ABC7-TV: Area mosques support religious fatwa condemning terrorism

July 29, 2005 — Muslims living in the United States are launching a campaign against terrorism. Scholars are calling on all Muslims in America to help authorities fight the violence carried out by Islamic extremists. It is also an effort to end the perception that Islam is linked to terrorism.

Across Chicago area mosques, Friday services delivered a unified message condemning terrorism. This follows the recent religious ruling from American Muslim scholars, called a fatwa.

"The fatwa decidedly states that violence and extremism has no place in Islam. Muslims have a religious obligation to contribute constructively to any society in which they live," said Ahmed Rehab, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The fatwa is meant to clarify misinterpretations of the religion. It specifically states that all acts of terrorism targeting civilians are forbidden in Islam, it is forbidden for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism, and it is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement.

Chicago Muslim leaders declared their support for it, acknowledging it is as much meant for the general public as it is for their own youth.

"We believe that it is our main target to speak to the youth and provide for them the balance knowledge and interpretation of the text in which the mainstream Muslims do believe in," said Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, The Mosque Foundation.

Some might question whether the statement made Friday will actually make a difference to sway extremists. Islam has no central authority and the panel that issued the fatwa serves an advisory role for American-Muslims. But it is the most significant statement so far coming from people in charge of interpreting religious law for the Muslim community.

"By issuing fatwa, more than people in position of leadership can take it to a higher level," said Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Council of Islamic Organizations.

Services throughout next week will also be dedicated to spreading the same message against terrorism.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has posted the full text of the fatwa on it's Web site.

  • Read Full Story / Link to ABC VIDEO
  • Chicago Suntimes: Muslims here decry religious extremism
  • Daily Southtown: Chicago-area Muslims endorse anti-terror 'fatwa'
  • CAIR-Chicago Press Conference Page
  • Additional Press Conference Coverage by: NPR, WBBM Radio, NBC, WGN, Chicago Tribune, Naperville Sun, Des Plaines Times, Southwest News Herald


    CAIR-Chicago Chairman Safaa Zarzour, Francis Cardinal George Speak on Religion and the Media at Northwestern Symposium

    Religious groups are often misrepresented by the American news media who tend to focus solely on hot-button issues and frequently get the facts wrong, according to the four speakers at a “Religion and the Press” symposium held July 25 at Medill.

    Co-sponsored by Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern, the event was moderated by Sheil Catholic Center director and chaplain Rev. Kenneth Simpson. NBC5 reporter Mary Ann Ahern, MSJ82, Bernie Tafoya, a reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780, Chicago Tribune reporter Manya Brachear and Robert McClory, Medill professor emeritus and an instructor in Medill’s Reporting Religion, Spirituality and Ethics Program served as panelists for question and answers.

    Speaking to a full house in the McCormick Tribune Center, Edith Blumhofer, Cardinal Francis George, Michael Kotzin and Safaa Zarzour all discussed the responsibility of the media to report the facts accurately and the ramifications of erroneous coverage and stereotyping...

    Last to speak was Safaa Zarzour, an attorney and chairman of CAIR-Chicago, a nonprofit organization committed to advocating Muslim civil rights and promoting a positive discourse on Islam. He echoed the sentiments expressed by George and Kotzin, particularly with respect to the stereotyping of Muslims in the press and in the American mindset. By equivocating Islam and terrorism and even using the phrase, “Islamic terrorists,” the problem becomes far more serious than just chastising the media, Zarzour said.

    “I appreciate that we are in unusual times and that just a few years ago there was a terrorist attack, but how we deal with the subject has far-reaching consequences” that are more fundamental than just the media coverage, he said.

    Zarzour talked about the responsibility of the American press to help educate the American public about Islam and go the extra mile to provide accurate and true definitions.

    “Mainstream America has no other source of information [on this topic] other than the media,” Zarzour said. “They aren’t going to do the research on their own about this religion that they don’t understand.”

    He added that there is “very little challenging of the people spreading misinformation by the media.”

    Above all, Zarzour said, it is the connection of Islam to terrorism that is the most damaging.

    [What we are dealing with] “is a small, problematic faction that is despised within the Muslim community. It exists, but to take that leap of folly and say that group is Islam is something we have to deal with seriously,” he said. “The press needs to start separating terrorism and the attacks with the religion that is Islam.”

  • Read Full Story in the Northwestern University Medill Magazine
  • Evanston Review: Media sometimes frustrate religious people: cardinal








    CAIR-Chicago Meets with the Chicago Police Department on Bias-Based Policing

    On July 26, 2005, CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Director Fadi Farhan and Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham met with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) Deputy Superintendent Ellen Scrivner and Dr. Lorie Fridell to discuss issues of racial profiling in light of a new report issued by the CPD. CAIR-Chicago expressed the need for a separate category for Middle Easterners/North Africans/South Asians in order to more accurately determine the profiling of Muslims by police departments. In addition, the term, “racial-profiling”, has proven to be outdated in a post 9-11 society in which religious identity has become a major cause of discrimination for many American Muslims.

    CAIR-Chicago advised using the term “bias-based policing” to more accurately reflect the issue. In addition to addressing concerns over the study’s language and methodology, CAIR-Chicago agreed to work with the CPD on programs that would combat and prevent future bias-based policing. Such programs include the recruiting of Muslim police officers, participating in focus group meetings with the superintendent that would specifically address the concerns of the Muslim community, working with the CPD on sensitivity trainings, as well as encouraging performance evaluations of police officers that would include analysis of statistics of each officer’s traffic stop history.

    Please direct any questions or concerns regarding CAIR-Chicago’s ongoing involvement with the Chicago Police Department to our Civil Rights Coordinator, Christina Abraham (civilrights@cairchicago.org), or our Governmental Relations Director, Fadi Farhan (gov.relations@cairchicago.org).

    CAIR-Chicago Attends Interfaith Forum Hosted by the Chicago Police Department

    On July 28, 2005, CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Director Fadi Farhan took part in the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) meeting of faith-based leaders called, “Strengthening Relations Between Police and Chicago’s Diverse Communities”. The meeting is a regular forum in which scores of prominent representatives and leaders of Chicago’s faith-based community come together to discuss problems that each community sees on its streets and the manner in which the CPD can help to solve those problems. The meeting was mediated by Professor Tracey L. Meares, law professor and Director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at the University of Chicago. The invited church, mosque, synagogue, police, and political leaders created a list of issues that the group would then try to resolve by the end of the meeting. The list included issues such as bias-based policing, mutual respect between communities and officers, diversity of the police force, and engagement of the youth.

    One of the suggestions promulgated at the forum was the creation of a card to be handed out at each traffic stop made in the city limits. The card would detail the proper 8-step procedure that the officer making the stop is required to follow and provide the citizen with the contact information for the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) in order to file complaints regarding the professional behavior or attitude of the officer(s) involved, if a problem should arise. The OPS assists the Superintendent in maintaining discipline and ensuring the integrity of the CPD. CAIR-Chicago will be attending focus group meetings with 1st Deputy Superintendent Dana Starks to discuss the best manner in which the CPD can engage the Muslim community of Chicago.

    Please direct any questions or comments regarding this meeting with the Chicago Police Department to Fadi Farhan, Director of Governmental Relations, at gov.relations@cairchicago.org.

    Town Hall Meeting with Special Guest and Speaker Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

    On Sunday, July 17, CAIR-Chicago and the other organizational members of the Civil Liberties Coalition of Illinois (CLCI) held a town hall meeting to discuss the issues involved in the expiring, or sunset, provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The town hall meeting occurred between 1 and 3 pm on the campus of Loyola University and had greater than 120 attendees in a packed house from a diverse cross-section of the Chicagoland community. “The purpose of the town hall meeting was to inform the public at large about the deleterious effects that the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act have on our civil rights and liberties. Increasing national security is a priority, but it should not be at the permanent expense of the civil rights and liberties upon which our country was built,” said Fadi Farhan, Director of Governmental Relations.

    Member organizations of the CLCI include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Cook County Bar Association, Council on American-Islamic Relations—Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization, Japanese American Citizens League, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Muslim Bar Association, Muslim Civil Rights Center, and National Lawyers Guild. A member of each organization and Congresswoman Schakowsky sat on a panel and answered questions the crowd had about the provisions in question and the act in general.

    Please direct any questions or comments regarding the CLCI or the Town Hall Meeting to Fadi Farhan, Director of Governmental Relations at gov.relations@cairchicago.org.

