About Me

My photo
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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jews to Muslims: "We stand with you"

In response to this campaign, I state:
From a Muslim to my brave Jewish friends:

A sincere Thank You.
I would not have expected anything less than total compassion and fairness from those who genuinely follow the teachings of Judaism. We are all in it together.

Dear readers, below is the message from the webiste http://www.westandwithyou.org/; I also included some of the photos from it. Please visit the website to see all the photos with the touching comments.
Hussam Ayloush


Taking a stand against anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry

For more information, visit: http://www.westandwithyou.org/

In recent weeks, over 28 million copies of the virulently anti-Islam movie Obsession have been distributed to people across the country–including every pastor and rabbi in America; the words “Muslim” and “Arab” have become synonymous with “Terrorist”; and now many openly state that being a Muslim-American or Arab-American disqualifies one from holding elected office in this country.

A strong democracy requires a majority that stands up for the minority, refusing to remain silent when others fuel the fires of division and hatred. We are appalled by the recent escalation of demonizing attacks against Arabs and Muslims. These are attacks on people we are proud to call our neighbors, colleagues, loved ones and fellow citizens. As Jews and other people of faith, we know too well the price when others remain silent. To our Arab and Muslim friends, we say we stand with you.

As people committed to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians, just as we condemn Muslim extremists who demonize Jews or Christians, we also reject efforts by Christian and Jewish right-wing extremists to stigmatize all Arabs and Muslims in an effort to build support for unfair policies in the Middle East. It is in our interest as Jews, as Americans and as human beings to end Israel’s unlawful occupation of the Palestinians, and to fully recognize each other’s humanity, regardless of religion, skin color or ethnicity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

O My Lord Send Peace and Blessings Upon Your Beloved Prophet Muhammad

This Nasheed (song) is based on a poem, known as the Qasida Al-Burda, written by a Sufi poet in the 13th century AD.

What is better than praising our Creator and thanking Him for sending all those prophets and messengers to us for guidance.

All praises are owed to Allah for choosing Abraham (Ibrahim), Joseph (Yusuf), Moses (Musa), Jesus (Issa), and Muhammad (peace be upon them all), among many others, to teach us to be humble servants of Allah, compassionate, merciful, just, peaceful, loving, and forgiving.

This was not so random. As I was enjoying the birth of my new son Ali, I wanted to be thankful to Allah for my loving family and friends.

I then remembered that I am even more thankful that Allah has blessed me to follow and love Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than anyone else, including myself.

I can't imagine what kind of a person I owuld be without Prophet Muhammad.

Indeed, O my Lord send peace and blessings upon your beloved Prophet Muhammad.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kahanist Joe Kaufman wants to set the record straight

In response to a blog post that I wrote in Septemeber, anti-Muslim bigot Joe Kaufman sent me a response. The blog post he is replying to is:

Kahanist Joe Kaufman Slimes Muslim Kids

In his message, Kaufman asserts:
"This article is a lie. I have never been a follower of Meir Kahane. I had a link on my old personal political site to kahane.org a long time ago. I pulled down the link and issued a statement on the site apologizing for having the link there. I also wrote an article about Kahane's death. That's it..."

That's it?? Kaufman writes an article praising extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane and his anti-Arab racism, and all he can say is "that's it"? What's more to do short of joining his Jewish Defense League (designated as a terrorist group by the US) or his Kach Party in Israel (even Israel banned it and labeled it an anti-Arab racist party) and participate in its terrorist activities in person?

I am sorry Mr. Kaufman, praising racist Kahane in an article and providing a direct link to his website grants you the title of a Kahanist. Hey, don't blame me for it. The Italian proverb says:

"Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas."

Palestine before 1948

Why this video now? There is no special occasion. I just wanted to make sure that, in the midst of worrying about our economy, elections, civil rights, war in Iraq, and every important thing in life, we don't forget about the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants who continue to dream and wait to return to their own towns and villages.

U.N. Resolution 194 calls for the return of those refugees, but Israel has yet to comply with it. (Israel also ignores other UN Resolutions demanding an end of its occupation of the West Bank -including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights)

Realizing peace in that region will depend on Israel ending its occupation of Palestinian land and the return of the refugees.

How long is Israel going to hold the whole region, including its own citizens, hostage to its aggressive and apartheid policies?

Are there current Israeli leaders who are brave enough to start this process?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rabbi A. Waskow asks: Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America?

The "Obsession" film: Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America?

Said Colin Powell in a recent major interview, "The correct answer is, he [Obama] is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America."

Of course Colin Powell is only partly right. Fear and even hatred of Islam is a part of the actual America at this moment of our history. It is also true that in part of America there is a real effort of Muslims, Jews, and Christians to learn from each other, make peace with each other -- and beyond each other, make peace between humankind and the rest of the web of life upon our planet.

In the warp and woof of all our communities, whether defined, by "religion" or by "nation," there are some streaks of blood woven in the fabric. And -- there are some streaks of respect and compassion and celebration of the One Who encompasses all "others." Indeed, celebration of the One Whose infinitude can be reflected only through the diversity of our unique traditions. Whose Infinity can be honored only by honoring our differences.

Two parts of America. And, as usual, a third and larger part -- uncertain, silent, more willing to honor sameness than difference, yet open to seeing "sameness" in Muslims and Jews and Christians and Buddhists.

