NYPD spying scrutinized…
After the ACLU and Muslim groups sued the New York City Police Department for allegedly spying on Muslims last week, the controversial program continued to garner scrutiny this week.
A publication devoted to diversity in higher education explored how the alleged NYPD spying program discouraged Muslim professors and students from speaking about issues relating to Islam. The New York Times editorial page chastised the NYPD for placing a surveillance camera in front of a Brooklyn mosque where the imam happened to be a community liaison to the NYPD.
And on Thursday, the New York City Council passed the Community Safety Act, a set of bills meant to increase oversight of the NYPD’s actions and make it easier to sue the NYPD for profiling.
Muslim Americans thanked the Albany Jewish community for alerting law enforcement authorities about Glendon Scott Crawford, an upstate New York man who, according to court documents, approached a local synagogue and Jewish community group with a plan to kill Muslims with a hidden radiation weapon.
“We thank the New York Jewish community and its leaders for helping to foil this potentially deadly terror plot targeting American Muslims,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a statement. “It is this type of cooperation with law enforcement authorities by religious communities that will ensure our nation’s safety and security.”
No-Fly no go…
A federal judge in Portland, Ore. heard arguments this week in a case in which 13 plaintiffs, Muslims included, are suing the federal government to either remove them from the “no-fly” list, which prevents them from traveling by air, or tell them why they are on it. Judge Anna J. Brown told ABC News she did not know when she would issue a ruling.
A library affair
What does Mas’ood Cajee, a Muslim dentist from South Africa now living in Stockton, Calif., love most about America? Its libraries. The Stockton Record has a heart-warming profile of Cajee and explains how he got books and DVDs about Islam donated to his local library under a program by the American Library Association called Muslim Journeys.
“Visiting the Library of Congress makes you understand why America is such a great country,” Cajee tells the paper. “To me the Library of Congress is bigger than the U.S. Capitol.”
The Library of Congress also happens to possess a bunch of interesting documents relating to Islam. In a 2002 article, “The Founding Fathers and Islam,” former chief of the library’s manuscript division, James H. Hutson, argues that early papers show that early American leaders were tolerant of Islam.
Terror ads down…
The Seattle Times reported this week that the Kings County Metro bus system will take down 46 bus ads that Muslims said promoted stereotypes of terrorists as Muslims.
The ads feature 126 photos of wanted terrorists placed between the taglines “Faces of Global Terrorism” and “Stop a Terrorist. Save Lives. Up to $25 Million Reward.” The 16 men in the ad are linked to extremist groups around the world. Seven are from Africa, four from the Philippines, one each is from Malaysia and Chechnya, and three from the United States.
“The impression you get is that terrorism is caused by brown-skinned men with beards, and occasionally they wear a turban – which isn’t true,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Seattle.
Getting depressed by all those stories about local communities blocking new mosques in their neighborhoods? Then you’ll be happy to read this story in the Los Angeles Times about a new mosque in Rowland Heights, Calif.
“Strikingly, the new mosques have been funded entirely by local Muslims, who began settling in the region in the 1960s,” the story says.
You also may be happy to hear that the Muslim community of Joplin, Mo., whose mosque was burned down in a suspicious fire last August 6, will soon announce plans to rebuild a new mosque in downtown Joplin.
Sunni-Shia violence has recently taken hold in Egypt. On Sunday, Salafist sheikhs led a mob of Sunnis that killed four Shiite Muslims and injured scores others in the village of Giza. The attack was condemned by Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam.
Human Rights Watch said the attack follows months of anti-Shiite hate speech in Egypt.
“The brutal sectarian lynching of four Shia comes after two years of hate speech against the minority religious group, which the Muslim Brotherhood condoned and at times participated in,” wrote Joe Stork, the group’s deputy director for the Middle East, in a statement.
A Catholic home school program in Napa, Calif., known as the Kolbe Academy will host Islamophobic bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer at a Sacramento conference in July.
“Whether a private home school academy like Kolbe, or a public institution, the voices in our society that seek to magnify our religious differences and convince us that those who believe differently are suspicious and even violent must not be offered prominent platforms for their rhetoric,” wrote Nathan Lean, a researcher with Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, in an editorial for the Napa Valley Register criticizing the invitations.
England, on the other hand, took a different tack. Foreign Secretary Theresa May decided to ban Geller and Spencer from her country a few days before they were to speak at a rally sponsored by the English Defense League, a right-wing group.