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

Monday, December 28, 2009

85 year old Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein Begins Hunger Strike to Open Gaza Borders

85 year old Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein Begins Hunger Strike to Open Gaza Borders


Hedy Epstein, the 85 year old Holocaust survivor and peace activist, announced that she will begin a hunger strike today as a response to the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the Gaza Freedom March participants into Gaza.

Ms. Epstein was part of a delegation with participants from 43 countries that were to join Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza towards the Erez border with Israel calling for the end of the illegal siege. Egypt is preventing the marchers from leaving Cairo, forcing them to search for alternative ways to make their voices heard.

Ms. Epstein will remain outside the UN building at the World Trade Center (Cairo) - 1191 Cornish al-Nil, throughout today, accompanied by other hunger strikers. "It is important to let the besieged Gazan people know they are not alone. I want to tell the people I meet in Gaza that I am a representative of many people in my city and in other places in the US who are outraged at what the US, Israeli and European governments are doing to the Palestinians and that our numbers are growing," Epstein said.

In 1939, when Epstein was just 14, her parents found a way for her to escape the persecution, sending her on the Kindertransport to England. Epstein never saw her parents again; they perished in Auschwitz in 1942. After World War II, Epstein worked as a research analyst at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi doctors who performed medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.

After moving to the US, Epstein became an activist for peace and social justice causes. Unlike most Holocaust survivors, one of the causes she has taken up is that of the Palestinian people. She has traveled to the West Bank, collected material aid and now she hopes to enter Gaza.

GFM Hunger strikers names:

- Hedy Epstein, 85
- John Dear, 50
- Teresa Sala Faine, 63
- Father Louie Vitale, 77
- Mary Hughes, 76 from Los Angeles, CA USA
- Charling Tao, 64
- Joe Fallisi,
- J'ann Schoonmaker Alan, 64
- Sandra Tamari, 40
- Pat Chaffee
- Nomusa Taylor-Dube, 23

Contact: Hedy Epstein

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Al-Arabiya: US group uses Times Square to promote Islam

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

For more info on the campaign, visit:

An American Muslim advocacy group launched a massive advertisement in New York City's infamous Times Square on Tuesday in a bid to present to millions of Americans a "fair" and "accurate" portrayal of Islam.

The public service announcement, "I am Muslim, I am American," was launched by the New York branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and aims to show people that Muslims are a valuable part of American society.

The advertisement starts with the statement "Building Community, Serving Country" and features American Muslims from all walks of life, including a police sergeant, a Little League all-star, a human rights activist, a doctoral candidate and an attorney.

"This public service advertisement features ordinary American Muslims whose everyday lives are dedicated to building community and serving country," Faiza Ali, CAIR New York's Community Affairs Director, said.

Ali added that "this initiative is part of our ongoing effort to ensure that a fair and accurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims is presented to the American public.”

The campaign will run from Dec. 22 to Jan. 16, and will even be shown on New Year's Eve, when at least one million people are expected to crowd Times Square for celebrations and the infamous countdown, when the ball drops at midnight.

"We have more than 400 million people going through Times Square and we thought this would be a good opportunity to send out a positive message about Muslims," Ibrahim Cooper, CAIR's national communications director, told Al Arabiya.

And the message is simple "that American Muslims are a vital part of our society and people have an opportunity to learn more about them," Hooper said.

And for those who have never been to Times Square, Hooper explained that the advertisement will appear on the CBS Super Screen, which is a 26-foot by 20-foot full-motion screen, called a "JumboTron," and will air 18 times a day.

"We hope that the millions of people from around the nation and the world who view this public service announcement will return home with enhanced understanding of Islam and the American Muslim community," CAIR's National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, said.

And according to Hooper although the advertisement has only been up for a day it has already been well received.

