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CAIR-CHICAGO NEWSLETTER




Executive Director to Graduate CAIR-Chicago


Yaser Tabbara, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director is set to vacate the position effective April 1st, 2006. Yaser has been in the position since August of 2004, a period which has witnessed tremendous growth and success for the organization.

Tabbara joined the organization as its only staff member when it was operating out of a small room in Hickory Hills. Today, the organization is housed in a spacious downtown office and is comprised of 6 fulltime staff members, 22 interns, and over 30 active volunteers. CAIR-Chicago’s annual budget has expanded considerably to help the staff meet the growing need of the community’s civil rights, media, governmental relations, and outreach work.

“I fully agree with Yaser when he credits our rapid success to the support of the community, after the grace of God,” said Ahmed Rehab, current Director of Communications and incoming Executive Director, “but I would be remiss if I failed to recognize Yaser’s unique contribution to this success in the form of his unflinching leadership.”

“Yaser has long advocated building institutions that last beyond individuals. He has been a vociferous advocate of cultivating the right talent for the right job within an organizational business model that is self-sufficient, systematic, and robust.”

“During the past year and a half, Yaser has inspired me and others with his vision and resolve,” said Rehab. “Since we joined forces with Safaa Zarzour, Chairman of the Board, and the CAIR-Chicago team, we have made it our goal to build a professional institution with streamlined processes and measurable, attainable milestones. Yaser has helped us do just that, and now he feels it is time for him to move on. It has been a great run.”

An attorney by trade, Tabbara brought to CAIR-Chicago a solid track record of community activism. Yaser was the coordinator of the Iraq project at DePaul University College of Law, where he worked on rebuilding the legal education system in Iraq under the direction of Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni. Prior to that, Yaser initiated the Post 9/11 Immigrant Legal Rights Project at the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center, where he provided free and low-cost legal representation, as well as outreach and education on immigration law and civil liberties to our community.

“Our community is fortunate to have committed members like Yaser Tabbara who put every iota of their concentration into the professional activism that they administer on its behalf,” said Safaa Zarzour. “When we hired Yaser, he made it clear, that his goal was to help get the institution up on its two feet and then move on, and I have watched him work tirelessly towards that end. On behalf of our board, staff, and constituents, I thank him for his invaluable services.”

Tabbara will remain on CAIR-Chicago’s board; he has not yet decided what his next professional move will be.



Prayer Vigil in Support of a Fair and Open Hearing for Muhammad Salah



On Monday March 6th, CAIR-Chicago and community members attended a vigil at the Chicago Federal Plaza to peacefully protest the closed hearings determining the admissibility of torture induced confessions in the Muhammad Salah case. Over one hundred participants attended, showing their support for Muhammad Salah and his family despite the cold and wet conditions outside during the weekday vigil. The vigil took place from 10am to Noon, as community members and activists walked silently around the center of the plaza carrying signs of protest and white balloons.

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Recent Events




RECENT CASES:

Civil Rights Update – 3/10/06

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 365 cases documented in which 137 cases are active and are being pursued by department personnel. Below are the cases that were reported to CAIR-Chicago within the last two weeks.

Employment:

  • A Muslim woman employed at a local residential home has experienced discrimination and harassment from co-workers. The woman has experienced comments such as “Where is Saddam?” from fellow co-workers. Conversations with her direct supervisors have not led to any change in her treatment. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint and will take whatever action deemed necessary to resolve the issue.
  • A Muslim man has reported discrimination as he has been overlooked several times for different promotions. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint and will take whatever action appropriate to resolve the issue.
  • A Muslim woman reported harassment by co-workers and supervisors at her job. The woman reported the harassment to the CEO of her company, but so far nothing has been done in response to her complaint. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the woman’s complaint and will advise her as to her available options.


