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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What type of person are you?

11th century Islamic jurist, theologian, and thinker, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali wrote:

"People are one of three types.

First kind is like nutritious food, needed at all times. Second kind is like medicine, needed some times. Third kind is like disease, needed at no time"

What type of person are you?

US citizen recalls 'humiliating' post-9/11 arrest by the FBI (AP)

Associated Press
In this photo taken Feb. 14, 2011, plaintiff Abdullah al-Kidd, right, and his attorney, American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Director of the Immigrants' Rights Project Lee Gelernt., (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Handcuffed and marched through Washington's Dulles International Airport in his Muslim clothing, the man with the long, dark beard could only imagine what people were thinking.

That scene unfolded in March 2003, a year and a half after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of the four planes hijacked in 2001 took off from Dulles. "I could only assume that they thought I was a terrorist," Abdullah al-Kidd recalled in an interview with The Associated Press.

Al-Kidd called his airport arrest "one of the most, if not the most, humiliating experiences of my life."

The humiliation had only just begun.

Over the next 16 days he would be strip-searched repeatedly, left naked in a jail cell and shower for more than 90 minutes in view of other men and women, routinely transported in handcuffs and leg irons, and kept with people who had been convicted of violent crimes. On a long trip between jails, a federal marshal refused to unlock al-Kidd's chains so he could use the bathroom.

In the midst of al-Kidd's detention, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified to Congress about recent major successes against terrorism. No. 1 on Mueller's list was the capture of professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

No. 2 was the arrest of al-Kidd, a Kansas-born convert to Islam who was not charged with a crime — either then or later...


Thursday, February 24, 2011

CAIR-LA, ACLU/SC Sue FBI for Illegal Surveillance of Southern Calif. Muslims

Suit filed over broad surveillance of Muslims based solely on religion

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 2/23/11) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC), and the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP today announced that they have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the FBI for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance solely because of their religion.

For over 14 months between 2006 and 2007, FBI agents planted an informant in Orange County mosques who posed as a convert to Islam and through whom the FBI collected names, telephone numbers, e-mails, and other information on hundreds of California Muslims. Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik, and Yassir AbdelRahim - plaintiffs in the case-are three of the many individuals who came in contact with the bureau's informant.

SEE: Lawsuit Alleges FBI Violated Muslims' Freedom of Religion (Washington Post)

SEE: Local Muslims Outraged by alleged FBI Surveillance, Lawyers claim (LA Times)

According to the lawsuit, the FBI directed the informant, a convicted felon named Craig Monteilh, to gather as much information as possible on members of the Muslim community, and to focus on people who were more devout in their religious practice, irrespective of whether any particular individual was believed to be involved in criminal activity.

"The FBI gathered information on hundreds of innocent Americans simply because they worship at a mosque. It's hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the First Amendment's guarantees against religious discrimination," said Peter Bibring, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC).

The First Amendment guarantees that no person should be singled out for different treatment by the government because of his or her religion, which is exactly what the FBI did to the Muslim community, according to the suit.

Ameena Mirza Qazi, Deputy Executive Director and Staff Attorney for CAIR-LA, said:  "Targeting American Muslims for surveillance not only destroys community cohesion, it erodes the trust between law enforcement and Muslim communities, which, in turn, undermines our national security interests. This broad investigation by the FBI that failed to produce even a single terrorism-related conviction was not based on suspicion of criminal activity, but rather on the targets being Muslim."

Montheilh's role as an FBI informant was not revealed until February 2009, first in court documents, in which the FBI and local law enforcement revealed his role, and then through his own statements which have been reported widely in the press.

Josh Piovia-Scott, an attorney with the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP said, "This practice is an abuse of the Constitution, and this case will force the FBI to destroy its illegally obtained information."  
 The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief on behalf of all people targeted by the FBI agents and their informant, requiring the FBI to turn over or destroy all information collected through the discriminatory investigation, as well as damages for emotional distress for the three named plaintiffs.  

