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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey warns Israel over museum atop Muslim cemetery

Today's Zaman (A leading Turkish Newspaper)
November 27, 2008

[don't forget to sign the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/halt-construction-of-museum-on-muslim-cemetery.html ]
Turkey has warned Israel over plans for the construction of a museum in Jerusalem on a site that is now a Muslim cemetery in which companions of the Prophet Muhammad are buried.

A top Israeli court's recent ruling giving the go-ahead for the construction of the "Museum of Tolerance" has led to tension in the region and is likely to spark reaction from Muslims around the world.

Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy was recently summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where Turkish diplomats explained Ankara's stance on the issue, while Turkish Ambassador to Israel Namık Tan conveyed Ankara's uneasiness over the plan during a meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.

"Everyone should avoid actions that may lead to new tensions in the region," Levy was told at the meeting on Nov. 14, as the Turkish side underlined the delicacy of the Middle East peace process.

Ankara has been careful in its warning's wording due to its mediation efforts between Israel and Syria, sources said. "We have been following the issue very closely," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told reporters late on Tuesday...

Monday, November 24, 2008

CNN: U.S. Muslim leaders denounce al Qaeda's slur toward Obama

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Spiritual leaders of New York's African-American Muslim communities lashed out Friday at a purported al Qaeda message attacking President-elect Barack Obama and, using racist language, comparing him unfavorably to the late Malcolm X...

The al Qaeda statement, an 11-minute, 23-second audio message in Arabic with subtitles in English, appeared on the Internet on Wednesday. Its authenticity has not been confirmed.

The message said Obama represents the "direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X. Video Watch al Qaeda official criticize Obama »

The speaker also said Obama, former and current Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and "your likes" fit Malcolm X's description of "house slaves."

An English translation of the message used the term "house Negroes," Malcolm X's term for blacks who were subservient to whites. The term refers to slaves who worked in white masters' houses. Malcolm X said those slaves were docile compared with those who labored in the fields...

On Friday, Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, recalling Malcolm X's legacy, said that he "stood for human rights and the principle of self defense ... international law. He would have rejected, and we who are Muslim African-Americans leaders reject, acts of political extremism."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned Zawahiri's comments in a statement issued Thursday.

"As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith," the statement said. "We once again repudiate al Qaeda's actions, rhetoric and world view and re-state our condemnation of all forms of terrorism and religious extremism."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Israel pushes on with 'tolerance museum' on historic Muslim cemetery - 1 Nov 08

Take action:

Sign petition demanding an end to this intolerance

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Action Alert: Urge Wiesenthal Center not to build on Muslim cemetery



The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) is urging Americans of all faiths to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center and urge its officials to re-locate the ‘Museum of Tolerance’ it plans to build on the Ma’manullah (Mamilla) Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

According to historians, the planned museum site was once the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine. Companions of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Islamic jurists and scholars are said to be buried there.
On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Muslim and Jewish leaders sent a letter to the Wiesenthal Center stating:

"Building a “Museum of Tolerance” atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding, will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come…”

The letter was signed by CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs (Progressive Faith Foundation), Sydney Levy (Jewish Voice for Peace), and Rabbi Haim Beliak (Jews on First).

SEE: Full Text of Letter

Please see a fact sheet and additional resources on this issue after the following section.


1) Contact Rabbi Marvin Hier at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Please ask your family and friends to do the same.

Simon Wiesenthal Center
1399 South Roxbury Drive
Los Angeles, California 90035
Phone: 310-553-9036
800-900-9036 (toll-free from within the U.S.)
Fax: 310-553-4521
E-mail: avra@wiesenthal.com (Avra Shapiro,
Director of Public Relations); information@wiesenthal.net. Please copy CAIR-LA office at info@losangeles.cair.com.

Talking Points:

* In the spirit of cooperation and respect for all people and faiths, I urge you to halt the construction of the museum on top of the Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

* Relocating the museum site will help avoid fanning the flames of intolerance in that region.

* Building on a Muslim cemetery will adversely affect peacemaking efforts in the Middle East and harm Muslim-Jewish relations around the world.

2) Sign this online petition

3) Visit “Help the Peace Makers” Website and send a fax to Wiesenthal Center’s members of the board of trustees

4) Rabbis, Imams, and Pastors are encouraged to discuss, in their sermons/khutbahs, the damaging effects of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s plans to build the museum atop the Muslim cemetery and pray for peace and justice in Jerusalem and around the world.


