CAIR-MI Rep Participates on Panel Discussion on Racialization of Muslims in Media at Islam in America Conference



CAIR-MI Rep Participates on Panel Discussion on Racialization of Muslims in Media at Islam in America Conference
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 9/26/2011) ­- A representative of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) recently participated on a panel discussion about racialized depictions of Muslims in American media at the Conference on Islam in America at DePaul University in Chicago, Ill.

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid gave opening remarks and moderated a panel discussion titled, “Media: The Face of Islam in America: Racialization and Space in the Media,” which focused on Muslims being framed as being exotic or foreign to the American experience or as being hyper-apologetic relating to events involving Muslims outside of America.

Other panelists included Atiya Husain (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill), Zareena Grewal (Yale University), Mike Ghouse (Foundation for Pluralism) and Angela Maly (University of Colorado).

The two day conference, which was attended by academics, religious leaders, activists and journalists from across the country was also viewed by some 30,000 professors and students at universities in America and abroad.

“We welcome such opportunities to engage academics and journalists in discussing the diversity within Muslims and Islamic thought to help dispel stereotypes in media,” said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid.

CAIR is 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail:

AUDIO: Interfaith movement discussion

Yesterday’s panel discussion titled “Building Bridges, Not Walls: A Conversation on the Interfaith Movement in America Today” was held at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation convention in Washington, DC.

Moderator: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Panelists: Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. John Esposito, Farhana Khera and Dawud Walid.

Click to listen.

Sardar: Anti-Sharia bill could harm Michigan’s economy

Sardar: Anti-Sharia bill could harm Michigan’s economy

Take time to learn more about Islamic faith before reacting

10:54 PM, Sep. 17, 2011

Although the proponents of House Bill. 4769 claim that it is not against Islam or Muslims, it is a copycat version of other Anti-Sharia bills in the works in approximately 25 states.

The bill is sponsored in Michigan by Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville. This is the same Rep. Agema who recently earned the dubious distinction of being listed as a featured speaker alongside controversial Pastor Terry Jones. Although Rep. Agema never made it to Pastor Jones’ sparsely attended speech at the Capitol, the fact that he is not denying reports that he personally requested to share the stage with the infamous Jones speaks volumes.

HB 4769 is postured to mislead people to believe that opponents of this measure are seeking to sneak in foreign law to replace U.S. law. This is a false pretense exploited by a few lawmakers for ulterior motives, namely expand their voter base.

Such a bill passed in Oklahoma with 70 percent of the vote as the wary population bought into the fear propaganda. The bill, however, was deemed unconstitutional and blocked immediately by the courts.

The fact of the matter is that we live in a global environment, and our judicial system would be severely hampered if prevented from considering foreign laws. The bill violates the supremacy clause and the First Amendment rights of Muslim, Jewish and other Americans, and is inconsistent with decades of jurisprudence.

Michigan now has to decide on its priorities. Should we be working to create more jobs and attract talent to our state, or get embroiled in civil liberty legal battles at tax payer expense?

This bill is bad for business and will only attract the likes of Pastor Terry Jones to our state.

Rather than buy into what the propaganda machine tells us about Sharia and how scary it is, it would be prudent to take the time to develop a nuanced understanding of Sharia, to learn more about what it is and what it is not and how exactly it will be used in the courts.

To be sure, Sharia is not a monolithic set of doctrines, and much of it is open to be contextually interpreted to meet the needs of Muslims wherever they may be.

It is based on Sharia interpretation, for example, that Muslim Americans join the armed forces to protect our country, even if it means fighting against an enemy nation that is predominantly Muslim.

At no time does Sharia seek to supersede the Constitution. The law of the land is supreme and the vast majority of Muslims proudly abide by it. The courts use Sharia as extrinsic evidence to help clarify or dispel ambiguity in a contract or to understand the context in which a case is being deliberated.

The courts would not recognize any judgments based on a foreign or religious law if they do not conform to our due process and/or if they violate our public policy.

The jurisprudence in the United States is very clear on this and does not require any additional law to safeguard it.

