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Executive Editor:  Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Chronology of Islam in America (2010)
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

January 2010

Orange County Muslims begin New Year with hate crimes against them
Jan 1: A burned copy of the Quran was found during Friday (January 1, 2010) prayers at the back entrance of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County in Costa Mesa. A burned Quran had been left in the same spot a month previous, and the mosque has been vandalized within the last three weeks. Vandals also defaced the Muslim component of an interfaith holiday display in Mission Viejo. A piece of paper stuck to the display stated, "No Islamic Lighthouses in the U.S.A." Ironically, the Muslim portion of the display included a verse from the Quran encouraging unity of humankind: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. The Holy Quran, 49:13 (Orange County Weekly) 

Costa Mesa, CA, Police investigating burnt Koran
Jan 4: Costa Mesa (CA) police are hesitating to call a charred copy of the Koran found outside the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County on New Year’s Day a hate crime until they determine where it came from, officials said. About noon New Year’s Day, a member of the education center was headed inside for Friday prayers when he saw something bulky that appeared out of place in the parking lot, said education center board member Fatma Saleh. Sgt. Phil Myers said police need to rule out other possibilities before calling the finding a hate crime. For example, someone could have burned a box of books and just tossed this one into the parking lot, he said. “Before we wave the flag and call it a hate crime, we have to do some more investigation,” Myers said. But just a week removed from an alleged attempted bombing aboard an international flight headed into Detroit, Saleh said, the message was clear to local Muslims. “There has to be some connection. To say otherwise is really ignoring the reality of things,” she said. “There always seems to be a backlash when things like this arise in the nation.” (Daily Pilot Costa Mesa, CA) 

Canadian mosque firebombing sparks outrage
Jan 5: Shock and anger is spreading among Hamilton's 20,000 Muslims after the city's largest mosque was firebombed. "They tried to burn the mosque down," said Zakir Patel, 42, principal of the Islamic School of Hamilton, which is part of the mosque. Patel discovered the firebombing around 8 a.m. yesterday when he opened his office door. Attackers had used a large rock to smash a hole in a front window at the mosque and then lobbed in what police are calling an "incendiary device." The same mosque was damaged in 2001 when vandals destroyed its front lobby by smashing windows with beer bottles in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The Hamilton police hate crime unit and chief arson investigator are leading the investigation. (The Hamilton Spectator)  

New TSA screening rules amount to profiling
Jan 5: American Muslim and Arab civil rights and advocacy organizations have described the new security measures announced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) amount to profiling of Muslims. Under the new guidelines, security screeners will conduct full pat-down body checks and carry-on luggage checks for passengers traveling from countries which the U.S. considers to be a security risk. Those countries are Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Passengers traveling from any other foreign country may also be checked at random. At midnight Washington DC time, January 3, it went into effect and placed 675,000,000 (675 million) more Muslims and Arabs on yet another ‘Terrorism ‘list. According to news sources the directives are applicable to any travelers, including US CITIZENS, who have passed through one of these 14 countries, or who have taken flights that have originated from these 14 countries. The new directives came following the Christmas Day attempted airline attack that threatened our national security, and which has been strongly condemned by American Muslim and Arab civil rights and advocacy groups.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said: “The blanket labeling of hundreds of millions of civilians based solely on their country of citizenship or travel is not only unfairly discriminatory based on national origin, but also improperly labels millions of innocent people as somehow suspect or possible terrorists.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the new guidelines will disproportionately target American Muslims who have family or spiritual ties to the Islamic world and therefore amount to religious and ethnic profiling. "The new TSA guidelines deliver a propaganda victory to Al-Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, since they rob targeted groups of people from their civil liberties based on their ethnicity and country of origin," said Alejandro Beutel, Government Liaison of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). "Call it whatever you want, but this is religious and ethnic profiling at its worst." (AMP Report)

TSA tells Muslim traveler hijab now triggers security checks
Jan 6: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to clarify whether Islamic head scarves, or hijab, will now automatically trigger additional security measures for Muslim travelers. CAIR made that request after a Muslim woman traveler taking a flight Tuesday from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Los Angeles (LAX) reported that TSA personnel first requested that she take off her hijab, then put her through a “humiliating” public full-body pat-down search when she refused. After the pat-down, the Muslim traveler’s luggage, coat, shoes, laptop, and cell phone were searched and tested for bomb-making chemicals. When the traveler, a resident of Maryland, questioned TSA staff about the way she was being treated, she was allegedly told that a new policy went into effect that morning mandating that “anyone wearing a head scarf must go through this type of search.” (CAIR)

