Airport laptop seizures anger Muslims

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, a frequent traveler who wears a robe and the traditional amamah headwear of a Shi’a leader, is accustomed to scrutiny at international airports.

But he was not prepared for what happened to him on Oct. 22 as he returned to Detroit Metropolitan Airport from an extended trip to his native Iran. After searching his luggage, customs personnel wanted to see more.

“They said, ‘Well, we need to check your computer,’ ” Elahi recalled. “They said they had to go to an office and check it. They came back and said, ‘Well, do the password.’ … He took it back, and it took another 20 minutes. And then he came back and said, ‘Well, you know, unfortunately, the computer died as I was looking at it.’ ”

Elahi was confronted with what many local Muslims and residents of Arab descent say are increased searches and seizures of laptops at airports and border crossings without warrant or warning. Civil rights groups are challenging the tactic, as the Bush administration and citizens continue to grapple with the conflict between civil liberties and national security seven years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

full article: www.insight-info.com

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FBI takes step back on civil rights

FBI Seal

FBI Seal

There are times when the U.S. government allows politics to interfere with policy and ends up shooting itself in the foot. Guidelines set to take effect Dec. 1 for the FBI may be a perfect example.

Issued by Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Department of Justice, the new guidelines for FBI agents will be a dangerous step back into J. Edgar Hoover’s era of disregard for civil rights and civil liberties.

The guidelines permit agents to use criteria such as national origin, travel history, race or ethnic background as part of opening an investigation. Ironically, the attorney general’s original guidelines in this area were established to curb such profiling, after information surfaced about the unwarranted investigation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

These new guidelines represent a danger to the Arab- and Muslim-American community in particular, but to all Americans as well. In the era in which we live, it has almost become cliché — sadly — to point out that an attack on one American’s civil liberties is an attack on all Americans and the American ideal.

full article: www.insight-info.com

American Muslims Seven Years after 9/11

Seven years after 9/11, Muslims in America remained at the receiving end with assault on their civil rights and their faith in the name of “war on terror.” Muslims are the prime targets of the post 9/11 reconfiguration of American laws, policies, and priorities. Defending civil rights remains the single most important challenge before the seven million-strong American Muslim community as the consequences of the 9/11 tragic terrorist attacks continue to unfold seven years after the ghastly tragedy. The government initiatives have reshaped public attitudes about racial profiling and created a harsh backlash against the Muslim community. At the same time Muslims and Islam remain a popular past time for the US media and some prominent religious and political leaders who never miss any opportunity to attack Muslims and their faith in the name of extremism. Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 America, Islamophobia is not only more widespread but more mainstream and respectable.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson’s article titled “Holding Muslims at Arm’s Length” best reflect how fear mongering and Islamophobia is being used in the 2008 presidential election. He points out that in his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. Jackson answers to Obama’s meaningful reluctance to visit a mosque when he quotes a Newsweek poll of May which concludes that only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian.

full article: www.insight-info.com

International Jewish anti-Zionist Network

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

With the launch of the network, we are hoping anti-Zionist Jews will take up the Charter and Call-to-Action in ways that are relevant to their location and in partnership with existing Palestine solidarity work. Share your current work and support the building of international campaigns and strategies to collectively confront Zionism.

For the past two years, we have been building an international network of anti-Zionist Jews to support existing and seed new Jewish anti-Zionist organizing in solidarity with Palestinian resistance. The enemy we face is international, and what we can do is limited unless we find ways to work together across boundaries and regions.

We are building an international voice which challenges Zionism and its claim to speak on behalf of Jews worldwide. As an international force, we can contribute to the movement to defeat Israeli colonialism. Click here to read more about the history of IJAN.

Charter of the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network

We are an international network of Jews who are uncompromisingly committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of the Palestinian people and land is an indispensable part. Our commitment is to the dismantling of Israeli apartheid, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the ending of the Israeli colonization of historic Palestine.

From Poland to Iraq, from Argentina to South Africa, from Brooklyn to Mississippi, Jews have taken up their quest for justice, and their desire for a more just world, by joining with others in collective struggles. Jews participated prominently in the workers’ struggle of the depression era, in the civil rights movement, in the struggle against South African Apartheid, in the struggle against fascism in Europe, and in many other movements for social and political change. The State of Israel’s historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their land contradicts and betrays these long histories of Jewish participation in collective liberation struggles.

Zionism-the founding and current ideology that manifested in the State of Israel-took root in the era of European colonialism and was spread in the aftermath of the Nazi genocide. Zionism has been nourished by the most violent and oppressive histories of the nineteenth Century, at the expense of the many strains of Jewish commitment to liberation. To reclaim them, and a place in the vibrant popular movements of our time, Zionism, in all its forms, must be stopped.

This is crucial, first and foremost, because of Zionism’s impact on the people of Palestine and the broader region. It also dishonors the persecution and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism. It is responsible for the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of African and Asian descent) from their diverse histories, languages, traditions and cultures. Mizrahi Jews have a history in this region of over 2,000 years. As Zionism took root, these Jewish histories were forced from their own course in service of the segregation of Jews imposed by the State of Israel.

As such, Zionism implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings. (Read more)

Call-to-Action

Our pledge in the Charter will be carried out through our commitments to: 1) solidarity with Palestinian self-determination, 2) participation in global movements to end imperialism, and 3) the extrication of Jewish history, politics, community, and culture from the grip of Zionism.