There are approximately 120,000 Muslims in Orange County, a dynamic part of the Southern California Muslim community, which is home to the second largest population of Muslims in the United States.

- END -

Muslims sue FBI for alleged First Amendment violation (KPCC)

Feb. 23, 2011 | Frank Stoltze | KPCC

Click to listen to radio/audio report

Civil rights groups on Wednesday said they’ve sued the FBI for allegedly violating the First Amendment by spying on Orange County Muslims inside mosques. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze says the case focuses on the activities of a paid informant for the federal law enforcement agency.

One plaintiff in the lawsuit is 26-year-old Ali Malek. He recalled his initial encounter with Craig Monteilh.

“I first met Monteilh when he testified to his faith in front of roughly 1,000 people at the mosque in Irvine,” said Malek. “It was a ceremony in which you become a Muslim.”

Malek said his imam asked him to teach the convert about his new religion. He said Monteilh had other interests.

“Constantly he would ask me about jihad and what I thought about it,” said Malek. “My reaction initially was, he is a new Muslim, he just became Muslim, perhaps has some misconstrued ideas and perceptions of the religion and I was more than happy to clarify those misconceptions.”

When Monteilh continued his questions about jihad and began showing up at the gym where he worked out, Malek became suspicious.

“I thought he was weird and so I just wanted to keep my distance,” Malek said. “And I wanted to give it some time to see how the situation developed. And then when the case came out, all the pieces of the puzzle came together.”

Monteilh, it turned out, was working for the FBI. The Associated Press reports that the former fitness instructor with a criminal past spied on Orange County mosques for the FBI for more than a year from 2006 to 2007, recording conversations and meetings with a device concealed on his key ring and a camera hidden in a shirt button.

“I can not conceive of any, any legitimate purpose the government would have to send an informant into our mosques, to gather indiscriminately information, destroying the sanctity of our sacred space,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

In their class action lawsuit, the council and the American Civil Liberties Union accuse the FBI of targeting Muslims based on their religion.

In a statement, the FBI refused to comment on its investigation, and said the agency investigates individuals based on whether they may threaten national security – not based on their religion.

Monteilh faces fraud charges in a separate case, and he apparently no longer works for the agency.

The ACLU’s Peter Bibring said the FBI is slowly moving away from restrictions Congress placed on it following revelations in the 1970s that it had indiscriminately spied on innocent American citizens.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen the FBI steadily rolling back those protections, increasing their ability to initiate investigations without any indication of criminal activity,” said Bibring.

He says Muslims are a favorite post-Sept. 11, 2001 target. Imam Yassir Fazaga is with a therapist who works with the Orange County Islamic Foundation. He said he’s seen his clients become more paranoid about having personal conversations with him at a mosque.

“I can no longer discuss this with them at the mosque,” said Fazaga. “From now on I have to meet my clients in the park. I have to meet with them somewhere else where they would feel more comfortable than at the mosque.”

Malik, now an administrator for a San Francisco non-profit, said he too has become more suspicious.

“I feel that at times I am being followed,” he said. “I definitely feel that all my phone calls are tapped. I feel that my emails are filtered and tapped. I feel like I can’t have a loving conversation with my wife.

“My wife and I both feel that way. We feel like we can’t even keep the phone in the room on and have a loving conversation without assuming the FBI is monitoring that conversation. I feel like there’s probably FBI in this room right now.”

The class-action lawsuit seeks to stop the FBI from indiscriminately targeting Muslims and to force the agency to destroy any information collected that way. The three named plaintiffs also seek damages for emotional duress.

Muslims Say FBI Informant Dealt Drugs While Snooping on Sex

Courthouse News

LOS ANGELES (CN) - In a federal class action, Muslims claim the FBI hired an "agent provocateur" to infiltrate mosques and "indiscriminately collect personal information on hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent Muslim Americans in Southern California."

