Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CAIR Deplores Violent Depiction of Jesus in SNL Skit

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/19/13) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today deplored the violent depiction of Jesus in a recent NBC "Saturday Night Live" (SNL) skit.

According to NBC's description of the skit: "In Quentin Tarantino's new historical revenge thriller, 'DJesus Uncrossed,' Jesus emerges from his tomb and has the Romans on his radar."

NBC VIDEO: New Tarantino Movie

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

"Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message. While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line.

"We strongly support free speech rights for all, but one would hope that common decency and respect for the beliefs of others would help avoid such unfortunate depictions."

Awad noted that many people are unaware that Muslims revere and love Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers. Every time Muslims mention Jesus' name, they add "peace be upon him."

The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states: "Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! God gives thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.'" (3:45)

The Quran depicts Jesus speaking from the cradle and, with God's permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the Quran: "We gave (Jesus) the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers." (57:27)

Islam's Prophet Muhammad called Jesus God's "spirit and word" and once said: "Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Thoughts of an American Muslim on Independence Day

As we mark one of history's most triumphant acts of liberty, I want to share with you some of the many things America's Muslims are doing to preserve this fundamental principle of the American identity.

The revolution we honor each year on July 4th was in part sparked by unreasonable government intrusions into individual liberty. In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis spoke against overly-broad warrants issued by the British government. These Writs of Assistance allowed the crown's agents to search any house or ship they wished, without any specific reason. John Adams -- signer of the Declaration of Independence and our nation''s second president -- said of Otis' speech, "Then and there, the child Independence was born."

In times of threat, public opinion often shifts away from liberty. Ten years after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Pew Research Center found that a troubling number of Americans supported government monitoring of credit card transactions (42%) and phone calls (29%). Similarly, the Associated Press found disconcerting percentages of Americans embracing the ideas of warrantless monitoring of domestic phone calls (23%) and email (30%).

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a California Muslim serves as one example of turning to the Constitution to preserve American liberty from over-broad or warrantless government intrusions into individual liberty. The lawsuit asserts that the FBI violated Yasir Afifi's First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when the bureau failed to obtain a warrant to place a GPS tracking device on his car to monitor his daily activities.

American liberty is about going before a judge, providing reasonable suspicion and getting a warrant, not about unchecked government power to intrude into a person's life.
Liberty in the form of free exercise of religion is also crucial to our nation. Everyone who went to elementary school in this country knows the pilgrims came to the New World to escape religious persecution in Europe.

In 2011, 54 bills or amendments aimed at interfering with Muslims' religious practices -- so-called "anti-sharia" bills -- were considered in 25 states and the U.S. Congress. This trend continues today. It is often carried out under the banner of a conspiracy theory that asserts Muslims are working to undermine the Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.

Yet we know that no religious code can replace American law. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, "This Constitution ... shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby."

Laws intended to target Muslims have been passed in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, and South Dakota. This is a serious threat to the First Amendment, which prohibits government from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion."

Muslims, along with interfaith and business partners, have been active in opposing such bills. The 2010 amendment to Oklahoma's state constitution, which violates the First Amendment by explicitly subjecting Islam to government censure, immediately faced a legal challenge from a Muslim living in that state. A federal judge put the law on hold after determining that the challenge had merit and will likely result in the law being ruled unconstitutional.

There are countless examples of Muslims defending American liberty. Muslims have worked to undo the sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allow for indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial. The NDAA is unconstitutional because it disregards the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process for "all persons" and the Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speedy trial.

When presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich asserted that they would impose loyalty oaths on Muslims who may have wanted to serve in their administrations, Muslims again asserted American principles, pointing out that Article VI of the Constitution prohibits "religious tests" for public office. America is about who merits the position, not what their faith might be.

I am grateful for the opportunity to live the American dream and help fulfill that dream for all our nation's citizens. On July 4th, I will join my fellow Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds to mark the courage the Founding Fathers showed in asserting liberty from a tyrannical British king. The next day, I will go back to defending American ideals, because that is what my faith compels me to do.