Powell was appealing within and beyond the actual America to that patriotic vision of America that sings, "O beautiful for patriots' dream that sees beyond the years/ Thine alabaster cities gleam --- undimmed by human tears." Now why did it take Colin Powell to say this? Why were not a slew of Senators, Presidential candidates, university presidents, heads of churches and synagogues, saying it?

Both a sweet and a sour way of answering that question occur to me.

Sour: Was it because he's a retired general who actually led a war against a Muslim nation, and a former Secretary of State who justified a war against a Muslim nation? -- so nobody could accuse him of being a "raghead-lover"? Because he's not running for elected office in a country where many voters think Muslims are traitors?

Sweet: Is he actually in the process of doing tshuvah ("turning," repentance)? Has he come to the conclusion that his complicity in the second of those wars was a profound ethical as well as practical mistake, and is he doing at least some repair of the bloodshed that flowed from that mistake -- some effort to prevent the blood that could yet flow from more fear and hatred of Islam?

There are related "Why's" we need to ask. Why didn't either Senator McCain or Senator Obama carry their campaigns into a mosque, after speaking at many synagogues and churches?

Why did Obama's campaign feel they needed to apologize for sending a speaker to a meeting where one of the sponsors was CAIR -- the Council on American-Islamic Relations? Evidently because CAIR is listed by the Ashford-Gonzales-Mukasy Department of Justice as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a case where a Muslim charity is accused of channeling money to an organization which is accused of assisting some terrorists.

Let us examine this "unindicted co-conspirator" business. The most clever -- and most disgusting -- thing about the label is that the Department of Justice can affix the label totally on its own. By definition, they have not even presented evidence to a grand jury that would justify indicting the organization on "probable cause," let alone taking the case to a jury that could convict or acquit. Indeed, since CAIR is not a defendant, it cannot even be acquitted --- although that did in fact happen to most of the people and groups whose actual indictment they got hooked onto. In that case, the government had years to amass the evidence they claimed showed support for terrorism. But a jury in Texas --- hardly a hotbed of pro-Muslim sentiment -- acquitted the defendants on almost all the charges, and was divided on a small number of them.

Indeed, an examination of CAIR'S website and a review of speakers at its national and local functions show that it condemns terrorism and participates with vigor in the normal processes of American democracy.

But the partially hung jury gave the government the opening to bring the case for retrial, and to keep alive the unsubstantiated smear against CAIR.

This is "Middle East McCarthyism." A candidate as brave and as principled as Colin Powell is evidently trying to be, in his present reincarnation, would have denounced it. But a candidate who is himself thought by 13% of Americans to be a secret Muslim, and therefore to be a traitor, evidently felt he could not be that brave and principled.

The atmosphere of fear and hatred toward Islam has actually increased in the US during the last few years. Why? Partly because it has been deliberately stimulated. But partly because of what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance." Most people who do something that runs against ordinary rules of decent behavior want to believe there is some extremely important reason to do it. So if you spend almost a trillion dollars and send thousands of Americans to their deaths and thousands more to lose their legs, arms, eyes, genitals, minds, and souls -- all in order to kill Muslims who are not terrorists, do not have weapons of mass destruction, and are citizens of a weak and defenseless nation -- it becomes imperative to see Muslims and Islam - without distinctions -- as extremely dangerous. Not quite human. Not real Americans. Not one more thread in the lovely multi-colored fabric of American democracy.

And of course the fear and rage had a root in the actions of a small number of terrorists who did claim Islam as their justification, even though the mainstream organizations and leaders of Islam and the vast majority of Muslims in the world condemned the terrorist attack.

But this disorganized fear and rage would have remained disorganized, inchoate, ineffective, if some organizations had not whipped it up.

Enter a DVD called "Obsession," which a month ago was mailed as a free embedded ad to the readers of more than a dozen major newspapers. At the time I briefly remarked upon its distortions and promised you a more through assessment. Then big chunks of the American and world economy fell apart, and my attention turned to what our ancient traditions teach about a flourishing abundance --- and its choke-off.

Yet these two phenomena are not totally disconnected. Organized hatred of Islam might have even worse results if we were to fall further into economic crisis. During the Great Depression, clever organizers tried to turn fear and anger away from the "malefactors of great wealth" and "economic royalists" (as Franklin Roosevelt called them) to focus instead on Jewish targets. That effort mushroomed in America. In Germany, it took over.

Today, in Europe and America it is much less likely that Jews would be the targets of a populace frightened and enraged by economic disaster, or the targets of organizations hoping to deflect anger from the hyper-wealthy.

Muslims might become the target of opportunity.

And just as anti-Jewish rage in the 1930s was a danger not only to Jews but also to all who affirmed a free democracy and sought to reempower the poor and the middle class, so widespread rage against Muslims today would be a danger not only to Muslims.

"Obsession" is an attempt to make not a band of terrorists but all Islam the enemy. Bad enough in itself; even worse that it was deliberately sent to millions of homes through newspapers in the major "swing states" of presidential politics. It was an attempt to transform religious fear and ignorance into religious hatred, and hatred into an election tool.

I suppose the people who did this hoped that if they could change some votes in those key states they could save America and the world from leaders who were thoughtlessly "soft on terrorism" or "blind to the threat of Islam." They may even have thought not that their ends justified their means but that their ends and means were in ethical coherence. But those who stirred racial hatred in the 19650s and '60s thought they were saving America from the disaster of cultural "mongrelization" in a soup of racial inferiority. And the McCarthyists of the 1950s thought their stirring fear and hatred of "subversives" was saving America from the disaster of Communist espionage and take-over. And those who imprisoned Japanese-Americans in the 1940s thought they were saving America from the disaster of widespread sabotage. (All of these folks probably hoped to increase their own power as byproduct; but who doesn't?)

