What a great opportunity for the CAIR-critics to spin this one monstrously (FOX was of course not far behind; by the way you can click HERE to “get back” at FOX a bit)! If you don’t know at all what I am talking about, read it here. Sadly, many Muslims fell into the trap and started circulating e-mails asking CAIR not to sue the passengers, but only the airline. Of course, they missed the simple rule… VERIFY. Especially when it concerns your Muslim brothers and sisters or your Muslim organizations. Also, Becket Fund, a respectable organization, got involved with an open letter (here’s a news article from the ‘fiendly’ Washington Times), and of course Congressional Republicans didn’t want to be too far behind to obtain some positive PR at the expense of CAIR; always a win-win for them with the media firmly in control of the anti-CAIR lobby.
So, who did CAIR in fact sue? Here’s the story on CAIR’s response… and the entire letter from CAIR to Becket is appended below. So, next time you want to jump at CAIR’s throat, ask yourself, what would you do if you were the victim of a false reporting? What if a neighbor reported to the police that you were loading ammonium nitrate bags into your truck, resulting in a SWAT operation at your house? Would you just let that go in the kindness of your heart? Perhaps you would let it go, but if you did not want to let it go, would it be not your full right to take your neighbor to task legally? Especially if he denies it or if there are conflicting reports? So, the same goes in this situation with CAIR and the Imams… Why not let the Court decide? Why are we so afraid of getting to the bottom of the situation? Only one party speaks the truth: the Imams or the Passengers, and since the media seems to have already defamed the Imams with no redress from US West, how else are they going to seek justice for what they they underwent? So, those who jumped on the anti-CAIR-suing bandwagon, for next time let’s think, and then act.
CAIR RESPONDS TO BECKET FUND LETTER ON IMAMS’ LAWSUIT
Dear Mr. Hasson:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) would like to respond to your open letter dated March 23, 2007, regarding Shqeirat et. al. v. US Airways Group, Inc. et. al.
SEE: An Open Letter regarding Shqeirat, et al. v. US Airways Group, Inc., et al. (“The Case of the Flying Imams”)
We trust that the Becket Fund and CAIR share the same objective of upholding the Constitution and preventing violations of religious and civil rights.
Unfortunately, your letter was misleading and mischaracterized the lawsuit brought against US Airways by the six imams. It appears you believe the false allegations promoted by irresponsible and unaccountable parties on the Internet that the imams and their lawyers intend to target “ordinary citizens” who were simply reporting suspicious activity.
Mr. Omar Mohammedi, the attorney representing the imams, has repeatedly asserted that this is not the case. The only individuals against whom suit may be raised in this litigation are those who may have knowingly made false reports against the imams with the intent to discriminate against them.
The imams will not sue any passengers who reported suspicious activity in good faith, even when the “suspicious” behavior included the imams’ constitutionally-protected right to practice their religion without fear or intimidation.
When a person makes a false report with the intent to discriminate, he or she is not acting in good faith.
Since March 19, 2007, several days prior to your letter, the imams’ attorney has repeatedly clarified this position in media outlets including the Star Tribune (Minnesota) Fox News and The Nation. He has also amended the complaint to reflect this clarification. (Footnote 1)
We stand by the principle that when anyone’s rights are diminished, the rights of all Americans are threatened and we do recognize this works both ways.
I believe we can both agree that Americans do not have the right to make false reports with the intent to discriminate. It is a criminal offense that disturbs public order and creates unnecessary fear, suspicion and division in any society. (Footnote 2)
Making false reports of suspicious behavior with the intent to discriminate during a time of war is doubly harmful. It not only harms the persons against whom false reports are made, but wastes urgently-needed law enforcement resources.
We can also agree that Americans do have the right to be free from baseless accusations made to law enforcement because of their faith, ethnicity or race, and that they have a right to confront those who may make such false reports.
Having said this, please know that the focus of the imams’ claim is the conduct of US Airways. The lawsuit asserts that the airline and its personnel discriminated against the imams and treated them as if they were common criminals because of their religion and ethnicity.
I would like to thank you for your legal advice and for sharing your theory on proper civil rights litigation.
However, we must respectfully disagree with your assertion that naming individual defendants in civil rights litigation is bad legal form.
Actually, the civil rights movement taught us that discrimination is not exclusive to federal or state governments, but that private individuals unfortunately do sometimes engage in discriminatory conduct that causes harm to other people.
As a result, civil rights actions have been brought against individuals in several civil rights contexts, including housing discrimination and false/discriminatory arrest cases.
Public opinion may not view this case favorably, but again as the civil rights movement taught us, any initiative to racial and religious justice is not always popular, particularly in its early stages.
We now rightly view the “rabble rousers” and “troublemakers” who defended African-Americans in the courts as champions of social justice and civil rights. CAIR takes these champions as our example and works toward adding to their great legacy.
The attorney representing the imams is an officer of the court with extensive experience in civil rights litigation. (Footnote 3) His religion is irrelevant to the legal issues in the imams’ case. Any civil rights attorney should be willing to defend the civil liberties of these religious leaders.
Finally, CAIR has great respect for your organization’s work in advancing the cause of religious liberty and we have worked with you in the past on a number of issues. That is why we were surprised that you sent your open letter characterizing the lawsuit in a manner contrary to the clarifications previously made by Mr. Mohammedi.
CAIR is shocked at your reference in the media to the imams’ case as “legal terrorism” (Footnote 4) and concerned that you find your group opposing this litigation. (We are also concerned about your use of stereotypical and derogatory terms such as “The Case of the Flying Imams.”)
Additionally, we are deeply disappointed that nowhere in your letter did you recognize the imams as the possible victims of religious discrimination, nor did you recognize the imams’ right to defend their freedom of religion.
We find your letter to be inconsistent with your organization’s mission.
We do agree with you that we should not allow a “chilling” effect on an individual’s right to report suspicious behavior in good faith, which is not the case in this litigation. However, you seem very comfortable contributing to a national environment that chills the right of American Muslims, Arab-Americans and South Asians to redress violations of their civil rights.
This chilling effect is caused by labeling efforts to protect Muslim civil rights in court as “legal terrorism” and warning that the public will view this case as “Muslim lawyers running amok.”
The American Muslim community has been profiled by law enforcement in the past and has been the target of numerous false allegations made by fellow Americans with the intent to discriminate.
Many airlines are being sued because people who are, or are perceived to be, Muslim, Arab-American and South Asian have been profiled based on their race, language and religious appearance and not based on suspicious activities. See Cerqueira v. American Airlines, Inc., 2005 WL 4799302 (D. Mass) and Klein v. American Airlines, Inc. (SDNY 2006).
“[A]bout a century ago. . .the nation went through much the same anguish. Catholic immigrants were pressured to convert to Protestantism. German immigrants were suspected of spying. Chinese and Italians were accused of spreading disease and suspect cuisine. Americans have learned a great deal since then about assimilation and tolerance, but some lessons have to be learned over and over, even if the classroom turns out to be a courtroom.” (Footnote 5)
I hope that upon reading this letter, and looking further into the imams’ case, you will no longer find yourself in opposition to their effort to clear their names and defend their religious liberty.
At the very least, we ask you to please refrain from using such charged statements such as “legal terrorism” when referring to a civil rights case brought by American Muslims. It is not constructive and only adds to the empty and sensationalistic rhetoric of those who seek to disparage and demonize a segment of our society.
I am more than willing to meet with you to discuss this case.
1. On March 19, 2007, he was quoted as saying: “I think there is a difference between someone reporting suspicious activity and someone making false reports about a fact that did not exist. . .” (Back )
See: Imams May Sue Airline Passengers (The Nation)
See also: US Airways Passengers Who Reported “Suspicious” Imam Activity May Be Sued (Fox News)
Again on March 22, 2007, Mr. Mohammedi told the Star Tribune that the suit “is directed at the airlines and the airport, not passengers. . .If someone has a legitimate security concern, we’re not going after that person, or if someone saw them praying and reported that out of ignorant fear, we aren’t going to target that.”
See: Attorney Offers Aid to Defendants in Imam Suit (Star Tribune)
Additionally, the complaint now identifies possible John Does as “individuals who on November 20, 2006, may have made false reports against Plaintiffs solely with the intent to discriminate against them on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity and national origin.” Paragraph 21 of Complaint
2. See 18 USCS 1001 (2007) (Back )
3. He has represented the Amadou Diallo family in their suit against the NYPD and tried other prominent civil rights cases on behalf of Muslims and people of other faiths. (Back )
Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good
For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad , are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.
Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.
Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.
The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.
As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.
From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.
Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.
Muslim individuals and families
- Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
- They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
- Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
- They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
- They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
- They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
- They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.
Muslim bodies and institutions
- Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
- By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
- It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
- Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
- Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.
#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives
Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019 at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.
Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.
News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.
Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.
The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.
“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”
MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.
You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar
At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source: DMagazine.com
The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News
“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman
Source: Bend The Arc
“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman
Source: Kera News
Source: The Carter Center
Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred
“My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN
From Sri Lanka – The Niqab Ban and The Politics of Distraction
This article was originally published on Groundviews
As of last Monday, Sri Lanka is taking a seat at the table next to a list of 13 other countries from across the world who have passed legislation banning the niqab or face veil.
Amidst incensed murmurs from certain parliamentarians, and following a discussion with the country’s main Islamic theological body, the All Ceylon Jammiatul Ulema (ACJU), the President’s office has announced that ‘any garment or item which obstructs the identification of a person’s face would be barred.’ Sri Lanka has been under emergency regulations following the Easter Sunday attacks which killed over 250 people. The ban will hold until emergency regulations are lifted.
Ever since the identification of the all-male terrorists behind the massacre as members of militant group ISIS, Muslim women -for some inexplicable reason- were to bear the hardest brunt. Instances of headscarved Muslim women being refused entry at various supermarkets and prominent establishments, was followed by the usual scaremongering via alarmist infographics doing the rounds yet again ‘educating’ the public of the differences between the burqa, hijab, and chador.
A victory indeed for both anti-Muslim voices, as well as to many within the Muslim community seeking to audibly amputate themselves from a supposedly dated form of Islam – one that they claim has no bearing to inherent Sri Lankan Muslim identity. A view that discards the notion that any religious or ethnic identity is fluid, in flux, and subject to constant evolution.
The grand slam however is primarily for the current political establishment, members of whom are probably high-fiving each other as a result of this kneejerk symbol-politics manoeuvre on having supposedly successfully placated the public of their fears of homegrown terrorism. A move that bleeds hypocrisy for it comes at the cost of subliminally ‘othering’ an already marginalized segment of a minority community, while at the same time PSA’ing for peace and coexistence in this time of crisis.
What is most insulting to the intelligence of our society however, is that amidst all this brouhaha, only few have questioned the actual relevance of this new ban to the current state of our security affairs.
No eye witness report nor CCTV footage showed that any of the suicide bombers from any of the coordinated attacks across the country were on that day wearing the niqab/burqa/chador at the time of inflicting their terror. The men were in fact dressed in men’s attire, with faces completely exposed. It might serve to add here also that they weren’t dressed in traditional Muslim man garb either.
How then did the face veiling Muslim woman get pushed under the bus as the most identifiable sign of radicalism?
It is obvious that the government was cornered into passing this legislation, as was the ACJU too in having to support this move. While all communities have only their praises to sing for the exceptional work of the security forces in tracking down the attackers within only just hours, the country’s elected leadership was in dire need of respite following what many experts claim was a massive intelligence failure, a blunder involving the wrongful identification of a terror suspect, and incompetence in the handling of events overall. A distraction was desperately required. Something needed to give, and it just so happened that the niqab-donning Muslim woman was the easiest scapegoat.
To an outsider unfamiliar with Muslim religious symbolism, the face-veil can come across as alien, even unnerving. And while our first instinct is to otherize in an attempt to help deal with the discomfort of dealing with any unknown, a woman out in the street in a niqab is -for as long as anyone can remember- most certainly not an oddity that has compelled anyone to stop and recite their final rites.
The misguided belief that the face veil is a marker of extremism isn’t and hasn’t ever been based on any empirical research. If studies were to be carried out, results would show that Muslim women in general -let alone those with a face cover- have a little role to play, if any, for acts of terror committed in all the countries that have banned them.
Contrarily, there is a clear proven relationship between terrorist attacks and increases in recorded Islamophobic incidents against Muslims, with women being disproportionately targeted. One can then dare infer that being visibly Muslim carries a greater risk to oneself, than to the people around them.
The niqab ban has been put in place as a security measure they say – a flexing of muscles towards any semblance of radicalization that will deter any future acts of terror in the country. Naturally, the perpetuating of this ideological hegemony is doing Muslim women no favors. If anything, the ban is a wholly counterproductive one, in that it ostracizes an already marginalized segment of a minority community – a sliver of a percentage out of the 10% that is the country’s Muslim population.
If -as commonly believed- veiled Muslim women are being hopelessly persecuted, the ban will serve only to increasingly confine these women to their homes, under the control of the men accused of governing their lives, and further disconnected from being able to assimilate with society. Even more dangerous, there are studies which prove that having to live in an environment that is aggressively policed on the basis of belief is more likely to harbour radicalization.
Absurdity of the non-connection of the attacks with the niqab ban aside, this in itself should be a war cry for secular feminists advocating for everyone’s basic right to the civil freedoms of a liberal society. Where now are the proponents and ambassadors so wholly soaked in the ‘Muslim woman saviour complex?’ A segment of Muslim women has been forbidden from wearing what they feel best represents their Sri Lankan Muslim identity. They were not consulted before this legislation was passed, nor were they given the chance to show their willingness to cooperate on instances where identification was required.
Ludicrously, discourses surrounding veiled Muslim women are paradoxically lobbed back and forth according to the convenience of the times. In times of world peace, they are oppressed and subservient to patriarchal whims and fancies, while in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack there are hostile and threatening, capable of devising all kinds of evil. They are either victims of violence or the perpetrators of it.
This age-old preoccupation with Muslim women’s attire is in actuality a gross conflation of conservatism with extremism. In claiming that a strip of cloth holds the answer to combatting a severe global threat is trivialising the greater issues at hand. If there was a direct correlation between the attacks and veiled individuals, legislation forbidding the covering of the face in public would be wholly justified. But there is none.
Muslim women shouldn’t be faulted for the cracks in the state’s china. In not being able to answer the hard questions of accountability, lapses in acting on available intelligence, and general good governance, those at the top should leave well alone and consider hiding their faces instead.
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