaganda, then editors have the responsibility to prevent the incitement spewed by fringe agitators.

Simply put: hate breeds hate.

In a world where there is no "multi-culti" threat of political correctness and the word "racist" has been banned, because "no word has suffered more abuse," Kathleen Parker and Dennis Prager are whistling Dixiecract with Trent Lott.

Kathleen Parker, in her column, 'U.S. will survive one hand on Koran" (Commentary, Dec. 13) – opted to endorse Prager, who has widely been identified from "all sides" as, "intolerant" and a "bigot."

Although Parker's column was also published under the more polemically charged alias, 'the wolf who cried racist," by the Jewish World Review, it lost none of its invectiveness in its Chicago-Tribune debut.

The Prager fiasco began with a recent column he penned, "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on." Ellison is the first Muslim Congressman and America's first elected African-American to Minnesota Congress.

In his column, Prager effectively trivialized the atrocities of the Holocaust in an indignant analogy where he compared Congressman-elect Keith Ellison's choice to take his congressional oath using the Holy book of his faith- the Koran - to a racist Nazi taking his on a copy of Hitler's Mien Kampf.

Parker concedes that Prager was "technically wrong" in his disregard for Constitutional freedoms that express separation of church and state, yet remains a cheerleader for his gross misrepresentation of America's civil status quo.

Prager's harangue was repudiated in a statement issued by the prominent Jewish advocacy group, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), which described Prager's diatribe as "ugly…intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American."

Prager's extremism galvanized the ADL, Mayor Ed Koch, the American Family Association, and CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) to respond in united condemnation of his views.

Still Parker joined Prager's monomania and found room to characterize the backlash to his dogma as a recent case where "Muslim and Jew have slugged it out." Contrary to this mischaracterization and as she Parker herself acknowledges throughout the article, this is not a debate that polarizes sides across religious lines. In fact, this is very much a case where "Jew and Jew have slugged it out." The debate has nothing to do with Jews versus Muslims, it has everything to do with Prager versus the majority of Americans (Muslim, Jewish, Christian and otherwise) who took offense to his intolerant and anti-constitutional rant.

And yet, Parker depicts him as "a thoroughly decent fellow," with merely an "unpopular opinion." In her endorsement, she reasserts a number of religiously intolerant and historically revisionist attitudes voiced by Prager with alarmist sensationalism. She describes America as a "Bible-swearing nation" undermining, as Prager has, our secular democratic values that recognize our nation's pluralism.

She refers to a monolithic "radical Muslim world, with the expressed goal of which is to convert us," whereas the reality is that few Muslims in the world ascribe to that agenda. The great majority of Muslims, especially those who happen to be American, simply wish to practice their faith without ridicule or harassment. Their efforts embodied in their representative organizations including CAIR have been pooled toward encouraging pluralistic coexistence and tolerance for all.

According to Parker, expressing your faith, if you are Muslim, is "probable cause to infer" that you are out to make one statement or another. This, of course, is a most disingenuous argument. For Muslims no less than for anyone else, expressing your faith should be taken as no more than – well – expressing your faith. Her selectiveness and aggressive hyperbole, framed in folksy phrases like "traditional values" and "American solidarity," barely conceals her ideological hostility.

The noise of divided opinion, spun by Islamophobic pundits, truly has amplified to a pitch reflective of a nation terrorized by its own uncertainty- caught between the fringes of Dixiecrat McCarthyism and the atrocities of terrorist extremism.

Encouragingly, moderation seems to have found plenty of spokespersons who have courageously raised their voices against Prager's scapegoating of Congressmen-elect Ellison. Parker, on the other hand, seems deafened by "one hand on the Koran."


Copyright © 2006 CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 137

SALAH AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON CIVIL LIBERTIES IN THE U.S.
By Christina Abraham

December 14, 2006

CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Coordinator argues that much of the interest in the Salah case is not about outcome, but rather about process.

For months now, the civil rights community in the Chicago area has held its breath awaiting the outcome of a trial whose implications are far reaching. The trial of Mohammad Salah and his co-defendants is more than just a trial about alleged money-laundering; it is about how far a government can go in sacrificing the civil liberties and due process guaranteed by the constitution.

Of the issues surrounding the trial is the issue of admitting information obtained through torture as evidence against a defendant. Mohammad Salah is a U.S. citizen who was arrested at a Gaza checkpoint while trying to deliver monetary aid to Palestinian families torn apart due to Israeli military activity. Salah was subsequently tortured and interrogated for 74 days and eventually signed a confession in Hebrew – a language he does not understand. He was tried before an Israeli Military Court and sentenced to five years in prison. After serving his sentence, Salah returned to his family in Chicago where he was placed on the government’s Specially Designated Terrorist list. Salah’s family assets were frozen and he had to obtain permission from the government for integral activities such as applying for a job, retaining an attorney, opening a bank account, or obtaining medical care.

After September 11, 2001, the government – who had for seven years not filed any charges against Salah, but instead placed him and his family under their watchful eye – re-opened a grand jury investigation into him. In 2004, Salah was charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Hamas. This charge was recently dropped and the current charges against him involve allegations of money-laundering for Hamas. The only substantial evidence against Salah is the confession he signed under torture in 1993. Hamas was not designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. until 1995.

What has become painfully clear in this trial is that the government is all-too-willing to accept as evidence information obtained from a foreign state using methods that they themselves are prohibited from using. It is perplexing to understand the reasoning behind a court’s decision to accept into evidence a confession that, had it occurred in the U.S., would have been thrown out in a heartbeat. If a person is detained in the U.S., and is interrogated and subjected to inhumane conditions for weeks before being allowed to even speak with an attorney, any statements they would have made to law enforcement would never be accepted at trial.

Such is the case with Mohammad Salah; the only difference is that those actions were conducted in Israel by Israeli officers. How is it that our government can allow it in our courts simply because it occurred on foreign soil? This is not the way we do things in this country. It has long been established in this country’s legal tradition that information obtained through the use of torture is not only unconstitutional, but also unreliable. A person subjected to inhumane conditions and torture tactics for 74 days is likely to say anything to make the torture stop. Moreover, the confession was written in a language foreign to Salah.

Further, Salah’s placement on the government’s Specially Designated Terrorist list is unconstitutional as there is no provision by which Salah could challenge the designation, yet it had real, material impact on his freedom to engage in some of society’s most basic functions. Such deprivation of the liberties of a U.S. citizen clearly goes against the heart of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which states, “No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Our nation’s courts should apply a simple test in trying cases such as these in the future: the “Pretend It Happened in the U.S.” test. If the case comes before a U.S. court, and the charges pertain to the alleged breach of U.S. law by a U.S. citizen, then that citizen should be afforded every protection of his/her civil rights guaranteed by the constitution of this country. This nation has a traditionally high standard in regard to the treatment of individuals detained by law enforcement, and that standard was not attained without a price. Countless people made substantial sacrifices to ensure that standard would apply to members of this society. If a foreign nation does not share those values with us, then we cannot rely on information they obtain using methods of torture in prosecuting our citizens.

Christina Abraham can be contacted at civilrights@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 136

THE ROAD TO 2008: WHAT IS THE AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY'S ROLE?
By Sadiya Ahmed

December 11, 2006

The Democrats in Congress have renewed hope, after taking control over the House and the Senate during the November election.

They have vowed to fight excessive spending, build a more ethical congress and to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which was the subject of many political campaigns during this election year. The Republicans too have announced plans to reform their party.

A shift in power in both the House and the Senate now means a fairly low key end to the current session, with the more controversial issues to be handled after congress reconvenes with a Democrat majority in January.

Issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and certain spending bills have been put on hold until there is more time to decide on them. Some of those issues, Democrats promised, will be handled within the first 100 days of the new session, commonly referred to as the "honeymoon".

With a president that supports comprehensive immigration reform, a divided GOP on the issue, and a Democratic congress by only a narrow margin, there is potential for gridlock where not much legislation will get passed.

Given such a scenario, the American public has begun looking ahead to the 2008 election as one that will bring about a more dramatic change in politics, with a ‘sneak preview' in 2006.

Immigrant communities and advocacy groups rallied around immigrants' rights and had record numbers on Election Day. The American-Muslim community is certainly not exempt from these statistics.

In fact, during the course of the 2006 election, CAIR-Chicago, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), was able to increase voter registrations by 80 percent and voter turnout by 50 percent in the southwestern suburb of Bridgeview.

So, what does this all mean for American-Muslims in 2008?

As a community that has more politically aware and active in the last few years, American-Muslims can play a potentially large role in the upcoming election. With more immigrants becoming citizens and potential voters, the community has become one that has finally begun taking stances on issues that affects its members directly and indirectly.

The activism of one of the newer communities in the United States has been credited to the post 9/11 era, in light of the increase in civil rights abuses that the Muslim community has begun to face.

Regardless of the cause for a more politically conscious Muslim community, there are more politically active Muslims engaging in proactive discourse and professional activism than there were ten years ago.

With the first ever American-Muslim elected to the elected to Congress, Keith Ellison is seen as a pioneer. Regardless of what policies he may push once he becomes an active member of the House, Ellison has become an individual providing American Muslims with hope that we will be able to create an agenda that is specific to the needs of our community.

However, for this vision and hope to become reality, the Muslim community must push itself to its limits the way many other immigrant communities have done to excel politically.

Over the next two years, the American-Muslim community must engage itself in constructive and proactive dialogue about the role the Muslims in the political arena, not only with itself, but with mainstream Americans.

If it is to lay a solid foundation in politics, it must educate itself so that each member of the community is aware of the functions of its government and the responsibilities of both elected officials and their constituents.

But, actions speak louder than words.

Not only must dialogue play a central role, participating in meetings with elected officials, conducting voter education projects, and mobilizing people toward activities that identify the American-Muslim community as positive agent of political change.

The next two years will determine who will win the presidency in 2008. The new resident of the White House in 2008 will be determined by the newly activated communities. The role of the American-Muslim community in this election can potentially steer politics in a different direction but only if it makes the commitment to do so. Not simply by talking about it, but rather being about it.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 135

DENNIS PRAGER'S RANT EXPOSES RAW HATE
By Ahmed Rehab

December 8, 2006

Media Monitors Network

Of all the shameless, intolerant, and divisive rants I have come across on the far-right blogosphere this year – and I have come across plenty – Dennis Prager's recent Bible-thumping, Ellison-Bashing diatribe takes the cake.

Prager, in his now infamous townhall.com column, argues that Keith Ellison, America's first-ever Muslim congressman, "should not be allowed" to take an oath on the "bible of Islam" and instead should be forced to take his oath on the "Bible" of Christianity.

Why, you may ask?

Because by taking his oath on the Qur'an, Ellison "undermines American civilization," Prager warns us.

But that's not all.

Prager contends that if Ellison does so, "he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11."

There are so many things wrong with Prager's preposterous argumentation.

For one, it is irresponsible, at the very least, to compare the relatively uneventful effect of one congressman's ceremonial oath to the tragic effects of a monstrous attack that took 3,000 innocent lives and scarred our nation forever.

Likewise, it is insane to compare a democratically-elected and committed leader of this country to its most deadly assailants. The only reason why Prager thought up such a farcical and far-fetched allusion in the first place is that Ellison is Muslim. It is inconceivable that he would have invoked the 9-11 terrorist attack had Ellison ascribed to any faith other than Islam.

Secondly, what is with the Bible litmus test?

Since when does America stipulate that its elected officials must show loyalty to a specific theology before they can be loyal citizens and trustworthy public officers? How can a self-describing American patriot further a proposition that so grossly undermines the very principles of America?

Morbid Irony

Indeed, one needs dig no deeper than the very title of Prager's column to excavate the morbid irony in his two-faced treatise: "America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on."

OK, so what does the U.S. Constitution – a.k.a. America - decide for Ellison?

The third paragraph of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution reads:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

By suggesting that members be compelled to take their oath to defend and uphold the Constitution on the Bible, Prager is advocating that they breach the very oath they are taking, as they are taking it.

It is not Ellison who threatens to "undermine American civilization." It is in fact Prager who is uneasy with our secular democratic politics and our religiously pluralistic society and is demanding that we revert to the standards of some medieval vessel of Christendom. "America is interested in only one book, the Bible," Prager preaches in one of many bizarre lines that seem to dominate his column.

Prager's Breed

If Prager's extremism scares you, here's the scarier part: Prager is not alone out there. He's just one manifestation of a larger phenomenon that is finding plenty of fertile soil in the post 9-11 hysteria that has gripped our ailing nation.

They come out as self-proclaimed defenders of America, but soon enough, end up spewing vitriolic rhetoric that undermines many of the core values that America stands for.

They bear no compelling or outstanding qualifications. No one ever elected them as official spokespersons for America. Yet on a daily basis, they purport to tell us what America is and what it is not, what our traditions and values should be and what they should not be.

They issue decrees on the rest of us, heaping praise on the "good" (whosoever agrees with them), and character-smearing the "bad" (whosoever disagrees).

They call themselves "politically conservative", but they conserve for America little more than the remnants of the racism and intolerance that once went virtually unchallenged in this country.

They have an aversion to debate, and a dependence on fear-mongering. They tolerate hate and hate tolerance. They cultivate suspicion, feed into stereotypes, and incite xenophobia.

They draw hordes of loyal fans, who are either simple-minded or apologists for hate, like the Pied Piper draws mice.

They inhabit the slums of AM Radio, News Cable talk shows, and the internet blogosphere where they typically come with an abundance of American flags and American Bald Eagles.

Can you say "overcompensation?"

Welcome to the logic-light, fact-free, ratings-driven world of hate media. A world where the Pragers, Becks, Savages, and Coulters, FOX News and Clear Channel win – but America loses.

Message to Prager

Despite my annoyance with the hypocrisy that oozes from the likes of Prager, I think it is worth taking a shot at levelling with the man.

I have immense respect for Christianity as I am an observant Muslim myself. I suspect Keith Ellison feels no differently. Yet, I must inform you that our secular democracy is not governed by an allegiance to the faith of whoever is in the demographic majority or whoever landed on our shores first, but is governed by what many of us affectionately call "our Constitution."

Not only is the United States of America a secular democracy, but on top of that, it neither professes a "state religion" nor a "state bible." If you wish to practice Christianity or any other faith without harassment or persecution, then America is the place for you. But if you crave life under a Bible-ruled government, America is constitutionally prohibited from being that.

The Founding Fathers insisted on the separation of Church and State precisely so that America would never be drawn into the type of inconsequential divisiveness and petty discrimination that had plagued European societies for centuries, the type that you now are so desperately trying to provoke with your anti-American, half-baked sermons. Hate will make you do wonders – and argue blunders.

In naked terms, your antiquated argument is calling for the first-ever, state-sanctioned, faith-based class hierarchy among American citizens in which believers in the New Testament would be first-class citizens and believers in the Qur'an or the Torah, second-class citizens – or in other words, tagalong citizens.

In order to justify such a ludicrous prospect, you resort to an equally ludicrous analogy, stating that we would surely not allow a racist to swear his oath on "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible. This severely misguided comparison only exposes your scorching irreverence for Islam, an operable faith practiced by 8 million Americans and 1.4 billion human beings worldwide.

For what it's worth, let me correct you, sir. The Qur'an is not a piece of Nazi-era propaganda; rather, it is "the bible of one of the World's mainstream faiths". It is not suitably compared - however arbitrarily - to Hitler's autobiography. It is more reasonably classified with the Christian Bible, also "the bible of one of the World's mainstream faiths."

When your contempt for Muslims beats stronger than your love for America—denying logic, rewriting history, and undermining our constitution in the process—you not only become a liability to Muslims, but to all Americans, serving only to relegate yourself to the infamous sections of our history books.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 134
ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY SETTLES IN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR'S ACADEMIC FREEDOM COMPLAINT
By Christina Abraham

December 4, 2006

Roosevelt University and the Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) recently agreed to settle a dispute between them that was scheduled for arbitration. Douglas Giles, the adjunct professor at the center of the issue who was terminated earlier this year for teaching about Zionism in a World Religions course, cannot disclose details of the settlement but says he is very happy with it.

CAIR-Chicago considers the settlement a symbolic victory for Giles, RAFO and for academic freedom.

Giles was terminated after his department chair learned that the text book he was using to teach his World Religions class, one used widely by universities, had a section on Zionism in its chapter on Judaism. Although Zionism was not listed as a topic for discussion in Giles' syllabus, he did entertain questions and discussion by students in class about Zionism.

Giles states that the department chair later criticized him for allowing the discussion, claiming any discussion of Zionism opened Judaism up for criticism. The department chair also allegedly criticized Giles for allowing Muslim students to speak, and referred to Palestinians as "animals."

Upon learning of the incident, CAIR-Chicago began organizing on Giles' behalf. Attorney Rima Kapitan also represented Giles on matters related to his dispute with Roosevelt, working closely with union attorneys.

CAIR-Chicago will continue to advocate on behalf of students and professors whose academic freedom rights are compromised, and is reaching out to other organizations and individuals to help accomplish that goal.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 133
AHMED REHAB ON THE BBC'S HARDTALK

November 30, 2006

Recently, CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, was on a "transatlantic dialogue" tour of the UK where he was a guest on the BBC World's flagship program, HARDtalk.

HARDtalk, hosted by the BBC's veteran foreign correspondent, Stephen Sackur, is a fast-paced and confrontational current affairs program that reaches hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. It is recorded live in the BBC studios in London.

The following are excerpts from the interview as well as the video and the full program transcript. Stay tuned for Rehab's UK report coming soon!

Click here to read the full Transcript (Compiled by Shadtha Blan)

Click here to watch the interview (BBC Website)

Transcript Excerpts:

"…We don't want to have special rights as Muslims living in America, but equal rights to everybody else! And that is the foundation of our civil rights work... "

"..the whole idea is for us to focus on the goal, and the goal is to respect the rule of law. As a civil rights activist - Muslim or not - my goal is to hold my government accountable where it makes mistakes to tell it: "the rule of law should reign supreme..."

"…Other communities have been challenged. But every time, the challenge has an opportunity within it. I want to take advantage of that opportunity. Each cloud has a silver lining; I focus on the silver lining – you know, the glass half full as opposed to half empty - to try to make something positive out of the situation…"

"…I think the bigger problem, both for the government and for the mainstream American society, is that they fail to differentiate between the domain of Islam and the domain of terrorism. They may intersect at certain areas, but they're definitely not concentric and the problem is when we deal with them as if they were one and the same."

"…the first thing if you want to empower your community is: to talk about shedding the victim mentality. We cannot look at the world through the lens that we are victims who have been mistreated here and there. Although that may be true, we may have suffered certain racist acts, or come from countries that suffer post-colonial economic crisis, so on and so forth, that isn't our focus. We're aware of it, but our focus is to the future... "

"I cannot look at the American flag and think only of these strategic errors in terms of foreign policy and forget that we are the leader in terms of scientific advancement, medicine, space exploration, so on and so forth - great things that we have given to humanity. I see America as a whole, and as such I can say that I am proud to be an American while reminding myself that I can challenge the problems in our foreign policy through the legal channels of America..."


Original BBC link ("A US Perspective"):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/ hardtalk/6148652.stm

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 0330 GMT 0830 GMT 1430 GMT 1830 GMT 2330 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 0430, 2330 and 0230



copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 132
SULTAN MUHAMMAD AND AMIR HAQ INTERVIEW US AIRWAYS NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, EVICTED IMAM

November 27, 2006

Listen to Broadcast
(Sultan Muhammad)
Watch ABC7 News Coverage
(Ahmed Rehab)

National debate sparked concerning religious and racial profiling of American Muslims following the detainment of 6 Imams and the subsequent refusal of US Airways to allow the men to rebook flights to their destination, despite having cleared FBI security screenings on Monday November 20th.

Imam Omar Shaheen, spokesperson for the 6 Imams, and the national spokesperson for US Airways, Andrea Rader, were interviewed by Amir Haq and CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator, Sultan Muhammad, for Radio Islam.

The show aired in Chicago on Saturday November 25th, with Andrea Rader's interview pre-recorded due to scheduling conflicts. During the interview Imam Omar Shaheen commented on Rader's statements and voiced resolve concerning the profiling and discrimination toward Muslims in America, stating "enough is enough."

Saturday night's interview proved to be highly revealing. Andrea Rader, US Airway's national spokesperson, tells Radio Islam, we "messed up," the incidents were "unfortunate," and we are "very sorry that these gentlemen felt that they had been treated in an undignified or unfair way."

Radio Islam is on WCEV 1450 AM Monday through Sunday from 6pm to 7pm. Under the umbrella of Sound Vision Foundation, RadioIslam.com launched its first show December 14, 1999 with the goal of providing informative and creative Internet and broadcast radio programming.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




CAIR recently dealt with another case involving US Airways and its refusal to transport a Muslim passenger following a similar incident.

All of the detained Imams, several of whom are from Arizona, were in Minnesota to attend a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). A representative of the FBI was invited to attend the conference. SEE:


 
Feature # 131
OPEN MOSQUE SERIES:
The American Islamic Association (AIA)

By Dina Rehab

November 23, 2006

The American Islamic Association (AIA) is located in Frankfort, Illinois. The construction, built on 14 acres of land, includes a prayer hall, classrooms, a banquet hall, and a fully equipped kitchen. The AIA serves approximately 150-200 families from several suburbs, including: Frankfort, Tinley Park, Olympia Fields, Flossmore, and Orland Park.

"You can gauge attendance on days like Eid," stated Dr. Afzal Ahmad, Chairman and founding member of the AIA. "Approximately 900 people pray at the AIA on Eid. Sunday school is another way to measure attendance, which doubled from 55 students to 110 in October 2005."

Mosque congregants are predominantly of south Asian descent; with roughly 60-70% from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 20% are of Middle Eastern descent; from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The remaining 10% are African American.

History
The birth of the AIA came with the need to educate the community's youth, and to provide them with a permanent place to socialize in a communal spirit. In the 1970s, 10-15 Muslim families gathered regularly at the Frankfort school gymnasium. After being denied access to the facility, the families moved their gatherings to the Tinley Park facilities. Identifying the need to locate a permanent facility, the AIA was incorporated in 1979. In 1983, the 14 acre land in Frankfort was purchased.

The first home to the AIA was a house, currently located on the 14 acre property. The house was used as the AIA's main facility from 1983-1988, when it became too small for the growing population. From 1988 to 2005, the mosque congregants convened in the hangar (a shed used for the housing or repairing of an airplane), also located on the 14 acre property. After the new building was opened in 2005, the hangar was later converted into classrooms.

The entire AIA facility cost 2.2 million, of which 1.7 million were in-house donations. The remaining balance is a no interest loan which the AIA continues to pay off.

Programs & Services
The AIA is home to a variety of services which include a Friday sermon and prayer (with approximately 150-200 attendees each week), a Sunday Islamic school (grades are per the child's level of knowledge; ages 6-17), and a monthly evening guest lecture series (with approximately 50-150 attendees).

Other programs and services include: adult Arabic language classes - once a week; adult tajweed classes (Quran recitation classes) - five times a week; Hadith (a collection of prophetic sayings and actions) and Quran classes - five times a week; food pantry collections in collaboration with IMAN, charity distribution, performance of Nikah (religious wedding ceremony) and funeral services; and an annual Mawlad Al-Nabawi (birth of the prophet) celebration.

As an institution that primarily concerns itself with the development of its youth, the AIA is holding an intensive winter retreat for high school and college students. The weekend retreat will include a variety of lectures and discussion sessions.

It's part of the AIA tradition to serve refreshments every Friday after Friday prayers. This seems to enhance the communal spirit, already present, as congregants socialize over donuts and coffee.

"It's a very pleasant experience and something I look forward to every Friday," Naila Jeddy stated while sipping her coffee. As a congregant who has been attending Friday prayers at the AIA since the building opened its doors in 2005, Naila continued: "Khutbah [the sermon] is always really good, and after Namaz [Friday prayer], they have religious classes about different issues".

"For me, it's great!" said Mohammed Sayeed who has been frequenting the AIA on and off since its early beginnings. "I get to see my family members and meet new people".

The Board
The board currently has 17 members of which 8 are life-time trustees and 9 are rotating members. Rotating members are selected every 3 years by the existing board members. The term of rotating members are staggered so that every year 3 members drop out and 3 members come in.

Current board members include: Dr. Afzal Ahmad (Chairman), Tahir Abbassi, Khalid Baig, Imtiaz Hamid, Babar Hussain, Tariq Khan, M.K.H. Mohajir, Saif Nazir, Mohammad S. Baig, Khaja Basheeruddin, Amy (Kawther) Chabaan, M. Qasim Choudry, Sakhawat Hussain, Ahmad Kamal, Khalid Mozaffar, Yakub Patel, and Ala Shalabi.

When asked about why there is only one female board member out of seventeen, Dr. Ahmad responded: "We had two female board members last year, and plan to add two more next year. It has unfortunately been our experience that the women are timid and don't come forward. Also, contribution and attendance have not been equitable in the past."

Dr. Ahmad further added that this was not true of sister Chabaan, whom he described as an active board member.

Goals
As an institution that was originally built with the children and youth in mind, AIA's short-term goals is in line with that same original spirit. "Our focus is to get our children and our youth more and more involved", said Dr. Ahmad. "We are trying to start different activities for them, such as social projects", he added.

The AIA plans on starting a day care as well as a regular elementary school where children can also memorize the Quran. A more long term goal involves building a Muslim convention center on the remainder of the 14 acres; "It's a dream", Dr. Ahmad added. (But isn't that how all realities begin?)

A passionate activist, Dr. Ahmad believes that a resourceful community, such as the Muslim community, can contribute to their own enhancement in many ways. He explained that donations, although needed, are not the only means to show support. He encouraged members of the Muslim community to contribute intellectually and to take charge of their own hopes and desires.

Although recognizing the many strengths of the Muslim community, Dr. Ahmad shared some feelings of frustration, "The community feels comfortable; with no desire to do more or to further their own agendas…very timid, very docile".

Dr. Ahmad encouraged members of the Muslim community to utilize their resources to its full potential; to inspire and be inspired; and to take action.

Those who wish to contribute to the AIA's short-term or long term plans can do so by contacting Dr. Afzal Ahmad, or by attending the AIA's upcoming fundraising dinner on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006.

The event will take place at the AIA's banquet hall, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Guest speaker is Imam Siraj Wahhaj. For more information, please call Br. Tariq Khan at 708-903-0875.

Dina Rehab is CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator; contact her at outreach@cairchicago.org for more information on the Open Mosque series.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago




 
Feature # 130
CHICAGO PARENT: "DECIDING THE FATE OF FAITH"
By Jill S. Browning

November 21, 2006

For many parents, the decision isn't easy

Michelle Olson isn't aware of it yet, but she's headed for a double dose of Sunday school.

The 4-month-old's mother, Susan Olson of Downers Grove, is a member of the Catholic Church and her father, Eric Olson, is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist. As a married couple, Susan and Eric have attended services together in both churches each and every Sunday. So far, they aren't planning to change their routine just because of the birth of their first child.

Michelle was baptized in the Catholic Church, but the couple plans to expose her to both faiths, hoping to blissfully blend the Catholic CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes with Christian Science Sunday school. "We're going to teach her both and let her decide for herself what she wants," says Susan. "I don't want to force my religion on anybody."

While the Olson family has a plan in place (at least for now), the question of faith presents a common conundrum for many families. Action plans conceived at the wedding altar sometimes shift once kids become a reality, often leading parents back to their religious roots-or to a new faith entirely. No matter what kind of spirituality a family has, nurturing it can give kids a sense of community, an expanded support system and a sense of purpose outside of their own family.

Baby, bring me back

Religious leaders report that it's common for kids fresh out of high school to wander away from their faith in an attempt to explore and define their own core beliefs. Throughout college and early adulthood, many young adults aren't affiliated with any organized religion. (Saturday night fraternity parties and Sunday morning services are often mutually exclusive events.)

"But when they have kids, they discover that they want their children to be raised in a community of faith, too," says Christine Chakoian, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.

Rabbi Peter Knobel, of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, agrees. "When people have children they begin to think very differently about their own lives," he says. "The first thing they want to do is they want some kind of ritual to identify the child with their tradition and their faith." He says that having children often leads parents to think about how they will create and define a meaningful faith environment for their family.

Facing interfaith

What makes this quest for a commitment a special challenge, of course, is when you don't share the same faith as your partner-and you must decide between baptism or bris. While many manage to meet, marry and reproduce with someone who shares their same faith, love doesn't cooperate as neatly for everyone.

Lombard residents Becky and Matt Kirsh were raised in different faiths: Catholicism and Judaism, respectively. A priest and a rabbi joined forces to bless their wedding in a Catholic church, but after the glass was broken the couple wandered away from any religious affiliation until a life-changing event happened: They had a baby.

Matt's a divorce lawyer who's witnessed his fair share of broken homes, and the couple decided they needed to have religious consistency as a bond for their own kids. "A friend of ours who's a priest … said to us one night ... 'I don't care what you raise your kids but pick-pick something. You've got to give them something,' " Becky recalls.

They took his advice and, since Becky was deemed more committed to her faith, the first three kids were baptized Catholic. After a few years and for a variety of reasons, the family eventually switched to the United Church of Christ. Becky's pleased that Matt eventually became a member, and today serves as one of the leaders in the church.

Deciding on a single faith for the family can be a brave, bold move. "Good parenting really requires adults to make some important decisions, and those decisions I understand to be very difficult, but I think parents need to set the parameters for the children," Knobel says.

Says Chakoian: "Children who are raised in a religious tradition have a much easier time later in life discerning their own faith. Adults who have had no religious background have a hard time connecting with any religion or deciding what they believe."

Community counts

The Kirsh family feels more connected to one another and part of a community as a result of joining their new church. For instance, they're active participants in mission projects the church sponsors, including supporting the homeless. They also are looking forward to having their kids participate in youth groups as they start to hit the teen years.

The family has formed friendships with fellow congregants, which they feel directly benefits the kids by exposing them to people with moral compasses similar to their own. "We've found some intergenerational older senior friends there that are filling an amazing void for us and our kids," since the kids' grandparents aren't often available, Becky Kirsh says. "It's congealed our philosophy in life with our church life to have these friends that we've made all the way from 80 years old down … You don't find that anywhere else, and our kids are part of that."

Worldly vantage

Beyond the fellowship and friends, becoming more spiritual or choosing a faith can help give the kids a global perspective and appreciation in our ever-changing world.

"It helps children to know that they belong to something much bigger than themselves and their immediate family," says Chakoian. "Every faith tradition provides a sacred story in which we live, a set of practices by which we form meaning, some cherished values under which we live."

Communications coordinator at the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, Sultan Muhammad is the father of two sons, ages 4 and 2 [and 2 daughters]. He and his wife, Naadhera Rodriguez Muhammad, are Muslim (she converted after being raised Catholic). When his boys see him and his wife pray five times a day, it makes quite an impression on them. "It tends to be an equalizer, in that there's something that is beyond the authority of Mom and Dad," says Muhammad. He explains how the hierarchy of authority within his family and faith teaches his sons how to deal with the broader human community. "Issues of respect, issues of tolerance and forgiveness are very key to building the character in children at an early age," he says.

Preach? Prepare to practice

For the Muhammad family, the five-times-a-day prayer requirement of Islam is a concrete way of showing their kids their beliefs. For others, it might be reading from the Bible or praying before meals or bedtime.

While these rituals are important symbols of faith, they're not the end-all, be-all. "What I encourage parents to do is to look at how they're living their spirituality. It's not the ritual and the ceremony so much as the day-to-day part of it," says Don Camp, administrator of Family and Children's Services at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Camp is a minister and former chaplain. "In some ways, it's easier to take a child to a service than to think that they're observing your spirituality day in and day out," he says.

Strengthening ties

One parent who "walks the walk" and demonstrates her commitment to faith to her three sons is mom Lynne Shapiro of Deerfield. Shapiro says that growing up, her family was Jewish culturally and celebrated all of the holidays and attended services, but she had little formal Jewish education. "All of my Jewish friends where I grew up did go to Hebrew school and Sunday school and had bar or bat mitzvahs," Shapiro says. "When I was young, I felt lucky that my parents didn't send me, but as I got older, I felt that I was missing something."

Today as an adult, she's studying with a rabbi and is trying to learn Hebrew-which as an adult, she claims, isn't easy. Even so, she says she feels like she's learning more about her own spirituality through the process.

So that her sons don't feel as if they'd missed out like she did, Shapiro sends her boys to Hebrew school and Sunday school. Her 10-year-old son, Wiley, says he has learned a lot by attending both schools and feels proud to be learning a language that's been around for thousands of years. (Although he admits that it seems like it's taking thousands of years to learn it, since he's spends more than six hours a week in class.)

The cycle of faith

Parents can make decisions about their family's faith fate, set an example for the kids and live out those beliefs (sometimes by dressing-and then dragging-their kids to service), but they never know what the future holds.

"As adults, children will choose to do what they choose to do," Knobel says. "The child grows up-the child will make his own decision no matter what we do."

Shopping for spirituality?

Even if you have your faith all figured out, it can be tricky to find the right place to practice. Rabbi Andrea London of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston suggests making a list and prioritizing what's most important to you. When choosing a place to call your faith home, consider:

Worship times and schedules. Do you want a choice between three services on Sunday-and maybe even a Saturday evening option? Or is it acceptable if a smaller congregation offers just one service, giving you a chance to meet more members?

Proximity to home or school. Is the commute to the church/temple/mosque doable? Do you plan on making trips during the week? If so, is being closer a necessity?

Congregation demographics. Do your fellow congregants need to be family and established friends, or are you comfortable praying with strangers? Do you want your kids to worship with schoolmates or neighborhood friends?

Clergy philosophy and personality. Are you inspired by contemporary thinkers or comforted by a more traditional approach? Are the leaders welcoming?

Children's programming. How do the programs for kids of all ages-from nursery time for infants to youth groups for teens-stack up? Will the educational opportunities meet your expectations?

Outreach projects. How does the congregation give back to the community? Do mission programs and social action projects match your own beliefs?

Immerse yourself in a prospective faith home by attending worship services and classes, checking out their Web site and joining in on a mission project. Ask to be put on a mailing list to receive the church newsletter, which will help you better understand the people-and if it will be a good fit for your family.


copyright © 2006, Chicago Parent Magazine




 
Feature # 129
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: PROTECTING THE RELIGIOUS RIGHTS OF INMATES
By Ausaf Farooqi

November 17, 2006

The practice of Islam is the most essential activity of our lives. Yet, many of our Muslim brothers can only practice Islam at the whim and will of prison officials.

They have federally protected rights but those rights are selectively enforced. They are shrouded in stigma and discrimination and locked away behind granite walls and steel bars.

Who can these Muslims, our brothers, turn to for help?

The channels given to an inmate who faces obstacles to his rights are both limited and ironic. They can turn to the prison administration or they can turn to the courts.

His first choice is to complain to the same prison officials who have created the obstacles. However, as is human nature, it is rare that the oppressing party will remedy the situation on their own will and whim. If the party was inclined to such goodness, the situation would never have occurred.

A complaint can be appealed up the chain of command to higher ranking and more removed prison officials, where one can argue that the more removed prison officials will remedy imperfections within their own prison system.

Yet, if prison guards or administrators were regularly held accountable by higher ranking officials, they would think twice before denying a Muslim his federally protected rights.

The evidence of repeated occurrences of oppression clearly indicates a lack of such accountability.

If an inmate fails to find a solution internally, he has one external source. He can file suit in court to protect his federal rights.

Of course, the one thing many Muslim inmates are sure to lack is the resources to file a suit in the courts. Furthermore, even if the inmate can file suit in court, whether through an attorney or pro se, there is a great deal of deference giving to the prison administrators.

Due process standards are substantially lower. Islamic practices can be subverted by a simple demonstration of "penological interests" which can range anywhere from security, costs, or time.

After expending all his resources, an inmate finds his legitimate claim shot down by a cursory reply from prison official and a cursory review by the courts.

It is important to note that not all prison guards and officials fail to meet the needs of prison inmates. Although there are many instances of oppression, there are also many instances where guards have been held accountable and changes have been made for Muslims.

There are many altruistic and strong individuals working in the prison system who believe in securing the facility while ensuring the rights of the inmates. Also, some courts have ruled in favor of prisoner rights, especially when the cases were egregious.

A Muslim inmate's greatest resource, the Muslim community, remains untapped. We, as members of the community, have rights and responsibilities to protect each other.

Many of these inmates just need other Muslims for support.

Perhaps they need a boost in their Islamic education. Perhaps they need an ear to listen to their hopes and dreams. Perhaps they just need to know they are in the prayers of their fellow Muslims.

We may not be able to free our Muslim brothers from arbitrary oppression, but we can volunteer our time in prisons and meet with these inmates.

We can volunteer our time to teach inmates Islam. We can raise awareness, both socially and politically, and carry the voices of the inmates beyond the granite and steel and into the hearts and minds of America.

Just standing by an inmate's side will make prison administration think twice about denying a Muslim his rights. Lastly, we can make prayer for these inmates.

As Muslims, we believe that prayer can be more effective than any grievance and any court filing. Our emotional support and physical presence will keep our brothers strong as they face tribulation daily.

This is a small step towards fulfilling our duties towards our community for the sake of Allah.

We must also realize that this is not just a Muslim/non-Muslim problem. This is not a problem divided by lines of religion and creed.

While from an Islamic perspective Muslims have a duty to help and protect their brothers, we as an American people have a duty to uphold the freedoms and rights which create the foundation of this nation.

Whether it is a Muslim who is denied his Friday prayers, a Jew who is denied kosher foods, or a Christian who is denied a Bible, the freedom to practice a religion should never be inhibited simply because one is incarcerated.

If anything, this is a time where religion and support is most essential.

Inmates, regardless of religion, have limited channels to voice their concerns. The problem is deeper for Muslim inmates who are often housed in remote prisons where the education and understanding of Islam among the prison administration is severely lacking.

Whether we are Muslim or not, we can help support these individuals. Whether your motivation spiritually oriented or for the sake of protecting American freedoms, your cause is just. In either case, we cannot turn a deaf ear to inmates' pleas.

For more information, contact civilrights@cairchicago.org.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



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Feature # 128
CAIR-CHICAGO FILES IDHR COMPLAINT AGAINST ROCK N' ROLL MCDONALD'S

November 14, 2006

CAIR-Chicago filed a charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) after receiving a complaint from three Middle Eastern men who were forcibly removed by security guards at the Rock n' Roll McDonalds in Downtown Chicago.

The men entered the McDonalds restaurant speaking Assyrian, a Middle Eastern language, and were waiting in line to order when security guards belligerently approached the men and began to yell.

The men were called "camel jockeys" and "terrorists" by the guards, and were forcibly removed from the restaurant. When one of the men protested by saying that they were law-abiding individuals, the officers stated that it did not matter because they were still "terrorists" and should "go back to [their] own country." The officers also commented that the three men had no right to speak to American girls.

The men also called 9-1-1, and police officers arrived on the scene to investigate the incident but refused to file a report. The men were told by police that the incident was just a misunderstanding and that the three men should disregard it.

CAIR-Chicago's Attorney Rima Kapitan filed a complaint with the IDHR concerning a violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Illinois state law on public accommodations, which states that "it is unlawful to discriminate in the full and equal enjoyment of facilities and services by any place of public accommodation, such as a business, recreation, lodging, entertainment, or transportation facility that is open to the public."

CAIR-Chicago will continue its representation of the men in the matter.

For more information, contact civilrights@cairchicago.org.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



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Feature # 127
CAIR-CHICAGO 2006 MIDTERM ELECTION REFLECTIONS

November 10, 2006

This year's election had some of the hottest races, with campaigns spending money in record amounts and state wide campaigns to mobilize constituents to the polls. Voters and the general public alike fail to see the smaller incidents on Election Day. CAIR-Chicago, in conjunction with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) ran an intense political mobilization campaign, where volunteers and staff members were able to get an 'insider's perspective' and offer their reflections.

Reflections Index:
  1. "Discrimination at the Polls"

  2. By Sadiya Ahmed
  3. "Poll Watching for a Candidate"
    By Erin Hartnett

  4. "Creating an Election Buzz"
    By Sabah Ahmed

  5. "A Smooth Operation in the Suburbs"
    By David Sweis

  6. "An Enjoyable Experience in Bridgeview"
    By Ross Zambon

  7. "Managing Campaign Logistics"
    By Haady Taslim
Discrimination at the Polls

Before I could urge Muslims to go to the polls on Election Day, I needed to vote, myself. Having gotten up early that morning, I went downstairs to my polling place, which happened to be in the same building I live in. As a voter, I know that the Voting Rights Act entitles me to certain things, among which is the right to present my Voter Registration Card as my identification (or have the option to show a non-picture ID), a place to vote without excessive distractions, and election judges that treat me with respect. When I walked downstairs to fulfill my civic duty, I did not get some of those rights.

There is still as much discrimination at the polls now, as there was when voter discrimination was first outlawed. Even with all the protections we have, a few minutes in some of Cook County's neighborhoods will make one think that we are back in the era of poll taxes. I went to the polling location and not only was it noisy and unprofessional, but people were being asked for multiple forms of identification, even after they presented their Voter Registration Card. In my mind, as the minds of many others, that is blatant discrimination and is a serious offense, but sadly, such is the case for many polling locations. While there were not many cases of major discrimination on Election Day that were reported, there were little problems, like being asked for identification when normally voters should not be asked. A little known fact is that certain election judges were intimidating voters of certain ethnicities and turning them away from the polls.

Though such was not the case in Bridgeview or most of the suburbs, it was a problem in the Chicago precincts. Perhaps city residents, especially in the lower income neighborhoods or with certain ethnic backgrounds are given a harder time because the chances of them not fighting back are higher. Perhaps it is that voters from the suburbs tend to vote a certain way so they cannot be bothered as it is 'the right way'. Regardless of the cause, it is important to note that the electoral process needs a desperate makeover and it needs to start with enforcing the Voting Rights Act.

- Sadiya Ahmed
Governmental Relations Coordinator


back to Index

Poll Watching for a Candidate

I spent Election Day as a poll watcher at a local public school, in the small town of Libertyville, Illinois. After signing in at 5:45 am (as a poll watcher you must be credentialed, sign in when you enter the polling place and out when you leave), the first step was to ask the election judges to clarify the "100-foot line." By law, all electioneering (candidate signs, campaign propaganda, etc.) is not allowed within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place. Once the distance is measured, a cone or marker is put up so that candidates and voters know where the limit is.

Around 6:30 am, I started to notice the signs for the Democratic candidate disappearing from the area, and realized that one of the security guards was pulling them out of the ground. He explained that three women came by and told him he had to remove the signs—that they were there illegally. These three women were not election judges or officials of any kind; they were members of the opposing party who did not want the signs in view and saw an opportunity to remove them. Following procedure, I first reported the problem to the election judges, who granted me permission to put them back, verifying that they were in fact 100 feet from the entrance.

Unfortunately, this was not the only problem I observed during my 13 hours in Libertyville. At around 8:15 am, the polling place was visited by officials from the State's Attorney's office. They had received complaints from voters that the Democrats had placed their signs too close to the door, and came to investigate. After measuring twice, the signs were approved, and the voting continued. Around 3:30 pm, I again witnessed someone pulling the signs out of the lawn. However, this time it was one of the election judges. I was told that the Superintendent had decided not to allow any campaign propaganda on school property. However, because it was a public school, he did not have the authority to make that decision. In the State of Illinois, the only way a polling place can ban all campaign propaganda from its property, is if the building is a church/religious institution or a private school. Knowing this, I reported the problem to the State's Attorney, who again ruled in my favor. This same situation happened to two colleagues of mine, at two nearby public schools.

Why argue over petty lawn signs? Isn't a sign that is 99 feet from the entrance just as effective as one that is 101 feet away? Is it worth the time and energy spent to investigate something so trivial? The reason such small infractions must be reported is that they are a tiny part of a much larger goal: ensuring a free and fair election. If something minor is ignored, what happens when it is something major? Poll watchers are there to be sure that those chosen to monitor our elections are following the law and treating each voter and candidate equally, so every citizen can exercise our most important civic duty—voting.

- Erin Hartnett
Governmental Relations Intern


back to Index

Creating an Election Buzz

On Election Day I was scheduled to assist with mobilization efforts in the Bridgeview area, but had agreed with organizer Haady Taslim that I would come only after voting myself when the polls opened at 6 a.m.

My poll location was only a block from my house, inside a private condominium complex that took me a few moments to locate. Once inside, I showed my voter registration card, and was promptly given my ballot and an area to make my voting selections.

My voting experience was nothing if not pleasant, the enthusiasm from poll watchers and early morning voters created an almost festive atmosphere. After voting, my ballot was entered into a reader, which signaled that my vote had been successfully processed.

I arrived at the Mosque Foundation soon after, where I met with Haady Taslim and Ahlam Jbara, who assigned me four Universal high school students to drive to local precincts. We were given street maps, walk sheets with names and addresses, door hang tags, voter guides, and polling place information for each precinct to help mobilize voters. At every house on our list we either met with voters or left door hang tags with polling information, while documenting results on our walk sheets.

My group had several successful meetings where we informed Muslim voters that we were counting on them to vote and make our collective voice heard, but we also met some obstacles. Many voters weren't home during the day, or had incorrectly listed addresses, and at least one registered voter felt too disenfranchised to vote this year.

My high school group responded with some pessimism, voicing that they weren't sure their efforts were very effective or useful, and canvassing the large area was tedious work.

But as we spoke, we realized that our efforts, replicated by the 200 other volunteers who came to the Mosque Foundation, must be reaching not only a large number of people, but also generating a "buzz" amongst Muslim voters due to our combined efforts. We reasoned that if our single team of 4 could reach even 25-30 Muslim households, then the entire group of door to door teams and phone bankers could easily be reaching thousands of Muslim voters that day.

Overall, I was very encouraged by the efforts and organization of the voter drive. I was impressed with the Muslim community of Bridgeview for generating such a large number of volunteers and helping with multiple accommodations, facilitating a great community effort to generate a Muslim voice this election.

I also felt that the drive was well planned by the community organizers, whose stated goal to get every registered Muslim to vote this year was supported by a multi-tiered approach of reaching out, educating, and assisting voters to reach that end.

Their efforts created a model for future voter drives, which I hope to see replicated next election in Bridgeview and in the many other districts of Illinois.

- Sabah Ahmed
Operations Coordinator


back to Index

A Smooth Operation in the Suburbs

My poll watching experience was very positive unlike other volunteers. While I was in Bridgeview, Illinois, I spent the day traveling from polling place to another and monitoring the activities of election judges as well as registered voters who came to the polls. I first began my day at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. Many volunteers arrived at the Mosque early in the morning. Everybody was very energetic and ready to help ensure that voters turned out in high numbers.

My duties included documenting the voter turnout of Muslim and Arab constituents in the southwest suburban area, along with Bridgeview. I enjoyed seeing the large number of voters that came up to support their candidates. Overall, I was happy to report that no disruptions occurred and the election judges were very respectful.

However I did learn of some problems occurred throughout the city. I feel that more emphasis should be put on protecting inner-city constituents in the future as a result of those complications. We should all embrace our right to vote and mutually honor that right irrespective of political ideology.

- David Sweis
Civil Rights Extern


back to Index

An Enjoyable Experience in Bridgeview

As a first time Election Day poll watcher, I was surprised at how smoothly the election judges managed the precincts and election process. When I arrived at the Mosque Foundation at 7:00 a.m., I saw 20 gallons of Dunkin Donuts coffee lined against the wall, suggesting we pool-watchers had a long day ahead of us. Twelve hours of open polls hardly seems like enough time for a group of volunteers to monitor each precinct. But the superb individual efforts from each volunteer proved successful.

Of the five locations I monitored in Bridgeview, I did not witness one major problem. When voters made mistakes on their ballots, the election-officials eagerly helped them correct the errors, or offered them a new ballot altogether. For over eight hours, I did not see one voter turned down at the polls. In fact, the longest one single voter had to wait in line to cast his or her vote was only 10 minutes. Martha, one election judge, even took the time thoroughly explain how the voting machine worked to one voter who seemed perplexed about the 240 year old process. While I can’t speak for the entire state, it was clear that some of the polls in Bridgeview were run successfully, and the people were able to exercise their right to vote without any difficulty. Thanks Uncle Sam.

- Ross Zambon
Civil Rights Extern


back to Index

Managing Campaign Logistics

The entire night before Election Day, I was up trying to tame the monster. The monster was the Get-Out-the-Muslim-vote machine we had created: it sprawled four townships, twelve different towns, 42 precincts, and would target over 1300 households and almost 2,000 Muslim voters. The monster was manned by over 200 volunteers, who would drive to 35 different precincts, knock on 1300 doors and call 2,000 Muslim voters on our 15 phone lines. The monster was fed on 12 dozen donuts, 10 gallons of coffee, 12 cases of water, 8 cases of soda, 30 pounds of pasta, 70 bag lunches and 22 thin-crust pizzas.

The sheer size and complexity of this operation frightened me – how could it possibly be tamed?

After a frantic evening puzzling over precinct maps and trying to schedule the day, I waited for the first wave of volunteers to show up. A mass of high school students casually walked into the basement of the Bridgeview mosque, laughing, socializing, eyeing the donuts, but looking around skeptically. I waited impatiently for the adult chaperones to show up so they could drive these students to their neighborhoods and put them to work.

We waited restlessly for the chaperones to show up as the minutes ticked by. Finally, at 9:30 the adults started trickling in. We grabbed up the adults as soon as they walked through the door and divided them up with teams of students. By 10 am, we had almost 15 teams out in the field knocking on doors. As the last team of students embarked on the field, an ominous hush came over the basement of the Bridgeview mosque.

Back at headquarters, 15 students were hunched before extensive phone lists calling all of the Muslim voters we could identify in our district. I caught my breath and witnessed our monster at work.

- Haady Taslim
New Americans Democracy Project Fellow and
former Governmental Relations Intern


back to Index

For more information on the CAIR-Chicago's political mobilization efforts, contact Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



Additional Related Links: Pre-Election News Coverage:


 
Feature # 126
RECORD NUMBERS MOBILIZE TO THE POLLS IN THE SOUTHWEST SUBURBS ON ELECTION DAY
By Sadiya Ahmed

November 9, 2006

On Tuesday, November 7, 2006, two hundred volunteers poured into the Mosque Foundation's basement where New Americans Democracy Project Fellow Haady Taslim (a project lead by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and co-hosted by CAIR-Chicago) waited anxiously to start the day. It was Election Day and there was a buzz in the Bridgeview community, as well as other surrounding communities.

The goal was simple: to bring Muslims in the southwest suburbs in record numbers to the polls.

As a CAIR-Chicago pilot project to empower American Muslims and encourage political engagement, the NADP was a major success with a record number of Muslims not only registering to vote but turning out to the polls on Election Day. A 50% increase in voter turnout in the Mosque Foundation's Area (Palos 44) was the highest the area has seen and was well above the expected turnout. Voter registrations in the area also rose by 80%.

In neighboring areas, voter turnout with registered Muslim voters increased significantly as well, with record turnouts in most precincts. As a non-partisan campaign, volunteers and leaders ran into some difficulties when it came to communicating with community members who insisted on being told who to vote for. Voters were given the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide, which provided them with detailed information on the candidates as well as the voting records of incumbents.

As a pilot project for CAIR-Chicago, the NADP highlighted the strengths and weakness of the Muslim community that is developing. "As a relatively young community, we have a long way to go. Though we ran into a lot of problems earlier in the campaign and had a rough start, we went above and beyond the expected numbers," remarked Sadiya Ahmed, CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator. "The success of this project is only the beginning. We have a long way to go."

The NADP was initially started in July when Community Organizer, and NAPD Fellow, Haady Taslim and a team of volunteers worked on registering eligible American Muslims to vote. The numbers climbed over the months to a final count of 1055 by the registration deadline in October, a number that has never been achieved in such a short amount of time. The project then switched gears to a Get Out the Vote Campaign (GOTV), where thousands of registered voters were contacted throughout the month, through mass mailings, door-to-door canvassing, and phone calls. The message was simple: "Go out and vote on Election Day!"

Though the project's results are only the start of a long term goal, it set the groundwork for the future, for the American Muslim community to become active in their communities, and encourage each other to become active constituents. With the 2006 election finished and the 2008 election is next on the list.

For more information on the CAIR-Chicago's political mobilization efforts, contact Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



Additional Related Links: Pre-Election News Coverage:


 
Feature # 125
OPEN MOSQUE SERIES:
The Midwest Islamic Center (Masjid al-Huda)

By Dina Rehab

November 2, 2006

The Midwest Islamic Center, commonly known as Masjid Al-Huda, is the only Islamic Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. The center, comprised of a mosque and a weekend Islamic school, serves several neighboring suburbs located within an 8 mile radius of the center; suburbs include: Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Roselle, Hanover Park, Streamwood, Bartlett and Elk Grove.

"The center serves approximately 10,000 families within an 8 mile radius," explained Rezwanul Haque, one of the key leaders at the Midwest Islamic Center, "that's 10,000 families not individuals," he emphasized.

Congregants are of a variety of ethnicities which include roughly 85% Indo-Pakistani, 15% Bosnian, Arab (predominantly Egyptian and Moroccan) and white. The female attendance to the mosque is approximately 80% (male) to 20% (female) for prayer, and 60% (male) to 40% (female) for events.

History
Real steps to build a mosque in the Schaumburg area began in 1992, as the need to serve the rising Muslim population in the area became more prevalent. Extreme measures; however, to expedite the fundraising and building process were evident post 9-11.

"After 9-11, it was very difficult for us to rent out a place for Friday prayers" said Haque. The need of building a mosque, as well as an Islamic Center, increased post 9-11 when residents could no longer rent out halls for Friday prayers.

Congregants first prayed in the mosque in December 2001. The Islamic center received its temporary occupancy in 2004 and official occupancy in mid-October of 2006.

Programs & Services
The center holds a variety of services which include two Friday sermons and prayers (with a total of approximately 1,000 attendees each week), a weekend Islamic school (pre-school through 8th grade), Tafsir classes (an explanation of the meaning of the Qur'an) classes, lectures, charity distribution, performance of Nikah (religious wedding ceremony) and funeral services, an annual Mawlad Al-Nabawi (birth of the prophet) celebration, an annual workshop on Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) that educates pilgrims on the proper protocols of Hajj, an annual busy bee camp for girls and boys and an annual interfaith iftar (breaking of fast during Ramadan) with members of the Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates Clergy Association.

"I have been coming for four years," said Syeda Hussain, sophomore at UIC majoring in Math Teaching Education, referring to Rabab Gomaa's weekly lectures for teenagers and college students. "It's great! Every time, I learn something new."

The Board
The board currently has 11 members of which 5 are life-time trustees and 6 are rotating members. Rotating members are selected every 3 years by the existing board members. Currently board members include: Dawood Gul (President), Jawed Akram (General Secretary), Abdul Wahid Karim, Mohammed Farooq Patel, Ahmed Karim, Rezwanul Haque, Jamil Zara, Aqeel Akhtar, Mir Maqsood Ali, Mustafa Abdullah, and Asif Sabri.

When asked about the absence of female board members, Haque responded: "We plan on nominating active female members during the next rotation, insha'Allah. We are not against female participation, actually the current principal of the weekend school is female and over 50% of the teachers are female."

Goals
The Midwest Islamic Center has purchased additional parking space to better serve local congregants; however, funds are being collected as part of a short-term project to pave the parking lot.

The center also has long-term plans of expanding the prayer hall, which the mosque design accounted for during the planning stages of the mosque.

Those who wish to contribute to these expansion projects can do so by contacting Rezwanul Haque, or by attending the center's upcoming fundraising dinner on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006, 7 p.m. at Montys Elegant Banquet in Bensenville. For more information, please call the Midwest Islamic Center at 630-529-1786.

Dina Rehab is CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator, contact her at outreach@cairchicago.org for more information on the Open Mosque series.


Copyright © CAIR-Chicago 2006




 
Feature # 124
REUTERS: U.S. MUSLIMS MOVING INTO PRIME-TIME POLITICS
By Michael Conlon

October 27, 2006

CHICAGO (Reuters) - At less than 3 percent of America's 300 million residents, Muslims are still on the fringe of political influence and power, experts say. But that may be changing.

A voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive is under way in the Muslim community before the Nov. 7 mid-term election. And it comes at a time when their interest in politics may have been sharpened to a new edge by the expected election of the first Muslim to the U.S. Congress.

That will likely come in a heavily Democratic Minneapolis district for 43-year-old Keith Ellison, a native-born convert to Islam who would also be the first black member of Congress from Minnesota.

His candidacy "is being followed very closely in the Muslim community throughout the country," said one activist in Chicago, where more than 1,000 new Muslim-American voters have been registered in recent weeks.

Ellison's likely election would carry "a great symbolic meaning" but future political gains will be one step at a time, cautioned Louise Cainkar, research fellow at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

"Muslim-Americans are emerging as a voice to be recognized in American society," she said. "I don't think they have power yet. You must first acknowledge you have a right to be part of the discourse. They are working on that now and to some degree they have attained that."

"But there are a lot of people who don't want that voice to emerge," she said, a common theme in American history where Irish, Jews and other newcomers were repeatedly treated with suspicion and discrimination by those already established.

Cainkar said experts believe there are 6 million to 8 million Muslims in America. While the total is a small percentage, they tend to live in urban pockets where concentration can lead to political punch.

Ellison's primary victory, tantamount to election in his district, came with heavy support from Somali immigrants living there.

Nationally about 2 million Muslims are registered voters -- including 30,000 added to the rolls in recent weeks, according to Mukit Hossain, who is heading up a voter registration drive for the Muslim American Society.

'STRONG SENSE OF URGENCY'

This year "there is a great deal of concern and a strong sense of urgency to come out and vote in large numbers," he said. "We are callously eroding civil liberties and dismembering civil rights," while pursuing a foreign policy that targets Muslim countries, he added.

The group, which has set up voter registration booths in mosques across the country, is concentrating on 12 states. A recent poll found that 42 percent of Muslim voters were Democrats compared with 17 percent Republicans, with 28 percent having no party affiliation.

But in terms of public office, Muslims have not gained much of a foothold above the local board level, said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations' Chicago office.

"Ten years ago the biggest challenge to the Muslim community was its own political immaturity or organization and understanding of the political process," he said. But since then Muslims have become engaged around issues.

"The biggest challenge we face today is no longer political maturity but resistance from right-wing groups who see Muslim engagement as problematic. We're already seeing that with the Keith Ellison saga. It's become a question of who he is and his past associations," Rehab said.

Ellison once had ties to Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan but has renounced him.

The chance to flex political muscle, however, is evident among Ellison's supporters.

"He's making history," said Somali immigrant Abdi Kahin, 31, shortly after Ellison won the primary. His election would show "we are a diverse nation that can elect whoever we want."


© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.



National and International News Coverage:


 
Feature # 123
CAIR-CHICAGO RESOLVES EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT WITH COOK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

October 26, 2006

CAIR-Chicago's Legal Advisor Maaria Mozaffar served as the key negotiator and representative in a case involving a complaint of employment discrimination by a police officer who has served the Cook County Sheriff's Department for the past 12 years with a clean record.

The officer alleged repeated instances of discrimination, specifically two derogatory statements made by his supervising Lieutenant. After filing a complaint against his supervisor, the officer was moved from his 7am to 3pm desk job to a midnight patrol position. Additionally, his county squad car was also taken away and he began to receive several reprimands which he believed were retaliatory.

The officer filed a claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chicago District Office regarding his supervisor.

CAIR-Chicago immediately became involved in the matter and Legal Advisor Maaria Mozaffar contacted the Cook County Sheriff's Department requesting negotiations.

Both parties met several times during the past few months in order to negotiate a resolution. CAIR-Chicago was able to secure compensation for medical hours and vacation hours used by the officer to resolve this issue. Also, CAIR-Chicago secured the officer's return to full duty with the same hours he held prior to the incident, along with being reissued a county vehicle.

Most importantly, the officer now may approach the General Counsel directly, allowing for future complaints to be expedited.

CAIR-Chicago is pleased to have resolved this complaint through negotiations. This is an excellent example for others who are facing discrimination at work but are afraid of their employer's retaliation. We would like to commend the officer for his bravery in coming forth with this complaint, as officers who daily serve and protect the county should not have to face discrimination and retaliation by their fellow officers.

For more information contact Legal Advisor Maaria Mozaffar at legal@cairchicago.org.


Copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago



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Feature # 122
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: 'PRANK' GETS TEEN LESSON IN TOLERANCE
By Jason George

October 23, 2006

Displacing a Muslim woman's scarf leads to sensitivity training

David Huffman told police it was just a prank gone wrong: On April 22, at a McDonald's in Tinley Park, he tapped a Muslim woman on the head, nearly pulling off her headscarf.

The woman, a young mother with her children, didn't see it as harmless. She was scared and embarrassed; her faith had been attacked. She told police, and they called it battery.

But in a surprising twist, a Cook County circuit judge did not fine or jail Huffman, who pleaded guilty. He was instead ordered to undergo sensitivity training at the downtown Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization.

During the past three months, Huffman, 18, has spent 40 hours listening to and talking with Muslims across Chicagoland. He has completed required tasks that seemed ripped from reality television: watching Muslim youths play basketball, attending a 9/11 event and visiting area mosques, which Huffman called "synagogues" at the beginning of his training.

But what exactly did David Huffman learn?

Day 1

When Huffman first arrived Aug. 4 at the Muslim civil rights organization's office, his hands were shaking from nervousness, and he appeared as though he'd rather have been anywhere else. He was late, for starters. He arrived with his shoes untied and a patchy stubble, looking more like he had just stumbled out of bed than spent the better part of an hour commuting from Tinley Park.

"I'd rather not talk about it," Huffman said of the April incident, soon after arriving. "I want to forget it."

He eventually told his version of the events. He said he knew he was wrong, but he was confused why the woman had become so upset.

"I understood immediately after I did it. But even after I apologized, she was still so angry," he said. "I didn't understand that."

Explaining that to him would be the responsibility of Veronica Zapata, the organization's sensitivity training coordinator. That day, she led Huffman around the corner to the Downtown Islamic Center on South State Street, where she showed him the empty mosque.

"Religion is a waste of time," Huffman said without apparent malice, as his fingers traced ceramic tiles that spell out the 99 names of God in Islam. He checked his mobile phone text messages with his other hand.

Zapata, 32, a Mexican-American Muslim convert, winced at the comment, but she later said she was optimistic about the next several weeks.

"I don't know how reflective he's going to be. I feel the resistance," she said. "I think he has good potential."

`I got in trouble'

Huffman's April arrest came less than two months before he was to graduate from Tinley Park's Andrew High School, where he struggled to stay out of trouble, he said.

"I'm a legend in my high school," he said with a self-conscious swagger.

Still, his brushes with authority have not soured him on applying to a police force when he graduates from community college. It's a calling Huffman said he feels because he wants to help people and because he's a good communicator.

Those communication skills were initially absent as he spent a Friday evening with numerous youths at the Muslim Youth Center in Bridgeview. Huffman was timid around the teens, which could have come from the fact that three young men asked why he was there soon after his arrival, and they left little doubt that they already knew the answer.

"I got in trouble with some Muslims," Huffman said, as the teenagers waited for a longer answer. "I tapped a woman on the head, and they gave me 40 hours."

Conversation turned to sports and video games until everyone broke for evening prayers.

Luqman Rashad, the center's energetic director, led prayers that evening on the basketball court, where Huffman watched intently, taking off his baseball hat as if the national anthem had begun.

Rashad filled his sermon with several topics, telling the 30 or so boys that one must always struggle to do right. And he said Muslim women have it hard in America because the hijab, or head scarf, alerts others to their religion. "It's important to understand the struggles our sisters are going through," he said.

Huffman looked away.

Minutes later, he was sitting at a conference table with three Muslim teenagers who all wear hijabs.

"It's not just a scarf; it's who you are," said Amneh Noubani, 19, who like one of the younger women said she started wearing her hijab at the suggestion of her parents and to honor God.

The young women explained that the hijab is part of Islam's call for modest dress, although Muslims disagree exactly what modest is. The hijab has become a lightning rod as the religion has increased its presence in western countries, where the hijab is sometimes seen as oppressive, and protests have surrounded it from Florida to France.

The group asked Huffman if he had any questions or comments.

He said he had none.

Ramadan lessons

By the beginning of October, after other activities around town, Huffman was back at the Council on American-Islamic Relations' office, where he worked hard to complete a PowerPoint presentation he was required to give to the organization's volunteers at the end of his 40 hours. The month of Ramadan had begun, and the office was full of people fasting from dawn to sunset. Huffman surrounded his computer with a spread of cookies, pasta salad and soda.

He told all who would listen that he was going to be a millionaire one day by inventing a cell phone with a parachute that deploys when dropped. He spoke loud and often, and seemed unaware that his chosen topics, such as the proliferation of bikinis on the social networking Web site MySpace, were doing little to endear him to the office.

But he was learning something.

"What time does fasting end today?" Zapata asked another Muslim sitting nearby.

"6:15 p.m., I think," Huffman responded out of nowhere.

They both smiled.

Not because he was right--he wasn't. But at less than 10 minutes off, he was pretty close.