To these ends, in this historical moment, the IJAZ Network will be a clear anti-Zionist Jewish point of reference to set an ideological pole, open space for non-Jewish anti-Zionist voices, and broaden support for Palestinian liberation.

Towards fulfilling this strategic role, we are calling anti-Zionist Jews to take up the following actions in the world. (Read more)

http://www.ijsn.net

Judge Orders Release of Uighurs at Guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo Bay

U.S. human rights and civil rights groups lauded a federal court decision Tuesday that orders the release of 17 Muslim minority Chinese men who have been held without charges for seven years at the infamous U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But despite the praise of the organisations, it is uncertain whether the decision will actually mean freedom for the detainees anytime soon.

The ruling is the latest in a string of rebukes by the federal judiciary of Pres. George W. Bush’s detention policies of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. naval base leased from the Cuban government.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina calls for the government to end its detention of the men, Chinese Uighurs who were arrested in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion there, and bring them before U.S. courts to address their status in habeas corpus lawsuits.

‘I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention,’ Urbina said, contending that the continued detention of the men was no longer lawful since they lost their status as enemy combatants.

In June, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. military improperly labeled Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Muslim held at Guantanamo Bay, an ‘enemy combatant’. The court ordered that he be released, transferred, or granted a new hearing.

Nonetheless, Parhat and his 16 associated have remained behind bars, embroiled in controversies over where to send the men, who said that they had initially fled Western China for Afghanistan because of government pressure and would likely face persecution and possibly torture if they were released to Chinese authorities.

But Tuesday’s ruling gives some hope to rights groups that the detainees will finally be released into the U.S. for a hearing before Urbina next week.

‘This is a landmark decision that represents a stinging rejection of the Bush administration’s unconstitutional Guantanamo policies. The situation facing the Uighurs is a stark reminder of the legal and moal quagmire Guantanamo,’ said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in a statement.

‘The judge was right to rule that this kind of detention is unlawful because the Constitution prohibits indefinite imprisonment without any charges,’ he said.

But some of the rights groups remained cautious and urged the government to act quickly to release the Uighur detainees.

‘The government should not drag its feet, but should immediately release these men from their unlawful confinement at Guantanamo,’ said the senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal.

In a release from Amnesty International, the organisation said that it was ‘thrilled’ by the ruling, but noted that past rulings from federal courts have fallen on deaf ears within the Bush administration.

‘Today’s decision is a huge victory for the rule of law and fundamental liberties,’ said Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. ‘However, this decision will mean little to the detainees if it is ignored, as other court opinions have been in practice by the Bush administration.’

‘How many times does the Bush administration need to be told that detainees are entitled to essential rights?’ continued Cox. ‘All the remaining detainees in Guantanamo Bay must be either charged and tried or released immediately.’

Despite the pleas and insistence from the rights groups, the Bush Justice Department appears unlikely to cooperate fully with the order.

A lawyer for the department, John O’Quinn, asked the judge to stay the order so that the government could consider filing an appeal, but Urbina rejected the request and announced his intention to release the detainees to Uighur families living in the Washington area.

O’Quinn suggested that existing laws may force the government to take the Uighur detainees into immigration custody if they enter the United States because they are, the administration alleges, tied to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uighur separatist group that Washington says has links to al Qaeda.

Urbina reportedly reacted angrily to the Justice Departments apparent intentions.

‘All of this means more delay, and delay is the name of the game up until this point,’ he said, insisting that the government leave the Uighurs alone and that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security would be afforded opportunities to make their views clear in next week’s hearing.

The alleged involvement of the Uighurs in Guantanamo with the separatists’ movement is what initially spurred their detention by the U.S. even though they claimed that they were not in Afghanistan as anti-U.S. fighters but rather to escape harsh treatment by the Chinese authorities.

The alleged connection to al Qaeda is what initially got the Uighurs the ‘enemy combatant’ status that the U.S. used to detain prisoners strictly under the authority of the executive branch.

But in the summer case of Parhat, the government conceded that while the Uighurs were still designated enemy combatants, they were not considered significant threats or ‘to have further intelligence value’.

After the court ruled against the administration in that case, the government decided not to retry Parhat and removed his status as an enemy combatant. The last of the Uighurs were absolved of the ‘enemy combatant’ status in September.

full article: www.insight-info.com

CAIR Asks FEC to Probe Anti-Muslim DVDs Sent to Swing States

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today announced that it has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the distribution of an anti-Muslim film to 28 million homes in presidential election swing states.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a shadowy non-profit organization that distributed DVDs containing “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election. (No information about a board of directors, staff or even a physical address is offered on the fund’s website.)

In its complaint to the FEC, CAIR wrote in part:

“The Clarion Fund recently financed the distribution of some 28 million DVDs containing the film ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ in what many political analysts describe as ‘swing’ states in the upcoming presidential elections. Those same analysts say the distribution of the ‘Obsession’ DVD was designed to benefit a particular presidential candidate, namely Sen. John McCain…

“According to the website for the Secretary of State for New York, Clarion Fund Inc. is incorporated in New York as a Delaware based foreign not-for-profit corporation. According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International, an organization apparently based in Israel. Also according to the Delaware Department of Corporations, the incorporators of the Clarion Fund used Aish HaTorah’s New York City address (150 West 46th Street, New York) to incorporate Clarion Fund in Delaware…

“It appears that the funding for the production, marketing and distribution of ‘Obsession’ may have originated from Israel-based Aish HaTorah International.”

Full article: www.insight-info.com

It is not ok to bash Muslims

It is not ok to bash Muslims