CAIR-CHICAGO REP TO JOIN FORUM ON MUSLIM-WEST RELATIONS IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
July 3, 2006
Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad to join 100 young Muslims from 15 nations
CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad is scheduled to participate in the second "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 7 to July 9 alongside 100 young Muslims from 15 nations to discuss what they can do to improve Muslim-West relations. Muhammad says “It is without question humbling to have the opportunity to participate in such a defining event of our time wherein the usual is not suitable.”
Those selected embody a wide spectrum of Muslim representation by: sect, ethnicity, profession, religiosity, and individual politics. The forum hopes to build a constructive movement of young Muslims to reject and marginalize extremism.
Convening the forum are two U.S. organizations dedicated to bridging the divide between Muslims and the West, the Cordoba Initiative (www.cordobainitiative.org) and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA, www.asmasociety.org), founded by it’s Executive Director Daisy Khan.
Among the participants are prominent Western Muslim scholars such as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of “What’s Right with Islam” and Tariq Ramadan, author of “To be a European Muslim,” acclaimed Turkish cartoonist , Salih Memecan and a showcase of popular Muslim comic, Azhar Usman. CAIR-Chicago’s Sultan Muhammad will participate in a roundtable conference themed “Media and its Portrayal of Islam.”
The MLT (Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow) is an intra-faith conversation among young Muslims on major issues such as integration, identity struggles, Islamic reactions to secularism, gender equality, among other challenging points that breed alienation and extremism.
The conversations to be discussed will aim toward developing strategies that will contribute to the fostering of positive Muslim identities in the West, building of intra community partnerships, and reevaluating Muslim outreach methods. The forum seeks to candidly discuss existing shortcomings, and implement programs that will precipitate much needed change.
The highly anticipated event has garnered impressive coverage by international press such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, BBC World Radio, Radio Liberty, and National Public Radio USA., not to mention an equally broad range of support from Islamic organization world wide:
MLT Press Release
CAIR-Chicago Launches The Mobilizer
Read up on the latest buzz in the CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Department as it launches exciting, new moblization initiatives. Log on to The Mobilizer to follow developments in the department, Project O, and exciting community news as the department tackles political projects and political developments on civil rights and liberties & immigration.
Get ready for the November Eection! Find out what is happening with the immigration debate as CAIR-Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights mobilize in the southwest suburbs of Chicago around comprehensive immigration reform and citizenship delay.
Want to know what type of organizing work the New American Democracy Project Fellow is doing? No problem! Updates on The Mobilizer will give you all the information you need from candidate forums to political rallies throughout the summer and into the Election!
Excited? CAIR-Chicago sure is for a summer of historically groundbreaking work as we begin to help make Muslims politically active constituents!
CAIR-CHICAGO MEETS WITH DELEGATION FROM DENMARK
June 27, 2006
A delegation of 8 young leaders from Denmark visited with CAIR-Chicago’s staff and externs on June 27th at CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office.
The delegation came to Chicago through the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). The program is administered by the Meridian International Center in DC and seeks to introduce participants to American community organizations that effectively address local social and educational issues. The program also seeks to establish long-term ties between Danish and American community activists to facilitate an on-going dialogue on grassroots activism, cultural pluralism, and political engagement.
The exchange brought forth a lot of interesting issues as well as striking parallels and juxtapositions between the problems facing Muslim communities in both the US and Denmark. The diversity of the Muslim communities in the US and Denmark, specifically, as well as the diversity of the Muslim world, generally, were examined leaving a room of Danish and American Muslims quite perplexed at the overwhelming generalizations found in today’s media; generalizations falsely representing the views of 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide, as one. Naturally, the Danish Cartoons Controversy and the reactions of Danish Muslims were also discussed, bringing forth diverse perspectives.
“It is important for western Muslim communities in the United States and Europe to share their experiences and learn from each other”, said Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago, “that is why these exchanges are so meaningful”.
CAIR-Chicago would like to thank Ms. Marian Reich, Assistant Director at the International Visitors Center of Chicago (IVCC), for helping coordinate this exchange. Marian echoed the sentiments of the delegation in her email to Dina Rehab minutes after the visit, stating: “we already received glowing feedback from the visitors”. The delegation coined the meeting: “a defining and most inspiring factor of their trip”.
CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from Kyrgyzstan and India. CAIR-Chicago met with a delegation from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines on June 8th.
Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff, externs Sarah Terman and Azam Khan, as well as the following guests from Denmark:
Ms. Susan Arac
Member, Aarhus City Council
Ms. Viyan Duman
Vice Chairman, Center for Public Administration Policy, Ministry of Finance
Ms. Bircan Eker
Consultant, Danish Ministry of Employment
Mr. Nadeem Farooq
Member, Hoje Taastrp City Council
Mr. Martin Frandsen
Co-Manager, Urban Task Force Project, Copenhagen
Ms. Jamilla Jaffer
Deputy Chairman and Founding Member, Democratic Muslims
Mr. Murat Kilic
Project Manager, Urban Program, ‘Do What You Do Best’
Mr. Ahmed Lüfti Oezer
Chairman, FC Toros 95 Youth Club
Also present were:
Ms. Cynthia Wilson and Mr. Bruno Blumenfeld representing the State Department
See Event Photos
SEARS TOWER PLOT:
MUSLIM LEADERS DENOUNCE 7 SUSPECTS
By Margaret Ramirez
Tribune religion reporter
June 24, 2006
Muslim leaders on Friday denounced the seven men arrested in Florida as members of a religious cult and implored the media not to refer to them as Muslims.
"The case of this bizarre, cultist group is evidence that the phenomenon of terrorism is not monolithic," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "They have broken the laws of this country as well as the laws of the religion of Islam. As such, they are to be condemned."
Accounts of the group's behavior suggest their religious practice may have been a strange hybrid.
According to the indictment that accuses the men of plotting to attack the Sears Tower and other buildings, they wanted to organize "an Islamic army" to wage "jihad" in the United States and swore an oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda.
Relatives have told reporters the defendants are deeply religious people who took classes in Islam but also studied the Bible. One cousin told CNN: "The warehouse is the temple where they all go and pray and meditate."
True Muslims revere the Koran as sacred Scripture and worship in mosques, Rehab said. The media may be reluctant to say the individuals are not Muslim because the media might be seen as "watering down the fight against terrorism," Rehab said.
"That should not be the case," he said. "We should step up and fight these individuals without having to pull Islam as a religion, and Muslims as a people, [into] the struggle."
Abdul Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, agreed that the descriptions of the group's faith did not sound like Islam.
"They were reading the Bible, not the Koran. They called their place of worship a temple instead of `mosque.' These are not things that Muslims do," said Mujahid. "So associating them with Islam and Muslims, I think, is not only factually wrong, but will continue to contribute to Islamophobia, which is a form of racism."
The idea of the group targeting the Sears Tower is ironic, Mujahid said, as the building was designed by Muslim architect Fazlur Khan.
Mujahid cautioned Chicago-area mosques to be vigilant, saying attacks and hate crimes often follow such reports. Notifications were sent to nearly 130 mosques to be on the lookout for suspicious activities.
"Muslims in America have not created this problem," he said. "The whole society must stand up and fight this together. We have to come together for the safety of us all."
Copyright © 2006 Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: CHICAGOAN BEHIND TERROR SCHEME
By Frank Main, Monifa Thomas, and Steve Patterson
June 24, 2006
... "The case of this bizarre cultist group is evidence that the phenomenon of terrorism is not monolithic, that it is multifaceted in both the makeup of potential terrorists and the particular context from which they draw inspiration," said Ahmed Rehab, the head of the council.
Read The Entire Sun-Times Article
See CAIR-Chicago's Press Conference Photos
CAIR-CHICAGO, MUSLIMS, MEET WITH U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION AT O’HARE AIRPORT
June 26, 2006
On Wednesday, June 21, CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab and intern Susan DeCostanza along with other leaders in the Chicago Muslim Community attended a tour of U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations at O’Hare International Airport last week.
The meeting was part of an effort to build relationships between the Muslim community and different government and security organizations that work in the airport in order to proactively facilitate communication, avoid cultural misunderstandings and help to educate travelers about the ways that they can possibly avoid unwanted delays at the airport.
Brian Humphrey, Director of Field Operations, commenced the meeting by introducing the various Customs and Border Protection agents present.
Dr. Hytham Rifai - a well known physician and CAIR-Chicago client - related some personal stories of delays that relatives, friends, and community members have encountered upon re-entering the United States from travel abroad.
Ahmed Rehab outlined the community's purpose behind requesting the meeting and gave a brief synopsis of the number and nature of complaints that Muslims bring to the CAIR-Chicago office.
Sheikh Kifah gave examples of some of the problems his Mosque constituency have suffered.
Humphrey explained that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents must move through an interactive, online cultural sensitivity course.