Indeed, their means and their ends did cohere. Repression born of fear will breed more repression born of hatred. There are two grounds to challenge their practices: the ground of caring for truth, and the ground of caring for love.

Truth first:

"Obsession" begins with images of buildings, cars, and American flags burning, bombs exploding. Over them run words that say the film is not about Islam as a whole but about some violent "radical" branches of Islam. The words are visible; but no voice says them. They are hard to absorb while the eye is following fire and maimed bodies. In my experience as a watcher, the words serve not as an authentic framing for what happens in the film, but as an excuse for what in fact becomes an attack on Islam as a whole. (About halfway through the film, the commentators stop referring to "radical Islam" and start referring simply to "Islam.")

The film never shows the millions of Muslims, leaders and grass-roots, who spoke their grief and horror at the World Trade Center murders. It does not show the meetings of Muslim scholars and teachers who issued fatwas (decrees) against killing civilians, or the work of Muslim organizations that not only called for dialogue but took part in it and patiently sent teachers to explain Islam to Jews and Christians. It does not show the work of Muslim charities trying to meet the needs of desperately poor families, of sick children, in countries as far-flung as Pakistan and Palestine.

When the film does show Muslims at prayer, it delivers the message that Muslims who become murderers are the same as those who pray -- rather than counterposing the hundreds of millions who pray with the hundreds who kill.

On the other side of the same coin, the film ignores violence perpetrated in the names of religious and nationalist ideals when they are committed by Jews, Christians, Hindus, Communists, patriotic Americans. I do not mean only such acts as blowing up the Federal building in Oklahoma City or killing 29 Muslims prostrate in prayer in the Tomb of Abraham or murdering hundreds of Irish folk because they espouse one wrong flavor or another of Christianity.

I mean also this: Killing thousands of civilians is mass murder whether it is done by turning a truck or a plane with no national flag upon it into a bomb ("terrorism"), or dropping bombs from airplanes with a national flag proudly painted on them ("war"). For an American president who proclaims himself a born-again Christian and depends on the political heft of millions of born-again Christians to kill at least 300,000 Iraqis smells to me as much of religious terrorism as does the murder of 3,000 people in the World Trade Center by a band that proclaimed itself devout Muslims.

"Obsession" does not address this tug toward violence as it infects all our communities. It pretends that only Islam is infected, and all Islam at that.

And by doing this, it distracts us from addressing the real changes we need to make to wash away the bloody streaks in each and all of our traditions.

It also distracts us from addressing the real local needs and frustrations and oppressions that actually provide the heat that boils over into violence. It treats varied movements and disorganized upsurges that use violence as if they were all part of the same "international Muslim conspiracy" (I am deliberately echoing a slogan from the 19th and 20th centuries directed against Jews) -- even when some of the attackers are Christians or secularists, even when most of the attacks are rooted in nationalism rather than Islam, even when some of the attacks are against foreign occupation troops rather than civilians, even when angry bands of unemployed, disaffected and uprooted young men who happen to come from Muslim families but have little interest in Islam smash and burn local stores as have their non-Muslim peers.

Just as Cold War ideology on both sides "justified" blood baths in Ukraine, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia as necessary to defeat the "capitalist conspiracy" without regard to the local needs and issues of the real live people, and "justified" blood baths in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Vietnam, and Cambodia as necessary to defeat the "communist conspiracy" without regard to the local needs and issues of the real live people, so "Obsession"'s ideology will make it impossible to address real needs, and beckons us all toward new bloodbaths in the place of necessary change.

Is there any truth at all in "Obsession"? Yes. We do need to be concerned about terrorism from any source, and even more so when it comes garbed in God. But there is too much falsity surrounding that spark of truth for us to trust "Obsession" as a teaching.

What to do?

Speak out against the obsessive fear of Islam. Speak out to highlight the most important line in Colin Powell's interview. Speak out to political candidates, urging them to speak in all sorts of houses of worship if they speak in any. Speak out to the publishers of the newspapers that carried "Obsession" as an ad, asking them whether a DVD about the "International Jewish Conspiracy" would have found so quick acceptance, no matter how much the money offered their shrinking bank accounts. Speak out to their editors and columnists as well, asking them to critically analyze the film. Since the producers of "Obsession" have announced a follow-up film called "Relentless," be proactive in addressing the future as well as the past.

Above all, do not leave the defense of Islam's dignity and honor to Muslims alone. Christians and Jews must make clear that their own celebration of the One affirms the diversity that alone can express the Infinite.

Ideally, speak out both in our different voices separately and in our different voices as a chorus: through interfaith committees where the medium becomes the message -- where calls for honoring all our traditions in the public sphere are modeled by honoring each other's wisdoms in our direct contact with each other. (For a multireligious effort to address "Obsession" see the work of Hate Hurts America at www.obsessionwithhate.com )

And listen -- to the real sorrows and angers of different communities in the world, Arab and Muslim and Hispanic and African and Mountain White in the American West and Appalachia. Listen with the ears of our hearts before responding, and then respond. Through action.

The speaking out and the listening, even beyond our concern with truth, must flow from our concern for love. For the love that all our traditions teach: love your neighbor as yourself. For the deep and loving understanding that the Quran teaches: God brought into the world different cultures and communities not for us to hate and despise each other but to lovingly know and deeply experience each other in our diversity.