[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties organization. He can be contacted at: nawad@cair.com ]

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Uphold the Constitution

By Nihad Awad

Publshed by USAToday October 3, 2011

Let’s start where we agree. Anwar al-Awlaki was a propagandist for violence and extremism. His repeated calls to kill Americans cannot be denied or underestimated. The extent of his actual involvement in terrorist operations is something the public is not privy to.

He was an Internet personality, not a scholar on Islam. He lacked the authority to issue religious verdicts and rulings. Real Muslim scholars refuted his twisted interpretations, but they lacked his charisma and slick publishing apparatus. American Muslims condemned his video messages endorsing the killing of Americans.

But now to the more difficult issue. The Fifth Amendment states, "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." We should reject any domestic or foreign policies that diminish constitutional protections.

While the killings of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan by a U.S. drone strike may be popular with many, times and enemies have a tendency to change.

If we accept that the president can order the killing of any American without due process of law, the Constitution is rendered meaningless.
Even in the post-9/11 era, our leaders and military personnel have a duty to uphold the Constitution.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has advocated for hundreds of American Muslims denied due process when placed on no-fly or watch lists. Citizens of all faiths and political persuasions should know that their constitutional rights could be similarly denied in some future national crisis.

We join the ACLU and other groups in urging Congress and the courts to take up this issue.
Studies show that drone strikes fuel anti-American anger and boost recruiting for al-Qaeda. There is little evidence that the attacks decrease the terror threat — the opposite may be true.
Our nation’s war on terror will not be won through force of arms. It will be won when we are shown to be a nation in which respect for the law transcends fear, and hostility toward today’s enemies does not cause us to forget our founding principles.

America's enemies can never win on the field of battle. Their only hope of an American defeat is one we inflict on ourselves.

Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties organization.
He may be reached at nawad@cair.com

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nihad Awad - Can Muslims Co-Exist Peacefully and Justly with Other Faith Communities?

Nihad Awad - Can Muslims Co-Exist Peacefully and Justly with Other Faith Communities?

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Statement of CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad on Peter King Hearing

Washington, DC, March 9, 2011

Since Representative Peter King announced tomorrow's planned hearing on American Muslims, more than 250 organizations have written to him expressing concerns about his statements and allegations.

Hundreds of leaders from across the nation, including more than 80 interfaith representatives from King's home of Long Island, New York, have expressed similar concerns.

Representative King's two main allegations -- that American Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement and that 80 to 85 percent of their leadership are "extremists" -- are demonstrably false.

Top law enforcement officials such as FBI Director Robert Mueller and Sheriff Lee Baca, commander of the nation's largest sheriff's department and a board member of the National Sheriff's Association, say Muslims support and cooperate with law enforcement.

Just this week, a former FBI counterterrorism director rejected the allegation of Muslim non-cooperation.

Michael Rolince, who headed the Counterterrorism Division in the FBI's Washington field office between 2002 and 2005, said: "I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the community has on multiple occasions come forward and assisted law enforcement.”

Academic research also refutes Congressman King's claims.

Earlier this year, Duke University found that tips from the American Muslim community provided information “that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.” Duke University also found that, “[M]any mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering violent extremism.”

There is no denying that people of evil intent covet the opportunity to recruit Americans, including those of the Islamic faith, and to pull them away from the straight path of Islam to the deviated path of violent extremism.

CAIR and the mainstream Muslim community are natural enemies of those who promote violent extremism.

There is also no denying that – except for a tiny minority -- violent extremists have not found fertile ground in America. Many individuals and institutions, including law enforcement, homeland security personnel, and the leaders and members of the American Muslim community, deserve a share of the credit for this.

CAIR has always maintained that it is both a civic and religious duty to immediately report criminal activity to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Equally, like any civil liberties organization, we advise our community to know their constitutional rights.

Our community has reasonable concerns with some law enforcement activities and policies.

