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, June 15, 2011

Rep. Mike Honda: Muslim hearings recall my life in internment camp

Read the commentary below and you will understand why Rep. Honda has been one of my favorite members of Congress. When it comes to civil rights, he gets it, he feels it, and he does something about it.  What an inspiring leader.


(CNN) -- Who would have thought that my early childhood experience in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II would offer such useful insight, 65 years later, in determining the direction America is headed? In reflecting on this week's second round of Muslim radicalization hearings, planned by New York Rep. Peter King, I feel as if a mirror is being held up to my life, giving value to lessons learned as a child.

Make no mistake. Growing up in internment Camp Amache in Colorado was no joy ride -- just look at the pictures. We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind that we were born in America. Never mind that we were patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that we were constructively contributing to the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crime, and no constitutional protection.

We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know that this was a result of "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership." We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say "no."

We know all this, and yet our country is now, within my lifetime, repeating the same mistakes from our past. The interned 4-year-old in me is crying out for a course correction so that we do not do to others what we did unjustly to countless Japanese-Americans.

This time, instead of creating an ethnic enemy, Rep. King is creating a religious enemy. Because of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of Republican leadership, King is targeting the entire Muslim-American community. Similar to my experience, they are become increasingly marginalized and isolated by our policies.

Never mind that many were born in America and have no allegiance to their ancestors' native homeland. Never mind that they are patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that they are constructively contributing to the American economy. Regardless of all this, millions of Americans have become the new enemy, with no cause and no crime.

There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.

Second, it is counterproductive. King is undermining his own objective. In hosting these hearings, King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has declared, erroneously, that the Muslim-American community does not partner actively enough to prevent acts of violence -- or in the case of prisons, extremism. Despite the offensive and fallacious nature of King's concern, given extensive evidence that contradicts his claim, the Homeland Security chairman's strategy makes future partnerships unpalatable.

In one fell swoop of his discriminatory brush, King, in his apparent attempt to root out radicalization, marginalizes an entire American minority group, making enemies of them all. To add insult to injury, King has quipped (again, speciously) that America has too many mosques and that extremists run 80 percent of them. We can only hope that Rep. King does not completely undermine all the goodwill established across this country between Muslim Americans and law enforcement officials. You can be certain that few will want to work with King going forward.

Don't get me wrong. I support the Homeland Security Committee examining "radicalization" in this country, and in our prisons, provided it is a comprehensive review, not a discriminatory one that targets only one subgroup of America. I support the committee examining "violent extremism" in this country, including an examination of militias and the 30,000-plus gun-related deaths that happen each year. I support a committee chair that is keen to keep our homeland secure.

This is not the case with King. These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Fellow American

Here is a good project that is worthy of your attention.

My Fellow American

My Fellow American is an online film and social media project that calls upon concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. It asks people of other backgrounds to pledge, and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. Using the power of social media, My Fellow American seeks to change the narrative – from Muslims as the other, to Muslims as our fellow Americans.

Most Americans have never met an American Muslim. Many only know Muslims through the way they are portrayed in the media. American Muslims are so often vilified as “the other” that it is possible not to recognize that most were born in the U.S. Or that those who immigrated here came seeking the same freedoms and opportunities that have always attracted people to America.

Muslims are our fellow Americans, who today face threats to their civil rights and even their personal safety because of the fearful and often hateful rhetoric that would not be tolerated were it uttered about any other minority group.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Islamic Banking, a Market with U.S. Potential, Hampered by Politics (American Banker)

Friday, June 10, 2011

By Robert Barba

Islamic finance is growing, but politics, and perhaps prejudice, might be hamstringing this business in the United States.

In the past few years bills have been introduced in at least 20 states to forbid courts from invoking foreign laws in rulings. Proponents have touted the bills as a way to prevent Sharia, a code derived from Islamic law, from becoming the law of the land — a risk that many attorneys say is nonexistent. Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee have passed "Sharia ban" laws, which critics call a way of scoring political points by exploiting anti-Muslim sentiment.

It is unclear whether those laws would directly affect the growth of Islamic finance, which follows the tenets of Sharia law, such as a ban on paying interest. But at the very least, the political climate for Muslims is certainly not fostering a welcoming environment for what experts call an emerging market.

"The U.S. is behind. There is a strong and rapidly growing Muslim population," said Steven Watts, a partner with KPMG's financial services consulting practice in Toronto. "The holdup seems to be largely political, but it is to the detriment of the U.S."...

The United States began to lag in Islamic finance after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she said.

"Europe and other parts of the world decided to increase funding to study Islamic finance. Generally, the governments wanted to actively watch it and said they were going to be more involved and interested," Hunt-Ahmed said. "In the U.S., funding got cut and the sector became marginalized."...

Watts said there are more opportunities, namely "ethical" investments that avoid putting money in gambling or alcohol and could appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

However, Sharia-compliant mortgages (which are permissible under Islamic law because they are structured as lease-back or co-ownership arrangements) are a great entrance to the Islamic finance world, he said...

"Passing laws to ban Sharia when we have American soldiers in two Muslim countries and bases all across Europe where there are large minority Muslim populations is an ill-considered idea," Ranzini said. "The people that are hyped up about this issue are just very uninformed."...

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