ORLANDO SENTINEL: "BUYING ENEMIES FOR U.S."
By Ahmed Rehab
July 18, 2006
'It's really sad where people are willing to take innocent life . . . As a matter of fact, it's pathetic," President Bush said in a recent press conference. He went on to state, "Israel has a right to defend herself. Every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life. It's a necessary part of the 21st century."
Here's the $64,000 question: Do Palestinians have a right to defend themselves against the killing of their innocents? Do the Lebanese?
The Palestinian population is exceptionally vulnerable. Seventy-nine percent of Gaza households live under the poverty line, 40 percent suffer from unemployment and almost half the population in the Gaza Strip is made up of children. Under these onerous circumstances, Gazans struggle to liberate themselves from the clutches of one of the world's most sophisticated military machines.
In much of the Western media, the Palestinians are written off as a gang of unruly terrorists. However, the numbers give a different account. Since September 2000, six of every seven children killed in this decades-long conflict have been Palestinian.
Terrorism constitutes acts of violence against civilians in furtherance of political objectives. Terrorism is a Palestinian suicide-bomber attacking a bus or a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv. Terrorism is also an Israeli warplane deliberately targeting the civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon. We lose all credibility when we rightfully condemn acts of terror carried out by individuals or groups, but offer support to a state that also targets the innocent.
Israel has waged a massive military campaign against Lebanon's civilian population. So far, almost 200 civilians have been killed.
In just one incident, 15 children were massacred as their parents attempted to flee a village in a convoy.
Israel's army chief Brig. Gen. Dan Halutz warned that "nothing is safe" in Lebanon. In his own words, the Israeli spokesman was admitting to his country's readiness to break all rules of engagement. Everything in Lebanon, including town centers, schools, hospitals and other civil centers would be fair game for Israel's warplanes -- nothing is safe.
As if to confirm that statement, an Israeli bomb killed seven Canadian citizens, including a woman and her four children, in Lebanon on Sunday.
In a parallel campaign, Israel has launched widespread attacks on the Gaza Strip, bombing its main power-generating station and jeopardizing the lives, health and safety of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Electricity is out 12 to 18 hours a day in Gaza, and hospitals are taking only emergency cases. A spokeswoman for the U.N.'s World Food Program said some 85 percent of Gazans are dependent on food handouts, and many families are eating only one meal a day.
World leaders have spoken out against Israel's sweeping aggression, calling it "disproportionate" and "excessive."
Israel has shown a tendency to abuse its military might, subjecting civilians to collective punishments time and again. Countries that fail to exercise appropriate self-restraint should be restrained by the world community.
Israel's right to defend itself does not give it the right to launch terror attacks against major civilian centers -- not with our tax money.
Since its formation in 1949, the state of Israel has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $130 billion. What merits this exorbitant spending on a foreign country that has one of the world's highest per-capita incomes?
The often-parroted argument is that Israel is a crucial ally in the war on terror.
The truth is that for all the billions Israel has sapped from American taxpayers, it has given us nothing back but the resentment the victims of Israel's military transgressions feel toward those who bankroll their oppressor.
Israel is a strategic liability in the war on terror. Extremists use our uncritical financial and political support for Israel's brutal policies as an excuse to attack us.
Surely, there are better ways to spend our hard-earned money.
We are losing the domestic wars on drugs and poverty. Our inner cities are awash with crime and gang rivalries. Our public schools are embarrassingly substandard when compared with those of other developed nations. Our Social Security system threatens to fail future generations of retirees as the number of senior citizens is expected to increase by 110 percent in the next 50 years.
We fail to move forward on these crucial fronts, citing lack of sufficient funds. Would it not be better if we invested our tax dollars in our own communities instead of funding Israel's counterproductive military escapades?