Black, Arab Relations in Detroit since 9/11


In Detroit, which boasts a heavy concentration of both groups, the decade since Sept. 11, 2001 has been a time for healing and understanding.


Dawud Walid, an African-American who heads Michigan’s Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), says his most frequent contact with Middle Eastern-Americans is at mosques.

By Eddie B. Allen Jr., News in Black Correspondent

Story Created: Sep 16, 2011 at 8:49 AM PDT

Story Updated: Sep 16, 2011 at 8:49 AM PDT

While New Yorkers began the week looking back on a day that paralyzed their city and shocked the nation 10 years ago on Sept. 11, one Midwestern community was also reflecting.

Metropolitan Detroit, home to nearly half a million people of Middle Eastern descent and about twice as many Blacks, is unique to the nation in its high concentration of the two ethnic groups. Reports of anti-Muslim sentiment and racial profiling toward Middle Easterners have grown since the 9/11 attacks, which were immediately linked to so-called radical Islamic beliefs.

But in Michigan, Black leaders, and their counterparts of Middle Eastern descent, say there have been positive bonds forged between their cultures.

“Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and black Americans and African Americans are in the same boat,” says Imad Hamad, national advisor and regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in metro Detroit. “Naturally, we are in the same boat; this is the makeup and the nature of the challenges that face both our African American brothers and sisters and us.

“I recall that, after the national tragedy of Sept. 11, our brothers and sisters in the NAACP used to cheer us up by making the joke: ‘Welcome to the hot seat.’ Ten years later, we still feel it. We still deal with it. We still have a long way before we switch the seat, and we don’t wish it on anyone, but God knows who’s next.”

While Hamad says the ADC and other faith-based and community groups in both cultures have made stronger ties in the past 10 years, tension between blacks and Middle Easterners in Detroit pre-dates Sept. 11. In 1999, a major protest targeted the gas station where a black customer was beaten to death by staff from Yemen after an argument. On the flip side, initiatives like the ADC’s upcoming, annual “Judge’s Night,” which has saluted black court administrators like Damon Keith, and the Martin Luther King Scholarship for high school students have promoted good will between the races.

“It goes without saying that we, as a civil rights organization, see Martin Luther King as a hero and that we follow his example,” adds Hamad.

Despite striking historical similarities, such as Detroit as a mid-20th century destination for Blacks seeking work during the Great Migration and Middle Eastern immigrants alike, Dawud Walid says there is still a disconnect on the personal level. A Black Detroiter, Walid says that as executive director of Michigan’s Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), his most frequent contact with Middle Eastern-Americans is at mosques.

“I believe that there are better relations between some of the Arab-American leaders with some of the African-American leaders, post-9-11, however, I don’t think much has changed on the ground between blacks and Arabs as a whole,” adds Walid.

Still, Walid says much of the polarity has to do with economic, rather than social issues — such as the safety and education factors that cause families to flee the city into suburbs: Less financially able black residents tend to stay put.

On the positive side, CAIR’s civil rights complaints have seldom resulted from Detroiters of color.

“It’s an overall increase that Muslim Americans have faced since 9-11, but the vast majority (of offenders) are White Americans, not Black,” says Walid.

Both Walid and Hamad caution that ignorance and the fight to eliminate it must be part of the dialogue between Blacks, Middle Easterners and all Americans – especially concerning confusion about the religion most linked to Sept. 11.

“Every Muslim is not an Arab and every Arab is not a Muslim,” says Hamad.

Walid adds that a large segment of Detroit’s Middle Eastern descendants are Chaldean Christians.

“First, we have to keep in mind that discrimination and racism, bigotry, all of these ill symptoms of our social fabric in mankind, are universal,” says Hamad, “and they are not American-made products. It’s part of every society, including the United States of America. I truly believe that, as long as mankind exists, discrimination will exist.

“It’s our common duty, our common responsibility to fight against it. A discrimination against one is a discrimination against all, a respect for one is a respect for all. It’s our common humanity that counts as experience.”