With blessings of shalom, salaam, peace ---

to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA 19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

Manzanar Pilgrimage 2008 Trailer

Watch the first screening of the full (short) documentary at the CAIR-LA Banquet on November 1, 2008.
The documentary will remind you of an important part of our history, but more importantly, will inspire you to strive for fairness and equality toward all people, in America and beyond.

CAIR-LA Banquet info:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Video: Lessons from the African American Civil Rights Struggle - Khutba/Sermon

Friday Khutba (Sermon) by Hussam Ayloush at the Islamic Institute of Orange County - Masjid Omar AlFarouk on October 17, 2008.

The Khutba pointed to the lessons American Muslims can learn from the African American civil rights struggle. The Khutba also stressed the importance of civic engagement and political participation.

In the video, you can see Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the country's first elected Muslim member of Congress, who was visiting the area on that day. He later addressed the congregation and spoke on how critical it is for every citizen to vote and advance one's values and issues through political activism.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McCain camp silencing Muslim organizer?

I guess the story of the McCain Muslim campaign organizer challenging the anti-Muslim bigot at a rally was too good to be celebrated by the McCain campaign. I should have expected that.
Is the McCain campaign worried that such news might offend some of his Islamophobic supporters and cost him their votes?

The Huffington Post reports the following:

CNN host Rick Sanchez said he was "mystified" by a last minute decision by the McCain campaign to pull a Muslim grassroots organizer from appearing on his show.

The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been scheduled to appear on Sanchez's mid-day program after he was caught on video talking down an anti-Muslim protester outside a McCain rally in Woodbridge, Virginia. But, even after telling the network that an interview was "good to go," the McCain shop pulled Zubairi at the last minute, leaving Sanchez in limbo on live TV.

"Wouldn't you think they would have wanted him to come on?" the CNN host would later tell the Huffington Post. "What the guy did was courageous. I called him heroic. I'm mystified why they wouldn't embrace him for his actions. Maybe they didn't like the story, but I'll tell you. I thought it was presented it in a very transparent way, if anything I kind of gushed philosophically about how impressive and real his reaction was to the protester's hateful message. It seemed to show some of the best of McCain supporters, didn't it?"

Read full story

I confess, it is much easier to be a father than a mother!

Due to the early delivery, Arwa and the baby (Ali) are still in the hospital.
Ali is under medical observation and insha-Allah will be soon home.

I can't wait until Arwa is back home from the hospital too. I am going crazy playing her role at home. I have to admit, it is much easier being a father than a mother. No wonder Allah (God) has placed Paradise under the feet of mothers as a reward for their patience and tireless service for their children and family.

Here is what my typical day included:

- Cooking meals for the diver taste of each kid

- Doing the dishes

- Changing diapers for Safiyya (not the favorite item)

- Filling bottles with milk, juice, water, ... (leading to more diaper changing)

- Dropping off and picking up Aisha from school (waiting in looooong lines; someone has to solve this problem)

- Coordinating house cleaning up time for all the kids (good luck in that!!)

- Visiting Arwa and Ali in the hospital (then dealing with Safiyya running around the patients and doctors)

- Taking calls from the dozens of well wishers, friends and family. (Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the love, but it still takes time)

- Checking urgent work emails and calls (in 10 days, we have two important events, the CAIR-LA banquet and a major election!)

- Shopping for food (Man, I had no idea we consume so much food)

- Going over school stuff with Aisha and convincing the kids to go to be early

- Of course, I am not even listing all the things that went wrong, like the time I forgot the house key inside the house after we left. Or the time I took Safiyya without her shoes to visit at the hospital (could not come back to get the shoes because I did not have the key! Luckily we were able to take Arwa's key).

I am just going crazy. There is no way to catch up.

I am not sure how Arwa, and all mothers, do it every day. I am impressed. And I though my job was difficult. My day job is a piece of cake compared to being a full time mother.

If you don't believe me, try giving your wife a few days break and run the show with kids and the house.

We picked a name: Ali

Thank you to all those who called, emailed, and text messaged congratulating us for the new baby boy. Thanks to your prayers, Arwa and the baby are getting better. Al-Hamdulillah - All praises are due to Allah.

We finally picked a name; it is Ali.

Ali is so eager to meet his siblings (Omar, Marya, Aisha and Safiyya) that he decided to come out a month early.

We can't wait until he is home soon, insha-Allah (God willing).

Photo soon to be posted.

Makkah Al-Mukaramah in the year of 2010

Monday, October 20, 2008

Muslim McCain Fans Confront Intolerance At Rally

The McCain campaign must send a clear official message that it has zero tolerance for such anti-Muslim bigotry. Kudos to those brave McCain supporters who challenged that ignorant bigot.

New Baby Ayloush has arrived, a month early

Al-Hamdulillah. All praises are due to Allah (God Almighty).

At about 1 a.m. today, my wife Arwa and I were blessed with a new baby boy. Although the baby came a month earlier than his scheduled delivery day, Arwa and the baby are both in good condition. We are all filled with joy and thankfulness for this living miracle from Allah.

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

Due to the early and unexpected early delivery, neither my mom nor my mother-in-law arrived here. So I am going crazy caring for the other four kids by myself (well, with the help of the two older kids).

Meanwhile, the new baby is still without a name. Any suggestions?

