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Executive Editor:  Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Chronology of Islam in America (2013)
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

January 2013

A Muslim is attacked in Florida
Jan 3: A Muslim was shot today in the face with a pellet gun in the Walmart parking lot in Land O’Lakes, Florida. A police report indicates that the shooting victim was asked if he is Middle Eastern and whether he is Muslim. He reportedly answered "no" to each question.  The same night, a 25-year-old man, identified as Daniel P. Quinnell, was arrested at a hotel. When deputies released surveillance video and still photographs of the attacker, the sheriff's office received several tips, including one that the man was staying at a hotel.  The Pasco County Sheriff's Office reports that a man and his girlfriend were shopping at a Walmart when the suspect started harassing them, believing the man was from the Middle East. As the man and his girlfriend approached their car, the suspect came up to them and made several comments and then shot the man in the face with a pellet gun. The suspect then ran off and hasn't been caught. The attacker shot the man at least twice in the face with a pellet gun. Local law enforcement authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime. CAIR Florida is offering a $1,000 cash reward to the first person who provides police with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. [AMP Report]

NY Muslim community speak out against hate crimes
Jan 8: Individuals gathered in Jackson Heights today to mourn victims of recent hate crimes and to call on the Police Department and elected officials to change policies that they say target Muslims. Supporters attended the rally with signs saying “Stop violence against women,” “Stop normalizing racism and violence,” and “NYPD and MTA, racial profiling and hateful ads have consequences.” Councilmen Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) spoke against anti-Muslim crimes and relayed anecdotes about their personal fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. There have been three publicized acts of violence against Queens Muslims — or those perceived to be Muslim — during the last two months. On Nov. 21 a man stabbed a 70-year-old man in front of a Kew Gardens Hills mosque. The suspect allegedly made anti-Muslim statements to the victim and placed threatening phone calls to the mosque before committing his crime, according to CAIR. Three days later two men severely beat a Corona man. They asked him if he identified himself as either Hindu or Muslim. When he said he was Muslim they beat him, Awad said. The most recent hate crime occurred in Sunnyside, where Erika Menendez is charged with pushing Hindu Sunando Sen, a small business owner originally from India, into the path of an oncoming No. 7 train. Menendez allegedly said she did it because he was Muslim and “I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers.” A close friend and neighbor of Sen’s spoke to the crowd. “I saw and talked with Sunando just moments before the incident,” Ranjit De Roy said. “He was a quiet and gentle man who never harmed anyone. How many more lives must we lose to this racism?” De Roy added that since the incident he looks over his shoulder while in the subway. Other attendees agreed with his sentiment of fear. Anti-Muslim advertisements placed in 10 New York City subway stations by Pamela Geller, founder of Stop the Islamization of America, was also a speaking point. Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York Chloe Breyer said she supports freedom of speech, but asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “Is this really the moment for this? Is this what we want menacing us from the subways walls?” [Queens Chronicle]

FBI probe of alleged abuses by agents welcomed
Jan 13: The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed an FBI investigation into alleged intimidation tactics used on a Somali Muslim by two agents. Last week, CAIR-MN sent a letter to Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Warrener about allegations of improper behavior by the two agents and asked that an investigation be launched into the matter. The complainant told CAIR-MN that two FBI agents approached him at his home and sought to pressure him to work for the agency reportedly as an informant. The man said he asserted his right to an attorney three times, but the agents continued to intimidate and coerce him. According to the complainant, the agents threatened to withhold the man's asylum application, defame him in the Muslim community so others would fear speaking to him and influence his current employment by visiting his job site if he did not agree to work with their office. Two days after the FBI visit, the man was followed by an SUV in which the driver took photographs of him while he was working for a transportation company. A few weeks after his interaction with the FBI, the alleged victim was fired from his job. Last week, a local FBI official contacted CAIR-MN to acknowledge receipt of the letter and to state that the agency is looking into the matter.  The FBI is "prohibited from using threats or coercion" to blackmail individuals. Minnesota law also prohibits such conduct.  "These tactics of intimidation are not only unethical and detrimental to building trust in the Muslim and Somali community, they are potentially unlawful," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. "We welcome the FBI's decision to investigate the agents' actions." Saroya said her office has seen a recent increase in calls from individuals approached to become FBI informants. [CAIR]

