Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why Norman Finkelstein would have tenure in Israel!

An interesting theory proposed by Neve Gordon in his article in the The Chronichle of Higher Education. Excerpts below:

Take a minute before you conclude that the pro-Israel lobby is the sole culprit behind the witch hunt directed against scholars who criticize Israeli military rule over Palestinians. Consider Norman Finkelstein. If he had been on the faculty of an Israeli university, rather than DePaul University, he probably would be an associate professor by now.

I say that because several years ago I came up for tenure at Ben Gurion University of the Negev under similarly contested circumstances. As in Finkelstein's case, when I was recommended for tenure the president was promptly inundated with letters from outsiders seeking to influence the process. Like Finkelstein's, my sin was criticizing Israel's policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. All the calls for my dismissal emanated from America — not from Israel. In one typical letter, the president of the Zionist Organization of America used ominous threats to urge the university to fire me. Yet, unlike in the Finkelstein case, ultimately intimidation failed.

Why, then, have such tactics succeeded in the United States? Why do Israeli scholars have more academic freedom than their American counterparts?

The answer is rooted in the fact that many American universities are being reconstructed as corporations whose major objective is to sell products, most obviously degrees to students. The corporatization of academic life means that faculty members are perceived as both producers and products. They are expected to come up with inventions and patents that can be sold to corporations, as well as with research funds and citations that have a pseudomarket value, since they help elevate the university's ranking. As saleable products, faculty members are valued according to a corporate calculus rather than an academic one. To put it bluntly: Finkelstein was considered a liability to the corporation; therefore he was sacked.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Student-Led Initiative to Fight Fee Hikes

(Can I get a Takbeer?)

Students in the CSU system have to brace themselves for an inevitable 10 percent increase amounting to about $277 for undergrads for the upcoming academic year, as well as similar spikes planned into the next decade.
. . .
Well, here we are, boys and girls. Something new has emerged and we encourage all students concerned with current and future debt to get involved.

A student-based group called Students and Families for Tuition Relief Now recently formed to fight the dark cloud hovering over our educational horizons. The organization is seeking to freeze undergraduate tuition increases for the next five years through a first-ever student-led ballot initiative.

Thus far, students in the organization are bonding throughout the 30 CSU and University of California campuses, attempting to collect "43,000 signatures by April in order for the initiative to appear on next year's November ballot," according to the new organization's website.

As part of Tuition Relief Now's hoped-for initiative, "The law will raise new revenue specifically for the cost of educating UC and CSU students through a one percent tax on millionaires' income over $1 million."
. . .
Although the CSU Board of Trustees won't make a final decision until March, the writing is on the wall. The CSU is crying broke, showing its pockets are inside-out with a $10-billion deficit and clamoring for the "$73 million they estimate is needed to avoid the fee increase."

Even though the 10 percent jump might not seem like much to an uninformed observer, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, an ex-officio CSU trustee and UC Board of Regents member, pointed out that "fees have gone up more than 90 percent" for the two systems since 2002, far exceeding the state's inflation index during the same time span.

With the CSU management's ongoing trend of overspending and lackadaisical fiscal habits, the university doors are being kicked open for predatory loan companies. More and more, students will be forced to work multiple menial jobs to take fewer classes toward degrees.

By raising a unified objection, students can force the system to stop dumping their bad financial habits in our laps.

Full Story: Daily 49er

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Annapolis today...

...they should all play this game.

This video game is a role playing game where you the player are a green journalist just arrived to report on the Middle East- specifically Palestine/Israeli conflict- or like I would put it the unlawful and unjust occupation of Palestine. (I must be one biased journalist)

You can read my opinion of this "summit" on my blog. And you should check out the video game as well, in fact buy it, I think its worth while teaching tool on the issues involved in the conflict.

Monday, November 26, 2007

World Anglican Leader Blasts U.S.

I found this via Alia- thanks Alia- very interesting that some one up in the Angelican Church would make such strong comments- not very diplomatic- however, I can not say that I am upset he didn't. Just upset that he didn't do this earlier and that so many other world leaders are still on the fence or coy with taking a stance.

LONDON (Nov. 25) - Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the world's Anglicans, has launched an attack on the United States, saying it has lost the high moral ground since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Williams, a longtime critic of the war in Iraq, said in uncharacteristically blunt language: "We have only one hegemonic power at the moment. It is not accumulating territory, it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That's not working."

Asked in an interview with the Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel, if he thought the United States had lost the high moral ground since the 9/11 attacks, he replied "Yes."

Drawing comparisons between British imperialism and the 21st Century United States, Williams said: "It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering and normalizing it.

"Rightly or wrongly, that is what the British Empire did -- in India for example."

"It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put things back together again -- Iraq for example."
Read Emel when you get a chance for the full interview.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saudi women raise driving issue

Nov. 24, 2007

A group of Saudi women activists and businesswomen have called for discussing the right of Saudi woman to drive cars during the forthcoming national dialogue.

The women made their viewpoints during the preparatory meetings for the seventh national dialogue due to be held in Qasem region at the beginning of next year.

Earlier, Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz said that allowing women to drive would be approved only by popular request. "Whenever fathers, husbands and brothers ask for allowing women to drive, we will review that. And if they are asking the opposite we will not compel them for that [having women drive cars]," Prince Sultan pointed out.

Full article here

Great to finally see the possibility of some internal dialogue in KSA on the issue of women's rights and roles.

As insane as the Prince's comment sounds, at least it clarifies the fact that the reason for prohibiting women from driving is not a religious one and does not stem from any teaching of Islam, but is rather a purely cultural thing.

