Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bigot of the Month - Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA)

The final bigot of the month title for the year 2006 goes to the Islamophobic and xenophobic Republican congressman from Virginia, Mr. Virgil Goode. The article below says it all.

http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061230/NEWS01/612300310/1002


Run for your lives! The Muslims are coming.
At least that's how Rep. Virgil Goode sees things from his Virginia district.

Goode raised eyebrows and gave bigotry a whole new slant last week when he advocated tighter immigration laws to keep Muslims out of the country and especially out of elective office. Unless those laws are tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected, he said, and will follow the lead of the first adherent of Islam elected to the House of Representatives.

What sent Goode, a Republican, into such a xenophobic tizzy was the announcement that Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., plans to use a Quran when he is sworn in next week. Anyone knows a real American takes his (and only occasionally, her) oath of office on the Christian Bible.
The prospect of Goode not using a Bible has left Goode apoplectic.

"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."

The fact is that Ellison was born in Detroit and became a Sunni Muslim in college. He is about as American as a Chevrolet - actually more so when you consider how much of a Chevrolet is built with imported parts anymore. Besides being the first Muslim elected to Congress, he also is the first African American elected from Minnesota.

I was taken with interviews CNN did with some of Goode's constituents. A few, at least, didn't have a clue what the congressman was upset about. "Well, for me, I prefer the King James version," one woman responded when asked what she thought about the controversy. I wasn't aware there was a King James version of the Quran.

Others said Goode must have a point because he is their congressman and he wouldn't speak out like this unless speaking out was needed. Little do many understand how the mind of a member of Congress works.

There's plenty of precedent for not using a Bible - King James or otherwise, for a swearing-in. Mormon office holders have used their book of faith, and nothing happened. Personally, I don't care whether Ellison is sworn in on the D.C. phone directory. It will mean about as much. In fact, it would be a refreshing change and a reaffirmation of the separation of church and state.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded Goode apologize. As of this week, no apology was forthcoming, and none was planned. This latest flap only shows that the next Congress seems poised to pick up the nonsense where the last Congress left off. Maybe that's the real reason we should run for our lives.

Saadam: The death of a tyrant

Sadaam's brutality extended past the killing of Shi`ahs and Kurds (who are also Sunni); Arab Sunnis, who were not from his tribe as well as Iraqi Christians were killed. Likewise, Sadaam's Ba'athist regime included Shi`ahs and Christians; his right hand man, Tariq Aziz, was a Christian. The Ba'ath party in Iraq was started by an Iraqi Christian by the way.

Without discussing, who sufferred more under his government and the thousands of Iranians that died from poisonous gas given to him by our (Unites States) government, tyrants such as Sadaam deserve a fair trial as well.

Sadaam's execution at the hands of a "kangaroo court" is simply another chapter of the international norms of law & order that have been ignored since the 1st day of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi government in its quest to consider its own "national interests" did not even respect its own current laws when it executed Sadaam on the most important religious holiday to Muslims, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, which is the first day of `Eidul Adha. Prophet Muhammad referred to this day as Al-Yawmul Akbar, the greatest day. Is it any wonder why Iraq is in a current state of lawlessness?

The following is an excerpt from an article featured on www.salon.com by Prof. Juan Cole from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor entitled "Saddam: The death of a dictator."

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2006/12/30/saddam/

Dec. 30, 2006 The body of Saddam, as it swung from the gallows at 6 a.m. Saturday Baghdad time, cast an ominous shadow over Iraq. The execution provoked intense questions about whether his trial was fair and about what the fallout will be. One thing is certain: The trial and execution of Saddam were about revenge, not justice. Instead of promoting national reconciliation, this act of revenge helped Saddam portray himself one last time as a symbol of Sunni Arab resistance, and became one more incitement to sectarian warfare.

Saddam Hussein was tried under the shadow of a foreign military occupation, by a government full of his personal enemies. The first judge, an ethnic Kurd, resigned because of government interference in the trial; the judge who took his place was also Kurdish and had grievances against the accused. Three of Saddam's defense lawyers were shot down in cold blood. The surviving members of his defense team went on strike to protest the lack of protection afforded them. The court then appointed new lawyers who had no expertise in international law. Most of the witnesses against Saddam gave hearsay evidence. The trial ground slowly but certainly toward the inevitable death verdict.(MORE)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

`Eid Sa`eed - Happy `Eid

`Eid Al-Adha, the most important Muslim holiday, will begin on Saturday, 12/30/06, and end on Monday, 1/1/07. The first day of this holiday marks the date when Muslims beleive that Abraham was to sacrfice his 1st born son, Ishmael, but G'd pardoned this sacrifice and summoned Abraham to sacrifice a sheep in his place. The saying of someone being a "scapegoat" originates from this event. Jews and Christians beleive that the object of sacrifice was to have been Abraham's sceond born son, Isaac. Muslims love and beleive in the prophethood of Isaac although they do not beleive that he was the one to have been sacrificed.

Civilizations prior to Abraham practiced human sacrifices to gain favor with a diety or to atone for sin. Through this story, G'd reminds us that he does not desire or need a man to be sacrificed in order to forgive and purify humanity. Jews and Muslims agree on this point while Christians differ. This interpretation negates the possibility that G'd would sacrifice Jesus for the atonement of humanity.

May you all have a blessed `Eid and walk in the spirit of Abraham.

Message for Friday - Hajj: From Adam, Abraham to Muhammad (Peace be upon them)

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ
G’d (عزّ و جلّ) says (3:96):
Surely the first house set for humanity is the one in Bakkah, blessed and guidance for all systems of knowledge.

The season of Hajj (5 days of ritual pilgrimage) in the City of Makkah (Mecca) is a reminder for mankind to reflect upon the oneness of the Creator and the intrinsic equality of man. The first house for the worship of the One G’d, as believed by Muslims, was built in the City of Bakkah, later renamed Makkah. Some commentators of the Qur’an relate that this first house was constructed by Prophet Abraham and his son, Prophet Ishmael and that Prophet Abraham was the first to call humanity towards pilgrimage to Makkah. Other commentators, however, relate that the first pilgrimage to Makkah was performed by Adam, the father of mankind and that Abraham reinstituted worship for all monotheists there.

الحجر الأسود من الجنة
The Prophet Muhammad (صلى اللّه عليه و آله و سلّم ) stated:
The Black Stone is from the Paradise.

There are traditions, which related that when Adam and his spouse slipped from Paradise, the Black Stone, which is the cornerstone of the Sacred House in Makkah, was one of the items that descended with them. While Eve descended to an area close to Makkah, Adam descended to the land of Al-Hind, modern day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and was summoned to make pilgrimage.

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ
G’d (عزّ و جلّ) says (2:158):
Surely As-Safaa and Al-Marwah are from the Signs of G’d.

During Hajj, the ritual called Sa’iy, which reenacts Hagar running back and forth between two mountains looking for water for her and her son, Ishmael, is also believed by some commentators as also originating in significance with Adam and Eve. One mountain called As-Safaa is believed to have been named by Adam (عليه السلام), and Al-Marwah was believed to have been named by Eve. As-Safaa is related to the word صفى – meaning pure/cloudless and being a best friend. Al-Marwah is related to the word امرأة- meaning woman and/or wife.

الحج عرفة
The Prophet Muhammad stated:
The [essence] of Hajj is `Arafat.

