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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

NEW ACTION ALERT! The HLF Trial, Unindicted Co-conspirators & Fairness Play over Fear

Amad Abu Reem

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Dallas area newspaper Star Telegram printed an Islamophobic opinion-piece by Cal Thomas, accusing all Muslims of being a “fifth column”. Thomas basically blames the trial result on the ineptness of the jury or the prosecutors. He goes to mention ICNA and ISNA as part of the radical Islamic front. It is our duty as Muslims in America to respond to this alarmist Islamophobic rhetoric. Write a letter to the Editor: letters@star-telegram.com. In the comment section below, I have included the letter that I e-mailed in to the paper (sample, do not duplicate, please use for reference only).

You should note that Cal Thomas is part of the right-wing nuts and a regular panelist on Fox Noise. In response to a suicide attack in Israel, he wrote:

Israel should declare its intention to transfer large numbers of its Palestinian residents to Arab nations. This sounds radical until one considers that is precisely what Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have done. After the Palestinians assisted Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War (which Arafat cheered while calling on Hussein to shell Israel), Kuwait forcibly evicted and transferred to Jordan about 300,000 Palestinians, labeling them as traitors and a fifth column. Saudi Arabia also recognized Arafat’s betrayal of their Kuwaiti hosts by transferring about 350,000 Palestinians to Jordan.[1]

Notice the use of the “fifth column” first to justify for Palestinian eviction, and now to cause alarms against Muslims… for what? To expel us too or to intern us?

Also Dallas Morning News had more letters against the HLF trial results than for it. Please also send a note there by clicking here, congratulating the Texan jury for choosing justice over fear-mongering.

——————–

An excellent article from the great human-rights activist, Cherif Bassiouni, on the Holy Land Trial & the victory of Fair Play over Fear Mongering (hat-tip CAIR email list):

A prosecution that is likely to go down in the record books as one of the great abuses of the American legal process ended with a mistrial yesterday in Dallas, Texas.

The politicized case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), an American charity providing aid to needy families in Palestine, alleged material support for a terrorist organization. This was so even while the government conceded that HLF only provided assistance to real charitable organizations and persons.

Yet the prosecution’s “Alice in Wonderland” theory postulates that in so doing, HLF freed Hamas from its burden to fund charitable activities in Palestine, thus having more resources to direct toward terrorist activities.

The government could only build its case on overstretched assumptions and associations. It failed to prove any credible conspiratorial linkage between the Americans who operated HLF in Texas and those who operate Hamas in Palestine.

As far-fetched as the theory itself was, the evidence presented by the government to support that theory failed to connect the dots. And on Thursday, October 18, the jury returned a sealed verdict that – not surprisingly – did not include a single guilty verdict on any of the 197 charges.

However, the judge was out of town and the verdict could not be read until Monday, October 22. By then, some members of the jury apparently had misgivings, and after the verdict was read and the jury polled, three jurors contested the unanimous nature of the verdict. The judged ordered further deliberations after which 11 of the 12 jurors concurred with the original verdict and one did not, thus causing the judge to declare a mistrial.

What is additionally outrageous in this case is the fact that the Department of Justice named 306 individuals and organizations as un-indicted co-conspirators in the case. The exhaustive list includes several major American Muslim organizations in this country.

Such intimidation and harassment leveled against American Muslims and their religious, civic and charitable organizations by this administration is yet another manifestation of the recent erosion of American constitutional freedoms. The fear-mongering campaign opted for by many in this administration – and supported by avowedly anti-Muslim groups – has created a climate of Islamophobia that is contrary to the basic values of this otherwise tolerant country.

But it is the assault upon constitutional freedoms under the guise of terrorist-related prosecutions that is most shocking.

Since 2002, an estimated 500 cases have been brought against Muslims in America. Half of these have been dismissed as being without merit. The rest have all resulted in either acquittals or negotiated pleas on minor charges which are unrelated to the original indictment. Of the 500 cases, it is estimated that some 30 of them may have had some reasonable foundation in law.

In no other area of prosecution has the Department of Justice produced such an extraordinarily high percentage of dismissed cases and cases resulting in guilty pleas on unrelated charges. This, in itself, raises concerns that these prosecutions were informed by the fear-mongering claims of the current administration that terrorism à-la 9/11 may become an indigenous product and that American Muslims may be a new clear and present danger.

Not only is this outrageously wrong, it is un-American in every respect.

These overreaches and abuses by the Department of Justice, not the least of which is the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian – who continues to linger in jail because of a vindictive prosecutorial approach against someone who was never proven to have been guilty of any terrorist-related charges – weakens our democracy rather than protects it.