These concerns include overly-broad surveillance of Muslims and their institutions based solely on religion, concerns about FBI and other agencies pursuing lines of questioning related to First Amendment protected activities, concern about the use of Muslim-bashers as law enforcement trainers, and concerns about American Muslims abroad facing denial of due process and pressure to become informants.

Tomorrow, Congressman King will have the spotlight. We sincerely hope that he and his witnesses abandon false allegations, personal agendas and irresponsible rhetoric in favor of a sober and objective hearing.

Sadly, a disturbing number of religious, ethnic and racial minorities – including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jewish Americans, Catholics, Mormons, and many others -- have been singled out for discrimination at various times in our history. American Muslims would be doing a disservice to the sacrifices of minorities before us if we do not stand up for ourselves now.

We ask our fellow Americans not to succumb to Rep. King’s fear-mongering. We ask our fellow Americans to reject his false and unsubstantiated allegations. And we thank the many political and religious leaders who have spoken against King’s divisive hearing.

America was not built for any one religion, race or ethnicity. It was built on a set of principles. One of those principles is respect for pluralism. We hope Congressman King will remember that and work to unite, not divide our nation.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

CAIR: Coalition to Challenge ‘Misinformation’ in King Hearings

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/7/11) –- On Wednesday, March 9, a coalition of Muslim, interfaith and civil rights groups will hold a news conference in Washington, D.C., to challenge misinformation that may be repeated in the first of a series of hearings on Muslim “radicalization” to be held Thursday by Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

WHAT: Groups to Challenge ‘Misinformation’ in King Hearings
WHEN: Wednesday, March 9, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Lisagor Room, National Press Club, 13th Floor, National Press Building, 529 14th Street N.W., Washington, D.C.
CONTACT: CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, E-Mail: csaylor@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com

At the news conference, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will challenge Rep. King to offer facts to back up his false claims that "85 percent" of mosques in his state and nationwide are run by "radicals” and that law enforcement officials receive little cooperation from American Muslim leaders.

CAIR will also provide real-time Twitter commentary on Thursday’s hearing at @CAIRNational. Tune in to the conversation at #KingHearings. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern) on March 10.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

King's attack on U.S. Muslims: Head of CAIR says terrorism hearings will stoke fears

Published in New York Daily News, 2/28/2011
By Nihad Awad

Long Island Rep. Peter King's announcement that he will hold hearings on the alleged "radicalization" of American Muslims has sent a shudder through our community.

But understand: This response is not because of opposition to the concept of holding hearings on growing political and religious extremism of all stripes. We would support such hearings, provided they were balanced and fair.

We would support such hearings, if they were broadened to also examine what led someone to plant an IED on the parade route of this year's Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Wash., and what caused U.S. hate groups to top 1,000 for the first time, according to Southern Poverty Law Center - then they would gain our support.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member on the committee King chairs, asked him to expand the hearings to include "a broad-based examination of domestic extremist groups regardless of their ideological underpinnings." King refused.

In fact, our community's response to King's planned hearings is reasonable given his record of irresponsible and factually inaccurate remarks regarding America's Muslims.

King justifies his call for hearings with two often-repeated talking points: 1) that law enforcement officials tell him they received little or no cooperation from "Muslim leaders and imams," and 2) that "85%" of mosques in his state and nationwide are run by "radicals" who constitute "an enemy living amongst us."

Expert testimony and actual research paint a different picture.

In April 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee: "I reaffirm the fact that 99.9% of Muslim-Americans ... are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States."

Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser at the nonpartisan RAND Corp., finds "an American [Muslim] population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence."

A December 2010 Congressional Research Service report cites numerous examples of partnership between federal authorities and American Muslim communities.

Quintan Wiktorowicz, the new senior director for global engagement at the White House National Security Council, shattered stereotypes when his research found that very religious Muslims were in fact the most resistant to radicalization.

These are sources anyone can verify. On the other hand, King's "85%" claim is based solely on a comment made by one person speaking at a 1999 State Department forum. That individual never produced any evidence to back up his bizarre claim.

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