To keep the pattern of names of close people to the Prophet Muhammad, the new name must be for one of the closest companions, such as Abu Bakr (that's a nick name) , Othman, Ali, Belal, Ammar, Suhaib, Salman
Publish Post
, Khaled, ...

Send your suggestions quickly. I have to fill out that form.

More updates to come.

Keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gen. Colin Powell Endorses Obama; challenges Islamophobia

I have to say that I have yet to come to terms with Colin Powell's loss of credibility due to his shameful role in the invasion of Iraq. Whether he was tricked by the neo-cons or he willingly chose to manipulate the world into supporting an immoral and illegal war, the fact is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as well as thousands of Americans have lost their lives; our world is polarized and its economy is destroyed; and we all certainly live in a more dangerous places.

Powell today endorsed Obama for President.

In all fairness, one has to commend Gen. Powell for his rational and fair position today against Islamophobia, especially in politics.

He chastised the Republican Party for smearing Muslims by attempting to portray Obama as un-American or un-patriotic. He said:

"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian," he said. "But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Powell charged that the Republican focus on William Ayers and Obama's religious affiliations were damaging America's image abroad.

Following the interview, Powell told reporters outside NBC's Washington studio:

"Those kinds of images going out on al Jazeera are killing us around the world," he said. "And we have got to say to the world, it doesn't make any difference who you are or what you are, if you're an American you're an American. And this business of, for example a congresswoman from Minnesota going around saying let's examine all congressmen to see who is pro America or not pro America, we have got to stop this kind of non-sense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and diversity. That really was driving me."

For a detailed analysis, read:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How Bush's war in Iraq Victimized Iraqis and Americans - A story about war, romance, and total loss

The Impact of War
From The Iraq War, A Troubled Romance In America

by Ivan Watson and Paxton Winters
NPR. Morning Edition, October 17, 2008

Munira Shahamorad was 20 years old and dressed head to toe in all-concealing black robes when she showed up at the gates of the U.S. Marine base in Fallujah, Iraq, looking for a job. She was desperate to escape her brother, who she says beat her and dragged her around by the hair...

The Americans gave the slender young woman from Fallujah a job as an interpreter and a room to live in. She earned $1,050 a month, more money than she had ever seen before. But she would never go home to see her family again. Signing on with the U.S. military could have meant a death sentence — probably in the form of an "honor killing" carried out by a male relative. To protect Shahamorad's identity, a U.S. officer gave her a nickname: Venus...

Shahamorad spent most of her salary on perfume, clothes and electronics sold at the base PX. She also started drinking alcohol, which was provided by other civilian contractors. It was on the base that Shahamorad first met the man who would one day become her husband, Sgt. Steve Campbell...

From Lovers To Husband-And-Wife

That was more then 3 years ago. After an unplanned pregnancy, Campbell's honorable discharge from the military and an arduous journey that left Shahamorad stranded in Turkey for nine months, the former Marine finally married his Iraqi Venus in Ozark, Mo...

Unemployed and with his wife pregnant with their second baby, the Iraq veteran began pawning off personal belongings and even selling blood to make ends meet...

Eventually, the young Iraqi mother found a bar where the manager didn't ask too many questions.

"The woman there, she said she don't need a waitress, she need a dancer," Shahamorad said. "I was like, 'Wow, dancer!' I used to do belly-dancing, you mean belly-dancing? I'll put my clothes on me, but she's like, 'No, it's different kind of dance.' "

It was a strip bar. That night, Shahamorad drummed up the courage to go on stage. She came home with $350 in her pocket.

The woman who couldn't even step outside her house in Fallujah without wearing a veil began pole-dancing — topless — under the strobe lights. None of the customers who buy her drinks and throw dollars onto the stage know that the performing Venus is Iraqi...

The work brought the young family much-needed money, but it strained what was already an often tempestuous relationship. The couple fought on almost a nightly basis...

One day, Campbell came home from his new job welding cars for $10 an hour and found his wife distressed and agitated, and his 1-year-old son, Bradley, covered with bruises...

On Thursday night, officials from the Department of Family Services took custody of both children from Campbell.

Read Full Story

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Misconceptions of Obama fuel Republican campaign - 13 Oct 08

Casey Kauffman of Aljazeera television talked to some Republican supporters after a rally by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, in Ohio.

Guess who do they describe as "anti-white", "negro", "Muslim", terrorist", ...?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Time for a joke: Has this happened to you?

Has This Happened To You?
(I can't take credit for this joke, but i thought that we can all use some laughs amidst all this election and economy craziness. Depending on who wins the election, we might not get a chance to laugh for another 8 years!)

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time.... I know where my watch is pal, where is yours?

2. People who are willing to get up to search the entire room for the T.V. remote because they refuse to walk to the T.V. and change the channel manually.

3. When people say "Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too" That's right! What good is cake if you can't eat it?

4. When people say "it's always the last place you look". Of course it is. Why would you keep looking after you've found it? Do people do this? Who and where are they?

5. When people say while watching a film "did you see that?". No, I paid $12 to come to the cinema and stare at the floor.

6. People who ask "Can I ask you a question?".... Didn't really give me a choice there, did ya sunshine?

7. When something is 'new and improved!', which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, so it couldn't be new.

8. When people say "life is short". What's up with that? Life is the longest thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's longer?

9. When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks "Has the bus come yet?". If the bus came would I be standing here?

Pastor at McCain Rally: God Must Ensure McCain Win

Pastor: God must ensure McCain win to ensure he is bigger god than other gods.

