CAIR-MI welcomes zoning approvals for places of worship

CAIR-MI welcomes zoning approvals for places of worship
| Thursday, 07.03.2014, 11:41 PM


WARREN/MACOMB COUNTY — Within the past week, the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan has advocated on behalf of two Islamic organizations regarding zoning approvals.
CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri represented the Muslim Community of Macomb before the city of Sterling Heights’ Zoning Board of Appeals and was instrumental in obtaining a use variance that allows the group to worship and conduct religious services in Sterling Heights.
CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid spoke on behalf of the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) before the Warren Planning Commission regarding land usage approval for an expansion project.
In the Warren case, there was some interfaith support for IONA; however, there was significant opposition to the expansion project. One planning commission member read letters against the Muslim community, including a highly inflammatory submission from an alleged anonymous concerned resident.
A series of Warren residents subsequently gave public comments against the expansion project, many of them in coded language such as their wanting to “maintain a quiet, peaceful community” and voicing unfounded concerns about potential “depreciating property values.”  Others made more direct making reference to “these people.”
CAIR-MI has assisted a number of Islamic centers and is currently representing the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) in a lawsuit against Pittsfield Township in a zoning denial case. It said it realizes these cases are part of a trend of the institutionalization of Islamophobia, where government officials and residents use procedural matters and coded language to block the construction and expansion of Islamic schools and centers.
CAIR-MI plans to issue a brief report in the near future on the trend of opposition of the construction or expansion of Islamic centers and schools in Michigan, and how this trend is influenced by the Islamophobia network outside of Michigan.

Supreme Court ruling a good step in restoring privacy rights

JUL 3, 2014, 12:15 PM
Supreme Court ruling a good step in restoring privacy rights

It’s not often in recent history where the U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously on any issue, but the Court did last week pertaining to a case that relates to the fundamental American right of privacy. No, I’m not talking about the Hobby Lobby case.

I’m talking about the Court’s ruling that police officers do not have the right to search arrestees’ cell phones without a warrant. In other words, the police are barred from detaining persons and then going fishing through their smart phones, which could contain everything from e-mails to business information to intimate, personal pictures.

The Fourth Amendment, which was established to protect citizens from illegal search and seizure, has evolved in its application but set forth a very important principle. Unless in cases of extremely obvious emergencies, police cannot delve into our private possessions without putting forth an argument to judges as to why there’s probable cause and obtaining a search warrant to do so.

This legal protection is what differentiates the United States of America from most countries on Earth. Hopefully, this ruling is the beginning of restoring our privacy rights that have deteriorated in the past decade, which is most exemplified in the NSA’s warrantless monitoring of citizens’ e-mails and phone calls.