Arab American Institute report on Islamophobia
Islamophobia is a form of intolerance defined as “prejudice against, hatred or irrational fear of Islam and Muslims.” The general conflation of the cultures and beliefs of Arabs and Muslims has expanded the scope of Islamophobia to include prejudice against and fear of individuals of Arab descent.
Islamophobia challenges the diversity of American culture and society, proliferates misinformation and stereotypes, and fosters hostility and potential violence.
Since 2001, Islamophobia has been on a steady rise, with a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims —or those perceived to be Arab or Muslim. It has resulted in Arab baiting in elections (bigoted rhetoric against candidates of Arab descent), has become a political wedge issue, with candidates pandering to irrational fears of Arabs and Muslims, and has created public hysteria in opposition to the building of mosques and Islamic schools and community centers. Since 2010, several states have proposed legislation to ban Sharia, or Islamic law, as a means of safeguarding the American legal system from a fictional threat of being overtaken by Sharia. In 2011, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) held hearings specifically targeting the American Muslim community on the threat of radicalization.
While Arab Americans and American Muslims are the targets of Islamophobia, this form of discrimination impacts everyone. Tolerance or progression of Islamophobia heightens the risk of discrimination against other racial, religious, and ethnic minorities.
Since January 2011, Congressman King has held three hearings on radicalization within the American Muslim community. The political conversation following the 9/11 attacks was careful to point out that a peaceful religion had been “hijacked” by a fringe group and used for violence Congressman King’s hearing, however, reoriented the conversation around a tone in which all Arab Americans and American Muslims should be viewed with suspicion. The hearings produced little to no evidence supporting his claims that the Muslim community is particularly prone to radicalization.
Several of the 2012 presidential candidates have made Islamophobic remarks, including: Michelle Bachmann, who was the first GOP candidate to sign the “FAMILY FIRST” marriage vow, commits its signatories to “rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights form of totalitarian control.”
Herman Cain: “Based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them” [3/21/11] “A reporter asked me, would I appoint a Muslim to my administration. I did say, ‘No. And here’s why. … I would have to have people totally committed to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. And many of the Muslims, they’re not totally dedicated to this country.” [03/28/11]
Newt Gingrich: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington... We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.” [08/15/11]
Rick Santorum: “The Islamization of Europe that is already on the way and will visit these shores not too soon is a concern for us and something that we need to identify and we need to talk about and we need to fight with every ounce of our being.” [2/28/2009]
Early 2011 saw a wave of anti-Sharia campaigns and bills. To date, bills in 22 states have been proposed that promote an anti-Sharia and anti-Islam agenda. Most of those challenged in court have been found unconstitutional, violating the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment by unfairly singling out Muslims and Islam.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded a tripling of anti-Arab hate crimes between 2000 and 2008.
Pastor Terry Jones, of Florida’s Dove World Outreach Center, planned “International Burn the Quran Day” for the ninth anniversary of 9/11. National outcry and appeals from military officials convinced Jones to stop his plans. Earlier this year, on March 20, 2011, Jones held a “trial of the Quran” at Dove World Outreach Center and found it “guilty of crimes against humanity.” He burned the Quran in the Center that day.
The Cordoba Initiative’s Park 51 project, an Islamic community center planned for Manhattan, sparked anti-Muslim and anti-Arab outrage when it was first mentioned in the fall of 2010.
Anti-Muslim activists, politicians, and some relatives of 9/11 victims claimed that the project was insensitive to victims of the attacks and to the American people. The debate brought what was a local zoning issue into the national media spotlight, with politicians and candidates around the nation weighing in on the issue prior to (and sometimes as a seeming platform of their) 2010 mid-term campaigns.
Engage in a national public education campaign to refute Islamophobic myths including those driving the hysteria about Sharia, and shed light on the true character of the Muslim community in America.
Hold candidates and public officials accountable for their rhetoric toward the American Muslim, Arab American, and South Asian American (MASA) community.
Alert the public of instances of Islamophobia through action alerts and media outreach.
Mount legal challenges to state and federal legislation targeting the MASA community.
Advocate for changes in federal and state policies that promote or sanction racial and ethnic profiling.
Support the End to Racial Profiling Act, which seeks to eliminate law enforcement policies that single out individuals or groups for heightened scrutiny and security procedures based on their national origin, ethnicity, race or religion.
Washington Post – November 1, 2011
Worker suing intelligence agency claims anti-Muslim bias
By Ed O'Keefe
A Northern Virginia man is suing one of the nation’s most secretive intelligence agencies, claiming it revoked his security clearance because his wife attended an Islamic school and works for a Muslim nonprofit.
Mahmoud M. Hegab, 30, hired last year as a budget analyst for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, filed the discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria last month.
In court papers, Hegab, who lives in Alexandria, said he joined the agency in January 2010 and told officials during his orientation that he had gotten married to Bushra Nusairat, 24, between the time of his security clearance investigation and the date he reported to work.