The inclusion of 306 un-indicted co-conspirators as mentioned above is intended to put these organizations and individuals on notice that they should not stand up for their rights under the Constitution.

Obviously, these charges are also intended to dry up contributions and support for these organizations and eventually open them up to frivolous lawsuits for damages by those who have been victims of terrorism elsewhere.

The perverse nature of the un-indicted co-conspirator designation made public in the HLF case is that those so-designated cannot challenge the designation in a court of law and thus have no way to restore their reputation to its earlier standing. This is a unique situation where any person or organization can be designated “guilty by association” and stigmatized as such without legal redress.

There is no doubt that the Department of Justice in selecting that list of 306 organizations and individuals intended to accomplish such results, especially for three of the largest and most effective American Muslim organizations: The Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The situation described above requires action by Congress and by those American organizations and individuals who cherish their constitution and who believe in the American way of democracy and freedom for all.

If the present tactics of the Department of Justice continue, it will not be long before American Muslims suffer the same fate Japanese-Americans did in World War II.

Demonizing an entire minority group based on suspicion and fear-mongering was wrong then, and it is wrong now. We cannot allow such a blot on our history to be repeated.

I am confident that America’s sense of decency and fair play will ultimately prevail.

Cherif Bassiouni is a professor of law at DePaul University and president of the International Human Rights Law Institute. He received Texas Dawah’s 2006 Award for the Celebration of Muslim-Americans’ Successes. Click here to view a PBS interview with Professor Bassiouni.

Imad Shaykh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Imad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Amad

    Amad

    October 25, 2007 at 10:33 PM

    Mr. Bassiouni s a great human right activist…

    He was forced out of the United Nations in 2005 under pressure from the Bush administration just days after he released a report criticizing the US for committing human rights abuses:

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/28/1346246

    In other words, he is another victim of the Bush theocracy… a great American!

  2. Avatar

    ...

    October 26, 2007 at 2:22 AM

    Sorry for being off topic, but I have spent atleast 1hr on this site searching for the article I read a while back by Yasir Qadhi on Gelatin in foods. PLz can someone help. A sister needs this info.
    I am extremely sorry for putting this request in an inappropriate place.
    Assalaam alaikum.

    He has some comments here: http://muslimmatters.org/2007/07/09/of-mice-and-men-the-cheese-factor/

  3. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 3:00 PM

    Sample letter (do not duplicate) sent to Star-Telegram (read top of post for more details). I hope many Muslims will write and make their voices heard. If you do decide to write it, please try to share with others in order to encourage a wave of letters inshallah!

    Dear Editor
    I was disappointed to read Cal Thomas’s prejudiced article (A new fifth column dated October 26, 2007), which is a pure case of sour grapes. Mr. Thomas in essence claims that since the jury did not return his favored guilty verdict, henceforth they must be either wrong or that the case wasn’t presented properly. Mr. Thomas doesn’t stop at the HLF trial, but rather proclaims Islamophobic accusations of Muslims as being a fifth column. It seems Mr. Thomas hasn’t learned from history. He wants a repeat of the McCarthy era, by defaming all Americans Muslims as being against America’s interests. Thus, he uses the same techniques of “guilt by association” in naming other Islamic organizations such as ICNA and ISNA, neither of whom have ever faced any formal prosecution, let alone been found guilty of any crimes or connections to terrorism. When one considers that the main accused party, HLF, could not be found guilty of even one single charge, then how is it that one should believe or accept any of the charges and claims against the other un-indicted co-conspirators in the document that Mr. Thomas mentions? I would like to remind Mr. Thomas that the Supreme Court declared such guilty by association, McCarthyite techniques 30 years ago as unconstitutional, and it is our “American duty” to abide by the essence of the ruling.

    All Texans should be proud of the 11 jurors in Texas, who refused to give in to the rising Islamophobia and bigotry in politics and society, paying objective attention only to the case specifics (not the religion or appearance of the accused) in returning the not-guilty verdicts. If this can happen in the deep South, there is hope in the justice system for all Americans, and especially for the Muslim citizens of this great nation.

    Amad

  4. Avatar

    fahmed

    October 26, 2007 at 4:23 PM

    Star Telegram also carried a good article on the HLF case

    An unholy case, flawed from the beginning by BOB RAY SANDERS

    Its worth-while to send a letter of appreciation to Star-telegram and the author of this piece as well.