Also check out this article on a GCC activist conference cancelled.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Radioactive Ammunition Fired in Middle East May Claim More Lives Than Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This is very disturbing:

By firing radioactive ammunition, the U.S., U.K., and Israel may have triggered a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East that, over time, will prove deadlier than the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan.

So much ammunition containing depleted uranium(DU) has been fired, asserts nuclear authority Leuren Moret, "The genetic future of the Iraqi people for the most part, is destroyed."

"More than ten times the amount of radiation released during atmospheric testing (of nuclear bombs) has been released from depleted uranium weaponry since 1991," Moret writes, including radioactive ammunition fired by Israeli troops in Palestine.

Moret is an independent U.S. scientist formerly employed for five years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and also at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, both of California.

Adds Arthur Bernklau, of Veterans For Constitutional Law, "The long- term effect of DU is a virtual death sentence. Iraq is a toxic wasteland. Anyone who is there stands a good chance of coming down with cancer and leukemia. In Iraq, the birth rate of mutations is totally out of control."

Moret, a Berkeley, Calif., Environmental Commissioner and past president of the Association for Women Geoscientists, says, "For every genetic defect that we can see now, in future generations there are thousands more that will be expressed."

She adds, "the (Iraq) environment now is completely radioactive." Dr. Helen Caldicott, the prominent anti-nuclear crusader, has written: "Much of the DU is in cities such as Baghdad, where half the population of 5 million people are children who played in the burned- out tanks and on the sandy, dusty ground."

"Children are 10 to 20 times more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults," Caldicott wrote. "My pediatric colleagues in Basra, where this ordnance was used in 1991, report a sevenfold increase in childhood cancer and a sevenfold increase in gross congenital abnormalities," she wrote in her book, "Nuclear Power is not the Answer"(The New Press).

Caldicott goes on to say the two Gulf wars "have been nuclear wars because they have scattered nuclear material across the land, and people---particularly children--- are condemned to die of malignancy and congenital disease essentially for eternity."

Because of the extremely long half-life of uranium 238, one of the radioactive elements in the shells fired, "the food, the air, and the water in the cradle of civilization have been forever contaminated," Caldicott explained.

Uranium is a heavy metal that enters the body via inhalation into the lung or via ingestion into the GI tract. It is excreted by the kidney, where, if the dose is high enough, it can induce renal failure or kidney cancer. It also lodges in the bones where it causes bone cancer and leukemia, and it is excreted in the semen, where it mutates genes in the sperm, leading to birth deformities.

Nuclear contamination is spreading around the world, Caldicott adds, with heaviest concentrations in regions within a 1,000-mile radius of Baghdad and Afghanistan.

These are, notably, northern India, southern Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Gulf emirates, and Jordan.

Read on here.
Study shows 'demonization' of Muslims

An article recently reported that a research study in London found that Muslim images in the media were predominantly ‘negative’. Here are some excerpts:

Research into one week's news coverage showed that 91% of articles in national newspapers about Muslims were negative. The London mayor, Ken Livingstone, who commissioned the study, said the findings were a "damning indictment" of the media and urged editors and programme makers to review the way they portray Muslims.

"The overall picture presented by the media is that Islam is profoundly different from and a threat to the west," he said. "There is a scale of imbalance which no fair-minded person would think is right." Only 4% of the 352 articles studied were positive, he said.

Livingstone said the findings showed a "hostile and scaremongering attitude" towards Islam and likened the coverage to the way the left was attacked by national newspapers in the early 1980s. "The charge is that there are virtually no positive or balanced images of Islam being portrayed," he said. "I think there is a demonisation of Islam going on which damages community relations and creates alarm among Muslims."

I conducted a similar study twice regarding articles in the U.S., where I compared Muslims/Islam in the media pre and post 9/11. Not surprisingly I found very similar results. Muslims are currently one of the most scrutinized, misrepresented and vilified people. Many factors have played a role in the way Muslims are perceived, one of which, perhaps with the largest responsibility, is the media. It is hard to comprehend how journalists can speak with such authority. The word choice in articles can affect a person so much as to enlighten them, in consequence, to the immense power journalists possess to create such images, portray people and events, and mold the opinions of their readers. Islam is judged by the public through these pre-existing stigmas and stereotypes which are then only perpetuated more.

Not only is it sad that most of America's only connection to Muslims is through the media but also, unless you were on the streets of New York or standing outside the Pentagon on 9/11, these events were framed and explained to us by the media as well. Edward Said’s Orientalism helps to describe this conscious othering and demonizing of the Arab and Islamic worlds that influences and is commonly perpetuated in the Western mainstream media. When you think about it, this is an institution that is very powerful as it possesses orientalist tendencies and creates the discourse such as body of language, labels, symbols and representations that are used to describe and characterize Islam. Thus, Muslims find themselves in the forefront of Bush’s “war on terror” having to be examined at airports, deported, held in secret prisons without evidence and without a proper trial. They are deemed guilty without proven guilty while the majority turns the blind eye without second guessing their guilt.

The “war on terror” in Iraq as well as 9/11, is a testament to the powerful role the media plays in influencing our perceptions. Americans were led to believe that somehow Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. The vague suggestion that Iraq was involved—by invading them as part of the post 9/11 "war on terror”, not only confused and misguided Americans, but can also be argued that it contributed to a certain conceptual cohesiveness of the Middle East in the minds of Americans that is false and deeply damaging. Specifically, it drew subtle links between the violence in Palestine, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq, and now Iran, creating a deceptive picture of the terrorist-filled "Middle East." Terrorism is America's favorite bad guy and evildoer, guilty as charged. It has become the sinister monster that has plagued these first years of the 21st century.