The most important day of Hajj is on the 2nd day of rituals called the Day of `Arafat. The area where pilgrims supplicate to G’d and listen to religious talks was the location that Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon to his followers. Some commentators also believe that the significance of the ritual also started with Adam and Eve. The root word of `Arafat means to recognize, and the land of Mt. `Arafat is believed to have been the area where Eve first recognized Adam after their slip.

At dusk, which starts the 3rd day of Hajj, pilgrims depart `Arafat for an area called Muzdalifah, where they sleep outside without tents. Muzdalifah is related to the root word – ز- ل- ف - meaning to draw near to and – ازدلف – meaning to flatter.
Commentators have mentioned that this area next to Mt. `Arafat is the area where Eve drew near to Adam.

Glorifications and supplications of the prophets at pilgrimage:

لبيك اللهم لبيك ، لبيك لا شريك لك لبيك إن الحمد والنعمة لك والملك لا شريك لك
Here I am Oh G’d; here I am! No partners have you, here I am. Surely the praise and the blessings are from you and the dominion. No partners have you!


اللهم أنت السلام ومنك السلام فحينا ربنا بالسلام
(Said when seeing the Ka`bah – Sacred House)
Oh G’d! You are peace, and from you is peace. So have us live our Lord in peace.

ربنا آتنا في الدنيا حسنة وفي الآخرة حسنة وقنا عذاب النار
(Most said supplication of Prophet Muhammad)
Our Lord! Grant us excellence in this life and excellence in the next life and spare us from the punishment of the fire.

‏ربنا ظلمنا أنفسنا وإن لم تغفر لنا وترحمنا لنكونن من الخاسرين‏
(Prayer of Adam and Eve before slipping out of Paradise)
Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls. And if you do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, certainly we will be from the losers.

And surely G’d speaks the truth.

MI Muslims to feed poor in the spirit of Abraham

Wayne County: Meat giveaway expands

Islamic Relief, an international emergency relief and development organization, will expand its meat distribution project in Detroit. The project, launched as a pilot program last year to distribute meat to Metro Detroit families, will be at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 6 at Gleaners Food Bank, 21313 Beaufait, and mosques in Hamtramck and Highland Park. The project is coordinated in cooperation with the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan and Council on American-Islamic Relations. Last year, 12,000 pounds of meat were given to Metro Detroit families. For information, visit http://www.irw.org/.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Palestinian Christians not having such a Merry Christmas

In the politicalization of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, one may deduce that this conflict is a conflict between Islam vs Judaism. However, media attention glosses over the fact that about one in five Palestinians are Christians, who have resided in Palestine for centuries. Bethlehem, the birth place of the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, is in Palestine, right?

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has been touring the "Holy Land" where he has been highly critical of the apartheid wall that separates families from other relatives and makes pilgrimage to holy sites an extreme burden on Palestinian Christians.

SEE:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/12/22/international/i194429S98.DTL&type=politics

Palestinian Christians are equally oppossed to the illegal occupation in Palestine just as the Palestinian Muslims.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Legend of Christmas

Although Muslims beleive in the immaculate conception of Jesus, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. Besides most Muslims aversion to celebrating birthdays of anyone, there is no historical basis that Jesus was born on December 25th.

It is known, however, that the pagan Romans blended many of their traditions into the religion of Jesus. December 25th during the time of the pagan Romans was the Day of the Unconquered Sun; Romans worshipped many gods including forces of nature.

Closer to monotheism, Mithraism, a form of Zoroastrianism, teaches that Mithra, who was beleived to be the Son of G'd, was born on December 25th.

Eastern Orthodox Christians currently celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

Either way, it is safe to say that Jesus was not born on December 25th.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Oakland U. offers Islamic studies

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061222/METRO02/612220323/1009

OU to offer minor in Islamic Studies
Shawn D. Lewis / The Detroit News

ROCHESTER -- Oakland University students for the first time will be able to minor in Islamic Studies beginning next semester.

The first class, Introduction to Islam, will begin Jan. 4.

The Islamic Studies program was approved by the university five years ago but lacked funding. A group of Muslim professionals from throughout Metro Detroit helped make it happen. "They have families with children in the schools and would like to make a contribution to increasing more knowledge about Islam and decreasing the prejudice and misinformation surrounding the religion," said Gary Shepherd, director of Religious Studies at the university. "They approached the university this past summer and donated about $250,000 -- generating pledges for $50,000 per year for five years."

The minor will require students to complete 20 credits in courses such as Introduction to Islam, Islamic Ethics, Islamic Law and Islamic Literature, as well as participate in an internship within the Muslim community. Shepherd said the goal is to add more classes to the minor.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations based in Southfield, hopes the program also attracts those outside the university.
"I would hope that law enforcement agencies would promote their staff in taking these classes so they can understand more about dealing with Muslims," he said.(MORE)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Message for Friday - Reflect on early Islamic history while pilgrims are in Al-Madinah

Prior to the pilgrimage to Makkah, Hajj, begins, many pilgrims visit the City of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), Al-Madinah, to worship at his mosque. Also in close proximity, there are other locations were pilgrims visit to reflect upon the sacrifices of the early Muslims.

Some of these important sites and lessons are the following:

1) Masjid Al-Qiblatayn
Location of where the Qiblah was turned for Muslims in Salaah. Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem for 18 months while in Al-Madinah before changing direction. It is narrated that the Jews used to say, “By G’d, Muhammad and his companions did not know where their Qiblah was until we directed them!”

قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُمَا كُنْتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ

G'd (عزّ و جلّ) says in Al-Qur’an (2:144):
Certainly, We have seen you turn your face to the sky, so surely We shall make you the guardian of the Qiblah that you is pleasing. Turn your face in the direction of The Sacred Mosque. And wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. And surely those who have been given the Book most certainly know it is the truth from their Lord, and G'd is not heedless of what they do.


2) Battle of Badr
Two years after Hijra in the 17th of Ramadan – 313 Muslim against 1,300 polytheists. The Muslims were victorious.

إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُمْ بِأَلْفٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ

G'd (عزّ و جلّ) says in Al-Qu’an (8:9):
Remember when you sought the aid of your Lord, so HE answered you: I will assist you with a thousand angels following one another.

3) Battle of Uhud
Three years after Hijra (migration) in the 7th of Shawwal – 700 Muslims against 3,000 polytheists. Originally 1,000 Muslims but 300 showed hypocrisy under the Chief Hypocrite Abdullah bin Ubay. 65 Muslims were martyred.

وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

G'd (عزّ و جلّ)says in Al-Qur’an (3:132):
And obey G'd and the messenger in order that you receive mercy.

4) Battle of the Ditch (Also called Battle of the Confederates)
Five years after Hijra in Dhul-Qa`dah lasting 25 days. 3,000 Muslims against 10,000 polytheists and Jews from 3 tribes that broken their covenant with the Muslims.


مَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِنْ قَلْبَيْنِ فِي جَوْفِهِ

G'd (عزّ و جلّ)says in Al-Qur’an (33:4):
G'd has not made for man two hearts in his chest.

And surely G'd knows best.

CAIR deserves praise, not criticism, for service

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061221/OPINION04/612210325/1072/OPINION

CAIR deserves praise, not criticism, for service
December 21, 2006

In response to the Dec. 20 letter "Statement would help": CAIR has testified in front of Congress more than once, and no link to terrorism has been found.

