Launching of Anti-Racism Movement Among American Muslims

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I’m pleased to see during Black History Month the first of a series of Twitter discussions relating to Blacks in the Muslim community.  The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MARC) today at 1pm EST is leading a discussion on #BeingBlackAndMuslim.  The purpose is to give Black folks a sounding board on how we feel on being Black and Muslim as well as to give non-Black Muslims an opportunity to be supportive and lift up historical and contemporary contributions of Blacks in Islam, which they admire and encourage people to recognize.

A few months ago, I decided to take to social media to highlight the rampant anti-Black racism in our community that I’ve seen in the past two decades.  My intention was never to be a leader of a movement but to motivate our community to organize and discuss this issue more candidly in order that we may move closer towards the Prophet model of what Ummah is suppose to be.  In other words, I was simply planting seeds.

I’ve not been the only seed planter regarding this issue; there have been many.  As Hind Makki of Chicago recently said in a talk in Michigan and had written about in the past, racism, misogyny and sectarianism are three of the most pressing issues which face American Muslims that we’ve swept underneath the rug.  Shaykh Omar Suleiman and Shaykh Suhaib Webb have also addressed this issue in khutbah and at conferences.  Shaykh Omar is also involved in an upcoming seminar on 2/16 titled “Black and Noble: A Study of Important Black Figures in Islamic History” which will be streamed live online.

I’m glad that based upon over 3 months of highlighting this issue including being involved in some tense discussions online, on the radio and in the community that MARC is in the launching stage of building a movement.  It is reaching out to imams and community activists regarding encouraging khutbahs to community conversations.

I encourage all of our community to get involved in this important movement by following @muslimarc on Twitter and staying connected to its website at www.muslimarc.org.

Pro-Israel bill threatens academic freedom

http://blogs.detroitnews.com/politics/2014/02/11/pro-israel-bill-threatens-academic-freedom/

FEB 11, 2014, 1:00 PM 

Dawud Walid: Pro-Israel bill threatens academic freedom

Two Republican congressmen have introduced a bill that if passed would be the biggest assault on freedom of speech and academic freedom in this generation in America.

Illinois Representatives Dan Lipinski and Peter Roskam recently introduced the Protect Academic Freedom Act (H.R. 4009), a title which is a complete misnomer. The bill seeks to block any institution of higher learning from receiving federal funds or financial assistance of any sort if:

[The] institution, any significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation, exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on the basis of the connection of such institutions or such scholars to the State of Israel.

In effect, any institution which votes to divest its holdings in Israel based upon objection to illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land, would have its funding cut. Even if a university allows a forum to have a discourse on the merits and drawbacks for boycotting Israeli made products would qualify. This is outrageous.

One of the most important traits separating our nation from the rest of the world is our robust right to express ourselves freely, both academically and politically. Unlike rogue states across the world, we can criticize our own government and its policies without fear of being arrested or sanctioned. If American academics can criticize President Barack Obama to collegestudents, or groups are able to boycott American companies based on their unscrupulous practices, then it’s a completely absurd proposition to say that such can’t be freely done with any of our allies. Yes, including Israel.

We all should be contacting our congressmen to tell them to vote no on H.R. 4009, which violates the essence of the First Amendment. If we let this slide, who knows what else from our free speech rights will be stripped away.

AUDIO: Recent lectures relating to social issues and Islamic jurisprudence

Discussion at Islamic Center of America on 2/7/14 in Dearborn on gossiping and back-biting.

Click here to listen.

 

Discussion at Masjid Mu’ath bin Jabal on 2/8/14 in Detroit about issues pertaining to American law and non-wajib issues.  My position against polygamy in USA was one such issue that was discussed.

Click here to listen.

Grosse Pointe Park and Northland incidents call for greater accountability

http://blogs.detroitnews.com/politics/2014/02/05/grosse-point-park-northland-incidents-call-greater-accountability/

FEB 5, 2014, 10:30 AM 

Grosse Pointe Park and Northland incidents call for greater accountability

Metro Detroit has a notorious reputation nationwide regarding police brutality and misconduct. The recent firing of a Warren Police officer for forcibly cutting the hair of a detained woman, who later had criminal charges dropped against her, is but another in a long line of incidents over the years. The Warren Police are to be applauded for taking action which severed its relationship between the force and the offending officer. The same cannot be said in two other incidents, which took place not long ago.

About two months ago, five officers from Grosse Pointe Park were suspended and put on probation for racial charged videos in which Black men were directed to dance and make chimp sounds. Based upon the maximum 60 days suspensions for the culprits per a statement from Police Chief David Hiller, it appears that all of those offenders are back at work. This is unacceptable.

And though Northland Mall security officers are not trained law enforcement, we can include some of them as having not faced proper consequences for the recent death of a Black male in his mid-twenties in their custody. That those officers who pepper-sprayed and manhandled a shopper, which led to his death, yet they are still on the job, and that the mall manager has shown zero remorse for what his staff did are equally unacceptable.

The three incidents stated above were all caught on camera and shown on television. Only one of them was handled correctly, which was by the Warren Police. The behavior of the Warren officer and the Northland security officers, however, should also warrant criminal charges from Macomb County and Oakland County prosecutors.

As citizens have a responsibility towards society, officers of the law and guards also have a duty to keep the peace, not terrorize community members. There is a problem within law enforcement culture in Metro Detroit, especially towards young Black folks. Part of the process of shifting this culture must be a projection of zero tolerance for abuse by officers. Firing officers who commit misconduct on camera and following up with charges should be part of this process of change.

February 2, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Group hopes I-96 billboard helps educate others about Islam

  • Mark Hicks
  • The Detroit News

Perched along Interstate 96 near Milford Road for the past month, a large red billboard asks travelers in the thousands of vehicles that pass it daily: “What is Islam? Who are the Muslims?”

The sign in Oakland County also lists a phone number and website for GainPeace, a Chicago nonprofit associated with the Islamic Circle of North America.

The curious who follow through have the chance to earn a free copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and learn more about the religion, which is the aim of the group’s campaign.

“We want to do away with the misconceptions people have about the fundamentals of Islam,” said Sabeel Ahmed, national director of GainPeace.

The initiative, launched in cities nationwide and in Canada, started several years ago yet gained momentum in the wake of the controversy in 2012 surrounding the film “Innocence of Muslims.” The video shared online was considered anti-Islamic and sparked international outrage.

Inaccurate depictions and beliefs about Muslims have persisted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ahmed said. Countering that with education, he said, is essential not only for improving perceptions but fulfilling one of the Muslim faith’s goal of educating others.

The campaign continues as the Council on American-Islamic Relations–Michigan has in recent years logged more complaints from Muslims of workplace discrimination, harassment by officials at the U.S.-Canada border and bullying at school, said Dawud Walid, the group’s executive director.

Intolerance rises after extremist acts some connect with mainstream Muslims, he said, and is supported when public figures share misguided views about the religion.

“We believe as a civil rights organization that much of the discrimination that Muslims face is based upon ignorance of our faith and who we are as human beings,” Walid said. “So the more education, the less likelihood that people who learn about Muslims will bully or harass them.”

GainPeace put up billboards last year in the Flint area as well as ran ads in newspapers and on a cable TV show featuring Islamic scholars, Ahmed said. Literature has also been distributed.

While some response was negative, others welcomed the efforts and there are plans for another billboard, said Mohammed Saleem, vice president of the Flint Islamic Center. “We are trying to educate our community, our neighborhoods,” he said.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140202/RELIGION/302020036#ixzz2sGXir6Uk