Ahmed M. Rehab is executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation's largest Muslim civil-liberties group. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 Orlando Sentinel
[Email the Orlando Sentinel to thank the paper for publishing this article and showing the other side of the story: DTate@OrlandoSentinel.com and email@example.com. Please copy firstname.lastname@example.org ]
CAIR-CHICAGO KICKS OFF AN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN SUMMER
July 13, 2006
With goals of mobilizing 45,000 people to come to the polls on November 7, 5,000 people in the weeks prior to Election Day, and 15,000 new voter registrations additions in the state of Illinois, CAIR-Chicago, along with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other host organizations, has launched an electoral summer campaign.
The New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), the 2006 version of the electoral campaign run two years ago, aims to mobilize registered voters and register all eligible citizens in Illinois to vote. CAIR-Chicago, as a host organization, will be working intensively in the third congressional district’s Bridgeview and surrounding areas. As a host organization, CAIR-Chicago’s Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed will be the supervisor for the CAIR-Chicago fellow.
After eight days of intense and grueling training, former CAIR-Chicago intern Haady Taslim (pictured above) became the NADP Fellow for CAIR-Chicago and the third district. As a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Haady Taslim has the awesome task of organizing a significant number of Muslims in the area. There have been unofficial estimates of up to 50,000 Muslims residing in the southwest suburbs.
Introduced at Little Village High School on Saturday, July 1, 2006, on the National Day of Citizenship, the 18 Fellows were given the task of organizing in their respective areas both in the city and the suburbs. Later that day, their training officially began with Midwest Academy and Wellstone Academy, both organizations that train activists for social justice. Training continued through the next week with experienced activists and trainers giving the Fellows the tools necessary to mobilize large groups of immigrants to vote.
The NADP is a project that seeks to mobilize the immigrant community and bring forth members as active citizens. Given the significant change in immigration reform discourse, the NADP seeks to show elected officials the power that the immigrant community holds by not only helping people become citizens, but by bringing masses of people to polls on Election Day. The current climate of immigration reform is such that anything can happen in the next few months and this election could be crucial to the future of American immigration laws.
As another part to the immigration moment, Haady Taslim will focus on an issue that has effect that is a sensitive topic for the Muslim community: delay in citizenship. As a part of the agenda specific to the Muslim community, Mr. Taslim will be engaging community members in dialogues to bring light to the issue of significant delays in the time it takes for Muslim men to become citizens in the United States. In addition, he will be registering people to vote in the upcoming elections as well as educating them on comprehensive immigration reform. Good luck Haady!
For more information on the New Americans Democracy Project, contact Sadiya Ahmed at email@example.com or at 312-212-1520
CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: PASSENGER LOOKOUT OVERRIDE SYSTEM
By Susan DeConstanza
Travel Free Project, CAIR-Chicago
July 6, 2006
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has implemented a new system that aspires to expedite the screening process upon arrival to and departure from the United States. The Passenger Lookout Override (PLO) system is meant to efficiently distinguish between passengers with suspicious records and those who are simply mistaken for actual suspects.
A "lookout" is created from a compilation of resources, reports, and investigations from different law enforcement and security agencies. A lookout shows up as an indication that a passenger is suspicious during an initial screening when a traveler passes through customs.
The purpose of the Passenger Lookout Override System is to remove a "lookout" that has been attached erroneously to a passenger because he or she has a name similar to the actual suspect.
Now, when a passenger is taken into a secondary interview and successfully distinguished from the lookout, a record is made into the system. This way, the next time the passenger goes through customs and the same lookout shows up next to their name, the system will show that this passenger has already established that they are not the true suspect. The passenger and the agents can establish this through a passport number, an interview, or some other method.
In this way, U.S. Customs and Borders anticipate less secondary screenings, particularly when the passenger has already been through the secondary interview process.
It is important to note that the secondary interviews may still be necessary, even though a passenger’s record shows that a lookout has been erroneously attached to their name. It is possible that there is a new lookout that needs to be distinguished.