    CAIR-Chicago Meets with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Civil Rights

    CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham met with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Civil Rights representatives to discuss what the Office for Civil Rights (OJP/OCR) can do for victims of discrimination by agencies that receive federal financial assistance. The OJP/OCR enforces civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, among other laws. The OJP/OCR enforces these laws among organizations and institutions that receive financial assistance in the form of grants, awards or contracts from the OJP and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) such as state police agencies, local police departments, courts, prisons, juvenile justice agencies, other law enforcement agencies, universities and colleges, and state and local planning agencies.

    The OJP/OCR investigates all complaints that deal with organizations and institutions that receive funding from the OJP or COPS. Complaints should be made by writing a letter to the OJP/OCR at:

          Office for Civil Rights
          Office of Justice Programs
          U.S. Department of Justice
          810 Seventh Street N.W.
          Washington, D.C. 20531
          (202) 307-0690
          TTY number 202-307-2027


    Upon receiving the complaint, OCR will determine the merit of the claims and whether OCR has jurisdiction to investigate. If so, the OCR will open an investigation, should they find the organization or institution at fault, OCR will seek compliance for a change in policy and in some situations seek individual relief for the complainant. Should the agency fail to cooperate, OJP or COPS may suspend or terminate the non-compliant agency’s funds.

    CAIR-Chicago Volunteer Activists at Homeless Shelter

    As part of Muslims Care (www.muslimscare.org), a national campaign promoting community service, CAIR-Chicago organized a volunteer opportunity for enthusiastic Muslims in the Chicagoland area. 18 volunteers prepared and served meals to residents at Hilda's Place, an Evanston-based homeless shelter.

    Hilda's Place, a branch of Connections for the Homeless, provides meals and shelter to individuals in need and offers extensive support services that assist in the transition to independence. [For more information on Hilda's Place, please visit: http://www.cfthinc.org/hildas_place.htm]

    We would like to thank all the volunteers who participated. Your presence made this event a success!




    RECENT CASES:

    Civil Rights Update – 7/31/05

    The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 143 cases documented in which 68 cases are active and are being pursued by department personnel. Below are the cases that were reported to CAIR-Chicago within the last two weeks.

    Criminal:

    • An Iraqi Muslim family reported several break-ins of their car and home. The family believes the break-ins are related to the husband’s critical position of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, since he has a PhD in journalism and continues to write in opposition to the occupation. The break-in at the home resulted in the family’s computer and a disk containing a book the husband had been working on being stolen; no other items were missing. Police investigations have not been successful in providing suspects. CAIR-Chicago will monitor the investigation of the police and continue to assist the family through whatever means possible.
    Government:
    • Five Muslims have reported delays in their citizenship process, having applied for their citizenship and passing all necessary USCIS requirements, but have been waiting for citizenship status do to pending background checks. The cases are being dealt with as a part of a nation-wide CAIR project in collaboration with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN). For more information on this project, see the Citizenship Delay Action Alert below.
    Public Accommodation:
    • A Muslim man was refused service at a university’s medical facility after a secretary referred to his name in a derogatory manner. After several complaints were made to the facility’s administration to no avail, the man contacted CAIR-Chicago regarding the incident. CAIR-Chicago is currently reviewing the investigation and will seek to have the facility issue a formal apology, to allow the man to continue visiting the facility if he chooses, and issue sensitivity training sessions for the facility’s staff.
    Ongoing Progress:
    • CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham met with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Civil Rights representatives to discuss what the Office for Civil Rights (OJP/OCR) can do for victims of discrimination by agencies that receive federal financial assistance.

    • After a Muslim man was released from a corrections facility he was placed in a Salvation Army Halfway House before being discharged to home confinement. The man alleged he was met with discrimination and a postponed release based on an article that falsely alleged his involvement in terrorist activity and further without any charges or factual evidence in support of such an allegation. Despite the Federal Bureau of Prison’s continued denial that any discriminatory practice was conducted, a letter stating CAIR-Chicago’s concern in addressing the situation and follow-up phone calls demonstrating a commitment to resolving the issue, resulted in the Muslim man’s earlier release to home confinement.

