‘Eidul Fitr, Masjid As-Salam, Dearborn

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jumana Abusalah

7624788It was time for celebration and joy as Muslims all over the world celebrated this year’s Eid Al-Fitr, 1432. It marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a fun yet spiritual way. Masjid Al-Salam (Dearborn Community Center) in Dearborn, Michigan was no exception.

The mosque chose to rent the soccer field at the Dearborn & Performing Arts Center on the morning of the 30th of August.  The field was decorated with large banners and colorful balloons.  Everyone gathered around and was reciting takbeer. Friends were giving their Salaams, children were playing together, and families were reunited.  When it came time for prayer, over 500 people rose to thank God for all His blessings and for all the great things He gave us. 

The Imam’s Khutba after the Eid prayer was very informative and touching for many people. He explained that Eid is God’s gift to us to reward us for our ibadih during the month of Ramadan.  He continued on to explain that we should be thankful for being able to have such a celebration—other people around the world are not able to, either because of poverty, war, or other unfortunate circumstances. We then all made du’aa to Muslims around the world and asked God to help their countries resolve their problems peacefully.

The Eid celebration for Masjid Al-Salam this year was an event that many people will not forget. There was also an Eid Festival at the same center on the following Sunday—not just for this particular masjid, but for all Muslims around Dearborn. As it should be, Eid was a celebratory, but sacred event.

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‘Eidul Fitr, Masjid As-Salam, Dearborn

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jumana Abusalah

7624788It was time for celebration and joy as Muslims all over the world celebrated this year’s Eid Al-Fitr, 1432. It marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a fun yet spiritual way. Masjid Al-Salam (Dearborn Community Center) in Dearborn, Michigan was no exception.

The mosque chose to rent the soccer field at the Dearborn & Performing Arts Center on the morning of the 30th of August.  The field was decorated with large banners and colorful balloons.  Everyone gathered around and was reciting takbeer. Friends were giving their Salaams, children were playing together, and families were reunited.  When it came time for prayer, over 500 people rose to thank God for all His blessings and for all the great things He gave us. 

The Imam’s Khutba after the Eid prayer was very informative and touching for many people. He explained that Eid is God’s gift to us to reward us for our ibadih during the month of Ramadan.  He continued on to explain that we should be thankful for being able to have such a celebration—other people around the world are not able to, either because of poverty, war, or other unfortunate circumstances. We then all made du’aa to Muslims around the world and asked God to help their countries resolve their problems peacefully.

The Eid celebration for Masjid Al-Salam this year was an event that many people will not forget. There was also an Eid Festival at the same center on the following Sunday—not just for this particular masjid, but for all Muslims around Dearborn. As it should be, Eid was a celebratory, but sacred event.

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Fear, Inc.

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

Editor’s Note:  This is the introduction of the new groundbreaking study by the American Center for Progress, documenting the stoking of the national climate of anti-Muslim sentiment by a small but vocal group of provocateurs.

By Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang , Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir

On July 22, a man planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway’s Utoya Island.

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Anti-Muslim graffiti defaces a Shi’ite mosque at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.

Getty/Bill Pugliano

 

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Pamela Gellar, under fire for her involvement in and apologetics for the mass killings in Norway by Anders Breivik.

By midday, pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a “jihadist” motivation behind the attacks. But by the next morning it was clear that the attacker was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim, but rather a self-described Christian conservative.

According to his attorney, Breivik claimed responsibility for his self-described “gruesome but necessary” actions. On July 26, Breivik told the court that violence was “necessary” to save Europe from Marxism and “Muslimization.” In his 1,500-page manifesto, which meticulously details his attack methods and aims to inspire others to extremist violence, Breivik vows “brutal and breathtaking operations which will result in casualties” to fight the alleged “ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.”

Breivik’s manifesto contains numerous footnotes and in-text citations to American bloggers and pundits, quoting them as experts on Islam’s “war against the West.” This small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals in our nation is obscure to most Americans but wields great influence in shaping the national and international political debate. Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States.

Breivik, for example, cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto. Spencer’s website, which “tracks the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture,” boasts another member of this Islamophobia network in America, David Horowitz, on his Freedom Center website. Pamela Geller, Spencer’s frequent collaborator, and her blog, Atlas Shrugs, was mentioned 12 times.

Geller and Spencer co-founded the organization Stop Islamization of America, a group whose actions and rhetoric the Anti-Defamation League concluded “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American values.” Based on Breivik’s sheer number of citations and references to the writings of these individuals, it is clear that he read and relied on the hateful, anti-Muslim ideology of a number of men and women detailed in this report&a select handful of scholars and activists who work together to create and promote misinformation about Muslims.

