Cox: No laws broken in fatal FBI shooting of imam

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100930/METRO/9300475/1409#ixzz112Qtg0xT

Cox: No laws broken in fatal FBI shooting of imam

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

No state laws were violated in the killing of a Detroit mosque leader, who died during a shootout with the FBI, according to Attorney General Mike Cox’s office.

Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was killed Oct. 28 at a Dearborn warehouse in October.

Abdullah was shot 20 times by FBI agents after he allegedly fired a weapon and killed an FBI dog.

The gunfire occurred during an attempted arrest in connection with an indictment involving dealing in stolen goods and other alleged crimes.

“My office’s review found undisputed evidence that Mr. Abdullah resisted arrest and fired a gun first in the direction of the agents,” Cox said. “Under Michigan law, law enforcement agents are justified in using deadly force in these types of situations, and therefore we found no crimes.”

There was no immediate comment from the FBI.

An internal FBI investigation of the shooting has been completed and is under review by the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

The Attorney General’s office reviewed the shooting and arrest of Abdullah and four others after the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office declined.

“Based upon those circumstances, we question the veracity of anything that comes out of his office,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR), who has expressed concern about the FBI shooting and the autopsy report.

He is eagerly awaiting the Justice Department report and a chance to review key pieces of evidence that his group has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, including surveillance footage of the raid, which might show the fatal shooting.

Walid’s group also requested test results showing whether Abdullah fired a weapon and the caliber of bullets that struck the FBI dog to see if the bullets were fired by Abdullah or a law enforcement agent.

The review included interviewing 82 people and examining more than 1,600 pages of files and video recordings from the FBI and Dearborn Police.

The review concluded the FBI did not violate any state laws during the attempted arrest and that Abdullah was armed, resisted arrest, rejected repeated commands to surrender and show his hands. He refused to comply when warned that a dog would be deployed, according to the report.

Instead, Abdullah flashed a handgun and fired at several law enforcement agents.

The report said four FBI agents were directly involved in the shooting, and each told investigators they feared for their lives and the lives of others. Under state law, they returned fire in self-defense, killing Abdullah.

The Attorney General’s review also included interviewing the Wayne County Medical Examiner to learn more about facial injuries suffered by Abdullah.

The imam’s autopsy has raised concern among groups after a report released in February showed Abdullah was shot 21 times and said the medical examiner found his body handcuffed inside a trailer when he arrived at the Dearborn warehouse that was the scene of the shooting.

Abayomi Azikiwe of the Michigan Emergency Committee against War and Injustice called Abdullah’s death a “targeted assassination.”

During the review by Cox’s office, the medical examiner said there is insufficient evidence to definitively state how those injuries were caused.

“Theories include injury from the action of the slide on the pistol Abdullah was firing extremely close to his face, injury from being turned over by agents to facilitate handcuffing, or injury from the dog,” according to the report. “None of the eyewitness statements, nor any of the video footage, supplies any evidence that Abdullah’s facial injuries were sustained post-mortem.”

In Detroit protesters demand: ‘FBI off our backs, enough attacks’

http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/9/30/detroit-protesters-demand-fbi-our-backs-enough-attacks

In Detroit protesters demand: ‘FBI off our backs, enough attacks’

By Bryan G. Pfeifer
September 30, 2010

Detroit, MI – As part of nationwide protest actions September 27 and 28, in Detroit today a broad array of activists and community members denounced the FBI raids and harassment against members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Students for a Democratic Society at a protest rally at the McNamara Federal Building.

Hoisting placards such as “Stop FBI Raids,” “Freedom to Dissent,” and “FBI Terror Must Stop,” dozens of protesters came out in solidarity with those attacked and invaded by the FBI.

“The FBI they got it wrong. They thought they’d scare us off. They thought we wouldn’t want to fight the system when we saw what they were doing to the Freedom Road, SDS and others. They thought maybe they could pick us apart, pull us away and have us all say, ‘well they’re just troublemakers we’re not going to defend them.’ Well, every progressive group in this country is coming out against the FBI, against its terror, against the agents that raided homes in Chicago and even stole kids’ toys,” said Martha Grevatt, a UAW member and organizer with the Bail Out The People Movement, at the Detroit protest.