If you visit CAIR's Web site (http://www.cair.com/) and go to the "What They Say About CAIR" section, you will find praise from the president, various intelligence officials, governors, and the likes of Sen. John Warner, R-Va., Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, and many more. This is just another attempt to demonize a Muslim organization.

Zeinab Chami
Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is all of what is called the "Holy Land" truly holy?

Presentation on the Importance of the “Holy Land” in Islam

According to the Qur’an, the land of Israel and Palestine that has been given the moniker of the “Holy Land” is not all sacred land. Sacred (haram) areas designated by the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad are three:

1) Makkah (Mecca) – the city where Muslims believe that Abraham built the first house of worship for the One Deity. (Qur’an 3:96-97) Islam’s most holy mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Haraam, is located here.

2) Al-Madinah (Medina) – the city that Prophet Muhammad migrated to once being exiled from Makkah where he established his spiritual, intellectual and governmental capital. Islam’s second most holy mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, is located here.

3) Al-Quds (Jerusalem) – the city where Muslims that Prophet Muhammad’s spirit made a night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem then ascended to the seven heavens. (Qur’an 17:1) Islam’s third most holy mosque, Masjid Al-Aqsa, is located here.

Al-Khalil (Hebron) contains a house of worship shared by the Abrahmic faiths, where it is believed that Prophet Abraham is buried. The mosque area in Al-Khalil is called Masjid Ibrahimi.

In Islam, three things are sacred for all, regardless of ethnicity according to Prophet Muhammad:

1) A person’s blood

2) A person’s property

3) A person’s honor/dignity

In this regard, the “Holy Land” is not more sacred than any other land nor are the lives of the people who dwell there more sacred that the lives of any other people.

In regards to the Jewish people’s claim to the “Holy Land,” The Qur’an narrates that the Children of Israel were chosen by G’d above all nations (Qur’an 2:47) and summoned by G’d to dwell in the land of security (17:104); however, their insolence and disobedience to G’d and his messengers caused them to be banished from the land that G’d had blessed them with. (Qur’an 17:4-7)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mary, Mother of Jesus


With the new movie recently coming out called "The Nativity" based upon the life of the Mother of Jesus, Mary, many view the life of Mary as a purely Christian story. However to Muslims, Mary is an important figure in Islam.
From an Islamic perspective, Mary is important for the following reasons:
1) She was the mother of the only person called The Messiah, Jesus, in the Qur'an.
2) She is the only female mentioned in the Qur'an by name.
3) She is the only female that has a chapter of the Qur'an named after her.
4) She had dialogue with the Arch-angel of G'd, Gabriel.
5) She gave birth with a man touching her.
To view a short movie clip of the immaculate conception from an Islamic perspective, click here:

Prager is way off base

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061219/NEWS01/612190342/1003/NEWS

DESIREE COOPER: Critic of Quran use hasn't done homework
December 19, 2006

BY DESIREE COOPER
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

It figures that in this season of goodwill toward men, all hell would break loose before one newly elected congressman could say, "I do solemnly swear."

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is a Detroit expatriate whose platform of tolerance can still be found on http://www.keithellison.org/: "We are working for an America where everybody counts, where everybody matters, and where peace is our guiding principle," he pledged.

But that lovey-doveyness met with outrage as soon as Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, announced that he'll take his oath of office upon a Quran, not a Bible. The squawking is coming from one conservative commentator in particular, columnist and talk show host Dennis Prager, who argued that Ellison's use of the Quran "undermines American civilization."
Doesn't he know that the free exercise of religion is a pillar of our civilization, not a threat to it?
Bible not required Prager argued further that if Ellison is incapable of taking an oath on the Bible, he shouldn't serve in Congress. I wonder if he knows that members of Congress are sworn in en masse, with no religious tomes present anyway. (The pictures of them taking oaths with their hands on Bibles are shot later, as mementos.)

Perhaps worrying that flames will soon be licking at the edges of our way of life, Prager charged that Ellison's intention is an "act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture."

But bigger Americans than he -- or Ellison for that matter -- have flouted the Bible tradition. Like John Quincy Adams, who was so devout, he refused to thrust the Bible into the political crosshairs. Instead, he took his oath of office upon a book of laws and the Constitution.
What would Prager say to President Franklin Pierce, whose son was killed in a train accident soon after he was elected? Pierce felt the death was God's judgment against him and considered himself unworthy to swear upon the Bible.(MORE)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

ACLU honors Arab & Muslim leaders

http://www.arabamericannews.com/newsarticle.php?articleid=7112

By: Khalil AlHajal / The Arab American News
Detroit - The American Civil Liberties Union honored members of the Arab American, American Muslim and activist communities on Thursday in a celebration of the national Bill of Rights Day at the Swords into Plowshares Gallery in downtown Detroit.
Plaintiffs in the federal court case to halt warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Administration were presented the ACLU's Bernie Gotfried award for their "courageous efforts."

"To be a plaintiff means having your name in the papers," said ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss. "If you have concerns about your family, about your business… it requires risk, it requires courage, and it requires a commitment to values."

In August, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court in Detroit ruled that the surveillance program - launched secretly by the Bush administration in 2001, allowing the NSA to listen in on phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant - violates the rights to free speech, privacy, and the separation of powers. It was the first and only federal ruling to strike down the controversial program. The Bush administration has since asked to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to throw out the decision. The court has allowed the program to be kept in place pending appeal. Further hearings are expected to be held in late January.

The ACLU sued the National Security Agency last January on behalf of journalists, activists, scholars, and lawyers who say the surveillance has hindered their ability to communicate with clients and contacts overseas.

"We made a very compelling case," said Moss.

She said that the plaintiffs in the case being academics, lawyers, and journalists allowed for effective articulation of the issues and violations involved, and that they were being honored as "people who have stepped forward time and again."

Honoree Noel Saleh, ACLU civil rights attorney and president of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, said he felt that Congress had "fallen down on its job," and that it was critical for him to have gotten involved in the case.

"On a professional level I was concerned about my ability to communicate with clients… and as a citizen I felt it was critical to step up and participate… that this be challenged because as Judge Taylor said, we don't have an imperial presidency with unbridled, unrestricted power.
Judge Taylor said in her opinion on the case "There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."

Saleh said he felt vindicated by the strength of the decision.

"One success of the litigation is that it empowers individuals and their representatives in Congress to ask questions…"

Nabih Ayad, of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and another plaintiff and honoree, also spoke of community empowerment through the court case and through various organizations and communities reaching out and cooperating with each other.
"Dialogue, communication, and bridge-building are absolutely key," he said. "Civil rights is a struggle for all… what good is our Constitution if when we need it, we can't use it?"
Dawud Walid, of the Council on American Islamic Relations was also honored.

"We're thankful for the ACLU's leadership in this issue as well as in other issues," said Walid.
He said he felt CAIR may have been targeted for surveillance because the organization is often in contact with foreign, often demonized media agencies such as Al Jazeera.

"We comment on various issues, sometimes not in favor of certain (U.S.) government practices and policies, including issues on the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act… that gets us on the radar to be surveiled… We have a lot more fighting to do."

A fourth honoree, William Swor of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said about the lawsuit "It’s important not just for our community, it's important for America. We are Americans."

