Some 200 members of the American Muslim and Arab-American
communities recently attended an Elections 2004 Town Hall Meeting in San
Jose, Calif., organized by the San Francisco Bay Area office Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA). Attendees heard from, and asked
questions of, federal, state and local elected officials.
All major presidential campaigns participated, including California
Democratic Chairman Sen. Art Torres, representing the John Kerry campaign,
Grover Norquist representing the Bush/Cheney campaign and presidential
candidate Ralph Nader.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, Council Member
David Cortese, and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo
all emphasized that all voices are needed in our political system and urged
the community to continue playing an important role and to challenge
attempts at exclusion.
Among the issues that were of most interest to the audience were the
Patriot Act, prisoner abuse in Iraq and Mr. Nader's inclusion in the 2004
CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Director of Governmental Relations, Dahlia Eltoumi,
The Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR) today urged the FBI to investigate two incidents targeting mosques
in Texas and New Jersey for possible bias motives.
Worshipers at the Champions Masjid under construction in Spring, Texas,
told CAIR that a number of dead fish were dumped near the entrance and sign
for the mosque sometime Saturday evening. Mosque members report verbal
harassment in the past. (Champions Masjid is part of the Islamic Society of
Greater Houston. [http://www.isgh.org])
A similar incident on Tuesday in which liquor bottles were thrown on the
grounds of the Islamic Educational Center of North Hudson in Union City,
N.J., is being treated as a possible bias crime by law enforcement
authorities. Center officials tell CAIR's New Jersey office that incidents
of rock-throwing have occurred in the recent past.
The Texas and New Jersey incidents come following a string of attacks on
and threats against mosques nationwide.
In Florida, vandals wrote "Kill all Muslims" inside the Islamic Community
Center in the Tampa suburb of Lutz. The FBI is investigating vandalism and
threatening messages targeting the Islamic Community of Southwest Florida
in Charlotte Harbor. And in Missouri, vandals painted a Nazi swastika and
the word "die" on an addition under construction at the Islamic Foundation
of Greater St. Louis. Last month, three Miami Islamic centers were
CAIR believes the most recent incidents targeting Islamic institutions in
America are backlash from the beheadings of American and Korean civilians
in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
"Our nation's leaders need to speak out against Islamophobic bigotry just
as the American Muslim community has spoken out clearly against the recent
killings in the Middle East," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim
Hooper said his group noted a spike in anti-Muslim hate messages following
the killings. One message received by CAIR today suggested it may be time
to "take muslims (sic) hostage here in America" and said, "I believe the
time is coming when muslims will not be safe inside the US borders."
In response to attacks on and threats against American Muslim individuals
and communities, CAIR has published a "Muslim Community Safety Kit." That
kit contains information designed to equip local Islamic leaders and
activists with the knowledge necessary to protect against anti-Muslim
bigotry or attacks. The safety kit may be obtained by e-mailing
A prominent national Jewish advocacy group
has issued an apology for remarks in a news release that seemed to link the
Islamic declaration of faith, or "shahada," with terrorism.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) made its apology yesterday in a news
release that stated: "(The ADL) is respectful of the Shahada, the Muslim
Declaration of Faith, which is expressed by millions of Muslims around the
world…It was never our intent to offend anyone and we apologize to those
who took offense."
On Saturday, the Southern California office of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) demanded that the ADL apologize to
Muslims for "hate-filled Islamophobic rhetoric" distributed by one of its
A news release distributed by the ADL's Orange County/Long Beach Regional
Office referred to the Islamic declaration of faith, or shahada, as an
"expression of hate" that is "closely identified" with terrorism and is
"offensive to Jewish Students."
The shahada, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of
God," is the core Muslim belief in the oneness of God and is one of the
"five pillars" of Islam. No person can be a Muslim without believing in the
The ADL made its original offensive statements in reference to a
controversy started by right-wing and pro-Israel groups over the decision
by Muslim students at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) to wear
stoles bearing the shahada at weekend graduation ceremonies. The stoles in
question also said in Arabic: "God, increase my knowledge." Opponents
falsely claimed that the stoles are an expression of support for terrorism.
"GRADUATION STOLE RAISES TENSIONS"
"UCI GRADUATION CONTROVERSY IS OVERBLOWN, MUSLIM STUDENTS SAY"
"We hope this apology represents a change of heart on the part of the ADL
and will lead to a genuine attitude of respect and constructive
interaction," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. Ayloush said
his group would be willing to offer Islamic sensitivity training for ADL
Just last month, unknown arsonists torched a UCI student display set up to
challenge the wall Israel is building on Palestinian land.
There are an estimated 600,000 Muslims in Southern California. CAIR,
America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in
Washington, D.C., and has 28 regional offices and chapters nationwide and
CAIR-Sacramento Vally (CAIR-SV) recently took part in a
Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights Limited English Proficiency
(LEP) compliance review of the Sacramento Police Department (SPD). An LEP
individual is a person whose first language is not English and who has a
limited ability to speak, read, write, or understand English.
Community groups represented at the meeting included CAIR-SV, the
Sacramento Area Congregations Together (A.C.T), the Korean American
Community Association of Greater Sacramento, and the Catholic Diocese of
CONTACT: CAIR-Sacramento, Rashid Ahmad, 916-825-0027