Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Hate Crime at Florida Sam's Club?
[D]erar Ahmad, 30, a Largo resident of Palestinian descent, was shopping at Sam's Club, 2575 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., on Jan. 24 when he was verbally and physically assaulted by another customer....
Ahmad, a gas station manager, said he was speaking on his cell phone to his wife in Arabic when he entered the store. A man whom Ahmad said he had never seen before came running up to him and started yelling anti-Islamic and anti-Arab slurs.
"F--- your Allah," Ahmad said the man shouted. "F--- your Mohammed."
Ahmad said the man jabbed his finger at his head, forcing him to look down and shouted that Ahmad needed to go back to his own country.
Bedier and Ahmad said no Sam's Club employee intervened. When a security guard approached the two, Ahmad said, the guard told the men to take care of their business outside.
Another customer in the store, Deborah Butler, 45, witnessed the incident and said she first thought the men knew each other and were joking. When she realized the shouting was more serious, she called 911.
Butler and Ahmad said the security guard warned the unidentified man to leave before police arrived....
"They said words, didn't even make me feel like a human," Ahmad said.
Butler, a St. Petersburg resident, said she will no longer shop at Sam's Club. [Link]
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Survey: Young Muslims in Britain Are More Politicized. Blame Multiculturalism?
Results of a survey released yesterday by the Policy Exchange, a center-right British think tank, are causing a bit of a stir....
The author of the survey, titled “Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism”..., blamed the government’s long-running policy of embracing cultural differences, rather than encouraging and embracing “difference.”
Said the report’s lead author, Munira Mirza, in a press statement accompanying the survey’s release:
The emergence of a strong Muslim identity in Britain is, in part, a result of multicultural policies implemented since the 1980s which have emphasized difference at the expense of shared national identity and divided people along ethnic, religious and cultural lines.[Link]
Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Arab Groups Protest Glenn Beck's Hiring
Three groups are urging ABC News not to keep CNN Headline News personality Glenn Beck on as a "Good Morning America" commentator because they believe he's biased against Arabs.
The Arab American Institute, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council all said Thursday they had written to ABC News President David Westin about Beck....
The groups said that Beck - who's drawing strong ratings with his evening show on CNN Headline News - has stated on his show that Arab and Muslim Americans are apathetic to terrorism. During an interview in November with Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, Beck asked him to "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."
"That blatant anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bias has been given credibility on a larger news show is something that concerns us," said Arab American Institute spokeswoman Jennifer Kauffman.
Beck has said that his question to Ellison was poorly worded.
"My message is clear: Islam is a peaceful religion for over 90 percent of the world's Muslims," he said. "I have urged viewers repeatedly to understand this, while asking all of the proud, peaceful Muslims here in America to take a more visible role in our fight against those who make a mockery of the Quran. I also make airtime available, at any time, to any Muslim organization to help reinforce this realistic, peaceful view of Islam." [Link]
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Amnesty International USA: Human Rights Agenda for the 110th U.S. Congress
Racial profiling has historically been used to target the African American, Native American and Hispanic/Latino American community and, since September 11, 2001, law enforcement has increased the use of racial profiling of Arab American, Muslim American, and South Asian American communities. Under the US Constitution and international treaties, every person has the fundamental right to equal protection under the law regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Targeting people for law enforcement activity based solely on their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is humiliating, degrading, and discriminatory, and it has been proven to be an ineffective investigatory technique. Congress should pass an End Racial Profiling Act to ban the use of racial profiling in federal, state, and local law enforcement. [Link]
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Department of Justice and SALDEF Release New Law Enforcement Roll Call Training Video
This past Wednesday, January 17, 2006, the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the Department of Justice in partnership with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the largest and oldest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization, released a first of its kind police roll call training video titled, On Common Ground – Sikh American Cultural Awareness for Law Enforcement.
The ground breaking 17-minute training video was developed by SALDEF for the Community Relations Service and released at an event attended by over 150 members of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as prominent members of the civil rights and Sikh American community.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there has been a sharp increase in the number of hate incidents and hate crimes against Sikh Americans of South Asian decent. These attacks have been primarily due to the lack of awareness and the common misconception that Sikh Americans are either from the Middle East, Arab or Muslim.
Speaking in absentia, United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez noted, “The film is designed to educate law enforcement working in non-emergency circumstances about cultural norms of Sikh Americans. It makes clear that Sikhs are an integral part of American society. I commend CRS, and I offer my sincere appreciation to CRS and SALDEF for their perseverance and creative effort in producing this educational film.” [SALDEF Press Release]
Friday, January 19, 2007
Movie keeps memory, message alive
Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was a respected gasoline station owner in east Mesa who built a new life after emigrating from India.
Sodhi and his three brothers chose the United States because our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.
He was slain outside his gas station four days after the terrorist attacks simply because he wore a turban as required by his Sikh faith. His attacker thought he looked like an Arab....
Soon, I would learn that Sikhs are different from Muslims, that they come from a different region, that their religion teaches religious tolerance because of their belief that there is more than one path to God.
As the death penalty trial of Sodhi's assailant, Frank Roque, played out weeks later in a Mesa courtroom, I also learned that the family was not vengeful, that all they wanted was a guilty verdict because Sikhs believe everyone is accountable to God and that they were repulsed by Roque's insanity defense....
"In my inside, I feel I must spend my whole life educating people. I'm trying to make my future better for myself and my children," said Rana Singh Sodhi, who lives in Gilbert.
He has spoken about religious tolerance to children in his 8-year-old son's classroom.
Now, his mission is about to get national attention. His battle for religious tolerance and his faith in American ideals is the focus of A Dream in Doubt, a documentary that premieres Sunday at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival is a showcase for first-time film directors....
[Director Tami] Yeager plans to show the documentary at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Feb. 22, and at the International Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco. She said her hope is that it will be shown nationally someday by PBS, or at least be picked up independently by PBS stations throughout the country.
Muslim Temple Leader Accuses Police Of Hate Crime, Beating
The spiritual leader of a South Side Muslim temple is threatening a federal civil rights suit, now that charges of battery against a police officer and obstruction of justice have been dropped against him.
The attorney representing Grand Sheik Clifford Jackson-Bey said he expected that the suit would be filed by Monday, naming 4th District officers involved in the Nov. 25 arrest and the city of Chicago.
During a news conference at a West Side restaurant, Jackson-Bey's attorney, Lewis Meyers, charged that Jackson-Bey was the victim of "anti-Muslim" sentiment and a hate crime.
Meyers said his client was beaten about the face, head, shoulders and body in the back of a Chicago Police squad car after informing the officers that other officers, from the same district, had arrested his son three days earlier. [Link]
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
US Department of Justice and SALDEF to Release New Police Roll Call Training Video about Sikh and South Asian Americans
The Community Relations Service (CRS) of the Department of Justice will release a new police roll call training video titled On Common Ground – Understanding Sikh Americans on January 17, 2007. The goal of the training video is to increase awareness and develop a better understanding about the cultural practices of Sikh and South Asian Americans among law enforcement officials.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there has been a sharp increase in the number of hate incidents and hate crimes against Sikh Americans of South Asian descent. These attacks have been primarily due to the lack of awareness and the common misconception that Sikh Americans are either from the Middle East, Arab or Muslim.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) developed the film for the Community Relations Service. The ground-breaking 17-minute training video will be distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement officials across the country. The training video includes detailed information about cultural practices and articles of faith that are commonly unfamiliar to law enforcement. The protocols for the respectful handling of the articles of faith recommended in the training video are designed with officer safety in mind and are to be followed only in a non-emergency, non-crisis situation.
What: Release of police roll call training video titled: On Common Ground – Understanding Sikh Americans
When: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 4:30 p.m.
The Charles Sumner School
1201 17th Street, NW
Washington DC 20036
(Enter at NE corner of 17th and M Street, under the Sumner School Banner)
The Community Relations Service previously developed a similar training video designed to educate law enforcement and community groups on Arab, and Muslim Americans. The previous CRS training video, “The First Three to Five Seconds,” was widely successful and is being used by the Department of Homeland Security currently it to train all of their law enforcement staff.
Represented agencies and organizations at the event will include the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) , and civil rights leaders from across the nation.
To attend the event, please RSVP Rajbir Singh Datta at 202-393-2700 ext 27 or firstname.lastname@example.org [Email from SALDEF]
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
DNSI Welcomes New Advisory Board Members
DNSI is very pleased to announce the addition of three individuals to its advisory board. We look forward to working closely with these very accomplished and dedicated individuals!