The class claims the agents had their snitch provide illegal drugs to Muslims and snoop on their sex lives, and that the fruitless "dragnet investigation" did not end until "members of the Muslim communities of Southern California reported the informant to the police because of his violent rhetoric, and ultimately obtained a restraining order against him."

Represented by the ACLU and Council on American-Islam Relations, the three named plaintiffs say the FBI's agent provocateur's "violent rhetoric" about "jihad and armed conflict" disrupted their religious practice.

The class claims the FBI has been profiling Muslim communities since Sept. 11, 2001, and requested interviews with hundreds of Muslims, "often by sending FBI agents to appear unannounced" to their homes or workplaces, to question them about religious practices.

This despite the fact that in 2006, the FBI's Assistant Director for the Los Angeles area, Stephen Tidwell, assured a Muslim group that the FBI would never send an undercover informant to spy on believers.

But in July 2006, FBI agents Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen directed undercover informant Craig Monteilh to infiltrate the mosques in Southern California and paid him $6,000 to $11,000 per month create video and audio recordings of Muslim activities, the plaintiffs claim. They add that Monteilh was provided with "sophisticated audio and video recording devices."

Monteilh then publicly declared his Muslim faith during a prayer in front of hundreds of members of the Islamic Center of Irvine (ICOI), and immersed himself in the religion, the class says.

Monteilh went to 10 mosques in the area to interact with followers, and attended up to four mosques in one day. Armstrong and Allen ordered him to "gather as much information on as many people in the Muslim community as possible," the class claims...

Read Full Article

Muslim group sues FBI over surveillance at California mosques (Christian Science Monitor)

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / February 23, 2011
Christian Science Monitor

In a case that could test law enforcement's ability to identify and monitor potential terrorists inside the United States, an Islamic organization has sued the FBI for the actions of a paid spy who infiltrated several Orange County mosques in California in the mid-2000s.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations allege in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, that a paid informant named Keith Monteilh violated the First Amendment rights of hundreds of Muslim worshipers when he performed "indiscriminate surveillance" on "people who were more devout in their religious practice, irrespective of whether any particular individual was believed to be involved in criminal activity."

RELATED QUIZ: How much do you know about the US Constitution?

The FBI responded that it doesn't ask its informants or agents to target people for their religious affiliations, and maintains it has done a good job of balancing civil liberties with its ongoing antiterrorism work.

Nevertheless, the case threatens to erode already-tenuous relationships between law enforcement and the broader American Muslim community, which has the best potential to spot suspicious behavior in its midst. That ability – and willingness – was illustrated in this case.

Mr. Monteilh "became an agent provocateur," says Ibrahim Hooper, national CAIR spokesman. "He was the one suggesting all these kinds of bizarre activities to the extent that community itself turned him in."

The Monteilh affair was particularly galling to Los Angeles-area Muslims, since he was working in a mosque where an FBI official had promised no such surveillance would take place under his watch.

More broadly, targeting mosques and even fervent believers is a sure way for the FBI to alienate moderate, law-abiding Muslims, says Ameena Mirza Qazi, staff attorney of CAIR-Los Angeles.

"When Muslims perceive that they are viewed as a suspect community by law enforcement or the FBI, it really has a devastating effect on relations between law enforcement authorities and American Muslims," says CAIR's Mr. Hooper.

But the FBI can't ignore the role of mosques as potential hubs of terror activity, says Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert at the Hudson Institute. Some of the organizers of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, for example, met at a mosque in New Jersey.

"Mosques can't be sanctuaries for criminals," says Dr. Schoenfeld, author of "Necessary Secrets: National Security, Media, and the Rule of Law."

"Even if the FBI did something wrong in this case, that would not eliminate the need for the agency to investigate places like mosques, where terror activities have been cooked up in the past. Does that cut against the First Amendment? Undoubtedly. But the First Amendment isn't a suicide pact. It has to be balanced against other provisions of the Constitution, like providing for the common defense," argues Schoenfeld.