General:
  • A Muslim man reported disparaging portrayal of a family member by a local station. The local station aired a story about the man’s family member, linking him to terrorism. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint and will take whatever action appropriate to resolve the issue.
  • A Muslim man experienced harassment from security guards at a hospital. The security guards treated the man as a security threat from the moment he stepped inside the building. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint and will take whatever action appropriate to resolve the issue.
  • CAIR-Chicago received a copy of a union newsletter sent out to correctional officers, in which an article expressed racist attitudes about Arabs and Muslims. CAIR-Chicago has requested more information from the complainant and will work to resolve the issue to ensure that correctional officers are not acting out of bias toward Muslim inmates or other Muslim correctional officers.
Government:
  • Twelve more Muslims have reported delays in their citizenship process, having applied for their citizenship and passing all necessary USCIS requirements, but have been waiting for citizenship status due to pending background checks. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating these two cases into the Citizenship Delay Project. For more information on the Citizenship Delay Project, please see the action alert below.
  • Several police officers entered the apartment of four Muslim men, first announcing themselves as police officers in search of a former roommate. The officers entered at 5:30 in the morning, while some of the men were in the middle of their morning prayers. One of the officers pulled a resident out of his prayer, insisting to speak to him right at that moment, unwilling to wit until the gentleman finished his prayer. One of the police officers then identified himself as an immigration officer, and proceeded to ask the residents questions about their immigration status. The officers searched the home and confiscated some materials, not having presented any warrant. Some of the documents taken were later found outside of the apartment building in a paper bag with the name of one of the residents written on it, but not all of the items taken have been returned. CAIR-Chicago called the officer claiming to be an immigration officer and discussed the matter with him. CAIR-Chicago has also filed a complaint with the police department. The incident is currently under investigation. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and take whatever action deemed necessary to resolve the issue.
School:
  • A fourteen year old high school student wearing the Muslim skullcap (kufi) was attacked by another student at his high school. The attacker has been disciplined by the school. CAIR-Chicago is currently working with the school to conduct sensitivity training sessions for the faculty.
  • Muslim female students at a local high school are not being accommodated in gym class. Many of the students wear jilbab, a Muslim woman’s dress, along with the headscarf (hijab). CAIR-Chicago will reach out to the school and offer sensitivity training to its faculty and staff.


ONGOING PROGRESS:

View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the “Progress Report” section.

ACTION ALERTS:

Citizenship Delay Project - Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process:

As a joint effort with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), CAIR-Chicago is asking individuals who passed a citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 90 days, or have been waiting for a Green Card for permanent residence for over 90 days to contact us at either mennakhalil@gmail.com

Travel Free Project - Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside of the U.S.:

As part of a potential class action law suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CAIR-Chicago is asking anyone who has been detained and questioned on return to the US at any border crossing (land or airport) to please contact travelfree@cairchicago.org.

Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:

As part of a potential class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for anyone who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at civilrights@cairchicago.org. An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.

The facts of the above case are as follows:

A Muslim student was asked to remove her headscarf on two separate occasions at a testing center before she began a standardized test required for graduate school. The supervisor and employees of the testing center refused to show her a written copy of the policy requiring Muslim women wearing a headscarf to be searched. A witness at the testing center also observed the employees making discriminatory remarks about Muslims while the victim was taking the test.

Please let us know if you or someone you know have experienced a similar incident and would like to take action to prevent such forms of religious discrimination at standardized testing centers in the future.









Job Announcement: Communications Coordinator  

CAIR-Chicago is seeking a motivated, eloquent self-starter to fill the fulltime position of communications coordinator which is available immediately - opportunity for job growth within two years depending on performance.

Job Responsibilities Include:

The new hire will work closely with the Executive Director on matters relating to the media, message marketing, and public communication. S/he will be responsible for maintaining and further cultivating relationships with media personnel, drafting and sending press releases and action alerts, as well as maintaining active databases and an online archive of communiqués. S/he will also coordinate letters-to-the-editor and commentaries, and conduct interviews and press conferences.

Minimum Qualifications:

A college degree (Communications/Public Relations/Journalism or related field preferred), detail-oriented, good interpersonal and organizational skills and the ability to work in a team. The ideal candidate will possess superior communication (both verbal and written) skills, a solid understanding of issues relating to Islam, and an outgoing and proactive disposition. IT savvy candidates with a working knowledge of HTML are strongly preferred.

Note:

  • CAIR-Chicago provides a vibrant work environment that operates within the cutting-edge paradigm of professional Muslim activism.

  • CAIR-Chicago offers complete health and dental benefits for its full-time employees. Salary range is based on education, skills and experience.

  • Applications will be accepted thru March until position is filled.

All those interested and eligible to work in the US (citizens or proper work visa holders) are encouraged to apply with a comprehensive resume stating education, work history, references, along with copies of relevant academic certificates to:

Human Resources
CAIR-Chicago
28 E. Jackson Ave – Suite 1410
Chicago, IL 60604

PHONE: 312 212 1520
FAX: 312 212 1530
EMAIL: director@cairchicago.org

(When applying via email please ensure to write the position title in the subject of the email.)

Volunteers Needed on Thursday, March 16!
 