Furthermore, what’s sad is that terrorism and Islam have become linked in the minds of many Americans, especially after 9/11. Some believe that there has been somewhat of a positive change with shows such as “Little Mosque on the Prairie” and “Aliens in America” that seek to inform the larger community in what Islam truly is. However, I wonder if we’ll ever see a big top selling blockbuster movie where the main character is Muslim “and” a hero. Will Muslims become the next “token black person” in movies and shows? I personally don’t know though, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see in the coming years.

The Myth of Thanksgiving

I do realize that for many American families, Thanksgiving is a time to get together and thank God for his many blessings. That's a wonderful thing and I in no way wish to belittle it.

Ideally, for Muslims, every day should be Thanksgiving day. I try to remember that, but of course sometimes I fall short of even spending 2 minutes a day reflecting on God's blessings and expressing my appreciation in simple straightforward words. As such, Thanksgiving is a good reminder.

Despite all of the above, I think it is important people realize the true history behind Thanksgiving. Below are excerpts of an excellent article by Mike Ely which summarizes the often-'forgotten' facts about the early settlers and the origins of some of the American 'values' prevalent today (everything from racism to capitalism). I would say the whole article is a MUST read.

In mid-winter 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed on the North American coast, delivering 102 Puritan exiles. The original Native people of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off. In 1614 a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox behind. Three years of plague wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of the coast, destroying most villages completely.

The Puritans landed and built their colony called "the Plymouth Plantation" near the deserted ruins of the Indian village of Pawtuxet. They ate from abandoned cornfields grown wild. Only one Pawtuxet named Squanto had survived--he had spent the last years as a slave to the English and Spanish in Europe. Squanto spoke the colonists' language and taught them how to plant corn and how to catch fish until the first harvest. Squanto also helped the colonists negotiate a peace treaty with the nearby Wampanoag tribe, led by the chief Massasoit.

These were very lucky breaks for the colonists. The first Virginia settlement had been wiped out before they could establish themselves. Thanks to the good will of the Wampanoag, the Puritans not only survived their first year but had an alliance with the Wampanoags that would give them almost two decades of peace.

John Winthrop, a founder of the Massahusetts Bay colony considered this wave of illness and death to be a divine miracle. He wrote to a friend in England, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."

The deadly impact of European diseases and the good will of the Wampanoag allowed the Puritans to survive their first year.

In celebration of their good fortune, the colony's governor, William Bradford, declared a three-day feast of thanksgiving after that first harvest of 1621.
Read on at CounterPunch

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kindle- Not on my shopping list

I recently just began listening to books on audio. That was not a difficult move for me, however, it was one I resisted because reading something is far better then listening to it. Time, however, is against me; making better use of time- my drive- the solution was obvious: audio books.

This is the thing. I am not averse to technology. I love it. I just posted on the technological facts that one should support the Writers Guild of America's strike (besides the moral and ethical reasons). But technology being so prevalent these days makes it also burdensome.

While the Kindle is a great innovation for reading and education. There are a few problems. Why not make this accessible to children in developing countries so they have easy access to books that are expensive when printed? $450 bucks for a Kindle is a steep price. Furthermore, their is a monopolization of reading that I am not to enthusiastic about. Okay, set all these aside- this is the real reason why Kindle is not on my list.

I have a PDA phone, an iPod, blue tooth; clutter of technology and its hard to mange it all. I want integration. The iPhone would be great but in the business world- my world- Microsoft is King and Windows is the sheriff in town. iPhone does not work with my outlook.

So I have my PDA and my iPod, you want me to buy a Kindle in order to enjoy my books where ever I go? No, sorry. It could be small, it could weigh nothing, and you can make it cheap. But for me I need technological integration not segregation. Why not work with google to create a Kindle phone- a book reading do-hicky, combined with a phone and mini-laptop. Now that would be a great idea- I could even listen to my Quran while I read the Arabic?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fired Principal of Arabic School Sues City

Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of the city’s first Arabic-language school, filed a federal lawsuit today against the city’s Education Department, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, charging that they violated her right to free speech and “conspired to deny her the opportunity to regain her position as principal” of the school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Ms. Almontaser resigned under pressure in August, after a furor that erupted after she was quoted in The New York Post defending the use of the word “intifada” on a T-shirt. Last month, Ms. Almontaser said that she was a victim of a right-wing smear campaign, that she had been forced to resign and that she would apply to get her job back. But Education Department officials said that they would not consider her application among the 25 others that were submitted at the time.

Full Story: NY Times

Naom Chomsky on U.S. Policy towards Iran

Naom Chomsky discusses U.S. policy towards in this short 8 minute video. He begins by talking about orientalist discourse which is very popular even amongst 'progressive' groups. He then moves on to talk a little bit about the history between the two countries and the current political situation. Smart man.

Fake Zamzam Water = Cancer Risk

The water is advertised as coming from the sacred well of Zam Zam in Mecca, which is the most holy city in Islam, and demand increases during Ramadan.

Westminster City Council said the water cannot legally be exported, so any on sale is unlikely to be authentic.

The tests, carried out by the London council last year during the Islamic festival of Ramadan, found Zam Zam also contained twice the legal level of nitrates, which can affect infants.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Muslim academic denied entry to US

A leading US civil liberties group mounted a legal challenge against the US government on Wednesday over its refusal to grant a visa to a leading South African Muslim academic.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case in Boston challenging the US Departments of State and Homeland Security, who refused scholar Adam Habib a visa accusing him of engaging in terrorist activities.

