Chronology of Islam in America (2003)
Deportation of Muslims increased
Jan. 15: The U.S. government dramatically increased the deportation of people from Muslim nations in the year after Sept. 11, 2001, even as it eased up on illegal immigrants from Mexico and other countries. The numbers of foreign nationals expelled to their native countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia multiplied faster than for citizens of nearly all other nations from October 2001 to September 2002, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution computer analysis of Immigration and Naturalization Service records. The analysis provided the first comprehensive look at the nationality of people deported since the terrorist attacks.
Muslim workers in California & Illinois face discrimination
Feb 5: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirmed that Muslim workers in California and Illinois faced discrimination because of their religion. Giving a ruling on the sacking of a Muslim pilot following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the EEOC said that the airlines fired the pilot because of his religion, race and national origin. The Muslim pilot, a native of Fiji who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, was fired based on anonymous accusations of impropriety and a call from a person claiming to be with the FBI seeking an interview with the worker.
FBI plans counting of mosque members
Feb 3: Newsweek reports that the FBI Director Robert Mueller's top aides directed chiefs of the bureau's 56 field offices to develop "demographic" profiles of their localities-including tallying the number of mosques. On Feb. 20, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urged FBI Director Robert Mueller, to offer assurances that American mosques are not being asked to turn over membership lists to local agents. First, the FBI wanted a count of all the mosques in their regional field offices. According to the Islamic Society of Frederick, Md., FBI agents who requested a meeting with their leadership "mentioned casually" they would be asking for a list of the society’s members. This sent red flags up for the Islamic Society, who immediately informed media outlets, interfaith partners and civil rights groups. Local FBI officials then said they would not press for the list local agents had requested.
Northwest Airlines apologizes for deplaning Muslim immigrant
May 21: Harris Khan, 28, a Pakistani immigrant, who was removed from a Northwest Airlines flight three months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, allegedly because he looked Middle Eastern, received an apology and monetary damages from the airline in a settlement. As part of the agreement, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the airline also agreed to train the pilot about the importance of civil-liberties protections for passengers.
US Senate condemns attacks on Muslims
May 23: the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution condemning violence against Muslims and other minorities. The resolution, presented by a Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, named Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, South-Asian Americans and Sikh Americans as the minorities targeted for hate crimes. May 27: The US Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the federal government's policy of holding secret immigration hearings of people detained after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Supreme Court won't review secret deportation hearings
May 27: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the federal government's policy of holding secret immigration hearings of people detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The justices declined to review a U.S. appeals court ruling that news media and public access to the deportation proceedings could endanger national security. Without any comment, the high court refused to hear an appeal by New Jersey newspapers arguing the government may not keep the proceedings secret without a specific, case-by-case showing that closing the hearing would be necessary. The secret hearings were among the tactics the Bush administration adopted after the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A directive 10 days after the attacks ordered immigration judges to close hearings for detainees whose cases the U.S. Justice Department deemed were of ``special interest'' to the government's terrorism investigation. During the government's investigation, approximately 766 detainees were designated as 'special interest' cases, 611 of whom had one or more hearings closed, New York Times quoted department lawyers as saying.
FBI criticized over September 11 detentions
June 2: Foreigners (Muslims and Arabs) detained as part of the investigation into the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were held too long without being charged and subjected to "unduly harsh" conditions of confinement , a US Justice Department audit report. The audit by the department's inspector general found "significant problems" in how authorities handled the 762 foreigners who were detained for immigration violations during the investigation into the hijacked airliner attacks. Some detainees were locked up almost continuously, were moved around in handcuffs and leg irons, subjected to abuse and had their cell lights kept on day and night.
More than 13,000 Arabs, Muslims Face Deportation
June 6: More than 13,000 of the Arab and Muslim men who came forward earlier this year to register with immigration authorities — roughly 16 percent of the total — may now face deportation, The New York Times quoted government officials saying. Only a handful have been linked to terrorism. But of the 82,000 men older than 16 who registered, more than 13,000 have been found to be living in this country illegally, officials said. Advocates for immigrants have accused officials of practicing selective enforcement of immigration laws by focusing on illegal immigrants from Arab and Muslim nations. Rather than disrupting communities, they say, the government should improve its intelligence and prosecution of terrorists.
