About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo - A Must See

If you have not had the chance to watch The Road to Guantanamo, please do so now.

Last night, I rented out the movie and decided to watch it. This part film part documentary is the most powerful movie I have seen lately. It sure is going to inform you, move you, anger you, shame you, and mobilize you to protect America from those sacrificing our values, our laws, our humanity, and our national security.

It is a must see. (I rent it out from Blockbuster video store)
Last August, I published a commentary in which I demanded that we either offer the detainees a fair trial or that we just shut down what I called the Gitmo Gulag. After watching the movie, I am more convinced that this detention camp serves mostly to degrade our morality and credibility.

Learn more about this movie

Read the following good review

ROAD TO GUANTANAMO: And Freedom and Justice for All!
By Salaam Abdul Khaliq

In the dead of night, the sound of bombs exploding around the truck carrying Taliban fighters is horrific. By pure happenstance, four British Muslims find themselves drawn into an unenviable predicament. Earlier in February of 2002, the four Brits flew to Pakistan where one of them was to be married. Moved by an Imam’s Friday sermon to help their co-religionists, the naïve four youngsters cross the Afghanistan border to help the collateral damage of the U.S.-led invasion. Days later, they are unknowingly driven to Kundiz, a Taliban stronghold.

Now, and in the middle of nowhere, they desperately try to claw onto the back of the only vehicle that will lead them to safety. The fourth friend is nowhere in sight. What is holding them from hopping on the truck is Asif’s shoe, which would not fit. Within seconds, a flash followed by a tremendous explosion pulverizes the truck and its human content to smithereens. The three friends are knocked back, unconscious. When they wake up in the morning, they find death everywhere. Without food, water or shelter, they are captured by Northern Alliance soldiers and eventually turned over to U.S. forces. After enduring several interrogations, they are flown to Guantanamo Bay with dozens of other prisoners.

In Camp Delta, the three Brits receive America’s special brand of hospitality, totally in line with the principles of justice pioneered by the Founding Fathers but re-imagined by the Bush administration. Definitions like “enemy combatants” are coined to bypass international law concerning POWs. Labels such as “cold-blooded murderers” are licentiously tagged to justify various forms of torture. The Muslim inmates are held in open-air fenced cages much worse than animals at the zoo. Without a shred of evidence against them and without access to legal counsel, the detainees are not allowed to talk, stand or pray. They are forced to wear goggles and exercise only once a week for ten minutes. The rest of the time they have to remain crouched in their cells under the searing heat. Periodically, they are taken to an empty room and pestered with deafening music and flash strobes while shackled to the ground. To top if off, their holy book is kicked and trampled on (although the flushing down the toilet part was not shown.) For the latter, the Americans have even bettered the Israelis whose Gestapo tactics they were schooled in.

The Road to Guantanamo by award-winning British director Michael Winterbottom could not be timelier. Only recently, three prisoners held at the facility were reported to have committed suicide. The father of the Yemeni deceased now claims that his son died under torture and has demanded a full autopsy to determine the actual cause of death. The United States is increasingly under pressure from the international community to close down the camp and come clean on its human rights violations. President Bush would have none of it. He has repeatedly refused to put an end to America’s shame among the nations. Guantanamo is a blot on the conscience of all Americans; it is making a pariah state of a country that is supposed to be the beacon of justice and liberty. The very principles of due process have been made a mockery of by a junta of hawks bent on redefining the Bill of Rights and the Constitution for the sake of their own devious desires for a New World Order. Surely, Washington and Jefferson must be throwing up in their graves.

After Britain lobbied for its citizens, the “Tipton Three,” as they came to be known, started getting better treatment at the camp and were eventually flown home where they were almost immediately set free. Close to 450 other unfortunate prisoners are still held at the facility with no relief in sight. The latest suicides are signs of worse things to come.

Incredibly, none of the ex-prisoners is bitter or angry. They have all said that the experience made them better Muslims and better persons and only wished the United States would apologize. After two years of wrongful imprisonment and torture, an apology is the least owed to them. Although they may never forget, they have already forgiven. If only those who walk the corridors of power could take heed.

Watch The Road to Guantanamo and weep. Either prosecute or set free those ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent.’ American principles of freedom and justice must never be compromised for the grandstanding of neo-fascism.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Muslim-Americans share Christmas spirit, revere Jesus, reject materialism

The Press-Enterprise
Thursday, December 21, 2006

A number of religious celebrations are converging yet again this month, adding to the festive holiday atmosphere, and allowing Americans an opportunity to ponder and change things for the better.

For the past five years, the fact that the end of Muslim religious observances, Ramadan or the Hajj, coincided with Christmas made this period more memorable for my family (this year, the Hajj season started Thursday, and Hajj activities begin around Dec. 29). We immersed ourselves in remembering God's blessings and mercy and will do the same on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps to the surprise of some Americans, Jesus holds a special place in both the Christian and Islamic faiths. Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, is ingrained in the mainstream culture and is generally celebrated on three levels -- it is practiced privately, manifested in public displays and government-sanctioned holidays, and it is commercialized through department store sales and discounts.

Fast and Pray

When I was a college student in Texas, I had the pleasure of staying with a Christian family with three generations represented at the dinner table on Christmas Eve.

Those times reminded me of family dinners at my house during Ramadan, the monthlong fast during which Muslims deny themselves food, drink and other pleasures during the day.

Although we do not celebrate Christmas, Muslims around the world respect and follow Jesus, as they do other prophets in Islam -- Abraham, Moses, David, Noah, John the Baptist and Muhammad.

In observing Islamic traditions, Muslims celebrate only two holidays, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha (Dec. 31, 2006), marking the end of Ramadan and the end of the Hajj, respectively.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus and all other prophets privately by fasting, praying and being thankful that God sent them to teach mankind about peace, justice and compassion.

Be Inclusive

During this time of year, government agencies impart the Christmas spirit by featuring Christmas trees or other ornaments on public property. We tread on shaky ground when we attempt to mix religion and state this way, no matter how honorable our intentions.

In government institutions, it is more appropriate and constitutionally sound to be inclusive and reflective of different holiday celebrations rather than celebrate one and risk alienating a segment of the community.

The First Amendment is clear in prohibiting government from favoring or establishing a state religion. So, Americans should neither shy away from displaying a range of holiday-themed symbols -- such as a Christmas tree, a menorah and a crescent -- nor view attempts to include other traditions as a threat to Christian values.

America stands for diversity and represents all faiths and backgrounds. It is through engagement of all communities in the mainstream that we will come to understand and accept one another.

Focus on Spirit

Many think that Christmas is cheapened by the pervasive consumerism seen on television and at malls. Thanksgiving and Christmas sales, even lights and decorations on storefronts, are all signs of a capitalist society at work. Jesus could not care less for such minutiae. Neither can I.

An appetite for buying and gift-giving in itself, as thoughtful as it may be, does not exhibit the true spirit of Christmas.

If there is one lesson we can all take away this Christmas, it is remembering that the essence is Jesus and his teachings. Let us treat each other the way we want to be treated. Let us, as a society, place the same value on other religions as we place on ours. Let us be more appreciative of one another and engage more with one another.

Hussam Ayloush is executive director of the Anaheim-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, Southern California.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Denying the Holocaust is immoral and un-Islamic

The Nazi Holocaust that took the lives of millions of Jews, Gypsies, and others is a historic fact. Denying it or playing politics with it is immoral and serves not only to deprive its victims of their humanity, but actually also discredits those who engage in such denial.

It is even more serious of an issue when Muslims engage in such practice because Allah clearly commands us in the Quran not to let the injustice of others against us make us sway from justice. We always have to stand by truth and justice as a principled stance, no matter how others treat us. We should treat others the way we would like to be treated, not as we might actually be treated by some.

It is true that certain extremist Jewish groups and individuals have manipulated the tragic memory of the Holocaust to silence any criticism of Israeli crimes against Palestinians. A good book to read on this topic is the Holocaust Industry by Professor Norman Finkelstein, a renowned scholar and academic who is also the son of Holocaust surviving parents.

