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CAIR-CHICAGO NEWSLETTER





CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: ENSURING THE SAFETY OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
By Rima Kapitan
August 14, 2006

Another casualty in the war against civil liberties in this country since September 2001 is the right to academic freedom. Professors and students who diverge too much from the current political and economic orthodoxy are being silenced around the country.

Among the most vulnerable have been adjunct professors, foreign professors and students, and professors and students who support Palestinian national rights or who oppose U.S. foreign policy decisions. Universities are often relenting to the pressure of right-wing organizations who are attempting to silence leftist professors and students under the guise of creating “balance” on campus.

CAIR-Chicago is joining other organizations and individuals in an effort to defend academic freedom. It is currently advocating for Professor Douglas Giles, a professor who was fired from Roosevelt University, for mentioning Zionism in class and for allowing students to speak freely. According to Professor Giles, a student in his World Religions course asked a question about Zionism, and he answered it.

After the semester was completed, Susan Weininger, the department chair, called Professor Giles at home and objected to the fact that he had discussed Zionism in class. Professor Giles says that she prohibited him from mentioning anything in class that would “subject Judaism to criticism.” She then reportedly stated, “I hear you even allowed a Muslim to speak in class.” Professor Giles replied that he allows all students to speak in class, regardless of religion, and she reportedly said, “You shouldn’t! What disturbs me is that you act like the Palestinians have a side in this. They don’t have a side! They are ANIMALS! They strap bombs to their bodies and blow up women and children! They are NOT CIVILIZED! [emphasis hers].”

Professor Giles received a letter from Professor Weininger a week later telling him he was fired. The administration defended Professor Weininger’s statements as legitimate academic discussion and has stood by her decision to fire him. Professor Giles’ union, RAFO (Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization – http://rafo.org), has supported him in challenging his termination, and has filed three grievances on his behalf, all of which the university has denied.

The matter is scheduled for arbitration in September. This case is an extreme example of academic censorship since Professor Giles did not even say anything negative about Zionism, but merely mentioned it in class and allowed open discussion about it.

Zionism is widely recognized as a relevant topic for a World Religions course, and there is a section on the matter in several mainstream World Religions textbooks. CAIR-Chicago has sent a letter to the Roosevelt University administration and is in the process of creating a support network of professors, students and others who oppose this restriction of academic freedom.

CAIR-Chicago has also initiated the creation of an academic freedom coalition called the Free Campus Coalition, which will defend the academic freedom rights of students and professors as violations occur. The coalition will comprise of civil liberties organizations, professors and students.

Freedom on universities is especially important because of the formative role that universities play in the lives of students, and because of the essential role they play in their communities. Students should be exposed to a wide range of ideas, and learn to argue against ideas with which they do not agree.

It is a sad to think that in a country that boasts of being one of the freest in the world, professors have to think twice about whether to express an academic point of view for fear that they will be forced out of the university. Some professors make the decision not to express their point of view about certain issues until they are tenured.

There are many Arabs, Muslims immigrants and other groups who, since September 2001, no longer take for granted that they have the freedom to express politically unpopular views. The most alarming part about it is that one does not even have to be very radical to be silenced. Professor Giles was fired for even allowing students to bring up the topic of Zionism.

The solution, I am convinced, is not only to continue speaking up for the values we believe in, but to actively resist efforts to censor others. After all, it’s the American thing to do.

Rima Kapital is CAIR-Chicago's Volunteer Attorney, she can be reached via email at rima@cairchicago.org.





CBS 2: "MUSLIM COMMUNITY REACTS TO SCRUTINY"
By Jon Duncanson
August 10, 2006

http://cbs2chicago.com/local/ local_story_222190512.html

See Video

(CBS) CHICAGO When the threat-level of terrorism rises, many members of the Muslim community become uneasy.

Many Muslims feel that because the plotters purport to be Islamic, all Muslims face targeted scrutiny.

CBS 2's Jon Duncanson reports on a Chicago neighborhood where anxiety increases along with the national threat level.

On Devon Avenue, both Indians and Pakistanis live and mix in relative peace, even though their home countries are often at some level of war.

It's a place where an Indiana Sikh will speak of a terrorist plotter and not blame his Pakistani Muslim neighbor.

"They are terrorists. They are not Muslims. They don't have no religion," said one man.

But the many Muslims on Devon feel like targets nonetheless.

Naseem Sarwar has a bookstore with Urdu writing on the sign above, the national language of Pakistan. His store has been ransacked with nothing stolen twice.

"I've been victimized. It happened. Two times my store has been broken," said Sarwar.

Christopher Helt is an adjunct professor of immigration studies at Loyola. He also runs a law office on Devon and has defended Muslim men rounded up by authorities after 9/11 just because they were Muslim.

"You're under suspicion if you're Muslim, and that's really unfair. It's unfortunate and unfair," Helt said.

For [Ahmed] Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, every terror incident of warning has its predictable outcome for 400,000 Chicagoland Muslims.

"Every time this happens and breaks out in the news, our community is definitely targeted for bigotry, discrimination, and so the backlash is very real," Rehab said.

Back on Devon Street, life goes on with a South Asian flavor. But when terror strikes, people here say it's the Pakistanis and the Muslims who feel the heat.

"You don't have the same type of racial profiling as you do against people from Pakistan. It's yet another unfortunate circumstance. A lot of it's just based on ignorance," said Helt.

Many from the Muslim community said they feel the problem they face in being targeted comes from media commentators of the extreme right wing and internet bloggers, who – they feel – paint all Muslims with the brush used to portray so-called Islamic extremists. They are tired of it and are trying to get out from under that portrayal. But every time something like this happens, it's hard to be a Muslim American.



(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)





FIGHTING FOR HIS RIGHTS FROM BEHIND BARS

CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Interns visit a Federal Prison

Civil Rights Interns Ausaf Farooqi and Azam Khan visited Mr. Enaam Arnaout on Friday, July 21st at the Federal Prison in Oxford, Wisconsin in order to assist him with his civil rights claims. In the three hour visit, the two interns spoke with Arnaout about his case, as well as his former role as an activist in the Muslim community and his life in prison. Khan described Arnaout as "a charismatic guy," whom he had an enjoyable experience meeting. Even in his difficult circumstances, Arnaout is determined in his struggle to confront the injustices done to him.

Enaam Arnaout is the former director of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), whose mission included providing humanitarian assistance throughout the world, benefiting civilian populations. Arnaout became director of BIF in 1993, and from then on was responsible for all of the organization's dealings.

In February 2003, Arnaout pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; the main offense was wire and mail fraud. Unfortunately, due to the post 9/11 atmosphere, Arnaout's case was warped into another victory in the war on terror. Despite the judge's repeated assertion that Enaam Arnaout's case was not linked in any way to terrorism, the government's attorneys and the media portrayed the case as such. As a result, Arnaout's reputation preceded him in prison, and he has been the subject of daily harassment and abuse since.

Farooqi and Khan are currently assisting Arnaout with two civil rights claims.

Firstly, Arnaout's First Amendment rights have been violated, in terms of freedom of religion and speech. Mr. Arnaout is not allowed to use Arabic when performing religious obligations, and has even been placed into solitary confinement for teaching Arabic to other inmates when he had clearance from the prison administration to do so.

Secondly, under the Eighth Amendment, Arnaout faced cruel and unusual punishment because he was forced to perform manual labor even though he was suffering from a severe back condition. For several months, Arnaout was deprived of adequate medical care. He was instead given overdoses of painkillers to deal with the pain, and placed into solitary confinement when he complained of the pain and asked to see the prison physician. It was not until the court ordered an MRI that Arnaout, several months after the order, was given one.

Enaam Arnaout's charges are those of a white collar crime; however he is being treated as if he committed treason, as Civil Rights Intern Khan relayed. CAIR-Chicago's civil rights department will be assisting Arnaout with setting up his claims. With his strong will and conviction, Mr. Enaam Arnaout is a wonderful example of availing those rights promised to us in the US Constitution, and truly demanding the respect that comes along with being a citizen of the United States of America, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious belief.





CAIR-CHICAGO CIVIL RIGHTS COORDINATOR SPEAKS AT PANEL ON MUSLIM WOMEN'S CIVIL RIGHTS

Approximately 30 people attended a panel discussion on August 3rd, where CAIR-Chicago's Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham and two prominent civil rights attorneys presented on the civil rights of Muslim women at the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.

The topic of the panel discussion was based on a pamphlet on Muslim women's civil rights that was put together by Engy Abdelkader, a civil rights attorney based in New Jersey and a board member of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL). From identification photographs and security screenings to employment and housing discrimination, A Muslim Woman's Guide to Her Civil Rights outlines the religious protections under the First Amendment.

Both Muslims and Non-Muslims listened to Engy Abdelkader from AMAL, Christina Abraham from CAIR-Chicago, and Sara Schreiber from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU-IL) discuss issues pertinent to Muslim women's civil rights, the various shapes religious discrimination may take, and the options available to women who are victims of discrimination.