Anil Kalhan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
Anil Kalhan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law. Before coming to Fordham, he was an Associate in Law at Columbia University School of Law, and he previously served as a litigation associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and co-coordinator of the firm's immigration and international human rights pro bono practice group. He also has previously worked for the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project in New York and the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in New Delhi, India, and served as law clerk to the Hon. Chester J. Straub (U.S. Ct. of App., 2d Cir.) and the Hon. Gerard E. Lynch (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y.). Before attending law school, he worked for Cable News Network, the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and the New York City Department of Transportation. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.P.P.M. at the Yale School of Management, and an A.B. from Brown University. His areas of interest include immigration and citizenship, criminal law and procedure, international human rights, law of South Asia, and Asian Americans and the law.
Nitasha K. Sawhney, Attorney, Garcia Calderon Ruiz, LLP
Nitasha Sawhney is an attorney with the downtown Los Angeles law firm of Garcia Calderon Ruiz, LLC. Ms. Sawhney specializes in education, labor, and employment law matters. She also serves as a legal volunteer with the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF) and the California Sikh Council where she assists with hate crime issues, employment discrimination, accommodation/access cases and increasing civic engagement. Ms. Sawhney also serves as a board member of the South Asian Bar Association’s Public Interest Foundation and is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s “Diversity in the Profession” Committee, the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) Policy Task Force and served as Chair of California’s first Spinning Wheel Film Festival, a film festival focused on sharing stories through films created by Sikhs or about Sikhs.
She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she studied Mass Communication and Ethnic Studies. She received her law degree from the UC Davis’ King Hall Law School. Ms. Sawhney was recently awarded the Spirit in Action Award from the Interfaith Councils of the City of Garden Grove, Stanton, and Westminster for her work in raising funds to aid victims of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and her dedication to public service.
June Han, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
June Han is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. She is also a Doctoral Fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at the Kennedy School of Government. In the past, she was a Public Policy Fellow at the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, which is now known as the Asian American Justice Center.
June was the author of DNSI's first report, entitled "We Are Americans Too: A Comparative Study of the Effects of 9/11 on South Asian Communities." The report was based on a chapter from her dissertation, which examines identity, intergroup relations, and responses to 9/11 among South Asians in the Washington, DC area. Her general research interests include racial and ethnic identity, relations, and politics.
June will be receiving her Ph.D. in June 2007. She received an M.A. from Harvard University in 2001 and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Little Mosque a huge hit in the ratings - but what about in Muslims' hearts?
Many Muslim Montrealers rolled with laughter Tuesday as they watched the premiere of the CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie.
The show pulled in about 2.1 million viewers, a huge audience for a Canadian show....
Tyrone Ishmael, a Muslim Montrealer originally from Trinidad, said the series is a good tool to bring Muslims and non-Muslims closer toward understanding each other.
"The series highlights the paranoia existing in the society now about Muslims and everything related to them - their prayers, fasting, habits, traditions and celebrations," said Ishmael, a former math teacher.
"Through this comedy, we are able to discuss a serious subject and point out the existing stereotyping in our society. The good thing about it is that it does that in a relaxed atmosphere to help us understand our mistakes. I think it will lead people to moderate their views," Ishmael added. [Link]
Leaders Urge Attorney General to Reaffirm Unity & Fairness
On January 8, 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met with leaders of the Muslim and Arab American community, including Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera, a former counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
In response to the apparent rise in anti-Muslim bigotry, Muslim Advocates urged the Attorney General and the administration to make public statements reminding Americans that our nation, which was founded by those fleeing religious persecution, has a rich heritage of religious freedom and diversity.
Muslim Advocates also highlighted the need for oversight of the terrorist watch list database and how individuals are being selected for inclusion in the database. Racial, ethnic and religious profiling by law enforcement is a continuing concern, and the community and law enforcement need to find effective ways to address the issue, Muslim Advocates said.
In addition, leaders raised issues such as the continuing chilling effect of law enforcement activities on Muslim nonprofit operations and charitable giving, the need to terminate the NSEERS/Special Registration program, and the application of the recently enacted Military Commissions Act to justify the continued indefinite detention of individuals arrested on U.S. soil.
The Arab American Institute (AAI), American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Islamic Society of North America also attended the meeting. Muslim Advocates expresses its gratitude to AAI for facilitating this meeting. [Email from Muslim Advocates]
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Twin Cities Muslim and East African Workers File Harassment Lawsuit Against MV Transportation
Nine current and former Twin Cities employees of MV Transportation today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, alleging that for over a year they suffered severe and constant harassment, abuse, and other discriminatory treatment on account of their status as immigrants and Muslims....