"The government failed to explain the basis for its accusation, let alone provide any evidence to prove it," the group said in a statement.

Habib is a political scientist who serves as the deputy vice-chancellor of research, innovation and advancement at the University of Johannesburg.

He is known to be a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and the US "war on terror," who has appealed for governments to respect human rights and the rule of law in measures to respond to the threat of terrorism.

Complete story here

BA program in Muslim youth work

How cool is that ?! Can you imagine the long-term difference a program like this would make in our communities? Having qalified, full-time youth workers in every Islamic center and Muslim community

Although the UK and American Muslim communities are very different in some ways (ethnic background, economic status, education,...), I think both can make use of programs like this. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts brother Sadek Hamid.

Excerpts of interview with brother Sadek below:

Basically the idea for the course arose just over three years ago with my colleagues at the religious studies department at the University of Chester. They also have a Christian youth work programme running there for the last four or five years. As you know, Christian youth work is quite an established field in the UK. One of the professors on Islam was talking one day with the lecturer in Christian youth work, Richard Turner. Richard said, “Look, when I drive through Muslim communities, I see a lot of young people hanging about on corners and not getting up to much. Who's working with these Muslim young people?” That was the origin of the course. A thought and observation turned into an intention to develop something parallel to Christian youth work.

I started at the university as a doctoral student in 2004 and my own professional background is in youth work. It was great timing, alhamdulillah, in that sense. It has taken us to where we are today, in terms of having a fully accredited BA undergraduate programme which is the first and the only one of its kind in the UK. As far as we're aware, it's the only one in the world.

I think the biggest challenge is that not so much a resistance to youth work as having a religious perspective, it's actually an understanding of youth work itself and what it can do for a community's young people. I think apathy is probably the biggest challenge we face in that people – not only parents but young people themselves. At the moment, our community is in the state of – it's a mixed bag, isn't it? I mean we do have, no doubt, the second or third generation, we have an element that's very successful, that's integrated, that's confident, vibrant – it's moving on and making a contribution to society.

Full interview at altmuslim

(Hat tip: Muslim Recovery)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rate Up 80%!

I am not with the idea of leaving one's duty. Specially when in regards to serving in the armed forces. However, how can I balance that with my desire to stand up for what is just? I believe in making statements and standing up for what is morally right. The Iraq war is immoral and illegal. So when soldiers take that stance knowing they serve the country and leaving their duty because of a morality of the issue, questions the leadership of this country's generals and civilians in light of such a high number of desertions.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Grassroots Empowerment

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You the community members- those people of conscience and action- YOU TRULY ARE HERO'S.

You not only "KILLED" LAPD Muslim Mapping but you got JcPenny to reconsider its advertisement on the Savage Show. YOU PULLED ANOTHER ADVERTISER- OFFICE MAX and now JcPenny!!!

But we aint done yet- OUR NEXT TARGET IS AT&T- that means you to once formerly Cingular customers- we must hold them accountable for supporting a BIGOT and an ISLAMOPHOBE.

Once it hurts his wallet I am sure Savage will think twice about the hatred he is spreading.

I Only Ask God

I'm not a huge fan of nasheed either, but I really liked this one (both the lyrics and the music):

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yay OfficeMax...time to contact JCPenny


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/15/2007) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that OfficeMax, a leading office products retailer, has joined a growing list of companies that have stopped advertising on Michael Savage's nationally-syndicated radio program because of the host's anti-Muslim views.

CAIR recently reported that Savage, whose "The Savage Nation" airs on more than 300 radio stations nationwide, screamed attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Quran, Islam's revealed text, during his October 29, 2007, program.

To listen to Savage's bigoted statements, click here.


IMMEDIATE ACTIONS REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE. Hostile comments can and will be used by Savage to further defame Islam and Muslims.)

1. CONTACT JCPenney, today's featured "Savage Nation" advertiser. (Other advertisers will be featured in the future.)

As part of the ongoing campaign to ask companies that advertise on "The Savage Nation" to stop buying air time on that program, today's featured company is JCPenney. Please contact company officials to express your concerns about their support of such a hate-filled program.


Mr. Myron E. Ullman
Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
6501 Legacy Drive
Plano, TX 75024
Tel: 972-431-1000
Fax: 972-431-9140



Note: if we don't do our work and ask companies to take action against Savage's ridiculously ignorant and hateful statements, we can't complain about him still being on air next week. Using five minutes of your time will go a long way insha'Allah.

Had enough of Muslim Mapping posts?

If not, head over to our sister blog: Muslim "Mapping". The idea is to channel all the new muslim-mapping related posts/articles/comments there to make sure there's space for other cool posts on Muslamics!

The new sister blog is by Muslamics and friends so please do drop by, leave comments, and submit posts!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Whose Interest? LAPD's Muslim Mapping Project- What you need to know.