CAIR 'Disappointed' at President's Signing of NDAA
Jan 13: The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), aprominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today it is "disappointed" that President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 (NDAA) into law yesterday. The CAIR pointed out that  the legislation restricts the president's authority to transfer or prosecute detainees held at Guantanamo or to close the facility. For the past two months, CAIR and a coalition of civil and human rights organizations strongly urged the president to veto the NDAA. The coalition pressed the president coming into his second term of office to honor his past pledge to close Guantanamo, a hallmark of his 2008 presidential campaign. According to CAIR, while this annual $641 billion defense authorization act provides valuable funding for the armed forces, it also includes several unnecessary restrictions that limit the president's authority to transfer prisoners at Guantanamo to the U.S. or repatriate or resettle to another country or prosecute in federal criminal courts for one year. These restrictions were to expire on March 27, 2013. Even though the president had threatened to veto earlier drafts of the legislation over "limiting key authorities of the Executive," the president bowed to congressional pressure and noted in his signing statement: "Though I continue to oppose certain sections of the Act, the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore." [CAIR]

Brennan CIA nomination objected because of his support for drone program, torture
Jan 13: The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today expressed concern about President Obama's nomination of John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. The CAIR, nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, said it is troubled by Brennan's involvement with America's worldwide campaign of targeted killings using drones, his past support for interrogation techniques that have been termed "torture" by human rights groups and for extraordinary rendition -- the Bush administration practice of abducting terror suspects and sending them to other countries to be tortured. In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

"In John Brennan we have an 'architect' of the secret, unaccountable and counterproductive campaign of targeted killings that may violate international laws of war and continues to generate hostility to our nation around the world. We are not alone in voicing concerns about the drone program. Retired General Stanley McChrystal said on Monday, 'The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one.' As noted by The New Yorker magazine, 'Brennan has helped construct and justify the Administration's claim that it can kill people, including American citizens, abroad on its own authority, even when those people are not in countries with which we are at war.' In this nominee, we also have an individual who sought to provide legal justification for the rendition and torture of suspects in secret prisons. Mr. Brennan has admitted he was 'intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition,' which he praised as 'an absolutely vital tool.' In a 2007 interview with CBS, Mr. Brennan endorsed the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation tactics' -- short of waterboarding -- and defended then attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say whether waterboarding amounted to torture. Americans of all backgrounds should be concerned about our nation's growing utilization of practices that were historically viewed as beyond the pale for use by our nation's military and intelligence services. Mr. Brennan must be questioned on these important issues impacting the rule of law, respect for human rights and America's standing in history." [CAIR]

28 Muslim delegates elected to CA Democratic Party
Jan 15: This past weekend, California Muslims made political history when 28 Muslim candidates were elected by Democrats as delegates and alternate delegates to the California Democratic Party (CDP). This constitutes the largest number of Muslims ever elected as delegates in California. The CDP held statewide elections for delegates to represent each of the state’s 80 assembly districts. Among the hundreds of other candidates, at least 36 California Muslims ran for delegate positions. Twenty-eight were elected (five as executive board members and two as alternate delegates), and eight lost their races.  This is an incredible step for Muslims to become more involved in the political process and make a difference for the Muslim community and in their districts. The California Democratic Party is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) which has approximately 3000 delegates.  Some delegates are appointed by elected officials, but about one third are elected every odd numbered year through elections divided by assembly district.  Twelve individuals (six women and six men) from each assembly district are elected as delegates to serve a two year term to the DSCC. [CAIR]