Wow. No comments.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Anti-Muslim Smear Machine Strikes Again?

By: Isabel Macdonald
Posted on: The Huffington Post

Excerpts from this good article:

In the midst of remarkably cynical election-time mud-slinging, the Obsession campaign is truly in a class of its own...

For the groups behind the film's distribution, the goal seems pretty clear: Scare the holy hell out of millions of voters in swing states about a possible Muslim takeover of the U.S. It's hard to see the targeting of electoral battlegrounds as anything other than an attempt to help John McCain get elected -- perhaps by capitalizing on the widespread whispering campaign that Obama is a "secret Muslim."

And one has to admit that the Obsession campaign's marketing plan has been quite slick...

There has really just been one small glitch in the plan: The public doesn't seem to be buying it. Newspapers that carried the DVD have faced floods of complaints from readers, and the past week has seen protests and press conferences denouncing the film.

The problem, it would appear, is that many readers simply do not accept the notion their newspaper should provide a cover for hate propaganda...

The public, it turns out, is a much a tougher sell than the corporate media. Major corporate media outlets have for years been citing the anti-Muslim pundits featured in Obsession as "experts."

For example: Steve Emerson has been invited regularly on NBC and described as an "anti-terror expert," despite the fact his research has been repudiated many times over. This is an "expert" who initially blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Middle Eastern terrorists, and who is now going around claiming that the Bush State Department is collaborating with extremists.

And then there's Daniel Pipes. While he's repeatedly been cited by the media as an "expert" on Islam and the Middle East, he has warned that "the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims" entail "true dangers" for American Jews...

Just a month before a critical election, there are no signs that the anti-Muslim mud-slinging campaign is going away. In fact, the secretive nonprofit called the Clarion Fund behind the Obsession campaign just came out with a brand new DVD, The Third Jihad, featuring Mark Steyn -- who, as FAIR's new report documents, has warned of the "demographic decline" posed by Europe's emerging Muslim population, and suggests there are lessons for Europeans in the Balkan example of ethnic cleansing.

You can read all about Emerson, Pipes and Steyn in a new report that's just been released called "Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation" . The report profiles 12 top anti-Muslim pundits, including prominent talk show hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

The media's long record of failing to challenge (and often enabling) anti-Muslim smears should leave us quite worried about how this final leg of election '08 will play out: Will the media continue to provide a platform to the anti-Muslim smear machine, or will they uphold standards of responsible journalism?

Irvine Muslim Candidate Receives Death Threat

Threat follows Islamophobic 'smear' by political opponent, Steven Choi

(ANAHEIM, CA, 10/10/08) The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) said today that a Muslim candidate for Irvine City Council reported receiving a phoned death threat after being “smeared” by a council member’s Islamophobic remarks.

This week, Irvine City Council candidate Todd Gallinger received an anonymous threat in which the caller reportedly said that he "read the article...about Todd being a born-again Muslim.” The Los Angeles Times reported that the caller said, "I want to cut off your head just like all the other Muslims deserve."
Gallinger is a Muslim attorney based in Irvine. The Irvine Police Department is investigating the alleged threat.

SEE: Muslim Candidate for Irvine City Council Gets Death Threat (Los Angeles Times)

The death threat came on the heels of an Islamophobic comment made by Irvine Council Member Stephen Choi, who allegedly attacked Gallinger's Muslim faith after an Irvine Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on September 19.

Those attending the forum reported that Choi called Gallinger "a born-again Muslim” and questioned if such a person is fit to represent the residents of Irvine. Choi also allegedly attacked Gallinger for his previous work with CAIR-LA. Gallinger represented CAIR-LA in two class action lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI relating to delayed background checks for naturalization applicants.

Following those remarks, CAIR-LA sent Choi a letter that read in part:

"...the safety of our staff, supporters, and any American Muslim may be endangered by those who take your words at face value. Had you contacted us, or any one of our 35 offices, we would have been more than happy to clarify our work and our mission."

Also today, CAIR’s Chicago chapter called on the FBI to investigate a recent incident of vandalism targeting a local mosque as a possible hate crime. CAIR is concerned that the level of anti-Muslim bias has been increased by the distribution of the anti-Muslim film “Obsession” to 28 million households in presidential election swing states nationwide.

SEE: Fox '24' Producer Pulls Endorsement of Anti-Muslim Film

The Muslim civil rights and advocacy group is urging Muslims nationwide to review security procedures using advice in CAIR’s "Muslim Community Safety Kit."

In September, CAIR released its annual report on the status of American Muslim civil rights. That report, called “Without Fear of Discrimination,” outlined 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2007.

To view the entire report, click here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Islamic Banks Withstand Mortgage Crisis

Islamic Banks Withstand Mortgage Crisis

MANAMA — Islamic banks have succeeded where all others have failed, withstanding the US subprime mortgage crisis which left global markets rattling.

"The Islamic bank has a fantastic year, the underlying trend of Islamic banking businesses within ABC is very good," a senior official of the Arab Banking Corporation told the Reuters Islamic Finance summit.

Duncan Smith, the head of the Corporation's Islamic operations, said a focus on regional business and efforts to ensure products complied with Shari`ah helped shield his unit from credit-market losses.

[My note: According to the Arab Banking Corporation, Mr. Duncan Smith who is quoted in the article left the bank some months ago]

The bank's 2007 earnings from conventional non-Islamic departments fell to $125 million from $202 million in 2006.