While these bloggers and pundits were not responsible for Breivik’s deadly attacks, their writings on Islam and multiculturalism appear to have helped create a world view, held by this lone Norwegian gunman, that sees Islam as at war with the West and the West needing to be defended. According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman, just as religious extremism “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged,” the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts are “the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.” Sageman adds that their rhetoric “is not cost-free.”

These pundits and bloggers, however, are not the only members of the Islamophobia infrastructure. Breivik’s manifesto also cites think tanks, such as the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Forum and the Investigative Project on Terrorism—three other organizations we profile in this report. Together, this core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.

This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States.

Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Furthermore, its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.

And it all starts with the money flowing from a select group of foundations. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam—in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.

Some of these foundations and wealthy donors also provide direct funding to anti-Islam grassroots groups. According to our extensive analysis, here are the top seven contributors to promoting Islamophobia in our country:

Donors Capital Fund
Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
Russell Berrie Foundation Anchorage Charitable Fund and
William Rosenwald Family Fund
Fairbrook Foundation

Altogether, these seven charitable groups provided $42.6 million to Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009—funding that supports the scholars and experts that are the subject of our next chapter as well as some of the grassroots groups that are the subject of Chapter 3 of our report.

And what does this money fund? Well, here’s one of many cases in point:

Last July, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich warned a conservative audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the Islamic practice of Sharia was “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” Gingrich went on to claim that “Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world.”

Sharia, or Muslim religious code, includes practices such as charitable giving, prayer, and honoring one’s parents—precepts virtually identical to those of Christianity and Judaism. But Gingrich and other conservatives promote alarmist notions about a nearly 1,500-year-old religion for a variety of sinister political, financial, and ideological motives. In his remarks that day, Gingrich mimicked the language of conservative analyst Andrew McCarthy, who co-wrote a report calling Sharia “the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time.” Such similarities in language are no accident. Look no further than the organization that released McCarthy’s anti-Sharia report: the aforementioned Center for Security Policy, which is a central hub of the anti-Muslim network and an active promoter of anti- Sharia messaging and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In fact, CSP is a key source for right-wing politicians, pundits, and grassroots organizations, providing them with a steady stream of reports mischaracterizing Islam and warnings about the dangers of Islam and American Muslims. Operating under the leadership of Frank Gaffney, the organization is funded by a small number of foundations and donors with a deep understanding of how to influence U.S. politics by promoting highly alarming threats to our national security. CSP is joined by other anti-Muslim organizations in this lucrative business, such as Stop Islamization of America and the Society of Americans for National Existence. Many of the leaders of these organizations are well-schooled in the art of getting attention in the press, particularly Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial pages, The Washington Times, and a variety of right-wing websites and radio outlets.

Misinformation experts such as Gaffney consult and work with such right-wing grassroots organizations as ACT! for America and the Eagle Forum, as well as religious right groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and American Family Association, to spread their message.

Speaking at their conferences, writing on their websites, and appearing on their radio shows, these experts rail against Islam and cast suspicion on American Muslims. Much of their propaganda gets churned into fundraising appeals by grassroots and religious right groups. The money they raise then enters the political process and helps fund ads supporting politicians who echo alarmist warnings and sponsor anti-Muslim attacks.

These efforts recall some of the darkest episodes in American history, in which religious, ethnic, and racial minorities were discriminated against and persecuted. From Catholics, Mormons, Japanese Americans, European immigrants, Jews, and African Americans, the story of America is one of struggle to achieve in practice our founding ideals.

Unfortunately, American Muslims and Islam are the latest chapter in a long American struggle against scapegoating based on religion, race, or creed.

Due in part to the relentless efforts of this small group of individuals and organizations, Islam is now the most negatively viewed religion in America. Only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Islam: the lowest favorability rating since 2001, according to a 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll. According to a 2010 Time magazine poll, 28 percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly one-third of the country thinks followers of Islam should be barred from running for president.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 alone did not drive Americans’ perceptions of Muslims and Islam. President George W. Bush reflected the general opinion of the American public at the time when he went to great lengths to make clear that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.

Speaking to a roundtable of Arab and Muslim American leaders at the Afghanistan embassy in 2002, for example, President Bush said, “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith—face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It’s a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.”