December 15 was declared national Bill of Rights Day by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 on the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
For information on joining the ACLU, visit ACLUmich.org.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Walid receives award from ACLU

Yesterday, 12/14/06, the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) presented awards to four people for their committment to the Bill of Rights in regards to the successful lawsuit against the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

Awardees of the 2006 Bernard Gottfried Award are:
Noel Saleh - President of ACCESS
Nabih Ayad - Board member of ADC-MI
William Swor - Attorney
Dawud Walid - CAIR-MI Executive Director

Oral arguments will be heard in regards to the government's appeal of the decision beginning on 1/31/07 in Cincinatti, Ohio.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Message for Friday - Regard your relationship with G'd

The Prophet’s ( صلّى اللّه عليه و آله و سلّم) first sermon in what is now Masjid Al-Jumu`ah, is:

الحمد لله أحمده وأستعينه وأستغفره وأستهديه وأؤمن به ولا أكفره وأعادي من يكفره وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأن محمدا عبده ورسوله أرسله بالهدى والنور والموعظة على فترة من الرسل وقلة من العلم وضلالة من الناس وانقطاع من الزمان ودنو من الساعة وقرب من الأجل من يطع الله ورسوله فقد رشد ومن يعصهما فقد غوى وفرط وضل ضلالا بعيدا وأوصيكم بتقوى الله فإنه خير ما أوصى به المسلم المسلم أن يحضه على الآخرة وأن يأمره بتقوى الله فاحذروا ما حذركم الله من نفسه ولا أفضل من ذلك نصيحة ولا أفضل من ذلك ذكرا وإن تقوى الله لمن عمل به على وجل ومخافة من ربه عون صدق على ما تبغون من أمر الآخرة ومن يصلح الذي بينه وبين الله من أمره في السر والعلانية لا ينوي بذلك إلا وجه الله يكن له ذكرا في عاجل أمره وذخرا فيما بعدالموت حين يفتقر المرء إلى ما قدم وما كان من سوى ذلك يود لو أن بينها وبينه أمدا بعيدا ويحذركم الله نفسه والله رؤوف بالعباد والذي صدق قوله وأنجز وعده لا خلف لذلك فإنه يقول عز وجل ما يبدل القول لدي وما أنا بظلام للعبيد فاتقوا الله في عاجل أمركم وآجله في السر والعلانية فإنه من يتق الله يكفر عنه سيئاته ويعظم له أجرا ومن يتق الله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما وإن تقوى الله يوقي مقته ويوقي عقوبته ويوقي سخطه وإن تقوى الله يبيض الوجوه ويرضي الرب ويرفع الدرجة خذوا بحظكم ولا تفرطوا في جنب الله قد علمكم الله كتابه ونهج لكم سبيله ليعلم الذين صدقوا ويعلم الكاذبين فأحسنوا كما أحسن الله إليكم وعادوا أعداءه وجاهدوا في الله حق جهاده هو اجتباكم وسماكم المسلمين ليهلك من هلك عن بينة ويحيا من حي عن بينة ولا قوة إلا بالله فأكثروا ذكر الله واعملوا لما بعد اليوم فإنه من يصلح ما بينه وبين الله يكفه الله ما بينه وبين الناس ذلك بأن الله يقضي على الناس ولا يقضون عليه ويملك من الناس ولا يملكون منه الله أكبر ولا قوة إلا بالله العظيم

The Praise, Thanks belongs to G’d, I praise HIM, I seek HIS assistance, I seek HIS forgiveness, I seek HIS guidance, I believe in HIM, I do not reject him, and I am opposed to whoever rejects him. I witness that there is no deity but G’d who is one without partners and that Muhammad is HIS servant and HIS messenger who was sent with the guidance, the light, exhortation against weakness just as the messengers [before], [at a time when there is] a scarcity of knowledge, misdirection amongst humanity, separation from time, nearness of the hour, and closeness of the account. Whoever obeys G’d and HIS messenger, certainly are rightly guided. However, whoever disobeys them, certainly is astray, lost, and thoroughly in error. I recommend to you to be regardful of G’d, for the best of what the Muslim can recommend to the Muslim is that he urges him pertaining to the hereafter and enjoins upon him to be regardful of G’d. Beware of what G’d has warned you concerning HIMSELF. There is nothing superior to that advice, and there is nothing superior to that reminder. Surely be regardful of G’d, for whoever works according it in apprehension and fear of his Lord, is a trustworthy aid to what you desire pertaining to the matters of the hereafter. Moreover, whoever sets aright what is between him and between G’d from his matters in secret and public, seeking nothing except the Face of G’d, will be remembered in this world, and will have a treasure in that which is after death. Then a man will have no need of that good which he has done previously; and for that which is otherwise, he will wish that there was a great distance between him and it. G’d warns you to beware of HIM, but G’d is kind to his servants. By HE who affirms HIS word, fulfills HIS promise, not differing in it, surely The Might and Sublime says: My word can not be changed, nor am I in the least unjust to the servants. [50:29] So be regardful of G’d in this world in your matters, in secret and public. Surely whoever is regardful of G’d, HE will cover his sins and give him a mighty reward. And whoever has regard for G’d, he will certainly have a mighty victory. And surely regard for G’d will ward off HIS trial, HIS punishment, and HIS wrath. And regard for G’d makes him blameless in HIS sight, will please the Lord, and will elevate him in degrees. Take hold of your portion, and do not be remiss in regards to G’d. Certainly G’d has caused you to know HIS book and has opened HIS path for you in order that HE may know those who speak the truth and those who lie. So act well just as G’d has acted well towards you, and be against what HE is against. And struggle in the cause of G’d which befits struggle for HIM. HE has chosen you and named you Muslims that he who is perishing might perish by a clear proof and he who is living might live by a clear proof. There is no power but with G’d. Increase the remembering G’d and act for the sake of what is after today. For he who sets aright what is between him and between G’d, G’d will take care of what is between him and between people. That is because G’d gives judgment upon people, but people can not give judgment upon HIM. And HE rules people, but they can not rule HIM. G’d is greater! There is no power except with G’d, the Mighty.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Walid on front page of today's Oakland Press - 12/13/06

Today's Oakland Press, 12/13/06, carries a story entitled "Islamic leader denounces terrorism, outlines efforts to help area Muslims."

In relation to today's story, the comment made about outsiders "meddling" in the internal affairs of Iraq was stated in the context of fighters who are part of Al-Qaeda, insurgency groups, militias and thug groups. It is well known that these groups included, but are not limited to, Syrian and Iranian nationals.

Iraq needs reformed military to stablize

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061213/OPINION01/612130327/1008

Mohammed Alomari

A lmost every day we hear about how Iraq is spiraling quickly into the abyss of a bloody civil war and possible partition. Everyday hundreds of people are killed. How did this country get transformed into this ugly nightmare?

To truly appreciate what has happened in Iraq, consider this scenario:
Imagine one day waking up and finding out that our nation's leaders have dismantled all the police and military. As a result, there is not one policeman, or state or federal law enforcement agent, or even one National Guard or Army soldier to protect you from the criminal elements and terrorists. It would be total chaos.

That is what happened in Iraq in 2003. All military and security forces were abolished.
Imagine that instead of recalling the Army and security forces, the authorities decided to form a new army and police from members of the KKK, some racist supremacist militias, some mercenaries and organized criminal gangs.