However, Muslims and those who sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians should not link that political conflict with the Holocaust. Debating whether the Holocaust happened or not is not only insensitive to the families of the millions who perished, but is also counter-productive to the efforts to help the just Palestinian cause, especially when such arguments are raised by an Arab or a Muslim. Moreover, those who deny or question the Holocaust are not only fighting the Zionist extremists, but they are also insulting and hurting many fair Jews who are vocally critical of Israeli brutal policies and who are our friends and allies.

We want and will achieve justice and peace in that part of the world and especially for the Palestinians who have taken the brunt of the suffering, but not through unjust means. The end does not justify the means. Good ends can only be achieved by good means.

We all have a responsibility to debate the Middle East conflict based on the real facts which involve occupation, racism, brutality, and the violation of International Law. The conflict is not about Jews, Christians, or Muslims.

If the memory of the Holocaust is to be brought up, it should never be to deny it, but rather to remind us all of how low human beings can become in allowing such brutality and viciousness to happen and to do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again, to anyone.

Read more about the Holocaust at:

The following is a statement from CAIR regarding this issue:


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/13/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned a conference in Iran that seeks to deny the Holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Jewish community in Europe by the Nazis during World War II.

In a statement, CAIR said:

"No legitimate cause or agenda can ever be advanced by denying or belittling the immense human suffering caused by the murder of millions of Jews and other minority groups by the Nazi regime and its allies during World War II. Cynical attempts to use Holocaust denial as a political tool in the Middle East conflict will only serve to deepen the level of mistrust and hostility already present in that troubled region."

CAIR also expressed concern that individuals who have promoted racist views, like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, were invited to speak at the conference. "Islam, through the example of the Prophet Muhammad, has always rejected racism in any form," said CAIR's statement.

In his final sermon, the Prophet stated: "All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Also, a white (person) has no superiority over a black (person), nor does a black have any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action." SEE: http://cair.com/Muhammad/

The Washington-based council has in the past condemned an Iranian contest soliciting political cartoons mocking the Holocaust and supported calls for an apology from an Arab-American newspaper that published excerpts from an anti-Semitic tract.

In its past statement supporting an apology from the newspaper, CAIR said "we must challenge those who would fan the flames of anti-Semitism." CAIR's statement condemning the Iranian cartoon contest called the Holocaust "one of the lowest moments in human history."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Love for Jesus can bring Christians, Muslims together

By Ibrahim Hooper
InFocus Newspaper, December 2006

"Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’" Before searching for this quote in the New Testament, you might first ask your Muslim co-worker, friend or neighbor for a copy of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text. The quote is from verse 45 of chapter 3 in the Quran.

It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. What is less well understood is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God’s greatest messengers to mankind...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good letter: Quran poses no threat

A good letter to the editor published in the Press Enterprise:

Quran poses no threat
Press Enterprise, Dec. 7, 2006

Please tell me radio talk-show host Dennis Prager was joking when he said it would damage the unity of Americans if Keith Ellison were allowed to use the Quran to be sworn into office.

As a registered Republican and conservative for more than 40 years, I was so deeply offended by Prager's remarks that I considered changing parties.

The very foundation of this country hinges on the freedom to choose one's religion, and one of the foundations of conservatives is the right of people to do what their conscience and beliefs tell them without government intrusion.

Prager gives conservatives a bad name with his right-wing rant. It's no wonder people think conservatives are nuts. Rest assured, most of us are not.

If Ellison were forced to swear an oath on a book he doesn't believe in, that oath would not be valid.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

America rejects Prager's views.

The last few days presented a good test to how far Americans are willing to allow those who spread fear of Islam to sideline our Constitution and principles. Without any doubt, Americans, from Left to Right, reaffirmed that we are not willing to compromise our Democracy and Consitution.

It is a good day for religious freedom and pluralism in America. The Prager infamous commentary and the swift response to it will offer a good example to the world that we as a nation might disagree on many legitimate political issues, but, for most, we still stand united and committed to an America that is true to its values of liberty and justice for all.

Here are a few interesting commentaries and articles that are worth reading.

Jewish group, ADL, Slams Prager

Dennis Prager’s argument that Representative-Elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not be permitted to take his oath of office on a Koran is, intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American.

Prager is flat-out wrong when he asserts that Representative Ellison’s use of a Koran would be “damaging to the fabric of American civilization.” ...

Prager’s patriotic prattling is misinformed on the facts, too. No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible...Prager presents intolerant, ugly views...

Even Conservative Commentator Michael Medved could not agree with Prager
(I have to commend him for his principled and respectful stance)

There is no logical or constitutional basis for denying a duly elected member of Congress the right to select the holy book he chooses to use in taking his oath of office...

Some religious conservatives have made themselves look terrible -- mean-spirited and intolerant and theocratic -- by objecting to this innocuous gesture, and generating a phony controversy over longstanding traditions of religious pluralism...

Unfortunately for conservatives who argue against Mr. Ellison, there's also the inconvenient but highly relevant matter of the Constitution of the United States. Article VI, Clause 3 states: " ... no religious Test shall ever be required as Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."...

First Muslim Congressman has right to take oath on Quran
Dean Koldenhoven, Daily Southtown

The so-called "conservative" radio talk-show host Dennis Prager made quite an issue of the fact that Keith Ellison wants to use the Quran instead of the Bible for his swearing-in. Prager has been stirring the conservative crowd into sending out messages to other elected officials to not let Ellison use the Quran instead of the Bible for the swearing-in ceremony. Mr. Prager should read the Constitution before sending out his biased material...

Perhaps Ellison is targeted by some because he happens to be the first black congressman from Minnesota and the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Minorities, whether it be race or religion, unfortunately become targets of people who have unfounded fears of minorities...

Prager's un-American rant
Paul Campos, Rocky Mountain News

...A different perspective on religious obligation is provided by Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and newspaper columnist. Unlike right-wing buffoons of the Ann Coulter and Michael Savage type, Prager likes to present himself as a serious and thoughtful commentator...

Thus it's noteworthy that Prager has just published a column so idiotic and immoral that it raises the question of whether the political movement of which he is a prominent representative has become fundamentally un-American...

Reform Jewish Leader Supports First Muslim Member of Congress’ Right to Take Oath of Office Using Koran

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: (The whole statement is a must read)

"The criticism by Dennis Prager of Rep. Keith Ellison’s use of the Koran for taking the oath of office is irreconcilable with American law and ideals as well as Jewish values and interests...

"No provision has meant more to ensuring that Jews and other religious minorities would enjoy rights as citizens without regard to their religious practices and identity than the Constitution’s Article VI ban on religious tests for office...

"America should be proud of having elected the first Muslim member of Congress. It reflects the diversity of this nation and its openness and tolerance to all people based on their qualifications and merit not on their religious identity...

"I urge Mr. Prager to rethink his position and apologize to Rep. Ellison."

Monday, December 04, 2006

A sad twist to Prager's Bigoted comments

Now it turns out that Prager who made the infamous Islamophobic comments last week is a presidential appointee to the governing board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. How ironic, considering that the top two items on the main webpage of the Holocaust Memorial Museum are:
It is a free country and Prager is free to hate Islam, Muslims, Arabs, or African-Americans, if he wishes to. However, an institution that states a mission to fight anti-Semitism should not allow for those who promote hatred against others to serve on its board. The success in fighting anti-Semitism will not be complete nor genuine unless we challenge all other forms of racism and bigotry, including Islamophobia.

In a letter to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council Chairman Fred S. Zeidman, CAIR wrote:

"No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant and divisive views should be in a policymaking position at a taxpayer-funded institution that seeks to educate Americans about the destructive impact hatred has had, and continues to have, on every society. As a presidential appointee, Prager's continued presence on the council would send a negative message to Muslims worldwide about America's commitment to religious tolerance."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Right-wing Pundit Targets America's Freedom of Religion

Just when you thought we have seen the worst manifestation of Islamophobia, ignorance, and divisiveness, someone surprises us by stooping lower. Right-wing radio commentator Dennis Prager, who is not a stranger to controversy, is demanding that a Muslim who is newly elected to Congress should not be allowed to use the Quran, but rather be forced to use the Bible to take his oath of office.