It all began with the testimony given to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security's and Governmental Affairs on October 30, 2007- here by Micheal Downing the Deputy Chief in charge of Counter-Terrorism/Criminal Intelligence Bureau at LAPD.
  1. Immediate Los Angeles Times Article on the issue on Oct. 31, 2001
  2. Congressional Quarterly Article on the issue which was forwarded by MPAC to its listserv- "Los Angeles Police, Muslim Group on Same Page With Mapping Plan" by Daniel Fowler which unfortunately is subscription based. (found on MPAC email, update 11/09/07)
  3. Daily KOS puts out this release of a letter sent to LAPD, Mayor V and Jack Weiss by the ACLU, Shura Council, Muslim Advocates and CAIR. (originally added on 11/09/07) The letter is here (updated 11/13/07)
  4. The New York Times comes out with this report on November 9th, 2007.
  5. USA Today also does an article.
  6. LA Times follows up with another article (updated 11/09/07) on Community dissent building against proposed plan.
  7. MPAC releases a Press Release for an immediate PRESS CONFERENCE Stating: "MPAC unequivocally opposes any profiling on ethnicity or religion as counter to American legal principles and federal law enforcement guidelines. At the same time, MPAC remains committed to fostering engagement and dialogue between law enforcement and the Muslim community...has not taken a position on the proposed program" (updated/received 11/09/07 12:26 PM, this was for 12PM)
  8. The Pakistani and Iranian communities are at risk for Radicalization, according to Downing- read it here. (updated 11/09/07 320PM)
  9. Mayor V says "police department has good intention" lets map them here at the LA Times follow up article (updated 11/09/07 327PM).
  10. Shura Council posted a special advisory to the Muslim community where they request your feedback on the program- see here. (updated 11/09/07 400pm)
  11. Downing has done it now- the Muslim Hysteria builds as John and Ken radio show are requesting vigilante citizens to call in and report where Muslims hang out so that they can report it to LAPD- now we can just wait until some crazy guy pulls up and starts shooting people. (updated 11/09/07 410pm)
  12. Buzzing with updates- CAIR sends a Press Release out. Hussam Ayloush says “Based on statements of those involved, it is clear that the ‘mapping’ project would target the Muslim community based not on any suspicious criminal activities, but rather on the basis of legitimate religious and political views protected by the First Amendment,” (updated 11/09/07 440pm)
  13. Hussam Ayloush on CNN discussing LAPD Mapping:

    (Updated 11/09/07 6:39pm)
  14. Affad (Assad) Shaikh on We The People Radio Station discussing in depth how the community sees this issue and what their concerns are. (updated 11/11/07)
  15. IECOC issues a statement opposing the Mapping of the Muslim community- read here. IECOC is a local, national and international player in the Muslim community and a major American institute for Shia Muslims. (updated 11/12/07)
  16. Sheikh Suhaib Webb's blog has a very interesting post on the Muslim Mapping- the post opposes any such LAPD plan on the premises and in practice. (Updated 11/12/07 120pm)
  17. MPAC releases a press statement saying: "Amid news reports that mischaracterized MPAC's position on a proposed Los Angeles Police Department "mapping" plan, the Muslim Public Affairs Council sent a letter today to LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing expressing deep concerns regarding misrepresentation and quotes attributed to LAPD officials." (To me it seems this came on the heels of a strongly worded statement sent out to the Muslim community by a community activist questioning MPAC's position and asking for a definite clarification of the issue.) (Updated 11/12/07 146pm)
  18. Bill Boyarsky over at LA Observed wrote up a very interesting piece about how Mayor V is caught in the middle of bad situation.
  19. AMAZING- Two LA Times Editorials (one a LAT Editorial and the other a column denouncing the mapping of the Muslim community and calling for immediate scrapping) If you can not read all the things, MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS!!! Enjoy the Editorial and Column and two letters to the Editors from NON MUSLIMS. (did you send a letter, did it not get published forward it or post it as a comment!) (Updated 11/13/07 149PM)
  20. NBC National News did a nice piece on the issue on 11/10/07- Hussam Ayloush along with Dr. Mahar Hathout of MPAC were featured- however, note that the issue is about "racial profiling" not about shutting the program down, ONLY Ramona Ripston from ACLU alludes to such a stance (one that I agree with whole heartedly) (updated 11/13/07 634pm)
  21. Darn Liberals, screwing the country with their desire to protect our Civil Liberties and Rights, I mean what do these things do for America?- says Hussam Ayloush on Fox News: (Updated 11/13/07- 750pm)
  22. Its a petition, please sign it. (Updated 11/14/07- 202AM)
  23. Opposition continues to grow- Islamic Center of Irvine (outside of Los Angeles county, however with a sizable congregation that stretches into LA county) issued a press release expressing concerns to the LAPD mapping proposal, much like IECOC. (Updated 11/14/07- 202AM)
  24. MSA-West issues a Press Release asking for the withdrawal of the LAPD Mapping proposal and outlining how Students Free Speech will be affected by ambiguous terminology used by LAPD officials-read here. (Updated 11/14/07- 303AM)
  25. If Faux News can publicly say it then how am I supposed to believe that LAPD will not be internally doing these things to target my community?-
"The subject of the "interview" was the LAPD's recent foray into "Muslim mapping," a practice that is being called racial profiling by the ACLU. McCann and Friends disparage that idea and agree that while the term "mapping" might not be the best choice of words, the intent is to establish a network so that in the event of trouble (terrorism) local law has a starting point for investigating."
26. Interesting analysis over the Van Der Gaelien Gazette-

"Ok, now this is just plain weird. It’ll also - I am sure - remind some people of what a certain political organization did in a certain period, in a certain country. Not to Muslims but to a certain other group.

Although comparisons between what the Nazis did and what the LAPD wants to do are overdone, it is quite a troubling development, in my humble opinion. It’s none of the LAPD’s business where these people live. What matters is whether they break the law or not, just like other Americans."

27. Reported in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Sharaf Mowjood, Government Relations Coordinator for CAIR says that "People are concerned on the purposes this will be used for."

28. Other articles include the AP, UPI, LA Daily News, Press Telegram

For a complete analysis of the testimony and This American Muslims thoughts on this ill conceived plan by the LAPD which is in essence a racial/religious profiling program disguised to as an intelligence gathering situation go here.