Help organize & mobilize the Muslim community! The Illinois Primary elections are on March 21 and the races are heating up! CAIR-Chicago has one week more to continue to mobilize the Muslim community.

We need 8-10 volunteers to take part in a mass phone banking effort on Thursday, March 16 from 6 PM- 9PM at the CAIR-Chicago office.

Come make a difference, remind people to cast their ballots, and enjoy free food!

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions, contact Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org or at 312-212-1520.


Volunteers Needed on Election Day!
 
Volunteers are also needed to knock on doors on Election Day! This year’s primary is very important for the Muslim community and we need to mobilize to and get out to the polls! CAIR-Chicago’s Governmental Relations Department is looking for volunteers to encourage people to vote on Tuesday, March 21, 2006!

Interested individuals, please contact Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org or at 312-212-1520.


CAIR-Chicago Welcomes New Activists to the Team


Sumiah Aduib is a senior at Columbia College Chicago where she is pursuing a bachelors degree in print journalism and a minor in Literature. As an aspiring journalist, she has joined the CAIR team as a Communications Intern to get exposure and experience in her field of study. Sumiah is an avid reader who enjoys working out, writing, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her husband of two years, family, and friends. She is also an active volunteer at the Mosque Foundation as well as the Muslim Youth Center in Bridgeview.


Nathan Wells is a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an undergraduate student majoring in political science with a minor in international studies, and is considering a legal career in International Law. He is also completing his seventh year as a Sergeant in the Army National Guard after a 15 month deployment to Iraq. Nathan has joined CAIR-Chicago as a Civil Rights Intern because of his interest in the Islamic faith and to take an effective role in countering the mistreatment of the Muslim community caused by misinformation and stereotypes. Nathan plays the violin, breakdances, DJ's, plays percussion, competes in mixed martial arts, tries to learn Urdu and is often referred to as a funny guy.




Become a Political Organizer & Earn Class Credit!

Want to help mobilize the Muslim community? Want to gain experience in the political field? Want class credit for doing what you like?The Governmental Relations Department is currently recruiting interns and volunteers for the historical political mobilization initiative, Project O. If you would like to help organize and mobilize the Muslim community or learn more about Project O, contact Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed at gov.relations@cairchicago.org

Are you a Law Student Looking to Earn Credit While Externing at CAIR?
 
Extern will work closely with CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director and Civil Rights Coordinator on the following:

  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents

  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit

  • Legal writing: drafting arguments, memos and complaints

  • Participate in representing complainants in dispute resolution, EEOC mediation, filing complaints and law suits

  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center

  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago The ideal candidate should be organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks. The ideal candidate will possess excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community.


  • This is an unpaid externship. Open to all law students.
     
    Are you an Undergraduate or Graduate Student Looking to Earn College Credit While Interning at CAIR-Chicago?
     
    CAIR-Chicago is currently offering 11 internship opportunities. All internships are unpaid, but students may receive college credit. Applicants need to email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: outreach@cairchicago.org.

    CAIR-Chicago is offering the following positions for internships:

  • Civil Rights Intern
  • Communications Intern
  • Community Service Intern
  • Governmental Relations Intern
  • Grant Research Intern
  • Marketing Intern
  • Operations Intern
  • Public Education Intern
  • Public Relations Intern
  • Church Project Intern
  • Faith Core Online Magazine Intern


  • Please Contact the Outreach Coordinator for more information on the tasks and duties of specific internships. Call Dina Rehab at 312-212-1520 or at outreach@cairchicago.org
     










    Executive Director
    Yaser Tabbara

    Director of Communications
    Ahmed Rehab

    Civil Rights Coordinator
    Christina Abraham

    Governmental Relations Coordinator
    Sadiya Ahmed

    Outreach Coordinator
    Dina Rehab

    Operations Coordinator
    Sabah Ahmed

    Legal Advisor
    Maria Mozaffar

    Board of Directors
    Alim Elliott Khan
    Mazen Kudaimi, MD
    Alif Muhammad
    Ahmed Rehab
    Zaher Sahloul, MD
    Hina Sodha, Esq.
    Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
    Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President







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    For more information, please contact:

    CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
    28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1410, Chicago IL 60604
    Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
    Email: info@cairchicago.org, Website: www.cairchicago.org


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    The Chicago Activist is a publication of CAIR-Chicago
    17 N. State St., Suite 1500, Chicago IL 60602
    Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
    Email: info@cairchicago.org, Website: www.cairchicago.org