Interviews of 5,000 visa holders are concern to Muslim group
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today expressed concern that plans by the Justice Department to interview some 5,000 young men who entered this country legally on non-immigrant visas since January of 2000, could create the impression of racial and religious profiling.
In a speech today in Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the interviews were necessary to "expand our knowledge of terrorist networks operating within the United States." Officials said the interviews would be conducted with men from specific countries, but did not name them.
"American Muslims condemn terrorism in all its forms and hope to see the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks brought to justice. Unfortunately, this type of sweeping investigation carries with it the potential to create the impression that interviewees are being singled out because of their race, ethnicity or religion. We ask that all elements of due process and respect for civil liberties be adhered to as local and national authorities carry out these interviews," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad added that he hopes the Justice Department will publish guidelines for these interviews, including the right of those being interviewed to have legal representation.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in American and some 1.2 billion worldwide. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country.
Daniel Pipes should "clean his filter" says Muslim group
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today suggested that Islamophobic pundit Daniel Pipes should visit an oil-change facility following a published interview in which he claimed to have a special mental “filter” with which he can detect those who want to “create a Muslim state in America.” ("Islamism is fascism," www.salon.com, 11/9/2001) Pipes said that, despite lack of evidence, he can “sense” that CAIR “without a doubt” wants to create such a state. “Mr. Pipes should really consider visiting Jiffy Lube® to have his 'filter’ cleaned of its obvious accumulation of bigotry and misinformation,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Pipes continues to repeat this bizarre claim even though he himself admits he has nothing to back it up but special mental faculties not possessed by others. His claims sound more like ESP than credible political analysis,” added Hooper. The Salon.com interview read in part:
PIPES: …Now, they [CAIR] don't say that [they want to impose Islamic law in America] in black and white in their writings. I can't prove that to you. I can tell you that there are all sorts of intimations of it. I can tell you
I can sense it. I can make this case, but I can't make it specifically for CAIR…
SALON: …Saying Muslims want to create a Muslim state in America, does that strike you as alarmist at all?
PIPES: How could that be alarmist when I can see signs all around? …Look, I have a filter. I've studied Islam and Islamism for 30 years. I have a sense of how they proceed and what their agenda is like. And I see it. You don't… When asked about a statement by an American Muslim leader who wanted to see a Muslim president by 2020, Pipes replied: “It's like saying I want a fascist president.”
The interviewer also asked Pipes about his recent statement recommending the “vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country." Pipes explained that “their [American Muslim] acceptance would go beyond what I consider normal acceptance. They want the rules to be rewritten for them. They want a whole host of ways that Islam and Muslims have special status.” Salon also questioned Pipes about his recommendation that “officials need
to scrutinize the speech, associations, and activities of potential visitors or immigrants for any signs of Islamist allegiances and keep out anyone they suspect of such ties.” Pipes replied: “Look, I like this
country as it is and I don't want it to turn into something quite different…If you want to see an Islamist country, then you will have the opposite view from mine…The danger is within…”
CAIR noted that as Pipes fanned the flames of religious hatred, the citizens of Mountlake Terrace, Wash., were coming to the aid of their Muslim neighbors by putting out a fire that had been set at a local mosque.
Thanks to the neighborly intervention, damage to the mosque was limited. Mountlake Terrace police Cmdr. Mike Mitchell said the suspects were “definitely not history majors. America was founded to protect religious
"Islamophobic smear campaign" goes public
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today called for an end to what it says is an "Islamophobic smear campaign" against the American Muslim community and its leaders. CAIR also called on media professionals and elected officials not to allow themselves to be used as unwitting tools in this campaign or to undermine President Bush's efforts to show that the war on terrorism is not a conflict with Islam.
"Since the terrorist attacks on our nation in September, American Muslims and groups that represent them, have been the target of an unprecedented smear campaign. These smears have been distributed by fax, e-mail and direct communication with journalists and government officials in an attempt to create links between legitimate Muslim groups and terrorists," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. "On almost a daily basis, we have been forced to defend our organization to well-meaning reporters who have been given information that is false, misleading or ridiculously out of context."
In its statement on the smear campaign, CAIR wrote:
"One of the first rules of political debate is to avoid restating the charge of an opponent. But these malicious rumors have been spread so far and wide that we've taken this extraordinary step to make sure journalists and politicians understand they are being misled.
