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Executive Editor:  Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Chronology of Islam in America (2006)
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

January 2006

Battle waged in Boston over new mosque
Jan. 5: The Islamic Society of Boston is trying to complete a mosque that would be the largest in this region of the United States. After the city of Boston conveyed a parcel of land to the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), articles appeared in the Boston Herald in 2003 linking society leaders to Islamic extremists. The ISB denied the story, responding in detail to what it saw as inflammatory distortions. "When you place a picture of Osama bin Laden next to a picture of our mosque, that is completely misrepresentative of who we are," says Salma Kazmi, assistant project director. Boston's Fox TV station followed with broadcasts on the charges, and two local organizations - the David Project, a pro-Israel group, and Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (CPT) - have continued to publicize them and press for public hearings. CPT says Boston could become a "potential radical Islamic center." The ISB counters that media and local groups, with help from terrorism analyst Steven Emerson, have conspired to halt construction and "incite public sentiment against area Muslims." The society has filed a defamation suit. A local resident has also sued the city seeking invalidation of the land sale to the ISB. The specific charges may have to be sorted out in court, but the Boston controversy fits a national pattern. Four years after 9/11, mosques in many communities continue to encounter wariness and resistance ranging from suspicions raised at zoning hearings to vandalism and worse. "It's all part of the unfortunate temper of the times," says John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington. "There is such a thing as Islamophobia." "Unfortunately, I see the Boston case as indicative of a growing trend in anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown after 9/11," said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest American Muslim civil rights group. "It has especially impacted local Muslim communities in terms of building their mosques," he said. "High concentrations of Muslim populations are being given a hard time for just trying to practice their faith." (Christian Science Monitor/Reuters)

CAIR launches eid voter registration drive
Jan. 5: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today urged American Muslims to register to vote at events nationwide next week marking the Eid ul-Adha holiday. CAIR's Eid voter registration drive is part of a major non-partisan Muslim political mobilization effort to be conducted during the 2006 election cycle. The effort included in-person and online voter registration drives, candidate forums, production of voter guides, get-out-the-vote campaigns, conducting research on and surveys of American Muslim voters, and other grass-roots activities. CAIR also called on Muslim students to volunteer in political campaigns. (CAIR Bulletin)

FBI tries to dispel surveillance concerns
Jan. 11 - F.B.I. officials met in Washington DC with Muslim and Arab-American leaders in an effort to dispel anger and concern over the bureau's secret monitoring of radiation levels at Muslim sites around the country. John Pistole, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and John Miller, the bureau's assistant director of public affairs, tried to reassure those at the session that the surveillance of mosques and Muslim businesses and homes had been based on intelligence leads. Leaders of Muslim and Arab-American groups requested the meeting after the program was disclosed last month by U.S. News & World Report. The nationwide surveillance program included air monitoring of more than 100 private properties in the Washington area. "This current situation reinforces the notion that our community is viewed more as suspects rather than partners," said one attendee, Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national advocacy organization. (New York Times)

CT: Cheshire parent says textbook distorts Islam 
Jan. 11: A controversy has developed over a seventh-grade textbook being used at Dodd Middle School, Cheshire, CT, that some parents say provides an unbalanced view of Islam. Ken Whelan, who has a son in seventh grade at Dodd, said he would like to see the social studies textbook "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond" removed from the school’s curriculum, although the information he finds offensive hasn t been presented to students. Dodd Principal Donald Wailonis has been an educator in Cheshire schools since 1971 and said this is the first time he can recall that there has been controversy over a textbook. Wailonis said the curriculum addresses the good and bad aspects of religion, which is important if students are to learn critical thinking. Curriculum Committee Chairman James Sima said Judaism and Christianity are also taught, at different times. "We look at it in a critical fashion. & I think our students know that religion can be misused," Wailonis said. "We don t teach from a singular perspective. We have no agenda to promote that puts one religion over another." (New Haven Register) 

Fremont mosque under surveillance as spying targets Muslims
Jan 13: On the back wall of a store in a shopping complex on Fremont Boulevard, a surveillance camera points directly at the parking lot of a local mosque. The camera was installed there about a year ago, and worshippers at the Islamic Center of Fremont , CA, say they don't know who put it there. But they believe Uncle Sam could be behind it. Last week, following the revelation a few days earlier that the government has been secretly spying on U.S. citizens without court permission, federal law enforcement officials admitted that FBI agents have secretly monitored radiation levels at mosques, Islamic businesses and homes for several years in large cities to see whether nuclear or chemical bombs were being assembled. Up until now, no suspicious radiation levels have been found in any of those places. (India West)