The ongoing American subprime mortgage crisis, which is making international headlines, was sparked off last year when a steep rise in the rate of foreclosures caused more than 100 lenders to fail or file for bankruptcy.

The crisis had a domino effect on the US economy and stock market, which in turn affected almost all stock markets worldwide as early as last month.

Global banks have written down more than $80 billion in credit market losses since October alone as defaults on subprime mortgages triggered a credit crisis that threatens to tip the US economy into recession.

None of Malaysia's Islamic banks have been hit by write-downs resulting from the crisis and the resulting global credit crunch, second finance minister Mohamed Nor Yakcop told the three-day summit in the Bahraini capital Manama.

He said holders of sukuk or Islamic bonds have been shielded from the worst effects of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Instead of interest, Islamic banks operate on the principle of sharing risk and reward among all parties in a business venture.

"Sukuk has now become a very popular product," said Nor Mohammad. (Reuters)

Economists say the global credit crunch triggered by the subprime crisis has spurred greater interest in Shari`ah-compliant financing.

"There is a feeling that the way Islamic finance is structured — the lack of freedom in leveraging, the need for real assets — that there will be some who will find Islamic financing interesting," said the Malaysian official.

He said interest in financial instruments that comply with Islamic prohibitions against investing in sectors such as alcohol, pornography and gambling was starting to emerge in China and South Korea.

"Sukuk has now become a very popular product," Mohamed Nor stressed, adding that officials from Hong Kong had consulted with Malaysia on Islamic finance.

Rasheed al-Maraj, the governor of Bahrain's Central Bank, believes the mortgage crisis could encourage weary investors to throw their weight behind Islamic assets and stocks given the collapse of Western asset prices.

"Maybe Islamic banking will be a safe bet for them," he said.

"I think opportunities exist in the United States and Europe as a result of this financial distress."

Giant banks like America's Citigroup, Britain's HSBC and Germany's Deutsche Bank recently launched Shari`ah-compliant branches.

A Deutsche Bank executive told Reuters that it was helping US and Canadian firms to sell Islamic bonds in Malaysia this year worth between $300-500 million in ringgit.

Having about 76 percent of the world's Islamic bonds, Malaysia has been promoting itself as a hub for Islamic finance but faces rivalry from neighboring Singapore and Brunei.

The Islamic banking industry, which began almost three decades ago, has made substantial growth and attracted the attention of investors and bankers across the world.

There are an estimated 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide whose assets are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2010.

Watch Ayloush's interview on this topic on FOX Business News

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Irvine Councilman Steven Choi resorts to anti-Muslim bigotry to defame opponent

Irvine council candidate ties opponent to 'dangerous' Islamic group
Muslim leaders decry Steven Choi's comments as 'insulting and false.'

IRVINE - An Irvine councilman has questioned his political opponent's work with what he called a "dangerous" Islamic advocacy group with alleged terrorist ties, drawing the ire of many in the local Muslim community who described the comments as divisive and false.

The comments by Councilman Steven Choi came at the close of a recent Chamber of Commerce election forum attended by the dozen candidates for Irvine office. Choi cautioned the audience of business and community leaders not to vote for a candidate who works for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – commonly known as CAIR – which he described as a "dangerous and Islamic organization."

[my notes: Such typical defamatory comments are driven by Choi's shameful Islamophobia or desperate desire to win the election at any cost. Accusing CAIR of being a dangerous organization is ridiculous. CAIR is highly praised by various government officials for the work it does in defending our country's national security. CAIR offices across the country are involved in offering cultural diversity training to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure a stronger partnership with the American Muslim community. Read: What they say aboutCAIR ]

Supporters say the high-profile Muslim advocacy group helps spread understanding of Islam and protection of civil liberties. But critics of the group question its funding and political agenda, claiming that it is linked to terrorist groups.

While Choi did not identify the candidate by name, the barb was clearly directed at Todd Gallinger, a lawyer and born-again Muslim who has represented CAIR in several class-action lawsuits. Gallinger is a member of the Keep Irvine Safe political slate with Councilman Sukhee Kang, Mayor Beth Krom and Councilman Larry Agran.

"Obviously it's just slimy political tactics," Gallinger said. "It's an attempt to play on xenophobia and fear."

Choi said his comments were directed specifically at CAIR, not at the Muslim community.

"I just don't want to make a big deal out of it. It went out of proportion," Choi said. "I did not even mention the candidate's name, but I wanted to bring up the fact there is a candidate who works at CAIR. Looking back I should have stopped there."

CAIR leaders have demanded an apology from Choi, describing his comments as "not only insulting and false, but also tantamount to public defamation." In a letter to the councilman, Hussam Ayloush, executive director CAIR's greater Los Angeles area chapter, described the group as the "largest American Muslim advocacy organization," claiming it has "unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism."

"CAIR is a huge organization with literally thousands of members and volunteers. An organization is not judged by the wrong behavior of a person (that) goes against the policies of the organization," Ayloush said. "We don't practice guilt by association here."

CAIR detractors have risen to Choi's defense, accusing the organization of backing an extreme Islamic political agenda, pointing out that several individuals with ties to the group have been convicted or deported for their connections to terrorist groups.