The lawsuit contends that Monteilh's FBI handlers told him to collect e-mail address, phone numbers, and other pertinent information about Muslims, and "explicitly told Monteilh that Islam was a threat to America's national security."

Legal experts say the lawsuit could succeed if the ACLU proves that the FBI targeted Muslims for their religious beliefs. But resting an entire case on a paid informant – with a criminal record, in Monteilh's case – can be tricky. "Using informants is an unsavory business, and informants often lie,'' John Baker, a Louisiana State University law professor, tells the Washington Post. "How trustworthy is his information? No one knows.''

Schoenfeld adds that lawyers could also parse the allegation that the FBI asked Monteilh to look for worshippers who were particularly devout. "What does that mean?" he says. "Are they devout in trying to memorize the Koran, or are they devout in preaching a political brand of Islam? That could be legitimate for the the FBI to investigate."

"Nobody objects" to the FBI investigating "when there's actual probable cause," says Hooper, "but to just say, 'go into these various mosques and see what you can dig up' – and even suggest to people that they should engage in criminal activity – that is something that is way beyond the pale."

Conan O'Brien translates Gadhafi's recent speech (video)

FBI Mosque Surveillance Damaged Trust in Government (Video)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

3 Things About Islam (A good video in response to a popular anti-Muslim hate video)

Omar Baddar produced this video in response to a popular video with the same title which spreads misconceptions about Islam in an effort to promote fear and suspicion of Muslims.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time to dismantle and re-build this failed project called Arab League (and the UN too, since we are at it)

The Arab League project has completely failed. It has to be announced dead.

The League should be dismantled and then reorganized on the basis of protecting democratic and human rights values. Since its inception, it has contributed to Arab division, failed to develop Arab societies (educationally, economically, or politically), and manged to become completely discredited and irrelevant to Arab people.

The League has failed to protect the Palestinians from decades-long Israeli occupation, aggression and brutality. It has failed to protect the Arab people from the repression of Arab leaders. It has failed to prevent the illegal and immoral US/Bush invasion of Iraq.

The League has only succeeded in protecting Arab dictators and their repressive regimes. The only successful conferences and meetings that the League conducted were the ones in which its member states' interior ministers met to coordinate efforts to suppress freedoms and democracy and exchange creative ideas on human rights violations and torture against dissenters. Other empty press releases and statements, conferences and meetings were mostly ignored by Arab masses. Some Arabs continued to watch such meetings for entertainment/comedy value such as Gaddafi's typical fashion show or usual spat between dictators on who to speak first or who cares for Palestine more.

Similarly, the UN should be dismantled and re-organized on a more democratic and equal basis now that its failure is clear too. For God's sake, why should France be a permanent member of the Security Council and not Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan or Germany. Why isn't a single African or Latin American country a permanent member of the Security Council? Are certain countries more equal than others? Real peace, justice and democracy in the world require that every country be an equal player and that the UN be free from the favoritism and self-serving politics played by rich and powerful countries at the expense of the rest of the world.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Debunking the myth of a Muslim demographic threat in the West

Debunking the myth of a Muslim demographic threat in the West
by John L. Esposito
The Malta Independent

The findings of ‘The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030’ should also challenge the public to reconsider its perception of Islam and Muslims.

Sceptics, particularly those in Europe and North America, have long sounded alarm bells regarding the growth of the Muslim population.

Such scare-mongerers claim that Islam is a demographic threat, warning of an impending ‘Eurabia,’ within a few decades. This picture, of a triumphant Islam over a Europe which has lost its Christian roots, has contributed to the growth of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political parties and to their notable successes in European elections last year. In America, this fear began in the late 1990s with articles that warned “The Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming!” and continued with the recent Park51 debate over a plan to build an Islamic centre near Ground Zero.

This paranoia – based more on fear and misperception – fuels anti-Islam and anti-Muslim hysteria across Europe and North America, contributes to undermine our multi-cultural society.

