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

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Record Number of Muslim Delegates Participate in CA Democratic Party Convention

By: Sabiha Khan
American Muslim activist and California Democratic Party Delegate

A record number of American Muslim delegates to the Democratic Party attended and participated in the California Democratic (CADEM) Party Convention in Sacramento, California held on April 12-14. In the beginning of the year, more than thirty five delegates from a diverse background, six of whom were elected to the Executive Board, were either elected or chosen to represent their California Assembly District at the Convention.

Hailing from Northern to Southern California and cities in between, the California American Muslim Democratic Party delegates attended workshops on voter registration, voted and passed resolutions, voted on party and caucus officers and networked with party activists and elected officials. 

A version of one resolution submitted by the Progressive Caucus and supported by the California Muslim Delegate group was passed unanimously at the convention. The official committee resolution strongly called on the Obama administration to end the use of drone strikes and extrajudicial executions.

The American Muslim delegates also attended the launching and formation of the first ever Muslim American Caucus for the California Young Democrats. One delegate, S. Nadia Hussain, was elected to be its first secretary.  She was also elected to the board of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. 

Also at the convention, a number of American Muslim delegates were elected to the board of the Arab American Democratic Caucus: Sarah Moussa as Chair, Basim Elkarra as Northern California Vice Chair, Rashad Al-Dabbagh as Southern California Vice Chair, Fatima Dadabhoy as Treasurer and, Iyad Afalqa as Secretary. 

The diversity of the American Muslim community was reflected in the background of the delegates themselves: men and women ranging in age from 23 to 63 years old;  people from all professions including entrepreneurs, homemakers, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers and engineers to name a few; and South Asian, Arab, Latino, and Anglo-American ethnicity. Noteworthy also were two sets of siblings; brothers Affad and Affan Shaikh and sisters Fatima and Ambereen Dadabhoy.

The California Democratic Party (CDP) is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) which has approximately 3000 delegates.  Some delegates are appointed by elected officials, but about one third are elected every odd numbered year through elections divided by assembly district.  Twelve individuals (six women and six men) from each assembly district are elected as delegates to serve a two year term to the DSCC.

An elected delegate is able to vote on candidate endorsements, help shape the platform of the CDP, approve the rules by which the CDP functions, vote on resolutions of concern to various communities, and choose CDP representatives to the Democratic National Party. Delegates are also responsible for attending the annual statewide convention. 

 Additionally, one representative from every 12 delegates is voted to the executive board.  The executive board (E-Board) has all the duties and powers of the CDP when it is not in session (at the Democratic National Convention). E-Board members are required to attend three quarterly E-Board meetings each year, as well as the statewide convention.

The next California Democratic Party Convention will be held in 2014 in Los Angeles. Among the issues to be decided on at next year’s convention is the CDP’s platform.  

BOSTON BOMBINGS: Role of suspects’ Muslim beliefs unclear

BOSTON BOMBINGS: Role of suspects’ Muslim beliefs unclear

Posted on | April 22, 2013
Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young, File
Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young, File

It’s still unclear whether religion was a motivation for the Boston Marathon bombings.

But as evidence emerges that Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have held extremist Muslim beliefs, speculation is rife as to whether those apparent beliefs led him and his brother Dzhokhar to plant the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 180 others, and to then kill a police officer.
From the beginning, U.S. Muslim organizations and leaders have condemned the bombings and emphasized that violence against innocent people violates the basic tenets of Islam.

“A person who claims an Islamic basis for such a heinous crime is no more faithful to the teachings of Islam than a KKK member who claims a biblical basis in committing bigoted crimes,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told me on Friday.

“Islam’s teachings are very clear in protecting the sanctity of life,” the Corona resident said. “Anyone who claims to be a Muslim cannot act in opposition to those teachings.”

Prayers for the victims of the Boston bombings and condemnations of the attacks were heard over the past few days in mosques across the country and at vigils organized by Muslims.

One Boston-area imam, Talal Eid, said he would refuse to perform funeral rites for someone who killed innocent people. The Quran says such people go to hell, he said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev clashed with members of a Massachusetts mosque earlier this year. In January, he disrupted a service when he loudly objected to Martin Luther King Jr. being compared with the Prophet Mohammed.

One worshipper said Tsarnaev was angry because King was not a Muslim.
After the outburst, Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque, told The Boston Globe “The congregation shouted him out of the mosque.”

The FBI said that in 2011, a foreign government – later identified as Russia – asked for information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

“The FBI reviewed its records and determined that in early 2011, a foreign government asked the FBI for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev,” the FBI said. “The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

The FBI found no evidence of terrorist activity.

There have already been assaults against Muslims in the Boston and New York areas.

Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington, D.C., said anti-Muslim attitudes can alienate Muslims. He said in an essay on the National Geographic website that he believes the Tsarnaev brothers’ struggle in defining their identity led to the bombings. He also said Muslim community leaders need to work more to help young people deal with Islamophobia and guide them so they don’t fall prey to those who advocate violence.

The Tsarnaev brothers’ religious background has thrust Islam into the debate in Washington over how to react to the Boston bombings.

Rep. Peter King, a New York State Republican who has held hearings on “radical Islam” – hearing that were condemned by many Muslim and civil-liberties groups for singling out Muslims – said the bombings illustrated the need for greater surveillance of Muslims. King added that 99 percent of U.S. Muslims are good people, but that greater monitoring of Muslims is necessary because people such as the alleged Boston bombers have succeeded in staying “under the radar screen.”

King appeared Sunday on Fox News Sunday with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who appeared to accuse King of anti-Muslim attitudes.

