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, September 29, 2007

Local imams devote their sermon to a message of peace, harmony

PRAYERS FOR PEACE: Adeel Khan, visiting family in Irvine from Manchester, U.K., prays after a sermon by Imam Sadullah Khan at the Islamic Center of Irvine.

PEACEFUL SERMON: Imam Sadullah Khan gives a sermon condemning terror and stressing the sanctity of life and moral opposition to violence, at the Islamic Center of Irvine Friday.

PRAYERS FOR PEACE: A mosque member prays before a sermon.

DEEP IN THOUGHT: Mohammed Elfarooqui, of Irvine,
listens to a sermon by Imam Sadullah Khan at the Islamic Center of Irvine Friday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Local Muslims offer prayers for Ramadan
A local imam devotes his sermon to a message of peace, harmony.

GARDEN GROVE - Imam Muzammil Siddiqi thought it would be a good time to reiterate his message of peace and tolerance.

As hundreds gathered Friday at the Islamic Center of Orange County in observance of the holy month of Ramadan, Siddiqi devoted his sermon to taking a stand against violence and promoting human values.

"My message is that Islam is the religion of peace," he said before the service. "Islam is the religion of harmony, tolerance and justice for all people."

Likewise, members of the Islamic Center of Irvine heard a similar sermon condemning terrorism and violence during a time when public perception of Islam has faltered. The services in Garden Grove and Irvine were part of a collective effort to promote good will and quash some of the misperceptions about Muslims.

"Ramadan is a time of virtues," Siddiqi said in his sermon. "It is also a time to reflect on the problems of the day. The world is facing grave problems of injustice, greed, moral decay, violence and wars."

Munira Syeda of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Friday's sermons were part of an effort to bring mosques and organizations together to promote a united message.

"This is something that mosques have done individually over the years," Syeda said.

However, individual stances against violence have largely been ignored as the general public believes that mosques are breeding grounds for terrorism, she said.

A recent study on religion and public life by the Pew Research Center indicated that attitudes about Muslims and Islam have deteriorated. Research revealed that 45 percent of those surveyed believed Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions.

"Some Muslims are abusing Islam by doing acts of violence, fortunately not in this country, but elsewhere in the world," Siddiqi said. "Because of that, people have problems and are generalizing Islam."

Kamal Famsa, 40, of Huntington Beach, who attended the service in Garden Grove, said American views of Muslims shifted drastically after Sept. 11. Though he never experienced the backlash that some Muslims endured, Famsa said he did notice a palpable change.

"Considering what happened, it's a normal reaction," said Famsa, who emigrated from Syria 22 years ago. "I think 9/11 was so drastic that I can see people going into this anger. I am disappointed that after the initial shock is over … people still have blind hatred towards Islam."

Contact the writer: 714-704-3788 or epak@ocregister.com

Rep. King: "Too Many Mosques in This Country."

Rep. King, what's your Final Solution to the Muslim problem?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rep. Ellison Slams King’s Anti-Muslim Comment

Barbara Ferguson, Arab News

WASHINGTON, 23 September 2007 — Rep. Keith Ellison, the first US Muslim Congressman, reacted strongly to this week’s statement by his Republican counterpart, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who said in an interview last week that there are “too many” mosques in the United States and urged a more aggressive law enforcement approach toward them...

Ellison was attending an Iftar held at the Council on American Islamic Relations on Thursday in honor of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who was in Washington meeting with lawmakers in Congress before traveling to New York where he will speak at the United Nations.

“Rep. King’s remarks that there “are too many mosques in the US” cuts into the basis of the US Constitution, which guarantees all Americans freedom of their religion,” Ellison told Arab News...

In the US, you can practice any religion you want. This is guaranteed by both the Constitution and the 1st Amendment,” said Ellison, 44, following prayers and Iftar at CAIR’s Washington headquarters.

“While we have some people in Congress who make offensive comments, it is important for us, as Muslims, to lift the level of debate, and demonstrate the true character of Islam,” said Ellison.

“The comment by Rep. King was surely heard throughout the Muslim world, and I think it undermines our national security because it gives people who are really hostile to the US — terrorists and murders — recruiting tools.”

Ellison, who converted from Catholicism to Sunni Islam at age nineteen, while attending university, said: “There is nothing about Islam that should be associated with terrorism, and nothing about terrorism that should be association with Islam.

“The US has the right to defend itself, but not to insult Muslims. This statement by Rep. King is insulting to all Muslims, and also to all people who believe in religious pluralism, the Jeffersonian tradition and those that support tolerance.”

Asked if people were tolerant to him, the first Muslim congressman, Ellison said: “People here have been overwhelmingly tolerant of me.”

Then returning to King, he said: “Please tell your readers that Rep. King represents a very small minority view, but — because his comments were so inflammatory — they get a lot of attention.

“Just as we [Muslims] don’t want to be judged by the actions of a small [extremist] minority, I ask the Muslim world not to judge Congress by the remarks of one congressman.”...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The "King" of bigotry

A DNC Statement

DNC Condemns Congressman Peter King's Comments and Calls on Rudy Giuliani to Fire His Homeland Security Adviser

Washington, DC - The Democratic National Committee today condemned Peter King's statement that there are "too many mosques in this country," and called on Rudy Giuliani to fire King as his homeland security adviser. King is on Giuliani's Homeland Security Advisory Board and according to the New York Post is a "top adviser".

"Congressman King's comments are deplorable and he should apologize immediately. This type of bigoted language has no place in public discourse, especially from the Republican's top lawmaker on the House Homeland Security Committee," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton.

"Will Rudy Giuliani denounce Peter King's comments and fire King as his homeland security adviser? Given Rudy's history of using divisive tactics, he shouldn't be placing his trust in an adviser who seems to think an individual's religion is the problem with our homeland security. Scapegoating a group of Americans to win elections is an ugly Republican campaign tactic Americans have already rejected. Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. Religious profiling and discrimination have no place in our country."

Peter King Is A Member Of Giuliani's Presidential Campaign. Peter King is on Giuliani's Homeland Security Advisory Board. The New York Post described King as a top advisor to Rudy Giuliani. King endorsed Giulianis presidential bid in January 2007. [JoinRudy2008.com, , 09/04/07; New York Post, 09/05/07; Newsday (New York), 1/30/07]

Republican Rep. Peter King Tells The Politico There Are "Too Many Mosques in This Country." New York Rep. Peter King, a prominent House Republican, said there are "too many mosques in this country" in a recent interview with Politico. "There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam," King said. "We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them." [Politco.com, 9/19/07]

To watch the King interview go to:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Corona Muslim leaders in suit against government

The Press-Enterprise

Islamic leaders and local Muslim residents sued Tuesday to find out if federal investigators are monitoring them.

The lawsuit filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union accuses the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI of essentially ignoring public records requests for information about the surveillance of prominent Muslims.

A year after the request was filed, the government produced only four pages of documents, three of them concerning an interview the FBI had with a Corona official of an Inland Muslims group.

The Corona resident, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, said the interview was about improving relations between the FBI and the Muslim community.

Ayloush is one of two Corona residents who are plaintiffs in the suit. The other is Rafe Husain, former president and board member of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco...

Reached by phone Tuesday, Ayloush said he has reason to think the FBI is holding back...

"I hope there is not more, but there must be something more to explain why I always get stopped in airports," Ayloush said. "It has happened eight times now, and I am either being stopped for the fact that I am a Muslim which is morally and ethically reprehensible, or the other reason is that some government agency might have some erroneous information about me.

"The only way for me to clear it up is with this Freedom of Information Act request."...

Read entire article at:
Corona Muslim leaders in suit against government (Press Enterprise)

Also, read:
Southland Muslim leaders contend the agency withheld information about alleged surveillance after the 9/11 attacks. (Los Angeles Times)

Hussam Ayloush Sues FBI Over Records

Muslim Groups Sue FBI Over Records

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Advocacy groups sued the FBI and the Department of Justice on Tuesday for failing to turn over records they requested on surveillance in the Muslim-American community.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Muslim groups, alleges that the FBI has turned over only four pages of documents to community leaders, despite a Freedom of Information Act request filed more than a year ago. The documents were not related to surveillance.

The request sought records that described FBI guidelines and policies for surveillance and investigation of Muslim religious organizations, as well as specific information about FBI inquiries targeting 11 groups or people.

The lawsuit states that all the plaintiffs — who include some of the most prominent Muslim leaders in California — have reason to believe they have been investigated by the FBI since January 2001.

"It sends a message that Muslim-Americans have been, and continue to be, cooperating with law enforcement, but they're concerned there might be a disproportionate focus ... on their religious practices," said ACLU attorney Ranjana Natarajan.

One plaintiff, Shakeel Syed, said that his organization and others have spent three years building a relationship with the FBI but that the agency's resistance to the request was troubling.

"I think it is in the best interests of the government to come clean and be transparent and forthright," said Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. "This is a credibility issue."

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said she could not comment on pending litigation but released a statement from J. Stephen Tidwell, the FBI's assistant director in charge for Los Angeles.

"The FBI does not investigate individuals or groups based on their lawful activities, religious or political beliefs," Tidwell said.

A message left for the Department of Justice after business hours was not returned.

The groups filed an initial FOIA request in May 2006, several months after federal law enforcement officials confirmed the existence of a classified radiation monitoring program used in surveillance at mosques, homes and businesses. At its peak, the secret program tested the air around 120 sites a day for signs of radiation that could be linked to terrorism.

The FBI responded to the request first by saying it couldn't identify any records that met the criteria requested. After an appeal, the agency turned over four pages that dealt with the Council of American-Islamic Relations and Hussam Ayloush, the council's executive director for Southern California.

Those documents dealt with a suspected hate crime at a mosque that the council had reported to the FBI and a conversation Ayloush had with an FBI agent about cooperating with federal law enforcers, Natarajan said.

She said she believes there are many more records because each plaintiff has been interviewed by the FBI or stopped at airports for questioning. The FBI, in its responses, indicted it searched only files that hold information on active criminal investigations instead of more general files that could encompass surveillance activities, she said.

Ayloush, who said he is questioned by federal agents every time he flies internationally, said he had hoped the FOIA request would help him determine why he is stopped.

"Either ... we're being stopped because we're Muslims — which is morally wrong — or that the government must have some erroneous info linked to me that I need to be able to clear," he said.
The government has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan To Begin Wednesday Night

Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan To Begin Wednesday Night

(CBS) LOS ANGELES Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown Wednesday night, coinciding for the third year in a row with Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

The relatively unusual calendar occurrence is being used by religious leaders to urge two communities often at odds as a result of six decades of Arab-Israeli strife to come together.

"With Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah falling around the same time this year, Muslims, Jews and other Americans will have an opportunity once again to involve in spiritual reflection and renewal, and learn about each other's faith and traditions," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director for the Greater Los Angeles Area of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Rabbi Jim Kaufman of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village echoed that sentiment, telling the Daily News: "This is an opportunity for moderate-thinking Jews and moderate-thinking Muslims to celebrate their respective faiths and respect the paths of God that others have chosen."

Along with prayers at temples and synagogues, large Islamic centers and mosques, Jews and Muslims are called on to devote the next several days to introspection, generosity, forgiveness and personal renewal.

Rosh Hashanah, which will usher in the year 5768 on the Jewish calendar, starts at sundown Wednesday night with the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn, in synagogues. The two-day holiday marks the start of a period of penitence and contemplation leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most solemn and somber day on the Jewish calendar.

Jews believe that God records the fate of humankind in the Book of Life during the period of the High Holy Days. On Yom Kippur, Jews fast, attend religious services, atone for past sins, seek forgiveness from those they've wronged and resolve not to repeat their transgressions.

Though this is the third year in a row when Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan coincide, it is a relatively rare occurrence, given the difference in the lunar calendars followed by Jews and Muslims.

The observance of Ramadan is one of the five major tenets of Islam and can only begin after the new moon is sighted by special Islamic committees in London and the Middle East. Muslim leaders worldwide disagree on how to respond to the sightings of special committees, so Muslims around the world start the holy month on different days.

Many Islamic communities will start Ramadan Wednesday night, with Muslims in other areas starting the month of fasting Thursday night.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslim tradition commands a fast during the daylight hours. During the day, no eating, drinking or sexual activity is allowed. Muslims break the fast at sunset, usually by eating dates and drinking water or juice. This is followed by an after-sunset prayer and a complete meal.

(© 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. )

Ayloush comments on ADL's smear tactics

CAIR slams ADL for ‘smear tactics’
By InFocus Staff

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In an open letter addressed to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading Jewish advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group accused the ADL of contributing to growing Islamophobia in American society by using “smears and exclusionary tactics” in its latest attack on the due process of a group of American Muslims.

According to CAIR, those smears appeared in a recent ADL news release targeting members of a coalition defending the legal rights of officials of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Muslim charity currently on trial in Texas.

Abrahim Foxman, director of ADL.

CAIR alleged the ADL falsely claimed in its release that members of the coalition ave been “tainted by their own murky associations with radical organizations and individuals.”