Unfortunately, President Bush’s words were soon eclipsed by an organized escalation of hateful statements about Muslims and Islam from the members of the Islamophobia network profiled in this report. This is as sad as it is dangerous. It is enormously important to understand that alienating the Muslim American community not only threatens our fundamental promise of religious freedom, it also hurts our efforts to combat terrorism. Since 9/11, the Muslim American community has helped security and law enforcement officials prevent more than 40 percent of Al Qaeda terrorist plots threatening America. The largest single source of initial information to authorities about the few Muslim American plots has come from the Muslim American community.

Around the world, there are people killing people in the name of Islam, with which most Muslims disagree. Indeed, in most cases of radicalized neighbors, family members, or friends, the Muslim American community is as baffled, disturbed, and surprised by their appearance as the general public. Treating Muslim American citizens and neighbors as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, is not only offensive to America’s core values, it is utterly ineffective in combating terrorism and violent extremism.

The White House recently released the national strategy for combating violent extremism, “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” One of the top focal points of the effort is to “counter al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that the United States is somehow at war with Islam.” Yet orchestrated efforts by the individuals and organizations detailed in this report make it easy for al-Qa’ida to assert that America hates Muslims and that Muslims around the world are persecuted for the simple crime of being Muslims and practicing their religion.

Sadly, the current isolation of American Muslims echoes past witch hunts in our history—from the divisive McCarthyite purges of the 1950s to the sometimes violent anti-immigrant campaigns in the 19th and 20th centuries. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has compared the fear-mongering of Muslims with anti-Catholic sentiment of the past. In response to the fabricated “Ground Zero mosque” controversy in New York last summer, Mayor Bloomberg said:

In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center. … We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.

This report shines a light on the Islamophobia network of so-called experts, academics, institutions, grassroots organizations, media outlets, and donors who manufacture, produce, distribute, and mainstream an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims.

Let us learn the proper lesson from the past, and rise above fear-mongering to public awareness, acceptance, and respect for our fellow Americans. In doing so, let us prevent hatred from infecting and endangering our country again.

In the pages that follow, we profile the small number of funders, organizations, and individuals who have contributed to the discourse on Islamophobia in this country. We begin with the money trail in Chapter 1—our analysis of the funding streams that support anti-Muslim activities. Chapter 2 identifies the intellectual nexus of the Islamophobia network. Chapter 3 highlights the key grassroots players and organizations that help spread the messages of hate. Chapter 4 aggregates the key media amplifiers of Islamophobia. And Chapter 5 brings attention to the elected officials who frequently support the causes of anti- Muslim organizing.

Before we begin, a word about the term “Islamophobia.” We don’t use this term lightly. We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

It is our view that in order to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values, we must return to a fact-based civil discourse regarding the challenges we face as a nation and world. This discourse must be frank and honest, but also consistent with American values of religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and respect for pluralism. A first step toward the goal of honest, civil discourse is to expose—and marginalize—the influence of the individuals and groups who make up the Islamophobia network in America by actively working to divide Americans against one another through misinformation.

Wajahat Ali is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Eli Clifton is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a national security reporter for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Matthew Duss is a Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and Director of the Center’s Middle East Progress. Lee Fang is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher/blogger for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Scott Keyes is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Faiz Shakir is a Vice President at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress.org.

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ACCESS Health Fair Serves Hundreds in Dearborn Michigan

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

P5079980The biggest and oldest secular Arab institution in Dearborn is ACCESS.  It began as a storefront volunteer operation in Dearborn in 1971.  It caught on and blossomed, until the point now where it is in itself a major Dearborn employer, providing a large variety of essential community services to the residents of Dearborn.

This weekend ACCESS sponsored a health fair from 10AM to 3PM.  The event was coordinated as it has been for the past eight years, by Mona Farroukh. 

Ms. Farroukh is a diminutive woman with immense energy, a ready smile and a gentle goodnaturedness, who in my brief interview with her Saturday seamlessly juggled multiple conversations in Arabic and English, helping patients, helping doctors, helping newspaper reporters, without missing a beat.

She explained that about 25 different health care providers had agreed to attend the event and were present in the building the day of the Health-O-Rama. 

She described the service providers present with intimate knowledge of each one, mentioning Henry Ford, Naama, four dentists, a chiropractor, and seven representatives of Oakwood Healthcare.
The event provided an opportunity to provide other services as well, including child and adolescent care, a social worker, and a family life educator.

Ms. Farroukh explained that she expected “at least 200 people,”–one year, she explained, the Health-O-Rama had hosted 450 people, and served people from 8AM to 5PM.

The ACCESS health care services clinic is open full time, with medical and mental health services, and she explains that it serves 3,000 people each month.  There is a new Macomb County ACCESS clinic as well.

Said Cheryl Buss, of the Oakwood Health Center which provided cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar screenings of visitors, “ACCESS is always busy for us, I brought supplies for 100 people–it’s a busy day.”

To learn more about ACCESS please visit www.accesscommunity.org.  They have an office in downtown Dearborn, at 6450 Maple Street.

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The Murder That Won’t Die

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Why did the FBI kill Imam Luqman?

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

It has been more than 4 months since Imam Luqman Abdullah; imam of Masjid Al Haqq in Detroit, Michigan was set up, provoked, and killed by the FBI and other law enforcement officers in a raid in Dearborn, Michigan, right outside of Detroit.

We have seen similar scenario’s played out many times before, and in many venues, from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, to Detroit, New York, Los Angeles and other cities of the U.S.  A supposed “terrorist” and enemy of the United States and “democracy” is targeted, attacked, and eliminated with flimsy or no evidence.  All that is necessary is to report that he or she was a “terrorist” and the world accepted their assassinations as justified.  This is easier to do in the United States because most Americans are ignorant of the Islamic culture and scripture. So when they see the news media reporting only one side – and usually it is the negative side – then whatever they hear sounds believable.  It is unfortunate that the mainstream American media has succeeded in painting a picture of Islam and Muslims as archaic, violent and brutal.

Now we come to the case of Imam Luqman Abdullah, the case that refuses to die.  First, let’s look at a few facts.

The Masjid Al Haqq was one of the poorest in the city.  Oftentimes they had no utilities in the masjid.  Brothers, at times, would have to prepare for prayer with clean earth because no water was available.  The neighborhood is also economically depressed with high unemployment and the mosque members, for the most part, represented that demographic.

The reason this case won’t die is there are so many unanswered questions surrounding the case.  The FBI did a three year investigation of Imam Luqman and the mosque members using hidden body microphones and informants to gather information of any terrorist activity or attempts to take over the United States government. After three years of investigation, the FBI could find no evidence of subversive actions or even the ability to overthrow the government.  After three years the best they could come up with, (that they say was initiated by the brothers,) is an alleged attempt to change the VIN number on a three year old truck – hardly enough resources to overthrow the government.

The other results of the three year investigation were “stolen goods” supplied by the FBI to this poverty-stricken community.  The actual facts of the situation are you had brothers who were asked to go and help unload trucks for which they would be paid.  (Incidentally the payment money was also supplied by the FBI.  These brothers obviously had no knowledge or expertise to sell the merchandise because the FBI had to supply the “stolen goods” and the money to pay for them as well.)

So why did the FBI spend so much time and resources attempting to get evidence for a federal case, couldn’t get the evidence, and then still proceed to ambush and kill him?  According to the facts of the investigation they had nothing on the brothers in the community but petty thievery charges. The brothers might have been poor and unsophisticated but they were pious believers in the religion.  They actually believed they were being hired to do a job unloading a truck (which they had done on many occasions before).  They had no idea that wild savages were lying in wait for them to use them as pawns in their evil game.

So why did they send over 30 – 40 FBI and other law enforcement officers, armed to the max with high-powered artillery,  for a case involving 5 men that they knew were no big threat?  The local police departments could have easily handled this case with no problem.

There are many theories attempting to answer this question.  One of the main and obvious reasons is the desire of America to discredit Islam by keeping up the pressure on the religion.  Heretofore African American Muslims were mostly excluded from terrorist surveillance.  All of the attention was put on put on people of Arabic descent first because of Osama bin Laden.  Then they added Asians and Orientals and finally African and African Americans. Is the Judeo-Christian dominated Western mind so afraid of Islam that they would go to these extreme measures to discredit Islam?

Why take an obviously flimsy excuse as a dog getting shot one time, to pump over 21 high caliber bullets into a human being; then handcuff him and leave him lying face down do die while they use a medical helicopter to evacuate the dog to the hospital?  This was one of most cruel, barbaric and evil actions done to man by man.  The dog attacked because he had no moral consciousness, just rote training – and it seems so did the FBI agents.

Another mystery is the whereabouts of the gun Imam Luqman allegedly used to shoot the dog.  It has not surfaced although many inquires have been made into where it is – or if it exists.

As this saga continues to play out we are certain the truth will be revealed.  Inquires by Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary committee, Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit, Michigan and numerous civic and religious organizations will not let it rest.

Assassinations and murders are meant to kill; but this is one murder that refuses to die.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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