"The reaction has been very positive and we have already had people showing an interest and donating online."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Worrisome Split Between FBI and U.S. Muslim Groups | The Atlantic Wire

The Worrisome Split Between FBI and U.S. Muslim Groups | The Atlantic Wire

By Max Fisher on December 18, 2009

...The American Prospect's Adam Serwer laments, "As I've said before, a positive relationship between American Muslim communities and law enforcement is a crucial national security issue. But if Muslims are viewed by law enforcement merely as potential terrorists, informants, or -- as the article put it -- part of a terrorism 'early warning system' rather than American citizens who are entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else, then establishing and maintaining that relationship will ultimately prove difficult."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pew Study: Little Support for Terrorism Among Muslim Americans

by Richard Wike, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Greg Smith, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
December 17, 2009

Recent events such as the Fort Hood shootings and the arrest of five Muslim American students in Pakistan have raised questions about the threat of homegrown terrorism in the United States. However, the Pew Research Center's comprehensive portrait of the Muslim American population suggests it is less likely to be a fertile breeding ground for terrorism than Muslim minority communities in other countries. Violent jihad is discordant with the values, outlook and attitudes of the vast majority of Muslim Americans, most of whom reject extremism.

A Middle Class, Mainstream Minority Group

As the title of Pew Research's 2007 study suggests, Muslim Americans are "middle class and mostly mainstream." Compared with their co-religionists in other Western societies, they are relatively well integrated into mainstream society. Unlike Western Europe's Muslim populations, Muslims in the U.S. are generally as well-educated and financially well-off as the general population. Most (72%) say their communities are good or excellent places to live, and most believe in the American dream -- 71% say that in the U.S., most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard...

read full article

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The allegedly growing domestic Muslim threat

The allegedly growing domestic Muslim threat

By Glenn Greenwald

Terrorism: Muslim families as first line of defense

Boston Globe Editorial
December 15, 2009

There is a heartening aspect to the otherwise unnerving story of five young American Muslims who flew to Pakistan Dec. 1 with the apparent intention of enrolling in a jihadist group. Law enforcement officials received crucial cooperation from anxious relatives of the five young men. The family members told imams and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of their worries, and CAIR officials swiftly arranged a meeting with the FBI . The five were then found in the house of a Pakistani man associated with an extremist group and detained by Pakistani authorities.

It would be hard to exaggerate the value of having Muslim community leaders take the lead, as they did in this instance, in guarding against terrorism - and in rescuing impressionable young Muslims from the effects of indoctrination in an alluring ideology rooted in a disfiguring of Islam...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

CAIR's Assistance In Terror Arrests Being Underplayed

The Huffington Post

This week, five Pakistani men from Northen Virginia were arrested by authorities in Pakistan, where they are being questioned on suspicion of having links to radical Islamic terrorists.

These events both propel and confirm the larger worry that global terror syndicates continue to have a reach that extends to the United States, concerns that were raised by President Obama in his West Point address last week. But there's an interesting element to the story that I thought might go under-reported -- and just a few minutes ago on MSNBC, correspondent Pete Williams went on teevee and under-reported it...

Read more

Tips From Islamic-American Community Helped Nab 5 Suspects in Pakistan

Mark Hosenball
December 09, 2009

Leaders of the Islamic community in the U.S. today said they believed that it was information from community organizations and affected families that led to the arrests in Pakistan of five Washington, D.C., area men on terrorism-related charges. At a press conference in D.C. on Wednesday afternoon, representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that they arranged for members of the families of the five men to get in touch with the FBI and lawyers. The CAIR representatives said they set up the contact with the FBI earlier this month after people in the Washington area Islamic community had contacted a CAIR leader to express concern about how the five men had been missing for several days under mysterious circumstances...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Video: Calif. Man Says FBI Hired Him to Spy on Muslims

The informant admits that the FBI's recruiting him to spy on the Muslim community "was unconstitutional and highly illegal."

But again, the Constitution does not seem to be a priority for some in the FBI.

Europe unites to deplore Swiss ban on minarets

From Times Online
November 30, 2009
Charles Bremner in Paris

The Swiss and European establishment united today in deploring yesterday's decision by Swiss voters to outlaw the construction of minarets but conservative leaders warned that the referendum showed genuine fear over Islam on the continent.