The lawsuit alleges that the employees were subjected to denigration, physical assault, threats, and termination because of their national origin and religion. The employees also claim to have been denied promotions, training and other benefits of employment, and were denied religious accommodations....
[A] manager read Bible passages at the Muslim employees, forced them to listen to loud Christian music, confiscated prayer rugs, and addressed male Muslim employees generically as "Mohammed"....
Other complaints include immigrant employees being physically pushed and shoved, sworn at and called degrading names, and wrongfully denied safety bonuses. According to their Complaint, these immigrants repeatedly took their complaints about the hostile environment to company management but MV did nothing to protect them. Instead, the company engaged in retaliatory action that included termination. [Link]
Update: Please see the comment left by a MV employee.
Ensaaf Releases its Summary Report on the Punjab Mass Cremations Case: India Burning the Rule of Law
On October 9th, 2006, the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) effectively ended its consideration of the Punjab mass cremations case, arbitrarily compensating 1,245 victim families and establishing another commission of inquiry. Among its many failings in the case, the NHRC refused to investigate a single cremation, thus making any compensation arbitrary and inadequate. Moreover, the NHRC failed to hold any officials accountable for the victims’ deaths.
Ensaaf’s summary report, India Burning the Rule of Law, describes the history and legal proceedings in the Punjab mass cremations case. The ultimate resolution of the case will serve as precedent for victims of mass state crimes throughout India and will give content to the rights to life and redress. Ensaaf is working in partnership with the Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab, an original petitioner in the case, to challenge the NHRC’s ten-year denial of justice and create precedent based on international human rights and Indian law.
India Burning the Rule of Law: http://www.ensaaf.org/pdf/reports/cremations.pdf
Punjab Mass Cremations Case: http://www.ensaaf.org/docs/nhrc.php
Bhalla Commission of Inquiry: http://www.ensaaf.org/docs/bhalla.php
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
IBM Worker Says He Was Fired For Being A Muslim
A Muslim electronics engineer who developed five patents for IBM claims the computer maker fired him because of his religion and that managers at the company mocked him for refusing to eat during the Ramadan fast and once told him to ignore Islamic law and clean a knife that had been used to cut pork.
Mahmoud Mousa, who calls himself a "Jordanian Muslim American," was employed at IBM's microelectronics plant in Burlington, Vt., from June 2003 to December 2005, when he was fired because of his religious beliefs, according to a lawsuit Mousa filed last month in U.S. District Court in New York.
Mousa says IBM's stated reason for the firing -- that he had failed to show up for work -- "was a pretext to mask the motivating factor behind his termination -- discrimination on the basis of his religion and/or national origin," according the suit.
Mousa claims that he was subject to discrimination and anti-Islamic comments and behavior from two different managers while working at IBM's Burlington operations. On one occasion, a manager of non-Muslim, Indian origin criticized Mousa for taking time out for Friday prayers, asking him "Why are you doing this?", according to court records. [Link]
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Britain should integrate into Muslim values
In 2006 the gloves came off in the fight to define what it means to be British. Whereas the dominant response to the London bombings was confusion over how anyone raised in this country could commit such atrocities, the veil debate detonated by Jack Straw and the teaching assistant Aisha Azmi was notable for its muscularity. Sentiments that might once have been considered too insensitive were openly expressed. "The right to be in a multicultural society," argued the prime minister in a speech last month, "was always implicitly balanced by a duty to integrate, to be part of Britain." Behind these remarks was an assumption that integration is a one-way street. However, there are many things that the rest of the country could learn from Muslims.
In the present climate, integration is the only show in town and multiculturalism has joined political correctness as a favoured target of those who feel that their Britain is disappearing before their eyes. Hence the calls, growing ever louder, for Muslims to integrate: no more forced marriages; no more honour killings; accept the rule of law.
Think of the words "Muslim community" and what do you see? A succession of veiled women walking silently behind their husbands? Bearded men gesticulating outside mosques? But there is another version of the Muslim community.
It is easy to dismiss Muslim parents as old-fashioned and traditional, but when the rest of the country is busy wondering how to respond to a culture of rampant disrespect, it is worth considering whether they could learn from Muslim values. [Link]
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007