“With respect to whether we are doing enough in the Muslim community, I think we should take a look at that,” she said. “But I don’t think we need to go and develop some real disdain and hatred on television about it.”

Feinstein then added, “This came at this point from two individuals. That’s what we really do know. We do not know what their connections are. So I think we ought to find out before we begin to charge them with all kinds of associations.”

Ayloush commenting on the Boston Bombings on KPCC's AirTalk Show with Larry Mantle



Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (L) speaks to the media at a shopping mall on the perimeter of a locked down area as a search for the second of two suspects wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings takes place on April 19, 2013 in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Stay up to date with on the ground coverage of the search for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as reporters from WBUR check in with law enforcement. We'll also consider the way the bombings and manhunt have affected local communities, including the Islamist and Chechen communities. How could a city like Boston be effectively shut down? What's it like to be under seige?

KPCC's up-to-date coverage on the Boston Marathon bombings

Steve Brown, reporter and anchor at WBUR in Boston.
Erroll Southers, Adjunct Professor of Homeland Security and Public Policy Associate Director, Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, USC
Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the greater Los Angeles office at the Counsel on American-Islamic Relations (CARE)
Olga Oliker, Associate Director, RAND International Security & Defense Policy Center and author of "Russian Foreign Policy." Born in Russia and fluent in Russian, Oliker's expertise includes Russian foreign policy and deterrence strategy.
Thomas Wieczorek, ICMA Center for Public Safety Management
Phil Mattingly, Justice Department Reporter, Bloomberg News

BOSTON BOMBINGS: Islam condemns violence, Muslim leader reiterates

BOSTON BOMBINGS: Islam condemns violence, Muslim leader reiterates

Posted on | April 19, 2013
Hussam Ayloush
Hussam Ayloush

As news emerges that the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya, an Inland Muslim leader emphasized something he’s had to repeat every time a suspect in a terrorist attack is Muslim: Violence against innocent people is a severe violation of the teachings of Islam.

“A person who claims an Islamic basis for such a heinous crime is no more faithful to the teachings of Islam than a KKK member who claims a biblical basis in committing bigoted crimes,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a Corona resident.

“Islam’s teachings are very clear in protecting the sanctity of life,” he said. “Anyone who claims to be a Muslim cannot act in opposition to those teachings.”

One of the suspects, Dzhokhar Tsamaev, posted links to Muslim websites on a Russian-language social media site. He also posted links to websites advocating Chechen independence from Russia. Chechen rebels fought two unsuccessful wars for secession in the 1990s.

But the suspects’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, said he believed religion had nothing to do with his nephews’ motivations.

“Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine,” he said “Anything else, anything else to do with religion is a fraud. It’s a fake. We’re Muslims. We’re ethnic Chechens.”

Ayloush said a small number of Americans, goaded on by anti-Muslim extremist commentators on the Internet, may blame Islam for the tragedy.

“There are people who are exploiting the tragedy in Boston to exploit anti-Muslim fear and paranoia,” he said.

But he said Inland Muslims generally have found support after past terrorist acts that were committed by a Muslim.

“It has been a positive experience when their neighbors, coworkers and friends say that you can’t blame a whole group for the actions of a few,” Ayloush said.

Ayloush said he’s not spending time thinking about the possibility of verbal or physical abuse that could be directed at Southern California Muslims as a result of the Boston attacks.

“Our bigger sentiment has been and continues to be with the victims in Boston,” he said. “We shouldn’t take away our focus from them.”

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Guest Column: We must forgive, in all events (OC Register)

Forgiving someone for attempted murder seems unfathomable.

Image for News Release - Guest Column: We must forgive, in all events

(Apr 04, 2013 - Anaheim, CA) 

The shotgun came up. It pointed directly at the dark-skinned man clerking at the Dallas gas station. He recently had immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Rais Bhuiyan observed some customers at the gas station who grew aggressive and argumentative. On Sept. 21, Mark Stroman walked in, asked Bhuiyan where he was from and then shot him in the face, blinding him in his right eye. Bhuiyan was Stroman’s third victim in a hunting spree that left two other South Asian men dead.

Eight years later, the story changed – as hearts change – from one of revenge and terror to forgiveness and repentance. On the day that Stroman was slated for execution, Bhuiyan told Stroman that he had for-given him. Stroman, who had grown deeply penitent over his actions, thanked Bhuiyan in his last moments of living.

Forgiving someone for attempted murder seems unfathomable. It is difficult for the broken-hearted to forgive.

In all three Abrahamic traditions, the human journey begins with sin and forgiveness. God created Adam and forbade him from eating the fruit of a specified tree. Adam disobeyed the command, repented to God and he was shown forgiveness.

It’s much easier to be angry than to forgive. Sometimes we unnecessarily cling to anger. But Islam, as other faith traditions, asks us to rise above anger and discord and to reflect God’s attributes to the best of our limited human capability on this Earth.

“They should pardon and forgive. Do you not love that God should forgive you? And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 24:22).

To forgive is not an act of passivism. We do not forgive by forgetting or not dealing with those who have wronged us. It is not our anger that inhibits us from forgiveness, but how we deal with our anger.

Forgiveness liberates our souls, empowers us with profound resolve to move forward, to improve our own shortcomings, to not let the sting of hatred or malice control our hearts and hinder us from improving ourselves.

It is an act of mercy to the wronged and the one who has wronged.

We cannot have what we will not give. We cannot have the fruits of forgiveness – peace, generosity, comfort, compassion and mercy – without giving it as Bhuiyan gave it to Stroman.

– Hussam Ayloush is the executive director of CAIR-Greater Los Angeles, based in Anaheim