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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ramadan sees birth of emerging Muslim labor movement

An nice article which quotes two of my favorite organizations: CAIR and IWJ


Religion News Service

September 29, 2008

Hundreds of Muslim workers at two meat processing plants in Colorado and Nebraska walked off the job earlier this month, protesting their employer's refusal to grant time to pray and break a 12-hour fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

About 100 workers were fired in Greeley, Colo., followed by about 80 in Grand Island, Neb. JBS Swift & Co. insists the terminations had nothing to do with religion, but rather with employees refusing to return to work.

Whatever its outcome, the stand-off and others like it may mark the start of a grassroots Muslim labor movement in the United States, as immigrants push for the kinds of religious accommodations they believe their Christian counterparts take for granted.

"American Muslims in recent years have become more organized and aware of our rights as Americans," said Ameena Mirza Qazi, a staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "As American Muslims become more a part of the American fabric as educators, professionals, leaders, day laborers, and factory workers we increasingly avail ourselves of rights that every American values."

About one-fifth of the workers at the two JBS Swift plants are Muslim, many of them Somali immigrants. The United Food and Commercial Workers union represents employees at both sites, but has had trouble negotiating because of counter-protests by other workers, who say it's not fair to grant time off to a religious minority.

Nevertheless, the disgruntled Muslim workers will continue working within the union to educate co-workers about their needs, rather than form a separate bargaining organization, said Christina Abraham, civil rights director for CAIR in Chicago.

"They shouldn't separate themselves from the other employees in requesting fair working accommodations," she said. "There hasn't been any kind of movement to create a Muslim workers union, because we feel this is an issue that potentially any employee of any religious background will face."

Interfaith Worker Justice, a national organization that engages the religious community in low-wage worker issues, is carefully watching the recent protests. When a union works on behalf of Muslim immigrants, as with a contract for Ohio janitors negotiated to include prayer breaks last year, the wider community benefits from increased dialogue and cross-cultural cooperation, said Kim Bobo, IWJ executive director.

"Muslims are the newest immigrants, it's a religion that we're not all that familiar with in society, and we've got to kind of grow and learn about what is appropriate for religious accommodations," she said. "It's clearly a place where the union has the opportunity to help educate the total membership and work out accommodations."

The sunset prayer is one of five daily prayers in Islam. Workplace disputes over prayer breaks periodically come up, Abraham said. Ensuring observance of the sunset prayer is crucial during Ramadan, which ends Oct. 1 this year, because Muslims cannot eat or drink before performing it. The prayer only takes about five minutes, followed by 10 minutes to break the daytime fast, she explained.

About 20 employees who were fired last year for insisting on taking prayer breaks at JBS Swift's Nebraska plant filed charges of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for denial of religious accommodation, according to Abraham.

Company spokeswoman Tamara Smid declined to comment on negotiations with employees or pending legal action. In a statement, she said, "JBS values its diverse work force and has a long track record of making significant accommodations to employees. We work closely with all employees and union representation to accommodate religious practices in a reasonable, safe and fair manner."

Last month, a Tyson Foods plant in Tennessee that had replaced Labor Day with Eid al-Fitr the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan as one of eight paid holidays decided to reinstate its original schedule in response to community outrage. Next year, the Muslim workers, who make up about a quarter of the plant's 1,200 employees, will instead have the option of taking Eid al-Fitr off in lieu of another paid holiday.

CAIR and local Muslim organizations are working on public education campaigns to reduce hostility against such requests. CAIR has also asked the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission to set up workshops to help the employees file discrimination charges against Swift, Abraham said.

"It always surprises me when I hear, `they should just deal with it, this isn't their country and they need to just work or leave,"' she said. "People who say that don't really understand what this country stands for and that the rights that it protects applies to everybody, regardless of where they're from."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keith Olbermann on 'Obsession'

Keith Olbermann Calls 'Obsession' Neocon Pornography

Excerpts from the program:

"And number one: GOT-gate. That would be "grand old terrorism" party founded by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and if you think this country`s disgust with counterterrorism being used as, well, terrorism against voting Americans, has sunk in with the Republicans, you`d be wrong. They are polluting the nation with more neocon pornography today. Hundreds of thousands of copies of DVD have been or will be distributed as paid for advertising supplements in newspapers in 14 swing-voting states, from Florida to New Mexico.

"The disc is of a lunatic fringe, right-wing film called "Obsession: Radical Islam`s War against the West." It was originally shown on where else -- "fixed news" in 2006. A year later, it was screened on college campuses by David Horowitz, the hysteric and faker (ph). In it, scenes of Muslim children are intercut with Nazi rallies. The organization behind the hate DVD has endorsed Senator McCain."

Israel's Obsession with influencing our election

A shadowy front group for right-wing Israelis funded the distribution of 28 million copies of a anti-Muslim propaganda film called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" through an insert in 70 U.S. newspapers or by mail. The front group, the Clarion Fund, chose to spread fear and share their bigotry in swing states in what political analysts described as an attempt to sway American voters into voting for Senator John McCain.

This action led organizations such as CAIR and others to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate whether the Clarion Fund is using the contributions of foreign nationals in connection with a United States presidential election.

From coast to coast, newspaper editorials, scholars, and interfaith and civic leaders blasted the "Obsession" film as a piece of hate propaganda that aims to push for a larger global religious war (ironically, it is the same goal of Al-Qaeda terrorists), demonize Islam and Muslims, promote fear in order to influence our presidential election, and provide cover and justification for Israel's brutal and racist practices agaisnt Palestinians.

I strongly suggest that you learn more about "Obsession", the people behind it, and the rebuttal to the false claims it raises.

Visit this excellent website that was announced by CAIR:

The biggest question that remains is whether right-wing Israelis are going to be allowed to decide our next president for us? It is one thing for them to favor a candidate, but it is another thing for them to possibly spend 60 to 70 million dollars in foreign money trying to campaign for such a candidate in America.
This is not a partisan matter. I am certain that most Republicans will join Democrats in rejecting such an blatant and flagrant foreign undermining of our country's presidential election and national integrity, regardless who the intended beneficiary is.

obsessionwithhate.com: Learn the real story behind controversial Hate DVD

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ayloush Discusses ‘Towelhead’ Film Title on local ABC News

Ayloush discusses "Towelhead" with film director and actors

Dialogue to be Included on DVD

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 9/19/08) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today announced that a filmed dialogue on racism and ethnic slurs will be featured on the DVD release of the new Warner Bros. production “Towelhead.”

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush participated in the dialogue that sought to highlight the intolerance inherent in the derogatory term “towelhead” and bring attention to community concerns about the possible acceptance of that term in mainstream society. Director Alan Ball and actors Peter Macdissi and Summer Bishil took part in the dialogue.
The dialogue is now available for viewing on the film’s website.

"It is important to recognize and challenge the intolerance and bigotry behind derogatory terms such as ‘towelhead,’" said Ayloush. "We wish to thank Warner Bros. for reaching out to community groups and for making the effort to address concerns about the film's title."

The Warner Bros website also features a dialogue with representatives of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), as well as statements from CAIR and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

CAIR-LA sent a letter to studio executives late last month urging them to call the film “Nothing is Private,” a title previously used in some markets.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

W. Deen Mohammed, 74, Top U.S. Imam, Dies

It is with great sorrow and acceptance of Allah's will that I mourn the passing of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.

I had the honor of meeting with him on several occasions and experience his wisdom, humility, compassion to all people, and deep spirituality. It is difficult for one not to be touched by such a great man and leader.

He sure will be missed not only by his family and loved one, but also by all Muslims and our country. Imam W.D. Muhammed was a rare voice of reason, unity, and moderation.

May Allah accept all his good work and forgive him and all of us for our shortcomings. I pray to Almighty Allah that Imam W.D. Muhammed be entered into His Gardens of Eden, and that Allah grant all his loved ones the patience and the reward for aceepting Allah's will.

As Allah reminds us in the Qur'an:
"To Allah we all belong and to Him we shall return."


W. Deen Mohammed, 74, Top U.S. Imam, Dies

New York Times
Published: September 9, 2008

Imam W. Deen Mohammed, a son of the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who renounced the black nationalism of his father’s movement to lead a more traditional and racially tolerant form of Islam for black Muslims, died on Tuesday in Chicago. He was 74.

The death was confirmed on the blog of Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, where Imam Mohammed had recently led a convention. The Associated Press reported that no cause had been determined.

Imam Mohammed emerged from the cauldron of religious politics and internal rivalry that characterized the Black Muslims, as the Nation of Islam members were called, in the 1960s and 1970s.