  5. Amad

    Amad

    October 26, 2007 at 7:09 PM

    fahmed, jak for the link. I still do maintain that there cannot be balance in racism.

    t does not excuse having a defamatory, Islamophobic story in the first place to balance:

    How would one like balance with a story that reflects racism one day and another one that reflects anti-racism… would that be acceptable? Or antisemitic one day and anti anti-semitism the next… would that be ok? Neither will fly.

    There shouldn’t be a question about balance when articles are defamatory, and racist in nature (which Islamophobia is).

  6. Pingback: muslimmatters.org » “Preliminary Victory” In Imams’ Suit Against US Airways

  7. Pingback: Sami Al-Arian’s Ramadan Gift: HE GOT BAIL !! | MuslimMatters.org

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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#Culture

Retire Aladdin To The Ends Of The Earth

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By Jinan Shbat

I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb in Ohio, where I never felt different than the kids in my neighborhood. Sure, my siblings and I had odd-sounding names, and we spoke a second language. But to our neighbors and classmates, we were white, like them. However, that perception changed when I was 11-years-old, when a Disney cartoon movie named “Aladdin,” was released based off of a character created by a French orientalist at the height of Orientalism. At first, my siblings and I were excited because we thought Disney had made a movie that represented us. However, shortly after the movie came out, the questions began.

Are you from Agrabah?

Do you have a magic carpet? Are you going to be married off to someone your parents choose? Do you have outfits like Jasmine?” My head was swarming with all these questions, and I admit, I was intimidated. A little scared, too. I didn’t know how to answer them, and so I just shook my head and walked away.

My parents thought they were doing us a favor by buying the movie and have us watch it anytime other kids came over to play. This just created a larger divide between us, and soon my siblings and I were the “other.” It made me hyper-aware of my brown skin, my visiting foreign grandparents, and my weird-sounding name that no one could ever pronounce correctly. As I grew up, the movie and its racist, Orientalist tropes followed and haunted me. Anytime anyone found out I was Arab, they would ask, “oh, like Aladdin?” I didn’t know how to answer that. Was Aladdin Arab? South Asian, Persian? These were all different ethnicities, yet the movie seemed to be an amalgamation of them all, set in a fiction land I could not identify.

Why is Disney’s Aladdin Harmful?

It may not seem like a big deal to be misidentified in this way, but it is. And these stereotypes that have been present in Hollywood for decades are a huge disservice to our communities- all our communities- because when you misidentify a person’s culture, you are saying that all people of color are interchangeable— which is dehumanizing.

With the new release of the live action version, “Aladdin” is reinforcing the trauma and obstacles we have had to fight for the last 30+ years. The addition of a diversity consulting firm made Disney look good; it showed good faith on their part to receive feedback on the script to try and improve it.

However, issues remain with the original story itself, and no amount of consulting will change that.

Although the Aladdin remake was marked by controversy over Disney “brown-facing” its white cast, and despite original Aladdin’s racist history, last weekend Disney’s live-action version soared to $207.1 million globally. Money experts tell us that the remake success comes from the “power of nostalgia”- that is, the film’s ability to connect with feel-good memories.

The original production is the second highest grossing film project in Disney history. Last weekend, millions flocked to the remake in record numbers, despite critics’ negative and mixed reviews.

The accompanying Aladdin Jr. play is also a major concern, sales of which will skyrocket because of the film. Disney only recently removed the word ‘barbaric’ in its description of Arabs in the opening song. Many more problems abound, but Disney promises through its licensing company, Music Theatre International, to keep the concepts explored in the original production intact.

A Whole New World Needs Less Anti-Muslim Bigotry

From my perspective, as an organizer that fights a huge Islamophobia network in my daily work, it would be a disservice to my work and our community to sit by and allow racist, Islamophobic, orientalist tropes to make their way into our theaters, homes, and schools. What exactly is not a big deal in this movie? The depiction of Arabs and South Asians as one demographic, the storyline of forced marriage, power struggles, a black man playing a genie literally bound by chains to a lamp?

Hollywood’s history of Islamophobia needs to be rectified. There is a plethora of writers, actors and creative minds with alternative positive portrayals of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians. Our consumer appetite must shift to embrace authentic stories and images about people like me.

Aladdin is beyond repair; in its original form, it is problematic. No number of meetings with executives will fix the problems that are still prevalent. It should be retired, indefinitely, and put on the shelf with all the other racist caricatures from Hollywood history.

It’s our duty to speak out- and if you don’t believe we should, then you can choose to stay silent. I cannot.

Jinan Shbat is an organizer in Washington DC.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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