UPDATE (11/09/07): What you can do if you are as outraged as many other community members are:

  • Write a letter to the news paper, keep it short keep it sweet and state your opposition to this project.
  • Write a letter to Council Member Jack Weiss's offices, Mayor V's office and Chief Bratton's LAPD office and state that you as an Angeleno or as a American or decent Human are distraught at this report and are in opposition to it.
  • Call up the three offices, which is the next step of activism. I can when I get some time post up for you the addresses and contact information for these people. Until then utilize google search engine- it does wonder.

A letter from MPAC director to the Muslim community

As some Muslamics readers commented, let's keep the focus on the LAPD project and coming up with a wise, strong, united response to the situation.

Dear Friends,

As-salaamu alaykum. Last week, the Los Angeles Times published several articles regarding the Los Angeles Policy Department's recent announcement that they will be initiating a project which will essentially "map" Muslims in the Southern California area.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position to you directly:

- MPAC does not support, nor has agreed to work with the LAPD on a "mapping" program. Deputy Chief Mike Downing misrepresented MPAC's position in his comments to the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 9th which stated that MPAC "embraced the program 'in concept'." This is simply not true. We have at no point embraced, supported or otherwise signed onto this vaguely defined proposed program.

- MPAC strongly opposes, and will work against any "mapping," profiling, or singling out of Muslims or any other community that could essentially be used by the LAPD's counterterrorism division to violate our privacy, civil liberties, and human rights.

- MPAC is committed to working with decision makers directly to get better decisions made -- be they in government, Congress, the media, interfaith, or Muslim community circles. We stand in defense of the Constitution and our core values as Muslim Americans.

- I, along with other Southern California Muslim leaders, will attend a meeting with LAPD officials on Thursday, November 15 to see complete information and to critically review the proposal before making any assessments or recommendations.

Thank you to all those who have contacted us with your comments, your feedback, and your concerns. We are seriously reviewing the known aspects of this so-called "mapping" plan and will issue our full assessment publicly after Thursday's meeting.


Salam Al Marayati

Executive Director,
Muslim Public Affairs Council

Monday, November 12, 2007

From a Concerned Community Member/Activist ...


1. The whole "mapping" issue has the community up in arms. Everybody has a different take/view/opinion. What you're reading below comes from a community activist who I personally respect. Again though, it is just one view.)

2. In addition to contacting Shura Council to indicate your support for their approach to the mapping (remember every Muslim organization is against it, but they've all got different approaches), you should contact MPAC. They are your organization, you have the right to ask them for clarifications as well as any other questions you may have. In addition, they've expressed an interest in community members contacting them - so take them up on the offer!

Subject: Please read and respond to protect your rights as Muslims

Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah,

I'm sure many of you are by now outraged by the LAPD's plan to map Muslim communities in LA. What seems to potentially pose an even greater threat is the lack of a unified, cohesive voice in opposition on behalf of the Muslim community itself. While non-Muslim groups are willing to join forces to denounce this plan as an outrage and a threat to the freedom and civil liberties of all, I have learned that the Muslim leadership is shockingly divided in its response. I have spoken with Shakeel Syed of the Shura Council today and he confirmed that MPAC favors a toned down approach and a willingness to try to work with the LAPD (or at least be engaged in the process though they say they are against racial profiling). This is in stark contrast to Shakeel's position and that of CAIR (and probably all the other member organizations of Shura) who reject outright any plan based on the premise of singling out Muslim communities on the misguided and bigotted position that we are somehow more prone to violent acts or extremism than other groups. Shakeel assured me this is his position but due to MPAC's sphere of influence within Shura Council, he asked me to get others to speak out so that MPAC clearly knows that they do not represent the Muslim community on this, and so that Shura Council can come out with a forceful unified stand against this nonsense.

So I am requesting each of you to send an email to Shakeel Syed emphasizing the following two points:

1) We are shocked and dismayed by the position of MPAC on this issue and it does not reflect the overwhelming sentiment of the broader Muslim community in Southern California.

2) We call upon the Shura Council as a representative, united voice to categorically denounce and reject any plan that is predicated on the wholesale targeting of the Muslim community without any reasonable cause as an affront to our civil liberties, as a violation of the law of this land, and to exercise any means at its disposal to fight such a measure.

A request has been put in to Shakeel to call an emergency meeting of the Shura Council prior to the scheduled meeting with the LAPD this Thursday. He is also contemplating an emergency town hall meeting to hear the voice of the community, which I have encouraged him to proceed with.

Please send this to anyone on your email contacts and urge people to flood his email box, even if you write two or three sentences to capture the above points. Remember, this is no longer about whether or not you agree with MPAC on a particular issue--this threatens the privacy, security and freedom of every one of us.

wassalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah,
Mohammad Mertaban

IECOC Opposes the Proposal to Map Muslim Communities

November 11, 2007

IECOC Statement

IECOC Opposes the Proposal to Map Muslim Communities

The Islamic Educational Center of Orange County joins in the efforts by Muslim advocacy groups and civil libertarians to denounce the Los Angeles Police Department to map Muslim communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing, who heads the counter-terrorism bureau, testified before a United States Senate committee on Oct. 30, 2007 that “we want to map the locations of these closed, vulnerable communities [Muslims].”

“To do this, we need to go into the community and get to know peoples’ names. We need to walk into homes, neighborhoods, mosques and businesses,” he said.

If the mapping project goes forward then we fear that over 500,000 American Muslim families in the greater Los Angeles area could automatically become suspects as “risk factors.”

Targeting peaceful Muslim communities reminds us of how the Jews first began being identified by the Nazis during the Holocaust and the American Japanese internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The mapping project strikes at the heart of the American constitution and the civil liberties of its citizens.