1. Fact Sheet on the Controversy Around the Building of the 'Museum of Tolerance'

2. Resources on the Wiesenthal Center Construction Plan

Urge Wiesenthal Center to Halt Construction of Museum on Muslim Cemetery

Urge Wiesenthal Center to Halt Construction of Museum on Muslim Cemetery

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Museum of Tolerance" not so tolerant of Muslims nor their graves (including Prophet's Sahabas/companions)

It is hard to believe that an institution which claims to promote tolerance towards Jews and others would build a "museum of tolerance" on top of the location of a historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. The cemetery, called Ma'manullah or Mamilla, was one of the largest Muslim cemeteries in Palestine and was captured by the Israeli army in the 1948 war.

According to historians, the cemetery has over 15,000 graves, including those of Sahabas (companions) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as famous scholars and jurists from the past many centuries.

One must wonder how would the museum of tolerance react if some Muslim or Christian institution decides to forcibly build a museum or a theater on top of a Jewish holy site or an old Jewish cemetery? How would the world Jewish community feel if the graves of their leading scholars and rabbis of the last centuries were to be desecrated and disrespected by some insensitive group? Even as a non-Jew, I know that I would be horrified and I am certain that I will speak against such action.

Tolerance is not merely a slogan to raise, nor a fake title to give to a museum. Tolerance is a conviction, a genuine lifestyle, a practice, and set of actions that bring diverse people together in mutual respect and understanding.

Those whose hypocritical actions fan the flames of hatred, division, and bigotry should adopt a more accurate description for their true mission. Until it stops this insensitive and immoral action against 1.3 billion Muslims and our Islamic heritage, the Wiesenthal Center should more appropriately call its museum, the Museum of Intolerance, or the Museum of Selective Tolerance.

I commend and salute the true voices of the great Jewish faith who have vocally spoken against this injustice and aggression. Read more from a few of those courageous voices.
Richard Silverstein
Gershon Baskin
Charles Lenchner

Also, read the article below by Jonathan Cook.

More to come on this ongoing racism in the Holy Land.

(All Mamillah cemeteray photos are from palestineremembered.com)

Travesty of tolerance on display
November 10, 2008
By Jonathan Cook

The Israeli Supreme Court’s approval last week of the building of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since Israel’s founding in 1948.

The verdict ended a four-year struggle by Islamic authorities inside Israel to stop development at the Mamilla cemetery, which lies in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, close to Jaffa Gate.

After the judgment, Jerusalem’s mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, called the museum’s building “an act of aggression” against the Muslim public.

The furore from both religious and secular Palestinians has apparently bemused most Israeli observers.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, initiator of the project, dismissed objections last week as cover for “a land grab by Islamic fundamentalists, who are in co-operation with Hamas”. His view that Muslim concerns are really an attack on the Jewish state’s sovereignty is shared by many.

Such sentiments have confirmed to most Palestinians the degree to which Israeli authorities make decisions while oblivious of Palestinian religious and national rights.

Although Muslim leaders angrily warned from the outset that the Museum of Tolerance would require the disinterring of graves, they were ignored until spring 2006, when it was reported that dozens of skeletons had been unearthed during the early excavations.
The local media also revealed at the time that state archaeologists had been secretly trying to move the skeletons without alerting the local Muslim authorities, as they should have done, and that many of the skeletons had been damaged in the process.

When several months of arbitration between the developers and Muslim leaders proved fruitless, the courts stepped in.

Ostensibly, the driving force behind the museum, which is to cost $250 million, is the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a private Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organisation. But the venture is being pushed through with equal vigour by Israeli officials from the government, Jerusalem municipality and Lands Administration.
For many years it has been their priority to obscure all indications of the Muslim presence in the western part of Jerusalem -- as well as in many areas of Israel -- that predate the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.
The treatment of the Mamilla cemetery, which is said to include the burial sites of Prophet Mohammed’s companions, stands in stark contrast to another ancient cemetery, nearby on the Mount of Olives.

Since East Jerusalem was illegally occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the Jewish cemetery on the Mount has been carefully renovated and expanded as a “heritage site”.

In contrast, the Mamilla cemetery, which lies just inside West Jerusalem and was captured by the Israeli army in the 1948 war, was immediately removed from Muslim control. Classified as refugee property, it was passed on to a new Israeli official called the custodian of absentee property.

This was far from an isolated incident. Before the creation of Israel, as much as one-tenth of all territory in the Holy Land was managed as part of an Islamic endowment known as the waqf, bequeathed by Muslims for religious and charitable purposes.

After 1948, however, Israel seized all waqf property -- in addition to private land belonging to refugees -- and transferred it to the custodian.

Under pressure from the government in the 1950s, the custodian passed most of the undeveloped land, particularly farmland, on to a state-run body known as the Development Authority, which was charged with using it for the “public interest”. That usually meant using the profit from the land for the benefit of the Jewish public.