Camouflaged Bigotry: Anti-Islam bill re-introduced in Florida
Jan 25: Over the past two legislative sessions, the Florida House and Senate wasted precious taxpayer dollars hearing harmful and unnecessary anti-Sharia legislation. Indeed, it came perilously close to passage in 2012 — passing the House and ultimately dying awaiting a final vote in the Senate. So no Floridian should be surprised that an anti-Sharia bill was once again filed for the 2013 session. The real uncertainty is whether Tallahassee leadership will finally stand up to this intolerance, or again give into it and, in the process, waste valuable taxpayer dollars. The neutrally titled and worded "Application of Foreign Law" bill, which applies to family law provisions, is nothing more than camouflaged bigotry. It is based on model language drafted by a controversial attorney, David Yerushalmi, who has a record of espousing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and racist views. This legislation is a classic example of the proverbial "solution in search of a problem." It’s supposed purpose is to counter the infiltration of our judicial and legal system by Sharia (Islamic) law. But for the past two legislative sessions, proponents have failed to cite even one Florida court decision, or any other court decision, demonstrating an actual need for this legislation. They can't provide any examples because — as pointed out by a recent American Bar Association resolution and report opposing anti-Sharia measures — state and federal laws already prohibit courts from applying religious or foreign law in any way that would be against public policy, or constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religion….The leadership in Tallahassee needs to send a clear message that Florida values its diversity and welcomes persons of all backgrounds. They can do that by blocking this offensive bill, and unifying Floridians through legislation that finds common ground to move the state forward. [By David Berky - The Tampa Tribune]

Prince George’s County school lets Muslim students out of class to pray
Jan 28: The growing number of Muslim students seeking accommodations to practice their religion in public schools has stirred debate about the long-contentious issue of prayer in America’s public institutions. But a Prince George’s County high school principal believes she has found a way to accommodate Muslim students: She gives those with parental permission and high grades a pass out of class every day to pray. At Parkdale High School, about 10 Muslim students get out of class for about eight minutes each day to pray together on campus, said Principal Cheryl J. Logan. Another student is working hard to raise his grades so he too can join the group of students, who belong to the school’s chapter of the Muslim Students’ Association, she said.When Muslim students began praying during the school day at Parkdale, she said, some Christian teachers got upset and told the students that “it was a Christian school.” She said she explained to the students that public schools are not religious, but are legally allowed to accommodate students to practice their religion in some ways. “I’ve been real happy with how we’ve been able to deal with it without it becoming an issue,” Logan said.

Making accommodations for Muslim students in public schools is becoming an increasingly big issue around the country. Last November, the Montgomery County Board of Education told leaders of the county’s growing Muslim community that it would be impossible to add an Islamic holy day to the school calendar. There are Christian and Jewish holidays on the school calendar because it was determined long ago that even if class stayed open on those days there would be too many students and teachers taking the day off anyway to operate viable classrooms. And in some schools, female teachers and students are not allowed to wear Islamic head scarves, or have been harassed for doing so, according to the American Civil Liberties Association. [Washington Post]

‘Jihad’ ads come to D.C. Metro stations
Jan 28: Aiming to “reclaim jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike,” Muslim activists this week announced that their “#My jihad” ad campaign began running today in D.C. metro stations. The ads have previously appeared on buses in San Francisco and Chicago. With a four-week ad buy in the Shaw, Waterfront, Rockville and Dunn Loring Metro stations, organizer Ahmed Rehab, who is also executive director of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that he is hoping to change the narrative around the word jihad. “We kind of got tired sitting there watching people tell us what we believe or what we don’t believe.” The posters feature photos of Muslims sharing their religious struggles, and uses lines like “my jihad is to build bridges through friendship” and “my jihad: modesty is not a weakness.” Rehab’s Web site, notes, “for Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists (who ironically are on perfect agreement), jihad is synonymous with terrorism, blowing up things, and spilling innocent blood.” The site adds “For many others, including members of the media and academia and even some Western dictionaries, jihad is often mistranslated simply as ‘holy war.’”Instead, read a statement on the campaign, activists hope to highlight the concept as it is lived by ordinary Muslims: “Jihad is a central tenet of the Islamic creed which means struggling uphill in order to get to a better place.” Rehab also is inviting Muslims to tweet using the hashtag #myjihad to explain how jihad shapes their lived spirituality. As if to prove his point, the hashtag has been flooded with tweets from anti-Muslim activists pointing to accounts of violence perpetrated by violent Islamic extremists. [Washington Post]

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