Tag Archives: CAIR

Victory Over ‘Civil Liberties Train Wreck’ as Federal Judge Rules US Terror Watchlist Unconstitutional

After years of abuse and secrecy, court’s decision seen by rights advocates as very welcome but “long overdue”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-5-2019

A Transportation Security Administration agent at a checkpoint verifying passenger identification in John Glenn Columbus International Airport. (Photo: Michael Ball/cc)

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the government’s terror watchlist violates the civil rights of Americans placed on it, opening the door for a major piece of legislation from the global war on terror being overturned.

“This is a really important ruling, long overdue,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “The watchlist is overbroad, opaque, and arbitrary—a civil liberties train wreck.” Continue reading

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‘Bigotry Is Deadly’: Warnings of ‘Normalized Hate Speech’ After Latest Threats Targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar

Despite threats to the congresswoman’s safety, Trump continued “using her as fodder for ridicule” in a weekend speech

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2019

Ilhan Omar. Photo: Leopaltik1242 [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Advocacy groups, progressives, and politicians are warning about the dangers of “normalized hate speech” and Islamophobia after the latest round of threats targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee and one of the first Muslim congresswomen.

“The political environment, led by an Islamophobe in the White House, has normalized hate speech and emboldened bigots in their actions,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), said Saturday. Continue reading

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‘Illegal Boondoggle’: US Government Rebuked for Giving 1,400 Private Companies Access to Dubious Terrorism Watchlist

“We call on congressional leadership to investigate the private sector dissemination of watchlisting information that stigmatizes the innocent and makes none of us safer.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-20-2019

“The indiscriminate dissemination of the watchlist is but the latest indication that the federal government’s watchlisting system is an illegal boondoggle,” said CAIR litigation director Lena Masri. (Screenshot/The Intercept)

Denouncing the database as “an illegal boondoggle,” a civil rights organization on Wednesday is calling for a congressional probe after the FBI admitted it lied for years when it insisted federal authorities do not share the so-called terrorist watchlist with private entities.

In fact, as the Associated Press first reported, the federal government has shared the

controversial Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) with 1,441 private entities including universities, detention facilities, and hospitals. Continue reading

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‘Wanting to Kiss and Hold Her Son One Last Time,’ Public Pressure Wins Yemeni Mother Waiver to Trump’s Cruel Muslim Ban


“Now we see the Muslim ban’s effect in the most dehumanizing way.”

By Jenna McGuire. Published 12-18-2018 by Common Dreams


“Our hearts are breaking for this family.” (Photo: CBS Screenshot)

Shaima Swileh, a Yemeni mother who the United States government had denied entry on the basis of the Trump administration’s controversial Muslim ban, has finally won a temporary visa to visit her dying two-year-old son, Abdullah Hassan, who has been on life support for over a month in an Oakland, California hospital with his father.

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Anti-BDS Laws Challenged as Unconstitutional After Speech Pathologist Loses Job at Texas School for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Pledge


The case has cast a spotlight on all states with “laws that subordinate Americans’ free-speech rights to Israel’s ‘right’ to continue the occupation without criticism or consequence.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-17-2018


“It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats, you know, and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protect our constitutional rights,” speech pathologist Bahia Amawi said of American officials who pass anti-BDS measures, in a video published Monday by The Intercept. (Photo: YouTube/The Intercept)

Texas officials are facing an onslaught of criticism after a speech pathologist lost her job at an elementary school for refusing to sign a pro-Israel pledge mandated by state law—a case that has cast a spotlight on efforts to neutralize the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes Israel’s oppression and slaughter of Palestinians.

According to a database maintained by a U.S.-based pro-Israel group, through executive orders and state-level legislation, elected officials in 26 states have imposed restrictions on people who wish to back BDS—a movement that was inspired by the 1980s initiative that helped force an end to racial apartheid in South Africa. Continue reading

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How Somali Muslims are raising a 10,000-person anti-hate army

The refugee community in Minnesota is a big target for bigotry, but they have a plan.

By Christopher Zumski Finke. Published 2-10-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr. Some rights reserved.