North Carolina University report: Few U.S. Muslims radical
Jan 6: A new report released today by scholars at Duke University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill says the number of radicalized Muslim-Americans remains small. "Muslim-American organizations and the vast majority of individuals that we interviewed firmly reject the radical extremist ideology that justifies the use of violence to achieve political ends," said David Schanzer, an associate professor at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, and co-author of the report. "The incident at Fort Hood was truly horrific and the recent events are surely cause for increased concern and certainly raise questions in people's minds," Schanzer added. "But we should also be cautioned that there is a huge Muslim population in America and these are a very small number of incidents." The 61-page study, "Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans," found that since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, 139 American Muslims have been accused of planning or carrying out violent attacks motivated by extremism. "Muslim-American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11," said report co-author Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at University of North Carolina. (Herald Sun)

Massachusetts College reverses veil ban
Jan 7: After days of news media scrutiny and a federal civil liberties complaint, a Massachusetts college backed down today from its security policy that seemed to be the nation’s first ban on the veils worn by some Muslim women. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences announced that its identification rule requiring students to wear their ID cards and barring “any head covering that obscures a student’s face … either on campus or at clinical sites” -- which went into effect on January 1 -- has been amended to permit students to wear face-obscuring coverings for religious reasons. The college would not provide more information on how the decision was made, but it comes just a day after CAIR filed a third-party complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming the ban would violate the rights of faculty and staff. The complaint garnered even more news media attention for the case. George E. Humphrey, vice president for college relations, notified Hooper of the exemption in an e-mail message. “We have reviewed our ID policy and made an accommodation for religious reasons,” Humphrey wrote. “Thank you for your input on this matter.” (Inside Higher Ed)  

Some residents in New York suburb fear planned mosque
Jan 8: Racial and religious tensions are flaring in Sheepshead Bay, (New York) over plans to build a mosque on a residential street. Opponents say the mosque will lead to traffic and noise problems - but their complaints are littered with anti-Islamic attacks, like one letter to elected officials that said "mosques and Muslim schools preach hatred." "There's a safety issue here. I don't want my kids walking past it," said Kathy Cash, 38, a mother of three children who attend Public School 52 around the corner on E. 29th St. "It's disgusting," said Cash, "they [Muslims] have no respect." "My children are scared and I am too," said Victor Benari, 56, trying to rally neighbors against the mosque during a civic group meeting. "This is a security issue." The hysterical language startled officials from the mosque, who say their neighbors have no reason to worry. "It saddens us very much to see our neighbors already agitated about these things," said Allowey Ahmed, 60, who owns the property and is spearheading the project. "Our neighbors are very important. We cannot be good Muslims unless we have good relations with our neighbors," said the native of Yemen who moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1997. Besides the prayer hall, the project will include a community center with youth programs for the growing number of Arabic-speaking families in Sheepshead Bay. Construction is currently stalled because the city Buildings Department rejected plans for a 4-story structure in August, but Ahmed said work would begin "in a couple of months." (New York Daily News) 

U.S. Muslims asked to help repair Malaysian churches
Jan 12: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on American Muslims and other people of conscience to help fund repairs to Malaysian churches damaged by vandals. The attacks on the churches came following a court ruling that overturned a ban on the use of the word “Allah” by Christians in that nation. CAIR said Islam mandates that churches, synagogues and other houses of worship must be protected and noted that Arabic-speaking Christians universally refer to God as “Allah.” Malaysian Muslim and ethnic Malay leaders have criticized the church attacks, saying they are contrary to the teachings of Islam. Donations to the “CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund” will be given to the Malaysian embassy in Washington, D.C., for delivery to the churches. “Muslims in America, Malaysia and worldwide must help protect all houses of worship, and thereby show the true spirit of Islam,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “American Muslims, as a symbol of their commitment to interfaith understanding and peaceful coexistence, will take the lead in helping to restore the damaged churches. Awad added: “Muslims cannot remain silent in the face of attacks on any houses of worship. Our community needs to take serious and prompt measures to reclaim the moral high ground established by Islamic principles.” He noted that CAIR has taken action to defend the American Muslim community from similar hate crimes, including acts of vandalism at mosques nationwide. (CAIR)