Swiss officials, media and business leaders voiced shame over a vote that they say will stigmatise the country's 400,000 Muslims and stain Switzerland's name in the Muslim world. In contrast, hard right leaders in France, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands hailed what they depicted as a triumph for the people against the elite...

Read Full Article

Swiss Scholar Tariq Ramadan: My compatriots' vote to ban minarets is fueled by fear

My compatriots' vote to ban minarets is fueled by fear
By Tariq Ramadan

It wasn't meant to go this way. For months we had been told that the efforts to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland were doomed. The last surveys suggested around 34 percent of the Swiss population would vote for this shocking initiative. Last Friday, in a meeting organized in Lausanne, more than 800 students, professors and citizens were in no doubt that the referendum would see the motion rejected, and instead were focused on how to turn this silly initiative into a more positive future.

Today that confidence was shattered, as 57 percent of the Swiss population did as the Union Démocratique du Centre (UDC) had urged them to -- a worrying sign that this populist party may be closest to the people's fears and expectations. For the first time since 1893 an initiative that singles out one community, with a clear discriminatory essence, has been approved in Switzerland. One can hope that the ban will be rejected at the European level, but that makes the result no less alarming. What is happening in Switzerland, the land of my birth?

There are only four minarets in Switzerland, so why is it that it is there that this initiative has been launched? My country, like many in Europe, is facing a national reaction to the new visibility of European Muslims. The minarets are but a pretext -- the UDC wanted first to launch a campaign against the traditional Islamic methods of slaughtering animals but were afraid of testing the sensitivity of Swiss Jews, and instead turned their sights on the minaret as a suitable symbol.

Every European country has its specific symbols or topics through which European Muslims are targeted. In France it is the headscarf or burka; in Germany, mosques; in Britain, violence; cartoons in Denmark; homosexuality in the Netherlands -- and so on. It is important to look beyond these symbols and understand what is really happening in Europe in general and in Switzerland in particular: while European countries and citizens are going through a real and deep identity crisis, the new visibility of Muslims is problematic -- and it is scary.

At the very moment Europeans find themselves asking, in a globalizing, migratory world, “What are our roots?”, “Who are we?”, “What will our future look like?”, they see around them new citizens, new skin colors, new symbols to which they are unaccustomed.

Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates -- violence, extremism, freedom of speech, gender discrimination, forced marriage, to name a few -- it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor. There is a great deal of fear and a palpable mistrust. Who are they? What do they want? And the questions are charged with further suspicion as the idea of Islam being an expansionist religion is intoned. Do these people want to Islamize our country?

The campaign against the minarets was fuelled by just these anxieties and allegations. Voters were drawn to the cause by a manipulative appeal to popular fears and emotions. Posters featured a woman wearing a burka with the minarets drawn as weapons on a colonized Swiss flag. The claim was made that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Swiss values. (The UDC has in the past demanded my citizenship be revoked because I was defending Islamic values too openly.) Its media strategy was simple but effective. Provoke controversy wherever it can be inflamed. Spread a sense of victimhood among the Swiss people: we are under siege, the Muslims are silently colonizing us and we are losing our very roots and culture. This strategy worked. The Swiss majority are sending a clear message to their Muslim fellow citizens: we do not trust you and the best Muslim for us is the Muslim we cannot see.

Who is to be blamed? I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. In Switzerland, over the past few months, Muslims have striven to remain hidden in order to avoid a clash. It would have been more useful to create new alliances with all these Swiss organizations and political parties that were clearly against the initiative. Swiss Muslims have their share of responsibility but one must add that the political parties, in Europe as in Switzerland have become cowed, and shy from any courageous policies towards religious and cultural pluralism. It is as if the populists set the tone and the rest follow. They fail to assert that Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion and that Muslim citizens are largely “integrated”. That we face common challenges, such as unemployment, poverty and violence -- challenges we must face together. We cannot blame the populists alone -- it is a wider failure, a lack of courage, a terrible and narrow-minded lack of trust in their new Muslim citizens.

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, and hosts Islam & Life at Iran’s Press TV.

(Source: The Guardian)