Let us not run on fear factors but on sound facts.

Let not our leaders compromise the very essence of “justice for all” and innocence before guilt.

American Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding citizens who care for the safety of their homeland and their neighbors.

The Islamic Educational Center of Orange County welcomes all forms of dialogue and cooperative effort in getting to know the American Muslim community. The doors of our mosque have always been open to the public and law enforcement agencies, we have held numerous interfaith and civic functions, and generously extended our hands to help our neighbors in need. We earnestly work towards the betterment of our nation and its national security for all people.

IECOC will continue to update and inform the community on this issue.

Imam Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini

Islamic Educational Center of Orange County (IECOC)

3194-B Airport Loop Dr.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Tel: 714-432-0060

"Proactivity" defined

I've recently started reading Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". The first chapter or so were kind of boring but while waiting for my flight yesterday I got through reading about the first out of the seven habits: Proactivity.

It inspired and excited me because everything Covey said made complete sense and I wished I could get his message through to every Muslim, starting with myself. So here goes my effort of being Proactive, and trying to share a few of Covey's words with you:

"The word proactivity is now fairly common in management literature, it is a word you won't find in most dictionaries. It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Look at the word responsibility-"response-ability"-the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.

Because we are, by nature, proactive, if our lives are a function of conditioning and conditions, it is because we have, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us.

In making such a choice, we become reactive. Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn't, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them."

Based on the definition above, it seems obvious to me that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is one of the greatest examples of proactivity because of his attitude towards spreading the message he believed in.

Also, conspiracy-theory minded people are by definition NOT Proactive. That means half the population of the Muslim world, I think. We have a long way to go to become the proactive community our Prophet would have wanted us to be.

I hope the next six tips are as useful and inspiring. If they are you will be hearing more about them from me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Shia-Sunni Drama for Yo'Momma

Recently I had a post on Al-Azhar called "Fresh off the Unity Parade". This began a long conversation with my close friends and then with Shia acquaintances. One thing I realized was that Sunnis are experiencing for the first time being a minority community in society. Yet the Shia experience has been adapted to this minority status. That raised a question for me, which was how has the Shia community experienced life in the paradigm of being a super-minority?

To answer this question, a friend relates her experience at a local University. Muslamics is interested in dialogue and most of all a neutral and safe environment to discuss these sorts of issues. The Shia-Sunni divide is filled with history, bad blood, and most of all emotion. While all three components are important to everyone's narrative, I would encourage people to follow these ground rules while reading, processing and commenting on the issue:

  1. Respect.
  2. We all agree to disagree.
  3. Keep in mind that if we disagree, we are still HUMAN.
  4. Lets keep the conversation relevant.
  5. Finally, lets not personalize- no finger pointing, back biting, labeling and finally NO CALLING out of schools, places of worship, organizations or individuals (anonymity is key and some degree of vagueness for the sake of opening discussion is critical)
Without further "dancing around the bush"- a post by Anonymous Guest Writer on the Shia experience in the MSA/University environment:

My School Experiences as a Shi'a Sister

As I recall back to my first two years in college, there were only three, maybe four Muslim girls that I knew were Muslim because they wore hijab. I had never met them before, but it made me very happy to bump into these girls in random hallways and eventually in our "prayer" room at school. It made me happy not only because I identified with them, but because the MSA was full of male. So, I stopped going to the MSA events after my first year. That was until in my third and fourth year, the number of hijabis almost quadrupled. The MSA took on a different role on campus and for me.
The girls were all friendly and lovingly gave hugs and had sincere conversations with my sister and I , who also started going to school there. I could say the same about the brothers, also. Lunchtimes flew by, MSA meetings were great, and there was such a bond between everyone.

That was until they found out we were Shi'a. I can't say that I was affected by it directly in any way because the girls who started school with me were still as friendly and did not care for the difference between me and them. However, something very different happened for my sister and another sister who was also Shi'a. I remember one brother in particular, after he found out that the other sister was Shi'a, told her a series of very hurtful remarks like "Shi'as are not Muslims." At that point, I don't think he knew that I was Shi'a, but I kept distance from him anyway. Although he did not say any verbal remarks to my sister, he also began to act very rudely with her.

How could someone be so naïve? Slowly, the other sophomore and junior girls began to act the same way. They didn't say anything in front of us, but just being around them made us feel less welcome. And, we saw straight through the façade with invitations made out of obligation. It's not like we didn't try to fit in. I remember distinctly praying with them, eating with them, going to MSA meetings with them, and even going out of my way to go to Qur'an discussions where they discussed things that were the complete opposite of what I believed in (for example, Shi'as do not believe the Prophet was ever illiterate.

But, the truth is, sometimes we did not and could not fit in. We pray with our arms down, we don't practice taraweh, and maybe the most important difference—our view about the successors of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Despite these differences, we still believe in and worship ONLY Allah SWTA, we pray five times a day, we fast in the month of Ramadhan, we believe strongly in giving charity and helping the less fortunate, we believe in dawah and spreading the goodness of Islam—then, why the animosity? It's the biggest confusion that I have.

How can one Sunni sister treat her fellow Christian (or any non-Muslim) sister with such respect and give her friendship, yet alienate her fellow Shi'a Muslim sister? I realize that there is a lack of information and large quantities of misinformation about Shi'a Islam, specifically, Shi'a Ithna-Asheri Islam (believers of the twelve guided Imams). I, as one sister, can tell you that there is discrimination and hate against Shia’s, but I cannot tell those who refuse to listen. In this time when many in the world are against Muslims, we should at least try to understand each other and build unity so that we can defeat the ignorance. Non-Muslims will ask us questions and be inspired by our commitments, charity, and unity. What will we tell them when they realize that there really is no real unity.