Other waqf property -- mostly land on which holy places, including mosques and cemeteries, were located -- was managed by special Islamic trusts established by the state.

This has provided the main defence adopted today by Israeli officials in justifying the siting of the museum. They say that an Islamic trust deconsecrated the Mamilla cemetery in 1964, thereby freeing up the land for development.

What they fail to point out, however, is that the Islamic trusts have no legitimacy among Palestinian Muslims in Israel, nearly one-fifth of the country’s total population, let alone among Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Islamic officials on the trusts are widely seen as corrupt, appointed by the state because of their willingness to do the government’s bidding rather than because of their public standing or Islamic credentials.

They earned that reputation by rubber-stamping many land transactions of waqf property desired by the state. One of the most notorious occurred in the early 1960s when Muslim officials approved the sale of the large Abdul Nabi cemetery in today’s Tel Aviv for the building of a hotel and several Jewish housing developments.

This abuse of waqf land has provoked a simmering resentment among Israel’s Palestinian minority.

Last year Palestinians in the historic city of Jaffa, now little more than a suburb of Tel Aviv, tried to challenge the role of the Islamic trusts by petitioning the courts to turn control of waqf property over to genuine representatives of the Muslim public.

The government, however, refused to divulge what waqf property existed in Jaffa, claiming “the requested information would seriously harm Israel’s foreign relations”. This was presumed to refer to the damage that might be done to Israel’s image abroad should it be revealed to what uses the waqf property had been put.
Actual holy places have fared little better, with most now inaccessible even to Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Some, such as the 900-year-old Hittin mosque built by Saladin in the Galilee region, have been fenced off and left to crumble. Others are used by rural Jewish communities as animal sheds. And yet more have been converted into discos, bars or nightclubs, including the Dahir al Umar mosque -- now the Dona Rosa restaurant -- in the former Palestinian village of Ayn Hawd.

Similar dubious practices occurred with the Mamilla cemetery. From the 1950s, during a period of military government that imposed severe restrictions on all Palestinians living inside Israel, the graves and tombs belonging to Jerusalem’s most notable families began to decay. Part of the land was turned into a car park.

After the 1967 war, as Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, has noted, the Muslim authorities lobbied to be allowed to rehabilitate and maintain the graves, but were refused permission.

Instead, in 1992 the custodian transferred the site to the Jerusalem municipality, which used the land to establish an Independence Park, named for Israel’s victory in the 1948 war. Then a few years later the municipality transferred a parcel of the land to the Wiesenthal Center for its Museum of Tolerance.

As Mr Benvenisti points out, over the years many Islamic sites in Jerusalem have been “turned into garbage dumps, parking lots, roads and construction sites”.

What makes the latest fight over the Mamilla cemetery different is that in the past decade a new breed of Muslim leader has emerged in Israel to overshadow the Islamic trusts. In particular the struggle over the fate of the holy places has been taken up by the leader of the Islamic Movement inside Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah.

Last week he warned: “We will mobilise in the Arab and Muslim world so that it puts pressure to halt the project.”

Tolerance, after all, has its limits.

-- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net. A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

America voted for hope and compassion; rejected the policies of bigotry, division, and war

The American people have spoken. Tonight, we watched history in the making.

Americans rejected a continuation of the policies of war, divisiveness, torture, polarization, racism, and deception.

Americans voted for an America that is full of hope, compassion, peace-seeking, courage, unity, and truth.

No doubt the new president has much to do to regain America's credibility in the world, unite all Americans, and fix our economy. But I am hopeful that president-elect Obama can do it.

I pray that Almighty Allah (God) inspire our president-elect Obama with the wisdom to lead with humility, mercy, justice and compassion. I pray that Allah bless our country and the whole world with peace and prosperity.

Muslims at Manzanar Documentary 2008 - Watch, learn, and make a positive difference

"Manzanar Pilgrimage" - A short documentary by CAIR-LA

On April 26, 2008, CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area led a group of over 100 Southern California Muslims on an educational trip to Manzanar, the first Japanese American internment camp established during World War II.

Along with Southland Muslims, some 1,500 people from California and beyond attended the 39th Annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar. The annual event is organized by the Manzanar Committee.

Watch this short documentary (12 minutes) and learn about this emotional learning experience in which Muslims had the chance to bond with new Japanese American friends and draw a parallel between the past and our post 9-11 present.

You will be so touched and I am sure you would want to join on the next Manzanar Pilgrimage, on April 25, 2009.

This educational project was made possible by the generous support from One Nation. http://www.onenationforall.org/