PowerPoint praise

At their final meeting Oct. 13, Zapata and Huffman playfully teased each other like siblings.

In Huffman's PowerPoint slides, he described Zapata as "probably one of the nicest" people he's ever met. "She made [it possible] for me to understand the religion."

He smiled at her in the darkened room.

"I really did learn a lot from this experience. It made me [realize] some things that I might not have noticed without this training," he said. "And I am going to take this experience with me through my entire life."

Of course, he was supposed to say all of this, but Huffman seemed serious and earnest. And he took the time to reach out to those in the office, whether they had ignored him previously or not.

"I hope you guys take away from this that I am a really nice guy and I care about other people" he said. "People make mistakes; don't let it judge the person for the rest of their life."

The group applauded, and several people patted Huffman on the back, telling him he should return as a volunteer, although next time without the threat of jail time.

Ahmed Rehab, CAIR's executive director, later said he was so impressed with Huffman's development.

"The great thing about Dave's progress is that he didn't come in full of hate," Rehab said. "He, like so many people in the general population, had simply come to his opinions because he never knew a Muslim."

For the first time since his initial day at the council, Huffman again visited the Downtown Islamic Center, walking with two young Muslim men from the office, who did not talk to him the whole way there. There was a crowd at the mosque this time, since it was during Ramadan, which ended Sunday, according to the Islamic Society of North America.

Once inside, one of the men told Huffman he could wait in the hallway, which Huffman did, returning to stare at the tiles listing the names of God in Islam: The All Forgiving. The Hidden. The Majestic.

As the imam preached peace and togetherness, Huffman was feet away but not listening, in a different world altogether. The faithful packed the mosque that day; Huffman checked text messages.

He did however go into the stairwell to check those messages, which, based on the previous weeks, may be a small step of improvement.

----------

jageorge@tribune.com


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune





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Feature # 121
FROM ONE STROGER TO THE NEXT?
By Sadiya Ahmed

October 20, 2006

Will Tony Peraica end the Stroger reign for Cook County Board President?

With the election right around the corner, Illinois is home to not only two of the hottest races for U.S. House of Representatives seats, and a phenomenally close gubernatorial race, but also Cook County's very own race for Board President.

Voters tend to focus on the high profile races, like the race in the sixth congressional district between Peter Roskam (R) and Tammy Duckworth (D) for a vacant seat in the House. The Cook County Board President race has been lurking in the shadows since the primary election held in March 2006.

Earlier this year, Forrest Claypool ran against incumbent John Stroger for the seat. Polls tipped in his favor a few weeks before the election, but the votes cast on Election Day named Stroger the winner. Interestingly enough, John Stroger suffered a stroke around election time. With his son, Todd Stroger, as his spokesperson, John Stroger announced that he would continue his job as Cook County Board President--though he made no public appearances.

On June 30, Todd Stroger delivered his father's resignation and announced the news to the media. The Democrats, faced with a vacant seat, looked within their own party and a few weeks later, nominated Todd Stroger as the replacement candidate for his father, with Tony Peraica as the Republican candidate.


Stroger is currently the Alderman for the 8th Ward in Chicago and is running for the vacant seat of Cook County Board President. After the Democratic Party's backing, Stroger has started campaigning heavily, though his position in the race has been controversial.

Stroger's platform includes: improvement and preservation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, improvement and addition of new programs to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the appointment of an Independent Inspector General to manage and investigate misconduct, fraud, etc. by Cook County government.

His long list of endorsements includes U.S. Senators Obama and Durbin, Mayor Richard Daley, and interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele. In addition he has endorsements from Representatives Rush, Jackson Jr., Lipinksi, Emanuel, and Schakowsky.


Peraica is the Republican candidate and currently holds one of the seats in the 16th District Cook County Board of Commissioners. An attorney by profession, Peraica has done nearly the impossible in local politics--he has made the race a hotly contested one. Cook County and Chicago politics have made the area an overwhelmingly Democratic one.

Peraica's platform includes: improvement of the county's budget with a vow to halt tax increases, new economic development programs that would target impoverished communities, plans to improve the Forest Preserves District in Cook County, "trimming the budget, privatizing key functions, eliminating duplicative and wasteful inefficiencies and creating a comprehensive and county wide health care delivery network".

Peraica's endorsements include The Chicago Tribune, The Gazette Newspapers, and many local elected officials. It is unclear whether the Democrats who where rooting for Claypool will now contribute their energy to electing Tony Peraica as Cook County Board president.

Conclusion

The race has clearly become a heated one where polls change frequently, with one candidate taking the lead one day only to have the other be ahead in the polls the next day. Oddly enough, though the Democrats carry the City of Chicago and most of Cook County, Peraica has taken the lead in many communities where former Claypool supporters or disenfranchised voters are saying that they want to rid the city of nepotism.

One of Stroger's biggest challenges this election is to ward off accusations of his "inheritance" of the seat. Voters are increasingly unhappy with the unofficial but widely held practice of "handing over the seat" to family members for city offices. If Stroger can survive those types of voters, he has the advantage of name recognition over Peraica, essentially a newcomer into the "big league" of politics.

Periaca may get support from former Claypool supporters but Stroger has name recognition. Which one will win?

Only voters can decide on Election Day.

*CAIR-Chicago is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any candidates*

Sadiya Ahmed is CAIR-Chicago's Governmental Relations Coordinator and can be reached at gov.relations@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org




 
Feature # 120
A MARCH TOWARDS MARTIAL LAW?
By Sultan Muhammad

October 17, 2006

Bill Passes in Silence Despite Unprecedented Civil Rights Infringements

Moments ago President Bush signed the Military Commission Act Military Commissions Act of 2006 (H.R. 6166) into law, stating "This bill provides legal protections that ensure our military and intelligence personnel will not have to fear lawsuits filed by terrorists simply for doing their jobs.

[The] legality of the system I established was challenged in the court, and the Supreme Court ruled that the military commissions needed to be explicitly authorized by the United States Congress. And so I asked Congress for that authority, and they have provided it."

The Act passed the House on September 29th with 96% of Republicans supporting and 83% of Democrats opposing legislation that allows American citizens to be labeled "enemy combatants," incarcerated, and tortured. Senator Arlen Specter warned before he inexplicably voted for the bill that the Act would "take our civilization back 900 years."

Amidst a whirlwind of political sloganeering, mudslinging campaigns, and a Congressional scandal, the public debate concerning the recent passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 has remained eerily silent.

Are Mark Foley's pedophiliac perversions more important than the human rights of world citizens and the freedoms of the American people? Will Americans continue to be distracted by a media fixated on the lurid emails of a pervert while the Bill of Rights is under attack?

Without doubt Foley and those responsible for concealing his depravity deserve to be held fully accountable. However, press saturation on this saga has diverted attention from the most egregious affront to civil liberties since the Patriot Act.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont strongly opposed the Act stating, "this legislation is cutting down laws that protect all 100 of us, and now almost 300 million Americans. It is amazing the Senate would be talking about doing something such as this, especially after the example of Guantanamo. We can pick up people intentionally or by mistake and hold them forever."

Bruce Ackerman, a Yale professor of law and political science, says the Act "authorizes the President to seize American citizens as enemy combatants [and] once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."

Ackerman elaborates further, stating, "Ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials."

Law professor Marty Lederman explains the "really breathtaking subsection is subsection (ii), which would provide that UEC [Unlawful Enemy Combatant] is defined to include any person ‘who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.'

Read literally, this means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress and U.S. law is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to ‘hostilities' at all."

For legal residents who are not citizens, the Military Commissions Act is far more dangerous. The Act "encourages the justices to uphold mass detentions without the semblance of judicial review," says Ackerman, entirely denying immigrants access to federal habeas corpus.

"Habeas corpus does not give you any new rights, it just guarantees you have a chance to ask for your basic freedom," states Leahy, that is "gone for the 12 million lawful, permanent residents who live and work among us, to say nothing of the millions of other legal immigrants and visitors who we welcome to our shores each year.

[Gone] for another estimated 11 million immigrants the Senate has been working to bring out of the shadows with comprehensive immigration reform." The Act, he says, "not merely suspend[s]the great writ of habeas corpus, it would eliminate it permanently. We do not have to worry about nuances, such as how long it will be suspended. It is gone."

The Military Commissions Act is not a speculative notion. It is law, already being implemented and now codified. Consider Jose Padilla, held since May 2002 and designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush.

Padilla was detained at the Chicago O'Hare airport in plain clothes without a weapon. In August major charges against him were dropped, yet he still remains in custody due to the indictment exposing him to multiple punishments for a single alleged crime.

Consider the recent release of 17 innocent detainees from Guantanamo Bay, who are now free but had been held as long as four years. The Associated Press reported, that Shah, a doctor from the eastern province of Paktia whose hands shook when he spoke said, "for four years they put me in jail in Cuba for nothing, [We] all were arrested because of false reports, and the Americans, without investigating, they arrested innocent people."

Rahman, another released detainee, was once kept awake for 38 hours while being questioned about terrorist ties. "The last time they tortured me like that was four months ago. They were kicking us all the time, beating us with their hands," he said.

If there is any question that there is a concrete potential for the repeat of a mass detainment program profiling Muslim Americans and peoples of immigrant communities, as with the World War II Japanese internment program, consider the $385 million dollar contract awarded to Kellogg, Brown and Root--a Halliburton subsidiary--to construct detention and processing facilities on American soil; again, significant news that we did not get in mainstream media.

Will Americans push for the repeal of the Military Commissions Act and avert Martial Law? Will Americans say no to the unilateral power grab of President Bush? Or will we continue to allow our rights to be openly subverted by the smokescreen politics of fear mongering?

Sultan Muhammad is the Communications Coordinator for CAIR-Chicago, and can be reached at communications@cairchicago.org.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



Feature # 119
TWO CITIZENSHIP DELAY CLASS ACTION PLAINTIFFS SWORN-IN AS U.S. CITIZENS

October 10, 2006

One hundred and forty three people from 42 different countries packed the courtroom in the federal building and became citizens of the United States of America.

Among them were two of the plaintiffs on the Citizenship Delay class action lawsuit being litigated by CAIR-Chicago, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Competition Law Groups.

Mohammed Farah and Hassan Damra both waited nearly two and a half years after passing their citizenship examinations. The men are two of nine on a class action composed of similarly situated Muslim men experiencing citizenship delays.

The Citizenship Delay Project, sponsored by CAIR-Chicago, the Arab-American Action Network, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Competition Law Groups, has encountered 145 Muslims experiencing similar delays in obtaining citizenship.

The class action lawsuit argues that Muslim men applying for citizenship are being discriminated against on the basis of their religion and gender.

Although all the men on the lawsuit have fulfilled the requirements to obtain their citizenship and none have criminal records, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has failed for years to issue decisions on their applications. The USCIS is supposed to decide on citizenship applications within 120 days.

In addressing the new citizens, the federal judge administering the oath ceremony stated,
"This nation is a beacon for the entire world, illuminating a constitutional democracy in which the individual has a right to speak, to remain silent; to worship, to worship not; to build what one can with the talents and opportunity Fortune provides. I ask, then, that you cherish this nation and do all you can as a citizen to protect her. I hope you will inform yourself about government and participate by voting and by voicing your views. If your neighbor suffers injustice, do what you can to advocate for justice for him or her. Where you find discord, work for peace. As we take care of the rights and liberties of one another, we ensure the liberty of future generations."
For Mohammed and Hassan, their plight to become U.S. citizens may have been long and arduous, but they did so in the spirit of this country by standing up to injustice.

The coalition on the Citizenship Delay Project continues to advocate and represent individuals who have experienced unnecessarily lengthy delays in obtaining citizenship.

For more information on the CAIR-Chicago's Citizenship Delay Project, contact Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham at civilrights@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



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Feature # 118
CAIR-CHICAGO PUBLISHES ITS VOTER EDUCATION GUIDE FOR THE 2006 ELECTION

October 9, 2006

The CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Department has been working diligently over the summer on a major voter education project. Former Voter Education Project Intern George Tobin and current Policy Research Intern Erin Hartnett, took the lead by heading one of the many electoral activities undertaken by the department this year.

The CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006 highlights races throughout Illinois, from the hotly contested gubernatorial race between Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) and State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka (R) to the vacant seat in the Sixth Congressional District with Tammy Duckworth (D) and State Senator Peter Roskam (R).

Voters need information on candidates in their districts so that when they go to the polls, they are able to make educated decisions to better serve their needs.

The aim of the Voter Education Guide is to provide constituents with information on all candidates running in state and congressional races, from the voting records of incumbents to their answers to a CAIR-Chicago produced questionnaire that candidates received. In addition, the guide includes contact information for all candidates, and procedure for first time voters as well as voters who have mastered the process.

Along with the Voter Education Project, CAIR-Chicago has been actively working to register people to vote since July. The New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), an electoral project geared toward increasing voter turnout at the polls in November 2006 is a joint effort of CAIR-Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) which has produced over 1,000 new Muslim voters in the southwest suburbs.

Haady Taslim, full-time organizing fellow for the NADP has been working with a group of volunteers to register eligible Muslim citizens to vote in the upcoming election. With over 1,000 people registered, the deadline for voter registration has passed and the campaign has shifted gears.

A comprehensive "Get Out the Vote" campaign is in the works with door knocking, phone banking, poll watching and organized mobilization to the polls.

Copies of the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006 will be made available a few weeks before the Election.

For more information on the Voter Education Project, political mobilization activities, or elections in general please contact the Governmental Relations Coordinator, Sadiya Ahmed, at gov.relations@cairchicago.org

*CAIR-Chicago does not endorse campaigns or candidates*


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org




 
Feature # 117
COMMENTARY: THE ADL HONORS THE SUN-TIMES FOR "OBJECTIVITY" OF ALL THINGS
By Ahmed Rehab

October 9, 2006

The Chicago Sun-Times and its publisher, John Cruickshank, were awarded the Anti-Defamation League's First Amendment Freedom Award at the Fairmont Hotel last Thursday night, according to a news piece in today's edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

"The paper's reporting demonstrates its commitment to truth and objectivity," said Lonnie Nasatir, ADL's Greater Chicago office regional director. "The Sun-Times approaches Chicago's diverse communities with understanding, and it uses its editorial voice to speak out for justice, fairness and mutual respect."

This award says a lot about the ADL's standard for objectivity, or lack thereof. It also begs the question: do the folks at the ADL take into consideration the Sun-Times' recent editorial record on Muslim issues when they commend the Sun-Times' "editorial voice" for its "justice, fairness, and mutual respect" towards "diverse communities?"

Evidently not.

Here we have the ADL honoring the same paper that has systematically shown a lack of objectivity in its editorial coverage of Islam and Muslims, with an "objectivity" award of all things.

Examples of the Sun-Times' blatant lack of objectivity were peppered all over the editorial sections of the very same issues in which the ADL published its advertisements for this award gala, week in and week out.

Whether in the form of impudent cartoons by Jack Higgins that actively blurred the lines between Islam and terrorism/radicalism, or the insidious commentaries by Mary Laney who suggested that moderate Muslims condone terrorism, or the convoluted analysis by Steve Huntley who suggested that mobilizing to kill is an "evocation of Islam," the Sun-Times' editorial coverage of Islam has consistently been marred by reductionism, over-generalization, over-simplification, and a divergence from facts.

Is Lonnie Nasatir living under a rock?

The irony could not be more apparent than it is in today's issue of the Sun-Times.

In the same issue that we read about the ADL's award to the Sun-Times for using "its editorial voice to speak out for justice, fairness and mutual respect," we see a letter in the editorial section with the blunt title, "No 'moderate Muslims'".

Mind you, it is not just one letter that causes me to fault the editor, but a consistent flurry of virulently anti-Muslim letters that would never be published had the object of the vile hatred been any other community.

In this letter, chosen by the editor among hundreds that are sent in, the writer, John M. McCarthy of Berwyn echoes the perverse logic in columnist Mary Laney's recent commentary that since she has not personally been contacted by moderate Muslims, they must not exist.

McCarthy feeds off her venomous piece taking it to the next level, a full blown rant in which he audaciously asserts that:

"'moderate Muslim' is an oxymoron. And anyone who believes there is such a creature is a moron. When a civilization states that its sole reason for existence is to exterminate us, we have two options: We can "negotiate," a la Chamberlain, or we can destroy their will and ability to carry out their mission."

Not only does Mr. McCarthy claim on the pages of the Sun-Times that ALL Muslims are radicals, but he goes on to state that anyone who refuses to agree with his racist assertion is nothing but "a moron".

The rest of Mr. McCarthy's letter makes it clear that his racism is rooted in his ability to differentiate between Islam as a religion/civilization, and the politics of terrorism espoused by outlaws of the religion/civilization. This misunderstanding is not surprising given the source of his information: the Sun-Times editorial section, which has consistently blurred the distinction to the detriment of simple minds like McCarthy.

And yet, Lonnie Nasatir of the ADL can say with a straight face that "the Sun-Times approaches Chicago's diverse communities with understanding, and it uses its editorial voice to speak out for justice, fairness and mutual respect." It is obvious that Nasatir himself needs a crash course on "objectivity."

It is nothing short of shameful for the ADL to seek to strengthen its ties with a newspaper at the expense of minority communities and at the expense of justice, fairness, and mutual respect.

Lastly, this must be asked: when the ADL claims to stand up against defamation of "all citizens," do these citizens include Muslims? When the ADL claims to seek "to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens," does such a sect and body include the Muslim community?

The ADL owes all those who take its mission statement seriously a direct answer supported by facts.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 116
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "PURPLE POLITICS CONVOLUTE THE ISSUE"
By Sultan Muhammad

October 4, 2006

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/
news_opinion_letters/2006/10/purple_politics.html


Dennis Byrne's assessment of the National Intelligence Estimate in his article, "Terror-report fight misses big picture" (Commentary, October 2), seeks to distort reality in an effort to maintain a failed policy.

"The data show that, [what] nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland," and have little to do with "Islamic fundamentalism or any one of the world's religions," states Robert A. Pape, a well established terrorism expert.

His findings propose, that "suicide terrorism is a strategy for national liberation from foreign military occupation." These resistance movements are direct responses to such occupation. This admission by no means justifies the reprehensible evil that is terrorism. But it does offer us a reality we seem reluctant to embrace; that when occupation ceases, so does terrorism.

If Byrne, and his like-minded counterparts in U.S. foreign policy, would exercise "intellectual honesty," it would stand apparent that the current policy of sustained occupation has only spawned violent resistance, as the NIE suggests.

One would only need to read news reports of the escalating violence to ascertain the validity of that assertion.

Reductionist signifiers, like "Jihadist," employed by Byrne indicate that he is more concerned with seeking to portray a monolithic foe, while taking moral supremacists' stances to justify a two-front quagmire - Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rather than earnestly conveying the truth about matters to an audience that can do something about them - i.e. the American voters - he convolutes the issue and suggests that the forced establishment of microwave democracies through military might is "just and moral."

He audaciously purports that we should "bring reason, justice and freedom to a part of the world" through these means as if we have perfected a patent brand on such ideals for export, because "it's good for that part of the world."

Byrne's purple political rhetoric only confuses the issue and exposes a hawk in dove’s clothing.

Sultan Muhammad
Communications Coordinator
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago)
Chicago



Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


 
Feature # 115
CAIR-CHICAGO LAUNCHES ITS SECOND ANNUAL RAMADAN OUTREACH PROGRAM

October 6, 2006

As a chapter of the largest Muslim Civil Rights organization in the United States, it is our duty to empower our local constituents with services that protect their rights in the case of religious discrimination, biased media reporting, problems in attaining citizenship status...etc. It is also our duty to make our local constituents aware of these services.

One approach is through our Ramadan Outreach Program, which consists of a series of mini-presentations on CAIR-Chicago and the free services we provide to Muslims in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. These presentations are given by Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, during Taraweeh prayer at various mosques in the midwest. A donation box is also available for local supporters.

"It is important during these times that Muslims are aware of organizations that serve them and their needs", said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator.

Several coordinated outreach events have already taken place including: the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs in Rolling Meadows, Muslim Community Center in Chicago, Bait-ul-ilm in Streamwood, the Islamic Community Center of Illinois in Chicago, and the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America in Willowbrook.

There are still many outreach events scheduled to take place this month, including: the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Al-Azhar Islamic Foundation in Barrington, Islamic Center of Quad Cities in Moline, the Islamic Community Center of Des Plaines in Des Plaines, the Islamic Center of Naperville in Naperville and the American Islamic Association in Frankfort (stay tuned to our website for more outreach locations).

We would like to thank all participating mosques for their consistent support and their confidence in CAIR-Chicago's work.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 114
VILLAGE MEETING PASSES RECOMMENDATION ON ELIMINATING DISCRIMINATORY PARKING BAN

October 3, 2006

Lombard Community members came to an agreement that the current parking ban unfairly targets Muslims and should be reformed.

The Cambria residential community in Lombard is plagued with parking and trespassing problems. These problems not only stem from the Muslim community attending Friday prayer, but also from the daily congestion from the Jackson Middle School, visitors attending baseball and softball games at the nearby baseball field, and from other non-residents who congregate around the community’s retention pond.

On or around August 31, 2006, the Village of Lombard passed a parking ordinance that banned parking on Fridays from noon until three. A thirty day police order effectuated the posting of the parking signs.

The parking ordinance, however, only targets the problem associated with the Muslim community attending Friday prayer. The ordinance does not address the other trespass concerns the residents face. Members of the Muslim community, many of whom own property in the area, understand that trespass is an important issue and approached the Village to devise a solution that addresses all of the trespass problems.

On September 19, 2006, the Village of Lombard hosted a special meeting, at the end of which it was decided that at the end of the thirty day police order the signs would be removed. All attendees were advised to bring their proposed solutions to the next Traffic and Safety Committee Meeting on October 2, 2006.

At the meeting on October 2nd, CAIR-Chicago’s Ausaf Farooqi spoke about how the sign raises ill feelings and it can basically be read as "No Muslims park here," due to the wording used. Additionally, he touched on the legal issues involved; many commit trespass in the area, and therefore targeting only Muslims is discriminatory. The Muslim community members support a general ban Monday through Friday, in order to eliminate any discrimination.

The meeting culminated with board members agreeing to the discriminatory nature of this parking ban, after which they passed a recommendation for a general ban Monday trough Friday 7-5. A final decision on the issue will be given on October 19th, 2006.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 113
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES RELENTLESS IN ANTI-ISLAM CARTOONS
Media Monitor Team

October 3, 2006


Jack Higgins' Opinion - Published 9/20/06 - Chicago Sun-Times © 2006



Dear Friends,

A few days ago, members of our media monitor team were quite disturbed to note the publication of the above cartoon portraying the Prophet Muhammad, yet again, as a violent hooligan. The editorial cartoon indicates that it is the Chicago Sun-Times position that Islam is a violent religion.

I called the Sun-Times editorial page editor and demanded that we be afforded space in the paper to respond to this dismaying position. He obliged and for that, we are thankful. My letter was published in the 9/26/06 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times. Below is the text of the letter. (Italics indicate sentences of the original letter that were omitted by the editor before publication)


Impudent Cartoon
By Ahmed Rehab
Published in Chicago Sun-Times, September 26, 2006

Ok, so I have witnessed the impudent display of reductionism otherwise known as a Jack Higgins cartoon, last Wednesday. I have seen his characterization of the Prophet Muhammad as a sword-wielding, raging lunatic with a mountain of skulls at his trail. I have noted his insinuation that Islam itself inspires the violence we see on our TV screens - as opposed to, say, ignorance, poverty, repression, or radicalization.

So now what am I going to do about it?

According to Higgins, I would be burning his effigy right now, or perhaps I would be setting ablaze copies of the paper with a posse of my fellow violent brethren as we chanted maniacally before the cameras. Admittedly, I may feel some anger against the careless desecration of something I hold sacred, but it is highly unlikely that I would react emotionally thanks primarily to the prophet Muhammad, no less. His famous saying that “the strongest amongst you is he who can conquer, not all others, but his own anger” is a life lesson I go by.

So how will I respond to Higgins’ abuse of ink? By reaffirming his right to free speech, and then responding with mine.

Firstly, I write to protest the vilification of an entire people or religion based on what their worse stereotypes have to offer; I ought to remind Higgins that, for many people, this is precisely what defines racism.

Secondly, I vow to redouble my own commitment to dialogue and education, these – and not anger - are the most effective weapons against ignorance.

“Show me what Muhammad brought,” the Pope quoted a medieval emperor as asking. Every day, my colleagues and I strive to answer that question by waking up to serve community and country with dedication and integrity. Everyday, as we square up to the daunting task of securing equal rights in an increasingly prejudiced environment, we muster up patience in the face of tribulation, resolve in the face of insolence. Civility is what Muhammad brought us. He taught us that the greatest act of worship is to “think” and that the greatest gift of all is compassion: not just knowing the pain of the sufferer, but also feeling it.

Finally, I ask the Sun-Times to do something about its pitiful track record where, invariably, its editorial treatment of Islam-related topics is marred by a tendency towards reductionism, generalization, or oversimplification. Your unsuspecting readers deserve better.


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Sun-Times


EPISODE II: THE UNREPENTANT JACK HIGGINS STRIKES AGAIN


Jack Higgins' Opinion - Published 10/01/06 - Chicago Sun-Times © 2006




It seems that the Chicago Sun-Times is relentless in its provocation and incitement.

The above Chicago Sun-Times editorial cartoon, also by Jack Higgins, was published in Sunday's paper, 10/01/06.

Jack Higgins is angered by the acts of terror and radical violence he sees on his TV screen; I can understand that. But so too are the overwhelming majority of Muslims; can he understand that?

The truth that seems to be lost on many commentators (who probably don't know any Muslims) is that we are doubly distressed by such acts. Firstly, we abhor acts of terror for their propensity to incur harm against innocents; secondly, we abhor them because their perpetrators claim to be acting in the name of Islam (obviously playing into the hands of bigots like Jack Higgins).

Jack Higgins' cartoons are classic examples of a logical fallacy that is all-too common in post 9/11 America. Rather than direct his anger at terrorists and violent radicals, as would be reasonable and expected, he projects his wrath unto Islam and Muslims. That misguided assault is precisely what we must act to protest in the most civil and effective way we can.

Anyway you look at it, generalization about an entire race, ethnicity, or faith group based on what their worst stereotypes have to offer can only be conducive to one thing: an atmosphere of racism and bigotry.

Today, after centuries of civil strife culminating in the civil rights movement, overt racism and bigotry have become wholly unacceptable in America. Except, we are slowly coming to grips with the inescapable fact that Islamophobia is the last accepted form of bigotry in America.

And when it comes to the Chicago Sun-Times editorial treatment, Islamophobia reigns supreme. We see it consistently in the editorials, the commentaries, and the cartoons.

My letter of protest to the paper, though welcomed by the editor, seems to have fallen on deaf ears - perhaps obstinate ears.

Any self-respecting paper is keen to take the concerns of its readers in mind, especially if they are aligned with reason and common sense.

Not so the Chicago Sun-Times. Five days after the publication of my letter criticizing Higgins' first racist cartoon, the paper publishes yet another, as if to drive the point home that the Chicago Sun-Times couldn't care less what its Muslim readers think or feel.

Whereas our president and our government have clearly indicated that our war is against the proponents of terror, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial team is unbashful in its assertion that our beef is with Islam itself.

This is a dangerous view that undermines the well-being of millions of peaceful, law-abiding, tax-paying Americans who happen to profess the faith of Islam. As such it is wholly unacceptable, no less than if one were to insinuate that Christianity/Christians are out to get us or Judaism/Jews are out to get us.

These virulent and polemic views belong in the Middle Ages and are best left there. It's time the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial team join the 21st Century.

I urge our friends from the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other communities to write the Chicago Sun-Times in protest. I ask that you please keep your letters objective and to the point. Anger and insult are antithetical to the Islamic spirit which we are writing to absolve from Higgins' misguided incrimination.

Although it is clearly dismaying that the paper would choose to publish a second anti-Islam cartoon as a response to criticism of the first, we must not lose hope in the possibility that someone at the Sun-Times will hear and understand.


Ahmed Rehab's Opinion - "Wrong Address" 10/02/06 - Ahmed Rehab © 2006




So What do I do?

Write a letter (about 300 words, no more than 430 words) for publication in the Chicago Sun-Times. Politely, yet poignantly protest against the mixing between Terrorism and Islam, ask the editorial board to stop misguiding readers about the nature of Islam as practiced by hundreds of millions of peaceful adherents: letters@suntimes.com

Write a private letter of protest to Steve Huntley, the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial team editor: shuntley@suntimes.com

Lastly, feel free to write me with your ideas, questions, or reflections as I would love to hear from you: director@cairchicago.org


Have a Blessed Season
Ahmed Rehab
Executive Director




copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 112
ELECTIONS HEAT UP IN THE 8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
By Erin Hartnett

September 28, 2006

With just over a month until Election Day (November 7, 2006), congressional campaigns have gone into overdrive with their fundraising efforts and profuse campaign expenditures. At the forefront of this extreme cash flow is Illinois’ very own 8th Congressional District. Although the House of Representatives seat is currently held by first-term Democrat Melissa Bean, the Republican Party is sparing no efforts in having its candidate of choice, David McSweeney reclaim a district it held for the three decades prior to 2004. But what is an election without an independent running? Alongside Bean and McSweeney is independent Moderate candidate Bill Scheurer.

CANDIDATE PROFILES









First elected in 2004, Representative Melissa Bean considers herself a moderate Democrat, often voting against party lines. Although she has gained immense support from the business community (most recently endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), the Congresswoman’s vote in favor of the 2005 CAFTA Implementation Bill isolated her labor constituents (a group that largely contributed to her success in 2004).

Although she has not received a number of her previous union endorsements many have withheld their condemnations—in an attempt to keep the seat Democratic. Unopposed in the primary, Bean had $1.75 million left from 2004 to jumpstart her fundraising efforts, along with the backing of DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (IL-5).









This is investment banker David McSweeney’s second attempt at the seat (he ran in 1998), and his political experience includes five years as a Palatine Township Trustee (1995-2000) and an internship with the Reagan-Bush Campaign (1984). He won March’s 6-way Republican primary, but at a great cost—spending almost $1.7 million of his own money for the nomination.

Although largely self-financed, McSweeney has gotten a substantial hand from many of the Republican Party’s heavy-hitters, with fundraising appearances from Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, and Arizona Senator (and likely 2008 presidential candidate) John McCain.









Running as a Moderate is entrepreneur Bill Scheurer. Despite running for a State House seat in 2004, he lacks political experience (he was previously an attorney and a CEO).

With two children serving in the military, Scheurer has focused his attention upon the war in Iraq, calling for troop withdrawal and increased benefits for members of the armed forces. He has received endorsements from a number of unions, including the Teamsters, Unite Here, and the Service Employees International Union. His candidacy has been welcomed by McSweeney (who invited Scheurer to take part in all three of the debates), as he has the potential to divert needed support from Bean’s liberal base.

KEY ISSUES

Both Bean and McSweeney have embraced controversial views on current hot-button issues such as immigration and national security, while Scheurer has taken a more ‘liberal’ position.

While in office, Bean voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (HR 6061), Border Security Bill (HR 4437), and Real ID Act of 2005 (HR 418), all against her party’s position. She also voted in favor of the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill, which was strongly opposed by Democrats.

McSweeney has supported an increase in caps for legal immigration, but staunchly opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Specifically, he has voiced support for the Sensenbrenner bill but feels that there should be exemptions made for religious organizations.

Scheurer supports a guest worker program, along with citizenship tracked opportunities for undocumented immigrants. He has opposed the Real ID Act and the Sensenbrenner bill, but supports efforts to make hiring an illegal immigrant a felony.


copyright © 2006, CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 111
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: THEY ARE NOT THEIR HAIR By Deborah Douglas

September 20, 2006

Women are far more than the some of their parts -- six Chicagoans reveal what lies within

Once in a while, amid the prefab, love-soaked lyrics that pollute radio airwaves, a song resonates, reaching into our souls, nakedly asserting to the world how women feel and how women will be reckoned with as individuals. So when India.Arie declared "I Am Not My Hair," women Chicagowide collectively responded, "And neither are we!"

India.Arie sings that she endured hot-combed hair, the dreaded -- and drippy -- Jheri curl, and straightening her natural kinks with relaxers, which consequently and inevitably led to breakage. Then she went au naturel with cultivated dreadlocks, eventually sacrificing them to a bald cut. Nearly every step of the way, somebody had something, often negative, to say about her choice.

What'd she do to her hair? / I don't know, it look crazy

Despite the drastic changes, women could relate. The chart-topping song validates that universal female experience of being judged by looks. India.Arie gave life to the idea that a woman is more than the sum of her parts.