Islamic holiday listing causes Publix calendar furor
Jan 12: Florida-based chain, Publix published its annual free calendar for shoppers and, just nine days in to the New Year, has already been forced to disown it. The reason: It marked Dec. 7 as “Islamic New Year.” Unfortunately, Dec. 7 is also Pearl Harbor Day, which was not noted on the calendar. You can guess the rest: Local conservative radio talk show host Joyce Kaufman denounced the calendar and an email was sent out demanding a boycott of Publix. The store chain has since withdrawn the calendar and apologized. (Jim Edwards -

Senator Inhofe: I believe in racial and ethnic profiling
Jan 12: The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today called on Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to meet with representatives of that state’s Muslim community to discuss comments he made yesterday in support of government profiling of Muslims. In remarks made at the Senate Armed Services Committee review of the Fort Hood shootings, Sen. Inhofe said in reference to Muslims and Middle Easterners, “I believe in racial and ethnic profiling.” Inhofe claimed that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners between the ages 20 and 35” despite FBI statistics that show the vast majority of terror attacks on American soil have not been committed by Muslims. Inhofe himself noted that his state suffered one of the worst terror attacks in U.S. history, the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, which was not carried out by Muslims. (CAIR)

DuPage County (Michigan) rejects proposed Islamic center
Jan 12: A proposal to allow a place of worship near Naperville (Michigan) for about 30 Muslim families from the western suburbs was rejected today by the DuPage County Board. But it appears the controversy over the proposed Islamic center isn't over. With little comment, County Board members voted 10-7 to deny a conditional-use permit requested for the Irshad Learning Center, which was proposed for a 2.91-acre site on 75th Street between Wehrli Road and Naper Boulevard in unincorporated Naperville. Neighbors long had objected to plans for the center, citing concerns about parking and late-night services. But supporters of the center have said religious bias is behind the objections.

"We fear that the board may have acted on improper factors in rejecting the Irshad Learning Center's permit, and we will continue to pursue this matter in hopes of achieving a just resolution," said Kevin Vodak, attorney with the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which will be representing Irshad as it considers appealing the county's ruling. Mahmood Ghassemi, chairman of the Irshad board, said the group did everything it was asked to do to meet county requirements and satisfy neighbors, but "our good will was not reciprocated by neighbors or by the officials." Ghassemi pointed out that elections are coming up and said, "It is not a popular sentiment to be in favor of an application by Muslims, no matter how good the application is." (Chicago Tribune)

Islamic center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, future home sign vandalized
Jan 19: The future home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (Tennessee) was vandalized. Apparently, unknown persons spray painted “NOT WELCOME” on a sign that sits on the property located on Veals Road near Bradyville Pike. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro released the following statement: "The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been established in the Murfreesboro area for over a decade, we have over 200 families that have played an active role in building this community. We have enjoyed a friendly and supportive relationship with all of our friends and neighbors. We were shocked and disappointed by the vandalism of our new sign on Bradyville Pike. The co-existence of religions is the core foundation and strength of our nation. While we stand firmly against all acts of vandalism, we believe that this callous action is an effort to gain publicity and sway public opinion towards stereotyping views against Muslims. We, as a community in Murfreesboro, must take a hard-line approach against these acts to defend our nation’s principles and values." (WGNS Radio)

ADC commends IRS decision to investigate settlement funding
Jan 19: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) commends the decision by Commissioner Douglas Shulman to publicly commit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in tackling the issue of US charities that launder tax exempt US donations into illegal Israeli West Bank settlement activities.  The construction of settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) is illegal under international humanitarian law.  The use of tax-exempt status to raise funds for these types of activities is against American public policy. Commissioner Shulman’s statements came during a live on-air interview over National Public Radio (NPR).  According to the US Newswire, Commissioner Shulman stated “…if a charity is breaking the tax law, is engaged in activities that they are not supposed to be engaged in, we certainly will go after them.”  The answer was in response to a question of whether the IRS would go after charities that are helping fund settlement development in the West Bank.  In 2009, ADC filed multiple administrative complaints with the US Department of the Treasury, including the IRS, requesting investigations into the activities of organizations claiming tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the US Tax Code and using funds for the development of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. By investigating organizations that use tax exempt contributions to fund the construction of illegal settlements, the IRS could revoke these organizations tax exempt status.  Each year billions of dollars are donated to non-profit organizations, and some of these funds ultimately end up being used for settlement development.  ADC has identified hundreds of these organizations and continues to investigate and file complaints against such organizations. (ADC)