Despite the fact that the swearing ceremony of new members of Congress does not involve any scriptures or books (we will have to forgive Prager on this since bigots are not famous for being very smart or educated), the issue just shows that right-wing nuts will go to any extent in order to undermine and curtail the freedoms in our country, of course, all in the name of defending those freedoms! Go figure.

No, Mr. Prager, America is not a Christian country, nor a Jewish one, nor a Muslim one. It is a country that protects the right of all its citizens to practice any religion or no religion, if that matters. I suggest that you read our Constitution and especially the First Amendment to it to learn about what America stands for.

Long live our freedom of religion. And long live our freedom of expression which allows bigots like Prager to expose themselves.
God Bless America.

Newly elected Muslim lawmaker under fire
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-12-01-muslim-lawmaker_x.htm 12/1/2006
By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The first Muslim elected to Congress hasn't been sworn into office yet, but his act of allegiance has already been criticized by a conservative commentator.
In a column posted Tuesday on the conservative website Townhall.com, Dennis Prager blasted Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison's decision to take the oath of office Jan. 4 with his hand on a Quran, the Muslim holy book.

"He should not be allowed to do so," Prager wrote, "not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American culture."

He said Ellison, a convert from Catholicism, should swear on a Christian Bible — which "America holds as its holiest book. … If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress." ...

Dave Colling, Ellison's spokesman, said he was unavailable for comment. Earlier, Ellison told the online Minnesota Monitor, "The Constitution guarantees for everyone to take the oath of office on whichever book they prefer. And that's what the freedom of religion is all about." ...

"Requiring somebody to take an oath of office on a religious text that's not his" violates the Constitution, said Kevin Hasson, president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Members of the House of Representatives traditionally raise their right hands and are sworn in together on the floor of the chamber. The ritual sometimes seen as the swearing-in is actually a ceremonial photo op with the speaker of the House that usually involves a Bible.

"They can bring in whatever they want," says Fred Beuttler, deputy historian of the House.

Prager, who is Jewish, wrote that no Mormon elected official has "demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon." But Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, carried a volume of Mormon scriptures that included the Bible and the Book of Mormon at his swearing-in ceremony in 1997...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Emerson angered by growing Muslim-Jewish dialogue

Read my new response to Steven Emerson in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. You can also read my previous letter in which I challenged his commentary supporting the bigoted attacks on an American Muslim city council candidate.

Dec. 1, 2006
Jewish Journal
It is a sign of desperation on the part of America's most vicious Islamophobe, Steven Emerson, to resort to deception and defamation to try to undermine CAIR's work. It troubles him to see a growing number of Muslims and Jews working together on issues of social justice, religious tolerance and civil rights. The more we directly talk to each other, the more irrelevant extremists like Emerson are going to be.

CAIR representatives regularly speak at synagogues. Rabbis and people of the Jewish faith continue to be invited to speak at mosques and CAIR events. CAIR spends a great deal of time conversing and exchanging ideas with the Jewish community. Some of most ardent supporters of CAIR and champions of human rights for the Muslim community are Jewish.

For the record, CAIR never did and will never sponsor any event that promotes any form of racism, including anti-Semitism. Specifically, as Emerson was told repeatedly, CAIR has no connection, direct or indirect, to the event he referred to in New York.

If anything, CAIR has repeatedly spoken against those who resort to negative stereotyping in order to comment on the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as when we criticized an Arab newspaper that published excerpts from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Claiming that CAIR or I are anti-Semitic will be found ridiculous and offensive by CAIR's many Jewish members and donors who include rabbis among them.

Information and not misinformation is the first step on the path to dialogue, mutual respect and trust and cooperation. When I needed to learn more about the Jewish community, I went to The Jewish Federation and to my Jewish friends. I did not go to the KKK.

I invite you to learn more about Islam and CAIR by visiting www.cair.com and more about me by visiting my blog at www.hussamayloush.blogspot.com and not from the hate-mongering of Emerson or Pat Robertson.

I know that we are not always going to agree on all issues, including the Middle East conflict. However, dialogue is the only way forward toward a just resolution of the Middle East conflict.

I am confident that most of us would like for our debate and even disagreement to remain within the civil and compassionate boundaries taught to us, respectively, by our great teachings of Judaism and Islam. It is time for all of us to reject the extremists who insist on deciding on our behalf that there is no common ground among us.

Hussam Ayloush
Executive Director
CAIR Southern California

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Muslim prayer of thankfulness

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

In the Qur’an, God Almighty says: “Remember! Your Lord has declared, ‘If you are grateful, I will increase my favors upon you.” (14:7).

There are so many favors and blessings that we need to be thankful for; blessings that we take for granted such as family, good health, and ability to live in peace, security and with dignity.

Thanking God should be much more than simply offering a one day thank you prayer after a dinner. We must show our thanks in our actions, every day. Prophet Muhammad said that “Those who do not thank people, they do not thank God”

Let’s thank God for His blessings by also thanking those people who deliver those blessings to us. Let’s thank the workers, the farmers, the laborers, the drivers, and all the good people by treating them fairly, the way we would like to be treated.

O God, grant us thankfulness to you by helping promote a culture of justice and equity to other people.

Aameen (Amen)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

To pray or not to pray

On Monday evening, six Muslim Imams (religious leaders) were taken off a US Airways airplane in Minneapolis and detained for several hours after some passengers and crew members complained of behavior they deemed "suspicious", mainly prayers at the gate.

The incident brought to attention what many of us now describe as "FWM: Flying While Muslim". Muslims who fit a certain stereotype are routinely subjected to "random" checks at the airports. Most Muslims rarely complain about those increased scrutiny stops unless such measures involve a humiliating and disrespectful treatment or cause a major delay or denial in boarding a flight. Muslims are trying to be sensitive to the fear and anxiety that is inflicting the whole public.

However, the public also has a responsibility to be rational, respectful and fair to Muslims, as we should be to all people and their cultures.

We have to know what constitutes "suspicious" activities, rather than blindly giving in to fear and subjecting innocent people to a witch-hunt or a public humiliation. Offering a routine prayer, having a beard, looking like an "Arab" or speaking in a foreign language does not fall under "suspicious" behavior.

A very "kind" man, sent an email that underlines the ignorance (and possibly bigotry in this case) that exists among some people in our country. I posted my response (in bold blue) in the hope that it will answer some legitimate questions that other genuinely concerned Americans might have about Muslims and their practices.

From: "Spencer Benedict" spencer133@cox.net

Shame on you and your six imams for your actions (and reactions) regarding the "praying" on board the airliner this week.
H.A.: I am not sure what those Imams did to be ashamed of! For the record, they did not pray on board of the airplane. They prayed in the terminal.

It's is shameful how you attempt to use religion and god to create an issue - one in which you are clearly in the wrong. God doesn't need your charade. God doesn't need your antics. God doesn't need your egotistical display of piety.
H.A.: A prayer in Islam is not a display, it is an obligation on every Muslim, 5 times a day, at specific times. Muslims pray wherever they are, when it is time to pray. And yes, you are right, God does not need our prayers, but we certainly need to pray to Him for guidance and mercy.

Most passengers pray on an airliner prior to departure. They do it privately. They do it silently. And, they do it quietly without calling attention to themselves and their actions. Most prayerful people realize that it isn't necessary that others know they are praying - they simply and humbly commune with god.
H.A.: The Muslim prayer is different from the Christian prayer. The Muslim prayer involves a set of bowing and prostration combined with meditation and Quranic recitation. To attain focus and sincere connection with God, it is recommended for a prayer to be done away from crowds. When traveling, most Muslims will try to offer their prayers in privacy at the airport chapels. But when an airport does not have a chapel or when flight time does not permit, Muslims will take a private corner at the terminal to offer their 5-10 minutes prayer. I have done so hundreds of times in America and I have never encountered a single negative incident. At most, I have had friendly curious travelers inquiring me about it. However, I can see how some people who are not familiar with the Islamic teachings can wonder why Muslims are being public about a prayer. This just reminds me how much work is still needed to familiarize America with Islamic religious practices. People fear the unfamiliar.

It is despicable what you are attempting to do with this issue and it is obvious to every American that it is contrived and provocative. How shameful that you feel it necessary to use God in such a way. Frankly, most Americans are getting fed up with Islamic fundamentalists shoving their religious "beliefs" in their faces and demanding some kind of recognition.
H.A: It is despicable that one can hold such hatred in them. Man, it must be a horrible feeling to be carrying so much hatred. Frankly, almost all Americans that I deal with are accepting and respectful of all religions. I am not sure where you hang around?

When you travel with Americans, sit down and shut up - no one is the least bit interested in your dogma, your ceremonies or your sanctimonious proclamations.
H.A.: I hate to shock you. Step out of your bubble for a while and you will find that many Americans are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, ... The next time you travel with Americans, try to learn about them and their diverse cultures. America has been religiously diverse from day one. Where have you been?

There! That's what an American thinks!
H.A.: No. More correctly, it should be: That's what a bigot thinks!

Spencer Benedict

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jon Stewart Rules!


Jon Stewart on Beck's remark to Keith Ellison: "Finally, a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

When blogging is a crime

Thank God for our freedoms in America. Under this current administration, we might have illegal NSA wiretaps and monitoring of people's library check-outs, but at least we don't have people arrested for what they write on their blog (at least not yet).

Read below:

Egypt detains blogger in random security check
Sun Nov 19

Egyptian police detained an opposition blogger in a chance security check on Sunday, a human rights group said...

Siyam's blog contains advertisements for opposition and human rights activities...

Two weeks ago, journalists' rights group Reporters Without Borders added Egypt to its list of the worst suppressors of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The culture of violence

The recent incident in which a UCLA student was stunned with a Taser raised by campus police officers many questions, but mainly highlighted the growing culture of violence that is creeping into our societies. The constant images of violence on TV and in videogames have desensitized many people to the reality of human pain and suffering. This explains why so many people are indifferent to wars and their destruction.

Watch video of the UCLA incident. It is very disturbing.

United Press International, 11/17/06

A U.S. Muslim organization has called for a probe into the shooting of a UCLA student with tasers.

The Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR-LA, issued a plea Thursday for an independent investigation of the incident Tuesday when Mostafa Tabatabainjead, a UCLA student, was shot repeatedly with taser stun gun shocks by campus police. The entire incident was captured on video.

CAIR-LA said UCLA students had "expressed their concern" to it about possible civil rights violations by police officers in the affair.

CAIR-LA said Tabatabainejad was asked to leave a computer lab after he failed to produce a student ID during a random check. While Tabatabainejad was being shot, he told the officers firing the tasers that he had a medical condition.

In a statement, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said: ""It is hard to see the justification for repeatedly using pain-inducing weapons on a person who was apparently not a threat to any officer or student."

"We call on state and national authorities, including the FBI, to launch an independent investigation of this disturbing incident," Ayloush said. "Given the circumstances involved, only an outside, independent probe will ensure that the civil rights aspects of this case are being taken seriously and will be addressed in an impartial manner." (MORE)


Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/06

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Al Jazeera English goes live. What has Fox News not been telling us.

Source: http://www.aljazeera.net/english

Al Jazeera English, the new international news channel from the Qatar-based television network, has begun broadcasting from its main studios in Doha.

The opening broadcast, which was expected to be available in 80 million households around the world, took place today and featured a clip introducing the channel.

Aiming to be the channel of reference for Middle East events, Al Jazeera also has broadcast centres Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington.

Al Jazeera, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 1, has revolutionised news media in the Arab world, and has also provoked controversy.

Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of Al Jazeera network, said on the eve of the first broadcast: "Our launch figure is over double the original target we set for ourselves."

"This is unprecedented in the broadcasting industry - no other international news channel has launched with such a high number of homes across the world.

In addition to cable and satellite, it will be available on broadband, IPTV, ADSL, terrestrial and mobile phone platforms.

To watch a live stream of Aljazeera:

To read news from website:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Truth about CAIR (and about Islamophobe Emerson too)

In response to a commentary by Steven Emerson published on October 20th in the Jewish Journal and entitled "L.A. Times Violates Ethics in Council Race," I sent the following rebuttal.

A condensed version of this rebuttal ran in the Jewish Journal: http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=16775

The Truth about CAIR
By: Hussam Ayloush
Executive Director
CAIR Southern California

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) generally does not bother responding to Steven Emerson, a leading Islamophobe who uses scare tactics to defame mainstream Muslim leaders and organizations. It was Emerson who went on national media in 1995 and insisted that Middle Eastern Muslims were behind the Oklahoma City bombing. He accused Muslims again in the TWA 800 plane crash in 1996.

It is perplexing to see an extremist, anti-Muslim voice make the pages of the Jewish Journal. However, I think it would be of interest to the readership of a mainstream Jewish publication to hear the truth about CAIR’s work in fostering positive relationships with all faith communities, including the Jewish community.

CAIR is the largest American Muslim civil rights organization, with 33 offices across the country. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. CAIR is well respected by public officials, law enforcement and interfaith leaders. Over the past 12 years, we have worked closely with our nation's lawmakers, media and law enforcement agencies to provide them with the Muslim community’s perspective on issues of importance to our society. We have trained and worked closely with FBI agents, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, school principals, teachers, interfaith leaders and groups, and civil rights activists.

Emerson’s real aim is for the Jewish community to shun CAIR solely on the basis of guilt by association. CAIR is the largest advocacy group representing American Muslims, with hundreds of volunteers and tens of thousands of members. It is ludicrous of Emerson to hold CAIR responsible for the alleged infractions of former affiliates acting on their own volitions. It is similar to blaming the entire U.S. military for a few, wrong acts carried out by a minority of the military personnel.

Emerson also attacks CAIR for defending the civil rights of unpopular individuals. Organizations are judged on the quality of their work and substance of their statements. Like the ACLU, we as a civil rights organization, are bound to defend the rights of all Americans, even those perceived to hold unacceptable views. Unlike Emerson, we strongly believe in the due process.

Moreover, CAIR's early and principled stance against all forms of terrorism is well documented and can be found on our web site, www.cair.com. We issued our strong condemnation of terrorism within a matter of hours following the Sept. 11 attacks. On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we issued the statement, "As American Muslims ... we will not allow terrorist groups like Al-Qaida to be the voice of Muslims or the representation of Islam to the rest of the world." We are additionally proud to have launched one of the many initiatives against terrorism, “Not in the Name of Islam” petition, which has been signed by nearly 700,000 people. That petition was turned into a television public service announcement that was viewed by millions of people nationwide. CAIR also coordinated the release of a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism issued by Muslim scholars in America.

CAIR is a human rights organization. As such, it is our duty and Islamic obligation to speak out against human rights abuses, whatever the faith of the victims or the perpetrators. We recently issued a statement against a predominantly Muslim country, Tunisia, for banning Muslim women from wearing the headscarf. We have regularly been critical of our government’s handling of the Iraq War. Yet, we are not labeled anti-American, anti-Christian or anti-Muslim. However, when we denounce human rights violations committed by Israel, we are quickly criticized as being anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic.

CAIR will speak out against injustices and abuses committed against innocent civilians, whether that be in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel or any other country, including our very own. No country in the world is beyond legitimate criticism. Moreover, an essential tenet of democracy is that no person or nation is above the law.

Emerson’s allegations against CAIR, and his previous attacks on Muslim Public Affairs Council Senior Adviser Maher Hathout, are nothing more than desperate attempts to marginalize the American Muslim community and its leaders, to stifle legitimate debate over the Middle East conflict and to undermine genuine efforts by moderate Muslims and Jews to foster dialogue and mutual understanding.

American Muslims and CAIR have unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism, stand side by side with other Americans for justice and peace, and are committed to continue working closely with our Jewish partners and friends, even those with whom we have differences on the Middle East conflict.

It’s time Emerson and his extremist associates stop crying wolf, drop their fear-mongering and intimidation, and join others in the efforts for peace and justice.

People of all faiths must challenge and repudiate extremists. CAIR, through initiatives like its fatwa on extremism, is doing its part. Will the mainstream Jewish community do the same with extremists like Emerson?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No words can describe the pain and sadness

I will not comment. Sometimes, silence is all that we can offer... A moment of silence for those innocent lives.
The reflection of a boy is seen in the water stained with blood covering a street in Beit Hanun. Eighteen Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed as Israeli shells slammed into their Gaza homes in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation and vows of renewed suicide attacks.(AFP/Mahmud Hams)
A relative of Omaya Ahmed Assamna stands next to her bed in Beit Lahia hospital. (AFP/Pedro Ugarte)

Palestinian Kholod Al-Athamna, 13, cries during the funeral of her brother Mahmoud in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, Thursday, Nov. 9 (AP)

A Palestinian mother and her two babies lay together in the drawer of the morgue fridge as workers prepare the bodies for burial in the Beit Hanun hospital. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

While the world was busy watching US Elections, Israel was busy doing something else!

On election day, while the whole world was busy watching our election, Israel continued its onslaught on Palestinians, killing 18 civilians, mostly women and children. This is only a few months after Israel has ended one of our recent history's most brutal bombing campaign on Lebanon, killing over 1,200 Lebanese civilians, mostly women and children.

Of course, our U.S. media will not bother do major reporting on Israel's immoral collective punishment campaign since the victims are only Arabs or Muslims.

Peace will not be achieved if Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestinian territories, deny Palestinian refugees the legal right to return to their country, and continue to kill innocent Palestinian and Lebanese people. The sad fact is that this tragedy is partly financed through our tax dollars sent to Israel in forms of military and economic aid. As Americans, as human beings, we have a moral duty to stop Israel's terrorism.

Here is a BBC news report on the massacre.

"...Raed Ibrahim tells me that all the dead came from the same branch of the same family.

"I am angry. I hate the US, I hate George W Bush, I hate of course Israel. I also hate the Arab states which do nothing to help and the international community," said Raed.

But it was not anger in his eyes, it was more like an immense sadness that showed through..."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

World welcomes shift in U.S. politics

By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer

The electoral rebuke for President Bush and the resignation of his defense secretary, both deeply unpopular away from American shores over the Iraq war, was celebrated throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia...

But from Paris to Pakistan, politicians, analysts and ordinary citizens said Wednesday they hoped the Democratic takeover of both Houses of Congress would force Bush to adopt a more conciliatory approach to global crises, and teach a president many see as a "cowboy" a lesson in humility.

In an extraordinary joint statement, more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament hailed the American election results as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has consistently railed against the Bush administration, called the election "a reprisal vote."

In Paris, American expatriates and French citizens alike packed the city's main American haunts to watch results overnight and early Wednesday, with some standing to cheer or boo as vote tabulations came in.

One Frenchman, 53-year-old teacher Jean-Pierre Charpemtrat, said it was about time U.S. voters figured out what much of the rest of the world already knew.

"Americans are realizing that you can't found the politics of a country on patriotic passion and reflexes," he said. "You can't fool everybody all the time — and I think that's what Bush and his administration are learning today."

Bush is deeply unpopular in many countries, with particularly intense opposition to the war in Iraq, the U.S. terror holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and allegations of Washington-sanctioned interrogation methods that some equate with torture.

Many said they thought the big gains by Democrats signaled the beginning of the end of Bush's tenure.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, Jens Langfeldt, 35, said he didn't know much about the midterm elections but was opposed to Bush, referring to the president as "that cowboy."

In Sri Lanka, some said they hoped the rebuke would force Bush to abandon a unilateral approach to global issues.

"The Americans have made it clear that current American policy should change in dealing with the world, from a confrontational approach, to a more consensus-based and bridge-building approach," said Jehan Perera, a political analyst. The Democratic win means "there will be more control and restraint" over U.S. foreign policy.

Passions were even higher in Pakistan, where Bush is deeply unpopular despite billions in aid and support for President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

One opposition lawmaker, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, said he welcomed the election result, but was hoping for more. Bush "deserves to be removed, put on trial and given a Saddam-like death sentence," he said...

There was also some concern that Democrats, who have a reputation for being more protective of U.S. jobs going overseas, will make it harder to achieve a global free trade accord. And in China, some feared the resurgence of the Democrats would increase tension over human rights and trade and labor issues. China's surging economy has a massive trade surplus with the United States.

"The Democratic Party ... will protect the interests of small and medium American enterprises and labor and that could produce an impact on China-U.S. trade relations," Zhang Guoqing of the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in a report on Sina.com, one of China's most popular Internet portals.

The prospect of a sudden change in American foreign policy could also be troubling to U.S. allies such as Britain, Japan and Australia, which have thrown their support behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Asked whether the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signaled a new direction in the war that has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 U.S. troops, Bush said, "Well, there's certainly going to be new leadership at the Pentagon."

"The problem for Arabs now is, an American withdrawal (from Iraq) could be a security disaster for the entire region," said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi analyst for the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. He said the Middle East could be left to cope with a disintegrating Iraq mired in civil war, with refugees fleeing a failed state that could become an incubator for terrorism.

It was unclear, however, whether the American election would bring a major shift in Iraq, in part because the Democrats have not come ahead with a clear action plan, said Michael McKinley, a political science professor at the Australian National University.

"There would have been some concern in policy making circles here if the Democrats had said, 'We are definitely going to withdraw by Christmas,'" McKinley said. "But they're not able to say that."

The verdict is in: Change the course

America has spoken, loud and clear.

We are tired of the hate-mongering. We are tired of the policies of divisiveness and war. We are tired of the scare tactics.

Americans have sent a clear message that we need to change the course and the drivers. The president is finally getting the message and started with Rumsfeld.

Americans also sent a clear message that we reject to be divided along religious lines as some bigots would like us to be. Islamophobic candidates lost in many races across the country.

Additionally, Minnesota elected our country's first Muslim Member of Congress. Kudos to the people of Minnesota who chose to make history and show the rest of the world that we Americans continue to live up to our pluralistic and tolerant values and traditions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I refuse to allow evil to triumph

Yesterday, CAIR issued a press release demanding that leaders in our country repudiate anti-Islam hate.

It seems that the only acceptable open form of bigotry is the anti-Muslim one. Religious and political extremists seem to be exused by our society to make vile attacks on Islam and its followers in a way that is similar to the racist Nazi attacks on Jews in Germany in the 30's and 40's of last century. Makes you wonder what those extremists here in America have in mind.

No one can deny that extremism and intolerance are an unfortunate human phenomena that attract a small minority of people. However, even a small minority can cause a lot of damage to all of us. Therefore, we all have to do our share to expose extremism, reject it and challenge it.

Whether we hear it at our church, mosque, or synagogue. Whether we listen to it on radio, read in a newspaper, see it on the internet or watch it on television. Whether we hear it at a lecture, a meeting, or a social gathering. Let's be that person who stands up and makes a difference. Let's be the one who publicly says (or writes) that it is wrong to negatively streotype others. Let's make it harder for the hatemongers to freely express hate in public. If we can not convince such people that it is immoral to be a bigot, let's at least shame them for being one.

As an American Muslim, I have the double role of speaking against the two types of extremists: those who hide behind my religion and those who hide behind my country's flag to justify their vile.

Philosopher Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"

I refuse to allow evil to triumph.


Sample recent Islamophobic comments:

A county commissioner in Florida said Tuesday that he agrees with a letter his wife wrote to a local newspaper calling Islam a "hateful, frightening religion."

SEE: Muslim Bashing Sets Off Furor (St. Petersburg Times)

In Missouri, a top Baptist leader in that state told 1,200 convention delegates: "Today, Islam has a strategic plan to defeat and occupy America." He said Muslims are planning to take over America one city at a time, starting with Detroit. "They are trying to establish a Muslim state inside America, and they are going to take the city of Detroit back to the 15th century and practice Sharia (or Islamic) law there."

SEE: Muslims 'Are Here to Take Over Our Country' (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SEE ALSO: 'The Message is Clear. The Enemy is Real' (Southeast Missourian)

Also in Missouri, "KKK" and "Kill Muslim" were scrawled in spray paint on the garage door of a family of Pakistani heritage.

SEE: Racist Graffiti Scrawled on Garage Door (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Rick Santorum compared the Islamic concept of "Jihad" to Nazism. "Mein Kampf means struggle; jihad means struggle," said Santorum.

(Jihad is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle on the battlefield by using a standing army for national defense, or fighting against tyranny or oppression.)

SEE: Incumbent Says He's Not 'Fear-Mongering' (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

In New York, Rep. Peter King claimed the vast majority of mosques in his state and nationwide are being run by "radicals." In California, a Muslim candidate for the Anaheim City Council was labeled "anti-American" by his Republican opponents. In Wisconsin, a congressional candidate questioned about his call for profiling of Muslims suggested looking for anyone who is "wearing a turban and his name is Muhammad." And in Minnesota, another candidate for Congress said that "as a Jew" he is offended by his Muslim opponent's candidacy.

Last week, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that dialogue with American Muslims is a "pipe dream" because "there's nobody to talk to." Last month on his "700 Club" television program, Pat Robertson called the Quran "fraudulent."

SEE: The Truth about Muhammad (CBN)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Reward for Calif. arsonist now at $500K

The smoke of the fires in Cabazon has filled my neighborhood.
4 firefighters lost their lives and one is in grave condition. My heart goes to their respective families and loved ones. What a loss and pain.

Investigators have determined the fire to be an arson.
I pray that they catch this arsonist and punish him to the full extent of the law for his total disregard to people's safety.

Hate Email of the Week

Every day, I receive dozens of emails expressing support and friendship or hatred and threats. I thought it might be good to share some of them with you. I am not sure why though. May be it will give you an idea of the kind of people I have to deal with, the good, the bad, and the ugly. :)

Here is a hate email:

From: reneekatz
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:22 AM
To: Jakob Kobi
Subject: FW: Boycott
the New Muslim USPS stamp

They are blowing up Christians everywhere and we are going to honor their {MUSLIM} holiday with a postal stamp.

and our GOVERNMENT expects us to buy and use them on our cards that celebrate the birth of JESUS, whom the MUSLIMS hate and want to rid the world of all who believe in Him.

Remember what this stamp looks like and do not BUY them.

How ironic is this??!! They don't even believe in Christ and they're getting their own Christmas stamp, but don't dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property?

The USPS already issues stamps commemorating the Christian holiday of Christmas (with both religious and festive themes) and the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah as well as Kwanzaa.
I guess to some, American Muslims are not equal citizens!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

US Ambassador to Iraq lives in LaLa Land

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad must not venture outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad to listen to Iraqis stating that their lives are worse now than before the invasion. (Which is a sad statement considering that that life was under the dictatorship of Saddam)

The Ambassador said that Iraqis are better off now than before the invasion because they now have cell phones and satellite dishes. Oh my God!

He are excerpts from the AP article:

Envoy says not all is bad in Iraq
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad insisted Tuesday that things are not all bad in Iraq, citing the growing number of satellite dishes on rooftops and consumers with cell phones as signs of economic progress.

"Economically, I see an Iraq every day that I do not think the American people know about — where cell phones and satellite dishes, once forbidden, are now common, where economic reform takes place on a regular basis, where agricultural production is rising dramatically, and where the overall economy and the consumer sector is growing," the American envoy told a Baghdad news conference.

Some Iraqis saw things differently.

"We'd prefer he take those back and return just 10 percent of our prewar life," said Mohammed Ibrahim, a 50-year-old government employee from Baghdad. "Saying things like that shows the Americans' contempt for us Iraqis."

Analogies between conditions in Iraq now and life before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq are common among Iraqis, angered over what they see as the failure of successive Iraqi governments and their American backers to provide security, services or jobs.

Khalilzad spoke at one of the lowest points in America's involvement in Iraq.

An average of more than 40 Iraqis are being killed every day in October, according to an Associated Press count that is based on AP reporting and considered a minimum. The violence has forced nearly 1 million Iraqis to flee abroad since 2003 and as many as 300,000 more have become refugees in their own country because of sectarian killings...

Amrah al-Badawi, a Shiite lawmaker and a member of parliament's economic committee, chuckled when told of Khalilzad's comments.

"Iraqis longed for mobile phones and satellite television, but their availability now are of little relevance to the economy," she said. "What we need is economic ventures, and these are not going to happen with security the way it is."...

For Alaa Makki of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's largest Sunni party: "We ended up with a worse-than-before dictatorship. We now have slaughter, kidnapping and disenfranchisement."

Don't know about you, but I don't like where this course is taking us to!

I am tired of hearing this administration telling us that we need to stay the course in Iraq. What if this course leads to an abyss? How many more Iraqis have to die before the Bush administration and its naive supporters realize that our policy in Iraq has completely failed? How many American soldiers have to lose their lives for this immoral and illegal war? How many parents, Iraqis and Americans, have to lose their children in Iraq before we change this deadly course.

It is time to change direction. I actually think it is time we change the incompetent drivers too!

Vote on November 7th because if you don't, you should not complain.

Watch this short and powerful BBC video to find out why we will never win in Iraq and why a large majority of Iraqis still perceive us as an occupation and want us out of Iraq.

Video: GuardianFilms and BBC Newsnight present ...

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Latest on Tan Nguyen's Campaign

Today, I received an email from Fr. Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera who has previously contributed a nice poem to this blog. In his email, he offered an update on Tan Nguyen. Here is the update:

Dear Friends:

Here's a shot I took this morning which pretty much sums up the situation for Tan Nguyen. Sometimes my photographic eye is a prophetic eye.
In Gospel Justice,
Padre Wilfredo+

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Muslims Call on Tan Nguyen to Pull Out of Race

47th District Candidate Sent Offensive Mailers to Muslims and Latinos

(ANAHEIM, 10/20/06) – The Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today called on the 47th Congressional District Candidate Tan Nguyen to apologize to the voters of the district and withdraw from the race.

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush and leaders from the Latino, Vietnamese and other communities attended a press conference today, speaking out against Nguyen’s possibly illegal actions and affirming the commitment of the 47th District residents to stay united and not let attempts at spawning fear and intimidation tear the community apart.
SEE: Agents Search GOP Candidate’s Campaign Office

At the press conference, Ayloush stated:

“We are a nation of immigrants, and immigrants have built America and made significant contributions to strengthening our country. It is not acceptable for any political candidate to score cheap political gains and points at the expense of immigrants and Muslims by intimidation or scare tactics.

Mr. Tan Nguyen has continued his immoral and un-American politics of spreading fear against the Muslim and immigrant communities. We reject actions that seek to divide Americans along religious and racial lines. We reject any attempt to intimidate Americans from exercising their democratic right to vote and participate in the affairs of their country.

We call on Mr. Tan Nguyen to pull out of the Congressional race, and apologize to all the people of our district for the pain and fear he has caused. We join our voice with those of Republican leaders calling on Mr. Tan Nguyen to withdraw from this race. He has caused enough division, fear and intimidation.”

Nguyen’s campaign has been linked with letters circulating in the Latino community, warning people in Spanish, “You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time…”

Earlier in his campaign, Nguyen had also angered Muslims with his offensive and inflammatory use of a photograph of a Middle Eastern terrorist to link the hot-button issues of terrorism and illegal immigration.

Ayloush added, “I invite Mr. Tan Nguyen to take time to visit with diverse people of the 47th District and learn about their challenges, their dreams and their hopes. All people are one. All people are the same. They all love their country, and they strive to take care of their families, whether they are Caucasian, Vietnamese, Latino, Muslims, Jews, or Christians.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

BABY GIRL AYLOUSH IS BORN. We need your help with the name

Today, my wife Arwa, my kids and I were blessed with a beautiful Ramadan gift from God. Our fourth child was born. Both mother and baby are healthy, Alhamdulillah (praises be to God)

I want to thank all of you who had been calling and emailing to offer your prayers and congratulations. I am currently spending the night at the hospital with Arwa and the baby.

Meanwhile, I need your help. We decided on a name, but we can't seem to agree on the spelling.

We need your help.
We decided to name her Safiyya after the name of the wife of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Our other girls are named after two other wives, Aisha and Marya. Our son is named Omar, after the great companion of the Prophet. In case you missed the pattern, Aisha was Muslim, Marya was Christian, and Safiyya was Jewish when the Prophet married them. Indeed a gesture of respect taught to us by the Prophet.

Here is where we need your help. We are debating how to spell Safiyya's name. Please pick one one of the following options and send us your suggestion by email to: ayloush@usa.net

1. Safiyya
2. Safiya
3. Sophia
4. Sofia

We are counting on you.
Feel free to forward it to others to solicit their suggestion. We have to choose the name by Thursday.

Thank you in advance.

Updated on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Thank you. We received dozens of suggestions from friends and family, mostly recommending the name Safiyya because it is original and it best allows for our preferred pronounciation. So we went ahead with Safiyya.
Thank you all again for your prayers and good wishes. My family and I are very grateful.

May Allah/God bless you all and your families.
I will be posting a few of the many good wishes we received from many of you who could not post it on the blog because they did not have a blog account. (What are you waiting for?)

Friday, October 13, 2006

It is humbling to be popular

At a recent press conference, a reporter jokingly asked me how I felt now that there is a group called CAIR Watch. I replied that I felt privileged.

I am not sure that our organization is worthy of such attention, but I guess fringe right-wing groups think otherwise (or may be they are running out of people to hate). So I decided to find out what this group is "watching". It turned out that the website is a compilation of news items from the CAIR email messages in which CAIR is mentioned (I guess that such mention annoys them big time) and the posting of false accusations against CAIR and its members.

I will not waste time responding to this childish website since anyone can visit CAIR's website and learn about its mission, work and what respected leaders say about it.

One item that amused me most was a posting by a weirdo (he seems more like deranged, if you ask for my opinion) called Airhead, I mean Whitehead, in which he laments the fact that I was invited to the FBI's Citizens Academy. He read about it on my blog and lost his marbles over it (actually I am not sure if this was caused earlier in his childhood due to being dropped on his head). I have to admit that I felt really humbled to be that popular. It is not always that one gets to upset bigots. Don't get me wrong, I know bigots are usually upset by default, but this time, Whitehead must have lost some sleep over this.

For that, I am very honored and humbled. Thank you Mr. Airhead.

Meanwhile, I advise you to get a life and spend less time hating others. It is more fun to be at peace with yourself and with others.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Smartest Comment on the Danish Cartoons

Gary Trudeau, creator of the 'Doonesbury' comic strip, says cartoonists should draw the line when it comes to offending people. In an interview published in the Santa Barbara Independent:

Q. What did you make of the Danish cartoon mess? I understand that you said you would never play with the image of Allah. But did you feel you should have done so out of a sense of professional solidarity, or to make a statement about freedom of speech?

A. What exactly would that statement be? That we can say whatever we want in the West? Everyone already knows that. So then the question becomes, should we say whatever we want? That, to me, is the crux. Do you hurt people just because you can? Because you feel they shouldn’t be deeply hurt, does that mean they aren’t? Should the New York Times run vicious caricatures of blacks and Jews just to show the First Amendment in action? At some point, common sense and sensitivity have to be brought to bear.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Can a Muslim run for office in America?

I obviously think that every America should be able to run for office, regardless of their race or religion. But it seems not everyone thinks this way.
Read below:


GOP Leader Says Anaheim Council Candidate Backs Extremist Groups Syrian-born Bill Dalati focuses on America's enemies, Web note says. Dalati says his faith and heritage are being questioned.
By Dave McKibben
Times Staff Writer

October 9, 2006

A state Republican party leader has roiled a sleepy Anaheim City Council race with allegations that an Arab American candidate is anti-American and supports extremist groups.

The accusations against Bill Dalati, an insurance agent who was born in Syria and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1987, surfaced last week in a letter from former state Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel and on various websites. On the OC Blog, a politically conservative website, the headline atop the letter opposing Dalati's candidacy read "Something Scary in Anaheim."

Steel, the state GOP leader from 2001 to 2003, said he wrote the letter to alert fellow conservatives that Dalati — a moderate Republican — could be a "Manchurian candidate."

"He looks good on the outside, but the guy could be an extremist," Steel said Friday. "Is his primary concern to fix the potholes and improve the city, or does he really have an agenda here to support extremist organizations and cloak them with respectability?"

In the letter, Steel questioned Dalati's connections to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, later calling CAIR a "pretty radical, nasty group." He also cited Dalati's involvement with an Anaheim rally protesting the Israel-Lebanon conflict, and his endorsement of Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney of Georgia, a Democrat.

Dalati, who came to the U.S. in 1984 and has been an Anaheim resident for 12 years, said he was frustrated and angered by the letter.

"I need to be out on the campaign trail, not worrying about all this negative stereotyping,"
Dalati said. "People should look at the issues, not where I came from. Everybody came from somewhere. It's clear that my faith and my heritage are the reason they don't want me around."

Dalati, a 41-year-old Muslim, doesn't deny that he supports CAIR, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the country and largely viewed as a mainstream organization. Local Republican law enforcement officials such as Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca have attended the local chapter's fundraisers.

Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR's Southern California chapter, in Anaheim, said Steel had a history of making "Islamaphobic" comments.

"The people of Anaheim would appreciate it if outsiders with personal political agendas would keep their divisive political views away from the city," said Ayloush, who a few years ago filed a defamation suit against Steel that was later dismissed. "For Muslims to witness what is happening in this campaign, it only makes us realize what it must have been like for Catholics, Jews and African Americans to run for office."

Dalati also defended his association with the rally protesting the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

"I'm not against Jews or Christians," he said. "I don't support Hezbollah. I just don't believe wars solve any issues; love does."

Dalati said he donated money to McKinney because of her stance against the Iraq war. In the 2000 presidential election, Dalati said he supported President Bush and convinced many fellow Arab Americans to vote with him. Dalati said he did not endorse Bush in 2004.

"I support the president in so many ways, but not on this issue," he said. "I don't believe in war.
I don't believe in the killing of innocent people. I believe in justice and dialogue."

Steel's letter, written to local Republican leaders, was posted on the OC Blog by former state Sen. John Lewis (R-Orange), who is a consultant for one of Dalati's opponents, Councilman Bob Hernandez. Five others, including incumbent Richard Chavez, are also in the running for two council seats, which are elected citywide.

Hernandez said he had nothing to do with Steel's letter or its posting, but didn't distance himself from its sentiment. He said he was particularly offended by Dalati's connection to McKinney, whom he called "rabidly left-leaning."

"This has nothing to do with ethnicity, religion or the way you think politically," Hernandez said. "It has to do with judgment and who the people want to represent them. [Dalati] does not represent the mainstream thinking in Anaheim."

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, a former Assembly speaker and a Republican, said he didn't believe the attack on Dalati was warranted.

"I don't see the substantiation to the aggressive charges made against Mr. Dalati," he said. "It's kind of sad to see them. In my dealings with him, he's been nothing more than a businessman in our community."

Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who has endorsed Dalati, said he was the victim of an "underhanded and bigoted" attack.

"Those who attack him for his heritage and his faith misrepresent who he is and what he has done," said Galloway, a Democrat.

Dalati, who has also been endorsed by Anaheim Councilman Richard Chavez, a Democrat, has invested $200,000 of his own money in the council race. In addition to his insurance business, Dalati remodels and sells run-down houses in town.

Although he has never run for council, Dalati is well known in the community of 350,000, having served on the city's culture and heritage commission and hosting his own television talk show on a local cable channel.

Dalati, part of a large Arab and Muslim population in Anaheim, said he ran for council in part to be a role model for his community.

"I wanted to give them hope and empower them," he said. "We love this country, we would die for this country. It's given us more than our country. We want to make it better."

An Apology from a Bush Voter

By Doug McIntyre
Conservative Host
Talk Radio 790 KABC

(Ayloush comment: I do have my personal disagreement on some of what Doug said, but overall, I think it is a courageous and principled move)

There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.

So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period.

In 2000, I was a McCain guy. I wasn’t sure about the Texas Governor. He had name recognition and a lot of money behind him, but other than that? What? Still, I was sick of all the Clinton shenanigans and the thought of President Gore was… unthinkable. So, GWB became my guy.

For the first few months he was just flubbing along like most new Presidents, no great shakes, but no disasters either. He cut taxes and I like tax cuts.

Then September 11th happened. September 11th changed everything for me, like it did for so many of you. After September 11th, all the intramural idiocy of American politics stopped being funny. We had been attacked by a vicious and determined enemy and it was time for all of us to row in the same direction.

And we did for the blink of an eye. I believed the President when he said we were going to hunt down Bin Laden and all those responsible for the 9-11 murders. I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them.

I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan, after all, that’s where the Taliban was, that’s where al-Qaida trained the killers, that’s where Bin Laden was.

And I cheered when we quickly toppled the Taliban government, but winced when we let Bin Laden escape from Tora-Bora.

Then, the talk turned to Iraq and I winced again.

I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, “The Project for the New American Century.” It’s been around since ‘92, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, “Democratizing the Middle East” and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, “pre-emptive war.” Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous.

But the President shifted the argument to WMDs and the urgent threat of Iraq getting atomic weapons. The debate turned to Saddam passing nukes on to terror groups. After 9-11, the risk was too great. As the President said, “The next smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud.” At least that’s what I thought at the time.

I grew up in New York and watched them build the World Trade Center. I worked with a guy, Frank O’Brien, who put the elevators in both towers. I lost a very close friend on September 11th. 103 floor, tower one, Cantor Fitzgerald. Tim Coughlin was his name. If we had to take out Iraq to make sure something like that, or worse, never happened again, so be it. I knew the consequences. We have a soldier in our house. None of this was theoretical in my house.

But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th.

I have watched the President say the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war won’t be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can’t do on the ground and any commander who did not go along with the administration was sacked, and in some cases, maligned.

I watched and tried to justify the looting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I watched and tried to justify the dismantling of the entire Iraqi army. I tired to explain the complexities of building a functional new Iraqi army. I urged patience when no WMDs were found. Then the Vice President told us we were in the “waning days of the insurgency.” And I started wincing again. The President says we have to stay the course but what if it’s the wrong course?

It was the wrong course. All of it was wrong. We are not on the road to victory. We’re about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear armed Iran in our wake. Bali was bombed. Madrid was bombed. London was bombed. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It’s unspeakable. The liberal media didn’t create this reality, bad policy did.

Most historians believe it takes 30-50 years before we get a reasonably accurate take on a President’s place in history. So, maybe 50 years from now Iraq will be a peaceful member of the brotherhood of nations and George W. Bush will be celebrated as a visionary genius.

But we don’t live fifty years in the future. We live now. We have to make public policy decisions now. We have to live with the consequences of the votes we cast and the leaders we chose now.

After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I’ve reached the conclusion he’s either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both.

Presidential failures. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Warren Harding-— the competition is fierce for the worst of the worst. Still, the damage this President has done is enormous. It will take decades to undo, and that’s assuming we do everything right from now on. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments.

And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let’s talk for a minute about President Bush’s domestic record. Yes, he cut taxes. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public’s money. We’re drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren’s credit cards. Whatever happened to the party of fiscal responsibility?

Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. He lied to the country about its true cost. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry. It helps nobody except the multinationals that lobbied for it. So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, or environmental protection, and/or worker’s rights.

I’ve talked so often about the border issue, I won’t bore you with a rehash. It’s enough to say this President has been a catastrophe for the wages of working people; he’s debased the work ethic itself. “Jobs Americans won’t do!” He doesn’t believe in the sovereign borders of the country he’s sworn to protect and defend. And his devotion to cheap labor for his corporate benefactors, along with his worship of multinational trade deals, makes an utter mockery of homeland security in a post 9-11 world. The President’s January 7th, 2004 speech on immigration, his first trial balloon on his guest worker scheme, was a deal breaker for me. I couldn’t and didn’t vote for him in 2004. And I’m glad I didn’t.

Katrina, Harriet Myers, The Dubai Port Deal, skyrocketing gas prices, shrinking wages for working people, staggering debt, astronomical foreign debt, outsourcing, open borders, contempt for the opinion of the American people, the war on science, media manipulation, faith based initives, a cavalier attitude toward fundamental freedoms-- this President has run the most arrogant and out-of-touch administration in my lifetime, perhaps, in any American’s lifetime.

You can make a case that Abraham Lincoln did what he had to do, the public be damned. If you roll the dice on your gut and you’re right, history remembers you well. But, when your gut led you from one business failure to another, when your gut told you to trade Sammy Sosa to the White Sox, and you use the same gut to send our sons and daughters to fight and die in a distraction from the real war on terror, then history will and should be unapologetic in its condemnation.

None of this, by the way, should be interpreted as an endorsement of the opposition party. The Democrats are equally bankrupt. This is the second crime of our age. Again, historically speaking, its times like these when America needs a vibrant opposition to check the power of a run-amuck majority party. It requires it. It doesn’t work without one. Like the high and low tides keep the oceans alive, a healthy, positive opposition offers a path back to the center where all healthy societies live.

Tragically, the Democrats have allowed crackpots, leftists and demagogic cowards to snipe from the sidelines while taking no responsibility for anything. In fairness, I don’t believe a Democrat president would have gone into Iraq. Unfortunately, I don’t know if President Gore would have gone into Afghanistan. And that’s one of the many problems with the Democrats.

The two party system has always been clumsy and imperfect, but it has only collapsed once, in the 1850s, and the result was civil war.

I believe, as I have said countless times, the two party system is on the brink of a second collapse. It’s currently running on spin, anger, revenge, and pots and pots and pots of money.

We’re being governed by paper-mache patriots; brightly painted red, white and blue, but hollow to the core. Both parties have mastered the cynical arts of media manipulation and fund raising. They’ve learned the lessons of Watergate and burn the tapes. They have learned to divide the nation for their own gain. They have demonstrated the willingness to exploit any tragedy for personal advantage. The contempt they have for the American people is without parallel.

This is painful to say, and I’m sure for many of you, painful to read. But it’s impossible to heal the country until we’re willing to acknowledge the truth no matter how painful. We have to wean ourselves off sugar coated partisan lies.

With a belated tip of the cap to Ralph Nader, the system is broken, so broken, it’s almost inevitable it pukes up the Al Gores and George W. Bushes. Where are the Trumans and the Eisenhowers? Where are the men and women of vision and accomplishment? Why do we have to settle for recycled hacks and malleable ciphers? Greatness is always rare, but is basic competence and simple honesty too much to ask?

It may be decades before we have the full picture of how paranoid and contemptuous this administration has been. And I am open to the possibility that I’m all wet about everything I’ve just said. But I’m putting it out there, because I have to call it as I see it, and this is how I see it today. I don’t say any of this lightly. I’ve thought about this for months and months. But eventually, the weight of evidence takes on a gravitational force of its own.

I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don’t believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we’re on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and it’s rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.

So, accept my apology for allowing partisanship to blind me to an obvious truth; our President is incapable of the tasks he is charged with. I almost feel sorry for him. He is clearly in over his head. Yet, he doesn’t generate the sympathy Warren Harding earned. Harding, a spectacular mediocrity, had the self-knowledge to tell any and all he shouldn’t be President. George W. Bush continues to act the part, but at this point whose buying the act?

Does this make me a waffler? A flip-flopper? Maybe, although I prefer to call it realism. And, for those of you who never supported Bush, its also fair to accuse me of kicking Bush while he’s down. After all, you were kicking him while he was up.

You were right, I was wrong.