If I wanna shave it close / Or if I wanna rock locks / That don't take a bit away / From the soul that I got

That leads to the question, if we are not our hair, then who are we? Six Chicago women answer just that. From a smart blond to a cancer survivor who held her own hair-shaving party, we peek inside the soul that lives within.


LIZ WHELAN
25, senior account executive, West Loop

The song:
"It's really kind of funky and fun, but when you take time to sit down and listen to it, it really resonates. To use a completely overused cliche, you can't judge a book by its cover."

Who you are: "I tend to be a dichotomy. I have style and fashion sense, but I love putting on a T-shirt and going to a college football game. I'm passionate about everything: art, work, being a wife, my family."

Personal philosophy: "You have to have something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to."


NADRA SMILEY
24, student, hair stylist, social advocate, Bronzeville

The song:
"I wear locks. I had an afro; that was my favorite style because it was so free. I had a perm once. My hair started breaking off. I said, 'Oh, no, this is not going to work.' I cut it off after that and just started over, from scratch."

What you want people to see: "Juse me. I'm always changing. I'm never the same."

First impressions: "I've had friends tell me they thought I was mean ... bourgie or stuck up," Smiley says, laughing. "Those are the people who fall the most in love with me. That just says you can never make an assumption off looking at somebody."

Who you are: "I am young. I'm free. I'm intelligent. I'm full of new ideas. I'm a spiritual being. I'm trying to make my life happen."

What you learn from your clients: "I've noticed they always had a problem with their looks. Your hair is a big part of that. When they transition to natural hair, they feel not pretty, not adequate. Then I see them blossom into what they are. I see them get this confidence back."


DINA REHAB
26, outreach coordinator, Harwood Heights

The song:
"I felt it completely represented my personal philosophy, an Islamic philosophy. The emphasis is on your soul, your character ... not your physical appearance.

Personal philosophy: "To live authentically and to do so in harmony with myself and my surroundings. This cannot be achieved without serious introspection about who you are, not who you should be."

First impressions: "Usually the first impression for people who don't know what a hijab stands for ... is, "There's an oppressed woman,' or 'She's foreign,' " says Rehab, who says her sacred head covering has a lot in common with nuns, Orthodox Jewish women and monks. When she covers her hair, people "sort of tune in to what you're really about."


SARAH VANDERWERF
27, fund-raising consultant, Logan Square

About your hair:
"I found out in May that I have non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I just finished my chemotheraphy, and my doctors believe it's gone. I was actually upset about the fact that I might lose my hair. I've always had long hair.

"I decided if it started falling out, I would shave it off. My hair has always been a big part of me; I couldn't emotionally go through watching it fall out. Three other friends shaved their heads with me. We had a hair-shaving party. It made it a lot less impactful, a positive thing."

VanderWerf is now encouraging a member of her Gilda's Club cancer support group to shave: "When else are you going to have a chance to do this?"

Personal philosophy: "To take things one day at a time. If you worry too much about tomorrow, you don't enjoy today," says VanderWerf, whose Tuesday indulgence was going to therapy and obsessing over the latest episode of "Grey's Anatomy."

Who you are: "I am someone who highly values working on yourself and doing something to better yourself every day. I am not cancer. I am not my hair."


DIANA PALOMAR SCOTT
46, community affairs vice president, West Loop

The song:
"It's funny," says Palomar Scott, who started graying at age 20, "every time I hear it, something resonates differently." From cancer, which runs in her family, to strength, it's appealing on many levels.

Personal philosophy: "To do good in whatever [way] that means. Our actions should speak that."

Who you are: "A strong, loving, caring, loyal, hardworking, good person."

First impressions: "The gray. It surprises people. they ask me, 'Did you get it colored that way?' A lot of women walk away thinking, 'If you can do it, I can let my hair go gray.' People will come to me and say, 'You're really very beautiful, but you're really very nice.' It's very touching to me, especially when it comes from other women."


JETTA BATES
Ageless, associate director, Near West Side

The song:
"I was in the truck. I was actually having one of those days re I was feeling underappreciated. It was hot outside, and you know how you're listening to something and say, 'Oh, this is catchy.' I tuned in to to what she was trying to say, that I am more than my hair, I am more than what you initially see. It spoke to that."

Who you are: "I'm a global, driven, Peter Pan-esque person. I'm a peacemaker who's creative but a realist."

Personal philosophy: "Be honest and have fun. Tap into your joy."

What you want people to see: "Power. And style. Approachable. I am the epitome of openmindedness and acceptance."

I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am not your expectations no no

I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am a soul that lives within

India.Arie, "I Am Not My Hair" ddouglas@suntimes.com



copyright © 2006, Chicago Sun-Times


 
Feature # 110
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: CAIR-CHICAGO ATTORNEY REPRESENTS MUSLIM MAN IN POLICE MISCONDUCT CASE

September 25, 2006

CAIR-Chicago Attorney Rima Kapitan represented a Muslim man in a court hearing relating to a case of police misconduct. The hearing was regarding a charge against the man for resisting or obstructing a police officer.

Mohammed Britel was held for over 8 hours by police after having asked police on his block a question about a parking ticket he was issued. Britel was held and questioned in the interrogation room and was told that he did not have the right to an attorney after he repeatedly requested one. The police also called the FBI, claiming Britel had admitted being tied to terrorists. Britel was then questioned by the FBI without an attorney after he, again, requested one.

CAIR-Chicago Attorney Rima Kapitan filed a motion to dismiss the charge against Britel. After city attorneys failed to respond to the motion, they offered to drop the “resisting” charge. Britel was also charged with two counts of assault, which officers agreed to drop if he apologized and “promised not to file an OPS complaint.” Britel, having grown weary of the drawn out process, agreed and the charges against him were subsequently dropped.

The case of Mohammed Britel is one of many cases involving misconduct by police officers against Muslims in the Chicagoland area. Law-abiding Muslims are often subjected to harassment and ill-treatment such as in this case. That police officers sworn to serve and protect the citizens of this city, including Muslims, would hold a man for eight hours, interrogate him without allowing him to obtain counsel, and call the FBI claiming he has ties to terrorists is a racist and flagrant abuse of power.

CAIR-Chicago will continue to advocate on behalf of Muslims such as Britel who experience such egregious infringements of their rights.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 109
NBC 5: DISCUSSION ON SOX FORUM FANS HATE

September 21, 2006

http://www.nbc5.com/sports/9904895/detail.html

Baseball Officials Remove Thread

Some fans on the forum on the Chicago White Sox's Web site posted messages that had nothing to do with the team's fate in the American League wildcard race.

The messages, which have been removed, insulted Muslims, NBC5's Rob Elgas reported on Thursday. One discussion was titled "Muslims Keep Acting Like Savages," with more than 60 people responding.

"You can't help but get a pinch in the middle of your gut every time you see this stuff," said Ahmed Rehab of the Council of Islamic Relations. "Whether it's on a sports Web site or elsewhere. And I got to admit it's the first

Baseball officials said it's nearly impossible to prevent derogatory threads from appearing, but once online, supervisors can quickly remove them.

"I do not blame the White Sox at all, they could not have known about it until someone alerted them," Rehab said. "And they did the right thing taking it down as soon as they found out about it."

White Sox officials said they were surprised about the posts and contacted Major League Baseball personnel in the league's office in New York, which controls the Web sites of all the teams in the major leagues. Officials in New York immediately removed the posts .

"From the team's perspective, it doesn't belong there," said a White Sox spokesman. "It's a place for people to go talk about the White Sox, to vent if they're angry, and a lot of fans are frustrated. But when it goes beyond that line, regardless of the topic, it should go off."

For their part, White Sox fans made a point of noting that their current priorities have nothing to do with Muslims.

"Everyone knows it's a ball game," said White Sox fan Dan Costigan. "When you're there, you're a Sox fan. You're not black, white, Mexican, Muslim or Indian. You're a Sox fan."


Copyright 2006 by NBC5.com. All rights reserved.


 
Feature # 108
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: POPE'S REMARKS TEAR AT FRAGILE RELATIONS
By Margaret Ramirez

September 19, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ nationworld/chi-0609190138sep19,1,6700736. story?page=2&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

The pontiff's comments and the fiery protests that followed strain the tenuous dialogue between Muslims and Christians worldwide

Despite a rare expression of regret and deep sorrow from Pope Benedict XVI over his use of an inflammatory 14th Century quote on Islam and violence, Roman Catholics and Muslims alike said they fear the incident may damage the increasingly important dialogue between the two world faiths.

Outrage in the Islamic world over the remarks represents the first crisis of Benedict's 17-month-old papacy, and the Vatican expanded efforts to defuse the situation Monday by ordering representatives to discuss the matter with leaders of Muslim countries. Catholic bishops meeting in Istanbul said the pope would visit Turkey in November as scheduled, though several Turkish leaders continued to object.

Even as Al Qaeda in Iraq vowed war on Christianity and violent protests continued in Syria and Indonesia, some Muslim leaders said the remarks demonstrated the crucial need for more dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, and many vowed they would continue such interfaith efforts.

On Sunday, Benedict issued a carefully worded apology for his remarks, saying he was "deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address ... which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims."

Many Muslim leaders worldwide, as well as some in Chicago, said the apology was inadequate because it was directed toward the "reactions" of Muslims and not an actual admission that he had done wrong. Other Muslim leaders called for further clarification about the point the pope had intended to make in his speech.

"Pope Benedict's apology is incomplete because it expresses remorse for Muslim anger to his questionable selection of quotations, rather than his own poor judgment in choosing them. Yet, we welcome it as a step in the right direction," said Ahmed M. Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Muslims are still waiting for this pope to reclaim the reconciliatory path of Muslim-Catholic dialogue Pope John Paul mastered; when he does, he'll find many willing Muslim partners just as Pope John Paul did."

Visiting a German university on Sept. 12, Benedict delivered a speech that focused on the separation of faith and reason in Western society. The pope quoted from a conversation between a 14th Century Byzantine emperor--a Christian--and a "learned Persian" about the two faiths.

The emperor said: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The emperor then argued that conversion by violence is unreasonable and therefore "contrary to God's nature."

Aminah McCloud, professor of religious studies at DePaul University and director of the school's Islamic World Studies program, said the pope's comments seem to suggest a lack of awareness of Islam's diversity. McCloud said the pope could rectify the situation by clarifying why he selected the citation and what light he believes it sheds on Muslim-Catholic relations.

"It shows a lack of understanding of Islamic thought, in general, today. But also, he is doing that thing that we hope people never do, which is lump all Muslims in one basket by making sweeping general comments, to imply that those who follow Islam are unreasonable and therefore prone to violence," McCloud said. "I think this did a lot of harm. I can't say whether or not that harm is irreparable. But it did a great deal of harm."

Catholic observers were equally divided as to the meaning and impact of the fallout.

Chester Gillis, chairman of Georgetown University's theology department and an expert on the U.S. Catholic Church, said the remarks reveal the first public signs of the pope's tougher stance in the church's dealings with the Islamic world.

Overtures of that stance came earlier this year when he shut down the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and transferred its head, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the Vatican's leading expert on the Islamic world, to Cairo. Vatican observers viewed the move as a snub to Fitzgerald, who was widely viewed by his critics as being too soft on Muslims.

"I believe this does reveal a tougher side of Benedict," Gillis said. "His talk was about faith and reason and the need for rationality in religion. And his feeling is that violence is not a rational way to act."

Benedict has also been clear in distinguishing himself from Pope John Paul II by stating that any dialogue between Muslims and Christians should involve "reciprocity." That principle implies that if Muslims want to enjoy religious freedom in the West, then Christians should also be allowed to practice their religion in Muslim states without fear of being persecuted.

Even so, the pope's remarks don't represent any significant shift in church policy. Instead, they illustrate a theologian who underestimated the reaction that a fiery medieval quote could provoke in a post 9/11 world, Gillis said.

"Will leaders in the Islamic community refuse to sit with Catholics in dialogue? I don't think that's going to happen. The dialogue is just too important right now."

Rev. Donald Senior, president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said a thorough study of the pope's entire speech finds that he was actually using the quote to explain certain reflections on the relationship between religion and rationality or faith and reason. At the end of the speech, he refers to the controversial quote again and says this is why we need dialogue and understanding.

Senior also notes that in the original German text, Benedict refers to the quotation as "crude." To take the quote out of context from the entire message of the speech is to mischaracterize Benedict, Senior said.

"The pope has spoken about Islam before. He has met with Muslim leaders in his first visit outside of Rome in Cologne (Germany.) He's concerned about the violence, as I think all thoughtful religious leaders of all traditions are. But he certainly has more of a track record than a quotation that he described himself as crude," Senior said.

"I think his concern was how far reason and intelligence can probe into the meaning of God's revelation. It has its limits, but it also has its validity. So, I think he was trying to start with a vivid example of an exchange about this. But unfortunately, it was seen as reflective of his own views."

----------

maramirez@tribune.com


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune




This article was also reprinted in


 
Feature # 107
THE INNER JOURNEY OF YOUNG MUSLIMS IN AMERICA
By Judy Woodruff

September 15, 2006

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/ story.php?storyId=6071738

Two young women are discovering what it means to be Muslim in America. Assia and Iman Boundaoui talk about how they reconcile living between two worlds, and where their Muslim and American identities come together.

Part I: Young Muslim Americans Struggle with Identity



Part II: Wearing a Hijab



Sisters Assia and Iman Boundaoui grew up outside Chicago, their lives straddling what it is to be Muslim and American. Born to Algerian parents, they attended an Islamic school and a Sunni mosque around the corner from their home. They watched Nickelodeon and Al Jazeera. They got takeout food from Kentucky Fried Chicken and the falafel place down the street.

Assia, 20, and Iman, 18, reflect on what it means to dress differently because of their religion, and how they are perceived by non-Muslims.

"I'm proud to be Algerian, but it makes me mad when people think just because you have a scarf on, you can't be American," says Assia, who is 20. "You know, they have to ask you, 'Where are you really from? No, no where are you really from?'"

All of which might prompt a question: When it comes to their own identity, do you they think of themselves first as Muslim, or American?

"In America, we would say we're Muslim first, because that's what makes us different, I guess," Assia says. "So you identify with that one factor within you that stands out. But in another country, like in a Muslim country, and someone asks us to identify ourselves, we would say we're American."

Iman says she felt most American during a trip to Paris she took as a high school senior. Her group visited a Muslim school that was opened in response to a law banning religious headwear in public schools.

"We were talking to the girls and they were crying and telling us that before the school was made, the girls there had to make the choice of not going to school or attending school without the scarf," Iman says. "It was probably the hardest decision they've ever had to make. And me and my friends were looking at them and at that moment were like, 'Thank God we live in America, that I can walk down the street with my scarf on without having to decide to take it off because I have to go to school.'"

This month, Iman starts her freshman year at Northwestern University; Assia begins a college fellowship in Europe for an international human-rights organization.


Copyright © 2006, NPR


 
Feature # 106
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: CANDIDATE'S PROFILING STAND ANGERING MUSLIMS IN STATE
By John McCormick

September 15, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0609150343 sep15,1,1012871.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

It started as a simple campaign tour to commemorate Sept. 11 and distribute more than 1,000 American flag yard signs in a western Illinois congressional district where the incumbent has been sidelined by Parkinson's disease.

But Republican candidate Andrea Zinga's comments earlier this week about airport profiling and Middle Eastern men has set off a controversy that has angered Muslims in the state.

"Profiling doesn't bother me if we are profiling the people who, with one exception--and that would be Timothy McVeigh--have caused the outrages against our nation and caused the deaths of American citizens," she said, according to an Associated Press story. "We're talking about Middle Eastern men."

But Zinga, who also drew criticism during an unsuccessful 2004 campaign bid when she questioned the failing health of Rep. Lane Evans, said in an interview Thursday that the quote fails to provide the full context of what she was saying.

She said the point she was trying to make is that airlines need to have the freedom to more thoroughly screen any passenger who sets off red flags without worrying about whether they have exceeded any arbitrary ratio for that racial or ethnic group.

"Unfortunately, the preponderance of the terrorist crimes have been done by people from the Middle East," said Zinga, who narrowly won the 17th District primary in March. "But if suddenly your triggers started to show that everyone was, say, an Irish grandmother, then I don't have any problem with you screening as many Irish grandmothers as you need to screen to keep that plane from turning into a weapon of mass destruction."

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, meanwhile, has condemned Zinga's comments.

"She is misinformed and she is more concerned about votes than issues," said Ahmed Rehab, the group's executive director. "This is language that we tend to hear during elections when candidates feel they can tap into the fears of voters."

A comment Zinga made Tuesday to a Moline television station-- that "the Islamic culture is bent on conquering and subjugating a great deal of the world"--further angered Rehab.

"There's just no excuse for a candidate running for public office in America to not know the difference between the threat of terrorism and the faith of Islam," he said.


Zinga said the discussion about profiling started with a question from a reporter in Springfield.

"One of the reporters said, `I have a Middle Eastern name, so should I be stopped?'" Zinga recounted. "I said `yes.'"

But in a district that leans Democratic, there is speculation that Zinga made the comments on purpose to draw attention to her underdog campaign.

"I think it is probably a calculated thing on her part and there aren't too many Muslims that are going to vote for her anyway," said Tom Getz, a former chairman of the Rock Island County GOP. "I think people are a little tired of what they go through at airports...They are saying why should an 85-year-old woman be asked to take her shoes off and all that."

Zinga's opponent, Democrat Phil Hare, a longtime Evans aide, has not said much about her profiling statement.

"He disagrees with racial profiling, but beyond that he hasn't made too much of a strong statement one way or the other," said Teresa Kurtenbach, a Hare campaign spokeswoman.

Despite criticism from Muslims, Zinga is not steering away from the controversy. She posted an extensive item about the incident Wednesday on her campaign blog.

"When you are trying to avoid a murderous hijacking, you look closest at the triggers and signs that you know are most likely, statistically, to lead to that eventuality," she wrote. "When I say profiling doesn't bother me, I refer specifically to profiling in airports."

Lara Uselding, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said there is no racial profiling on the part of her agency.

"All passengers who come to a checkpoint are subject to random and unpredictable screening," she said. "The screening rules are the same for everyone."

----------

mccormickj@tribune.com


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


 
Feature # 105
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "WE'RE HERE TODAY TO ALWAYS REMEMBER"
By Brendan McCarthy and John Chase

September 12, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0609120175sep12,1, 2309811.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Time came to a standstill at 7:46 a.m. Monday on a busy block in downtown Chicago.

Outside Holy Name Cathedral, politicians stood silent, clergymen bowed their heads and passersby paused as a bell tolled from the cathedral's steeple. Cars quietly hummed by without honking horns. Chirping birds and other typical sounds of the city seemed muted

Exactly five years ago to the minute that a plane tore into the World Trade Center, Chicago remembered.

Across the region Monday, similar moments were seemingly frozen in time as steps both big and small were taken to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001.

At Holy Name Catholic Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared it a day of remembrance in Illinois.

Blagojevich, joined by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, Comptroller Dan Hynes and 15 men in uniform--ranging from suburban police and fire personnel to state police and a man in military fatigues--called Sept. 11, 2001, as infamous as Dec. 7, 1941, the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

"We're here today to always remember," Blagojevich said.

Rev. Dan Mayall of Holy Name marked the anniversary by reading lyrics from "The Day America Cried," a song written by Jim Peterik and Johnny Van Zant.

"And now we stand as one," Mayall said. "As flags are raised to hail our heroes. ... We join our hearts to remember all who have died. The day America cried."

After the ceremony, Mayall led a solemn 8 a.m. mass for the politicians, public servants and about 75 other worshipers.

On Monday evening, as the sun set on a wet and dreary Chicago, scores of people from several faiths gathered in St. James Episcopal Cathedral downtown to remember the tragedy and pray for peace.

Inside the cavernous, dimly lighted church, a murmur of atmospheric music began the ceremony, reducing the attendees' hushed whispers to silence. Then even the music stopped.

A procession of religious leaders, led by the choir and a 4-foot-tall lighted candle carried by a Christian clergyman, stepped down the church's center aisle toward the sanctuary. They gathered on both sides of the massed choir, dressed in suits, clerical vestments and headscarves.

After an opening invocation and song, the religious leaders began their readings. First, Psalm 23 from the Hebrew Scriptures, in Hebrew and in English. Then, from the Christian Gospels, Matthew 5:43-47. Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations delivered the final readings, from the Koran.

"The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the all-merciful God," he read, in Arabic and English. "Be merciful to those on Earth; God will be merciful to you in the heavens."

In Libertyville, about 200 people took turns throughout the day standing silently in front of a school memorial.

Groups of four and five people spent half-hour shifts standing before the display in the lobby of Libertyville High School. The display consisted of two burning candles--one for each World Trade Center tower--a rose with a black ribbon tied around the stem and an American flag, said Stephanie Janczak, the school's student body president.

The school also observed a moment of silence Monday morning, followed by a marching band's patriotic anthems, a bugler and a gun salute.

----------

bmccarthy@tribune.com

jchase@tribune.com


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


 
Feature # 104
CAIR-CHICAGO MEETS WITH DELEGATION FROM KYRGYZSTAN
September 6, 2006

EVENT PHOTOS

A delegation of 7 mosque leaders and youth leaders from Kyrgyzstan visited with CAIR-Chicago personnel on September 6th at CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office.

The delegation spoke of the issues facing the Muslim community in Kyrgyzstan and asked questions about the Chicago Muslim community’s dealings with their own issues. Members of the delegation inquired about the sentiments of the Muslim community towards terms such as "Islamofascim" and how members of the Muslim community reacted to the term.

"This is the fourth international delegation CAIR-Chicago has hosted in the past couple of months" said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, "these unique exchange opportunities are crucial first steps in gaining a unique understanding of the challenges facing the Muslim community worldwide. Interestingly, the issues are strikingly similar."

With a population of over 5 million, Kyrgyzstan has a Muslim population that stands at approximately 83%. Despite the large Muslim presence, Muslim women in Kyrgyzstan are still facing the challenge of maintaining their freedom to wear the hijab (Islamic head covering).

"The image of Muslim women having difficulty getting a cab in the Philippines because of their headscarf comes to mind. The image of French Muslim school girl, Cennet Dogannay, who chose to shave her head after the French government adopted a bill that banned the wearing of the hijab in public schools, comes to mind. The image of frustrated women in Turkey who have to choose between wearing the hijab and pursuing a higher education comes to mind," said Dina Rehab. "One cannot but stop and wonder why Muslim women worldwide have to fight for their personal right to practice their religion? Why must women in Kyrgyzstan forfeit their religious freedom in order to gain a passport or an identification card?"

CAIR-Chicago met with a delegation from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines on June 8th, a delegation from Denmark on June 27th and a delegation from Burma on August 4th.

Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff, CAIR-Chicago interns, as well as the following guests from Kyrgyzstan:

Mr. Rakhat Diushembiev
Mr. Iskenderbek Kariev
Mr. Mumutjan Adyljanuluu
Mr. Edik Lau
Mr. Nurbek Zhumaev
Mr. Tashtan Moldogaziev
Mr. Kantemir Seidakov

Interpreters:
Mr. Rafis Abazov
Mrs. Zamirbek Tashov


The delegation came to Chicago through the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). The program is administered by the Meridian International Center in DC and seeks to introduce participants to American community organizations that effectively address local social and educational issues. The program also seeks to establish long-term ties between Danish and American community activists to facilitate an on-going dialogue on grassroots activism, cultural pluralism, and political engagement.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 103
REHAB ON WORLDVIEW: WHAT IS “ISLAMOFASCISM”?
Chicago Public Radio

September 6, 2006

Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, talks to Worldview's Jerome McDonnell on Chicago Public Radio about “Islamofascism” and other reductive terminologies. He argues that the public discourse on Islam in this country is problematic in its use of such terms.

“Islamofascism” from a Muslim Perspective
Ahmed Rehab—Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—Chicago Chapter



Strategy behind the Word “Islamofascism”
Doug Cassel—Director, Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame Law School; Worldview Human Rights Commentator



What is “Islamofascism”?
Reflections by the Public



Bush Administration’s Use of the Word “Islamofascism”
John Collins—Associate Professor of Global Studies, Saint Lawrence University; Co-editor, Collateral Language: A User's Guide to America's New War



What is “Islamofascism”?
Phone Calls from Listeners




copyright © 2006, WBEZ Alliance, Inc. All rights reserved.


 
Feature # 102
CAIR-CHICAGO PARTICIPATES AT BOTH THE ISNA AND THE MOSQUE CARES CONVENTIONS 2006
September 1-4, 2006

EVENT PHOTOS

CAIR-Chicago participated in both the ISNA convention and the Mosque Cares convention this past Labor Day weekend.

CAIR set up a full-time booth at the ISNA convention, shared by CAIR-Chicago, where the new CAIR logo was launched. The new brand was launched to better represent CAIR’s mission statement and work. In addition to new CAIR paraphernalia, passers-by were provided with ample information on the services CAIR provides to Muslims in the United States. Information on CAIR-Chicago was also available to local constituents. CAIR and CAIR-Chicago officials spoke and moderated several sessions.

The ISNA convention is the largest Islamic Convention in the United States, which includes a bazaar of 500 booths, a series of lectures and workshops, an entertainment program and a 'meet the author program'. The convention took place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont, Illinois.

CAIR-Chicago also set up a full-time booth at the Mosque Cares convention, now officially known as the ‘American Muslim Convention’. CAIR-Chicago staff was readily available to Imam W. D. Mohammad ministries’ constituents to answer any questions they might have, as well as to inform them of the services available to them via CAIR-Chicago.

CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, and Communications Coordinator, Sultan Muhammad, met with Imam W.D. Muhammad as his guests during the convention's main event which showcased the community’s new and exciting businesses ranging from clothing to real estate.

The American Muslim Convention takes place annually under the auspices of the Mosque Cares. The Mosque Cares is an Islamic community in association with the leadership of Imam W.D. Muhammad (For more information visit www.themosquecares.com). The convention took place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 101
A RACE TO WATCH: THE 6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
By Erin Hartnett

August 31, 2006

With the November 7th elections rapidly approaching, a number of Illinois campaigns have moved into focus, making headlines and garnering national attention. A particularly compelling race is in the 6th Congressional district, where Republican State Senator Peter J. Roskam and Democrat Major Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth are vying for retiring Representative Henry Hyde's seat.

Historically, the 6th has been tagged a Republican district, with 53% voting for President Bush in the 2004 Presidential election (versus 47% voting for Democrat John Kerry). However, with a rising Hispanic population and increased discontent due to the Iraq war, there is a potential for change.

Candidate Profiles

Prevailing frustration over the Iraq war has thus far played in Duckworth's favor, as her campaign strategy has focused on foreign policy and Homeland security. Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs in a grenade attack while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter north of Baghdad. Her experiences have given her national exposure, gaining endorsements from political heavyweights such as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, appearing in national publications such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post, and announcing her candidacy on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Duckworth has also been criticized along with her primary supporter, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Representative Rahm Emanuel, for using extensive funding to compensate for her lack of experience.

Opposing Duckworth is State Senator Roskam, who has over thirteen years of legislative experience serving in both the Illinois State House of Representatives, and as an Illinois State Senator. Currently, he is the Illinois State Senate Minority Caucus Whip. His tenure has created a substantial voting record which allows voters to identify his stance on many domestic issues pertaining to Illinois and to the 6th district. His campaign focuses on taxes, the environment, and immigration, with the National Republican Campaign Committee mailing fliers to voters in the 6th district accusing Duckworth of considering the "repeal of federal tax cuts" and "amnesty for all illegal aliens." He has been attacked for advocating a decrease in frivolous law suits while specializing in personal injury law.

Path to the Election

Roskam (who has been endorsed by Hyde) ran unopposed in the Republican Primary, which saved his campaign money but cost him name recognition. Duckworth won a scant victory over Christine Cegelis (who had a strong base and ran a grassroots campaign) in the heated Democratic Primary, causing many to wonder if her support is solid enough to take the district. The race's notoriety has encouraged the involvement of National Republican Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and as of August both candidates have raised similar levels of funding--$1,883,983.00 for Duckworth and $1,867,756.00 for Roskam.

Currently, the voters in the 6th Congressional District must decide whether they are willing to elect a candidate with military experience who has never held public office, or a candidate with legislative knowledge who lacks a substantial background in foreign policy. If Duckworth is able to make a comprehensive statement on local issues, she may have a chance at an unprecedented Democratic victory in the district. However, Roskam has the advantage of experience and a strong base of party support. In either case, although the campaigns will continue to draw debate on a national level, it is the voters who will decide on November 7th.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org

Resources:

www.duckworthforcongress.com

www.roskamforcongress.com


 
Feature # 100
CAIR-CHICAGO VOLUNTEERS FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
August 29, 2006

Dina Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator, participated in a Habitat for Humanity event organized by JFG Mortgage (www.jfgcorp.com).

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, which seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Volunteers were assigned specific tasks to help build a home on Chicago's south side.

Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. The organization has built more than 200,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1,000,000 people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple and decent houses.

MORE


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 99
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: THE FLAWS OF RACIAL PROFILING
By Christina Abraham

August 21, 2006

While proponents of racial profiling such as Jonah Goldberg argue that racial profiling "makes sense" and therefore should be allowed into the policies of law enforcement officials, in actuality, racial profiling is inefficient in terms of security, and illegal in terms of law. In his article "Face it: Profiling makes sense; Race should be factor in detaining travelers," Goldberg argues that U.S. Customs and Border Protection should allow its officers to racially profile Middle Eastern and Asian travelers, instead of investing in technology that would more accurately detect possible transgressors.

Goldberg’s argument is flawed for several reasons. First, though proponents of racial profiling can’t seem to grasp it, racial profiling is simply not efficient as a method of detecting possible violators of the law. By adopting a policy of racial profiling, law enforcement would limit their scope to a narrow group of people. Would-be transgressors would merely need to make sure that the people carrying out the mission do not fit the profile.

Second, and more importantly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers do not only have to watch out for potential terrorist threats. CBP must be able to detect kidnappers, drug traffickers, weapons smugglers, and other violators of U.S. and International Law. The task of the CBP officer is to detect any illegal activity involving travel. In order to better help them do their job, and minimize officers violating the civil rights of travelers, better technology is needed to be able to efficiently and accurately detect the real threats – not people who look like they fit the stereotype of the person who should be suspected of being a threat.

Perhaps the neoconservatives would argue that racial profiling is acceptable even then. What we would essentially end up with is security policy based on stereotypical attitudes put forth against a wide array of minorities in the United States. Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and Middle Easterners would all be affected by such policies, and nobody would be any safer.

The main flaw with the neoconservative argument is that it completely fails at cutting to the root cause of the problem. The neoconservative policies of racial profiling are in themselves part of the problem; those policies actually contribute to fueling the security threats that currently face this country. It is also those same policies that sometimes make Middle Eastern and Asian Americans feel they are being targeted and discriminated against by the law enforcement officials they are supposed to entrust to protect them.

Indeed, Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans often feel that they are the targets of hostility in an otherwise tolerant atmosphere. Indicative of the hostility towards them in American policy is Goldberg’s very comment that "100 percent of them [terrorists] are Muslim," [his emphasis]. Neoconservatives such as Goldberg put forth such racist assertions as fact, which are then used as evidence to promote their arguments. When an intoxicated Mel Gibson made the statement that all of the world’s wars are started by the Jews, even the neoconservatives were quick to denounce his comment as racist and completely inappropriate. A (presumably) sober Goldberg, however, makes the statement that all terrorists are Muslim and his hypocrisy completely escapes him.

Proponents of the theory that terrorism is exclusively a Muslim proprietorship part with history’s rendition of the facts. A cursory survey of the history of terrorism lists various groups with diverse backgrounds and motivations. Terrorism is a military tactic that was documented as early as the French Revolution. The founders of the State Israel resorted to such tactics against the British as did Irish, Basque, and Tamil separatist groups, some of whom remain active today.

More importantly, to advocate racial profiling would be to show utter disregard for U.S. law, and the rights guaranteed to every individual living in this country by the Constitution. Applying uniform policy in passenger screening, and every other area of law enforcement, is not discriminatory, as neoconservatives like Goldberg assert. It is upholding the tenets of American justice, as put forth by the Constitution and other legislative acts.

It is disturbing to note the ease by which those in the neoconservative right seem to do away with the rule of law in furtherance of their narrow political goals, which, ironically, they always claim is the preservation of American values. But at the core of American values is a fundamental belief in the rule of law, and thus the essential hypocrisy of the neoconservative paradigm becomes evident.

Christina Abraham is CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Coordinator, she can be reached via email at civilrights@cairchicago.org


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 98
FALL 2006 INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AT CAIR-CHICAGO

CAIR-Chicago, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is currently offering 17 new internship opportunities. CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization. The organization’s 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.

All internships are unpaid. Internships last one semester and include a 12-hour/week commitment. Applicants should email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: internships@cairchicago.org.

APPLICATION GUIDELINES:
clearly indicate which internship opportunity you are applying for in your cover letter. If you are applying for more than one position, please list in order of preference. All fall applications are due by August 28th (please note: fall internships run from August/September through December/January). Applications that do not list the above information will not be processed. If you have any questions, please email all inquiries to internships@cairchicago.org. Students interested in receiving class credit, should indicate so in their cover letters. Credit will be arranged during the first week of the academic semester.

Listing of all internships by department:

Civil Rights:
CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
LAW CLERK (Open to Law Students Only)

Communications:
COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN

Governmental Relations:
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING LEAD INTERN
VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
POLICY RESEARCH INTERN

Operations:
OPERATIONS INTERN
RECEPTIONIST
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN

Outreach:
PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN


CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT

Our Civil Rights Department handles cases that range from prejudiced gestures to full blown discrimination. Our clients are Muslims as well as non-Muslims who have had Islam imputed upon them.

Interns and Law Clerks may work on any of the following projects:

Citizenship Delay project - seeks to address the lengthy delays Muslims are facing in applying for citizenship
Police Misconduct project - addresses incidents where police officers have discriminated or used excessive force against Muslims
Prison project - secures the rights of Muslim inmates to practice their religion freely, and ensures that inmates are treated humanely
Airport Profiling project - helps Muslims who have been discriminated against at airports
Employment Discrimination project - helps Muslims discriminated against based on religion at the workplace.

CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Civil Rights Coordinator and staff attorney on resolving cases of discrimination reported to CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents
  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit
  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center
  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago
Qualifications:
  • Organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community
CIVIL RIGHTS LAW CLERK (Open to Law Students Only)
Extern will work closely with the Civil Rights Coordinator and staff attorney on resolving cases of discrimination reported to CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents
  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit
  • Legal writing: drafting arguments, memos and complaints
  • Participate in representing complainants in dispute resolution, EEOC mediation, filing complaints and law suits
  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center
  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago
Qualifications:
  • Organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community

COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Communications Department monitors the local media closely and flags coverage of issues relating to Islam and Muslims. The Department also holds Press Conferences and issues press releases, media advisories, and story pitches in order to ensure that Muslim perspectives on pressing issues and current events are represented in the mainstream media.

COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on projects and/or daily tasks per CAIR-Chicago’s organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Work on pieces that deconstruct sensational and biased coverage of issues pertinent to Muslims and Islam. The purpose is to flag such pieces, to highlight their inaccuracies, and to offer thoughtful analyses that diffuse misconceptions.
  • Students work will be published and featured in a variety of ways:
a. Published as letters to the editor and as perspective pieces in Chicago's main newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, Daily Herald, and Daily Southtown

b. Submitted to fourteen community newspapers published by the Southwest News Messenger

c. Published on the CAIR-Chicago website as well as other well-traversed websites such as Media Monitors (archived by Google)

d. Featured in the upcoming Chicago Media Review Blog (to be launched in October).

The targeted audience of these pieces is the general American public readers of the main Chicagoland newspapers and web surfers. Journalism students preferred.
Qualifications:
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Proficient with Windows XP, Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Explorer
  • Proficient with internet research
  • Experience with general administrative support a plus
CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on this new initiative which seeks to build bridges of dialogue and understanding between the Muslim community and other Chicago religious communities.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in public speaking engagements at different religious centers in Chicago
  • Research Chicago religious communities and current religious and political issues on the international, national, and local levels
  • Speech writing
  • Community relations
Qualifications:
  • Knowledgeable about international, national, and local religious and political issues, and comparative religion
  • Experience and comfort with public speaking, engaging with diverse faith perspectives, and articulating a Muslim faith perspective.
FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Communications Coordinator on Faith Core, a new biweekly journal, which seeks to provide an open forum for thinkers of diverse backgrounds to share faith-based reflections on a common theme.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Editing and soliciting articles to be published in Faith Core
  • Community relations
Qualifications:
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Knowledgeable about comparative religion and contemporary religious issues

GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Our Governmental Relations Department seeks to organize, mobilize, and empower Chicagoland’s Muslim community with long-term civic participation. Its educational initiatives help community members understand the political system and utilize it to work for their issues. Projects include voter registration drives, community workshops, "know your rights" educational campaigns, and training sessions at mosques and community centers on how to contact and engage local and national politicians. The department also systematically works to educate local political representatives about their Muslim constituents while ultimately engaging these representatives with the Muslim community’s unique issues and concerns.

GOVERMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Governmental Relations Coordinator with projects and/or daily tasks within the scope of CAIR-Chicago’s organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Update and maintain departmental files
  • Contribute writings to "The Mobilizer" (the Governmental Relations Blog)
  • Assist in conducting out-of-office projects
  • Update voter files
  • Assist in legislative and/or electoral research
Qualifications:
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Power Point)
  • Self starter and ability to multitask
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING LEAD INTERN
Intern will closely with the Governmental Relations Coordinator and Political Organizer to recruit volunteers for the 2006 voter mobilization effort.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Develop comprehensive strategy to recruit volunteers for political campaigns
  • Assist the political organizer in coordinating volunteer activities in the Bridgeview area
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to be used across Muslim communities for political volunteer recruitment
  • Create a centralized database of volunteers to be used in the future
Qualifications:
  • Be familiar with the Muslim community
  • Have experience in working with mosque leadership
  • Be familiar with the Bridgeview area
  • Have previous experience in recruiting volunteers/working with large groups of volunteers
VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
Intern(s) will work with the Governmental Relations Coordinator to develop creative educational material for the Muslim community.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Develop voter education materials to distribute to the Muslim community
  • Research new civic education materials to be distributed to the community
  • Assist in planning civic duty 101 classes for mosques and local area community centers
  • Assist in establishing communication with elected officials’ personnel to obtain information as needed
Qualifications:
  • Self starter and ability to multitask
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office applications
  • Outgoing and able to communicate with offices of elected officials
POLICY RESEARCH INTERN
Intern will work with the Governmental Relations Coordinator to develop CAIR-Chicago’s position on all relevant legislation and policies.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Research new legislation relevant to CAIR-Chicago
  • Assist the Governmental Relations Coordinator in analyzing current and proposed legislations
  • Developing detailed analysis for internal use
  • Occasionally working with other intern(s) to develop educational materials for the Muslim community
Qualifications:
  • Strong background in research
  • Strong writing and verbal skills
  • Self starter and ability to multitask

OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT

The Operations Department manages a variety of tasks and processes in order to facilitate the maintenance and improvement of daily functions within the organization and its constituent departments. Internally, this includes HR related tasks, updating organizational records and files, corresponding with government offices and vendors, IT support, and directing incoming communication via email and phone to their respective departments.

The Operations Department also coordinates HTML and graphical composition for the creation of printed materials, website updates, and email campaigns. The Operations Department performs ongoing research and undertakes special projects designed to improve CAIR-Chicago's function and efficiency.


OPERATIONS INTERN
Intern will assist the Operations Coordinator with projects and/or daily tasks within the scope of CAIR-Chicago’s organizational needs.

Duties are dependent upon candidate’s skill sets and may include the following responsibilities (other duties may be assigned):
  • Provide orientation and support for office staff and interns regarding office protocol and procedures.
  • Audit existing records, files, databases, and web material
  • Research applicable equipment grants, offers, and reimbursement programs.
  • Provide assistance with a variety of daily and periodical tasks, including donation processing, file organization, and compiling information.
  • Create procedure logs to document CAIR-Chicago’s profile, current procedures and new protocols.
Qualifications:
  • Business and accounting majors are encouraged to apply.
  • Ideal candidates will possess strong problem solving skills and the ability to handle a variety of challenges.
  • Strong oral & written and interpersonal skills required.
  • Proficiency with MS Word, Excel, and the ability to learn internet applications to document, organize, and perform work assignments.
RECEPTIONIST
Intern will assist the Operations Coordinator with projects and/or daily tasks per CAIR-Chicago’s organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Ability to answer questions about donations, client appointments, hours of operation, etc. (training will be provided)
  • Answer incoming calls to CAIR-Chicago, forward calls as necessary, and take messages.
  • Lookup information using MS Excel database for referrals/general info
  • Help with the organization and upkeep of office area
  • Handle sensitive calls discreetly
  • Help with general administrative work as needed, such as filing, faxing, and photocopying
Qualifications:
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Office products, e.g. Word, Excel
  • Ability to search and retrieve information from the Internet
  • Must be reliable and be able to maintain client confidentiality
  • Must maintain a high level of professionalism at all times
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Operations Coordinator to support the office LAN and assigned application based data projects.

Duties are dependent upon candidate’s skill sets and may include the following responsibilities (other duties may be assigned):
  • MS Access Database development
  • Network Management and Troubleshooting
  • Maintaining office computers running Windows XP
  • Providing helpdesk support for CAIR-Chicago Staff, interns, and volunteers
  • Independently researching solutions for developing network and application needs
  • Intern/Volunteer will be expected to help train staff, interns, and volunteers with basic Desktop Support to help build their skills Document solutions for future reference and training
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Familiarity with MS Office applications, Windows XP
  • Ability to research and implement solutions to new problems
  • Hardware maintenance skills
  • Knowledge of freeware resources
  • Ability to work independently and without supervision, to complete assignments, and communicate solutions to problems effectively with team members.
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Executive Director on projects and/or daily tasks within a focus on organizational needs.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned).
  • Corresponding with organizations & individuals on behalf of the Executive Director
  • Logistical planning for the Executive Director’s speaking engagements / Events/ Business Travel
  • Daily office assistance: answering & making phone calls / scheduling / typing letters / writing emails
  • Filing / data entry / sorting mail
  • Research and reporting
  • Conducting out-of-office projects
Qualifications:
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Power Point)
  • Working knowledge of the Internet / E-mail
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Self starter and ability to multitask
  • Dependable and trustworthy

OUTREACH DEPARTMENT

The Outreach Department seeks to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with local and national institutions. It also works to foster an understanding between Chicago’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities via educational collaborations. Lastly, it recruits and pairs the right talent (volunteers and interns) with the appropriate CAIR-Chicago projects.

PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on establishing or maintaining relations with Chicago-based organizations on issues that are of CAIR-Chicago’s scope.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Research organizations that overlap with CAIR-Chicago in scope
  • Meet with representatives of various organizations in the Chicagoland area
  • Conduct Intro to CAIR-Chicago presentations
  • Maintain appropriate files and databases
  • Maintain Online Partners Page
  • Design promotional materials for different events and different audiences
  • Publicize CAIR-Chicago events
  • Post events to appropriate websites and list serves
  • Manage the CAIR-Chicago Publicity Committee
Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing and self-motivated
  • Strong organizational and multi-tasking skills
  • Excellent critical thinking and visual skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure
PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator or Cultural Sensitivity Trainer on developing educational material on Islam and Muslims, as well as coordinating and/or conducting presentations on topics relating to Islam.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Create educational material on Islam and Muslims
  • Create a speaker's bureau database on topics relating to Islam
  • Conduct presentations on topics relating to Islam (training provided)
  • Coordinate workshops relating to Islam, as needed
Qualifications:
  • Organized, multi-tasked and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Possess excellent oral and written communications skills as well as the ability to do extensive research
  • Familiar with Excel, Access and Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Ability to integrate graphical software within Power Point presentations
  • Education, Middle Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies majors preferred
HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on maintaining both the internship and volunteerism programs of CAIR-Chicago.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Assist in setting up for-credit internships for undergraduate and graduate university students by completing the appropriate paperwork and maintaining the necessary databases
  • Conduct presentations on the importance of volunteerism and discuss existing volunteer opportunities at CAIR-Chicago within the Greater Chicagoland area
  • Direct volunteers and liaisons as needed
  • Plan and coordinate social outings for volunteers
  • Assist in developing CAIR-Chicago volunteer gear
  • Follow-up on new volunteer applications using SmartFTP (training will be provided)
  • Maintain Online Volunteer Center Blackboard (training will be provided)
Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing, and demonstrate strong leadership skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Detail-oriented and excellent organizational skills
MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN
Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on managing the Muslims Care project: a national initiative which promotes volunteerism.

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following (other duties may be assigned):
  • Plan and coordinate 1-2 community service events per month
  • Work in conjunction with other Chicagoland organizations on monthly community service events
  • Publicize events to CAIR-Chicago constituents
  • Attend events and report back to the Outreach Department
Qualifications:
  • Friendly, outgoing, and demonstrate strong leadership skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Detail-oriented and excellent organizational skills



 
Feature # 97
AREA MUSLIM LEADERS WORKING WITH FEDERAL OFFICIALS
By Leah Hope

August 11, 2006

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section= local&id=4454146

See Video

Opinions are divided in the Chicago-area's Muslim community about the impact of the terror plot arrests. Some fear a backlash. Others are more hopeful.

Comments made by President Bush Thursday have upset some local Muslim-Americans. They say fear can build on misconceptions. But there is an avenue for understanding already forged between federal officials and local leaders.

Friday prayers at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview draw hundreds of Muslims. Since 9/11, many Muslim-Americans have endured ridicule, abuses even hate crimes. While there is concern about a possible backlash after an apparent terror plot in England, some see this as an opportunity.

"Another opportunity for us to reach out and open the discussion," said Aisheh Said, Chicago Roundtable participant.

Aisheh Said is among the community leaders involved in the Chicago Roundtable Discussion. It is a regular meeting of Muslim-Americans leaders and federal officials, including the FBI's special agent in charge.

ABC7 spoke with Rob Grant last week about the importance including community in law enforcement.

"It's just not a police responsibility, it's also a local political responsibility to know their communities, understand their communities and be sensitive to things around the world that may affect them that would not affect the rest of us," said Grant.

Community leaders say the discussions build relationships that are good for everyone. Ahmed Rehab is the executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago.

"The American Islamic community is proud to be American as it is proud to be Muslim and we recognize the responsibility of working with governmental agencies in making this country safe and secure for all," said Rehab.

The roundtable discussions deal with a variety of issues including delays in citizenship, treatment of Muslims at airport checkpoint and security. The Mosque Foundation's president says the discussions increase awareness and sensitivities.

"Four out of 10 Americans have negative views against Muslims, and that's why we have to have good relationship with our law enforcement agencies because we need to protect our community," said Dr. Mohammed Sahloul, Mosque Foundation.

The roundtable meets every two months and it set to meet in a couple of weeks. Among the discussion is the fall out after the British arrests.

Those involved feel the roundtable has been a step in the right direction and there is an effort to bring the type of roundtable to the national stage.


Copyright ©2006 ABC Inc., WLS-TV Chicago


 
Feature # 96

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: ENSURING THE SAFETY OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
By Rima Kapitan

August 14, 2006

Another casualty in the war against civil liberties in this country since September 2001 is the right to academic freedom. Professors and students who diverge too much from the current political and economic orthodoxy are being silenced around the country.

Among the most vulnerable have been adjunct professors, foreign professors and students, and professors and students who support Palestinian national rights or who oppose U.S. foreign policy decisions. Universities are often relenting to the pressure of right-wing organizations who are attempting to silence leftist professors and students under the guise of creating “balance” on campus.

CAIR-Chicago is joining other organizations and individuals in an effort to defend academic freedom. It is currently advocating for Professor Douglas Giles, a professor who was fired from Roosevelt University, for mentioning Zionism in class and for allowing students to speak freely. According to Professor Giles, a student in his World Religions course asked a question about Zionism, and he answered it.

After the semester was completed, Susan Weininger, the department chair, called Professor Giles at home and objected to the fact that he had discussed Zionism in class. Professor Giles says that she prohibited him from mentioning anything in class that would “subject Judaism to criticism.” She then reportedly stated, “I hear you even allowed a Muslim to speak in class.” Professor Giles replied that he allows all students to speak in class, regardless of religion, and she reportedly said, “You shouldn’t! What disturbs me is that you act like the Palestinians have a side in this. They don’t have a side! They are ANIMALS! They strap bombs to their bodies and blow up women and children! They are NOT CIVILIZED! [emphasis hers].”

Professor Giles received a letter from Professor Weininger a week later telling him he was fired. The administration defended Professor Weininger’s statements as legitimate academic discussion and has stood by her decision to fire him. Professor Giles’ union, RAFO (Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization – http://rafo.org), has supported him in challenging his termination, and has filed three grievances on his behalf, all of which the university has denied.

The matter is scheduled for arbitration in September. This case is an extreme example of academic censorship since Professor Giles did not even say anything negative about Zionism, but merely mentioned it in class and allowed open discussion about it.

Zionism is widely recognized as a relevant topic for a World Religions course, and there is a section on the matter in several mainstream World Religions textbooks. CAIR-Chicago has sent a letter to the Roosevelt University administration and is in the process of creating a support network of professors, students and others who oppose this restriction of academic freedom.

CAIR-Chicago has also initiated the creation of an academic freedom coalition called the Free Campus Coalition, which will defend the academic freedom rights of students and professors as violations occur. The coalition will comprise of civil liberties organizations, professors and students.

Freedom on universities is especially important because of the formative role that universities play in the lives of students, and because of the essential role they play in their communities. Students should be exposed to a wide range of ideas, and learn to argue against ideas with which they do not agree.

It is a sad to think that in a country that boasts of being one of the freest in the world, professors have to think twice about whether to express an academic point of view for fear that they will be forced out of the university. Some professors make the decision not to express their point of view about certain issues until they are tenured.

There are many Arabs, Muslims immigrants and other groups who, since September 2001, no longer take for granted that they have the freedom to express politically unpopular views. The most alarming part about it is that one does not even have to be very radical to be silenced. Professor Giles was fired for even allowing students to bring up the topic of Zionism.

The solution, I am convinced, is not only to continue speaking up for the values we believe in, but to actively resist efforts to censor others. After all, it’s the American thing to do.

Rima Kapital is CAIR-Chicago's Volunteer Attorney, she can be reached via email at rima@cairchicago.org.


 
Feature # 95
CBS 2: "MUSLIM COMMUNITY REACTS TO SCRUTINY"
By Jon Duncanson

August 10, 2006

http://cbs2chicago.com/local/ local_story_222190512.html

See Video

(CBS) CHICAGO When the threat-level of terrorism rises, many members of the Muslim community become uneasy.

Many Muslims feel that because the plotters purport to be Islamic, all Muslims face targeted scrutiny.

CBS 2's Jon Duncanson reports on a Chicago neighborhood where anxiety increases along with the national threat level.

On Devon Avenue, both Indians and Pakistanis live and mix in relative peace, even though their home countries are often at some level of war.

It’s a place where an Indiana Sikh will speak of a terrorist plotter and not blame his Pakistani Muslim neighbor.

“They are terrorists. They are not Muslims. They don't have no religion,” said one man.

But the many Muslims on Devon feel like targets nonetheless.

Naseem Sarwar has a bookstore with Urdu writing on the sign above, the national language of Pakistan. His store has been ransacked with nothing stolen twice.

“I've been victimized. It happened. Two times my store has been broken,” said Sarwar.

Christopher Helt is an adjunct professor of immigration studies at Loyola. He also runs a law office on Devon and has defended Muslim men rounded up by authorities after 9/11 just because they were Muslim.

“You're under suspicion if you're Muslim, and that's really unfair. It’s unfortunate and unfair,” Helt said.

For [Ahmed] Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, every terror incident of warning has its predictable outcome for 400,000 Chicagoland Muslims.

“Every time this happens and breaks out in the news, our community is definitely targeted for bigotry, discrimination, and so the backlash is very real,” Rehab said.

Back on Devon Street, life goes on with a South Asian flavor. But when terror strikes, people here say it’s the Pakistanis and the Muslims who feel the heat.

“You don't have the same type of racial profiling as you do against people from Pakistan. It’s yet another unfortunate circumstance. A lot of it's just based on ignorance,” said Helt.

Many from the Muslim community said they feel the problem they face in being targeted comes from media commentators of the extreme right wing and internet bloggers, who – they feel – paint all Muslims with the brush used to portray so-called Islamic extremists. They are tired of it and are trying to get out from under that portrayal. But every time something like this happens, it's hard to be a Muslim American.



(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


 
Feature # 94
CAIR-CHICAGO JOINS "HOTEL WORKERS RISING!" CAMPAIGN

August 10, 2006

The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that it is joining UNITE HERE's bi-national grassroots campaign to generate better working conditions for impoverished workers in the hotel industry.

The campaign, "Hotel Workers Rising!" represents an effort to empower thousands of hotel workers in hundreds of hotels in cities across the United States and Canada as they work to improve their jobs and secure better lives for themselves and their families.

These workers--largely minority and immigrant women--work hard to create a welcoming home away from home for business travelers and tourists. But many are suffering serious physical injuries from the workloads imposed on them by large multinational companies. Severe understaffing coupled with an increase in room amenities like heavier mattresses and linens are hurting these workers.

"When injustice singles out any group of people, the rest of the community should stand in solidarity with that group and protest in one voice," Sabah Ahmed, CAIR Chicago's Operations Coordinator said. "The plight of hotel workers is particularly important to Muslims as hospitality is an honored Islamic tradition; as such, we value those whose daily job it is to provide hospitality for total strangers."

"Working towards social justice was a dominant theme in the Prophet Muhammad's life and is a main cornerstone of the Islamic spirit," Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director said. "For us as Muslim-Americans, standing up for social justice down the street is no less an obligation than fighting for justice in the Middle East," Rehab added.

"Hotel Workers Rising!" will publicly launch the clergy support campaign at an interfaith breakfast immediately followed by behind-the-scenes meetings with union hotel workers on the job. The date is Friday, August 18th, from 9:00-11:30AM beginning at The Signature Room atop the Hancock Tower. R.S.V.P. mandatory by Aug. 13th. Both Rehab and Ahmed are slated to attend with an assembly of religious leaders who will carry a strong moral message in support of hospitality and human dignity.

For more information, please visit http://www.hotelworkersrising.org/.


copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org



 
Feature # 93
FIGHTING FOR HIS RIGHTS FROM BEHIND BARS

CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Interns visit a Federal Prison

Civil Rights Interns Ausaf Farooqi and Azam Khan visited Mr. Enaam Arnaout on Friday, July 21st at the Federal Prison in Oxford, Wisconsin in order to assist him with his civil rights claims. In the three hour visit, the two interns spoke with Arnaout about his case, as well as his former role as an activist in the Muslim community and his life in prison. Khan described Arnaout as "a charismatic guy," whom he had an enjoyable experience meeting. Even in his difficult circumstances, Arnaout is determined in his struggle to confront the injustices done to him.

Enaam Arnaout is the former director of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), whose mission included providing humanitarian assistance throughout the world, benefiting civilian populations. Arnaout became director of BIF in 1993, and from then on was responsible for all of the organization's dealings.

In February 2003, Arnaout pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; the main offense was wire and mail fraud. Unfortunately, due to the post 9/11 atmosphere, Arnaout’s case was warped into another victory in the war on terror. Despite the judge’s repeated assertion that Enaam Arnaout’s case was not linked in any way to terrorism, the government’s attorneys and the media portrayed the case as such. As a result, Arnaout’s reputation preceded him in prison, and he has been the subject of daily harassment and abuse since.

Farooqi and Khan are currently assisting Arnaout with two civil rights claims.

Firstly, Arnaout's First Amendment rights have been violated, in terms of freedom of religion and speech. Mr. Arnaout is not allowed to use Arabic when performing religious obligations, and has even been placed into solitary confinement for teaching Arabic to other inmates when he had clearance from the prison administration to do so.

Secondly, under the Eighth Amendment, Arnaout faced cruel and unusual punishment because he was forced to perform manual labor even though he was suffering from a severe back condition. For several months, Arnaout was deprived of adequate medical care. He was instead given overdoses of painkillers to deal with the pain, and placed into solitary confinement when he complained of the pain and asked to see the prison physician. It was not until the court ordered an MRI that Arnaout, several months after the order, was given one.

Enaam Arnaout's charges are those of a white collar crime; however he is being treated as if he committed treason, as Civil Rights Intern Khan relayed. CAIR-Chicago's civil rights department will be assisting Arnaout with setting up his claims. With his strong will and conviction, Mr. Enaam Arnaout is a wonderful example of availing those rights promised to us in the US Constitution, and truly demanding the respect that comes along with being a citizen of the United States of America, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious belief.



 
Feature # 92
CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Coordinator Speaks at Panel on Muslim Women's Civil Rights
August 3, 2006


Approximately 30 people attended the panel where CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham and two prominent civil rights attorneys presented on the civil rights of Muslim women at the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.

The topic of the panel discussion was based on a pamphlet on Muslim women's civil rights that was put together by Engy Abdelkader, a civil rights attorney based in New Jersey and a board member of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL). From identification photographs and security screenings to employment and housing discrimination, A Muslim Woman's Guide to Her Civil Rights outlines the religious protections under the First Amendment.

Both Muslims and Non-Muslims listened to Engy Abdelkader from AMAL, Christina Abraham from CAIR-Chicago, and Sara Schreiber from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-IL) discuss issues pertinent to Muslim women's civil rights, the various shapes religious discrimination may take, and the options available to women who are victims of discrimination.

The program was developed by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in partnership with the Chicago Advisory Council on Arab Affairs.



 
Feature # 91
CAIR Demands End to Israeli 'Terror' After 57 Civilians Killed
Sunday July 30, 10:22 am ET

Islamic Civil Rights Group Seeks Unconditional Cease-Fire, Humanitarian Aid

WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today said the Bush administration and the international community must act to stop Israel's campaign of "terror" in Southern Lebanon.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued that call after an Israeli air strike killed at least 57 civilians in the town of Qana, the site of a similar massacre of civilians by Israel a decade ago. (In 1996, an Israeli air strike on a United Nations compound in Qana killed more than 100 civilians who had sought shelter there.) Lebanese officials said the majority of the dead in today's attack were children. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have been killed in previous Israeli attacks.

SEE: Israeli Airstrike Kills Dozens of Lebanese Civilians (AP) http://www.nbc4.com/news/9597926/detail.html

CAIR said the charge of state terrorism was based on statements by Israeli officials that they intend to make the civilian population of Lebanon suffer in order to put pressure on Hezbollah. Israel's chief of staff threatened to "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years."

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon declared last week that, "Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hezbollah." Israel has in the past reserved the right to kill anyone it considers a "terrorist" or terrorist supporter.

Israel's most popular newspaper also supported acting without military restraint in Lebanon. It said, "In other words: a village from which rockets are fired at Israel will simply be destroyed by fire."

SEE: You're All Targets, Israel Tells Lebanese In South (Daily Telegraph) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml ?xml=/news/2006/07/28/wmid28.xml

Along with the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the systematic destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, Israel has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Southern Lebanon.

"Whenever civilians are attacked to achieve a political goal, the charge of terrorism must be applied, whether the terrorist is an individual, a group or a state," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "Our government must end it support for Israel's campaign of terror in Lebanon and join an international effort to protect and bring humanitarian aid to the civilian population of that devastated nation."

He said support for Israeli terror is causing irreparable damage to America's credibility and interests worldwide.

Hooper also said President Bush should demand an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, end American arms shipments to Israel and actively support a comprehensive and just resolution to the Middle East conflict.

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. 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.

NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist's window to the Muslim community. To subscribe to ISLAM-INFONET, go to: http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair-net.org


 
Feature # 90
CAIR-CHICAGO COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR ATTENDS MLT CONFERENCE IN DENMARK
July 20, 2006

Through the echoes of conflict and warfare a voice of collective reason, moderation, and resolve rose to assume the challenges of a new world. The "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" (MLT) Conference of 2006 has positioned a fresh response aimed at reshaping the context of the adverse circumstances of global Muslim communities in order to establish alternative settings for their benefit and progress.

"Challenges of dogmatic traditionalism bring rise to the need for transparent interpretation within contemporary contexts," said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf during the ‘Imam's Circle,' of the Conference program. "Your right to belong should not be questioned if I disagree with you in my views," stated a panelist on the ‘Construct your Identity' panel. "On what basis do you integrate into an identity catastrophe?" questioned another panelist.

From July 7th to the 10th, over 100 participants of diverse backgrounds selected from 16 countries gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark - the epicenter of the 'Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Controversy'- for the annual Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) conference.

Muslim activists from Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and others were present to share wisdom and strategic solutions toward Muslim advancement.

The event took place at the Radisson Scandinavia Hotel in the heart of Copenhagen just blocks away from a highly populated restaurant district and the Tivoli Gardens, a famous tourist attraction.

The program notably commenced on the anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings and against the backdrop of other recent world traumas including the 3/11 Madrid bombings, war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, the Paris riots, mounting tensions in the Middle East–Israeli conflict and the 9/11 atrocities.

Daisy Khan, Conference organizer and Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA Society), described participants as "an impressive group of emerging leaders [who] embody a wide spectrum of Muslims by sect, ethnicity, profession, religiosity, and individual politics." The 2006 MLT participants were called upon to meet an urgent need for a constructive movement amongst young Muslims that would target and marginalize extremism. (For a comprehensive listing of participants view: http://www.asmasociety.org/mlt2006/
participants.html
)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the ASMA Society and the Cordoba Initiative, launched these religious and educational organizations for the purpose of building bridges between American Muslims and the American public. The mission is implemented through activities in culture, arts, academia and current affairs.

The 2006 MLT participants discussed key issues concerning Muslims in the West. Muslim identity, immigrant marginalization, Islamic reactions to secularism and gender equality in Islam were among some of the topics.

"The 2006 MLT conference provided a forum that fostered a space of tolerance and mutual respect without compromising individual freedom of expression," said CAIR-Chicago's Communications Coordinator, Sultan Muhammad. Muhammad was selected to participate in conference discussions as a panelist in the 'Media and Islam' program segment.

"Muslims should resist self-censorship and engage the media. We should seek to break the Orientalist frame as the other by seizing opportunities for self-definition provided by the rise in the Western public's interest in Islam and Muslims," Sultan said.

The program consisted of presentations and analytical exercises designed to provide outreach strategies, intra-community partnerships, and organizational development. The exercises were aimed at precipitating measurable change within the participants' prospective institutional reach.

The event served to bring a variety of active Muslim academics, authors, organizers, and leaders that may never have shared the same panel, let alone the same room for constructive debate. Muslim comedian Azhar Usman joked "Where will you ever see the author of 'What's Right with Islam' and the author of 'The Trouble with Islam Today' sitting at the same table?"

Candid debate and spirited analysis of the advantages and shortcomings of Muslim participation in the current discourse on Islam and Muslims in the West marked the tone of events. By all assessments, the Muslim leaders and activists in attendance were determined to show that Muslims are a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

The weekend culminated with the 'Freedom of Expression' panel at which a surprise guest was introduced. The guest was none other than Flemming Rose, Jyllands-Posten's culture editor, the instrumental figure behind the publishing of the controversial 'Prophet Muhammad Cartoons.' Although unapologetic about his decision to publish the cartoons, Rose shared with the audience that his experience was pleasant and civil.



For additional information and a detailed list of participant biographies view the following links:


 
Feature # 89
CAFE FINJAN: MUSLIM AND JEWISH OPEN MIC
July 20, 2006

Cafe Finjan is a series of interfaith arts exchanges, begun in 2004 by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) as part of its Jewish-Muslim Community-Building Initiative post 9-11. The goal of the series is to establish points of contact and nurture a greater understanding between Jews and Muslims of Chicago by creating spaces for Jews, Muslims, and others of diverse backgrounds to come together and give voice to their identity and experience as part of a larger community.

Given recent events in Palestine/Israel and Lebanon, this already unique program was even more unique in spirit as approximately 150 Chicagoans gathered to watch a lineup of performers of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Muslims and Jews of the Chicagoland area reaffirmed their keen desire to continue in the spirit of dialogue and sharing. Performers included comedians, such as Azhar Usman, singers, and poetry reciters, each reflecting on their personal experiences on what it means to be Jewish or Muslim in our world today. Other performers dedicated their performance time to a call for peace. Performers and attendees all prayed for peace in the Middle East.

Sponsoring organizations: American Muslims for Activism and Learning (AMAL), Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chicago Chapter (CAIR-Chicago), Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, Chicago Chapter (CAMP-Chicago), Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA).

See Event Photos


 
Feature # 88
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: PROTECTING MUSLIM-AMERICANS AGAINST HATE CRIMES
By Heena Musabji
CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney

July 24, 2006

"Today is a sad day," began the judge's decision on June 30th of this year. "It is sad to see that such prejudice still exists in the southwest suburbs." He nodded his head in disapproval, "and you know neither of you are right in this situation." This prelude to the judge's verdict stemmed from a series of events that occurred on April 18th of this year.

Laila* was at a McDonald's play area with her three children. While engaged with her children she noticed a group of young men in the area looking at her. They walked passed her once and remained in close proximity. Shortly after, one of the young men, Matt, walked toward her a second time, and as he passed he pulled Laila's hijab (headscarf) from her head.

Matt and his friends ran laughing into an adjacent bathroom. Laila froze in shock. She could not believe she was humiliated in this way, especially in front of her children. Matt ran out of the McDonald's to his car and drove away. The manager at the McDonald's ran after him and was able to obtain his license plate number. Laila, still distressed by the incident called her husband, Adam, to relay what had just happened. Adam told her to remain there and said he would be there shortly. The police were called, and as they obtainined details from Laila and the witnesses, Matt returned to the scene. Matt's friends were still present at the McDonalds and in the parking lot. The police arrested Matt and charged him with a hate crime. The State's Attorney later brought the charges down to a battery.

Adam asked his friend, Hassan, to go to the McDonald's and be with Laila and the kids until he got there. Hassan came to the McDonalds and helped Laila get her children in the car. The parking lot was full of Matt's friends and other teenagers. A teenager, Dan, who was in the play area with Matt earlier, along with others, shouted at Laila and Hassan. Dan and the teenagers told them "go back to where they came from," and called them "sand niggers" and "camel jockeys." Dan stuck his head out his parked car and yelled for Hassan to go ahead and hit him. Laila's children were upset and crying. Adam then pulled into the McDonald's parking lot. He saw his children crying, his wife frightened and his friend being taunted. He asked his wife if she was alright, and took baseball bat out of his car and held it by his side. Dan and his friends saw the bat, and ran out of the car. Dan went into the McDonalds and called the police. Adam waited for the police and is arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

At the hearing for the battery committed against Laila, Matt pled guilty to the charges in exchange for 12 months of supervision, 10 day participation in the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program (SWAP), and 40 hours of sensitivity training and community service supervised by CAIR-Chicago.

The trial for Adam's aggravated assault against the teenagers took place after Laila's trial, which brings us back to the aforementioned judgment on June 30th. The judge goes on, "Here we are at the start of Fourth of July weekend where we celebrate our freedom. How ironic it is that this case is before me today." Adam was found not guilty. The judge sympathized with Adam's reaction to the harassment of his family, but stated that Adam's willinginess to the law into his own hands was not appropriate.

I must give credit to Muslim-Americans like Laila and the aforementioned family who stand up to those who violate them, and continue through the often lengthy legal process in the hopes of finding some justice. I recognize Adam's struggle to protect his family, and commend his ability to show restraint and comply with law enforcement. However, that leads to the question as to why these crimes committed against American Muslims fail to be consistently categorized as what they are: hate crimes.

A crime is considered a hate crime when it is committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1. All too often, we see that crimes fitting this definition are not prosecuted as such, and this does not only apply to Muslim-Americans. Repeatedly, it is reported in the news that crimes against marginalized or minority groups which blatantly scream motivation by hate and intolerance are not seen as such by officials. Perhaps, officials have just reasoning behind making such decisions, but it is important to understand this reasoning. With this story I would like to announce the launch of CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Department's Hate Crimes Project.

The Hate Crimes Project hopes to ensure that hate crimes are charged and prosecuted as such. By watching how hate crimes are charged, investigating when officials decide to charge a crime as a hate crime and when they chose to call it a lesser offense, determining the reasoning behind such categorization, and convincing officials to charge applicable crimes as hate crimes we hope to bring greater justice to our constituents.

I share Laila's story with you to illustrate that justice does exist, and by coming forward and having the courage to reassert your dignity, when it is much easier to do nothing, you can affirm to decision makers that crimes such as these are racially motivated and the offenders should be punished accordingly.

Contact: attorney@cairchicago.org

* names have been changed to maintain confidentiality of all parties involved.


 
Feature # 87
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "CHICAGO MUSLIMS, MEMBERS OF THE LEBANESE COMMUNITY, SPEAK OUT"
By Margaret Ramirez

July 19, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom
/newsroom/chi-060720muslim,1,330246.story


With a mix of emotions ranging from worry to rage, Chicago's Muslim leaders joined members of the Lebanese community to speak about the violence in their homeland and called on the United States to halt the violence.

Christina Abraham, a De Paul University law student, described frantic phone conversations with her family in Lebanon. She said Israeli forces bombed the predominately Christian neighborhood of Ashrafiya, where her aunt and cousins live. She said her cousins were trapped for days in an underground bomb shelter, unsure if they would survive the battle raging between Israel and Hezbollah.

"To kill hundreds of civilians for the sake of two captured Israeli soldiers--who are still alive--is to desecrate the sanctity of human life," said Abraham, 25, who is also civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago.

"Israel justifies this attack by saying they are targeting Hezbollah. But the Beirut airport is not Hezbollah. The medical supply trucks are not Hezbollah. The children that are dying are not Hezbollah."

Abraham spoke at a press conference at Chicago's Downtown Islamic Center organized by CAIR. As the conflict in Lebanon continues, Muslim community leaders in Chicago said many Lebanese Americans are feeling disappointed and betrayed by the U.S. failure to call a cease-fire.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the CAIR chapter in Chicago, said U.S. actions give the impression the administration uses a double standard for Arab-Americans.

"The unwillingness to call for a cease-fire gives the impression that the administration places less value on the lives of American citizens of Arab descent and are therefore not worthy of protection from Israeli state terrorism. The administration should have one standard regarding the value of life and one definition of terrorism," Rehab said.

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, about 60 percent of Lebanon's religious population is Muslim and 37 percent is Christian. The remaining communities belong to the Jewish and Bahai faiths. There are approximately 25,000 U.S. citizens in Lebanon, most of them of Arab or Muslim descent.

Chicago's Muslim and Arab communities plan to rally in support of Lebanon and Palestine Saturday at noon in front of the Tribune Tower at 435 N. Michigan Ave.


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

See Press Conference Photos


 
Feature # 86
CHICAGO EFFORTS PROVE IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS MOVEMENT IS STILL STRONG

July 19, 2006

LIVE From Chicago:

Despite the House’s decision to push off immigration reform until possibly after the November election, the immigrants’ rights movement remains stronger than ever. Rallies around the country in May garnered support from immigrants and activists alike and the momentum continues to grow with efforts from local organizations.

In Chicago, a major rally organized by Centro Sin Frontreras, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to offering services to Latino immigrants, is causing Jackson Boulevard in downtown Chicago to shut down as we write. Such efforts have kept comprehensive immigration reform from falling to the backburner as issues often do.

“Si, se puede”, yes we can, was heard once again in the streets of downtown as activists and immigrants marched with American flags, posters, and signs, demanding the voices of protesters to be heard.

View Video Here
Meanwhile, there have been active efforts throughout Illinois to keep the momentum strong after May 1. Recent events have included a National Day of Citizenship held on July 1, 2006 at Little Village High School. The event was organized by member organizations of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), Muslim Women’s Resource Center, Southwest Organizing Project, and many other organizations. In addition, a groundbreaking campaign was launched that day.

All eyes have turned to the immigrant community. Everyone wants to know if, after all the rallies and protests, proponents of comprehensive immigration reform will win their agenda. With the elections coming up in November, CAIR-Chicago, ICIRR, SWOP, and fifteen other organizations have spearheaded the New Americans Democracy Project (NADP). The NADP is a project where ICIRR and host organizations work fulltime with a fellow hired full time to register voters and mobilize people to the polls.

CAIR-Chicago, as a host organization, is working in the third congressional district where fellow Haady Taslim is working to mobilize the American Muslim community in Bridgeview around the issues of comprehensive immigration reform, as well as a unique issue that affects the community there: citizenship delay. "We are at a critical point in American history where the American Muslim community, as well as other immigrant communities, are waking up and realizing their full potential as Americans," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. "The right to vote and to participate actively in the political process is a part of what it is to be American and it is our duty, as Americans, to help our communities understand that such privilege comes with certain responsibilities such as advocating for the rights of those who need our help."

For American Muslims, voter mobilization is a key way to educate the community regarding the problem many Muslim men face when going through the citizenship process. Some have been waiting for more than two years for their background checks to come back from the FBI. "Mobilizing around such issues sheds light onto the real problem and creates a sense of responsibility for people who are already citizens," stated CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed. "It mobilizes people around an issue specific to their community and empowers them with the ability to help their fellow community members."

From people taking over the streets demanding comprehensive immigration reform, to empowering people to turn out at the polls in record numbers, the immigration debate is not likely to die down anytime soon. "The rallies and all the work that has been done until now is only the tip of the iceberg. The real power of immigrants is only beginning to hit us all. It will hit us full force on election day, when thousands of people mobilize to the polls in favor of comprehensive immigration reform," said Ahmed.



 
Feature # 85
CHICAGO MUSLIMS CALL ON BUSH TO PROTECT RELATIVES

July 18, 2006

(Chicago, IL 7/18/2006) - On Thursday, July 20th 2006, the Chicago Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will hold a news conference with members of the local Muslim and Arab-American communities who have relatives under attack in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

At the news conference, community members will ask President Bush to call for an immediate cease-fire by all parties in the Middle East conflict and urge that humanitarian relief be sent to areas devastated by Israel's bombing campaigns.

WHAT: CAIR-Chicago News Conference with Those who Have Relatives in Lebanon, Gaza
WHEN: Thursday, July 20th 2006 - 11:00AM
WHERE: Downtown Islamic Center (DIC), 231 S. State St., Chicago, (312) 939-9095
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director (847) 971-3963 or (312) 212-1520

There are an estimated 25,000 American citizens in Lebanon, and many American citizens, both Christian and Muslim, have relatives in Lebanon and Gaza. Despite the fact that many civilians have already been killed in Israeli attacks on the civilian infrastructures of both areas, President Bush has rejected calls for a cease-fire.

Plans to evacuate American citizens from Lebanon have been criticized as too slow. The U.S. government will also bill each evacuee for the cost of their transport out of Lebanon.

"It is inconceivable that our government refuses to request a cease-fire even as hundreds of civilian victims are falling prey to the massive scale Israeli strikes on Lebanon and Gaza. Our double standard gives off the impression that Muslim and Arab lives are somehow less valuable than Israeli lives," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. "Targeting civilians in furtherance of a political goal is terrorism, whether the target is a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv or a residential quarter in Beirut."

Please be advised that there will also be a community rally in support of the Lebanese and Gazan civilian victims of Israel’s bombings this Saturday at Noon at the Tribune Plaza, details to follow.

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. 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.

- END -


CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director (847) 971-3963 or (312) 212-1520 director@cairchicago.org




 
Feature # 84
CAIR-CHICAGO KICKS OFF AN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN SUMMER

July 13, 2006

With goals of mobilizing 45,000 people to come to the polls on November 7, 5,000 people in the weeks prior to Election Day, and 15,000 new voter registrations additions in the state of Illinois, CAIR-Chicago, along with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other host organizations, has launched an electoral summer campaign.

The New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), the 2006 version of the electoral campaign run two years ago, aims to mobilize registered voters and register all eligible citizens in Illinois to vote. CAIR-Chicago, as a host organization, will be working intensively in the third congressional district’s Bridgeview and surrounding areas. As a host organization, CAIR-Chicago’s Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed will be the supervisor for the CAIR-Chicago fellow.

After eight days of intense and grueling training, former CAIR-Chicago intern Haady Taslim (pictured above) became the NADP Fellow for CAIR-Chicago and the third district. As a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Haady Taslim has the awesome task of organizing a significant number of Muslims in the area. There have been unofficial estimates of up to 50,000 Muslims residing in the southwest suburbs.

Introduced at Little Village High School on Saturday, July 1, 2006, on the National Day of Citizenship, the 18 Fellows were given the task of organizing in their respective areas both in the city and the suburbs. Later that day, their training officially began with Midwest Academy and Wellstone Academy, both organizations that train activists for social justice. Training continued through the next week with experienced activists and trainers giving the Fellows the tools necessary to mobilize large groups of immigrants to vote.

The NADP is a project that seeks to mobilize the immigrant community and bring forth members as active citizens. Given the significant change in immigration reform discourse, the NADP seeks to show elected officials the power that the immigrant community holds by not only helping people become citizens, but by bringing masses of people to polls on Election Day. The current climate of immigration reform is such that anything can happen in the next few months and this election could be crucial to the future of American immigration laws.

As another part to the immigration movement, Haady Taslim will focus on an issue that is a sensitive topic for the Muslim community: delay in citizenship. As a part of the agenda specific to the Muslim community, Mr. Taslim will be engaging community members in dialogues to bring light to the issue of significant delays in the time it takes for Muslim men to become citizens in the United States. In addition, he will be registering people to vote in the upcoming elections as well as educating them on comprehensive immigration reform. Good luck Haady!

For more information on the New Americans Democracy Project, contact Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org or at 312-212-1520


 
Feature # 83
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: THE IMPORTANCE OF REPRESENTATION IN EMPLOYER DISCRIMINATION CASES

Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Department has seen a dramatic rise in workplace discrimination against Muslim-Americans. We work with our clients to resolve conflicts through negotiation while aiding in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) process of investigation and mediation. However, for every employment discrimination case CAIR-Chicago receives, there are many similar cases that remain unreported. Many Muslim-Americans wish to stay out of the courts, out of EEOC proceedings, and even out of CAIR’s offices, preferring instead to face acts of discrimination alone.

While I am not suggesting that resolving such disputes by one’s self is a fruitless endeavor, one cannot ignore that the success rate of such pro se initiatives is very low. Furthermore, failed attempts often perpetuate a victim’s belief that that there is no way to win, end up making the complaining party look weak, and result in a loss of credibility while reinforcing an employer’s position of power.

Places of employment are cloaked with layers of legal protections that serve to minimize an employers’ liability, protect the business infrastructure, and by extension managers who may be perpetrators of discrimination. This approach is designed to protect an employer’s financial survival, regardless of how this may affect employees’ rights.

For instance, when discrimination has been alleged, a supervisor may not be allowed to make any assurances to an employee without the approval of his legal counsel. Directed by attorneys, the employer’s first response to a discrimination allegation will likely be a scripted response, such as, “Firstly Mr. Mohammad, though it is unfortunate that you feel you have been mistreated, we find no fault on our side.”

Due to this institutional obstacle, it is increasingly important for employees to be backed by an experienced legal team in order to bring balance to a conflict. At CAIR-Chicago, the Civil Rights Department’s primary consideration is to protect the livelihood and rights of victims who have endured employment discrimination, regardless of the financial burden and liability that the employer may face as a result.

Employees who face discrimination at work have a fundamental right to air their grievances without fear of retribution. Instead of accepting discrimination, Muslim-Americans should assert their right to equal treatment at work. Every employer who employs a Muslim-American should be aware that he cannot discriminate against employees based on their religion. In addition, employers must accommodate their employee’s religious practices as long as it is not an undue burden.

CAIR-Chicago wants Muslim employees to know that they do not walk through the doors of their place of employment alone. CAIR-Chicago’s staff is dedicated to handling religious discrimination cases that individual employees may not have the knowledge or expertise to handle themselves.

Contact legal@cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 82
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: PASSENGER LOOKOUT OVERRIDE SYSTEM

By Susan DeConstanza
Travel Free Project, CAIR-Chicago

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has implemented a new system that aspires to expedite the screening process upon arrival to and departure from the United States. The Passenger Lookout Override (PLO) system is meant to efficiently distinguish between passengers with suspicious records and those who are simply mistaken for actual suspects.

A "lookout" is created from a compilation of resources, reports, and investigations from different law enforcement and security agencies. A lookout shows up as an indication that a passenger is suspicious during an initial screening when a traveler passes through customs.

The purpose of the Passenger Lookout Override System is to remove a "lookout" that has been attached erroneously to a passenger because he or she has a name similar to the actual suspect.

Now, when a passenger is taken into a secondary interview and successfully distinguished from the lookout, a record is made into the system. This way, the next time the passenger goes through customs and the same lookout shows up next to their name, the system will show that this passenger has already established that they are not the true suspect. The passenger and the agents can establish this through a passport number, an interview, or some other method.

In this way, U.S. Customs and Borders anticipate less secondary screenings, particularly when the passenger has already been through the secondary interview process.

It is important to note that the secondary interviews may still be necessary, even though a passenger’s record shows that a lookout has been erroneously attached to their name. It is possible that there is a new lookout that needs to be distinguished.

When passengers area cleared through this process the lookouts are not removed, simply distinguished from the passenger’s name. If a passenger goes through the secondary screening process once, and no adverse action is taken, this is noted and recorded in the system. As a result, if a traveler is taken into a secondary interview a record of previous secondary screenings will be available to the agents, which should help to avoid a repetition of questions that were answered the last time.

What can passengers do to help in the process?

If you are taken into secondary interviews, don’t panic. It may help speed the process if you mention to the agents that you have been interviewed before and what the outcome was. If you have answered a question on the previous occasion, say to the agent, "You talked to me about that last time." If you are uncomfortable for some reason or feel that you are being wrongly interviewed, you can always ask to speak with a supervisor or chief. Keep in mind that the agents have strict protocols to follow and do not necessarily have the power to bend the rules.

Contact travelfree@cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 81
CAIR-Chicago Launches The Mobilizer

Read up on the latest buzz in the CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Department as it launches exciting, new moblization initiatives. Log on to The Mobilizer to follow developments in the department, Project O, and exciting community news as the department tackles political projects and political developments on civil rights and liberties & immigration.

Get ready for the November Eection! Find out what is happening with the immigration debate as CAIR-Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights mobilize in the southwest suburbs of Chicago around comprehensive immigration reform and citizenship delay.

Want to know what type of organizing work the New American Democracy Project Fellow is doing? No problem! Updates on The Mobilizer will give you all the information you need from candidate forums to political rallies throughout the summer and into the Election!

Excited? CAIR-Chicago sure is for a summer of historically groundbreaking work as we begin to help make Muslims politically active constituents!


 
Feature # 80
CAIR-CHICAGO REP TO JOIN FORUM ON MUSLIM-WEST RELATIONS IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
July 3, 2006

Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad to join 100 young Muslims from 15 nations

CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad is scheduled to participate in the second "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 7 to July 9 alongside 100 young Muslims from 15 nations to discuss what they can do to improve Muslim-West relations. Muhammad says “It is without question humbling to have the opportunity to participate in such a defining event of our time wherein the usual is not suitable.”

Those selected embody a wide spectrum of Muslim representation by: sect, ethnicity, profession, religiosity, and individual politics. The forum hopes to build a constructive movement of young Muslims to reject and marginalize extremism.


Convening the forum are two U.S. organizations dedicated to bridging the divide between Muslims and the West, the Cordoba Initiative (www.cordobainitiative.org) and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA, www.asmasociety.org), founded by it’s Executive Director Daisy Khan.

Among the participants are prominent Western Muslim scholars such as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of “What’s Right with Islam” and Tariq Ramadan, author of “To be a European Muslim,” acclaimed Turkish cartoonist , Salih Memecan and a showcase of popular Muslim comic, Azhar Usman. CAIR-Chicago’s Sultan Muhammad will participate in a roundtable conference themed “Media and its Portrayal of Islam.”

The MLT (Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow) is an intra-faith conversation among young Muslims on major issues such as integration, identity struggles, Islamic reactions to secularism, gender equality, among other challenging points that breed alienation and extremism.

The conversations to be discussed will aim toward developing strategies that will contribute to the fostering of positive Muslim identities in the West, building of intra community partnerships, and reevaluating Muslim outreach methods. The forum seeks to candidly discuss existing shortcomings, and implement programs that will precipitate much needed change.

The highly anticipated event has garnered impressive coverage by international press such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, BBC World Radio, Radio Liberty, and National Public Radio USA., not to mention an equally broad range of support from Islamic organization world wide:

Resources:

MLT Press Release


http://www.asmasociety.org/home/9.pdf

http://www.cordobainitiative.org

http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/ display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2006&m= June&x=20060621122425ndyblehs0.7335169

http://www.cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 79
CAIR-CHICAGO MEETS WITH DELEGATION FROM DENMARK
June 27, 2006

A delegation of 8 young leaders from Denmark visited with CAIR-Chicago’s staff and externs on June 27th at CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office.

The delegation came to Chicago through the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). The program is administered by the Meridian International Center in DC and seeks to introduce participants to American community organizations that effectively address local social and educational issues. The program also seeks to establish long-term ties between Danish and American community activists to facilitate an on-going dialogue on grassroots activism, cultural pluralism, and political engagement.

The exchange brought forth a lot of interesting issues as well as striking parallels and juxtapositions between the problems facing Muslim communities in both the US and Denmark. The diversity of the Muslim communities in the US and Denmark, specifically, as well as the diversity of the Muslim world, generally, were examined leaving a room of Danish and American Muslims quite perplexed at the overwhelming generalizations found in today’s media; generalizations falsely representing the views of 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide, as one. Naturally, the Danish Cartoons Controversy and the reactions of Danish Muslims were also discussed, bringing forth diverse perspectives.

“It is important for western Muslim communities in the United States and Europe to share their experiences and learn from each other”, said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago, “that is why these exchanges are so meaningful”.

CAIR-Chicago would like to thank Ms. Marian Reich, Assistant Director at the International Visitors Center of Chicago (IVCC), for helping coordinate this exchange. Marian echoed the sentiments of the delegation in her email to Dina Rehab minutes after the visit, stating: “we already received glowing feedback from the visitors”. The delegation coined the meeting: “a defining and most inspiring factor of their trip”.

CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from Kyrgyzstan and India. CAIR-Chicago met with a delegation from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines on June 8th.

Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff, externs Sarah Terman and Azam Khan, as well as the following guests from Denmark:

Ms. Susan Arac
Member, Aarhus City Council

Ms. Viyan Duman
Vice Chairman, Center for Public Administration Policy, Ministry of Finance

Ms. Bircan Eker
Consultant, Danish Ministry of Employment

Mr. Nadeem Farooq
Member, Hoje Taastrp City Council

Mr. Martin Frandsen
Co-Manager, Urban Task Force Project, Copenhagen

Ms. Jamilla Jaffer
Deputy Chairman and Founding Member, Democratic Muslims

Mr. Murat Kilic
Project Manager, Urban Program, ‘Do What You Do Best’

Mr. Ahmed Lüfti Oezer
Chairman, FC Toros 95 Youth Club

Mr. Bassam el-Daoud
Director, Bishpehaven Youth Club

Also present were:

Ms. Cynthia Wilson and Mr. Bruno Blumenfeld representing the State Department

See Event Photos


 
Feature # 78
SEARS TOWER PLOT:
MUSLIM LEADERS DENOUNCE 7 SUSPECTS

By Margaret Ramirez
Tribune religion reporter


June 24, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ chi-0606240165jun24,1,2571736.story?coll= chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

Muslim leaders on Friday denounced the seven men arrested in Florida as members of a religious cult and implored the media not to refer to them as Muslims.

"The case of this bizarre, cultist group is evidence that the phenomenon of terrorism is not monolithic," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "They have broken the laws of this country as well as the laws of the religion of Islam. As such, they are to be condemned."

Accounts of the group's behavior suggest their religious practice may have been a strange hybrid.

According to the indictment that accuses the men of plotting to attack the Sears Tower and other buildings, they wanted to organize "an Islamic army" to wage "jihad" in the United States and swore an oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda.

Relatives have told reporters the defendants are deeply religious people who took classes in Islam but also studied the Bible. One cousin told CNN: "The warehouse is the temple where they all go and pray and meditate."

True Muslims revere the Koran as sacred Scripture and worship in mosques, Rehab said. The media may be reluctant to say the individuals are not Muslim because the media might be seen as "watering down the fight against terrorism," Rehab said.

"That should not be the case," he said. "We should step up and fight these individuals without having to pull Islam as a religion, and Muslims as a people, [into] the struggle."



Abdul Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, agreed that the descriptions of the group's faith did not sound like Islam.

"They were reading the Bible, not the Koran. They called their place of worship a temple instead of `mosque.' These are not things that Muslims do," said Mujahid. "So associating them with Islam and Muslims, I think, is not only factually wrong, but will continue to contribute to Islamophobia, which is a form of racism."

The idea of the group targeting the Sears Tower is ironic, Mujahid said, as the building was designed by Muslim architect Fazlur Khan.

Mujahid cautioned Chicago-area mosques to be vigilant, saying attacks and hate crimes often follow such reports. Notifications were sent to nearly 130 mosques to be on the lookout for suspicious activities.

"Muslims in America have not created this problem," he said. "The whole society must stand up and fight this together. We have to come together for the safety of us all."

----------
maramirez@tribune.com
Copyright © 2006 Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: CHICAGOAN BEHIND TERROR SCHEME
By Frank Main, Monifa Thomas, and Steve Patterson
Staff Reporters


June 24, 2006

... "The case of this bizarre cultist group is evidence that the phenomenon of terrorism is not monolithic, that it is multifaceted in both the makeup of potential terrorists and the particular context from which they draw inspiration," said Ahmed Rehab, the head of the council.

Read The Entire Sun-Times Article

See CAIR-Chicago's Press Conference Photos


 
Feature # 77

CAIR-CHICAGO, MUSLIMS, MEET WITH U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION AT O’HARE AIRPORT
Susan DeConstanza

June 26, 2006

On Wednesday, June 21, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab and intern Susan DeCostanza along with other leaders in the Chicago Muslim Community attended a tour of U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations at O’Hare International Airport last week.

The meeting was part of an effort to build relationships between the Muslim community and different government and security organizations that work in the airport in order to proactively facilitate communication, avoid cultural misunderstandings and help to educate travelers about the ways that they can possibly avoid unwanted delays at the airport.

Brian Humphrey, Director of Field Operations, commenced the meeting by introducing the various Customs and Border Protection agents present.

Dr. Hytham Rifai - a well known physician and CAIR-Chicago client - related some personal stories of delays that relatives, friends, and community members have encountered upon re-entering the United States from travel abroad.

Ahmed Rehab outlined the community's purpose behind requesting the meeting and gave a brief synopsis of the number and nature of complaints that Muslims bring to the CAIR-Chicago office.

Sheikh Kifah gave examples of some of the problems his Mosque constituency have suffered.

Humphrey explained that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents must move through an interactive, online cultural sensitivity course.

Humphrey reiterated that if a traveler encounters any difficulties, the agents must follow protocol, and do not have the authority to deviate from that procedure. If a traveler has questions, or believes they are being mistakenly delayed, the traveler should ask to see a supervisor.

The group walked through Customs and Borders operations beginning at the point of entry for passenger arrival to customs stations, agricultural screening, and the interview rooms. The agents described the "Passenger Lookout Override" system that was implemented two months ago, in which a passenger who has the same or a similar name as a person with a suspicious record can be distinguished from the actual suspected person.

This system is supposed to expedite common delays encountered by travelers within the Muslim and other communities who have common names that are similar to people with an actual or suspected tainted record.

CAIR-Chicago looks forward to continuing the relationship with U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in the region, and to furthering understanding between the organizations as well as facilitating future communication in order to eliminate problems for Muslim travelers before they even arise.

For more information and tips on airport travel, visit the “Know Your Rights” section of CAIR-Chicago’s website.

See Photos


 
Feature # 76

ADVOCATE FOR MUSLIMS CALLS ACCUSED PLOTTERS A 'CULTIST GROUP'
Associated Press

June 23, 2006

"Ahmed Rehab Says Accused Plotters Have Nothing To Do With Islam"

http://www.wqad.com/Global/story.asp?S=5071556&nav=1sW7

An advocate for better understanding of Muslims and their religion says the men accused of conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower are "a bizarre, cultist group."

Ahmed Rehab is executive director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says the accused plotters have nothing to do with Islam.

Rehab says the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.

He says he believes the U.S. government hasn't made a clear distinction between the accused plotters arrested yesterday and most Muslims.

"I think there has been some reluctance to step up and say that these individuals are indeed non-representative Muslims," Rehab says, "because certain commentators may see that as whitewashing or watering down our fight against terrorism."

Rehab spoke today at a news conference held at his group's downtown Chicago office.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

See Photos
See Media Advisory


 
Feature # 75

CAIR-CHICAGO AND LOCAL ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS CO-SPONSOR CHICAGOLAND AREA BLOOD DRIVES
June 23 & 30, 2006

On a typical day, 1500 blood donors are needed to meet patients' needs in the Chicagoland area. Blood is needed to save the lives of people undergoing surgery for trauma or heart disease; for persons suffering from bleeding disorders; for patients with severe burns; and for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. If every eligible donor would give-the-gift-of-life only 2 times annually, there would never be a blood shortage in Chicagoland. Each unit of blood donated potentially saves three lives. If you are a person over the age of 18, weigh more than 100 lbs, have not donated in the past 2 months, have no significant heath problems, and have not traveled to Asia or Africa within the last 12 months, you can donate.

Come donate blood during June (Health Awareness Month). Please call in advance and sign up for a convenient time slot.


LOCATIONS/DATES

MUSLIM YOUTH CENTER (Next to Mosque Foundation)
7362 W. 92nd Street, Bridgeview, IL 60455
Friday, June 23, 2006
1PM-5PM
Contact: Call CAIR-Chicago at 312-212-1520 (ask for Dina)

DOWNTOWN ISLAMIC CENTER
231 S. State St, Chicago, IL 60603
Friday, June 30, 2006
11am-3pm
Contact: Call CAIR-Chicago at 312-212-1520 (ask for Dina)

Co-Sponsored by: American Islamic Association, CAIR-Chicago, Compassionate Care Network, Downtown Islamic Center, Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, Mosque Foundation, Muslim Community Center, and Muslims Care.


 
Feature # 74

REFLECTIONS OF A CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
By Christina Abraham

June 19, 2006

The Civil Rights Movement in this country has always been simple. It asks for the equal treatment of everyone living in the United States. But although the goal is simple, the fight for equal rights has not been.

Muslim-Americans recognize that the predicament they are in today is not isolated but lies within a larger context of civil rights struggles in America.

Muslim Americans are not the first group to face widespread prejudice and systemic discrimination. Jewish, Hispanic and Japanese-Americans have had their share of injustices leveled against them. And no other community has come close to the long-standing suffering of the African-American community.

Now, Muslim-Americans are among those at the forefront of the civil rights movement. This movement asks for a society subject to the rigor of law, governed by a system of transparency and accountability wherein the constitution applies to all equally.

In the short time that I have been with CAIR-Chicago as the Civil Rights Coordinator, I have seen many types of egregious violations of civil rights experienced by Muslims.

I have dealt with complaints in which Muslims are verbally harassed in public places, even physically attacked.

I have dealt with complaints in which Muslims have been terrorized by their own government, or ridiculed and degraded by their employers.

I have seen Muslim schoolchildren be subjected to disgusting acts of disrespectful behavior by students, faculty and staff alike.

But I have also seen and experienced the resilience of a remarkable community under fire.

It takes courage to stand up to an unjust employer, a person who holds your livelihood in their hands, and say that you are not going to tolerate the degradation of your belief system.

It takes courage to stand up to a hatemonger who violates your person or property by committing a hate crime, and to see through the process until the end so that justice may be allowed to prevail.

And when authority figures can be so intimidating at times, it takes courage to look a law enforcement officer in the eye and assert your rights.

What it really comes down to is basic human dignity.

In bearing witness to the different facets of discrimination against Muslims in this country, we bear witness to the struggle of Muslims in America, and more importantly, to humanity’s perpetual struggle for liberty, justice and equality – three words that have been overused and overlooked simultaneously in this society, so that their meanings have become worn away.

I am honored to introduce a series of reflections by the individuals that make up the Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago.

We have shared in experiencing the hardships of Muslims in this community that have reasserted their dignity, in a time when it seems easy to just surrender their rights and succumb to the forces against them.

Now we share these experiences with you. Stay tuned for more…


(Reflections from CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Activists to follow in the coming Mondays)


 
Feature # 73

SO WHAT'S THE DEAL AGAIN?!
By Sadiya Ahmed

June 16, 2006

We heard about the contentious debate in the Senate from the end of April to May 26 on immigration reform. Amendments floated in and out of debates; some were picked up and others were shot down and the debate trudged on. That wasn’t all; the marchers trudged on too. They flooded the streets, coast to coast, from New York and Chicago to Los Angeles and Dallas. What was the impact? The Senate finally struck a deal and passed its version of immigration reform.

Is it really immigration reform? I don’t know if that’s what I would call it but then again, we have to start somewhere. It includes some good and some bad but only time will tell what will happen in the upcoming year. The Senate version is no doubt different from the House version of “immigration reform” and people have been wondering why. Let’s start from the beginning.

James Sensenbrenner, sponsor of the REAL ID Act (the one that mandates the establishment of national identification cards) proposed a very enforcement heavy bill on immigration and decided to fast track it right before Congress broke for the December break (basically, the debate was limited and the bill passed in the House a week after it was introduced). No doubt, the bill was condemned by immigrants and activists alike. Why? Simple, it made all undocumented individuals criminals and people who did so much as give an undocumented individual a ride from point A to point B felons. It also broaden detention provisions so that people being held for immigration issues could spend years under federal custody, until their fate was decided, if ever.

We all saw the rallies in Chicago. Most of us were there, marching alongside activists demanding comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate decided, after long weeks of debate, on S.2611. It’s different from the House version alright! This version provides millions of people with the chance to apply for legalization. The DREAM Act gives students the chance to go to college based on good grades and behavior. It tries to clear the backlog on family visas so your aunt and uncle who have been waiting for 22 years to come to the US may be finally able to come in the next few years! Sounds great right? So what could the problem be?!

Well, the legislation has some “low-lights” too. For example, local police would be able to enforce national immigration laws; they’d be encouraged and reimbursed for trainings etc (. Detentions are still indefinite; DHS would get to add more beds to detention centers to house more detainees. Such individuals can be held for years with no hope to getting out until they get deported. A few million people would have to leave the country and may not be able to come back because they don’t meet the requirements of the tiered path to legalization (people who have been in the US more than 5 years get to pay a fine and apply for legalization; those who have been here between 3 and 5 years have to leave the country then come back and people who have been here less than 2 years, have to go back without any guarantee of coming back. Of course there are more rules in fine print).

Though the bill passed in the Senate, it is so drastically different that a lot of the details will need to be negotiated in a joint conference committee. This committee will have members of the House committee as well as the Senate committee. Chances are, nothing will get done until after the elections, until the immigrant communities put their money where their mouths are and mobilize by the thousands to the polls.

So what’s the deal again? Absolutely nothing!


 
Feature # 72

PENTAGON CALLS ONLINE SONG 'INSENSITIVE,' 'INAPPROPRIATE'

June 13, 2006

Music video 'contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/13/06) - The U.S. Marine Corps today said it agrees with a prominent national Islamic advocacy group that a video posted on the Internet apparently showing Marines cheering a song that glorifies the killing of Iraqi civilians is "insensitive" and "inappropriate."

Yesterday, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on the Pentagon and Congress to investigate the four-minute video posted in March on the youtube.com website.

SEE: 'Marines' Cheer Song About Killing Iraqi Civilians (CAIR)

The video, called "hadji girl," purports to be a "marine in iraq [sic] singing a song about hadji." (A "Hajji" is a person who has made the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but the term has often been used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq.) The song tells of a U.S. Marine's encounter with an Iraqi woman. It was viewed by almost 50,000 people. (The video was removed from the youtube.com website after CAIR issued its news release.)

The song's lyrics include: "I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little f**kers to eternity. . .They should have known they were f**king with the Marines." Members of the audience, not shown in the video, laughed and cheered wildly for these lyrics.

SEE: Music Video About Marine Sparks Anger (AP)
SEE: Video Purports To Show Marine Singing About Killing Civilians (AFP)
SEE: HADJI GIRL
(The video's audio is slightly out of synchronization.)

In a statement, the Marine Corps said:

"The Marine Corps has recently been made aware of a video posted to a website that purports to show a Marine singing an insensitive song about Iraqis. The video has subsequently been removed from the website. The video that was posted anonymously is clearly inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines. The video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom. We agree with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."

"We welcome the Marine Corps statement, but we also expect that those who participated in this incident will be identified and disciplined appropriately," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad added that he hoped Congress would conduct hearings on this and similar incidents.

'Marines' Cheer Song About Killing Iraqi Civilians:


 
Feature # 71

CAIR-Chicago Meets with Delegation from the Philippines

June 8th, 2006

A delegation of 13 government officials and community/non-governmental organization leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines visited with CAIR-Chicago staff on June 8th.

The delegation came to discuss issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, as well as to learn how CAIR-Chicago, as a chapter of the leading Muslim civil rights organization in the US, has dealt with issues of discrimination facing the Muslim community in the past.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for both of us to learn more about each other” said Dina Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator. “I did not know that it is almost impossible for a Muslim woman wearing the hijab [Islamic head covering] in the Philippines to hail down a cab.”

The delegation and CAIR-Chicago discussed ways in which they could collaborate further. One proposal was institutionalizing a foreign exchange program between the two communities whereby each can learn more about the other through ground work. CAIR-Chicago also resolved to educate the general public on the various issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, reiterating that ignorance is the enemy.

This meeting was facilitated by the International Training Office of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. CAIR-Chicago looks forward to working with the International Training Office on future initiatives. CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from the Denmark in June, and one from Kyrgyzstan in September.

Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff as well as the following guests:



Suharto Ambolodto (Lawyer; Director, Caucus on Muslim Mindanao Affairs)

Romeo Villanueva (Priest; Notre Dame of Jolo College and Peace Center)

Nazarollah Macalandong (University administrator; Chancellor, Mindanao State University, Maguindanao)

Rajam Akbar (Regional Assemblywoman/legislator, ARMM)

Fatima Kanakan (Government official; Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Office of the Regional Governor, ARMM)

Khanappi Ayao (NGO worker; Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Advocates, Inc.)

Baicon Cayongcat (NGO worker and university administrator; Convener, Mother for Peace Movement; Executive Assistant on Student Affairs, Office of the President, MSU-Marawi)

Abdullah Jr. Salik (Local government official; municipal vice mayor)

Abdulwahid Inju (Madaris Teacher; Provincial Mufti; Division Madaris Coordinator)

Jurma Tikmasan (Professor, MSU Tawi-Tawi; NGO worker and exec. Director, Tarbilang Foundation)

Fatmawati Salapuddin (NGO worker; Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum)

Bainon Karon (NGO worker; head, President, Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women's Cooperative)

Zainudin Malang (lawyer; Director, Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy)

Lina Davide-Ong (Director of the International Training Office at Northern Illinois University)

NIU Representatives

VIEW PHOTOS HERE

VIEW EVENT DETAILS HERE


 
Feature # 70

CAIR-CHICAGO FIGHTS FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

June 7, 2006

After mass demonstrations by the immigrant and minority communities, the Senate passed its version of immigration reform legislation. The final vote, 62-36, came after several months of heated debate from both sides. Though the bill includes some good provisions such as a path to legalization for millions of undocumented individuals, an increase in family and employment visas, and the possibility of legalization for students, it also has some potentially harmful provisions. Such provisions include indefinite detention, enforcement of immigration laws by local police, stricter requirements for citizenship, and a universalized ‘watch’ list.

The House version (HR 4437) and the Senate version (S.2611) are drastically different. Some House and Senate members will meet during the year, in the Conference Committee, to strike a deal that both Houses of Congress can agree on. There is no set deadline and Republicans and Democrats face opposition. The time to influence immigration reform legislation is now by demanding that comprehensive immigration that does not place limitations on people.

CAIR-Chicago, in collaboration with the Asian American Caucus, Indo-American Center, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and other organizations, is initiating a massive postcard campaign throughout the metropolitan Chicago area to galvanize support for comprehensive immigration reform in Asian, ethnic communities and Muslim communities. The postcards will, at the end of the campaign, be delivered to congressional representatives at their offices.

To participate in the postcard campaign or for more details, contact Governmental Relations Coordinator, Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 69

MODERATE VOICES
By Ahmed Rehab

June 1, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion /chi-0606010011jun01,1,3214523.story?ctrack =1&cset=true

Congratulations to Michael Tackett, the Tribune's associate managing editor in Washington, on his wonderful piece "Melting ice with Westerners" (News, May 10). As a Muslim-American activist who spends most of his waking hours "melting ice" with fellow Westerners, I am very appreciative of an article that brings forth the moderate and refreshing views of credible mainstream leaders from the Muslim world.

I have grown tired of hearing my religion in the media attributed solely to nutcases such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. More often than not, I find that media venues are all too keen to echo opinions and statements of extremist Muslims of the lunatic fringe, while overlooking the moderate and far-reaching voices of mainstream Muslim leaders.

Tackett's fair and insightful reporting has broken through the very ice we can only hope to melt.

I hope that the Tribune continues to lead the way in presenting Americans with an accurate representation of the reality of Islam and Muslims in order that we continue to melt ice together.


Copyright © 2006 Chicago Tribune


 
Feature # 68

CAIR-CHICAGO TAKES PART IN THE U OF C'S UNDERSTANDING ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD FORUM

On Thursday May 25, CAIR Chicago’s Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, participated in a University of Chicago panel with a notable group of Chicagoans including Dr. Aminah Beverly McCloud, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Islamic World Studies at DePaul University; Tim McNulty, Chicago Tribune Public Editor; and Margaret Holt, Chicago Tribune Senior Editor for Standards and Staff Development.

The panel, sponsored by the Office of Vice President and Dean of Students in the University, the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities, and the Muslim Students Association, was put together to provide a forum for education and discussion concerning complex cultural and religious questions that have bearings on how the media portrays Islam and Muslims.

The event began with welcome remarks from William Michel, Asst. Vice President for Student Life and Assoc. Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago official, as well as M. Hasan Ali, outgoing MSA President.

The capacity room, packed with attendees and representatives from a diverse cross section of local Muslim communities, inter-faith communities, professors, students, and activists were on hand to participate in the dynamic program. Among those present in the audience were Dr. Scott C. Alexander, Associate Professor of Islam and Program Director in Catholic-Muslim Studies of the Catholic Theological Union; Imam Frederick Al Deen of Oak Park; Minister Marcus Muhammad, Benton Harbor Representative of the Nation of Islam; and Nation of Islam Latino student Minister Abel Muhammad.

The spirited open dialogue provided concrete advice for Muslims seeking accurate media representation and allowed Muslim community members an opportunity to offer feedback to the Tribune editors as to how the Muslim image may more fairly be covered. Rehab stressed the need for Muslims to forgo self-imposed censorship and to actively engage the media. He asserted that, for the most part, the American media does not bear an inherent bias against Islam and that members of the media are diverse and non-monolithic, like Muslims themselves. Rehab further explained that he believed Islam and Muslims are unfairly portrayed in the media, but that more often than not, it is a result of ignorance and not malice, “that’s all the more reason for Muslims to reach out to their local media,” he said.

Event Photos

Event Details


 
Feature # 67

Marking Memorial Day: Chivalry Still Lives
- by Sultan Muhammad


May 29, 2006

Memorial Day is an occasion for America to reconnect with the history and sacrifice of its citizens for the core values and principles of life, liberty, truth, justice, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, America honors those who gave their lives for these venerated ideals that we all cherish. These are the core values and constitutional principles of our society which should unite all people.

Patriotism is not exclusive to any one religion, race, color or nation. These values are expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution as they are likewise transmitted to posterity within all great national traditions and faiths of the world.

The human right to life is ideally considered inviolable by all of humanity except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances, such as the use of deadly force to protect one's own or others' lives and property in the face of tyranny and human suffering in the world. These should be the circumstances under which the armed forces voluntarily seek to confront such injustices so that the rest of us don’t have to - and those that do should be remembered.

Dying for ones beliefs, principles or nation is seen as the most honorable act one can do regardless of ethnic group, nationality or religious creed within all societies.

Thus it is fitting that we remember all those who have given life to the cause of freedom, justice and equality in effort to prevent the wrong and establish what is right; for we are indeed all one family and we share one common destiny. Human integrity of principle should strive to transcend partisan politics, cultural divide, racial prejudice, and national boundaries.

Memorial Day began as a tribute for Civil War veterans who paid the ultimate price. The acclaimed James Agee wonderfully pointed to these ideals some soldiers hold that have fought and died with chivalrous virtue:

“We soldiers of all nations who lie killed Ask little: that you never, in our name, Dare claim we died that men might be fulfilled. The earth should vomit us, against that shame.”

Within the Islamic tradition those that are martyred in honorable struggles are declared as Shuhada or ‘Witness Bearers’ and are said to have been selected by God himself as such, “God chooses from among you such as [with their lives] bear witness to the truth.” (Qur'an 3:141) They witness with their lives that which they believe. Muslims do not think of them as having perished. It is said in the Qur’an:

“Do not think of those that have been slain in God’s cause as dead. Nay, they are alive!” (Qur'an 3:169)

“Say not of those who are slain in God’s cause, “They are dead”: nay, they are alive, but you perceive it not. (Qur'an 2:154)


Sometimes, the architects of war may be moved by less than noble ambition; they may be motivated by selfishness, greed and ambition. Yet, the brave who rise to serve their nation and who die believing they are fighting for freedom, justice and Godly principles should be recognized, whether or not the political leaders in their command may have had other machinations. Our thoughts turn to those who died defending the cause of truth and virtue.

Agee says: “but never use, not as your honor sorrow; our murdered days to garnish your tomorrow.” Recognize and remember the known as well as the unknown of those who have given their ultimate for the sake of a better world. Their combined efforts, with the permission of the Divine, have given us what we have today.


 
Feature # 66

YASER TABBARA TO RECIEVE COMMUNITY BUILDERS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE

May 23, 2006

Community Builders is pleased to announce that Yaser Tabbara Esq retired Executive Director of CAIR Chicago will be the recepient of the 2006 Community Builders Award for Excellence in Community Service. The award will be presented at Community Builders Annual Banquet to be held this Saturday at the Ramada Plaza Hotel O'Hare.

The following is a text of Community Builders proclamation accompanying the Award.

"After taking over as Executive Director of CAIR Chicago about 2 years ago, Yaser Tabbara was instrumental in revitalizing that chapter by bringing new talent and resources into it. Shortly thereafter CAIR Chicago became the concience of troubled Muslims and the leading voice for Muslim civil rights in the Chicago area. Through his quiet demeanour, his determined resolve and his fearless pursuit for fairness and justice, he earned the love and admiration of both his colleagues at work and the community he served.

Yaser Tabbara was CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director for a relatively brief time. But in that short time was packed the accomplishments that would by most standards be labelled amazing.

Yaser is a Chicago attorney with an established record of serving the community. Previously, Yaser was the coordinator of the Iraq project at DePaul University College of Law, where he worked on rebuilding the legal education system in Iraq under the direction of Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni. Prior to that, Yaser initiated the Post 9/11 Immigrant Legal Rights Project at the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center, where he provided free and low-cost legal representation, as well as outreach and education on immigration law and civil liberties to our community.

Throughout his work in the public domain, Yaser has exemplified for us excellence in planning and excellence in execution, so essential for us to emulate, in order to obtain successful outcomes in our own fields of endeavour. Powerful lessons from a powerful leader.

As we honor him with the "2006 Community Builders Award for Excellence in Community Service", we wish him continued success in the future and invoke the blessings of Allah upon him."


Community Builders
www.mycommunitybuilders.com


 
Feature # 65
Feature # 64

DHS, USCIS, AND FBI DISCUSS CITIZENSHIP DELAY AT MOSQUE FOUNDATION

May 18, 2006

CAIR-Chicago hosted a panel of US government representatives last Thursday at the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview in order to explore the reasons behind the widespread delay in Citizenship Applications for members of the Muslim community.

The panel included DHS Community Liaison Carol Hallstrom, Acting District Director of USCIS Jerry Heinauer, and representatives from the FBI as well as Mosque Foundation Associate Director Sheikh Kifah Mostafa and CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab who presided over the program.

Maaria Mozaffar with CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights department collected and read out questions from the floor, pressing the panel for clarifications and elaborations. CAIR-Chicago's staff attorney Heena Musabji and CAIR-Chicago's communications coordinator, Sultan Muhammad, were also in attendance.

Approximately 100 people attentively listened as the DHS representatives explained some of the reasons behind the delays in processing applications for citizenship. An honest open discussion took place in which members of the community questioned why they were being targeted and waiting for over two years for citizenship. One individual asked:

“Why are we being treated like criminals? We are law abiding Muslims. Why are we having to wait this long.” The representatives responded by assuring that the process is not anti- Muslim; it is bureaucracy that slows down the process.

In response to this claim, the representatives from DHS were questioned on what specific internal reforms were taking place to make the process more efficient and customer friendly. The audience was informed that currently an increase in staff is taking place to handle the large volume of citizenship applications. The representatives explained what USCIS and the FBI can and cannot do in terms of these delays.

Inquiry forms were available on-hand for anyone who wished to file an inquiry on their case. All members on the panel stayed well after the event answering questions for audience members in an effort to clarify polices and alleviate frustration. Many individuals took advantage of this rare opportunity and questioned members on the panel about their specific cases and shared their concerns regarding the entire citizenship process. Intake was also performed on-site for members of the community who wished to address their experience of citizenship delay through CAIR-Chicago’s Citizenship Delay Project.

Of note is a class action lawsuit filed by CAIR-Chicago, the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center (MIHRC), and Competition Law Groups earlier this month. The class action is first of its kind, as it directly asks the DHS and CIS to be held accountable for the numerous delays of citizenship applications submitted by Muslim individuals.

Link to event information here

Event Photos


 
Feature # 63

CITIZENSHIP DELAY: HEAR ABOUT THE ISSUE FROM GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES

Have you passed the citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 120 days?

Speakers:
Jerry Heinauer
Acting District Director of the Chicago Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Carol Hallstrom
Community Liaison for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Federal Agents (TBA)
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

Ahmed Rehab
Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago

Christina Abraham
Moderator / Civil Rights Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago
When: Thursday, May 18th, 6:30pm – 8pm

Where: Mosque Foundation
              7360 W 93rd Street
              Bridgeview, Illinois 60455

Representatives from DHS will explain some of the reasons behind the delays in processing applications for citizenship. They will explain what USCIS and the FBI can and cannot do in terms of these delays. Although they will not be able to answer questions about specific cases, they will have inquiry forms on-hand for anyone who wishes to file an inquiry on their case. Questions will be written out by members of the audience, and a mediator will read them out to the speakers.

Intake will be performed on-site for members of the community who wish to discuss their experience of citizenship delay to see how we can help.

For more information contact civilrights@cairchicago.org


 
Feature # 62

DAILY HERALD: "PROGRAM OFFERS INSIGHT ON ISLAM"

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=187745

As he walked through the doors at the Islamic Center of Des Plaines, Vern Geurkink couldn’t help but marvel at the austerity of the modern-looking mosque.

A retired Christian minister now living in Naperville, Geurkink has been inside dozens of churches and even some synagogues over the years, but this was like no worship space he had ever seen.

“I thought to myself, where are all the books? Where are all the paintings and icons?” he said. “It was different, but a wonderfully eye-opening experience for me.”

Geurkink was one of about 60 seniors — many of them from the suburbs — who visited the mosque Wednesday during the latest in a series of daylong educational programs sponsored by the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In addition to the tour, they also observed the mosque’s afternoon prayer ritual, dined on an Egyptian lunch and listened to a brief lecture about the Koran and the five pillars of the faith.

Later, they partook in an hourlong question-and-answer session aimed at debunking myths about the faith, which counts more than 1.4 billion followers worldwide.

One woman, Lorene Watson of Des Plaines, wanted to know more about the hijab, the style of dress preferred by some Muslim women that requires the covering of the head, arms and legs.

“A lot of people ask me if I’m forced to wear this by my father, but that’s not the case,” said Sumiah Aduib, a young Muslim woman who answered Watson’s question. “It was my own decision. I took it on, and I felt like it completed me as a person.”

While many said they were inspired to attend because of a simple devotion to lifelong learning, others pointed to the war in Iraq and ongoing Christian-Muslim conflicts around the world as the reason for their interest in Islam.

One woman said she feels Islam is unfairly portrayed in the American media, which she said focuses on a minority of extremists while ignoring millions of Muslims whose core beliefs mirror Christianity’s Golden Rule.

Ahmed Rehab, who coordinates the program, said Muslims themselves are partly to blame for that phenomenon.

“The American media isn’t inherently anti-Muslim, it just hasn’t dealt with us for long enough.” he said. “Since 9/11, we’ve sort of been shocked into opening up more and I think there’s been a greater understanding.”

Although more than 1,200 people have participated in the outreach program during the past two years, Rehab said he hopes to expand it even more, perhaps by welcoming school field trips.

“There is a huge disconnect between what these people have seen today and to what most people see on TV or in the newspapers,” Rehab said. “We American Muslims need to be more outspoken so more people will understand who we really are.”

efanselow@dailyherald.com

See Also
Press Release to Media
Participant Testimonials
Event Photos
Event Program


 
Feature # 61

CAIR-Chicago, MIHRC, Competition Law Group File Class Action Suit against Government on Citizenship Delay

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: MUSLIMS SUE FOR CITIZENSHIP, ALLEGE GENDER, RELIGIOUS BIAS

May 5, 2006

Ten Muslim men allege that they have been denied U.S. citizenship for up to two years, in violation of their civil rights, despite passing every test and interview, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

The men are permanent legal residents who say they should have been sworn in as citizens within 120 days of meeting all the requirements. Instead, they said they have been kept waiting for a year or more.

Meanwhile, "hundreds of thousands of other people seeking to be naturalized" have had their swearing-in ceremonies, the lawsuit said.

"They're in limbo," said Christina Abraham, civil rights coordinator for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, an advocacy group that represents the plaintiffs. "These are people who don't have any criminal record whatsoever. ... They don't know why they've been delayed. They've done everything they can do."

The plaintiffs allege the delays discriminate against them on the basis of their gender and religious beliefs. They are seeking a court order that they be sworn in as citizens, along with unspecified money damages and attorney fees.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales and top officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI are named as defendants. Federal officials had not yet reviewed the lawsuit on Thursday and could not comment, said Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul Plunkett.

The plaintiffs are seeking to bring the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of thousands of other Muslim males who they allege may face similar problems. The wait is frustrating for those who want to apply for certain government jobs or want to know whether they can vote in the next election, Abraham said.

CAIR in Chicago has gotten about 80 complaints in the last year, Abraham said. She said other chapters also have fielded complaints and may file suits.

The plaintiffs have tried to determine how their wait times compare with other ethnic groups. But they said U.S. officials have failed to produce the necessary records under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The plaintiffs seek the records as part of the lawsuit.

"We don't really know what is going on here," Abraham said. "There is a lack of transparency in the system."

See Press Release


 
Feature # 60

700,000 Rally in Chicago - See Photos/Video

May 1, 2006

An estimated 700,000 people attended the Immigrants’ Rights march in downtown Chicago on May 1, 2006, in what has been said to be one of the largest rallies in American history. As people marched down Jackson Boulevard, chants could be heard from blocks away: “Si, se puede! Yes, we can!" Hundreds of thousands of documented and undocumented individuals marched in solidarity, demanding rights for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals currently residing in the United States.






CAIR-Chicago staff and volunteers were present, carrying signs with slogans such as “Muslims for a just and humane immigration policy”. Standing at the sidewalk, in a show of solidarity with thousands of protesters, CAIR-Chicago representatives shouted words of encouragement to the crowds as they cheered back. The message was clear: Muslims stand united with the sea of Latino, Asian, Irish and African undocumented immigrants seeking an honorable resolution to their predicament. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago took a leading role in bringing the Muslim masses out to march in the rally. Organizations including IMAN and the Mosque Foundation were visible alongside Church groups and worker groups chanting in solidarity with them. Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sheikh Jamal Said and other Muslim leaders spoke at the main event to the thousands in attendance.

“What we witnessed today was a true display of democracy. It was the people speaking - legally and peacefully," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab. "But that’s just the half of it," he added. "If the people shone, then so did the authorities. I was just as blown away by the preparedness and professionalism of the Chicago Police and City workers as I was by the passionate outpouring of the rally participants.”

“Within moments of the massive crowds clearing Jackson Boulevard, police and city sanitation workers were there, restoring order. Today, Chicago demonstrated why it's the world's best city.”

Mobilizing around an issue that has been at the very heart of congressional debate this year has brought together activists, school teachers, religious figures, and immigrants alike. What started off as a reaction to HR 4437, the anti-immigration legislation bill that passed in the House last December, has swept the country in a proactive demand for comprehensive reform.

“It started off with people protesting the passage of a bill that criminalizes immigrants and individuals that help them in anyway; now, it has become the demand for rights that has swept the nation,” said CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed. “Proponents of anti-immigration policies may have started a battle, but the proponents of comprehensive immigration reform have set the tone for the movement in these last few months.”

Currently pending in the Senate is what may be one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that the United States Senate has ever faced: a bill that seeks to criminalize people like doctors, teachers, and members of the clergy for providing humanitarian assistance to undocumented individuals. In stark opposition, IL Congressman Luis Gutierrez and IL Senator Dick Durbin have emphatically demanded a path of to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented workers, and relief for those who provide humanitarian assistance to them.

Some of the more problematic provisions of the proposed legislation grant authorities the ability to indefinitely detain individuals, monitor and deny applications for legal status at the slightest behest. They also grant unchecked authority to local law enforcement agents to enforce national immigration laws. The Muslim community, which has been the single-most ostracized community since 9/11, would be the one most at risk of facing basic violations.

“It is imperative that we opt for immigration reform measures that are comprehensive in more ways than one,” Rehab said. “Firstly, they should provide a path to citizenship for long-standing, law-abiding undocumented immigrants while halting future illegal immigration via enforced borders. Secondly, they should provide for national security while averting exclusory clauses that freeze out a specific group on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity.”

For now, that remains to be seen. Stay tuned as the immigration debate rages on.

Forbes: Nationwide Immigrant Rallies Under Way - AP Quotes CAIR-Chicago... Read Here.


 
Feature # 59

CAIR-CHICAGO'S "ARLINGTON HEIGHTS HIJAB CASE" MEDIA DIGEST

This week CAIR-Chicago conducted a large scale mobilization effort to protect the civil rights of a Muslim-American activist. Ms. Rehana Khan was taken into custody by Arlington Heights Police Officers after demonstrating at a rally that proposed immigration reform in a racist manner.

In the process of being arrested, Ms. Khan suffered a violation of her civil rights when an Arlington Heights Police Officer inappropriately took her hijab off in public, allowing her to be exposed in a manner inconsistent with her religious rights and beliefs. CAIR-Chicago sought to bring media attention to this case, and urged citizens to call the Arlington Heights Mayor and State Attorney's Office to voice their disapproval over Ms. Khan's arrest while calling for her case to be dismissed.

Below is a list of links from various media outlets, highlighting the case details and issues that CAIR-Chicago sought to bring to the public eye in the interest of Ms. Khan and all Muslims who reside in the United States:

TELEVISION NEWSPAPERS WEBSITES TUCKER CARLSON, HOST

Tonight`s "Under the Radar" segment comes to us from Arlington Heights, Illinois. That`s where a 24-year-old Muslim woman, Rehana Khan, says police violated her religious principles by removing her head scarf after arresting her for battery, to which she later pled guilty.

Officials deny wrongdoing, saying cops followed standard procedures. My next guest says the police actions were akin to ripping off her blouse, creating, quote, "a state of forced nudity".

Ahmed Rehab is the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations. He joins us tonight from Chicago.

Thanks for coming on.

MORE


 
Feature # 58

Ahmed Rehab Discusses The Arlington Heights Hijab Case on MSNBC's "The Situation With Tucker Carlson"

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST

Tonight`s "Under the Radar" segment comes to us from Arlington Heights, Illinois. That`s where a 24-year-old Muslim woman, Rehana Khan, says police violated her religious principles by removing her head scarf after arresting her for battery, to which she later pled guilty.

Officials deny wrongdoing, saying cops followed standard procedures. My next guest says the police actions were akin to ripping off her blouse, creating, quote, "a state of forced nudity".

Ahmed Rehab is the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations. He joins us tonight from Chicago.

Thanks for coming on.

Can you hear me, Mr. Rehab? Are you there?

I don`t think Mr. Rehab is there, so we`re going to take a -- we will be right back. It`s going to be worth waiting for. We`ll see you in just a second...

...(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. We start where we left off, with the story of a 24-year-old Muslim activist woman arrested recently for battery outside Chicago. Police made her remove her head scarf. She said that was a violation of her religious principles.

We are joined now by a man who agrees with her. His name is Ahmed Rehab. He`s a spokesman for CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He joins us from Chicago.

Mr. Rehab, thanks for coming on.

AHMED REHAB, SPOKESMAN, CAIR: Glad to be on.

CARLSON: Now the cops 0- I`m a little confused as to what exactly your complaint is. The police made it pretty clear, her religion had nothing to do with their actions. It`s police policy to remove from someone arrested, particularly for a violent crime, as this woman was arrested for, anything that could be used as a weapon or any garment in which a weapon could be hidden.

I think the exact quote from the cops, the police spokesman was, "If a priest was wearing a cross around his neck, we`d take it off."

Why does this woman want special treatment?

REHAB: That actually does not make much sense to me, because it is inconsistent with what the police have done in the past. There are two things that the police normally would do. One is pat on a person`s clothing to ensure that nothing is concealed under a person`s clothing, whether it`s a blouse, a skirt or a head scarf.

And then, two, if they feel that it is necessary for them to take that person and actually strip search them, they don`t do it publicly. They take them into a private area and purport to do that with an officer of the same gender as the individual that`s being searched.

CARLSON: Strip searched? It`s take a head scarf off. I mean, look, if a man is wearing a hat and he`s arrested, the police make him take the hat off, because they`re afraid he might have an ice pick in his hat. That`s just -- that`s what they do.

REHAB: Well, let me ask you this. If they had removed her blouse or skirt, would you have considered that to be a strip search or no?

CARLSON: Yes, but they didn`t remove her blouse or skirt. It was her head scarf, which...

REHAB: That`s precisely the point, Tucker. Whose standards are you using for what strip is? For this girl, as a female, she has a right to conceal whichever part of body she wants. Her hair is and her head scarf, really, is just like her blouse and her skirt. You cannot remove any of these articles of clothing.

CARLSON: She may have that -- I don`t know. You seem to be making up your own rules, but the rules in America are she may have that right, but she forfeits it when she punches a cop, as she did. So she no longer has that right to do whatever she wants.

REHAB: Do you forfeit your right to -- do you forfeit your right to have your blouse or skirt removed in public by a police officer?

CARLSON: I don`t know, if...

REHAB: Because you punched them, allegedly?

CARLSON: If the police -- Not allegedly. She pled guilty to it.

REHAB: What I`m trying to say is...

CARLSON: Read the news.

REHAB: What I`m trying to tell you...

CARLSON: OK.

REHAB: ... is that a scarf for a Muslim woman who wears a scarf...

CARLSON: Right.

REHAB: ... because she believes it is religiously mandated is no different than a blouse or a skirt. That is the standard...

CARLSON: I don`t know. I`m not sure -- I`m no expert on...

REHAB: She`s not thinking of Tucker Carlson`s standards of clothing but her own.

CARLSON: Slow down. I`m not an expert on Islamic customs here. But it seems to me...

REHAB: Then you shouldn`t be making a -- statements about her clothing if you`re not an expert.

CARLSON: Is it my -- I`m merely asking you questions, to which hopefully you can provide answers. Do -- it`s my understanding that a woman would take her head scarf off, say, in front of her children, where she would not -- in front of her grown children, where she would not take her blouse off in front of her grown children. That is right, isn`t it? That`s not exactly the same as a blouse.



REHAB: But in public, in public in front of men to whom she`s not married, if it`s not her husband or her father or brother, no male member of her family is present, she does not remove her scarf at all.

CARLSON: Here`s the bottom line.

REHAB: And if she tells the officer not to remove the scarf because she has it on for religious reasons, then that officer has to respect her civil right to dress the way she wants and to practice her religion because she`s not...

CARLSON: You can say that all you want. I can say, "I`m carrying my sacred handgun. And to take it away from me, you`d be violating my religious rights." And you know what I mean? "I`m going to sue you."

OK, fine. But the cops are still going to say, look, that`s a threat to my safety. I`m sorry. You may say that`s your religious right, but I feel it`s a threat. OK? So you know, we have conflicting interests.

REHAB: See, that`s the difference...

CARLSON: And in a secular society the secular interest, the interest of safety wins. I`m sorry.

REHAB: You can argue -- you can argue that a woman covering her breasts is a religious thing to do or a secular thing to do. And we`re not going to get into details of why a person does what they do.

If they decide -- if a woman decides to conceal a certain part of her body, she has a right to that self-determination. You cannot take that away from her. No police officer can take that away from her.

If we are concerned about security, then I`ll ask you this. Why not remove her boots? Her boots are harder than her head scarf. It is a soft clothing on her head that does not present any peril or danger to anyone.

CARLSON: I don`t know. I`m not a cop and I guess you`re not either. That seems to be the policy developed, presumably for a good reason over a good number of years, because there are threats that you emanate from people`s head covering.

REHAB: That is not true. The policy is that they pat down -- they pat down on people`s clothes. They do not remove people`s clothings. It`s never happened before.

CARLSON: Just one closing piece of advice: as a civil rights hero, I think this woman -- I mean, it`s hard to hold her up as an example if she just pleaded guilty to punching the cop. It makes the case -- not to give you unsolicited advice, but less compelling.

REHAB: That`s half the story. That`s half the story, Tucker, because it was a plea bargain, and they dropped charges.

CARLSON: OK. I`m just saying it`s hard to make her Rosa Parks if she`s running around hitting cops. Just my view.

REHAB: She`s not trying to make herself a Rosa Parks. She`s trying to say, "I`m a woman, and I have a right to maintain my head scarf if I so want it on my head.

CARLSON: All right.

REHAB: No one can remove it from me.

CARLSON: Not in America, as far as I`m concerned. But you know...

REHAB: She`s an American citizen practicing her American civil rights.

CARLSON: All right.

REHAB: She wears those. When she`s having a head scarf on her head, she`s being and American practicing her civil rights.

CARLSON: OK. Until she punches a cop. But we`ve had this argument. We have to stop now. Mr. Rehab, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.

REHAB: Thank you. Not a problem.



copyright © 2006, MSNBC


 
Feature # 57

Call State’s Attorney and Mayor to Urge Drop of Charges for Muslim Girl Whose Hijab was Ripped Off at an Immigrant’s Rights Protest

CAIR-Chicago is urging everyone to call the State’s Attorney and the Mayor of Arlington Heights and tell them that you support the Anti-Minutemen 5, and that the charges should be dropped. No one should be prosecuted for peacefully protesting. Additionally, please voice your concern over the inappropriate treatment of the only hijab-wearing Muslim at the protest. Below is the contact information of the State’s Attorney’s Office and the mayor of Arlington Heights:

State’s Attorney’s Office: 847-818-2326

Arlene Mulder
Mayor of Arlington Heights
847-368-5105
847-368-5100

We need hundreds of phone calls to go out in the next 6 days!! Please call everyday and encourage all the people you know to do the same. Information on the case is below:

CAIR-Chicago is urging everyone to respond to an egregious case of police misconduct against Rehana Khan, a Muslim girl who had her headscarf (hijab) ripped off after she and several others were arrested while protesting at a rally for immigrant rights. Rehana was also searched in the presence of a male officer and placed into lockup without her hijab.

The 5 protestors who were arrested (now known as the Anti-Minutemen 5) are activists who were arrested in Arlington Heights on October 15, 2005 at a peaceful protest against a racist, anti-immigrant vigilante group called the Minutemen. They are now facing trumped up charges and up to 4 years in jail.

With only a few days left until trial begins for the Anti-Minutemen defendants, CAIR-Chicago is urging everyone to flood the State’s Attorney and Mayor's offices with phone calls


 
Feature # 56

Americans Demand Immigration Reform

Last year, the United States House of Representatives passed enforcement heavy immigration reform legislation, HR 4437, which seeks to:
  • Criminalize both undocumented individuals and those who work to give them any aid, essentially criminalizing doctors, lawyers, teachers and religious figures
  • Limit judicial review for immigration and deportation cases
  • Give low level and local law enforcement authority to enforce immigration laws
  • Permit indefinite detention of accused persons
  • And many more alarming provisions
The Senate version of the bill has been under heavy debate since it was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the end of March. Compromises fell short of the votes needed for cloture and immigration reform remains unreformed until Congress reconvenes. The bill currently on the Senate floor contains heavy enforcement provisions and also:
  • Calls for an increase in enforcement personnel at the borders
  • Criminalizes mistakes in completing immigration forms, including I-9 forms for employment
  • Bars people who make errors from legalization
  • Includes language that would expand the range of offenses and trigger automatic deportation without other legal recourses
  • Provides local law enforcement officials with the ability to enforce immigration laws
  • Broader provisions of detentions that includes asylum-seekers and long- term legal immigrants
  • Limits who can apply for legalization and when they can get it
ACTION REQUESTED:

Call Senator Durbin and Senator Obama and encourage them to continue supporting legislation that includes a path to legalization and a realistic fix to the broken system. Ask for legislation that:
  • Allows an earned path to legalization for immigrants through working, paying taxes, and learning English
  • Measures that regulate wages and working conditions to protect workers from exploitation
  • Promotes a way to keep families together
  • Does not characterize undocumented immigrants and those that work with them as felons
  • Ensures due process by allowing people their day in court
Say NO to indefinite detentions

It is very simple! When you call, the operator will ask for:
  1. your name
  2. Zip code
  3. your comment
Senator Durbin’s office: 312 353-4952

Senator Obama’s office: 312 886-3506

For more information, contact CAIR-Chicago's Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org or at 312-212-1520.



Copyright (C) 2006 CAIR-Chicago


 
Feature # 55

Internships at CAIR-Chicago

Communications Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Communications Director on the following:
  • Work on pieces that deconstruct sensational and biased coverage of issues pertinent to Muslims and Islam. The purpose is to flag such pieces, to highlight their inaccuracies, and to offer thoughtful analyses that diffuse misconceptions.
  • Students work will be published and featured in a variety of ways:
    1. Published as letters to the editor and as perspective pieces in Chicago's main newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, Daily Herald, and Daily Southtown
    2. Submitted to fourteen community newspapers published by the Southwest News Messenger
    3. Published on the CAIR-Chicago website as well as other well-traversed websites such as Media Monitors (archived by Google)
    4. Featured in the upcoming Chicago Media Review Blog (to be launched in October)
The targeted audience of these pieces is the general American public readers of the main Chicagoland newspapers and web surfers. Journalism students preferred.

Community Service Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on the following:

  • Assist in Recruiting volunteers
  • Conduct presentations on the importance of volunteerism and existing volunteer opportunities at CAIR-Chicago
  • Coordinate volunteers and liaisons as needed
  • Plan and coordinate community service events with other organizations
  • Plan and coordinate social outings for volunteers
  • Assist in developing volunteer gear
  • Follow-up on new volunteer applications using SmartFTP (training will be provided)
  • Maintain Online Volunteer Center blackboard (training will be provided)
  • Manage the Muslims Care project: a national initiative that promotes volunteerism, as well as update the Muslims Care website.
The ideal candidate should be friendly, outgoing, and demonstrate strong leadership skills. Candidate should also be self-motivated and possess excellent oral and written communications skills.

Governmental Relations Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Governmental Relations Coordinator in the analysis of complex local, state, and federal level political issues as they pertain to the Chicagoland Muslim Community. S/he will also assist in the following as each pertains to the community:

  • Voter mobilization of the local Muslim population
  • Outreach to Muslim and non-Muslim community organizations
  • The development of effective relationships with publicly elected officials
  • Research, data collection, and analysis of voting records/patterns for the Muslim community
The Intern would also partake in workshops that help community members understand and utilize the political system, "Know Your Rights" educational campaigns, and civic training of future leaders at mosques and Muslim centers.

Grant Research Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Executive Director and the Outreach Coordinator on the following:

  • Research grants online and at Donors Forum
  • Create a database with grant information
  • Create an Events Portfolio for all of CAIR-Chicago's past events
  • Maintain Events database and files
Marketing Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on the following:
  • Design promotional materials for different events and different audiences
  • Publicize CAIR-Chicago events
  • Post events to appropriate websites and list serves
  • Manage the CAIR-Chicago Publicity Committee
  • Assist in coordinating events
  • Maintain relevant outreach databases and files
The ideal candidate should be community-oriented, self-motivated, organized, multi-tasked and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks. The ideal candidate will possess excellent oral and written communications skills, the ability to work quickly and well under pressure, and a commitment to serving the community. Candidate must have excellent critical thinking and visual skills. Marketing students preferred.

Operations Intern:

Operations Intern will work closely with the Operations Coordinator on the following:
  • Data entry
  • Maintaining and keeping the various databases up-to-date
  • Research
  • Administrative and IT related tasks
Public Education Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on the following:
  • Create educational material on Islam and Muslims
  • Conduct workshops on Islam and Muslims at elementary schools and high schools
  • Coordinate CPDU workshops for educators
  • Create a speaker's bureau database on topics relating to Islam
  • Assist in educating and mobilizing the Muslim Community on relevant issues
  • Assist in setting up for-credit internships for university students and complete necessary paperwork
The ideal candidate should be organized, multi-tasked and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks. The ideal candidate will possess excellent oral and written communications skills as well as the ability to do extensive research. Candidate should be familiar with excel, access and Microsoft PowerPoint. Education, Middle Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies majors preferred.

Public Relations Intern:

Intern will work closely with the Outreach Coordinator on the following:
  • Research organizations that overlap with CAIR-Chicago in scope
  • Meet with representatives of various organizations in the Chicagoland area
  • Conduct Intro to CAIR-Chicago presentations
  • Create a speaker's bureau database on topics relating to Islam
  • Maintain Online Partners Page
The ideal candidate should be friendly, outgoing and self-motivated. Candidate must have excellent written communications skills.

Church Project Intern:

The Church Project, a new initiative, seeks to build bridges of communication and dialogue between the Muslim community and other Chicago religious communities.

Intern will work closely with the Communications Director on the following:
  • Assist in public speaking engagements at different religious centers in Chicago
  • Research Chicago religious communities and current religious and political issues on the international, national, and local levels
  • Speech writing
  • Community relations
The ideal candidate should be knowledgeable about international, national, and local religious and political issues, and comparative religion. The ideal candidate should also have experience and comfort with public speaking, engaging with diverse faith perspectives, and articulating a Muslim faith perspective.

Faith Core Online Magazine Intern

Faith Core, a new biweekly journal, seeks to provide an open forum for thinkers of diverse backgrounds to share faith-based reflections on a common theme.

Intern will work closely with the Communications Director on the following:
  • Editing and soliciting articles to be published in Faith Core
  • Community relations
The ideal candidate should possess excellent written communication skills, and should be knowledgeable about comparative religion and contemporary religious issues.

**Please note: our Civil Rights internships are filled for the summer. If you are a law student or an undergraduate student who would like to intern/extern with our Civil Rights Department, feel free to for our Fall semester.

All internships are unpaid. Applicants need to email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: outreach@cairchicago.org. Applications are accepted through June 1st. Internship start dates are scheduled per each intern's schedule. Minimum hours per week: 12.


 
Feature # 54

Suburban students launch project to bring Jews and Muslims together

Born in Belarus and raised in Buffalo Grove, surrounded by Jewish immigrants like himself, Jacob Katz grew up knowing little of Islam and less of Muslims.

Television shows and movies taught Sharif Murphy about Judaism, a lesson the Muslim man from Hoffman Estates knew was incomplete.

Naperville’s Julia Geynisman tired of watching Jewish and Muslim students clash, driven by tensions rooted thousands of miles away in the Middle East.

Together, these University of Illinois at Chicago students are trying to unravel the knot of conflict among Jews and Muslims one conversation at a time.

Katz, Murphy and Geynisman are among the suburban students trying to get students at the Chicago campus talking about what they share, rather than shouting about what they don’t.

Called Jewish American Muslim Students, the group brings together students of all faiths for cultural films, Middle Eastern dinners and tonight for a play called “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey” that chronicles a day in the life of a Palestinian Internet cafe owner and an Israeli disc jockey. By hanging out, organizers say, students may begin to see each other as people — not Jewish or Muslim, not Arab or Israeli — but just people.

“I feel there’s a need for a solution in the Middle East,” said Geynisman, a 19-year-old sophomore from Naperville. “I feel the only way I can contribute is to, little by little, open the minds of students around me on campus.”

With a population exceeding 15,000 students, more than half of whom are ethnic minorities, many experts say the University of Illinois at Chicago is a fitting laboratory.

“UIC had a history of very negative and sometimes violent interactions between Jews and Arabs,” said professor Rachel Havrelock, who works with the Jewish and Muslim student group. Such rancor eased during recent years. Still, a divide persists along religious and cultural lines, a divide Havrelock and her band of students hope to bridge.

“They are ready for this key moment in their lives to investigate some traditional biases they perhaps grew up with,” Havrelock said.

What begins on campus need not stay there, said community leaders of both faiths. This new push by Jewish and Muslim students adds to interfaith initiatives around Chicago and the suburbs.

“The truth of the matter is there are not enough of those discussions,” said Emily Soloff, director of Chicago’s American Jewish Committee.

As the Middle East remains locked in struggle, such discussions grow even more important.

“It’s a good starting point, but it should definitely not be where the dialogue ends,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago. “The goal is to build enough trust where the two groups can talk about issues that are very important to both of them.”

That’s where faith comes in.

Murphy enlisted in the group and a class titled “Judaism and Islam: Interactions and Intersections” with two goals: to learn more about the Jewish faith and, in turn, teach others about his faith, Islam.

Ask him what he’s learned and Murphy talks about the importance of Israel as a country and a religious site and the distinct branches of Judaism.

Katz, on the other hand, is quick to share a newfound knowledge about the Islamic prophet Mohammed and a shared focus on one God and one Holy Land.

“They have a lot in common,” said Katz, who said. “They are not designed as contra forces.”

If finding common ground is the first step, then pointing it out to others comes next, a far more difficult task, said Hana Koussa, a 21-year-old junior from Carol Stream.

“There’s a lot of people out there who don’t want to give their blessings on these things,” said Koussa, who is Muslim. “I think it’s a promising thing, but it’s also very difficult at times.”

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Feature # 53

CAIR-Chicago Organizes 2nd Annual Lecture Series on Islam

CAIR-Chicago is organizing a series of introductory level lectures on Islam with Elderhostel on a program titled Building Bridges to Islam. The goal of this series is to offer citizens of the Chicagoland area an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of Islam, as well as to interact with members of their local Muslim communities.

CAIR Chicago's Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, will coordinate the program.

There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America today and nearly 2,000 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers across the country. Indeed, Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, yet it is often perplexing to outsiders. Is the image of Muslims we see in the media the true face of Islam? What is it like to be a Muslim in the United States today? We answer these questions and more as we gain an introduction to Islam and examine the faith, cultures and traditions it has created.

In addition, we highlight the history and struggles of American-Muslims and discuss the commonalities among Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Finally, a panel discussion helps clarify the commonly misunderstood aspects of Islam, such as the rights of women, jihad, and democracy. As a special privilege, guests will have an opportunity to tour the mosque, observe noon prayer, and enjoy a Middle Eastern lunch.

"This is a wonderful experience for everyone involved; the feedback we're getting from the audience is heartwarming," Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago and the program's administrator said. "They come to us with a burning curiosity and a a sincere desire to understand; in turn, we try to candidly address all their questions, and to leave no controversial topic untouched. This is the sort of community-driven initiative that America needs more of at this juncture in our history."

The program will take place at the Islamic Center of Des Plaines, at 480 Potter Road, Des Plaines, 60016 on every Wednesday from April 5 to May 10

More

see Press Release for Elderhostel Event


 

Feature # 52

Ann Coulter Gets $22,500 from Loyola's Students Activity Fund for Campus Speech

Diverse Coalition of Loyola Student Organizations Holds Same Day Event to Counter Hatemongering

On Thursday, March 23, 2006, the Loyola Student Coalition Against Bigotry (LSCAB) is holding a peaceful rally and rebuttal against controversial speaker Ann Coulter, who is scheduled to speak about “Liberal Lies about the Conservative Right” on the Loyola Lakeshore campus at 7pm, that same day. The LSCAB event, entitled “United Together Against Hate,” will be held directly outside her speech venue at Loyola’s Halas Field beginning at 5pm.

What: United Together Against Hate – The Ann Coulter Counter Event
When: Thursday, March 23, 2006, 5PM – 7PM (Contact us for a full itinerary of speakers/time)
Where: Loyola Lakeshore Campus - Loyola’s Halas Field
Who: Loyola Student Coalition against Bigotry (LSCAB) & A Host of Chicago Activists

Ann Coulter, who was invited by the Loyola College Republicans, is a highly controversial speaker, whose rhetoric directly marginalizes people of color, women, immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims, Middle-Easterners, and the poor. Her message does not reflect any of the ideals of the university’s Jesuit Catholic tradition, which values diversity, learning, justice, community, and faith. Yet, she is being provided with $22,500 from the Loyola’s Students’ Activity Fund, despite a petition signed by more than 1000 Loyola students and countless efforts to try to rescind Coulter’s invitation.

The LSCAB, a coalition of many diverse groups on campus, including the Loyola Anti-War Network, the Muslim Students’ Association, Hillel, Amnesty International, Loyola Students Against Sweatshops, the Feminist Forum, the South Asian Students’ Alliance, the Turkish International Club, and the Loyola Vegan Society, is uniting with the support of external groups, such as Illinois Peace Action, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Military Families Speak Out, the World Can’t Wait campaign, the West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace, and the SPACE Collective, to take a stand against Coulter’s message of hate and bigotry.

Together, they wish to provide an alternative for students and an outlet for more tolerant opinions. The LSCAB also wishes to uphold the standards and values that they believe are the foundation of the university. As Americans, we champion freedom of speech, however, that freedom should not be exploited on a campus by outside forces whose agenda marginalizes and demonizes many of our very own students on the premises of their second home.

The counter event will include speakers who will represent a variety of different perspectives on issues of race, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, etc. These include Ahmed Rehab from the Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Bishop Wilkowski from the Church of the Holy Family, Ginger Williams from Military Families Speak Out, and many more. Food will also be served, and entertainment provided.

CONTACT: Ellen Rebman, Coordinator, Loyola Student Coalition Against Bigotry (LSCAB) erebman@luc.edu Phone: 630-267-0574; or Farah Khan 847-722-2355 fkhan6@luc.edu


Click to see Counter-Coulter Rally Ads

Click to View Statement Released to the Press


 
Feature # 51

Executive Director to Graduate CAIR-Chicago

Yaser Tabbara, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director is set to vacate the position effective April 1st, 2006. Yaser has been in the position since August of 2004, a period which has witnessed tremendous growth and success for the organization.

Tabbara joined the organization as its only staff member when it was operating out of a small room in Hickory Hills. Today, the organization is housed in a spacious downtown office and is comprised of 6 fulltime staff members, 22 interns, and over 30 active volunteers. CAIR-Chicago’s annual budget has expanded considerably to help the staff meet the growing need of the community’s civil rights, media, governmental relations, and outreach work.

“I fully agree with Yaser when he credits our rapid success to the support of the community, after the grace of God,” said Ahmed Rehab, current Director of Communications and incoming Executive Director, “but I would be remiss if I failed to recognize Yaser’s unique contribution to this success in the form of his unflinching leadership.”

“Yaser has long advocated building institutions that last beyond individuals. He has been a vociferous advocate of cultivating the right talent for the right job within an organizational business model that is self-sufficient, systematic, and robust.”

“During the past year and a half, Yaser has inspired me and others with his vision and resolve,” said Rehab. “Since we joined forces with Safaa Zarzour, Chairman of the Board, and the CAIR-Chicago team, we have made it our goal to build a professional institution with streamlined processes and measurable, attainable milestones. Yaser has helped us do just that, and now he feels it is time for him to move on. It has been a great run.”

An attorney by trade, Tabbara brought to CAIR-Chicago a solid track record of community activism. Yaser was the coordinator of the Iraq project at DePaul University College of Law, where he worked on rebuilding the legal education system in Iraq under the direction of Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni. Prior to that, Yaser initiated the Post 9/11 Immigrant Legal Rights Project at the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center, where he provided free and low-cost legal representation, as well as outreach and education on immigration law and civil liberties to our community.

“Our community is fortunate to have committed members like Yaser Tabbara who put every iota of their concentration into the professional activism that they administer on its behalf,” said Safaa Zarzour. “When we hired Yaser, he made it clear, that his goal was to help get the institution up on its two feet and then move on, and I have watched him work tirelessly towards that end. On behalf of our board, staff, and constituents, I thank him for his invaluable services.”

Tabbara will remain on CAIR-Chicago’s board; he has not yet decided what his next professional move will be.


 

Feature # 50

Prayer Vigil in Support of a Fair and Open Hearing for Muhammad Salah

March 6, 2006

On Monday March 6th, CAIR-Chicago and community members attended a vigil at the Chicago Federal Plaza to peacefully protest the closed hearings determining the admissibility of torture induced confessions in the Muhammad Salah case. Over one hundred participants attended, showing their support for Muhammad Salah and his family despite the cold and wet conditions outside during the weekday vigil. The vigil took place from 10am to Noon, as community members and activists walked silently around the center of the plaza carrying signs of protest and white balloons.

Inside the Chicago Federal Plaza, witnesses were providing secret testimony about torture obtained evidence against Salah in a closed court session, an instance that adds to the long list of civil rights abuses that Muhammad Salah and his family has endured over the last seven years.

Channel 2 News, Channel 7, Fox News, and the Chicago Sun-Times brought media representatives to cover the Salah vigil. As a legal precendent, the Salah case stands in gross violation of the U.S. Constitution, and threatens the rights of Muslims, minorities, and all American citizens in the United States.

See Photos from the Event


 
Feature # 49

CAIR-Chicago's Digest on the Prophet Cartoons

February 23, 2006

The Danish Cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad have commanded world headlines for the past few weeks. Below is a digest of CAIR-Chicago’s community and media activism in response to this controversy:

News Links:

Press Conference Photos
February 18, 2006

CAIR-Chicago Ahmed Rehab's Dialogue with the Chicago Tribune's Eriz Zorn
February 22, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Islamic group tackles cartoon controversy
February 19, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Muhammad topic of campaign
February 19, 2006

Daily Herald: Calm forum on issue steeped in violence
February 19, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Debate heats up about Muhammad cartoons on campus
February 16, 2006

Chicago Tribune: NIU newspaper latest to join fray over Danish cartoons
February 15, 2006

Daily Illini: Quad rally denounces hate
February 15, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Paper apologizes after cartoon flap
February 14, 2006

Daily Illini: Controversial cartoons spark debate at U. Illinois
February 13, 2006

Chicago Tribune: From Morton Grove, a call for calm in wake of a Muslim storm
February 11, 2006

Chicago Tribune: The perspective of a Western Muslim
February 9, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Ahmed Rehab on the Rusty Humphries Show: Addressing the Cartoon Issue and Muslims in America
February 8, 2006

KKMS AM 980 Minnesota: Ahmed Rehab Takes on Randall Terry on Cartoon Controversy
February 7, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Anti-cartoon riots ignite in Beirut
February 6, 2006

Chicago Tribune: How cartoons sparked violence
February 6, 2006

Daily Herald: ‘Islamaphobia is replacing anti-Semitism’
February 3, 2006

Chicago Public Radio: Yaser Tabbara Comments on Cartoon Controversy
February 3, 2006

Events:

CAIR-Chicago Communications Director to Give Khuthba At DePaul University
February 24, 2006

CAIR-Chicago Director of Communications to address Legal and Logical Considerations of the Prophet Cartoons
February 21, 2006

Director of Communications to address UIUC Cartoon Controversy Forum
February 14, 2006


 

Feature # 48

Daily Illini: Quad rally denounces hate

February 15, 2006

A coalition of more than 15 organizations and community members at large held a peaceful demonstration on the main quad Tuesday in response to the six Danish cartoons printed in the Daily Illini last Thursday.

"The demonstration was to illustrate two points," said Reem Rahman, junior in LAS and communications director of the University's Council on American-Islamic Relations. "First to show that we were all united under a peaceful cause against all forms of hatred, and second to educate each other that all religious figures are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of diversity of faith."

Shaz Kaiseruddin, Muslim Student Association president and graduate student, said the demonstration was part of a larger initiative geared towards promoting open dialogue.

Various members from the community showed their support.

Stacy Coleman, a Christian who is a member of the Muslim Women's Outreach, said the Muslims' heart and purpose were in the right place.

"I wanted to support a peaceful effort to communicate why so much that has happened is hurtful to Muslims," she said. "Perhaps by my presence there, as someone who is not a Muslim by appearance, may cause other non-Muslims to stop and reconsider preconceptions they may have that are not grounded in truth."

John Hudson, visiting lecturer in the Intensive English Institute, said the demonstrators were getting their message across in a peaceful and reasonable way.

"I'm all for that," Hudson said.

Throughout the demonstration, there were about ten speakers from the campus and the community, giving prepared statements or their personal reactions, Rahman said. She estimated about 120 people were present.

Carol Inskeep, librarian at the Urbana Free Public Library, said she had been concerned about the perception of Muslim people in the U.S. ever since Sept. 11.

"Our government has been violating the civil liberties of Muslims living in our country and increasing this climate of stereotyping," Inskeep said. "We need to stop sowing hatred and misunderstanding and think about what's actually going to promote education and the public good."

Mobin Shorish, emeritus in comparative education and economics of education, agreed good learning cannot take place in a hostile environment.

"The cartoons go against the mission of the University," Shorish said.

In addition to the crowd of supporters there were neutral University administrators who refused to comment and outspoken protesters against the demonstration.

Leo Buchignani, senior in Communications, acting privately, read from the Quran translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, "The Sword of the Prophet" by Serge Trifkovic and "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" by Robert Spencer, projecting loudly from the patio to be heard over the speakers.

"A bunch of people gathered to protest against free expression of the truth about Islam," Buchignani said, who said he had been extensively researching Islam. "So I arrived to express the truth about Islam, lest otherwise people think the Muslims were right, and nobody dared contradict them."

Buchignani was joined by friend Marcin Kulis, junior in LAS, who held up a blown-up cartoon of Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

"When what everyone 'knows' is so far from the truth, the best one can do is state the truth boldly and hope it begins a process of change," Buchignani said.

Kulis said the best way to protest was showing the cartoons, and he chose the particular one because it was the specific cartoon that Muslims worldwide took offense to.

"Muslims are trying to intimidate us into not expressing our natural rights," Kulis said. "That is why the New York Times and the Washington Post decided not to publish the articles, because the reaction worldwide has been so extreme, even deadly, that they have silenced our presses. As long as I live, I will never be silenced."

The crowd reacted to the portrayal of Muhammad's enlarged cartoon.

"That makes me really angry right now," said Moein Khawaja, an alumna who graduated in December 2005. "But then again he has a right to do it, just as we do. To me, that man standing right there with the poster is racist."

Kulis said he was surprised with the amount of ignorant statements he heard about racism.

"Race is the physical appearance of a human, not what they believe," Kulis said.

A lecture by Ahmed Rehab, communications director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was the second part of the agenda to promote open dialogue.

Rehab shared his analogy of the Muslims' reaction to the Danish cartoons.

During his lecture, Rehab said if the Statue of Liberty had been defaced, Americans would have protested. If the Eiffel Tower was vandalized, the French would be more than upset, because it is an emblem of a nation. It's not just a statue. It's not just a tower. Likewise, Rehab said, it's not just a cartoon.

"He was excellent on conveying the larger complexity of the issue of Islamophobia," Kaiseruddin said.


Copyright (C) 2006 Daily Illini


 
Feature # 47

CAIR-Chicago hosts its second Annual Event

February 4, 2006

CAIR-Chicago, after planning diligently for the last few months, hosted its Second Annual Event at the Sabre Room in Hickory Hills on Saturday, February 4, 2006. Despite the bad weather, a full capacity crowd of 850 people were in attendance, including the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Distinguished Professor of Law and President of the International Human Rights Law Institute Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Chicago Park Commissioner Rouhy Shalabi, Assistant Minority Leader in the General Assembly Senator Steve Rauschenberger, Sheriff of DuPage County John Zaruba, as well as candidates running for local and national offices.

The emcee, comedian and attorney Azhar Usman, engaged the audience with his stand up comedy as this year’s theme, “Pro-Activism: Set Your Own Tracks” ran strong throughout the program.

The lights were dimmed and the crowd became silent as a documentary was projected onto two screens. Created by Director of Communications Ahmed Rehab and volunteer film student Felix Pineiro, the short video emphasized the foundation CAIR-Chicago has set for itself and the Muslim community in the past year alone. Staff, interns, volunteers, clients, and leaders of other organizations spoke of their personal connection with CAIR-Chicago. “Film is a seldom explored medium in the Muslim community. We have a lot of important human stories that are untold except through statistics or bland news briefs,” said Ahmed Rehab. “It’s high time we gave a platform for the intellectual and emotional expressions of our community: our troubles, our fears, our aspirations, our victories. This film was a humble attempt at breaking that ground for this community.”

Professor Sulayman Nyang, Chair of African Studies at Howard University, delivered the keynote address emphasizing the importance of the Chicagoland Muslim community as its fast growth has made it one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. The address further reinforced the message that Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham and Ahmed Rehab emphasized earlier in the program in their organizational report: the importance of institutionalizing Muslim activism.

Executive Director Yaser Tabbara surprised the audience by doing something a bit out of the ordinary: he invited the staff, board members, volunteers and interns on stage. “I wanted to show our community that we are on the right track; we are establishing an institution. CAIR-Chicago isn’t just an organization comprised of a few people; it is an institution made up of activists and individuals who genuinely care about our community and want to help,” explained Tabbara.

Standing behind CAIR-National Executive Director Nihad Awad who delivered the second address, the CAIR-Chicago team received a standing ovation from the audience. “Looking around at the people who were standing on stage with me gave me a sense of pride. I was and am proud of the institution that CAIR-Chicago has become,” commented Outreach Coorindator Dina Rehab, “in the end, it isn’t about who does what. It’s the fact that we do it together, as a team.”

Shaikh Jamal Said of The Mosque Foundation began the fundraising portion of the program, reminded the audience again about the work CAIR-Chicago has done for the Muslim Community and what it can do in the future. As the night came to an end, people dug deep into their pockets, giving whatever they could. “This event was a chance to show people what we’ve done so far,” said Operations Coordinator Sabah Ahmed, “we’ve worked toward setting a proactive track for the Muslim community and tonight we were able to show everyone the hard work our staff and volunteers have put in.”


 

Feature # 46

Question and Answer Session on Civil Rights and Liberties Held at Al-Huda Mosque

January 28, 2006

On Saturday, January 28, 2006, CAIR-Chicago, with other member organizations of the Civil Liberties Coalition of Illinois (CLCI) held a question and answer session on civil rights and liberties at Al-Huda Mosque in Schaumburg. Congresswoman Melissa Bean was invited to address her constituency but she did not attend and did not have a representative at the meeting. Bean (D), the 8th Congressional District U.S. House member, voted for the Patriot Act Conference Report in December 2005 though her constituency has expressed their opposition powers the legislation grants. The public forum was held to inform the 8th congressional district constituency of the status of their rights and liberties as well as provide an opportunity for residents to ask Congresswoman Bean about her position on civil rights and liberties. A panel of six speakers addressed the audience of the PATRIOT Act’s impact. “Individuals, law-abiding businessmen and women, academics, and other professionals, citizens of this country with no criminal background are questioned, strip searched, and criminalized for no other reason except that they are Arab and/or Muslim,” said CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham when talking about the impact of the PATRIOT Act on American Muslims.

The absence of Congresswoman Bean or a representative from her office made the question and answer session as especially educating one for her constituency, as many of them expressed their dissatisfaction with her voting patterns since she was elected to office in 2004. Congresswoman Bean voted for the REAL ID Act last year, which mandates a federally approved ID card for access to travel on airplanes, open bank accounts, and enter government owned facilities. In addition, she has voted for HR 4437, immigration legislation that passes stringent regulations on immigrants and provides virtually unchecked power to low level law enforcement agents. “It is our duty to bring light to such issues so that voters, when electing representatives, are able to make an informed decision” said Sadiya Ahmed, CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator. “Given the upcoming vote on the troubling provisions of the PATRIOT Act, it is incumbent on us, as concerned citizens, to speak publicly about what we feel needs to be done.”

Member organizations of the CLCI include: CAIR-Chicago, The American Civil Liberties Union, Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Cook County Bar Association, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Japanese American Citizens League, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Muslim Bar Association, Muslim Civil Rights Center, National Lawyers Guild, and Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO).


 
Feature # 45

McHenry County Jail Reflection - by Mariyam Hussain

January 24, 2006

McHenry County Jail, which is located in Woodstock, IL, lies about an hour and half away from Chicago. The complex houses government offices and the jail itself, which accommodates offenders and approximately 250 immigration detainees. It was at this site, and in the custody of government and I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials that Hassiba Belbachir, a young Muslim woman, was found dead in March 2005. Although Belbachir spoke to her sister the same morning, and promised to speak to her later that day, the government cited suicide as a cause of death, and, with no further investigation, the case was shut. Doctors and Belbachir’s family, however, disagree with the ruling, and are taking legal action to uncover what really happened that day.

It was this same detention center that I went to as a volunteer for a human rights group's “Know Your Rights” session. Although I have been working on CAIR-Chicago’s Prison Project for the last 3 months, this was my first step into a United States detention center. There were four fairly large sections filled with I.C.E. detainees, about sixty people per section. Each section has a large concrete, two story open space in the middle, complete with plastic chairs and tables, various books, and board games. Detainees’ cells overlooked this drab makeshift courtyard, void of windows and fresh air. The officer who accompanied us pointed out the ‘outdoor courtyard’, a small triangular room, complete with solid walls and ceilings, air filtering through the bars of the only windows I saw in the jail. These roo