Chicago Tribune Op-Ed: The Perspective of a Western Muslim
by Ahmed Rehab

As a Western Muslim who fully identifies with both worlds, I have watched the Danish cartoon fiasco unravel with shock and dismay. Is this a manifestation of the clash of civilization that political scientist Samuel P. Huntington has predicted for so long? Or is it precisely the opposite: a clash of the uncivilized? Both parties at the root of the controversy are making a mockery of their own values as they purport to expose the shortcomings in one another--and they are dragging all of us in with them.

Under the pretense of testing the limits of freedom of expression, the cartoonists and the European newspapers that published their work have, for a moment, invoked flashes of Europe's ugly past. It is hard to note the shameless and bigoted stereotyping in the cartoons and not think back to the anti-Semitic depictions that engrossed Germany in the 1930s. Like today's cartoons, the ones back then began as a medium that offered a voice to European disenchantment with a religious minority living in their midst, whose growing influence many viewed as a direct threat to traditional European culture and values.

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CAIR-Chicago's Media Activism to date on the Prophet Cartoons:



CAIR-Chicago 2nd Annual Event a Success


CAIR-Chicago, after planning diligently for the last few months, hosted its Second Annual Event at the Sabre Room in Hickory Hills on Saturday, February 4, 2006. Despite the bad weather, a full capacity crowd of 850 people were in attendance, including the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Distinguished Professor of Law and President of the International Human Rights Law Institute Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Chicago Park Commissioner Rouhy Shalabi, Assistant Minority Leader in the General Assembly Senator Steve Rauschenberger, Sheriff of DuPage County John Zaruba, as well as candidates running for local and national offices.

The emcee, comedian and attorney Azhar Usman, engaged the audience with his stand up comedy as this year’s theme, “Pro-Activism: Set Your Own Tracks” ran strong throughout the program.

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Recent Events




RECENT CASES:

Civil Rights Update – 02/13/06

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 326 cases documented in which 130 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.

General:

  • A commercial for a video game on the Spike Channel depicted two males wearing Arab-like garb in a desert environment while a commentator stated something like, "see Mohammed carry a jihad on Moses," followed by one of the characters throwing a rock at the other, decapitating him.
  • A Muslim woman reported derogatory comments made by her landlord toward her husband and Arabs in general. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the complaint to determine the best course of action available to the woman and her husband.
  • A Muslim man reported mistreatment and possible misconduct by his immigration attorney. CAIR-Chicago has advised the man of his option of filing a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).


Government:
  • Four more 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 due to pending background checks. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating these two cases into the Citizenship Delay Project. For more information on the Citizenship Delay Project, please see the action alert below.
  • A Muslim man reported consistent delays whenever traveling internationally. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating this case into the Airport Profiling Project, and will seek to assist the man in being safe-listed by the TSA and exploring the legal options available to him.
  • A Muslim family reported that an immigration Judge did not approve a visa for the victim's two children despite the Board of Immigration Appeals recommending approval of their cases. Both parents are permanent residents and their children have been in the U.S. since the ages of 1 and 2. CAIR-Chicago referred the family to an attorney that could help them, and will look into possibly filing a complaint against the Judge for bias.
  • A Muslim man reported a delay in obtaining his work permit. The permit has been pending a name-check since 2001. CAIR-Chicago will assist the man in obtaining legal representation.
  • CAIR-Chicago represented two Muslim men in voluntary interviews with the FBI. CAIR-Chicago advises anyone who is contacted by the FBI for interviews to obtain legal representation to ensure the protection of their rights.
  • CAIR-Chicago assisted four Muslim families in obtaining legal representation after members of their family had been arrested by USCIS for various problems with their visas.


Employment:
  • CAIR-Chicago assisted an employee not receiving adequate religious accommodation for dress to submit a written request to human resources asking for accommodation. CAIR-Chicago generally advises anyone not receiving adequate accommodation for religious practices, whether for dress, time during the day to pray, or permission to attend Friday Congregational Prayer Services (Jummah), to contact CAIR-Chicago so that we may assist them in obtaining the accommodation they are entitled to by law.
Public Accommodation:
  • A Muslim organization was denied permission to post a billboard from the billboard company’s regional manager, who informed the group that he did not “feel comfortable” with their advertisement. The advertisement was publicizing an event about Islam. CAIR-Chicago contacted the regional manager regarding the issue and successfully conducted negotiations for a settlement on behalf of the Muslim organization. The regional manager later met with the group where they discussed and resolved the issue positively.

School:
  • A Muslim family filed a complaint with CAIR-Chicago because they felt their son was being punished more harshly than other students at a suburban high school. CAIR-Chicago has advised the family of their options.

ONGOING PROGRESS:

View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the “Progress Report” section.

ACTION ALERTS:

Citizenship Delay Project - 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.

Travel Free Project - Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside of the U.S.:

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 travelfree@cairchicago.org. It is important for Muslims who have faced this type of treatment to join the lawsuit so as to show that it is not an isolated case. The more people that join the case the more strength it will have to force positive changes in how Muslim Americans are treated in the future at our borders.

