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.
Muslims join in FOIA request on detainees
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined with a coalition of other human rights organizations in filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about the hundreds of Muslims and Arabs who have been detained since the terrorist attacks of September 11. These groups say government officials have been reluctant to release information about those being held. The coalition's letter to the Department of Justice requested:
1. The identities of each such individual, the circumstances of their detention or arrest, and any charges brought against them, including their names and addresses.
3. The identities of any courts, which have been requested to enter orders sealing any proceedings in connection with any of these individuals, any such orders which have been entered, and the legal authorities that the government has relied upon in seeking any such secrecy orders.
4. All policy directives or guidance issued to officials about making public statements or disclosures about these individuals or about the sealing of judicial or immigration proceedings…
Media reports indicate that almost 1,000 people have been detained, though some have been released. Fewer than 10 of the detainees are suspected of having demonstrable ties to the terrorist attacks, and human rights advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have questioned whether law enforcement authorities are abusing their authority.
"As we pursue those responsible for the horrific crimes of September 11, we should not violate our own standards of human rights or due process of law. It is through maintaining standards of justice that we will demonstrate to the world that freedom and security are not incompatible concepts," said CAIR Governmental Affairs Director Jason Erb.
Groups sponsoring the letter include: American Civil Liberties Union, American Friends Service Committee, American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Immigration Law Foundation, American Muslim Council, Amnesty International USA, Arab American Institute, Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for National Security Studies, Council on American Islamic Relations, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Federation of American Scientists, First Amendment Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, OMB
Watch, The Nation Magazine
Transportation secretary meets with American Muslims
Representatives of the American Muslim and Arab-American community met today with Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta to discuss a variety of issues related to airline safety and
security, including that of racial, ethnic and religious profiling of passengers.
Muslim and Arab groups represented at the two-hour meeting included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Islamic Institute.
Representatives from the Japanese-American and Sikh communities also attended today's meeting.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad made a presentation to Secretary Mineta outlining the more than 90 cases of airline passenger profiling that have been reported to that group's civil rights department. (These reports included incidents in which pregnant women were poked to check their pregnancies.) Awad suggested the creation of a civil rights advisory panel for airline security along with sensitivity training for security personnel.
CAIR has received more than 900 reports of anti-Muslim incidents, ranging from verbal harassment to murder, since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Many of these incidents have involved those who, like Sikhs and Christian Arabs, who are perceived to be Muslims or "Middle Eastern-looking."
"Passenger profiling should be rejected not only because it violates American values of equality and justice, but because it also creates a false sense of security for the traveling public," said CAIR Board Chairman
"It is important that we improve airport safety by increasing the level of training and professionalism for those who screen passengers and by applying heightened security measures to all travelers, not just to those who fit a stereotypical image of what a terrorist should look like," said Ahmad.
Muslim Fast of Ramadan Begins November 17
On November 17, 2001, the Muslim community in America and around the world will begin the month-long fast of Ramadan (rom-a-don). Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset.
The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments. Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. The end of Ramadan will be marked by communal prayers called "Eid ul-Fitr," or Feast of the Fast-Breaking, on December 16, 2001.*
"During this time of crisis, the fast of Ramadan offers people of all faiths an opportunity to learn more about Islam and about the Islamic community in America," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group.
The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states:
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint…Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting … " (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)
Demographers say Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world. There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide.