- Hussam Ayloush
- 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
Thursday, November 23, 2006
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.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
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" email@example.com
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!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
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
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)
UCLA STUDENT STUNNED BY TASER PLANS SUIT
Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/06
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
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
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
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
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)
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
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."
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
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)