Mahmoud M. Hegab is suing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, claiming anti-Muslim bias. The NGA supplies satellite imagery to the military and requires its 16,000 workers to obtain a top secret security clearance as a condition of employment. But the agency revoked Hegab’s clearance in November 2010, citing concerns about Nusairat’s background. Hegab was placed on unpaid leave in January.
Nusairat is a program associate with Islamic Relief USA, a global nonprofit that provides food aid and public health and educational programs in poor or disaster-prone regions and whose director advises the U.S. Agency for International Development at the State Department.
Hegab’s attorney, Sheldon Cohen, argued in court papers that the decision to revoke his client’s clearance “was based solely” on his wife’s “religion, Islam, her constitutionally protected speech, and her association with, and employment by, an Islamic faith-based organization.”
Court papers also said that during the course of its investigation, the NGA discovered a photo believed to be of Nusairat attending a 2003 anti-Iraq war protest in Washington — when she was 16 years old.
As Hegab appealed the NGA’s decision in a series of written responses, he told the agency that his wife had been born and raised in Virginia and attended the Islamic Saudi Academy because her parents believed the school provided an education on par with other ethnic and religious-affiliated schools in the Washington area, according to court papers. Hegab said his wife attended the anti-war rally along with thousands of other Americans, including military veterans and lawmakers.
In March, the NGA told Hegab that he had mitigated the agency’s concerns regarding his wife’s educational background, but the agency maintained its concerns with Nusairat’s “current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin.”
Founded in 1993, Islamic Relief USA maintains offices in four states and has earned top accreditations and awards from charity auditors. Most recently, it worked with the Agriculture Department on a summer feeding program for underprivileged children and provided aid to victims of spring tornadoes in Alabama.
Lawyers said the Hegab case was the first they knew of where clearance was revoked because of a spouse’s ties to Islamic organizations. But federal agencies have a well-documented history of revoking clearances because of an employee’s family or marital ties.
During the Cold War, intelligence agencies regularly denied clearances to individuals whose spouses were involved with communist or so-called fellow traveler organizations. People with relatives in or from Russia or other Warsaw Pact countries also were denied clearances.
More recently, agencies have rejected applicants and employees because they have family living in the Middle East or Afghanistan, said Mark F. Riley, an Annapolis attorney who also handles security clearance cases. Riley recalled a client who dropped legal challenges against his federal employer because he needed to travel to a Middle Eastern country to bail out an imprisoned brother….
Orange County Register – November 3, 2011
Justice Dept. drops proposed law based on policy
of lying exposed in suit against FBI by OC Muslims
By Matt Coker
The ACLU, open government groups and members of Congress are applauding today's decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to abandon the legitimization of lying to the American people, which was recently exposed in a lawsuit brought by Muslims in Orange County and elsewhere in Southern California who the government has spied on.
The Justice Department had been seeking a federal regulation based on the decades-old policy where officials lied about not having documents when they really did.
The policy was exposed in a lawsuit the ACLU filed on behalf the Muslims (Islamic Shura Council v. FBI). The targeted Muslims -- who include Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations office in Anaheim -- filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on the FBI spying on them in 2006. The Justice Department repeatedly responded no such documents existed. Close Weekly readers know the FBI used Irvine informant and convicted felon Craig Monteilh to spy on Muslims at mosques in Irvine, Garden Grove and elsewhere in Southern California.
It didn't take Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana long to find the evidence that showed the government had repeatedly lied about the existence of documents showing it spied on Americans, many with no criminal records at all. The feds then responded they had to lie on national security grounds. Carney disagreed vehemently in his ruling last April.
The judge was not alone in his outrage. OpenTheGovernment.org, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, other open government groups and a bipartisan coalition of congressmen -- most notably U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado), and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Illinois) -- have all pressured the Justice Department to withdraw the fucked-up regulation.
While the ACLU applauds the Justice Department for seeming to do the right thing, the group remains weary that the policy of lying to the American public might be resumed some day.
"We're pleased that the Department of Justice intends to refrain from writing this type of deceptive practice into its regulations," says Ahilan Arulanantham, deputy legal director at the ACLU's Southern California office in Los Angeles. "But we're concerned at what we're not hearing: that DOJ won't at some point again try to conceal the truth from citizens and from the courts entrusted with protecting their civil rights. As the Obama Administration should know, our government can only function well when it is transparent."
The Daily Mail - November 4, 2011
Poster showing hanging Iranian
sparks outrage at Texas BBQ restaurant
By Lydia Warren
A poster on the wall of a barbecue restaurant depicting a hanging Iranian has sparked outrage and accusations of racism.
The sepia picture in Nonmacher’s Bar-B-Q in Katy, Texas shows armed men surrounding the hanged man and includes the caption: ‘Let’s play cowboys and Iranians.’
One member of the lynch mob wears a shirt that reads: ‘Iranians Suck.’
But despite cries of racism and threats of a protest on Saturday, the owner of Nonmacher’s has refused to remove the poster.
John Nonmacher said: ‘This is still America. If they're not happy here, then they should go back to Iran. ‘It’s my choice to have it up. It’s your choice to go where you want to go. But I’m not going to take it down.’
Nonmacher said the poster, which was taken in 1979 by photographer Mark McGarr, went on the wall when Americans were held hostage during the Iranian Revolution 30 years ago.
The 52 hostages, who were held at the American Embassy in Iran for 444 days, were all released without harm by their Islamist captors in 1981.
The poster has garnered criticism from across the country after one customer took a picture and posted it on Facebook, creating the group ‘Nonmacher's BBQ racism towards Iranians’.
Ayman Wafai, a Houston energy engineer of Syrian heritage, spoke to the owner after his wife spotted the picture. He said: ‘You know it’s 2011. Looking at it now, I see nothing really more than a display of racism and bigotry.’
'Spreading like wildfire': The barbecue restaurant in Katy, Texas is receiving scores of phone calls every day from people complaining about the poster
He added: 'Imagine this is a picture of an African American, and this is a public restaurant, and they have a picture of a man being lynched ... an African American being lynched. How ridiculous is that?'
Now hundreds of users of the social networking site have vented their anger on the page and vow to stage a protest at the restaurant.
Hundreds have also signed an online petition to remove the poster…..
Philadelphia Inquirer - November 07, 2011
Fired Muslim man claims Whole Foods bias
BY STEPHANIE FARR
A Muslim man who once was employed at the Whole Foods Callowhill store claims he was heckled by supervisors for praying in a storage area and fired from the supermarket for his religious beliefs.
The allegations are especially troubling because Whole Foods had a Ramadan promotion featuring its halal foods this year, said Amara Chaudhry, Philadelphia civil-rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is representing the dismissed employee.
"We believe that Whole Foods was discriminating against an employee on the basis of religion and it seems to contradict their prior efforts to court the Muslim community," Chaudhry said.
Glenn Mack Jr., 24, who worked for Whole Foods since 2008 and claims he never took a vacation, alleges that after he took 18 vacation days in November 2010 to attend a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, he was downgraded from full-time to seasonal status.
When he complained to the company's human-relations department that he felt he was being discriminated against because of his religion, he was returned to full-time status, Chaudhry said.
However, after he complained, Mack claims that on three or four occasions he was followed to a storage area where he'd always prayed without problems and was now being heckled by supervisors, Chaudhry said. The only place he felt safe to pray after that was near the store's Dumpster, she said.
Three months later, in February 2011, Mack was fired from the store, on Pennsylvania Avenue near 20th Street in Franklintown, and was told it was for attendance reasons, although he claims Whole Foods fabricated that rationale, Chaudhry said.
Mack filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March, Chaudhry said….
Associated Press - November 08, 2011
High court troubled by warrantless GPS tracking
The Supreme Court invoked visions of an all-seeing Big Brother and satellites watching us from above. Then things got personal Tuesday when the justices were told police could slap GPS devices on their cars and track their movements, without asking a judge for advance approval.
The occasion for all the talk about intrusive police actions was a hearing in a case about whether the police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. The outcome could have implications for other high-tech surveillance methods as well.
The justices expressed deep reservations about warrantless GPS tracking. But there also was no clear view about how or whether to regulate police use of the devices.
The justices were taken aback when the lawyer representing the government said police officers could install GPS devices on the justices’ cars and track their movements without a warrant. To get a warrant, investigators need to convince a judge that there is reason to believe a suspect is involved in criminal activity.
“So your answer is yes, you could tomorrow decide that you put a GPS device on every one of our cars, follow us for a month; no problem under the Constitution?’’ Chief Justice John Roberts said.
Not only that, government lawyer Michael Dreeben replied, but FBI agents wouldn’t need a warrant either if they wanted to rummage through the justices’ trash, use a low-tech beeper to track them or tail them around-the-clock with a team of agents. Dreeben said the court has previously ruled that people have no reasonable expectation of privacy in those circumstances.
Justice Samuel Alito captured the essence of the court’s concern when he said, “With computers around, it’s now so simple to amass an enormous amount of information. How do we deal with this? Just say nothing has changed?’’
Justice Stephen Breyer alluded to George Orwell’s novel “1984’’ when he said surveillance in the past depended on human beings and their sometimes flawed memories. But computers don’t have that problem, he said.
“The question that I think people are driving at, at least as I understand it and certainly share the concern, is that if you win this case then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States,’’ Breyer said.
Roberts drew a comparison with artwork to explain his perception of the power of GPS surveillance. “You’re talking about the difference between seeing a little tile and a mosaic,’’ Roberts said.
But Dreeben said it would be better for lawmakers rather than judges to set limits. Dreeben said the concerns expressed Tuesday were similar to those in the earlier high court case. Thirty years ago, Dreeben said, “Beeper technology seemed extraordinarily advanced.’’
The court shouldn’t make special rules for GPS devices just because they allow the police to be more efficient in capturing and analyzing data, Dreeben said………….