Humphrey reiterated that if a traveler encounters any difficulties, the agents must follow protocol, and do not have the authority to deviate from that procedure. If a traveler has questions, or believes they are being mistakenly delayed, the traveler should ask to see a supervisor.
The group walked through Customs and Borders operations beginning at the point of entry for passenger arrival to customs stations, agricultural screening, and the interview rooms. The agents described the "Passenger Lookout Override" system that was implemented two months ago, in which a passenger who has the same or a similar name as a person with a suspicious record can be distinguished from the actual suspected person.
This system is supposed to expedite common delays encountered by travelers within the Muslim and other communities who have common names that are similar to people with an actual or suspected tainted record.
CAIR-Chicago looks forward to continuing the relationship with U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in the region, and to furthering understanding between the organizations as well as facilitating future communication in order to eliminate problems for Muslim travelers before they even arise.
For more information and tips on airport travel, visit the “Know Your Rights” section of CAIR-Chicago’s website.
ADVOCATE FOR MUSLIMS CALLS ACCUSED PLOTTERS A 'CULTIST GROUP'
June 23, 2006
"Ahmed Rehab Says Accused Plotters Have Nothing To Do With Islam"
An advocate for better understanding of Muslims and their religion says the men accused of conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower are "a bizarre, cultist group."
Ahmed Rehab is executive director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says the accused plotters have nothing to do with Islam.
Rehab says the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.
He says he believes the U.S. government hasn't made a clear distinction between the accused plotters arrested yesterday and most Muslims.
"I think there has been some reluctance to step up and say that these individuals are indeed non-representative Muslims," Rehab says, "because certain commentators may see that as whitewashing or watering down our fight against terrorism."
Rehab spoke today at a news conference held at his group's downtown Chicago office.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press
See Media Advisory
REFLECTIONS OF A CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
By Christina Abraham
June 19, 2006
The Civil Rights Movement in this country has always been simple. It asks for the equal treatment of everyone living in the United States. But although the goal is simple, the fight for equal rights has not been.
Muslim-Americans recognize that the predicament they are in today is not isolated but lies within a larger context of civil rights struggles in America.
Muslim Americans are not the first group to face widespread prejudice and systemic discrimination. Jewish, Hispanic and Japanese-Americans have had their share of injustices leveled against them. And no other community has come close to the long-standing suffering of the African-American community.
Now, Muslim-Americans are among those at the forefront of the civil rights movement. This movement asks for a society subject to the rigor of law, governed by a system of transparency and accountability wherein the constitution applies to all equally.
In the short time that I have been with CAIR-Chicago as the Civil Rights Coordinator, I have seen many types of egregious violations of civil rights experienced by Muslims.
I have dealt with complaints in which Muslims are verbally harassed in public places, even physically attacked.
I have dealt with complaints in which Muslims have been terrorized by their own government, or ridiculed and degraded by their employers.
I have seen Muslim schoolchildren be subjected to disgusting acts of disrespectful behavior by students, faculty and staff alike.
But I have also seen and experienced the resilience of a remarkable community under fire.
It takes courage to stand up to an unjust employer, a person who holds your livelihood in their hands, and say that you are not going to tolerate the degradation of your belief system.
It takes courage to stand up to hatemonger who violates your person or property by committing a hate crime, and to see through the process until the end so that justice may be allowed to prevail.
And when authority figures can be so intimidating at times, it takes courage to look a law enforcement officer in the eye and assert your rights.
What it really comes down to is basic human dignity.
In bearing witness to the different facets of discrimination against Muslims in this country, we bear witness to the struggle of Muslims in America, and more importantly, to humanity’s perpetual struggle for liberty, justice and equality – three words that have been overused and overlooked simultaneously in this society, so that their meanings have become worn away.
I am honored to introduce a series of reflections by the individuals that make up the Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago.
We have shared in experiencing the hardships of Muslims in this community that have reasserted their dignity, in a time when it seems easy to just surrender their rights and succumb to the forces against them.
Now we share these experiences with you. Stay tuned for more…
(Reflections from CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Activists to follow in the coming Mondays)
In the News
Media Response System [visit center]
Civil Rights Update – 06/30/06
The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 514 cases documented in which 220 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.
A Muslim woman received a threatening and racist phone call. CAIR-Chicago is in contact with the local police department to ensure that the matter is investigated thoroughly as a hate crime.
CAIR-Chicago continued working with the Palos Hills and Hickory Hills Police Department to prosecute several hate crimes carried out against a Muslim family in that community.