The program was developed by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in partnership with the Chicago Advisory Council on Arab Affairs.





CAIR DEMANDS END TO ISRAELI 'TERROR' AFTER 57 CIVILIANS KILLED

Sunday July 30, 10:22 am ET

Islamic Civil Rights Group Seeks Unconditional Cease-Fire, Humanitarian Aid

WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today said the Bush administration and the international community must act to stop Israel's campaign of "terror" in Southern Lebanon.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued that call after an Israeli air strike killed at least 57 civilians in the town of Qana, the site of a similar massacre of civilians by Israel a decade ago. (In 1996, an Israeli air strike on a United Nations compound in Qana killed more than 100 civilians who had sought shelter there.) Lebanese officials said the majority of the dead in today's attack were children. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have been killed in previous Israeli attacks.

SEE: Israeli Airstrike Kills Dozens of Lebanese Civilians (AP) http://www.nbc4.com/news/9597926/detail.html

CAIR said the charge of state terrorism was based on statements by Israeli officials that they intend to make the civilian population of Lebanon suffer in order to put pressure on Hezbollah. Israel's chief of staff threatened to "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years."

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon declared last week that, "Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hezbollah." Israel has in the past reserved the right to kill anyone it considers a "terrorist" or terrorist supporter.

Israel's most popular newspaper also supported acting without military restraint in Lebanon. It said, "In other words: a village from which rockets are fired at Israel will simply be destroyed by fire."

SEE: You're All Targets, Israel Tells Lebanese In South (Daily Telegraph) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml ?xml=/news/2006/07/28/wmid28.xml

Along with the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the systematic destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, Israel has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Southern Lebanon.

"Whenever civilians are attacked to achieve a political goal, the charge of terrorism must be applied, whether the terrorist is an individual, a group or a state," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "Our government must end it support for Israel's campaign of terror in Lebanon and join an international effort to protect and bring humanitarian aid to the civilian population of that devastated nation."

He said support for Israeli terror is causing irreparable damage to America's credibility and interests worldwide.

Hooper also said President Bush should demand an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, end American arms shipments to Israel and actively support a comprehensive and just resolution to the Middle East conflict.

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist's window to the Muslim community. To subscribe to ISLAM-INFONET, go to: http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair-net.org





CAIR-CHICAGO JOINS "HOTEL WORKERS RISING!" CAMPAIGN

August 10, 2006

The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that it is joining UNITE HERE's bi-national grassroots campaign to generate better working conditions for impoverished workers in the hotel industry.

The campaign, "Hotel Workers Rising!" represents an effort to empower thousands of hotel workers in hundreds of hotels in cities across the United States and Canada as they work to improve their jobs and secure better lives for themselves and their families.

These workers--largely minority and immigrant women--work hard to create a welcoming home away from home for business travelers and tourists. But many are suffering serious physical injuries from the workloads imposed on them by large multinational companies. Severe understaffing coupled with an increase in room amenities like heavier mattresses and linens are hurting these workers.

"When injustice singles out any group of people, the rest of the community should stand in solidarity with that group and protest in one voice," Sabah Ahmed, CAIR Chicago's Operations Coordinator said. "The plight of hotel workers is particularly important to Muslims as hospitality is an honored Islamic tradition; as such, we value those whose daily job it is to provide hospitality for total strangers."

"Working towards social justice was a dominant theme in the Prophet Muhammad's life and is a main cornerstone of the Islamic spirit," Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director said. "For us as Muslim-Americans, standing up for social justice down the street is no less an obligation than fighting for justice in the Middle East," Rehab added.

"Hotel Workers Rising!" will publicly launch the clergy support campaign at an interfaith breakfast immediately followed by behind-the-scenes meetings with union hotel workers on the job. The date is Friday, August 18th, from 9:00-11:30AM beginning at The Signature Room atop the Hancock Tower. R.S.V.P. mandatory by Aug. 13th. Both Rehab and Ahmed are slated to attend with an assembly of religious leaders who will carry a strong moral message in support of hospitality and human dignity.

For more information, please visit http://www.hotelworkersrising.org/.