Pew finds that the world’s Muslim population is expected to increase from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030. But what about an “Islamic wave” across Europe?

Muslims will remain a relatively small minority, but they will make a growing share of the total population. According to the study, Europe’s Muslim population is projected to grow from 44.1 million in 2010 to 58.2 million in 2030. The greatest rise is expected to be seen in Western and Northern Europe, where Muslims are expected to approach double-digit percentages. For example, in France, the population is expected to rise from 7.5% currently to 10.3%.

The Muslim share of the US population is projected to grow from 0.8% in 2010 to only 1.7% in 2030, meaning that Muslims will share the same population figures as Jews and Episcopalians. Interestingly, the US is projected to have the larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European country, except Russia and France.

Pew’s findings demonstrate that fear of a European Muslim-takeover is largely the product of hysteria; France is not destined to become an “Islamic republic” by 2048.

Regrettably, these Pew findings and projections are less likely to circulate as widely or quickly as statistics and predictions about a Muslim takeover.

The result in America, a nation of immigrants, is that, according to Pew, Gallup, and others, roughly half of Americans see Islam as a violent religion. Many European countries with long traditions of tolerance like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands seem in retreat as right wing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim parties gain ground. Immigration and the cultural diversity that follows are strengths.

Prof. John L. Esposito, author of The Future of Islam, is University Professor of Religion & International Affairs at Georgetown University and founding director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding and is an Advisory Board member of the British Council’s Our Shared Future project and a UNAOC Global Expert. Sheila B. Lalwani, a Research Fellow at the Centre, contributed to the analysis

The Malta Independent is a partner newspaper with the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and the project Global Expert Finder


Global Experts (www.theglobalexperts.org), a project of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

Friday, February 11, 2011

On every street of my country, the sound of freedom is calling - A tribute song to Egypt's heroes

Remembering the martyrs of Egypt's revolution for freedom

Our prayers go to the martyrs of Egypt's revolution and their loved ones. They gave their lives in order for Egypt and Egyptians to live free and with dignity. Please pray for them.
May Allah (God) Almighty grant them a place in Paradise.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Egypt will rise; Mubarak must go! (poster)

Below is a message from the designer of this poster, Nick Bygon. I met Nick in Riverside at a protest against neo-Nazis and he took a great picture of my daughter Marya and me holding signs at the protest.  Nick is a talented photographer and and a committed activist.


Egypt Will Rise

First off, this image is free to use and distribute, as with all of my work, however, I want to make sure everyone knows that I used two photos for reference without obtaining proper permission.
The main image is from Reuters photojournalist Amr Abdallah Dalsh and the second one is from Reuters photojournalist Goran Tomasevic. 

If any thanks are due, I would appreciate a message to both of them for their hard work and dedication. They have been laying their lives on the line to help document these historical moments, and it is with that same enthusiasm for memorializing those vital turning points towards total liberation that I have used their photographs, to create this illustration.

I hope Reuters and Mr. Dalsh and Mr. Tomasevic will understand and allow for the free distribution of this graphic. I am not seeking any profits from this image, as all of my artwork (as seen on my flickr) is all licensed under Creative Commons, share and share alike. 


P.S. If anyone has any changes they would like to be done, please email me (as I am open for feedback). Additionally, if anyone is going to print these to freely distribute or to collect cost plus labor, I would be happy to email the AI file. 

Mubarak must go!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Images from today's attack on the protesters by Mubarak's thugs and security forces

An Egyptian Muslim cleric cries in front of on army tank in Tahrir, or Liberation square, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011.
Anti-government demonstrators wounded during clashes with pro-government protesters wait to be seen at a makeshift medical triage station, near Tahrir square, the center of anti-government demonstrations, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. Thousands of supporters of President Hosni Mubarak clashed with anti-government protesters as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn.

An anti-government protester displays pictures of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and members of his cabinet during mass demonstrations in Alexandria
Photos by:
AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill & Lefteris Pitarakis
REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih