Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio: Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes in Chicago
Ahmed Rehab talks to Flashpoints' Solange Etcheverriez on Pacifica National Radio about anti-Muslim hate crimes in Chicago. He argues that the public discourse on Islam in this country is problematic as it only defines and analyzes Islam and Muslims through their perceived problem areas while hardly ever recognizing the many positive realities of their daily lives. This perpetual intertwinement between Islam and violent conflict - whether it be terrorism or wars - as reported through the media leaves a negative imprint on the minds of audiences which can induce contempt in the hearts of the susceptible and, in turn, possibly evolve into discriminative activity or even hate crimes against Muslims.
Threatening Calls to Muslim Couple
Spark FBI Probe
The FBI is investigating racist and threatening phone calls to a Muslim couple in Chicago Ridge, a national advocacy group official said Friday.
"About three weeks ago, this unidentified man started calling the family and basically making threats, saying that if you don't move from my neighborhood, I will kill you, I will shoot you and your son," said Yaser Tabbara, executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Tabbara said his organization issued a statement to make the FBI and other agencies "more responsive" and to put the matter "under spotlight."
"That makes them take this as seriously as we would want them to take it," he said. "We believe we did this in the best interest of the victim."
Tabbara said the wife is a Latina and Muslim who has lived in the United States for at least 12 years. The husband is a Muslim from the Middle East who drives a cab and has lived here for about 20 years. Both are U.S. citizens, he said, adding that they have a young son and have lived in Chicago Ridge for four years.
Daily Northwestern: Reaction to Attacks Raised Questions of Identity
The tendency to lump all Muslims into one monolith is alarming, said Ahmed Rehab, director of communications for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. It's important to remember that fewer than 20 percent of Muslims worldwide are Arab, he said.
"I think the majority of Americans are reasonable people," said Rehab, CAIR's director of communications. "Education can remove ignorance or malice they might have."
Many organizations began initiatives following Sept. 11 to clarify the differences between religious and political ideals.
This year, CAIR started running day-long workshops through local mosques to acquaint people with Islam through discussions and prayers. Islam was misunderstood partially because Muslims did not engage discussion in their communities, a trend that is slowly changing as Muslims are becoming more "vociferous about their religion publicly," Rehab said.
"If it's not Sept. 11, there's always something," she said. "There's always a reason."
But education still can make a difference, Rehab said.
"We won't see this end, but we can minimize the harassment of Muslims in airports and in public, and we can help erase the ignorance and malice," Rehab said.
Mission Accomplished: Organizing the Orland Park Community
The significance of our recent organizing effort in Orland Park is apparent in the numbers. Before the pilot project in Orland Park, approximately 700 Muslim voters were registered in the village; after the mobilization, approximately 1,000 eligible Muslim voters, a 40% increase, are registered. Of approximately 9,000 voters who go to the polls in the average mayoral election in the village, approximately 1,000, or 11.1%, of the potential average voting population for local elections is now American Muslim. In a contested race, 11.1% is a significant percentage of the total average voting population and can swing an election toward or away from a candidate. In the April 5 election, the CAIR-Chicago volunteer corps in Orland Park directly organized and mobilized approximately 150 Muslim households to the polls through door-to-door volunteers and a simultaneous phone banking operation.
CAIR-Chicago’s Governmental Relations Department will continue to organize pockets of Muslim communities in Chicagoland and is looking forward to using the lessons learned in Orland Park as the archetype for continued successful organizing efforts around the city. With regard to the continued mobilization efforts, Director of Governmental Relations, Fadi Farhan, stated, “There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims living in Chicagoland; we must utilize the ethnic and racial diversity of our community to our collective advantage. If the goal is real political empowerment, then this is the next necessary step for the community. Organization and its subsequent power are within our community’s reach.”
RECENT CASES 4/19/05:
- A man who had previously filed and won a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been repeatedly suspended from employment at a Wisconsin public school district.
- A Muslim man was repeatedly subjected to racist remarks regarding Arabs and Muslims by a supervisor and co-workers. Comments made by co-workers included introducing the victim as “the resident terrorist” of the company.
- A private investment bank closed the account of an Illinois Muslim charity without reason.
- A Muslim man overheard several courthouse employees making racist discriminatory remarks about Arabs and Muslims.
CAIR-Chicago to Conduct Media Workshop at DePaul University
April 21, 2005
Director of Communcations, Ahmed Rehab, will conduct a media workshop for DePaul University students in conjunction with UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead) student group.
The workshop will offer tips and best practices on monitoring and interacting with the media - a crucial skill for Muslims in this time and place. This is the second campus media workshop
following an early April workshop at Benedictine University in Lisle.
WHAT - Media Workshop for Students
WHERE - DePaul University, 3rd floor of the student center building, Lincoln Park 2250 N. Sheffield
WHEN - April 21, 2005 @ 5.00PM
Director of Communications to Guest Lecture at Roosevelt University on Muslims and the Media
April 25, 2005
Ahmed Rehab, Director of Communications, will present in a two-hour guest lecture to the students and staff of Roosevelt University's Departments of Communication & Journalism. Rehab alongside Rami Nashashibi of IMAN and Noreen Ahmadullah of the Chicago Tribune, will discuss ways in which journalists can pursue fair and accurate reporting on Islam and Muslims.
TOPIC - "How can journalists avoid bias and improve coverage?"
WHERE - Roosevelt University - Downtown (Michigan & Congress)
WHEN - April 25, 2005 @ 2:00PM - 4:00PM
CAIR-Chicago Extends Warm Wishes to Chicago's Catholic Community
CAIR-Chicago would like to congratulate Chicago's Catholic community on the selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. We hope that he will be a blessing to the world's Catholics as per the meaning of his name in Latin. CAIR-Chicago also hopes that the new pope's statements, attitudes, and policies opt for harmonious Catholic-Muslim relations in accordance with the legacy of the peace-loving late Pope John Paul II.
Action Alert: Hijab Discrimination
As part of a potential class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for any Muslim who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at civilrights
An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a hijab/headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.
As a general reminder, any Muslim women facing Hijab discrimination is urged to notify CAIR-Chicago.
Help Wanted: Operations Coordinator
CAIR-Chicago has an immediate opening for the full-time position of Operations Coordinator. This position requires working knowledge of IT related issues (HTML, MS Office, Excel and Access). A college graduate is preferred. For more information, visit our career center. Qualified candidates may email their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Communications
Director of Governmental Relations
Civil Rights Coordinator
Board of Directors
Susan Janaan Hashim - Treasurer
Shakeela Hassan, MD
Alim Elliott Khan
Mazen Kudaimi, MD
Kamran Memon, Esq.
Zaher Sahloul, MD
Abdullah Salah, Esq. - Vice President
Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President