In U.S., Religious Prejudice Stronger Against Muslims
Jan 21: More than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) admit to feeling at least "a little" prejudice toward Muslims -- more than twice the number who say the same about Christians (18%), Jews (15%) and Buddhists (14%). The findings are based on a new Gallup Center for Muslim Studies report, "Religious Perceptions in America: With an In-Depth Analysis of U.S. Attitudes Toward Muslims and Islam," released today. In a separate question asking Americans to express their overall view about each of the four religions evaluated, Islam is the most negatively viewed. Nearly one-third of Americans (31%) say their opinion of Islam is "not favorable at all" versus 9% who say their opinion is "very favorable." This stands in contrast to Americans' views of Christianity and Judaism, which are far more likely to be "very favorable" than "not favorable at all," while Buddhism draws almost equally positive and negative opinions at the extremes. Gallup conducted the nationwide U.S. survey between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13, 2009, spanning the Fort Hood shooting in which a U.S.-born Muslim military doctor killed 13 people on the Army base on Nov. 5. (Muslim West Facts)

U.S. lifts ban on Tariq Ramadan
Jan 21: The U.S. administration today lifted a ban on a planned visit by a leading European Muslim critic of the Iraq war, a U.S. official said in Washington, DC.  The move was hailed by a rights group as a victory for civil liberties. The scholar, Professor Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University, said the decision showed what he called a new U.S. willingness to permit critical debate. He had been barred from the United States due to alleged terrorism ties, which he denies. The American Civil Liberties Union said the State Department had also decided to end the exclusion of another prominent scholar, Professor Adam Habib of Johannesburg University, who had been critical of U.S. counter-terrorism policies. "The orders ending the exclusion of Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan are long overdue and tremendously important," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, saying this was "a major victory for civil liberties". "For several years, the United States government was more interested in stigmatizing and silencing its foreign critics than in engaging them. The decision... is a welcome sign the Obama administration is committed to facilitating rather than obstructing the exchange of ideas across international borders."

Campaigners have championed the case of Ramadan and Habib as part of a pattern of scholars and writers being excluded due to unwarranted or unspecified U.S. national security grounds.The United States has revoked Ramadan's visa several times since 2004. Washington initially gave no reason for its decision, but later said Ramadan had been barred based on a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows people to be excluded for supporting terrorism. The ACLU argued the government was using the provision more broadly to deny entry to people whose political views they did not approve of. Professor Adam Habib was detained and interrogated about his political views and associations when he arrived in New York in October 2006 for meetings with groups such as the World Bank and ACLU.

Interestingly, Tariq Ramadan remained barred from several Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia and he had little hope these bans would be lifted anytime soon. Ramadan says he was unpopular with some Arab governments because he had criticized them for what he described as failing to support the Palestinian people and seeking to place the responsibility for the Palestinians' situation on the West. (Reuters)

Informant files $10 million suit against FBI
Jan 22: A man who once worked with the FBI, allegedly feeding the agency information on local mosques and Muslim communities throughout the county, has filed a $10 million civil liberties lawsuit against the federal agency. The suit goes into detail on work that Craig Monteilh, a convicted felon, alleges he did for the FBI while working with the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task force – much of which has been widely reported by the media since Monteilh went public with his claims in 2009. The lawsuit says Monteilh was encouraged to lie to investigators with the Irvine Police Department regarding a criminal investigation alleged to be part of an FBI drug sting operation.

After he was convicted in 2008 on charges of grand theft related to the distribution of steroids, the lawsuit says that the FBI turned its back on Monteilh – after he was identified as a snitch inside Central Men's Jail and Wasco State Prison. "Mr. Monteilh communicated his grave concerns over the threats on his life to the FBI and asked for the FBI to arrange for protective custody, but instead he was left in general population, thereby exposed to constant danger of being killed," the suit reads. According to the suit, on April 27, 2008 Monteilh was attacked and stabbed by a member of a white supremacist gang inside Wasco State Prison, after several criminal gangs had placed "hits" on him. "Mr. Monteilh continues to live in fear for his life and with the mental and physical scars," according to the suit.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court, names not only the agency but singles out the head of Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Santa Ana office Barbara Walls, as well as Ron Carr, an investigator with the Irvine Police Department. The suit alleges that Monteilh had provided agents with information about bomb-making materials being stored in a mosque, but that Walls did not act on the information for three weeks. "Walls was embarrassed and instead of accepting responsibility for her error in judgment, called Mr. Monteilh a liar," reads the lawsuit.According to the suit, "Walls determined she would remove Mr. Monteilh from the FBI Counterterrorism program and thereafter began to conspire with Detective Ron Carr (...) to set Mr. Monteilh up for felony prosecution and conviction."