When passengers area cleared through this process the lookouts are not removed, simply distinguished from the passenger’s name. If a passenger goes through the secondary screening process once, and no adverse action is taken, this is noted and recorded in the system. As a result, if a traveler is taken into a secondary interview a record of previous secondary screenings will be available to the agents, which should help to avoid a repetition of questions that were answered the last time.
What can passengers do to help in the process?
If you are taken into secondary interviews, don’t panic. It may help speed the process if you mention to the agents that you have been interviewed before and what the outcome was. If you have answered a question on the previous occasion, say to the agent, "You talked to me about that last time." If you are uncomfortable for some reason or feel that you are being wrongly interviewed, you can always ask to speak with a supervisor or chief. Keep in mind that the agents have strict protocols to follow and do not necessarily have the power to bend the rules.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "UP FROM THE MEAN STREETS OF MARSEILLE"
By Ahmed Rehab
July 11, 2006
The same drive and aggressiveness that lifted Zidane from slum to stardom also led to the World Cup head-butting incident
Up until his ignominious expulsion from last Sunday's World Cup championship match for head-butting an opponent, Zinedine Zidane's journey had read like a fairy tale.
With just the right twists and turns, each chapter seemed to deliver the goods, one after the other, never failing to impress.
Then suddenly and in the dying paragraphs, the fairy tale turned into a Shakespearean tragedy--woeful and wretched. It was as if the chivalrous knight, upon conquering all the dragons in his path, instead chose to cast himself from atop the castle.
No one enjoys such a bad ending to a fairy tale, which perhaps is why the world still finds itself engrossed with one man's tragedy while glossing over what was supposed to be the real story from the World Cup: Italy being crowned soccer's world champions for a fourth time.
But what explains the head-butt? After days of speculation, Zidane, of France, revealed his side of the story, claiming that his opponent from the Italian team had cruelly insulted his mother and sister--a charge the Italian player said was only partially true, admitting that he insulted Zidane but denying it was about his mother.
Such an insult may explain what provoked Zidane. Why he chose to respond in the manner he did is another story. There were only 10 minutes left in a long and scintillating career that saw him win every accolade in the book.
So what gave?
I don't have those answers. It is possible that he simply lost his temper at the end of a long and grueling match for the world championship.
But as a student of Zidane's long and storied career for the past decade, I would suggest that, perhaps, Zidane the man had come to feel contempt for Zidane the hero. That the boy from the tough La Castellane housing projects in Marseille wanted, finally, to slough off his status as a sports idol and cultural icon. It was as if he chose to disappoint us while he still was in the spotlight.
"You can take the man out of the rough neighborhood, but you can't take the rough neighborhood out of the man," teammate Thierry Henry told reporters following France's loss after a penalty kick shootout.
I could be wrong, but it seemed that Zidane the rebel wished to leave us with a symbol of the torment we never knew he endured--primarily because we never cared to know.
Why would we care to know? Heroes are worth only the joy they bring us.
"It is even more difficult to be an Algerian rather than a black man in France," former teammate Marcel Desailly said of France's ghettoized North African immigrant population. "And the problem is that no one knows how much his origins affect his playing ability. He doesn't talk about it much."
Zidane suggested there was a connection.
"It's hard to explain, but I have a need to play intensely every day, to fight every match hard," he once said in an interview. "This desire never to stop fighting is something else I learned in the place where I grew up. And, for me, the most important thing is that I still know who I am. Every day I think about where I come from and I am still proud to be who I am: first, a Kabyle [a member of a tribe from northeastern Algeria] from La Castellane, then an Algerian from Marseille, and then a Frenchman."
One wonders if Zidane, as a French hero, felt compelled to fit a mold that forced him to compromise his diverse identity. Perhaps he begrudgingly played this role for a French public that adored him--the same public that often shows disdain for the Zidanes who never made it out of La Castellane.
To my knowledge, the reserved soccer star never complained publicly. But perhaps he wondered if it was really him that they adored.
When Zidane finally broke his silence in an interview with a French TV station, he apologized to the children of the world. But he offered no more detailed explanation and displayed no sense of remorse.