In the early morning hours of September 24 fully armed FBI swat teams invaded the homes of FRSO, SDS, the Minneapolis Anti-War Committee and other progressive activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan stealing boxes of personal and organizational effects and seizing computers, cell phones and other items. FBI agents also “visited” activists’ homes or called activists in California, Milwaukee, Michigan and North Carolina in an attempt to intimidate them. No activists have been arrested yet but at least 11 thus far have been served with subpoenas notifying them to appear before grand juries in October.

The government is accusing the invaded organizations of “material support for terrorism” but representatives of SDS and FRSO categorically deny this and say the FBI is engaging in another witch hunt and fishing expedition in an effort to fracture and divide the international progressive movement.

Demonstrations, press conferences and other protest actions are erupting across the United States from coast to coast since the raids and over 30 were held on September 28 and 29 alone. Activists are also using many communication mediums including videos, blogs, and email appeals to help defend those attacked by the FBI.

The demands of protesters are: Stop the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists; Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc.; and End the grand jury proceedings against anti-war activists.

“The FBI is doing this to intimidate us but it’s backfiring because people all over the country are coming together to say ‘no to this witch hunt, no we’re not going back to McCarthyism.’ We know COINTELPRO is still alive and we fought it for decades and we’re going to fight it now. We’re going to stand up to the FBI’s oppression and we’re ‘gonna push them back,” said Grevatt.

‘FBI off our backs: Enough attacks!’

At the Detroit protest as the crowd chanted, “FBI off our backs: Enough attacks,” “Solidarity is not a crime: From Colombia to Palestine,” and other slogans, Mr. Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), spoke to this reporter.

“I’m here to defend the 1st amendent and for the freedom of speech and of association. The recent raids that took place on peace activists are basically amounting to a witch hunt to chill the 1st amendment rights of Americans,” said Walid who is well-known internationally for defending Arabs, Muslims and others under attack from the U.S. government and is a leader of those seeking justice for Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah who was murdered by the FBI in Dearborn, Michigan on October 28, 2009.

Said Walid, “Now, ironically, one week ago the Department of Justice Inspector General released a report saying the FBI had been improperly targeting and surveilling peace activists. And we see that the FBI are attempting to intimidate and chill the activities of peace activists that are against the mainstream status quo in terms of the U.S.’ policy, in terms of Palestine and Colombia. The diminishing of the constitutional rights of one group of people places a danger on the rights of all Americans. That’s why I’m out here today.”

At the Detroit action, representatives from a broad array of progressive organizations in Metro Detroit participated including Solidarity, the Green Party, the United Auto Workers (UAW), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Lawyer’s Guild, the Auto Worker’s Caravan, Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Bail Out the People Movement, UAW’s Pride at Work, Peace Action Michigan, Detroit People’s Task Force, Workers World Party, Labor Notes, International Action Center and Labor Exchange.

Numerous members of the protest sponsor, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), also spoke out at the Detroit protest.

“We have a right here in the United States to stand up and say we oppose what our government is doing all over the world. They rob hundreds of billions of dollars every year from us for the death machine, for the war machine. And all they don’t use for death and destruction they turn over to the bankers and multinational corporations to oppress us, to exploit us and we have a right to speak out against these unjust policies just like our sisters and brothers who were raided by the FBI. They have a right to speak out against what the federal government is doing and we must support and be in solidarity with them, “ said Abayomi Azikiwe of MECAWI.

International solidarity makes us strong!

At the Detroit protest rally, persons of many nationalities participated and protest organizers received various communications from those who couldn’t attend. The messages express solidarity for those attacked by the FBI.

Amolak Singh, General Secretary, of LOK MORCHA (Peoples’ Front) Punjab (INDIA), sent a solidarity statement to MECAWI on September 26 after receiving an email from this organization about the September 28 protest rally.

“LOK MORCHA, a democratic revolutionary organization of the struggling people of Punjab, wedded to anti-imperialism & anti-feudalism, strongly condemns the FBI raids on Anti-war and solidarity activists in the U.S. The U.S.-rulers, aided and abetted by corporate giants and at their behest are waging unjust and aggressive wars against the people of various countries in the world, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Latin-American countries, to plunder their natural resources and wealth,” wrote Singh.

