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Americans Rise Against 'Patriot Act'

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a whirlwind public relations tour of 18 cities, hoping to counter growing opposition to the so- called Patriot Act, a 342-page law rushed through Congress, without debate, within weeks of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ashcroft says that just "editorial boards and others who are very liberal" are worried about the new law. He only wishes that were true. Three states and 160 communities have passed resolutions either condemning the law or refusing to help federal agents enforce its provisions.

Some members of Congress, moreover, have grown increasingly worried because Ashcroft has repeatedly refused to answer questions about how the Department of Justice is implementing the Patriot Act. In July, the House voted -- by 309 to 118 -- to repeal a provision of the law that allowed officials to conduct "sneak and peak" searches of suspects' homes without notifying the target...

In the wake of Sept. 11, everyone agrees that the government must balance our civil rights against its responsibility to protect us against terrorism. The Patriot Act went too far. It's time for Congress to reassess the expanded law-enforcement powers it so readily approved in a moment of national trauma.


Justice Dept's Community Relations Service to Sponsor Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Awareness and Protocol Seminar for Law Enforcement

SEPTEMBER 19, 2003
CONTACT: Daryl Borgquist 202/305-2966

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) will sponsor an awareness and protocol seminar for 800 law enforcement officers, support service workers, local officials and community leaders from the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region.

The seminar - focusing on Arab, Muslim, and Sikh awareness - will be held on September 25, 2003 at 8:30 a.m. in the auditorium of Prince George's Community College's Queen Ann's Fine Arts Building. Prince George's Community College is located at 301 Largo Road in Largo, Maryland. The welcome will be open to the media. In addition, there will be press availabilities before the morning session and at 12:00 p.m. The training session and "train-the-trainer" seminar in the afternoon are open to registered participants only.

Remarks will be given by CRS Director Sharee M. Freeman, Prince George's Community College President Dr. Ronald A. Williams, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Paul J. McNulty, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Thomas M. DiBiagio and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Roscoe C. Howard…

This seminar, one of the largest in a series of educational "train the trainer" awareness and protocol seminars, are sponsored by CRS as a continuation of its efforts to address issues affecting Arab, Muslim, and Sikh populations in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Community dialogues, forums, cultural awareness and protocol seminars have been effective in defusing racial tensions towards members of those communities.

Community representatives from throughout the country will be attending this seminar. The cultural awareness presentations will be made by expert commentators of the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities...


Influential Islamic Leader Steps Down

The recent resignation of Imam W.D. Mohammed, arguably the nation's most influential African American Islamic leader, marks a defining moment for the group he had headed for nearly 30 years.

Some analysts fear that Mohammed's surprise resignation as leader of the American Society of Muslims could set that movement adrift, with no one to unify the 300-plus affiliated mosques across the nation.

"It will be a devastating loss," said Imam Saadiq Saafir of Masjid Ibadillah, a Los Angeles mosque on West Jefferson Boulevard. "The danger is that the community could become fragmented, where you have so many leaders taking the people in so many different directions. Some people may wonder if the community can actually survive."

Others, however, said Mohammed's resignation could encourage African American Muslims to take more individual initiative to advance their religion, improve blighted communities and become a powerful showcase for Islamic values in America.

"For African Americans, we're going to see the beginning of a renaissance for Islam in America," predicted Najee Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law who heads Project Islamic Hope, a Los-Angeles based social service organization...

Accurate statistics on the number of African American Muslims are not available. But according to Ihsan Bagby, who helped conduct a 2001 study for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, about 27% of the nation's 1,200 mosques were predominantly African American. Among those mosques, Bagby found, 67% were affiliated with Mohammed's American Society of Muslims.


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