"To set the record straight, CAIR is a respected national Islamic civil rights and advocacy organization that since its inception almost eight years ago has had an incredible record of success in defending Muslim rights in the workplace, in schools and in the public arena. CAIR has been instrumental in promoting a positive image of Islam in North America. We have the enthusiastic support of Muslims in this country and the respect of Muslims worldwide. CAIR representatives have over the years met and worked with innumerable elected officials, law enforcement agencies and policy-makers, including Presidents Clinton and Bush, to offer an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to our country.
"CAIR deals almost exclusively with issues related to the American Muslim community. We do not support terrorism in any way, shape or form, whether it is committed by Muslim groups or individuals, or by those who base their violent acts on other religions or philosophies. We condemn by name any individual, group or state that carries out terrorist acts. We do not support directly or indirectly, or receive support from, any overseas group or government. In all its actions and statements, CAIR seeks to reflect the mainstream beliefs and views of the Muslim community in North America. We also condemn all human rights abuses or irresponsible rhetoric, by any party, anywhere in the world.
"CAIR should be judged on its work, not on a few false and distorted slurs promoted by those who would seek to bar Muslims from political participation and influence.
"In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, a number of groups and individuals alarmed at the growing prominence of Muslims are taking shameless advantage of those tragic events to push for their long-term goal of marginalizing and delegitimizing the American Muslim community and its leadership."
To support this assertion, CAIR cited a November 3 article in the Los Angeles Times that, for the first time, laid direct responsibility for the smear campaign at the feet of specific organizations. Times reporter Solomon Moore wrote: "Pro-Israel or Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Defense League and the Middle East Forum think tank have provided news organizations with reams of critical documentation on Muslim leaders in recent weeks." (Los Angeles Times, 11/3/2001) A number of other media professionals and officials tell CAIR of similar behind-the-scenes slurs.
The Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes, one of the foremost proponents of the current smear campaign, goes so far as to recommend "vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country." (November 2001) The "special status" Pipes refers to includes ordinary religious accommodations for Muslims in the workplace and "inclusion of Muslims in affirmative-action plans." (Employment discrimination is one of CAIR's main areas of work.)
Recent media reports also indicate that groups such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC) have warned that "the increasingly visible American Muslim lobby posed a challenge to U.S.-Israel relations." (Associated Press, 10/22/2001)
CAIR's statement continued:
"This smear campaign is unfair, un-American and outrageous. It is based on distortions, fabrications, outdated and out of context information, and guilt by association. It relies on the amplification of prejudice and stereotyping that resulted from the justifiable rage expressed by the American people, including Muslims and Arab-Americans, following the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Every major American Muslim group and leader, without exception, has been the target of these unjustified and politically motivated smears.
"Media professionals and elected officials have a responsibility not to let themselves be used as unwitting tools in a campaign of defamation and political disenfranchisement. We ask that journalists and policy-makers examine the agenda of those who are making these false allegations and to refrain from assisting anyone who would seek to silence the voice of an entire American religious minority or to undermine the President's assertions that we are engaged in a war on terrorism, not against Islam or Muslims.
"The seven-million strong American Muslim community can serve as a bridge of understanding to the Islamic world during this time of national and international crisis. It goes against our nation's interests to let vocal and politically influential special-interest groups dictate American domestic policy or to drag our country into partisan disputes that will impede efforts to form an international coalition against all forms of terrorism.
"We ask our fellow Americans for their support in resisting attempts to divide us as a people or to drag our nation into a wider conflict with the Muslim world."
CAIR hosts Qatari ambassador
H.E. Ambassador Bader Omar Al-Dafa of the State of Qatar met Monday with Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), at CAIR's Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss a variety of issues related to the American Muslim community.
Topics of discussion included the important role American Muslims can play in serving as a bridge of understanding to the Muslim world and the Emir of Qatar's concerns about places of worship and other properties damaged in the anti-Muslim backlash following the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11.
"We appreciate Ambassador Al-Dafa's important responsibility in representing a nation that has a key role to play in promoting stability in the Gulf and the entire Middle East," said Awad. Awad also thanked the
ambassador for his expression of appreciation for CAIR's efforts to promote a positive image of Islam.