Added Singh, “In the garb of war-on-terrorism, the U.S. -rulers have in fact launched a war against their own people as well as the people of the world. They are crushing the democratic rights of the American people. It deserves strongest condemnation. Although being thousands of kilometers away from you, we cannot physically join you in this dark hour, but we will espouse your cause amongst the people of India and expose the perfidy of U.S. rulers.”

And the San Francisco Labor Council on September 27 unanimously passed the resolution, “Condemn FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists.”

Protests are ongoing to fight this most serious attack on the entire international progressive movement by the U.S. government, capitalist corporations and the banks.

For more information, updates, information on protests and more: www.antiwarcommittee.org, www.fightbacknews.org, www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org, www.iacenter.org.

Bryan G. Pfeifer is a member of MECAWI, http://www.mecawi.org.

What is shari’ah?

Shari’ah is a spiritual path towards realizing basic objectives that the Creator wills for man. Dr. Tariq Ramadan defines shar’iah as “a path towards faithfulness.”  Shari’ah is NOT a set codex of laws.  Its basic objectives (maqaasid) as defined by Ash-Shatibi are the protection of life, intellect, religious practice, property and posterity.

Fiqh/jurisprudence is a vehicle on the path towards actualization (shari’ah).  There are different methods of deriving jurisprudence for ritual worship (‘ibabdaat) and social transactions (mu’amalaat) which also is connected to punishments for criminal acts (hudood) among the 4 schools of thought among Sunnis (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i & Hanbali), the 3 schools within the Shi’is (Zaydi, Isma’ili/Bohri & Ja’fari) and the Ibadi.  There are 8 schools of recognized jurisprudence.  Interpretations of jurisprudence differ not only upon textual interpretation of the Qur’an and varying ahadeeth but also geography and social customs.

Whereas ritual worship is something that is between a person and the Creator, the implementation of social transactions and punishments depends much on governing structures.  If a person does not, for instance, get involved in compound interest loans according to his/her fiqh, they are free to do so because there is no government mandate forcing people to take loans.  If a person, however, wants to take a 2nd spouse according to their fiqh, he is not entitled to do so if the governing entity has made it illegal since it is not a mandatory/compulsory part of faith.  Similarly since Islam does not condone vigilantism, 100 lashes for fornication can’t be enforced according to the application of fiqh in a land where the governing entity does NOT permit such as a proper punishment in courts of law.

The vast majority of Muslim majority countries use various fiqh for family law but not hudood like chopping off hands or whipping fornicators.  Even in rare cases where a hand is chopped for theft such as in Saudi Arabia, it is not done for a first offense nor if the reason for theft was do to hunger or extreme need.  The issue of whipping because of 4 witnesses is not because of the action of fornication alone, but for lewd and lascivious behavior.  If persons are caught having sex out of wedlock by 4 mature, sane and truthful people who are over the age of puberty, they most likely are committing an act of public indecency, which is a crime against society not just an act between 2 people.  Again, the punishment for such is a deterrent from spreading moral corruption in society.

A particular fiqh then could be compared to Catholic Canon Law or Halacha (Judiac Law) within this context.

Michigan Muslims: It’s the family, stupid

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100927/MIVIEW/9270410/1467/opinion01/Michigan-Muslims–It-s-the-family–stupid

Written by

Jeffrey Hadden

Two religious leaders dropped by the office the other day to talk about social conditions in Detroit. They were worried about the lack of family formation in the city, the high rate of illegitimate births and the cultural breakdown that has led to a high rate of violence.

But they weren’t ministers. They were Muslim religious leaders — Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations and Imam Abdullah El-Amin. Imam El-Amin spoke of having to enforce proper dress codes in his place of worship and his disappointment, at a high school dance, of a lack of adult supervision of what he considered lewd dance movements. For young men whose baggy pants were slipping down too far and didn’t have belts to cinch them up when they entered his mosque, the imam said, he would supply wire coat hangers to be twisted into service as pants-holders. Walid made similar comments.