Justice Department prohibits racial profiling
June 17: The Bush administration banned federal law enforcement officers from racial profiling in routine police work, but said agents may use race and ethnicity to identify suspected terrorists. A 10-page guidance drafted by the Justice Department was approved by President Bush and sent to all federal law enforcement agencies. It does not apply to state and local police. Ralph Boyd, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the Bush administration is the first to issue a formal policy on racial profiling. Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, local and state police were accused of racial profiling far more often than federal agents. But that changed after hundreds of Middle Eastern men were detained in the Sept. 11 probe.
“Banks blacklisting Muslims”
July 2: American financial institutions are using extreme interpretations of the U.S.A. Patriot Act to justify blacklisting Muslim account holders, reports An-Nahar, an Arabic weekly based in Southern California said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said Muslims are complaining that some of the biggest banks and credit agencies in the United States, such as American Express, HSBC, Fleet Bank, and Western Union, are canceling accounts and making intrusive demands for private information. Many of the cancellations seem to be inspired by the similarity of the account holder's name to names that appear on a Treasury Department list of Specially Designated Nationals and bloced Individuals (SDN). In one high-profile case in early 2003, Western Union denied service and a refund to a Muslim African-American from New York unless he provided photo identification and information about his country of birth.
Judge accepts life ban for 'terrorist' remark
July 6: - A suburban New York judge agreed to a lifelong ban from the bench for asking a Lebanese-American woman if she was "a terrorist" when she appeared in court over parking tickets, officials said. The state judicial watchdog said in a ruling that Judge William Crosbie of Tarrytown, New York, acknowledged he could not successfully defend the charges of using an ethnic-based comment and agreed "he will neither seek nor accept judicial office at any time in the future." Anissa Khoder, a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Lebanon 14 years ago, filed a complaint on May 16 with the watchdog, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She said Crosbie asked her at her May 15 court appearance if she was "a terrorist." Khoder was challenging two parking tickets that had been left on her dashboard within one hour.
Report on USA Patriot Act Alleges Civil Rights Violations
July 20: A report by internal investigators at the Justice Department has identified dozens of recent cases in which department employees have been accused of serious civil rights and civil liberties violations involving enforcement of the sweeping federal antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act. The inspector general's report, which was presented to Congress last week, said that in the six-month period that ended on June 15, the inspector general's office had received 34 complaints of civil rights and civil liberties violations by department employees that it considered credible, including accusations that Muslim and Arab immigrants in federal detention centers had been beaten.
AMC Chairman Meets with President Bush
July 24: Dr. Yahya Mossa Basha, Chairman of the American Muslim Council, met with President George W. Bush in Michigan. Dr. Basha was invited to meet with the president as part of the White House outreach efforts. On this occasion, Dr. Basha handed over a letter to the president on behalf of the American Muslim community. The letter outlined Muslim issues and offers comments on the peace in the Middle East.
Poll: 44% of Americans think Islam sparks violence
July 24: Research Center for the People & the Press shows that there has been an important shift in public perceptions of Islam. Fully 44 percent of the American public now believes that Islam is more likely than other religions "to encourage violence among its believers." As recently as March 2002, just 25 percent expressed this view. "Our findings in this area actually point in different directions," said Melissa Rogers, executive director of the Pew Forum. "On the one hand, there’s certainly an increase in the number of Americans who believe that Islam encourages violence. Yet at the same time, a narrow majority of the public continues to have favorable views of Muslim-Americans, and only 24 percent have an unfavorable view."
Dr. Ali A Mazrui held for seven hours
August 3: Eminent Muslim scholar, Dr. Ali A Mazrui, who has lived in the US since 1974, was detained and interrogated for seven hours after he returned from a working visit to the Caribbean. Kenya-born Mazrui, a political scientist who still carries his country’s passport, and is the author of many books on Islam and Africa, holds the Albert Schweitzer chair at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Mazrui told the Washington Post in an interview later that he was questioned first by Immigration officials, then by Customs representatives and finally by agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Their questions included “ ‘What is jihad?’ and whether I believed in it. I gave them Jihad 101. A basic introduction to a subject at American universities is called ‘course 101’. Then they wanted to know what sect of Islam I believe in. When I said Sunni, they asked why I was not Shia,” he recalled. “That was definitely a first. That’s like asking a Catholic why he isn’t a Protestant.”