Following Malcolm X, who was drifting away from black separatism toward traditional Islam when he was assassinated in 1965, Imam Mohammed increasingly favored a nonracial approach to religion, without categorizing white people as devils, as Elijah Muhammad did. His father excommunicated him several times for this dissidence.

The son was nonetheless unanimously elected supreme minister of the Nation of Islam after his father’s death in 1975. He pushed his followers toward a more orthodox faith, emphasizing study of the Koran and the five duties of a Moslem: faith, charity, prayer five times a day, fasting during Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca. A major change was rejecting the divinity of the founder of the Nation of Islam, Wallace D. Fard; a lesser one was relaxing the religion’s strict dress code.

Eventually, the Black Muslims splintered, with the fiery Louis Farrakhan leading the faction favoring racial separatism. Imam Mohammed, soft-spoken and scholarly, led what is thought to be a far larger flock that appeals, in general terms, to middle-class blacks, according to Contemporary Black Biography, an online reference book. Over the years, estimates of the group’s size have ranged from 500,000 adherents to more than 2 million.

In 1976, Imam Mohammed dropped the Nation of Islam name in favor of the World Community of al-Islam in the West; that was also the year he adopted the title of imam.

Two years later, he changed the name of his organization to the American Muslim Mission. Later, he encouraged each mosque to be independent under the leadership of the Muslim American Society, or the Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed.

Imam Mohammed moved decisively toward the religious mainstream. In 1992, he became the first Muslim to deliver the invocation for the United States Senate. He led prayers at both inaugurals of President Bill Clinton. He addressed a conference of Muslims and Reform Jews in 1995, and participated in several major interfaith dialogues with Roman Catholic cardinals. He met with the pope in 1996 and 1999.

Imam Mohammed worked to bring American Muslims into the world’s largest Islamic orthodoxy, the Sunni branch. He met privately with Arab leaders like President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and received a contribution of $16 million from a sultan in the United Arab Emirates.

His leadership position in the American Muslim community was evident two years after he succeeded his father when he led what was then the largest delegation of American Muslims on the pilgrimage to Mecca. It was major news in the African-American press when Imam Mohammed and Mr. Farrakhan appeared together in Chicago in 2000.(MORE)

Kahanist Joe Kaufman Slimes Muslim Kids

by M. T. Akbar
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Media Monitors Network

"Kaufman may believe and hope that the current climate is ripe for his cheap anti-Muslim hate propaganda to be lapped up without much resistance or scrutiny. But Kaufman severely underestimates the intelligence and judgment of the American people whose values he clearly does not share."

Kaufman’s escapades and antics are less impressive than the comic book character, Dick Tracy, whom he seeks to emulate.

“Onion Award for Joe Kaufman for his consistent record of trashing everything Muslim with a broad brush of innuendo, association and excessive rhetoric.” -- Americans United for Separation of Church and State at the occasion of their annual meeting.

Joe Kaufman, the virulent Islamophobe and follower of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, is at it again in his endless crusade to slime CAIR and demonize Muslims. In this most recent episode, the “gumshoe detective” wrote a piece for the universally-rejected Right-wing mouthpiece FrontPageMag absurdly titled “Chicago’s Hamas Youth.”

In his hit piece, Kaufman attempts to link Chicago area Muslim high school students who participated in an event to educate themselves on how to become better citizens with Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.

We read such gems from the article as:

“In the Spring of 2007, CAIR-Chicago sponsored its first Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS)... At the venue, kids wore shirts with the MYLS slogan: “Constructive Citizenship for a better America.” But for CAIR, “better America” means a United States run by Hamas.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, CAIR has never stated such an absurd thing, yet facts do not matter a thing to anti-Muslim bigots like Kaufman who are all too content with forcing into Muslim mouths the words they wish to hear in order to stay in business.

Nowhere does Kaufman provide any evidence, statements, pamphlets, etc. supporting his absurd claim that for CAIR constructive citizenship equals an America run by Hamas.

Instead of focusing on the content of the event and the fact that esteemed individuals such as U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (does he believe the congressman is a Hamas member?) has participated, he weaves ludicrous hard-to-follow guilt-by-association conspiracy theories, projecting his own paranoia onto the meaning of the event.(MORE)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ayloush discusses Shariah compliant and Islamic finance on FOX

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush discusses Islamic financing on FOX Business Network. His interview was intended to offer a balancing perspective to a guest on the program earlier this week who sought to demonize Islam and Muslims by demonizing Islamic law, or shariah.