CAIR officials denounced the accusations.

“It is regrettable that the Anti-Defamation League, which claims to defend American civil liberties, would seek to exploit the growing level of Islamophobia in our society by using the same smears and exclusionary tactics that have in the past been used by anti-Semites to target the Jewish Community,” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR National, told InFocus.

In its Aug. 21, 2007, press release, ADL stated, “If CAIR truly repudiates acts of terror and murder, we would welcome a simple declaratory statement that no cause, no matter how just it may be, justifies the use of suicide killers, rockets or other means to target civilians.”

Hooper accused the ADL of attempting to muzzle the First Amendment rights of American Muslims by smearing and demonizing them. Ibrahim Hooper, communications director CAIR National.

In its Aug. 29, 2007, open letter responding to the ADL’s release, CAIR’s National Chairman Parvez Ahmed and National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
“A little research would have revealed a CAIR-coordinated 2005 fatwa, or Islamic juristic opinion, that states in part: ‘All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. It is haram [forbidden] for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.’
“Also, our 2004 ‘Not in the Name of Islam’ online petition states: ‘No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam.’”

Hooper also accused the ADL of being “shamefully hypocritical” on the issue of terrorism.

“CAIR and other American Muslim organizations have consistently condemned terrorism, including attacks on Israeli civilians,” he said, pointing out that “the ADL has remained silent about the abuses suffered by the Palestinian people under occupation.”

Hooper also said CAIR has repeatedly called for a peaceful and just resolution to the Middle East conflict that took into account the rights and responsibilities of all parties.

“For too long, the ADL has allowed its blind support for Israel’s brutal policies toward the Palestinians and its zero-sum approach to public debate on the Middle East conflict to unnecessarily poison relations between the Jewish and American Muslim communities,” he said.

The ADL denied the charges, and said the organization supported the civil rights of all in this country, including Muslims.

But CAIR’s open letter also outlined the ADL’s record of anti-Muslim and anti-civil rights behavior during the course of the past 10 years, including a 1999 monetary settlement of 1993 lawsuit that accused the ADL of spying on the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and anti-Apartheid groups.

“The ADL has a history of seeking to marginalize and disenfranchise American Muslims in an attempt to stifle an alternative viewpoint on U.S. policy in the Middle East,” the open letter stated.

An example of that, according to the letter, was a 2004 incident when the ADL was forced to issue an apology for remarks in another news release that seemed to link the Islamic declaration of faith, or ‘shahada,’ with terrorism.

That news release, distributed by the ADL’s Orange County/Long Beach Regional Office, referred to the shahada as an ”expression of hate” that is ‘closely identified’ with terrorism and is ‘offensive to Jewish students.’

The ADL’s press release added that CAIR can “never be fully accepted in the Jewish community” until it condemns groups which aim to kill Jews and destroy Israel.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles Area office responded that “neither CAIR nor any American Muslim organization needed the ADL’s blessings to be accepted by the Jewish community.”
Ayloush added, “CAIR is proud of its work and associations with many in the Jewish community and with many American Jewish organizations. As for ADL and other extremist groups, we are glad not to be accepted by those who do not respect our religion or our community.”

The CAIR open letter quoted Shalom Center Director Rabbi Arthur Waskow (described by the Jewish Forward as one of the 50 most influential American Jews today) who wrote, after speaking a CAIR dinner: “Far from showing irreparable conflict between the Jewish community and CAIR, in fact the dinner showed that a seriously peace-committed part of the Jewish community can work with a seriously peace-committed part of the Muslim community, despite the existence of some violence-supportive people in both communities. That is the truthful and the important story.”

The open letter also quoted Rabbi Jeff Sultar of Mishkan Shalom in Pennsylvania who said: “We are inspired by the interfaith work that CAIR does, which serves to make all communities of faith stronger, and helps to address a serious gap in the understanding of Islam in the United States.”

Other American Muslim leaders expressed disappointment with ADL’s attempts to defame and marginalize the American Muslim community.

In an interview with InFocus, Shaikh Yassir Fazaga, Imam of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, Calif., and a prominent national Muslim leader, expressed hope that, considering the history of abuse faced by the Jewish community in Europe, this community will be alert not to allow any group to falsely use its name to victimize Muslims or others.

“The Muslim community has long realized that the Jewish community is not ADL and the ADL is not the Jewish community,” he said. “Over the years, we have managed to build friendships and cooperation with many in the Jewish community without having to go through ADL.”