Bush appoints anti-Muslim scholar to peace role
August 23: A Middle East expert who has written dismissively of diplomacy was named to the board of the US Institute of Peace. The largely honorary appointment of Daniel Pipes, a gift of President George Bush, has outraged Democratic senators, American Muslims and Arabs, liberal Jews and a large portion of the academic community, who say his opinions are not conducive to peace.
Rev. Bob Edgar condemns the hate speech of conservative Christian leaders
Aug. 29-31: Faced with an increase in hate crimes, threats to their civil liberties and an assault on their faith, about 40,000 American Muslims gathered in Chicago for the 40th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the Labor Day weekend. Attending the convention, the Rev. Bob Edgar, head of the National Council of Churches, which represents thousands of mainline Protestant and Orthodox Christian congregations, condemned what he called the "hate speech" of conservative Christian leaders who condemn Islam and committed the resources of his organization to fostering respect for the religion.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed quits as MAS chief
Aug 31: Imam W. Deen Mohammed, the African Muslim spiritual leader who over three decades transformed how the African Muslims’ practice the religion, has resigned as head of the American Society of Muslims. Mohammed told the MAS annual convention in Chicago that he will continue to represent and guide African Muslims and direct his ministry, The Mosque Cares, but would no longer lead the society, the main organization representing his movement. W. Deen Mohammed, who turns 70 in October, is the son of Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975.
Drive to register one million Muslim voters
Sept 1: Leaders of the four organizations - the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council - who met at the sidelines of the ISNA Convention in Chicago agreed to make civil rights a top issue in any endorsement of a presidential candidate in 2004 elections and launch an intensive drive to register one million Muslim voters.
CAIR Poll: U.S. Muslims increase political activity since 9/11
Sept 10: American Muslims have increased their participation in political and social activities since 9/11, according to a poll by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group. The poll says that roughly half of American Muslims surveyed say they have increased their social (58 percent), political (45 percent), inter-faith (52 percent) and public relations activities (59 percent) since the 9/11 terror attacks. Almost three-fourths (70 percent) of Muslim respondents said they feel free to practice their faith without restrictions and 86 per cent said they had experienced an act of kindness from people of other faiths.
Hallmark issues Eid greeting cards
Sept 16: This year, for the first time ever, Hallmark will sell cards for the Muslim feast of Eid ul-Fitr. "With the increase in the number of Muslims, we realized there was an ongoing need that we we're not satisfying," said Deidre Parkes, spokeswoman for the Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark company that has been making greeting cards for Americans since 1910.
Abdel-Rahman Al-Amoudi arrested
Sept 28: Abdel-Rahman Al-Amoudi, an American Muslim and one of the founders of the American Muslim Council (AMC), was arrest today at Dulles International Airport in Virginia after a flight from London. According to media reports, he was found to be in possession of large sums of money that he received from the government of Libya in exchange for lobbying the US government. In a statement, the Muslim Public Affairs Council said that he was taken into custody for violations of the law that were unrelated to the War on Terror or to any alleged involvement with terrorism. The MPAC statement said: “The targeting of individuals or organizations by law enforcement should not be politicized, and the alleged crimes of one individual should not be allowed to taint an entire community. Biased pundits motivated by personal agendas, with the support of some in the government, have exploited the tragedy of 9-11 to marginalize the voices of American Muslims, and to prevent the emergence of an effective and independent American Muslim leadership.”
FBI revokes its service award from Arab leader
Oct. 9: After pressure from a pro-Israeli group and columnist, the FBI rescinded an award it had planned to give to a prominent Arab-American leader this week and raised questions about his connections with men the government wants to deport. Imad Hamad, who heads the local branch of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, had been scheduled to receive a prestigious service award today in Washington, D.C., for his work with law enforcement after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Local conservative columnist Debbie Schlussel and the Zionist Organization of America - one of the oldest pro-Israeli groups in the nation - led a spirited attack last month against Hamad, charging in letters and articles that he is sympathetic to terrorists and unworthy of such an honor. Hamad said the allegations that he supports terrorism are baseless and came from fringe groups with no credibility.
General Boykin says his God was bigger
Oct 16: Los Angeles reports that The Pentagon has assigned the task of tracking down and eliminating Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets to an Army general who sees the war on terrorism as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan. Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan." Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." On at least one occasion, in Sandy, Ore., in June, Boykin said of President Bush: "He's in the White House because God put him there."