    ACTION ALERTS:

    Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned at U.S./Canadian Border:

    As part of a potential class action law suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CAIR-Chicago is asking anyone who has been detained and questioned at the U.S./Canadian border to please contact civilrights@cairchicago.org.

    The facts of the above case are as follows:

    A Muslim American man says he has been searched and questioned four times while trying to re-enter the country from trips abroad, even though he had proper identification. The man was held for six hours last month as officials at a U.S. checkpoint in Canada questioned him about the September 11th terrorist attacks. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing the man and says they have heard similar complaints from other Muslim Americans.

    Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process:

    As a joint effort with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), CAIR-Chicago is asking individuals who passed a citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 90 days, or have been waiting for a Green Card for permanent residence for over 90 days to contact us at either civilrights@cairchicago.org or mennakhalil@gmail.com.

    Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:

    As part of a potential class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for anyone who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at civilrights@cairchicago.org. An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.

    The facts of the above case are as follows:

    A Muslim student was asked to remove her headscarf on two separate occasions at a testing center before she began a standardized test required for graduate school. The supervisor and employees of the testing center refused to show her a written copy of the policy requiring Muslim women wearing a headscarf to be searched. A witness at the testing center also observed the employees making discriminatory remarks about Muslims while the victim was taking the test.

    Please let us know if you or someone you know have experienced a similar incident and would like to take action to prevent such forms of religious discrimination at standardized testing centers in the future.

    Vandalized Property in the North-Side

    In the past several months several Muslim families from the north-side of Chicago and the northern suburbs have had property vandalized by unknown perpetrators in the late hours of the night. If you or someone you know has had property vandalized, and feel that you may have been the target of a hate crime, please contact civilrights@cairchicago.org.










  • CAIR-Chicago Hires New Full-time Operations Coordinator

    CAIR-Chicago is pleased to announce Shyema Azam as its new Operations Coordinator. Shyema was chosen from among a sizeable group of highly competitive candidates. Shyema is an honors graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelors in Journalism. She possesses excellent written and oral skills as well as publishing and graphic design experience. Filling the position of Operations Coordinator is critical in carrying the organization into its next phase of development. Shyema is CAIR-Chicago's sixth full-time staff member. Welcome on board Shyema!





    Outgoing Board Members

    CAIR-Chicago's Board, Staff, and Interns would like to express their heartfelt gratitude for Janaan Hashim and Abdullah Salah for their crucial contribution to CAIR-Chicago during their terms as board members. The organization benefited greatly from their insight and dedication. We are confident that in their post CAIR-Chicago engagements, they will continue to serve the community and continue to register a difference.

    Outgoing Interns

    CAIR-Chicago's Board and Staff would like to extend their congratulations to Zaineb Mohammed, Syed Emad and Aminah Malik for a job well done. During their summer internships, they have shown impressive commitment and dedication in donating their talent and skill for the good of the community. We at CAIR-Chicago are proud of their work wish them the best in the upcoming academic year. "Dedicated volunteers make the ultimate difference in realizing our goals as a non-for-profit organization" Said Yaser Tabbara, Executive Director. "In serving the community selflessly, Zaineb, Emad, and Aminah demonstrated that our community can be optimistic about its future prospects with such youth amongst its ranks".


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    If you have strong HTML skills, good graphics skills, and are interested in web development, please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at communications@cairchicago.org. Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).
     
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    If you are a journalism student or someone who is interested in covering news, commenting on issues, or interviewing people, then please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at communications@cairchicago.org. CAIR-Chicago can provide you with a heavily-visited forum through which you can share your work. Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).
     










    Executive Director
    Yaser Tabbara

    Director of Communications
    Ahmed Rehab

    Director of Governmental Relations
    Fadi Farhan

    Civil Rights Coordinator
    Christina Abraham

    Outreach Coordinator
    Dina Rehab

    Operations Coordinator
    Shyema Azam

    Board of Directors
    Shakeela Hassan, MD
    Alim Elliott Khan
    Mazen Kudaimi, MD
    Kamran Memon, Esq.
    Alif Muhammad
    Ahmed Rehab
    Zaher Sahloul, MD
    Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
    Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President







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    For more information, please contact:

    CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
    28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 405, Chicago IL 60604
    Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
    Email: info@cairchicago.org, Website: www.cairchicago.org


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