[my notes: Another smear and create fear tactic usually thrown against every Muslim organization that dares to criticize this administration's neo-con policies or Israel's brutal occupation and practices. CAIR's unequivocal condemnation of all acts of terror, regardless of the perpetrators' religious affiliation, is a well documented fact. Such a principled stance derives from our Islamic teachings which promote justice and respect for human dignity and sanctity of life. Read: CAIR and Muslim response to terrorism ]

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine in a blog entry last week wrote that while he had "no doubt that the local chapter of CAIR is filled with many caring people and diligent citizens," he also had "no doubt that CAIR has had its share of members who have supported terrorism and have raised money for terror."

[my notes: Total nonsense and nothing short of bigotry. But again, Chuck DeVore will always be Chuck DeVore. One has to consider the source.
So if one of CAIR's hundreds of thousands of members and supporters is guilty of a crime, the whole organization should be held responsible? By Chuck DeVore's logic (or lack of it), every Republican including DeVore himself must be immoral and guilty since they all belong to the same Republican Party of Randy "Duke" Cunningham (guilty of taking bribes), Jack Abramoff (corrupt lobbyist guilty of corruption and who is associated with most local Republican members of Congress), and of course Senator Larry Craig among many others). This is total nonsense that aims to stoke anti-Muslim paranoia in order to gain a few right-wing votes]

Islamic Center of Irvine President Issa Edah-Tally said he is willing to mediate a meeting between Choi and CAIR. The Islamic Center works with CAIR often, Edah-Tally said, which he described as "in no way a dangerous organization."

"I was shocked to hear that a council candidate made those comments," Edah-Tally said. "I can see how this can create waves of division in the community,"

Choi said he does not plan to meet with CAIR, and does not believe an apology is warranted.

"If anyone has to apologize, it is them for publicly defaming my name," Choi said.

Pat Rodgers, Choi's political ally who is also running for council, defended his criticism of CAIR, who he claimed had taken a non-issue and "thrown gasoline on the fire."

"This thing is not about being a Muslim," Rodgers said. "If you align yourself with an organization like that, you need to prepare yourself for a backlash."

The local political squabbling mirrors the national debate that has unfolded over the past few years between CAIR supporters and critics.

The controversy surrounding CAIR forced Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2006 to revoke a certificate of appreciation to a CAIR representative after being targeted by online critics.

[my notes: Read the full details of this story: Boxer gives in to Islamophobia ]

That same year, former state Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel accused Anaheim City Council candidate Bill Daleti of holding "extremist" views, partly due to his support of CAIR. Dalati, who responded by switching from the Republican to Democratic Party, was unsuccessful in his bid for Anaheim City Council.

[my notes: No matter where their political views might be or which political party they belong to, I am confident that the residents of Irvine will continue to refuse the politics of fear mongering and bigotry. Irvine has been a model city in promoting harmony, respect, and tolerance. It will continue to be so.]

Helping with national voter registration drive

Inland Muslims sign on to nationwide voter registration push
The Press-Enterprise

Hanna Shafik has been a U.S. citizen for 13 years. The Egyptian-born woman always meant to register to vote but didn't do so until Wednesday, when she spotted a voter-registration table at the Ontario Convention Center after leaving prayers for Eid ul-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"People need to know that we have rights too, that they can't ignore us," Shafik, 38, said after filling out a registration form.

Voter-registration tables were set up across the country outside Eid prayers as part of a Council on American-Islamic Relations effort to increase Muslim voter turnout.

At the table in Ontario on Wednesday, a CAIR poster had a list of concerns for many Muslims, such as: "Why do they link Islam with Fascism?" "How can I protect the rights of immigrants?" and "Why do they harass us at the airport?"

"If you don't vote, don't complain," the poster concludes.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's southern California office, said he believes Muslims are upset at being used as political punching bags in campaigns, especially by Republicans.

"Muslims are saying enough is enough," he said. "We demand to not be treated as second-class citizens anymore. They're going to respond to the rhetoric with their votes. They understand that's how it works in this country."

At Ayloush's mosque, the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, voter-registration tables have been set up outside Friday prayer services for the past several weeks.

In Ontario on Wednesday morning, Roya Eshanzada, of Fontana, was filling out a registration form because she had recently moved. Eshanzada said most issues that Muslims care about are the same ones that any voter considers, such as the economy and the Iraq war.

Eshanzada said she is planning to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president, despite concerns by some Muslims that he has not stood up forcefully enough to defend Islam amid false rumors that he is a Muslim. "I can't blame him" for not more strongly and frequently defending Muslims, she said. "I think he's afraid to cross that line because he'd be attacked. Muslims are seen so negatively in the media."

Obama is a Christian but his stepfather and paternal grandfather were Muslims, and he spent part of his childhood in the world's largest Muslim country, Indonesia.

A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that 13 percent of voters believe that Obama is a Muslim, and that those who believed the rumors were less likely to vote for the Illinois Democrat. A 2007 Pew poll revealed that 45 percent of Americans were less likely to vote for a Muslim presidential candidate.

Shamel Shafik, the husband of Hanna Shafik, blames some supporters of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain for spreading the rumors and, in his opinion, defaming Islam. He also blames Obama for not talking about his Muslim ancestors and more strongly speaking out against anti-Muslim prejudice.

"Neither has reached out to Muslims," the Claremont resident said.

Shafik, 49, has not decided who to vote for, but he said that if either candidate were to visit a mosque or a Muslim event, that would swing his vote. It would show that the candidate recognizes Muslims as an important part of U.S. society, he said.

"As citizens, we are loyal to this country," Shafik said. "We have our kids in the schools, we have our businesses, we are part of the community here. We are not visitors here. This is our land, and this is the future for our kids. We need to express our voices."

Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or dolson@PE.com