Then with government-issued badges and vehicles, these armed groups begin arresting, torturing and murdering innocent people either because of their faith, creed or purely for profit.

How nightmare started

This is exactly what happened in Iraq. In 2003, a new Iraqi Army and security forces were formed, primarily by enlisting members of sectarian supremacist militias and foreign mercenaries who had a hateful agenda against members of other faiths.

For the last three years, these sectarian supremacist militias who cause most of the bloodshed in Iraq, according to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and some U.S. military commanders on the ground, have successfully infiltrated the Iraqi military and security forces and carried out their crimes.

Add all that to the foreign fighters, terrorists and foreign intelligence operatives who have exploited the security vacuum and want Iraq to remain unstable. It was these grave mistakes early on that have now mushroomed into what is now near civil war proportions.

Study group avoids source of trouble

As the situation worsens, many are debating the withdrawal of U.S. forces, especially after the release of the Iraq Study Group report. The report urges a withdrawal of combat troops by early 2008. Whatever timetable is put forward, the United States has to use the time it still has in Iraq effectively and wisely.

Although the report offers some good practical suggestions to solve the complex problems, it does not offer serious solutions for one major source of trouble: the corrupt and militia-infiltrated sectarian Iraqi security and military forces.

More training and reconciliation is simply not enough. The Bush administration must use military power to disband the militias and then reform the sectarian Iraqi military and security forces and cleanse them of militia infiltration.

Cleanse military

Real solutions include bringing back the low-level officers and soldiers of the former Army, and/or implementing a short-term military conscription, which will guarantee that all faiths and communities are accurately represented in the forces. This would help create an all-professional service and strengthen the bonds of unity. Then and only then will there be an Iraqi force effective enough to secure the country so the United States can leave.

Ignoring these problems will only ensure that the violence will worsen and eventually evolve into a civil war leading to the breakup of the country into mini-states, like Somalia today. The likely result would be at least two extremist anti-American mini-states in Iraq: one aligned with Iran in the south and another with the Taliban in the center. This would cause chaos and upheaval in neighboring states.

Without real reforms, the experiment in Iraq may well spread violent extremism throughout the Middle East instead of democracy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CAIR-MI's Speakers Bureau at University of Michigan - Dearborn

On Sunday, 12/10/06, a full day Speakers Bureau training took place in Dearborn, Michigan.

Cut and paste the following links to hear audio of the introduction and the section regarding interacting with written media:

http://media.putfile.com/Speakers-Bureau-Intro

http://media.putfile.com/Interactive-media

The short story below was printed in The Muslim Observer on 12/14/06:
http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=568

How Do We Explain Our Faith?”
Dearborn–December 10–CAIR Michigan, in concert with many active area Muslims, conducted a session to teach area Muslims to engage non-Muslims in the arena of public speaking.

The event was well planned and executed, with plenty of food and good speeches on the elements of public speaking.

Among the speakers were Eide Alawan, a prominent interfaith speaker from the Islamic Center of America, Imam Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, Haaris Ahmad, Saeed Khan, and Memo Debryn.

Mr. Walid broadly stated the public-speaking guidelines of CAIR, and listed several books as recommended reading, including How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
Mr. Alawan argued convincingly in favor of speeches by Muslim women rather than men, saying that audiences melt when women speak in hijab from their own sincerity and conviction.

Community to protest Comerica Bank

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061212/NEWS05/612120315/1007
Furor grows over bank closure of charity account
December 12, 2006
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

The U.S. Department of Justice may defend the Patriot Act in a case involving Comerica Bank and a Muslim charity based in Southfield, according to court documents the department filed in Detroit.Comerica officials have told Life for Relief and Development that it intends to close its accounts.The bank's move came after the charity was raided by federal agents in September.

The government has not said what the raid was about, but charity officials say it may be related to work the charity did in Iraq. In response, the charity sued Comerica, saying the bank violated its civil rights. The suit, filed last month, challenges the constitutionality of a section of the Patriot Act that allows financial institutions to share information about suspected money laundering or terrorist activity.

On Dec. 1, Justice Department attorneys filed a notice in U.S. District Court in Detroit that said it may "intervene in this action to defend the constitutionality" of the section under question.

Some Arab Americans and Muslims charge the bank is discriminating against the charity because it is operated by Arab-American Muslims.Protests are planned for Friday and Saturday outside Comerica branches in Dearborn, Detroit, Canton and Ann Arbor. Organized as the Charity Without Fear Coalition, groups against the bank's move include the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Some Arab Americans and Muslims say they plan to close their accounts with Comerica in protest.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Muslims, Jews start to heal

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061208/NEWS05/612080459/1007/NEWS

Religious leaders bring honest talk on tensions over war

December 8, 2006

BY DAVID CRUMM

Imam Mohammad Mardini of a Dearborn Muslim center thanked a rabbi Thursday for reminding the sides of their deep relationship.

One of the world's leading experts on overcoming religious barriers flew from Israel to Michigan on Thursday to help ease tensions between local Muslims and Jews.

"You have such a remarkable opportunity here in Detroit, because people from so many different cultures live here, to transform clashes into opportunities for enrichment," Rabbi David Rosen, expert on interfaith relations for the American Jewish Committee, said Thursday night.

Extreme religious voices were raised during tensions over the war in Lebanon last summer, Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center in Dearborn said. "But, do we blame them, if we are not doing anything to rebuild bridges?" he asked.

This was the first such public dialogue since a rift opened between local Muslim and Jewish leaders last summer. Nearly 200 Christians, Jews and Muslims met at Congregation Adat Shalom in Farmington Hills on Thursday night to listen to two rabbis and four Muslim leaders from metro Detroit.

Rosen moderated the dialogue, which was designed to avoid explosive exchanges by asking the speakers to respond to questions written out by the mostly Jewish audience.

Yet pent-up emotion often surfaced.

Victor Begg, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, said local Muslim leaders are fed up with non-Muslims' demands that that they continually condemn terrorism, as if they are responsible for all such crimes.

"It is exhausting and depressing to be responsible for everyone in the world who uses our faith for evil," Begg said.

In the Jewish community, Begg said, "there is little condemnation heard when there is a death of innocent Palestinians, but Muslims here are expected to condemn any instance of someone being killed by anyone who claims to be a Muslim anywhere in the world."

Najah Bazzy, a nurse and member of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, told the largely Jewish audience, "You have a huge responsibility to extend your hands, too."

Rabbi Daniel Nevins, senior rabbi at Adat Shalom, responded. "This summer was so hard," he said, "but I didn't feel, as a rabbi in Farmington Hills, that I could dictate the policies to the Israeli government," so he said little in reaction to events in the war.

"But I was saddened by deaths on both sides," he said.

It was almost impossible to have that kind of conversation between Muslims and Jews last summer, though, Nevins said. "Sometimes, we can't say what the other person wants to hear."

Long history of tension

Like the other speakers, Bazzy stressed that recent tensions are just one chapter in a much larger history. Islam isn't a new faith that's suddenly arrived in Michigan, Bazzy said, adding that her own family has lived in southeast Michigan for more than a century.

Unfortunately, she said, she's aware that many non-Muslims still fear Islam and its cultural symbols, such as Muslim women wearing scarves over their hair.

"I will be so happy when people finally quit worrying about what's on my head and focus on what's inside my head," she said.