Bible replaced by Quran in ceremony for Muslim taking seat on planning board
Jan. 18: In Boonton, New Jersey, three men stood at the front of the courtroom before the planning board attorney last week, their right hands raised in preparation to become the latest members of the town's planning board. Two of the men placed their left hands on the Bible to take their oaths and "solemnly swear" before God. The third man, 49-year-old Tajammul "Taj" Khokhar, placed his hand on his family's Quran and took an affirmation. Khokhar, a well-known Boonton resident who is also a Boonton Main Street trustee and an active member of the Jam e Masjid Islamic Center, may well have made town history in that moment. Although other Boonton Muslims have served on various boards, including the Housing Authority and the Library Board, the Pakistan-born American is the only Muslim in anyone's memory to serve on the town's planning board, let alone use a Quran in lieu of a Bible during the ceremony. (Daily Record)

American Muslims step up effort to free hostage
Jan. 20: Amid a growing international outcry against her kidnapping, more than two dozen local Arab and Muslim groups in Detroit today called on insurgents in Iraq to immediately release Jill Carroll, a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor who grew up in Ann Arbor. Her captors said they would kill Carroll, 28, if Iraqi women held by United States forces are not released by this evening. Spokesmen for the local groups say they are speaking out because kidnapping and killing are an affront to Islam and human rights, and also because of Carroll's local ties and what they called her "balanced reporting" on the war in Iraq and issues in the Middle East. "Miss Carroll is an innocent reporter, a civilian who was doing her job reporting on the war in Iraq and the suffering of the Iraqi people," said Dr. Mouhib Ayas, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, an umbrella organization of 24 mosques and Islamic organizations in Metro Detroit. "We remind those who hold her of what God said in the Koran that, 'Whoever kills an innocent soul unjustly, it is as if he murdered all mankind, and whoever gives it life, it is as if he had given life to all mankind.'?" (Detroit News) 

Held in 9/11 Net, Muslims Return to Accuse U.S.
Jan. 23: Hundreds of noncitizens were swept up on visa violations in the weeks after 9/11, held for months in a much-criticized federal detention center in Brooklyn as "persons of interest" to terror investigators, and then deported. This week, one of them is back in New York and another is due today - the first to return to the United States. They are no longer the accused but the accusers, among six former detainees who are coming back to give depositions in their federal lawsuits against top government officials and detention guards, at a time when the constitutionality of part of the government's counterterrorism offensive is under new scrutiny. As in the cases of all the Muslim immigrants rounded up in the New York area after the terror attacks, the six were never accused of a crime related to 9/11; officials eventually cleared all of them of links to terrorism. A report by the inspector general of the Justice Department found systemic problems with immigrant detentions and widespread abuse at the federal detention center where the six had been held; several guards have since been disciplined. (New York Times) 

First Muslim girl scouts troop in Utah
Jan. 23: About 10-thousand Utah girls belong to the Girl Scouts of America. Of that number, at least 20 percent are sponsored by a religious group. But one religion has just recently joined the program. Five high school girls make up Girl Scout troop 786. Tonight, they're learning how to pitch a tent. The young women hold a special distinction. They're part of the first Muslim Girl Scout troop in Utah. The girls do everything the other girl scouts do, like sell cookies. But they also draw on their culture and religion. The troop begins each meeting with a prayer to Allah, during which the girls wear "hijab"-- the traditional Muslim head covering. They also revise the Girl Scout promise.  (  

ACLU seeks government information on alleged spying in Ohio
Jan. 24: The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio requested information today from the government about whether it spied on two anti-war groups and an attorney for a man suspected of terrorism connections. ACLU officials said at news conference in Cleveland that members of the anti-war groups want to know whether two meetings were attended by government agents. One meeting was last year in Akron by the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, and another was in 2004 in Cleveland by the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition. The ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Defense, Justice Department, the FBI and police seeking records that document any collection of information about the groups. Gary Daniels, the ACLU's litigation coordinator, said the ACLU became involved because the groups were included on a Defense Department classified database of information about suspicious people and activity inside the United States as reported by NBC News. The ACLU also requested information about several people, including Akron lawyer Farhad Sethna, based on his association with the American Friends Service Committee. Sethna said he hopes the request will shed light on whether the government spied on his conversations with a client, Ashraf Al-Jailani, who recently was sent back to his native Yemen after being jailed three years on suspicions that he associated with suspected terrorists. (The Beacon Journal)

Ohio High school accommodates Muslim student's prayer
Jan. 24: The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) announced today that a high school in that state has agreed to accommodate a Muslim student's right to pray. CAIR-Ohio says the 17-year old junior wished to perform her mandatory Islamic prayers, but had been told she was not allowed to pray at school. After discussions with the school, a compromise was reached in which the student has a list of teachers who are willing to let her use their classrooms for prayer before and after school and at lunch. (CAIR Bulletin)

