A Queens judge turned down a request for a special hearing from the lawyer of Oscar Morel, who was officially charged for first-degree murder of mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, a victorious sign for the family of both men.
A Queens judge turned down a request for a special hearing from the lawyer of Oscar Morel, who was officially charged for first-degree murder of mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, a victorious sign for the family of both men.
Some 1,200 NYPD police recruits are in the midst of four days of "multi-cultural immersion" training to help them better understand and respect the communities they serve.
The training was instituted in 2007, according to the NYPD's website, and in 2009 included presentations by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, commanding officers and prominent community members to help them understand multiple ethnic and religious communities, sexual orientations and youth perspectives.
Bishop Lester Williams, senior pastor for the Community Church of Christ in Jamaica, Queens, sat on a similar panel Wednesday at the Apollo Theater observed by the recruits.
"I told them how I hate it when you just stop me and say, 'license and registration,' without telling me why I'm being stopped and without even knowing who I am,"Williams said. "It's the attitude," some officers display that can be perceived as insulting and even threatening, he said. The training is important, said Williams, because it is not in response to tragedies, such as the Sean Bell shooting, but "before the fact" and helps diverse recruits understand diverse communities. But, he said, "I'd really like to see them go into these communities and listen. Dialogue is very important."
Ryan Mahoney, the board president for CAIR-NY (Council on American-Islamic Relations), said that while he welcomed the training, his organization had not been contacted to participate or identify experts to participate. "Credible training must avoid stereotyping and include expert Muslim representatives. It was not long ago that the NYPD screened a hateful anti-Muslim propaganda film to over 1,500 officers," Mahoney complained. He also called upon the NYPD "to end their vast unconstitutional spying program."
The NYPD has two training blocks in the Immersion Course Schedule dedicated to the Muslim community and Commissioner Ray Kelly has been presented with a plaque from the Muslim Advisory Council for the Department's efforts to engage the community, said a police spokesman. The spokesman also forwarded materials indicating that the movie, "The Third Jihad," which was shown in 2012, had been replaced in the curriculum after complaints.
Amardeep Singh, program director and co-founder of The Sikh Coalition, said his group has been participating in the training for two years. "We share with officers that the turban is an article of faith and not a hat that can be taken on or off at will," and that when entering Sikh houses of worship in non-emergencies, officers should remove their shoes, Singh said. Information about Sikh beliefs is also shared to increase understanding and awareness, he said.
(Sheila Anne Feeney)
~~Article by AM New York: http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039/nypd-police-recruits-getting-multicultural-immersion-training-1.6636933
(ALBANY, NY, May 1, 2013) -- Members of the New York Muslim community participated yesterday in the 1st Annual “Muslim Day at the Capitol.”
During meetings with more than 65 elected officials of the New York State Assembly and Senate, American Muslims addressed upcoming bills that directly impact the New York Muslim community, including a bill to create an independent Inspector General (IG) of the NYPD and a bill to recognize Muslim holidays in the New York City school district.
The IG bill was introduced by the office of State Senator Kevin Parker after revelations of mass warrantless surveillance of Muslim communities. The bill seeks to “restore public confidence in the NYPD” and to “ensure that tax dollars are used lawfully and to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse by state and local law enforcement engaged intelligence activities.”
The school holiday bill was introduced by Assembly Member Vanessa Gibson, and Senator Bill Perkins, and will allow for the Muslim holidays to be recognized as school holidays in the city school district of New York City--where Muslim students account for one of every ten students.
“In the recent past, American Muslims have been ignored, dismissed and even attacked by politicians seeking to court votes,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Muneer Awad. “However, grassroots efforts such as Muslim Day at the Capitol will help reverse this trend while advocating for issues that positively affect our local communities.”
CAIR chapters across the United States host an annual Muslim Day at the Capitol. In New York, CAIR hosted members of the community from across the state, and the event was co-sponsored by the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group, the Council on Immigrants Rights, and the Muslim Consultative Network.
CAIR-New York also released a legislative Advocacy toolkit for community members at the "Muslim Day at the Capitol." The toolkit serves as a resource and encourages community members toengage their elected officials on important issues throughout the year.
CAIR-NY is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
- END –
CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Muneer Awad, 347-296-7966, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jonathan Helman and Athena Jones, For CNN, On Feb 5th 2013, Read Original
A Muslim activist group has launched a new ad campaign to reclaim a word they say has been abused and distorted by Muslim extremists and by anti-Muslim groups.
The MyJihad ad campaign is using print ads and social media to educate the public about what they say is the true meaning of the word "jihad."
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the term as "1: a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; also: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline" and "2: a crusade for a principle or belief."
But some religious activists dispute the emphasis on "holy war." They say the word is often misunderstood and has been co-opted and "misapplied" by radical Muslims who use it to justify terrorist acts and by anti-Muslim groups who use the word to foment fear in non-Muslims.
"The word 'jihad' literally means struggle, struggle for a good cause," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"It is a concept, a noble concept, within Islam that emphasizes a personal struggle within yourself to be a better person, a better husband, better wife, better worker, better neighbor," he explained. "It is not aggression, and it does not mean to commit harm against other people. If people commit harm against innocent people, it will be in violation of the spirit of Islam and a violation of the concept of jihad."
The campaign is the brainchild of Ahmed Rehab, an activist who is also the executive director of CAIR in Chicago. He launched the effort in December with a small group of activists.
They began running ads on 25 city buses in Chicago and later expanded to buses in San Francisco. The ads began running at four metro stations in Washington in late January. They depict Muslims and non-Muslims sharing how they define their personal struggles. One shows a white Jewish man and a black Muslim man standing side by side, with the slogan "#MyJihad is to build bridges across the aisle." Another shows a young female photographer wearing a headscarf and holding a camera. The slogan reads "#MyJihad is to capture the truth even when it's unpopular."
Rehab said the donor-funded campaign is about making sure Muslim children can grow up in a world where they're judged on their own merits and not according to radical stereotypes.
"I don't wake up in the morning looking for my Kalashnikov or AK-47," he said, highlighting one such stereotype.
The group has also taken its campaign to social media, asking supporters to post on their Facebook pages and use #MyJihad on Twitter to share their personal struggles. Rehab said they have received tens of thousands of encouraging tweets, Facebook messages, letters and e-mails.
The campaign has also attracted skeptics, especially online.
A user with the Twitter handle @Shaqton wrote: "Al-Qaeda: #MyJihad is carrying 'earth-shattering, shocking and terrifying' attacks against 'heart of the land of non-belief' -- U.S. and Europe."
Another user, with the handle @PeterTownsend7,wrote: "Claiming that critics read the Quran 'out of context' is another way of saying that you wish it did not say what it plainly does #myjihad."
Awad said the organizers of the campaign should expect to face resistance to their message but believes they will be successful in starting a conversation about this important tenet of Islam.
"It's an uphill battle, because you are trying to dismantle preconceived ideas about the concept of jihad, because traditionally people have seen stereotypes and they have seen actions by some Muslims, and the majority of Muslims did not step in to say, 'No, this is our faith, and we are going to claim it,'" he said. "It is going to be an uphill battle, because you are trying to undo accumulation of misperception and mispractice -- misperception by non-Muslims and mispractice by some Muslims, and I think it's important for us to take this initiative."
The group hopes to place ads in more cities in the United States and around the world and to expand to other media such as radio and television.
"The message is global. The goal is anti-radicalization," Rehab said.
The Huffington Post| January 9, 2013
Matt Sledge, email@example.com
Original Article Here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/muslim-groups-rally-subway-pushing-death_n_2435611.html
NEW YORK -- A coalition of advocacy groups and political leaders held a rally on Tuesday linking the subway pushing death of a South Asian man to a broader anti-Muslim environment in New York City -- inflamed, they said, by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York City Police Department.
"When our own government, our own police, our own institutions, our own media continue to engage in racial profiling or painting communities as suspect, we cannot expect the results to be any different than what they are right now," said Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director for the South Asian advocacy group Desis Rising Up and Moving.
The Queens rally centered around the death of Sunando Sen, a Hindu immigrant from India who was crushed to his death by a subway train after 31-year-old Erika Menendez allegedly pushed him on Dec. 27. Menendez, who has a history of mental problems, told investigators she shoved Sen because she thought he was Muslim and "I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers," police said.
As deranged as his killer may have been, Ahmed said, Sen's death was not an isolated incident. In November a devout Muslim was stabbed outside a Queens mosque because of his religion. The same month, police arrested a man they accused of the serial killings of three Brooklyn shopkeepers with Middle Eastern backgrounds. In Wisconsin, in August, a white supremacist killed six Sikhs in a temple.
New York City Council members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, both gay Democrats from Queens, spoke at the rally, saying their own experiences fighting hate crimes made them take a stand against anti-Muslim and anti-South Asian violence.
Ranjit De Roy, who has lived in Sen's apartment building in Elmhurst, Queens, for the last four years and counted him as a friend, also spoke. Sen, he said, was a kind man who often said that "religion makes the division of the human beings … humanity is the good thing."
De Roy said he is haunted by his last image of Sen leaving his apartment, giving a cheerful greeting as he went off to a shift at work. These days, De Roy said, he can't get on the train without feeling scared and looking around to see if anyone is following him.
"We are feeling insecure from that day," De Roy said.
A general "climate of hostility" against Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians is to blame for that fear, said Muneer Awad, executive director of the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He pointed to the anti-Islam subway ads the MTA allowed to run underground, along with the NYPD's controversial surveillance of Muslim communities in and around New York, as "reinforcing" that climate.
"Our elected officials and NYPD come out and say, 'Well, we are not for demonizing American Muslims, or demonizing these communities,'" said Awad. "We're trying to help them acknowledge that their policies are actually reinforcing that hostility."
Salon| December 10, 2012
By Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center
This article was originally published by the Southern Poverty Law Center.http://www.salon.com/2012/12/10/fbi_anti_muslim_hate_crimes_still_up/singleton/
Hate crimes against perceived Muslims, which jumped up 50% in 2010 largely as a result of anti-Muslim propagandizing, remained at relatively high levels last year, according to 2011 hate crime statistics released today by the FBI.
The bureau reported that there were 157 reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2011, down slightly from the 160 recorded in 2010. The 2011 crimes occurred during a period when Islam-bashing propaganda, which initially took off in 2010, continued apace.
The FBI statistics, which are compilations of state numbers, are notoriously understated. Two Department of Justice studies have indicated that the real level of hate crimes in America is some 20-30 times the number reported in the FBI statistics, in part because some 56% of hate crimes are never reported to police and more than half of those that are are mischaracterized as non-hate crimes. Nevertheless, the FBI statistics can be used to get a sense of general trends.
Last year saw continued high levels of anti-Muslim propaganda such as the crusade by some against the alleged Muslim plan to impose religious Shariah law on the United States. There were a number of local battles over the construction of new mosques, and several were attacked by apparent Islamophobes.
At the same time, the FBI statistics suggested that there was a 31% drop in anti-Latino hate crimes, from 534 in 2010 to 405 last year. It’s not clear what might be behind that drop, other than an apparent diminution in anti-Latino and anti-immigrant propaganda as negative attention focused on Muslims.
Other hate crime categories remained relatively steady. Anti-Jewish hate crimes fell from 887 in 2010 to 771 last year, while anti-LGBT hate crimes rose slightly, from 1,256 to 1,277. Anti-black hate crimes also fell slightly, continuing a trend of dropping from a high of 2,876 in 2008 (when Barack Obama appeared on the national political scene, fueling anti-black hatred in some quarters) to 2,076 last year.
CNN World| December 5, 2012
By Sahar Aziz, Special to CNN
Original Article Found Here: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/05/freedom-means-being-able-to-wear-the-veil-too/
Editor’s note: Sahar Aziz is a fellow at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding and an associate professor of Texas Wesleyan School of Law. She serves as the president of the Egyptian American Rule of Law Association. The views expressed are her own.
In October, in a blatant act of discrimination, a Muslim woman wearing a veil in an Oklahoma bank was reportedly told she had to be escorted from the door to the teller. The Valley National Bank in Tulsa stated that this was not an act of religious discrimination, but rather part of their “no hat, no hood” policy instituted to allow security to clearly identify and take surveillance pictures of customers.
But as Executive Director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Adam Soltani said, "singling out Muslim women or other people of faith who wear religiously mandated head coverings that do not hinder identification is inappropriate and discriminatory."
According to the Pew Research Center, 43 percent of the roughly 1 million Muslim women in America wear headscarves. That’s a significant number of women in this country who face potential difficulties based on their decision to practice their faith the way they see fit. Yet their unique civil rights challenges are not reflected in any substantive way in the agendas of American Muslim organizations, who dance around the issue of gender, or among American feminist groups, who don’t want to touch issues of religion with a ten foot barge pole.
With the American public generally still suspicious of Muslims, evidence increasingly suggests that for American Muslim women, the “veil” now “marks” them as representatives of the suspect, inherently violent, and forever foreign “terrorist other” in our midst.
A recent policy brief published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, shows that Muslim women of all races and levels of religiosity face unique forms of discrimination at the intersection of religion, race, and gender because of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Consequently, these women are caught in the crosshairs of national security conflicts that profoundly affect their lives – including the safety of their family and their economic prospects – and receive inadequate support from advocacy groups focused on defending Muslims, women’s rights or civil liberties post-9/11. With the number of bullying cases against Muslim children and employment discrimination cases filed by American Muslim women on the rise, American women’s organization must stand up and take notice.
While these women’s rights groups have focused on equal pay, abortion rights, and other gender-specific issues certainly benefit Muslim women, the American women’s rights agenda fails to address the unique forms of subordination experienced by American Muslim women and the challenges faced by many other religious groups. With 86 percent of American women affiliated with a faith tradition, exploring issues of women’s rights and religion is a critical issue.
This exclusion from the agenda is the latest iteration of the ongoing challenge faced by Western feminists to remain relevant in an increasingly diverse and complicated conversation on women’s rights in this country. Add the element of religion, specifically American Muslim women who cover their hair, and traditionally progressive feminist organizations get nervous. Ironically, feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation have consistently called for banning the burqa and spoken in defense of women’s rights in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern nations while remaining silent on an American Muslim woman’s right to wear the headscarf free of discrimination and violence. They might address the fact that civil rights are abused when it comes to religious women’s rights; however, they don’t take issue and support the gender rights of these women through concerted campaigns.
What will it take for a woman’s choice to cover her hair based on her religious beliefs to be seen as a civil and woman’s right? Whether a woman wants to take off the burqa in Afghanistan or wants to wear the headscarf in Oklahoma, women’s rights organizations must remain consistent in their support of choice and yes, freedom to practice religion in the way that aligns with a woman’s core beliefs.
In the end, a woman’s rights are about personal autonomy to choose her life’s path, not whether we approve of it.
Original Article Found Here: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/05/freedom-means-being-able-to-wear-the-veil-too/
By Rebecca Henely
An Astoria cab driver and members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations gathered at a neighborhood mosque Monday to denounce a Connecticut prosecutor for dropping charges against a former Morgan Stanley banker who was accused of stabbing the driver.
“There is overwhelming evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt,” said Hassan Ahmad, the attorney for cab driver Mohammed Ammar.
William Bryan Jennings, who worked in Lower Manhattan and has a home in Darien, Conn., had been charged with assault, intimidation due to bias and larceny. Jennings had hired Ammar to take him home Dec. 22, 2011, and agreed to pay $204 for the about 40-mile drive, Darien Police said. When Ammar reached Jennings’ home, Jennings had supposedly refused to pay and an argument began, police said.
Jennings had been charged with injuring Ammar with a pen knife as Ammar drove away to try to dial 911 on his cellphone in a place where he could get a signal, police said.
CAIR said Jennings had also told Ammar, who is Egyptian by birth and an American citizen, to “go back to your country” and said he would not face repercussions because he pays “$10,000 in taxes a year.”
At the news conference, held at the Masid Dar-Al-Dawah Mosque, at 35-13 23rd Ave. in Astoria, Ahmad said after reporting the incident to the authorities Ammar had found the pen knife weeks later in his yellow taxi cab. Out of fear, Ammar did not tell authorities until several more weeks had passed.
Steven Weiss, supervisory assistant state attorney for Connecticut, ended up dropping the case because Ammar failed to produce the knife earlier, Ahmad said.
Eugene Riccio, attorney for Jennings, praised Weiss for dropping the case.
“We’re grateful for the prosecutor’s decision,” Riccio said. “In doing so, we felt that it was clearly the right thing to do under the circumstances.”
Riccio said his client had not committed any criminal offense.
Ammar, who said he was broken up by the dropped case, pointed out that he had been driving his taxicab for 10 years with no problems like this.
“I’m very sad. I’m very upset,” Ammar said. “It’s really, really unfair.”
Muneer Awad, executive director for CAIR’s New York branch, said they were calling on the Department of Justice to take on the case.
“It’s not only disgraceful, but it’s criminal,” Awad said.
Ahmad said Ammar was also mulling a lawsuit. He said his client made a mistake in not telling authorities about the knife but that the basic facts of the incident were not in dispute and that the prosecutor had planned to continue to go forward with the case for months after Ammar produced the knife.
“It’s absolutely outrageous,” Ahmad said.
See the original story at the Times Ledger here:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New York Chapter has sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection asking that New Yorker Samir Suljovic be allowed to fly home to Queens, N.Y., from Germany.
By Michael Walsh / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 5:20 PMA Queens man has been trapped in Europe for the last 17 days, says a civil rights group, because his name is allegedly on the no-fly list.
Samir Suljovic, 26, first tried to fly back home to New York from Vienna, Austria, on October 1. Airline agents told the New Yorker that he could not board a return flight at the request of his own government.
On Wednesday, the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) issued a statement that demands that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allow Suljovic to return home from his current location, Germany.
Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR-NY, said he has no way to know whether this is a case of mistaken identity because he claims authorities have been unresponsive.
“This is not a unique case for American Muslims who have been traveling abroad,” Awad told the Daily News. “He has no criminal record, he has never been charged with anything criminal. A Muslim happened to be traveling abroad and it raised a red flag for no other reason than that he is Muslim.”
Suljovic tried to contact the DHS and CBP liaison at JFK International Airport but has not received a response, says the rights group. He was advised to ask for help from the Germany's U.S. embassy. But instead of support he was allegedly interrogated and his cell phone was searched without his consent.
"I cannot sleep, eat, and sometimes I feel like I can't breath [sic], knowing my son is homeless in a strange land and our government has done nothing to help us," Suljovic's mother was quoted by CAIR-NY as saying.
"This is an abuse of power by our federal agencies," said Awad. "Our government cannot ban American citizens from returning home without due process of law."
CAIR-NY sent a letter with its demands to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, New York members of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Embassy in Munich, Germany.
"The denial of Mr. Suljovic's right to return home without due process of law constitutes a grave violation of his civil rights and liberties," the letter reads. "Instead of protecting this young U.S. citizen while he traveled abroad, the government has effectively stranded him in an unfamiliar country without shelter or protection."
Suljovic, born and raised in Oakland Gardens, Queens, was attending Queensboro Community College, according to CAIR-NY’s statement. He initially traveled to Europe to visit family and friends in Montenegro.
"He has never done anything wrong," his mother said. "He choses [sic] to be a good Muslim. That's not a crime in America."
Read the original article here: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/queens-man-no-fly-list-stuck-17-days-german-airport-article-1.1185973#ixzz29e8NQUiG
By WENDY RUDERMAN
Published: October 10, 2012
“Outbursts are prohibited,” City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. warned as a hearing on bills centered largely on the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk practices began on Wednesday morning.
But it did not take long for the calm to be disturbed. The hearing, which stretched on for nearly six hours, featured a series of outbursts, squabbles and sharp exchanges.
The hearing, before the Public Safety Committee, included testimony from about a dozen people on four bills aimed at police reform — three of which deal with street stops. The fourth bill would create an Office of Inspector General to monitor the Police Department, a measure both Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly oppose, arguing there is enough oversight already.
Most of the negative remarks were directed at Michael Best, the mayor’s counselor, who testified against the bills on behalf of Mr. Bloomberg and the department.
Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, a Brooklyn Democrat and a lead sponsor of the bills, collectively known as the Community Safety Act, voiced his frustration that Commissioner Kelly and Mr. Bloomberg did not attend the hearing. Mr. Williams likened them to 5-year-olds throwing temper tantrums and refusing to come to the table.
Mr. Best shot back: “We have discussed these issues with the Council on many, many occasions, and it’s unfair to characterize what we are doing here as a temper tantrum, which is wholly inaccurate.”
Mr. Williams responded, “There is a temper tantrum,” as Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who attended the hearing, placed her hand on his shoulder in an apparent gesture to calm him down.
“We’re not going away until changes have occurred,” he said.
The bills that address the stop-and-frisk tactic would do several things:
¶ Require police officers, when conducting stops, to identify themselves, provide their name and rank, and explain the reason for the stop.
¶ Seek to add teeth to an existing ban on racial profiling.
¶ Require that officers inform individuals of their right to refuse a search and obtain proof of their consent, if granted, in cases in which there is no other legal basis to search an individual.
See the original article at the New York Times website:
MTA Chairman: 'You Deal With A Free Speech Issue With More Free Speech'
CBS New York | September 27, 2012 3:20 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced a new disclaimer policy for controversial issue advertisements, just a week after losing a court battle to block one such advertisement.
The MTA had refused to run ads that compared Muslims to savages but a federal judge ruled against the agency, arguing that it would violate the First Amendment.
In response to the Jihad ad, a non-profit Christian group has announced it purchased advertising space in the New York City subway system for its “Love Your Muslim Neighbors” campaign.
Those ads are already running in several hotspots for religious tension across the country, according to the group Sojourners.
In a statement explaining the ad campaign, Sojourners president and CEO Rev. Jim Wallis said “when Jesus said, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ he didn’t add stipulations. He didn’t offer any extra addendums or added qualifiers. Christians around the world need to put that into action as often as we can, especially where we see hatred like this.”
The group has already placed the ads in Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Photo By BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS Mon, Sep 24, 2012
Cyrus McGoldrick, a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, talks to commuters as they walk by an advertisement that reads "Support Israel/Defeat Jihad" in the Times Square subway station in New York, September 24, 2012. The ad equating Islamic jihad with savagery was posted Monday in 10 New York City subway stations, even as much of the Muslim world was still seething over a California-made movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. The ad, sponsored by the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative, appeared after the Metropolitan Transit Authority lost a bid to refuse to post it on the grounds that it violated the agency's policy against demeaning language. In July, a federal judge ruled it was protected speech and ordered the MTA to place the posters. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION CIVIL UNREST)
See article here.
Ad equating Islamic jihad with savagery debuts in New York subway
The inflammatory ad, sponsored by the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative, will remain posted for a month.
By Reuters and The Associated Press | Sep.25, 2012 | 1:07 AM
An inflammatory ad equating Islamic jihad with savagery was posted on Monday in 10 New York City subway stations, even as much of the Muslim world was still seething over a California-made movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed.
The ad, sponsored by the pro-Israel American Freedom Defense Initiative, appeared after the Metropolitan Transit Authority lost a bid to refuse to post it on the grounds that it violated the agency's policy against demeaning language. In July, a federal judge ruled it was protected speech and ordered the MTA to place the posters.
The ad, featuring mostly black-and-white lettering on 46-by-30-inch (117-by-72-cm) cardboard posters, will remain posted for a month, MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.
"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man," the ad reads. "Support Israel/Defeat Jihad."
Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger and executive director for the ad's sponsor group, rejected the MTA's assertion the posters were demeaning.
"There's nothing either hateful or false about my ad," Geller said in an email.
The ad was plastered on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some artists to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including "Jihad," or holy war.
Despite the controversy, most subway riders who passed the ad in a tunnel at the Times Square station Monday failed to notice it. Those who did were generally critical.
"Where is the protection of religion in America?" wondered Javerea Khan, 22, a Pakistani-born Muslim from the Bronx. "The word 'savage' really bothers the Muslim community. But it's hard for me to look at this poster and take it seriously."
Mel Moore, 29, a sports agent, said: "It's not right, but it's freedom of speech. To put it on a poster is just not right. But it caught my attention and I support freedom of speech, so you got to live with it."
Australian tourist Peter Johnson, 50, who had just visited the memorial to the September 11 hijack plane attacks, said he felt it was "a bit harsh to call someone a savage, but I do think that extremist Muslims seem happy to kill anyone regardless of their race or religion.
"I would have used the word 'barbaric.'"
Anders, the MTA spokeswoman, said the agency had not received any reports of vandalism against the posters.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative gained notoriety when it opposed the creation of a Muslim community center near the site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
Published: September 18, 2012
Access story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/nyregion/ad-demeaning-muslims-to-appear-in-new-york-subway.html?_r=0
As violent and sometimes deadly protests consume much of the Muslim world in response to an American-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, New Yorkers will soon encounter another potentially inflammatory rendering of Islam: an advertisement in the transit system that reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
It concludes with the words, “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” wedged between two Stars of David.
After rejecting the ads initially, then losing a federal court ruling on First Amendment grounds, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on Tuesday that the ads were expected to appear next week at 10 subway stations.
“Our hands are tied,” Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority, said when asked about the timing of the ad.
In July, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the authority had violated the First Amendment rights of the group that sought to place the ad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The authority had cited the ad’s “demeaning” language in barring its placement.
The authority, which appealed the July ruling, also asked the judge to postpone implementing his decision until after its next board meeting on Sept. 27.
But in an order late last month, Judge Engelmayer granted the agency just two more weeks to revise its ad policy or to seek a further stay from an appellate court. It has done neither.
Now, the authority finds itself in a precarious position. The American Freedom Defense Initiative has also purchased ad space in Washington, but the transit authority there said Tuesday that it had “deferred” the ad’s placement “out of a concern for public safety, given current world events.”
A similar option is not available to New York’s transportation authority because of the court order, according to the agency. Mr. Donovan said the authority might consider revising its ad policy at its board meeting next week.
Pamela Geller, the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, said in an e-mail Tuesday that transit officials in Washington were “kowtowing to the threat of jihad terrorism.” She added that recent events in the Middle East had not given her pause “for a second” about posting the ads in New York.
“I will never cower before violent intimidation, and stop telling the truth because doing so is dangerous,” she said. “Freedom must be vigorously defended.”
She added, “If someone commits violence, it is his responsibility and no one else’s.”
The group has also advertised at Metro-North Railroad stations, with posters that cite “deadly Islamic attacks” since Sept. 11 and read, “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”
The transportation authority has said it did not try to block these ads because they did not meet the agency’s threshold for “demeaning” language, as the ad referring to a “savage” had.
Muneer Awad, the executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the ads were an attempt to “define Muslims” through hate speech.
“We’re encouraging American Muslims to go out there and define themselves,” he said.
Mr. Awad added that the group had not called for the ads’ removal, though it has asked the transportation authority to redirect funds it receives for the ads to the city’s Human Rights Commission.
“It’s perfectly legal to be a bigot and to be a racist,” he said. “We want to make sure there’s a counter-voice.”
Staten Island Advance| Monday August 20, 2012
By John Annese
(STATEN ISLAND, NY 8/20/12)-- Several of the borough's elected officials on Monday railed against what's being investigated as a possible anti-Muslim hate crime -- someone scattered pieces of bacon on the New Dorp Beach field where worshipers gathered to celebrate the last day of Ramadan.
Here are their remarks:
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island): "This type of hate crime against Staten Island's Muslim community is wrong, insensitive, and completely unacceptable. I expect this type of ignorance and religious intolerance in places like Iran or China, but it should not be tolerated at any level here on Staten Island.
"As a community, we are better than that. I have full faith that the NYPD will not only find who is responsible for this vulgar act, but also hold them fully accountable."
To see the remarks from District Attorney Daniel Donovan (R), Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn), Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore), Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid Island), and Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) please click here.