Nevins thanked his Muslim guests and said, "We come from different perspectives. Our hearts hurt over different issues and yet we have to hear from one another."

Nevins and Rosen said that the point of this renewed dialogue was to listen, not debate.

Nevins said, "We have to try very, very hard not to allow ourselves to become warped reflections of hatred. And, I think tonight's dialogue is a part of that."

In turn, Mardini thanked the rabbis, especially Rosen. "Rabbi Rosen came from the Promised Land here to remind us of the deep relations we have back in history," he said.

Sharona Shapiro, the Michigan director of the American Jewish Committee, said she was pleased that the event could be held. "I admire these four Muslim leaders who came forward to accept this challenge in a very difficult time," Shapiro said. "They're heroes, in my view, for doing this."

Building on the opportunity

Rosen said that, although religiously fueled clashes are erupting around the world, the increasing cultural diversity in many countries means there also are new opportunities for building cooperative relationships.

"And that already is happening in many places," Rosen said. "Almost every week, there's a major new interfaith conference somewhere in the world. This work really is turning into an exponentially growing industry.

"Now, here in Detroit," he added, "I don't think you can bring about peace in the Middle East, but what you can do is offer some new models for working together that can be a blessing to the rest of the world."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Message for Friday - Muslims should be united against oppression & bigotry


إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

G'd says in the Qur'an (49.10): The believers are but a single brotherhood. So make peace between your brothers, and rever G'd in order that you may receive mercy.

Muslims are obligated to resist or oppose another group of Muslims, who are perpetrating crimes or oppression. In the post 9/11 era, Muslim groups have issued fatwas, wrote books, delivered speeches and held press conferences addressing corrupt and oppressive elements within themselves, ranging from the Tunisian government to Al-Qa'ida. However, due to the immense pressure of being a targeted group that has sufferred from religious discrimination on several levels to hate crimes, many Muslims on an individual level have become timid as sheep when it comes to challenging the wrongs that are done against Muslims.

Statements are made such as:
"We are too weak to say or do anything..."
"I don't want any trouble..."
"What are they going to think about me if..."
"The government isn't going to help us, so why bother contacting them?"

This is even true with some Muslims today that their own co-workers and friends, who they have known for decades and know nothing but good things about, may come under scrutiny from law-enforcement or media. These Muslims with the "victim" mentality have become morally weak and will not defend any Muslim even when they are certain that he/she is innocent. This weak, victim mentality is not that way of Islam.

المسلمون يد واحدة على من سواهم
Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) stated, "The Muslims are one hand upon whoever harms them."

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِن مِنْ أَهْلِ الْإِيمَانِ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الرَّأْسِ مِنْ الْجَسَدِ
"Surely the believer from the people of faith is in a position like the head of a body."

الْمُؤْمِن لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا
"The believer to another believer is just like a building in which one section supports the other."

Thus in America, Muslims must take a stand against agencies and corporations that seek to marginalize the community. The civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin King Jr. understood that taking a stand even at the risk of being beaten, going to jail or being killed was more honorable than being a passive victim. If an agency discriminated, he protested. If the bus company made blacks sit at the back of the bus, the bus fare was used for gas money to give to someone else or the bus fare was saved in favor of walking instead of giving up money to be humilated.

And surely G'd knows best.

Grassroots campaign against Comerica Bank

STOP DISCRIMINATION OF ARABS AND MUSLIMS

Close Your Comerica Bank Account!


Friday, December 15, 2006, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm*
Dearborn: Schaefer and Warren


Saturday, December 16, 2006, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Dearborn: Michigan Ave. and Mercury Dr.
Canton: Michigan Ave. and Canton Center Rd.
Ann Arbor: Washtenaw and Platt Rd.

--

THE ISSUE

Comerica Bank is seeking to close the account of Life for Relief and Development, a four-star fully licensed humanitarian organization registered with USAID, the humanitarian arm of the United States Government, and is in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The decision was made after news reports of a government search of Life's headquarters in Southfield, MI. Although Life has been continuing to fully operate and carry out its humanitarian relief work across the world, Comerica has refused to withdraw their decision to close the account.

WHY THIS SHOULD CONCERN YOU

It is extremely disturbing to know that banks such as Comerica are willing to close the accounts of well-respected organizations. If such discrimination is allowed to pass, it can set a very dangerous precedent for all Arabs and Muslims living in America. Individual bank accounts of Arabs and Muslims in other states have already been closed for no apparent reason other than ethnicity or religion. This alarming trend must be addressed, and can only be done through the collective support of the community. Bank accounts of mosques, schools, Muslim and Arab individuals and businesses, are all potential targets to this discrimination.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP

To send a strong message to Comerica, a "Close Your Account" campaign has been organized. We are calling on all concerned individuals to close their Comerica accounts at certain branches at the information listed above. We also have been picketing daily outside the Comerica branch in Dearborn between Warren and Schaefer. We would like to continue to picket for an extended period of time to sustain the pressure on them. We are looking for volunteers to help with this as well. We are there every weekday from approximately 3:30 - 5:00 pm.

Anyone interested, please email Farhan Abdul Azeez at azeezfar@msu.edu.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Female circumcision is against Islam

http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Religion&loid=8.0.366442020&par=0

EGYPT: FEMALE CIRCUMCISION HAS NO PLACE IN ISLAM, SAYS AL-AZHAR CLERIC

Cairo, 6 Dec. (AKI) - The head of Cairo's Al Azhar university, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, has spoken out firmly against the practice of infibulation, still widely practised on young women in Egypt. "The practice of female genital mutilation ruins a woman's reproductive organs and is a practice which has nothing to do with Islam" said Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed al-Tantawi. His comments follow similar statements by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, vigorously rejecting the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) as un-Islamic.

Tantawi praised the publication of a pamphlet, "On the problems of reproduction caused by the practice of infibulation", which was presented in Cairo on Tuesday and reiterated the need to eliminate a practice "which as well as causing permanent damage to sexual organs, creates psychological illness and social problems which impact on married life."

Tantawi recalled that infibulation is not prescribed in the Koran and that the Prophet Mohammed did not have his daughters 'circumcised.'

Adressing an international conference on FGM in Cairo last month both the mufti Ali Gomaa and Tantawi reiterated that infibulation did not have religious roots but dates back to tribal traditions of the pre-Islamic area.

According to international organisations, female genital mutilation or infibulation is practised principally in sub Saharan Africa, in Egypt, Yemen, Sudan and Oman.

It is a practice that does not have religious roots even if some imams apparently consider it "positive for the psychological development" of young women. It is a widely held opinion in these countries that cutting the clitoris reduces sexual desire, helping young women to preserve their virginity.

According to the World Health Organisation, thousands of girls around the world each day undergo this practice with severe - sometimes fatal - consequences for their general health, capacity to bear children and their mental wellbeing. The WHO estimates that some 150 million women have undergone the process.

In 1995, an estimated 97 percent of young women in Egypt were 'circumcised'.

In 1996, the Egyptian health ministry issued a decree banning the practice, but leaving doctors discretionary powers to carry out circumcision if they felt it was neccessary.