American Muslim organizations call for General Boykin’s removal
Oct. 20: American Muslim organizations denounce the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim comments by Lt. General William Boykin who was recently appointed as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and called for his removal from this sensitive office. They said while every American has the freedom to express his opinion but it is essential that those who hold high policymaking positions should exercise judgment in their public speaking and Lt. Gen. Boykin clearly lacks such judgment. These remarks feed into an emerging pattern of religious bigotry against Muslims and Islam.
New bill in Congress targets teachers who dare to question US support for Israel
Oct. 21: House of Representative passed H.R. 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act which critics said targets teachers who dare to question US support for Israel. It would set up a seven-member advisory board that would have the power to recommend cutting federal funding for colleges and universities that are viewed as harboring academic critics of Israel.Gilbert Merk, vice provost for international affairs and development and director of the Center for International Studies at Duke University, has echoed the fears of many when he charged that this advisory board “could easily be hijacked by those who have a political axe to grind and become a vehicle for an inquisition.” The bill will now go to Senate for approval.
US court rules it is OK to hold 9/11 witnesses
Nov 8: In a victory for Washington's anti-terrorism arrest tactics, a US appeals court ruled that a Jordanian student could be held as a material witness in a grand jury Sept. 11 investigation. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a trial judge's finding that the government had wrongly used the material witness statute to hold the student, Osama Awadallah, whom prosecutors later said lied when he denied knowing one of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers. The case has drawn wide attention because it questioned whether the US government is acting legally when it jails indefinitely people who are not charged with a crime but might be called to testify before a grand jury investigating terrorist activities.
Supreme Court rejects appeal from Global Relief
Nov 10: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from an Islamic charity whose assets were impounded three months after the terrorist attacks. The Global Relief Foundation argued that the government put it out of business without proof the Illinois-based charity was funneling money to terrorists. Justices refused to consider whether it was unconstitutional or illegal for the government to freeze the foundation's bank accounts.
INS Special Registration suspended partially
Dec. 2: The Homeland Security Department partially suspends special registration program that targets boys and men from 24 Muslim countries. The two changes in Special Registration requirements are the following: (1) The annual re-registration requirement is suspended for all Special Registrants, i.e., for both those who registered under the “Call-In” and those who were registered at a port-of-entry (POE). (2) The 30/40-day follow-up interview requirement (applicable only to POE Registrants) is also suspended. All other requirements for Special Registrants remain in effect including Departure Registration and Reporting Changes of Address, Employment, or Educational Institution.
Key provisions of anti-terrorism statute declared unconstitutional
Dec 3: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared unconstitutional significant parts of a criminal statute barring "material support" to terrorist organizations, and rejected the government's interpretation of the statute as imposing liability on "moral innocents." The case, Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft, involved a challenge brought by the Center for onstitutional Rights on behalf of a human rights organization in Los Angeles and several groups of Sri Lankan Tamils to a statute that criminalizes "material support" to any group designated as "terrorist" by the Secretary of State. The Administration has argued that the statute makes it a crime to provide material support to terrorist organizations without regard to whether the donor knows that the organization is a designated group, and the statute includes within the ambit of "material support" the provision of "personnel" and "training."
Arab Population in U.S. Nearly Doubles
Dec. 4: The Arab population in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to the Census Bureau's first report on the group. The bureau counted nearly 1.2 million Arabs in the United States in 2000, compared with 860,000 in 1990 and 610,000 in 1980. About 60 percent trace their ancestry to three countries: Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. While earlier Arab immigrants came from countries with large Christian populations, newer arrivals come from heavily Muslim countries such as Iraq and Yemen. Almost half of the Arabs in the United States live in five states, California (190,890), New York (120,370), Michigan (115,284), New Jersey (71,770) and Florida (77,461).
Democrats court vote of disgruntled U.S. Muslims
Dec 21: Three years after Muslim Americans overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush, democratic presidential candidates are courting these disenchanted voters in hopes of winning millions of backers in key states. "I want to earn the support of Muslims and Muslim leaders across the United States," Sen. John Kerry (a Democrat from Massachusetts, told the annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council outside Los Angeles last. "I very much hope for your support," Democratic front-runner and former Vermont governor, Howard Dean told the MPAC convention.