“ADL seems focused on foreign issues, mainly Israel and its image. Local Muslims and Jews realize that we need not agree on foreign policy matters, but we can still cooperate on the many issues of common concern,” he added.

“Muslims get their inspiration from both the golden age of Islam and Judaism, in Andalusia, when both groups were tolerant of each other. This is what we long for now, but the current behavior of groups like ADL makes things like these unattainable,” Fazaga concluded.

CAIR representatives, however, opened the door for dialogue.

“If the ADL stops promoting noted Islamophobes and affirms the right of Americans to criticize the policies of any foreign country, including but not limited to Israel, without being demonized, then CAIR will welcome any opportunity to enter into dialogue,” stated the open letter.

CAIR leaders told InFocus that with the onset of the holy seasons of Ramadan and Tisheri, American Muslims and Jews should work together and engage in dialogue for peace and justice around the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Karen Dabdoub: 9-11

From the Blog of Karen Dabdoub
Karen Dabdoub is the Executive Director of the Cincinnati office of CAIR-Ohio

Today is 9-11-07. What does that mean to me? On that awful day six years ago I was working at a local mosque and I spent the day in tears as hateful phone calls and death threats continued to heap on me the hatefulness and fear of some people. I also cried at the many expressions of love, support and offers of help that came in at 10 times the rate of the hate. So every year since then I have spent 9-11 participating in Peace Walks that have included people and places of worship from many different faiths, walking for peace, talking about peace, wishing, hoping and praying for peace in our world.

Well, all those wishes, hopes and prayers haven't been answered yet or have they? Just being with all the wonderful people who take the time and make the effort to publicly state that they want to live in a world of peace and that they are doing what they can to make it happen is a wonderful thing. That's probably all that most of us can do. And now I think I have graduated to a new level.

What did I do to commemorate 9-11 this year? On 9-8 I spoke at a Women's Spirituality Conference to a group of about 50, mostly Catholic, women and I shared with them my love of Islam and the very special ways that God loves us all. On 9-9 I walked in the local "Race for the Cure" to help support breast cancer research. In the afternoon I participated in a forum called "One Nation Under God: Religion, Government & Public Policy" that was organized by a local peace and justice group. A major theme of the discussion was how we live out our values personally and in our public institutions within a democracy. I ended the day by attending my Muslim, Jewish, Christian trialogue group where we discussed stereotypes of religions and a future trip to the Holy Land to explore the possibilities of peace there.

For me all these activities are ways in which I can try to live out my convictions and hopefully make my country a better place for all. This also gives me hope for the future of our country and our world. Our world is still a pretty scary place most days, but days filled with positive action are infinitely more worthwhile to me than a day filled only with reminders of what happened that awful day six years ago.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Progress in Iraq?

Thanks to MoveOn for this video.
Shame on us for being fooled, again and again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Planet of the Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, ...

In order to desensitize Germans over what the Nazis where about to do to Jews, Gypsies, the disabled and others, Nazis engaged in a concerted media campaign to demonize and dehumanize such people. Articles, cartoons, posters, and movies reinforced that hateful propaganda. When the time to implement the killings came, most people did not care about those victims anymore.

Many questions bother me. Where were the average people when they were being fed this virulent propaganda? Why no one objected? Did they really enjoy the vilification of other races, religions, and ethnicity? What if enough good Germans stood up and said no, could that have prevented the mass killings? Only Allah (God) knows.

What about the present day?
Which is the one group that Hollywood still enjoys demonizing? (so do right-wing politicians and extremist evangelicals; but that another story for another day)
Answer: Arabs and Muslims.

A study done by Professor Jack Shaheen and published in his book "Reel Bad Arabs" shows that out of 1000 films that have Arab & Muslim characters (from the year 1896 to 2000) 12 were positive depictions, 52 were even handed and the rest of the 900 and so were negative!

Watch this trailer-esque montage spectacle of Hollywood's relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. It is no wonder that no one cares when we hear about over 600,000 Iraqis who died due to our illegal invasion of Iraq or the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians killed, wounded, imprisoned, or ethnically cleansed by Israel.

The fact is that Hollywood has long worked on desensitizing Americans about anything Arab or Muslim. (As it did earlier, and many times today, for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and others...)

Is it possible for Hollywood to entertain without having to degrade others?

Planet of The Arabs

The film was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival 2005