Muslims decry U.S. ouster of Tempe doctor
Jan. 26: Representatives from leading Islamic organizations in Arizona and the nation blasted the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that the government used discrimination, dishonesty and smear tactics to force a prominent Muslim physician out of the country. The organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations and Muslim American Society, demanded that federal authorities allow Dr. Nadeem Hassan to return to Tempe from Pakistan and said that they are seeking meetings with the FBI, Homeland Security and congressional leaders about the treatment of immigrants. Hassan, a Pakistani who belongs to an Islamic group known as Jamaat al Tabligh, was forced out of the country last week under threat of indefinite detention based in part on a Homeland Security finding that JT is a terrorist organization.
Hassan had lived in the United States for more than 15 years, and practiced medicine at Maricopa Medical Center under a temporary-work permit. He applied for permanent residence in 2002 and, last year, sued the government for its delayed handling of the green-card request. He and his wife, Amber, also sought visas so they could travel in December to Mecca for the Muslim pilgrimage known as hajj. The Hassans were granted visas. Last week, while they were still overseas, Citizenship and Immigration Services, or CIS, denied the green card and revoked their travel authorization, leaving them stranded. When the Hassans returned Jan. 18 to New York, they were held by Customs and Border Protection agents who threatened to jail them unless they voluntarily left the country. They flew to Pakistan. (The Arizona Republic)

VA county’s first female Muslim police officier
Jan. 26: The latest graduates of the Prince William County Criminal Justice Academy are its most diverse.
Almost half speak a second language. One can build a computer from scratch. Another can organize a museum exhibition. One is a former all-conference basketball player. Another is a Sunday school teacher. There's also a skeet shooter. "They're an impressive group," Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said of this month's class of 27 graduates. "I'm very pleased with the diversity of this group because it reflects our community." One of the new graduate, Sara Khan, is the force's first Muslim woman. "People are so fascinated with my culture. The main thing that comes up is arranged marriages," she said. As foreign as her culture might seem to her fellow officers, her being a police officer is just as alien to her fellow Muslims, she said. "In our community, females don't become police officers," said Khan who was
born in Pakistan and fluent in Urdu and English. She came to Virginia when she was 11.  (Washington Post)

KFI Los Angeles host under fire for making fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslim pilgrims during Hajj
Jan. 27: Clear Channel talk KFI Los Angeles morning man Bill Handel is under fire from a Muslim civil liberties group because of comments he reportedly made earlier this month. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked that Handel apologize for making fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslims during an annual pilgrimage. Two years ago, KFI issued an on-air apology after the group filed a complaint with the FCC following a skit that claimed Muslims have sex with animals, don't bathe and hate Jews. (Billboard Radio Monitor)

Muslim reaction to Jerry Vines' retirement
Jan. 29: The announcement that Rev. Jerry Vines is stepping down from the helm of First Baptist Church has elicited mixed reactions within the American Muslim community. While recognizing the positive contributions made by Rev. Vines in his stewardship of the congregation and as a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Muslims remain disappointed that a prominent religious leader used divisive rhetoric at a time when the world needed spiritual healers. In 2002, Rev. Vines sparked a national controversy when he defamed the Prophet Muhammad by calling him a "demon-possessed pedophile."
Besides the fact that his comments were offensive to Muslims, Rev. Vines lacked basic understanding of Islam and Muslims. Unfortunately, Vines is not alone. Evangelist Franklin Graham claimed that Islam is an "evil and wicked religion," while Rev. Jerry Falwell called Prophet Muhammad a "terrorist." Such malediction reflects rather poorly on faith leaders who fail to distinguish between the atrocities of a few Muslims who misguidedly kill in the name of Islam versus the peaceful practices of mainstream Islam. This failure to dissociate the evil of individuals from the faith of Islam points to an un-American double standard. No other faith group in America bears this burden of guilt by association. The incessant defamatory portrayal of Islam as an evil and violent faith is not without consequences. Anti-Muslim incidents, including hate crimes against American Muslims, have reached record highs. That such Islamophobia hurts Muslims is obvious, but what is often overlooked is that Islamophobia also threatens the image and interests of America. (Times-Union) 

Clinton warns of rising anti-Islamic feeling
Jan. 30: Bill Clinton warned of rising anti-Islamic prejudice, comparing it to historic anti-Semitism as he condemned the publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. "So now what are we going to do? ... Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?" he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha. Clinton described as "appalling" the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world. (AFP)

Controversial documentary pulled after Texas Muslims said it's biased
Jan. 31: A TV documentary about terrorism and Islamic militancy got caught in the crossfire last weekend, as some previewers persuaded the show's producers and KERA-TV (Channel 13, Dallas) to pull it for further review. The Roots of War: The Road to Peace had been set to air Sunday. It's the first installment of a two-year project filmed here and in the Middle East by director/producer Niki Nicastro McCuistion and her former husband, moderator Dennis McCuistion. But the special edition of the weekly McCuistion Program was criticized after a Jan. 23 screening as inaccurate and unbalanced. The producers and station officials decided "that the program needed further editing to ensure that the documentary would meet KERA's standards for accuracy and balance," station spokesman Steve Anderson said. "If there is any way that it can be improved, it will," he added in an interview. (The Dallas Morning News) 

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