In the News Media Response System [visit center] Press Center



Recent Events




RECENT CASES:

Civil Rights Update – 08/14/06

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 542 cases documented in which 240 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 faced a hostile work environment while working at a Christian organization. Co-workers repeatedly dissuaded her religion, while her supervisor did not help her in this situation. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint and will take whatever measures appropriate to address the situation.
General:
  • A Muslim complainant informed us about an issue involving a non-Muslim man trying to enter a mosque with his 2 dogs, claiming they were service animals. Attendants of the mosque explained to the man that, according to Islam, dogs cannot be in the prayer hall, and offered to care for the dogs outside of the mosque while the man explored the inside. The man refused and threatened to file a law suit against the mosque for failure to accommodate his disability. CAIR-Chicago researched whether the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to religious organizations and discovered that it does not. After which CAIR-Chicago advised the complainants on this matter.
  • A Muslim woman came across a website displaying hateful messages concerning Muslims. She sent an abuse report to the internet site, however no action was taken. CAIR-Chicago has referred this to their Communications Department to address the issue with diligence.
Government:
  • A Muslim man underwent a "random luggage search" while returning to the United States. After which he was told to contact an FBI agent for further questioning. CAIR-Chicago contacted the FBI agent on is behalf and resolved the issue.
  • Two 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 five cases into the Citizenship Delay Project. For more information on the Citizenship Delay Project, please see the action alert below.
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 civilrights@cairchicago.org or 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 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 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.


















POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: 2007 EVENT PLANNER


CAIR-Chicago is seeking a qualified volunteer to assist as the Event Planner for our 2007 Annual Event. The Event Planner will head CAIR-Chicago’s Annual Fundraiser Committee as the Chairperson, and will work closely with CAIR-Chicago’s Operations Coordinator, Board, and staff. This position is compensated.

The Muslim community, sponsors, and guests will be invited to review CAIR-Chicago’s past year accomplishments and will be asked to support our future efforts to benefit the Muslim American community in Chicago. If you are interested in serving the Muslim community as CAIR-Chicago’s 2007 Event Chairperson, please contact Sabah Ahmed at operations@cairchicago.org.

Position Details


ACTION ALERT: THANK CBS 2 REPORTERS FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY!


Please take a moment to call or leave comments via the CBS 2 website to thank Joe Duncanson, Sylvia Gomez, and Jim Williams for their coverage and comments regarding the Muslim community in light of the alleged terror plot uncovered in the U.K.

Click here for transcript / video





director@cairchicago.org



CAIR-Chicago Welcomes New Activists to the Team


Ndidi Amatullah Okakpu has joined CAIR-Chicago as a Communications Intern. She is completing a Bachelors of Science in Finance and Communications at DePaul University, while serving as VP of Marketing for the National Association of Black Accountants and Social Action Chair for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - Lambda Chapter. She has also completed one academic year of Arabic and Islamic studies at the Abu Nour Institute in Damascus, Syria.

Ndidi has served as organizing secretary for The Mosque Cares National Youth Dawah Organization, is the founder of For Brothers & Sisters Mentoring and has promoted interfaith relations with the Chicago Focolare Movement and the Washington, DC Metropolitan Interfaith Conference. While her interests are in finance, she excels in marketing and communications. She admires CAIR-Chicago's dedication to Muslim civil rights and hopes to aide to the best of her capacities.

Manar Jamal has joined CAIR-Chicago as a Graphical Design Intern. Manar graduated from Saint Xavier University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems (MIS), and was accepted as a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS). After taking courses in graphic art and working in the University's Art and Design lab and Art Gallery, she decided to try out a career in Graphic Design.

She is also interested in marketing, management, web design and creating video. Manar enjoys reading, creating new art, learning new software and helping other Muslims. Manar hopes to attend DePaul's Graduate School of Business in the near future.


CAIR-Chicago's Muslim Activist Website




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
    Ahmed Rehab

    Civil Rights Coordinator
    Christina Abraham

    Outreach Coordinator
    Dina Rehab

    Governmental Relations Coordinator
    Sadiya Ahmed

    Operations Coordinator
    Sabah Ahmed

    Communications Coordinator
    Sultan Muhammad

    Staff Attorney
    Heena Musabji, Esq.

    Legal Advisor
    Maaria Mozaffar

    Community Organizer
    Haady Taslim

    Board of Directors
    Alif Muhammad
    Ahmed Rehab
    Hina Sodha, Esq.
    Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
    Mazen Kudaimi, MD - Vice President
    Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President







    Click Here





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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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    Issue # 007 [04/20/2005]
    Issue # 006 [04/05/2005]
    Issue # 005 [03/22/2005]
    Issue # 004 [03/08/2005]
    Issue # 003 [02/22/2005]
    Issue # 002 [02/08/2005]
    Issue # 001 [01/20/2005]

    The Chicago Activist is a publication of CAIR-Chicago
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