In 2009, Monteilh filed a claim for the same amount against the FBI. In December, the claim was denied by the agency. The FBI has neither confirmed nor denied his assertions publicly, but according to court records unsealed in December, prosecutors in Los Angeles asked to terminate his probation early at the request of the FBI because Monteilh had provided "very valuable information" in a federal prosecution. His claims were also partially substantiated in February 2009, when an FBI agent in court said an informant had recorded a Tustin man making jihadist remarks. That man, Ahmoudullah Niazi, is facing several immigration fraud charges. Monteilh claims he was the informant who recorded Niazi.

The lawsuit goes into detail about the operation Monteilh said he participated in, details which have not been reported before. Named "Operation Flex," Monteilh was told to take on the name Farouk-al-Aziz, but was given a code name, "Oracle," according to the suit. "Assistant United States Attorney Dierdra Eliot gave Mr. Monteilh special permission, by and through a signed Federal document, to engage in jihadist rhetoric, including but not limited to conducting terrorist operations, possessing weapons and initiating conversations to further terrorist acts against the United States," the lawsuit states.

Monteilh claims echo those that have been made by Muslim organizations across the country, whose leaders have said that informants planted within their communities have not weeded out violent extremists, but instead have been the very ones to push violent agendas and conversations in their communities. Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles Chapter, said it's not the use of informants that worries him, but allegations and consistent reports that informants incite violent rhetoric inside the Muslim community, and reports that agents use immigration, financial, and legal tactics to strong-arm people into becoming informants. "We should all be informants," Ayloush said, stating that everyone in the country should report suspicious activities to law enforcement. "But they are acting like agent provocateurs." Ayloush said it was concerning how many resources the FBI was spending on "fishing" instead of focusing efforts on legitimate leads. (The Orange County Register) 

500 Washington state Muslims meet with lawmakers
Jan 25: Almost 500 Washington State Muslims met with legislators today as part of the “2010 Washington State Muslims Day” at the capitol. The event was organized by the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA). Muslim voters provided information on local instances of anti-Muslim hate promotion and hate crimes and urged their legislators to speak out against Islamophobic rhetoric and bias incidents, and to increase funding for low-income housing. They also presented legislators and their staff a DVD on the basic tenets of Islam and a translation of the Quran. The event was held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. (CAIR)

Arab, Muslim groups leaders discuss profiling with Attorney General Holder
Jan 25: Executives of the Arab American Institute (AAI), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), met with Attorney General Eric Holder today to discuss issues of concern to the Arab American and Muslim communities. Leaders spoke with Attorney General Holder about several controversial policies developed under the 2003 Department of Justice Guidance on Profiling, which include several loopholes allowing for widespread profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion and national origin. Among the topics discussed were the 2008 Investigative Operational Guidelines (DIOGs), disclosures in the 2010 Inspector General Report on FBI data collection of identified “communities of interest”, the use of informants in terrorism cases, and the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), and PATRIOT Act reauthorization. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute (AAI) said: “It is the national security loophole in the 2003 Attorney General guidelines on profiling that has provided the legal cover for many of the policies put in place during the previous Administration, including the round ups of thousands of Arab and Muslim immigrants targeted for ‘special registration’ and the 2008 Mukasey guidelines for the FBI. As has been repeatedly demonstrated, profiling is ineffective, wastes precious law enforcement resources, and alienates American communities eager to assist in keeping our country safe and secure.” Mary Rose Oakar, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), said: “We urged the Attorney General to repeal the 2008 Department of Justice FBI Guidelines that were put into effect in the last month of the Bush Administration and asked him to assist in repealing the NSEERS program, which targets young men from Arab and Muslim countries.” Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of MPAC, said: “Problematic polices over the past 8 years have lead to a chilling effect in our community. We encourage the DOJ to address some of these very pertinent issues to ensure respect for the rule of law and security policies that work.” (ADC)

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