In November 2015, Asma Jama, a Somali-born woman living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, was waiting for her pasta alfredo at Applebee’s, chatting in Swahili with her family, when she was confronted by Jodie Burchard-Risch. Burchard-Risch demanded that Jama speak English or go home. Then, she smashed her beer mug in Jama’s face.

The attack was shocking and made national news. This past December, Jama spoke at the sentencing hearing for Burchard-Risch, who pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and will serve six months in jail. Jama recounted the fear she lives with after the attack, saying she no longer goes anywhere alone. Still, she spoke words of kindness to the woman who showed her none. “In front of everybody here,” Jama told the packed courtroom, “I forgive you. And I hope that you choose love over hate.” Continue reading

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US Government Quietly Starts Asking Travelers for Social Media Accounts

Controversial program met with opposition from civil liberties groups when first proposed in June

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-23-2016

Social media accounts are “gateways into an enormous amount of [users’] online expression and associations, which can reflect highly sensitive information about that person’s opinions, beliefs, identity, and community.” (Photo: The Hamster Factor/flickr/cc)

The U.S. government has quietly started to ask foreign travelers to hand over their social media accounts upon arriving in the country, a program that aims to spot potential terrorist threats but which civil liberties advocates have long opposed as a threat to privacy.

The program has been active since Tuesday, asking travelers arriving to the U.S. on visa waivers to voluntarily enter information associated with their online presence, including “Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites,” Politico reports. Continue reading

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‘Off the Charts’ Violence Against Muslims Ravaging US Communities

New data confirms anecdotes of rising Islamophobic violence reflect nationwide trend

Written by Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-18-15.

A view of damage at the burned Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley on December 12, 2015, in Coachella, California. Image vis Facebook.

A view of damage at the burned Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley on December 12, 2015, in Coachella, California. Image vis Facebook.

From an attack on a hijab-wearing sixth grader in the Bronx to the arson of a mosque near Palm Springs, reports of hate crimes targeting Muslims are more than troubling anecdotes, but rather, reflect a measurable nationwide rise in Islamophobic violence, according to two separate studies released this week.

Researchers with the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University (CSU) found that anti-Muslim hate crimes have tripled in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.

According to The New York Times, which obtained the study ahead of its public release, there has been an average of 12.6 “suspected hate crimes” against U.S. Muslims per month for the past several years. But since the Paris attacks in mid-November, that monthly number has climbed to 38 attacks that are “anti-Islamic in nature.”

Such crimes include arson and vandalism of mosques, shootings, and death threats.

“The terrorist attacks, coupled with the ubiquity of these anti-Muslim stereotypes seeping into the mainstream, have emboldened people to act upon this fear and anger,” CSU researcher Brian Levin told Timesreporter Eric Lichtblau.

While the researchers said the attacks have not quite reached the levels seen in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, they identified similarities in the climate, including attacks on Sikh people falsely believed to be Muslim.

The university’s data corroborates a report released this week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which noted a severe rise in attacks on mosques, including vandalism, destruction, and intimidation.

In fact, CAIR said the 29 documented attacks on Mosques in 2015 is the highest annual number the advocacy organization has recorded since it began keeping track in 2009. The group noted that “November 2015 was the most significant spike, with a total of 17 mosque incidents, with all but 2 of those incidents occurring in the wake of the November 13 Paris terror attacks.”

These attacks are not happening in a vacuum.

“We are seeing an unbelievably toxic, anti-Muslim environment in our society that is being encouraged and exploited by public figures like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, and others,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR, told Common Dreams. “This is leading to fresh incidents of hate crimes nationwide.”

Hooper described the violence as “off the charts,” adding: “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it.”

Fresh incidents this week underscore the trends highlighted in both reports.

All schools in Augusta County, Virginia were closed on Friday after a world geography class taught a lesson on Arabic calligraphy—which then prompted a racist and Islamophobic backlash.

And in Grand Rapids, Michigan this week, a Sikh store clerk was reportedly called a “terrorist” and then shot in the face by an individual demanding money from the register.

Over the past month, people across the United States have staged rallies, vigils, and speak-outs against rising Islamophobic violence, including a mobilization in New York earlier this month under the banner of “Human Rights Trump Oppression.” Large numbers are expected to gather at a demonstration on Friday in San Francisco, organized by the Arab Organizing and Resource Center, calling for the “upholding of the dignity of communities.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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