Now its your turn. Please add your experience. We need to hear from you about this issue because it is critical. I look forward to your thoughtful comments, questions and stories.

Sincerely on behalf of the Muslamics Team,

Affad Shaikh

Torture: The New Litmus Test

As Sheikh Hamza put it, since when is Torture a "question"?!

Remember that golden, innocent time -- the 1980s and '90s -- when the phrase "political litmus test" was associated with the debate about abortion rights, and torture was associated with the Spanish Inquisition?

Those days are gone. And, as usual in life, there's good news and bad news.

The good news? Abortion isn't nearly as divisive an issue as it used to be. The bad news? For the GOP, torture is the new abortion.

These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about "values," "human dignity" and the "culture of life." Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?

Giuliani's main selling point with GOP stalwarts is his toughness on terrorism, symbolized by his "gloves-off" approach to interrogations. In the campaign's first GOP presidential debate, Giuliani told a cheering crowd that if the U.S. captured a suspect believed to be planning a terrorist attack, "I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they can think of." Pressed on whether that would include waterboarding, Giuliani repeated, "Every method they could think of, and I would support them in doing that." More recently, Giuliani claimed that whether or not waterboarding is torture "depends on who does it."

Far more than the abortion debate ever did, the debate about torture goes to the very heart of what (if anything) this country stands for. Do we want to be the nation imagined by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nation with "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," committed to a vision of human dignity and unalienable rights, limited government and the rule of law?

Or would we rather bring back the methods of the Spanish Inquisition?

As litmus tests go, that's not such a bad one.

Complete Opine in LA Times

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gem of Prophetic Wisdom

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said...

The Creator has advised me with nine duties:

The duty of Sincerity in private and public

Justice in anger or happiness

Moderation in times of scaricty or abundance

Forgiving those who wronged me

Generosity to those who deny me

Relationship with those who break off with me

To let me Silence be contemplative

my Speech be mindful

and my Looking insightful

Source: Booklet by Islamic Center of Irvine: Muhammad (Peace and Blessings upon Him)

Monday, November 5, 2007

UMMA Clinic featured in LA Times!

It grew out of the 1992 riots, a vision by a small group of Muslim medical students to bring charitable, high-quality healthcare to the needy residents of South Los Angeles.

Eleven years later, the UMMA clinic on Florence Avenue has served nearly 20,000 patients, the great majority of them non-Muslim. It has become a mainstay of its largely low-income neighborhood, sponsoring blood drives, literacy promotions and even tax return workshops, along with its medical services.

And in an era when Middle Eastern conflicts and terrorist attacks have often brought uncomfortable attention to America's Muslim communities, the clinic has become a source of considerable pride for Muslims in Southern California and nationwide.

"We believe this is really Islam at its best," said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella group for the region's mosques. "We are very proud of those who started UMMA and those who are continuing the work there."

One mo'again...

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

-Derrick Jensen

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Yay Pakistan?

Security forces were reported to have rounded up about 500 opposition party figures, lawyers and human rights advocates Sunday, and about a dozen privately television news stations remained off the air. International broadcasters, including the BBC and CNN, were also cut.

The crackdown, announced late Saturday night after General Musharraf suspended the Constitution, was clearly aimed at preventing public demonstrations that political parties and lawyers were organizing for Monday.

“They are showing zero tolerance for protest,” said Athar Minallah, a lawyer, and a former minister in the Musharraf government.

In Islamabad, police forces continued to block the Parliament and Supreme Court buildings. But the day was mostly quiet, and there was no formal curfew. Several small protests were broken up, including one involving a two dozen people who scuffled with the police before being subdued and taken away.

Police officers armed with tear gas broke up a meeting at the headquarters of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission in Lahore and took dozens of people away in police vans, including elderly women, school teachers and about 20 lawyers, according to people at the meeting. In all, about 80 lawyers were detained, and many others who faced arrest warrants remained in hiding, according to members of a nationwide lawyer’s lobby that has grown increasingly influential as an anti-Musharraf voice.

The head of the human rights commission, and one of Pakistan’s most prominent democratic figures, Asma Jahangir, was placed under house arrest Saturday night. Among others arrested were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the political party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and workers of the political party of the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Full Story: NY Times

NYT: End to a Shabby Prosecution

Full Editorial here, excerpts below:

The federal government agreed this week to terminate 20-year-old deportation proceedings against two Palestinian men who were wrongly targeted for their political beliefs and activities. Better late than never, but we fear that there is little hope that the Bush administration will learn any lesson from this shockingly mishandled prosecution.

The key allegation was that they had distributed a magazine published by the Popular Front and raised funds for lawful charitable organizations somehow linked to the group. Yet, fairly early on, the government conceded that it had no evidence that the two defendants had ever been involved in any criminal or terrorist activity — and that had they been citizens, there would have been no grounds for their arrest.

Unfortunately, that did not stop the government from obsessively pursuing the case under four presidents.

In January, Bruce Einhorn, an immigration judge, issued a ruling denouncing the long and winding prosecution as “an embarrassment to the rule of law.” He also castigated the government’s “gross failure” to produce potentially exculpatory and other relevant information.

It’s easy to see this case as a tragic anachronism, a relic from the bad old days of the Red Scare and cold war. But the Bush administration continues to risk injuring innocent people and deflecting resources from real terrorist threats with cases built on weak allegations of guilt by association.