In Egypt today there are only a handful of villages which are declared "mutilation-free" following information campaigns and monitoring by international agencies and NGOs. According to rights group Amnesty International, some 75 percent of girls in the country still undergo genital mutilation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Muslim charity fights back within the system

Update to the community should be coming soon regarding further action, within the law, on Comerica Bank for their bias treatment of Life for Relief and Development. Perhaps, the Muslim community may deem that their money is better off in another bank.

Listen to today's NPR National story:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6580376

FITNESS USA DISCRIMINATES AGAIN!

It's obvious that Fitness USA managerial staff needs more training about dealing with their Muslim patrons as well as the 1st amendment. You would think that a Fitness USA employee in Dearborn, Michigan, which has the 2nd most dense population of Muslims in Michigan, would know better.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061205/LIFESTYLE04/612050368/1041

Muslim woman cites gym after interrupted prayer

Dearborn resident says her complaint to Fitness USA manager about patron went unheeded.

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- Fitness USA, a gym chain, is investigating an alleged civil rights violation involving a local Muslim woman who says her afternoon prayer was interrupted by a fellow patron, and that her complaint to management about the situation was rejected.

"The manager told me, 'You have to respect her (the patron), but she does not have to respect your God,' " said Wardeh Sultan of Dearborn. "I've had my membership for seven or eight years, and I've never had a problem with praying there.

"I told that manager, 'I can't believe you said that' " Sultan said. "Honestly, I feel humiliated and I feel ashamed, right now, to go back to Fitness USA."(MORE)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Poisoned Russian spy accepts Islam before dying

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2486268,00.html

British police arrive in Moscow to hunt for spy death clues
Philippe Naughton

British police investigating the poisoning of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko have arrived in Moscow today to speak to witnesses and collect any evidence relating to his death from their Russian counterparts.

Earlier today, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that visas had been issued to the nine Scotland Yard investigators.

The prosecutor-general's office also offered "to provide all necessary help to British colleagues within the framework of international agreements and the law of the Russian Federation".

British authorities said earlier that the team of detectives would interview several people while in Moscow, including Andrei Lugovoi, another former intelligence agent who met Litvinenko on November 1 - the day he is believed to have fallen ill.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Mikhail Trepashkin, who worked for the FSB, the KGB’s successor, until 1997, said he has key evidence in the case and appealed to the British officers to collect his testimony as soon as possible, saying his life is in danger.

It was reported last week that Trepashkin, who is currently serving a four-year sentence for revealing state secrets, wrote a letter to Litvinenko warning him about a secret squad set up to kill him and other Kremlin opponents.

"Trepashkin said he had information that could shed light on the killing [of Litvinenko]", his lawyer Yelena Liptser told The Associated Press. "If the authorities don’t allow him to do that, that would mean they are trying to hide something."

In a statement dictated on his deathbed, Litvinenko, a former agent for the KGB and the FSB, accused President Putin of involvement in his death. "You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," he said.

The spy's father told Kommersant, an independent business daily, that he was also sure that Mr Putin was involved in the death, dismissing suggestions that rogue former agents may have been responsible.

"No kind of veteran’s organisation would dare to kill a former secret service member. There was an order right from the top to kill my son," Mr Litvinenko said. "I am in no doubt that this was done by members of the Russian secret services, with the permission of Vladimir Putin."

Russian authorities have denied any involvement in Litvinenko’s death. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, warned today that continued suggestions of Russian official involvement in Litvinenko’s death could damage relations with Britain.

Mr Lavrov said he had spoken with Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, "about the necessity to avoid any kind of politicization of this matter, this tragedy," the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

"If the British have questions, then they should be sent via the law enforcement agencies between which there are contacts," he said.

Meanwhile, one of Litvinenko's former KGB colleagues, Yuri Shvets, said that he had given Scotland Yard information on the death, including the name of the man responsible for the murder.

"The truth is, we have an act of international terrorism on our hands. I happen to believe I know who is behind the death of my friend Sasha and the reason for his murder," Mr Shvets told the Associated Press.

Mr Shvets, who had known Litvinenko since 2002 and last spoke to him on the day that he died, was questioned by British detectives and an FBI agent in Washington last week. He declined to confirm the name of the person he had told police was behind Litvinenko’s death in case it disrupted the investigation.

"I want this inquiry to get to the bottom of it. Otherwise they will be killing people all over the world - in London, in Washington and in other places," Mr Shvets said. "I want to give the police the time and space to crack this case, to allow them to find those behind this assassination, the last thing I want to do is give a warning to those who are responsible."

Litvinenko, 43, died three weeks after ingesting a toxic radioactive isotope, polonium-210, which made his hair fall out and ravaged his organs. Results of the post-mortem examination on his body are expected later this week and might help pinpoint the origin of the radioactive substance.

He is believed to have received the poison at a sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, London. An Italian contact who had lunch with Litvinenko at the restaurant, Mario Scaramella, was also contaminated with polonium, although he has shown no symptoms of radiation poisoning.

In an interview with Italy’s RAI television, Mr Scaramella said that doctors had told him that his body contained five times the dose of polonium-210 that would normally be considered lethal. "So my mood isn’t the best," he told the channel.

Litvinenko's father, Walter, said in an interview published today that his son - who was born an Orthodox Christian but had close links to Islamist rebels in Chechnya - had requested to be buried according to Muslim tradition after converting to Islam on his deathbed.

"He said ’I want to be buried according to Muslim tradition’," Mr Litvinenko told Moscow's Kommersant daily.

"I said, ’Well son, as you wish. We already have one Muslim in our family - my daughter is married to a Muslim. The important thing is to believe in the Almighty. God is one.’"

Walid speaks on Vic McCarty Show from Traverse City

Today from 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM, CAIR-MI's Executive Director spoke on the Vic McCarty Talk Show on WMKT 1270 AM located in Traverse City, Michigan.
http://www.macmediaproductions.com/page6.html

During the 30 minute interview, topics were discussed such as terrorism committed by Muslims, which violates the teachings of Islam, boorish comments made by Iran's president in regards to "wiping Israel off of the map," to the ill-advised policy of profiling "Middle Easterners" soley upon their physical appearance in airports.

Although Mr. McCarty's show is carried on a "conservative" FOX radio station, which also carries the likes of Bill O'Reilly, his questions were fair and his demeanor was non-combative. We hope that more radio and television personalities attached to FOX emmulate Mr. McCarty's interview from today.

Bogus terrorism claims by the government perpetuates Islamophobia

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061204/METRO/612040338

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lawyers fight terrorism tag

Attorneys for suspects in smuggling case want to strike such language from criminal indictments.

Paul Egan / The Detroit News

Lawyers for three defendants in a tobacco and counterfeit Viagra smuggling case are asking federal prosecutors to strike terrorism-related language from their indictment, saying the case has nothing to do with terrorism.

Language in the 2003 indictment related to terrorism and support for Hezbollah will hurt the ability of defendants to receive fair trials, lawyers for brothers Majid, Jihad and Fadi Hammoud said in pleadings filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The brothers are among 18 people indicted in a racketeering conspiracy case that alleges smuggling of untaxed or low-taxed cigarettes from Indian reservations as well as smuggling of stolen goods and counterfeit goods such as false imitations of the sexual potency pill Viagra.

Advocates for Muslim and Arab-Americans say the case is only one of many examples since 2001 of prosecutors treating defendants unfairly by alleging, but not charging, ties to terrorism in cases involving financial crimes.