His obstinacy spoke volumes. It was almost as if he relished his most public act of defiance--a poor rich man's attempt at self-vindication.
Rehab is the founder of a popular Zidane fan Web site and a Chicago Muslim activist
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
In the News
Civil Rights Update – 07/18/06
The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 522 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.
CAIR Chicago intern compiled a sensitivity training brochure for Customs and Border Patrol specifying details of Muslim characteristics such as importance of modesty, language and religious obligations that may arise while in the presence of customs and border patrol officers.
A Medical resident was aided in negotiations for settlement in a case that involved him being reinstated to his program. The process is still ongoing and CAIR chicago is aiding him the process of getting proper counsel in the state of jurisdiction.
CAIR Chicago accompanied a CTA employee and attended a meeting with his supervisors to discuss discrimination he has faced during work. The Supervisors stated in writing that an investigation will be done via a fair and transparent process. In addition the employee will be able to contact the supervisor immediately in case of any future discrimination occurs.
CAIR-Chicago represented a Muslim Egyptian man in a child custody case. The client received custody and his ex-wife was put on house arrest in Egypt.
CAIR-Chicago's Volunteer Attorney Rima Kapitan will be working with the People’s Law Offices as lead counsel on police misconduct cases.
CAIR-Chicago represented a victim of police misconduct at a court hearing, filed a motion to dismiss the charges and requested a trial by jury.
CAIR-Chicago came across an executive order by Mayor Daley that makes it illegal for law enforcement officers to ask for immigration papers during traffic and Terry stops.
CAIR-Chicago will work the Illinois Civil Liberties Coalition to amend the Brookings ordinance to include the executive order.
CAIR Chicago filed private lawsuits for citizenship delay.
CAIR Chicago interns will visit a Chicago inmate in prison transferred to Wisconsin facility to ascertain a complete list of civil rights violations he has faced.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 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 immediately. It is important for Muslims who have faced this type of treatment to join the lawsuit so as to show that it is not an isolated case. The more people that join the case the more strength it will have to force positive changes in how Muslim Americans are treated in the future at our borders.
Also, if you are being consistently delayed, detained, or have otherwise had your rights violated while traveling, contact email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
CAIR-Chicago Welcomes Three New Activists to the Team
Jack Ritchey joins the CAIR Chicago team as a Governmental Relations Intern, and is excited about the opportunity. He is a junior at DePaul University currently pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in philosophy. Among his interests are civil rights, foreign policy, and the philosophical investigation of democracy. Jack enjoys writing, spending time with his Fraternity brothers, and is an avid St. Louis Blues fan. "Lets go Blues!"
Sarah Sipe joins the CAIR-Chicago family as a summer intern in the Civil Rights Department. Sarah currently attends law school at the University of Dayton, and received her undergraduate degree in Cultural Studies at DePaul University. Sarah is getting married in August, and enjoys watching sports in her spare time. While Sarah is still deciding on which direction to take her future law career, she is happy to be involved with a passionate organization like CAIR-Chicago.
Samina Sulemanjee is a senior at Northwestern University where she is pursuing a bachelors degree in Political Science and International Studies, focusing on the Middle Eastern region. Samina has joined CAIR-Chicago as a Civil Rights Intern in order to contribute towards the empowerment of the Muslim community and to combat negative stereotypes concerning Muslims. She is also interested in gaining experience in legal affairs. Samina spent the past spring semester studying in Cairo, Egypt, where she took classes on the Arabic Language and Middle Eastern Politics. While in Cairo, she also had the opportunity to work with Sudanese Refugee Children through a tutoring program.
Samina's interests include reading, music, traveling, and volunteering in the community. During the school year, she is actively involved with the Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University.
CAIR-Chicago Launches A New Muslim Activist Website
CAIR-CHICAGO CO-SPONSORS CAFE FINJAN: JEWISH & MUSLIM OPEN MIC NIGHT
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 email@example.com
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