A Muslim looks to fight false charges made against him by another employee. The charges had been dismissed but the Muslim was still detained and troubled by the allegation. CAIR-Chicago is investigating legal remedies in this matter.
CAIR-Chicago continued their negotiations with the opposing counsel of a residency program/ medical school accused of improper termination of a Muslim resident.
CAIR Chicago took part in a negotiation meeting with the CTA on behalf of a client who faced religious discrimination.
CAIR Chicago accompanied a Muslim Cook County deputy to an internal investigation hearing for misconduct.
A letter was sent to a large chain of airport retail stores concerning their mistreatment of a Muslim employee.
- A Muslim man and woman report being detained and deported after visiting Israel with a valid visa. CAIR-Chicago is exploring all possible explanations for Israel’s actions and seeking information to better educate the Muslim community in planning a trip to Israel.
- A Muslim woman who practices wearing the headscarf (hijab) has experienced poor service by an employee of a delivery service company since converting to Islam. CAIR-Chicago is contacting the company to file a complaint and push for more adequate service.
- CAIR-Chicago is working with scholars, dignitaries, and community leaders to plan a conference on Muslim Profiling which will address religious discrimination in schools, government agencies, and places of employment.
A Muslim cab driver was subjected to verbal abuse and prolonged detention following a traffic stop. CAIR-Chicago is working with Chicago Police’s Office of Professional Standards to ensure that they ticketing officer is investigated fully.
A Muslim man was charged with assault and obstructing a peace officer after he inquired about a parking ticket placed on his vehicle. CAIR-Chicago will appear at his arraignment, where pleas of non guilty will be entered on all counts and the probable cause for his arrest will be challenged.
The FBI was holding a Muslim man’s passport and asking questions about the Muslim man’s acquaintances and past. CAIR-Chicago was informed of this FBI activity and contacted the FBI. The FBI has returned the Muslim man’s passport.
A Muslim continues to face discrimination and denial of medical treatment during his incarceration. CAIR-Chicago is exploring legal, public, and humanitarian remedies to bring aid to this Muslim as quickly as possible.
Many Muslims have written letters from a prison in Southern Illinois about abuses and religious discrimination they are facing at the hands of the prison chaplain and guards. CAIR-Chicago is looking to recruit Muslim volunteers in Southern Illinois to assist these Muslims in prison. Any contact information of Muslims in Southern Illinois would be very helpful.
View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the “Progress Report” section.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com. 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.
High School Student Gives Presentation on CAIR-Chicago Internship Experience:
On Tuesday June 6th, CAIR-Chicago intern, Musab Siddiqui from North Shore Country Day School, (a preparatory high school founded in 1919 by a group of parents who wanted to provide their children with the quality of education found in eastern boarding schools) presented a heartfelt account of his experience as a CAIR-Chicago intern for his Senior Service Project.
CAIR-Chicago Welcomes Three New Activists to the Team
Erin Hartnett joins CAIR-Chicago this summer as a Governmental Relations Intern. She is a senior at DePaul University studying history with a pre-law concentration and is interested in politics, international law, foreign policy and the promotion of cultural and religious understanding both domestically and abroad. This summer she will also be attending the United States Foreign Policy Institute at the George Washington University and doing policy research for local congressional candidates while completing the law school application process.
Amir Drljevic joins CAIR-Chicago as an Operations Intern. Amir is a student at the University of Dzemal Bijedic in Bosnia and spent the past year studying psychology at the University of Alabama, Huntsville on a U.S State Department–sponsored scholarship. Amir, who is in the process of earning an Bachelor’s Degree in information technology and certification in Cisco systems, is a valuable addition to the technology team at CAIR-Chicago. Amir speaks several languages and is also interested in world travel, graphic design, and meeting new people.
Sana Mahmood is a rising senior at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she is pursuing a double major in International Studies and Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in Arabic Language. She intends to study abroad at the American University of Cairo in the fall where she hopes to further develop her language skills. Sana has long been involved in community service and outreach and hopes to embark on a career in public
service in the future. She has recently joined CAIR-Chicago as a Governmental Relations intern for the summer.
CAIR-Chicago Participates in Muslims Care Campaign
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:
CAIR-Chicago is offering the following positions for internships:
Civil Rights Intern
Community Service Intern
Governmental Relations Intern
Grant Research 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Civil Rights Coordinator
Governmental Relations Coordinator
Heena Musabji, Esq.
Board of Directors
Zaher Sahloul, MD
Hina Sodha, Esq.
Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
Mazen Kudaimi, MD - Vice President
Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President