Both religious leaders, not surprisingly, sounded like Protestant ministers or Catholic priests, worried about staying youth in their flocks. Both of the Muslims leaders said young members of their organizations were able, through the strength of their religious beliefs and the attention and concern of their families, to avoid some of the problems besetting Detroit through lack of family formation.

As the Michigan Citizens Research Council recently spelled out in a research paper on the city’s lack of financial health, about half of all households in the nation are still husband and wife families, but only about 23 percent of the households in Detroit fit that profile. While only 7.4 percent of homes in the nation as a whole can be described as female-headed with no husband present and with children under 18 in the household, more than 17 percent of Detroit households fit this category.

The imams contend that this is a formula for social breakdown. The figures bear them out. Seven out of 10 children are born out of wedlock in the city. Young black males aged 15 to 24 make up about 7 percent of the total population in Detroit but account for nearly 25 percent of the homicide victims. Last year. 102 young black males were murdered.

As the Muslim leaders were speaking, I was struck by their defense of the standard social norms that prevent these kinds of tragedies: strong families; respect for sacred places, an avoidance of out-of-wedlock births and a belief in a duty to the larger society, starting with one’s own faith community.

I was reminded of remarks made by Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography. He wrote of his lack of regard for a local Philadelphia preacher whose sermons, dwelling on abstruse matters of doctrine, were dry and ineffectual in changing the behavior of his congregation. But Franklin was filled with admiration for the effective preaching of English evangelist George Whitefield and its effect on the “manners of out inhabitants.”

Franklin was no moralist (and neither am I). He liked the ladies and was known as quite the roue when he was serving as a commercial agent or ambassador in London and Paris. Franklin’s long-suffering wife back in Philadelphia was resigned to his peccadillos.

But whatever his personal failings in his marriage, he was also a practical man. He managed his own affairs adroitly and provided for his family.

His maxims and advice were aimed at helping people stay healthy and prosperous. If good preaching and effective ministers helped in the cause, so much the better.

George Whitefield was a well-known evangelist in Britain and America. He was followed by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. They are now recognized by historians as moving preachers who actually helped change British society. They preached the importance of family life and moderation in the drug of choice in 18th century England — gin. And it made a difference.

Alexis de Tocqueville, in his observations on the United States in the mid-19th century, remarked on the importance of religion in providing a kind of social cohesion in the face of the forces in America that could tear society apart — a culture of individualism, a limitless and sparsely settled frontier and the nearly perpetual warfare that marked the early existence of the nation.

Tocqueville noted that religion was one of the voluntary associations that so many Americans created and joined to help them handle their problems.

Detroit right now is a kind of tough frontier town. Things have come apart and government alone can’t solve the issues of poverty and illegitimate births that put such a strain on families, schools and ultimately the criminal justice system.

It’s possible to argue with their politics, just as it’s possible to argue with preachers of the Religious Right or Religious Left. But it sounds as if the Muslims Walid and Imam El-Amin are following an old and tried American tradition for dealing with tough social problems — keeping things together by creating a faith community that is effective in controlling destructive behavior.

Jeffrey Hadden is deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News.

MECAWI to protest FBI raids in Detroit tomorrow

MECAWI/Moratorium NOW! Weekly Meeting to Feature Special Guest Tom Burke, Anti-War Activist Targeted in FBI Raids on Sept. 24
Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, 7-9 PM
5920 Second Ave, Detroit
Contact: 313.671.3715

This week’s regular organizing meeting for both the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and MECAWI will feature special guest Tom Burke, a longtime anti-war and solidarity activists, whose home was one of those raided in Chicago along with other activists in Minneapolis. The FBI served the activists with search and seizure warrants related to an investigation into “material aid to terrorist organizations.”

All of the organizers targeted have denied the allegations and are upholding their right to speak out against U.S. foreign policy in Colombia and Palestine. The U.S. government provides billions of dollars of direct assistance to both the repressive regimes in Israel and Colombia. Anti-war, peace and human rights organizations have all condemned the continued oppression carried out against the peoples of Colombia and Palestine.

Activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and North Carolina were targeted in the raids. In Minneapolis and Chicago, FBI agents entered homes and offices with drawn guns. They searched and seized personal papers, literature, organizational documents, music collections, photographs, financial records, computers and cell phones. Several activists were served with subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury in October in Chicago.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition and MECAWI condemns these actions by the Justice Department and demands that all property be returned to activists representing various organizations that have been targeted including the Anti-War Committee, Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fightback!), Women Against Military Madness and others. We stand in solidarity with those who seek to raise public awareness about the role of the Pentagon abroad and the corporate ruling class inside the U.S.

Please join us for this important meeting where Tom Burke will provide a first-hand account of the current attacks against activists by the federal government.

We are also urging everyone to come out at the McNamara Federal Building, Tuesday, September 28 from 4:30-6:00pm, to demonstrate against these outrageous attacks against our brothers and sisters in areas throughout the mid-west and the southern U.S.

Quran Burning: Is It An Insult Or Intimidation?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/23/quran-burning-is-it-an-in_n_737110.html

Quran Burning: Is It An Insult Or Intimidation?

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

(RNS) A few bullet holes may be the difference between a burnt Quran left at a mosque in Knoxville, Tenn., and one left at a mosque in East Lansing, Mich.

On Tuesday (Sept. 21), Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings said the man who allegedly left a burnt Quran outside the Islamic Center of Lansing on Sept. 11 would not face charges because the act doesn’t fall under Michigan’s criminal code.

In contrast, FBI agents in Knoxville are still determining whether whoever left a burnt and shot Quran at the entrance to the Annoor Mosque committed a hate crime, based on a 1968 law that makes it a federal offense to use force to prevent anyone from carrying out their religious beliefs.

“The fact that the burnt and shot Quran was placed on mosque property can be construed as a threat of force,” said Knoxville FBI special agent Richard L. Lambert. “The issue comes down to determining what was the perpetrator’s intent.”

Lambert said that if the Annoor Mosque incident does not fall under federal hate crime, it could still be prosecuted under Tennessee’s civil rights intimidation law, or other state misdemeanor laws, such as disorderly conduct.

Following a spate of Quran burnings this month, Muslim Americans and legal experts are wrangling over whether burning Islam’s holy book is an exercise of free speech, or a hate crime, akin to burning a cross.

The answer depends on whether the intent is to insult or intimidate, and it most cases intimidation can be tough to prove, legal experts say.

“It’s virtually out of the question,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which monitors hate crimes.

“The government can punish speech only if it’s a ‘true threat,’ which is to say speech expressly intended and likely to create an imminent fear of bodily injury,” said Daniel Mach, a senior attorney with the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

U.S. Muslim groups also acknowledge that burning a Quran in many scenarios — for example, when done on one’s private property — is constitutionally protected free speech. The threatened Quran burn by Florida pastor Terry Jones, or actual Quran burns by Kansas pastor Fred Phelps, are protected forms of speech.

But many also believe that in the cases of the burnt Qurans left anonymously at mosques — especially books with bullet holes — it’s hard to construe any intent other than intimidation.

The Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations has called on federal law enforcement officials to consider bringing federal hate crime charges in the East Lansing case against the alleged perpetrator, who turned himself in on Sept. 15 after police announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

“If the KKK burns a cross on private property, that’s legal. But if they burn a cross at an African-American church, that’s a hate crime,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman at CAIR’s Washington headquarters.

“It’s the same with a Quran. If you burn a Quran in your backyard or in your church, that’s free speech. But if you leave a burnt Quran at the entrance of mosque, you’re trying to scare people.”

Intimidation became an important threshold in 2003, when the Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law against cross-burning where the intent is to intimidate, but also said cross-burning itself is not evidence of intimidation.

The 1968 Federal Hate Crimes Law made it a federal offense to attack or intimidate someone based on race, religion or national origin. The 2009 Matthew Shepard Act expanded federal hate crimes protections to include gender and sexual orientation.

Members of the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing said they forgave the individual who left the burnt Quran, and said they want to put the case behind them. But they also wouldn’t discourage CAIR from pressing the FBI to pursue charges.

A spokeswoman in the FBI Detroit office said she could not confirm or deny whether they were investigating the case.

“We felt intimidated,” said Thasin Sardar, a worshipper at the mosque, which requested police security for the week following the incident. Parents with children at the mosque’s school were especially panicked, Sardar said. “They don’t want to let people think its open season on Muslims.”