Also, if you are being consistently delayed, detained, or have otherwise had your rights violated while traveling, contact travelfree@cairchicago.org.

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.









Address Change: CAIR-Chicago Moves Office to Larger Suite
 
In order to accommodate CAIR-Chicago's growing body of staff, interns, and volunteers, we have just completed our 3rd move since we started the chapter. Our new office is in the same building (28. E Jackson); the new suite number is 1410.
Please note our new address in all your correspondance:

28 E Jackson Blvd, Suite
1410
Chicago IL. 60604



CAIR-Chicago Announces $48,500 in Chicago Community Trust Awards
 

CAIR-Chicago would like to thank the Chicago Community Trust (www.cct.org) for two generous grants that were awarded to CAIR-Chicago to assist in organizational and community development.

CAIR-Chicago received:
  • $8500 grant for organizational development.

  • $40,000 grant for community development.
Since 1915, the Chicago Community Trust has helped hundreds of Chicago-area entities in the areas of arts, community development, education, and health.

CAIR-Chicago is proud to be a recipient of a CCT grant and hopes that the Chicago Muslim community will reap maximum benefits from its fruit


CAIR-Chicago thanks Veronica Zapata and Afia Yunus for their services



CAIR-Chicago would like to extend their best wishes to Afia Yunus and Veronica Zapata who have left CAIR-Chicago in order to fulfill their personal aspirations. While at CAIR-Chicago their enthusiam, capability,and professionalism embodied the selfless efforts of activists who allow CAIR-Chicago to prosper and grow into a effective organization. We thank you for your contributions, and look forward to seeing you both in the future!



CAIR-Chicago Welcomes Three New Activists to the Team


David Sweis, a second year law student at The John Marshall Law School, is CAIR-Chicago's first Extern working in the Civil Rights department. His expected graduation date is May, 2007. Mr. Sweis is looking forward to his forthcoming publication in the New York International Law Review this summer. Mr. Sweis earned a B.A. in Political Science at DePaul University and is considering a legal career in International Law and Civil Rights.


Azhar Kothawala is currently an undergrad at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is majoring in neuroscience. Even though he hopes to pursue a career in medicine, Azhar joined CAIR because he was impressed with the crucial work CAIR does for the Muslim community and because he appreciates the experience of working as a Civil Rights Intern.


Jennifer Lyda is a senior at Loyola University Chicago who had joined CAIR-Chicago as a Government Relations Intern. She is an international studies major and asian studies minor. she enjoys traveling and meeting funny people. she also loves to read mysteries and draw with pencils.


Are you a Law Student Looking to Earn Credit While Externing at CAIR?
 
Extern will work closely with CAIR-Chicago's Executive Director and Civil Rights Coordinator on the following:

  • Assist in documenting incidents of religious discrimination by counseling and interviewing complainants regarding their incidents

  • Research laws and policies on employment, student conduct, and immigration procedures, as well as criminal offenses and other areas as seen fit

  • Legal writing: drafting arguments, memos and complaints

  • Participate in representing complainants in dispute resolution, EEOC mediation, filing complaints and law suits

  • Assist in maintaining the Civil Rights Online Center

  • Updating databases containing information about abuses reported to CAIR-Chicago The ideal candidate should be organized and demonstrate the ability to follow through the various on-going and newly assigned tasks. The ideal candidate will possess excellent written communication skills and a commitment to serving the community.


  • This is an unpaid externship. Open to all law students.
     
    Are you an Undergraduate or Graduate Student Looking to Earn College Credit While Interning at CAIR-Chicago?
     
    CAIR-Chicago is currently offering 11 internship opportunities. All internships are unpaid, but students may receive college credit. Applicants need to email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: outreach@cairchicago.org.

    CAIR-Chicago is offering the following positions for internships:

  • Civil Rights Intern
  • Communications Intern
  • Community Service Intern
  • Governmental Relations Intern
  • Grant Research Intern
  • Marketing Intern
  • Operations Intern
  • Public Education Intern
  • Public Relations Intern
  • Church Project Intern
  • Faith Core Online Magazine Intern


  • Please Contact the Outreach Coordinator for more information on the tasks and duties of specific internships. Call Dina Rehab at 312-212-1520 or at outreach@cairchicago.org
     










    Executive Director
    Yaser Tabbara

    Director of Communications
    Ahmed Rehab

    Civil Rights Coordinator
    Christina Abraham

    Governmental Relations Coordinator
    Sadiya Ahmed

    Outreach Coordinator
    Dina Rehab

    Operations Coordinator
    Sabah Ahmed

    Legal Advisor
    Maria Mozaffar

    Board of Directors
    Alim Elliott Khan
    Mazen Kudaimi, MD
    Alif Muhammad
    Ahmed Rehab
    Zaher Sahloul, MD
    Hina Sodha, Esq.
    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 1410, Chicago IL 60604
    Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
    Email: info@cairchicago.org, Website: www.cairchicago.org


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