Federal prosecutors allege some of the proceeds from the tobacco smuggling racket were sent to Lebanon to support Hezbollah, which is on the U.S. list of international terrorist organizations.

But lawyers for the Dearborn-area brothers argue no charges of supporting terrorism have been filed and no admissions of supporting terrorism have been made in several guilty-plea agreements already reached in the racketeering case.

"It's cheap trickery," James Burdick of Bloomfield Hills, the attorney for Majid Hammoud, said Friday.

"If they thought there was any real connection between these guys and any remotely related activities or terrorists, they would have charged them."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who is handling the case, said the government would file a response to the motion in court and that it would be inappropriate to reply through the news media.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan, said alleging terrorism in cases in which Muslim or Arab-Americans may have been involved in criminal activity is spreading an Islam-phobic climate in the United States.

"The vast majority of these allegations have been totally unfounded," Walid said.

Walid cited the example of three Texas Muslims arrested in Michigan earlier this year after purchasing large numbers of cell phones at big-box stores. Local prosecutors alleged the men had ties to terrorism. All charges were eventually dropped.

CAIR-MI mentioned in the Jewish Daily Forward

http://www.forward.com/articles/university-to-begin-diversity-training/

Beth Schwartzapfel Fri. Dec 01, 2006

Michigan State University announced recently plans to offer a series of diversity training sessions for faculty and students, focusing on Islam-related subjects. The announcement came on the heels of an October 3 meeting between members of the university administration and the Muslim Student Union.

The Muslim group, in concert with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had been calling on the university to institute such training since Indrek Wichman, a professor of mechanical engineering, sent an e-mail to the Muslim students group last April, in which he called them “dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems.”

Wichman was responding to an education campaign organized by Muslim student activists in response to a journalism professor’s posting on her university Web site of the controversial Danish cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

“I intend to protest your protest,” Wichman wrote in the e-mail. “I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians.”

The Muslim Students Union made the e-mail public and was joined by 10 student groups, including the Jewish Student Union, in calling on the university to hold diversity training. It was not until late October that the university agreed to proceed.

“We’re very pleased,” said Farhan Azeez, former Muslim Students Union president and the group’s liaison to the university.

Azeez told the Forward that training sessions will be held throughout the year, and will include information about other minorities on campus. “It’s not just about Muslims,” he said. The training sessions will be optional; Michigan law prevents the university from making them mandatory.

Wichman’s e-mail came amid growing complaints of racial tension on campus. An April 18 story in the the campus newspaper reported 22 racially motivated incidents on campus last year, including racial slurs written on dormitory walls and an assault on an African American student in a dormitory. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of CAIR, told the Forward that these incidents had contributed to a “xenophobic atmosphere” on the university’s East Lansing campus.(MORE)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

No futher arrests made in assault on Detroit Muslim

As of today, no further arrests have been made in the assault of a 51 year old Muslim from Detroit almost a week ago.

Many aspects of the behavior of the hooligans have not been mentioned in the media including the smoking of marijuana, not just regular cigarettes.

The Arab-American News wrote the most accurate story of all coverage thus far.

SEE - http://www.arabamericannews.com/newsarticle.php?articleid=6958

Friday, December 01, 2006

More hate crimes in Michigan

http://www.upi.com/SecurityTerrorism/view.php?StoryID=20061201-104929-4956r

DETROIT, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has warned about the rising number of hate crimes in the state in recent weeks.

"I am personally alarmed at the recent spike in particularly egregious alleged hate crimes in Michigan, Linda V. Parker. director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Over the last few weeks Michigan residents have reported several serious alleged hate crimes," Pasker said.

"In Van Buren Township on Oct. 23, an African-American couple returned from a trip to find their residence severely vandalized, including racial slurs and threats spray-painted onto the walls," Parker said.

"In Grand Rapids on Nov. 11, an Asian man was beaten and remains in a coma following an incident created by racially derogatory remarks directed at the man and his friends," she said.

"While we will leave the investigation of the criminal allegations to local, state and federal law enforcement authorities, the department will be engaged in victim and community support in the wake of these tragedies. It is our hope that all involved perpetrators are brought to justice, and that residents and leaders in Michigan act quickly to confirm that acts of hate will not be tolerated," Parker said.

Parker also condemned what she said appeared to be an anti-Muslim attack against a Detroit man on Nov. 27.

"The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is again compelled to speak out against any and all acts of hate," she said.

According to a press release issued by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the men physically attacked a Detroit Muslim. They also yelled anti-Muslim and anti-Arab epithets at him.

"Although all acts of violence are unfortunate, targeting victims based on religion and ethnicity has a chilling effect on all members of that community," Parker said.

Walid on WJR 760 AM discussing 'hate crime' of Detroit Muslim, the Pope's visit to Turkey & Iraq

The following audio is from the Lloyd Jackson Show on WJR 760 AM.

Cut & paste the following to listen:
http://www.wjr.com/getpodcast.aspx?sid=6527&lid=5157&id=312731&source=1&url=http://rope.wjr.com/Interviews/BigStory/MP3/walid-112806.mp3

Clarifying misconceptions about Islam

Yesterday evening at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan, a presentation was given entitled "Clarifying Misconceptions about Islam and Muslims."

Speakers were Dawud Walid and Zeinab Chami from CAIR-MI.

Cut & paste the following link to listen:
http://media.putfile.com/Misconceptions-about-Islam

Is there a pattern of kicking Muslims off of US Airways' planes?

http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=540

Imams: Airport ‘Pray-in’ Protest

Category: The Muslim Observer, Community News, National news

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Imams, ministers and a rabbi staged a “pray-in” demonstration Monday at Reagan Washington National Airport and demanded an apology from US Airways for barring six Muslims from a Minneapolis to Phoenix flight last week.

Imam Omar Shahin, one of the six imams detained last Monday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said they hadn’t done anything suspicious.

The imams, who were returning from a religious conference, had prayed on their prayer rugs in the airport before the flight. After they boarded the flight, a passenger, who was alarmed by their activity, passed a note to a flight attendant. The men were taken off the airplane, handcuffed and questioned.

“It was the worst moment in my life,” Shahin said.

US Airways Group Inc. spokeswoman Andrea Rader alleged several disputed facts about the men as justification for US Airways treatment of them.

On Monday, Shahin and a handful of other Muslims bowed down on rugs and prayed in Terminal A near the US Airways ticket counter. Jewish and Christian clergy also said prayers.

After the prayer session, Shahin and other religious leaders boarded a US Airways flight to demonstrate their determination to continue praying and flying.

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP national office, called on Congress to pass legislation that would end racial profiling. The bill is necessary because airlines are unclear how to deal with racial and ethnic profiling, he said.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, four airlines accused of breaking federal anti-discrimination laws settled with the government. Transportation Department investigations found the airlines had unlawfully removed passengers because of their perceived ethnic or religious backgrounds. Though the air carriers–American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines–admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to carry out civil rights training for their employees. The Homeland Security Department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said last week that it was investigating the US Airways incident.

Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, explained to TMO that he had traveled via American Airlines the same night that the imams had been refused permission to fly, and had in fact prayed in congregation before the flight, without incident.

He explained facts that show US Airways, in particular, has been particularly noticeable on this issue; US Airways recently refused to allow a Muslim woman, Rima Qayyum, to fly, even after repeated searches of her person found nothing suspicious.

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