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Executive Editor: Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Chronology of Islam in America (2016)
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

January 2016

Somalia extremists use Donald Trump video to recruit fighters
Jan 3: A-Shabaab extremists used Trump’s video proposing a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S., which he again defended today. After the African al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabaab released a new recruitment video featuring footage of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump during a December rally saying if elected he would ban all Muslims from entering the country, the reality television star and real estate mogul again defended his comments and played down the use of his words by the Somali militants. "Look, there's a problem," he said in an interview with CBS that was scheduled to be released today. "I bring it up. Other people have called and say you have guts to bring it up because frankly it's true and nobody wants to get involved. People that are on different persuasions than me right now are saying, you know, maybe Trump isn't wrong. We want to examine it." The group is using the infamous clip of Trump to try and recruit Blacks and Muslims in the United States. In the video, Trump proposes the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" to protect the country. Before his comments, Trump also called for surveillance of mosques and said [Telesurtv]

Now Muslims can be fired for praying
Jan. 5: So Now Muslims Can Be Fired for Praying?  A Cargill plant in Colorado had always permitted its Muslim employees prayer breaks. But why were 190 of them suddenly fired? If 190 Christians were fired en masse from their jobs for wanting to pray for a few minutes, there would be outrage! Franklin Graham would be screaming from the rooftops. Fox News would break into its coverage of Christian victimization to do a special report on it. And, of course, GOP presidential candidates like Ted Cruz would be calling this a “jihad” on Christians, just as he has used that term to attack LGBT advocates of marriage equality.
But when 190 Muslims were fired from their jobs in Colorado a few weeks ago for simply wanting to take short prayer breaks, we didn’t hear a peep from these so-called advocates of religious liberty. But that probably comes as little surprise to most. Religious liberty—in the view of some on the right—is only for Christians. In fact, a poll released last week made that very point. It found that 82 percent of Americans believe preserving religious liberty for Christians was important. However, only 61 percent said the same about Muslim’s rights to practice their faith. (That number was even lower among Republicans.) The poll also found that only about 70 percent of Americans believe that religious liberty for Jews was important, meaning that there are roughly 70 million adult Americans who don’t view Judaism as being on equal footing as Christianity. This again proves that when some talk about Judeo-Christian values, the Christian part of that phrase far outweighs the “Judeo” part. [Daily Beast]

Muslim woman ejected from Donald Trump rally after silent protest
Jan 8: A Muslim woman was escorted from a Donald Trump rally tonight, after she stood silently behind the Republican frontrunner wearing a shirt that read: “Salam, I come in peace.” Rose Hamid, who was also wearing a hijab, said people near her in a crowd of more than 6,000 people in Rock Hill, South Carolina, were kind to her until she began her protest. “My purpose for going there,” Hamid said, “is I have a sincere belief that if people get to know each other one on one then they’ll stop being afraid of each other and we will be able to get rid of all of this hate in the world, literally.” She and an unidentified man stood when Trump said Syrian immigrants should not be allowed into the US. Both were wearing yellow star-shaped badges that bore the word “Muslim” and were intentionally reminiscent of the yellow badges Jewish people were forced to wear under Nazi rule. They were then escorted out of the venue.
[The Guardian]

President Obama rejects Islamophobia in the political process
Jan. 12: President Barrack Obama in his State of the Union address tonight rejected Islamophobia, particularly in the political process. In his remarks, the president said: "We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This is not a matter of political correctness. This is a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot that I am standing on tonight that "to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place."  In a direct slap at Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, Obama said insulting Muslims hurt the United States and "betrayed" its identity. "When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country." [AMP]

Carson's 'anti-Muslim bigotry' condemned
Jan 12: The Council on American-Islamic Relations today condemned Presidential hopeful Ben Carson for his anti-Muslim bigotry. "You’ve got a presidential candidate whose campaign is circling the drain and he’s doing anything he can do to spark some sense of relevance,” Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for CAIR told POLITICO. “Anti-Muslim bigotry worked for him in the past so he thinks it may work for him again.” Carson has criticized the president for allowing two members of CAIR to attend the address, saying that the organization was “not pro-American.”  “At the State of the Union, we—they've invited members of CAIR, the Council for American-Islamic Relations. These are people who I have called for an investigation of. They have done things that are clearly, you know, not pro-American,” Carson said. “And we can't now sit there and say these are buddy buddies of ours, let's go ahead and investigate the thing.” “If they are our buddies, let's put that clearly out there. And if they're not our buddies, let's not be giving them access to the ability to further carry on what they call a civilization jihad and to change us from a Judeo-Christian foundation to a Muslim foundation. We have got to be smarter than that,” he continued. Carson first called for an investigation in a policy proposal in December.  “The Department of State should designate the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations that propagate or support Islamic terrorism as terrorist organizations, and fully investigate the Council on American-Islamic Relations as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and a supporter of terrorism,” Carson 
 wrote in the proposal. [Politico]

Driver shouted ‘Go back to Islam!’ as he shot Muslim in ‘Stand Your Ground’ killing
Jan 14: A killing of a Muslim man in what some are calling road rage, and others a hate crime, is bringing renewed attention to the deadly consequences of Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. The shooting occurred in Houston on June 26, 2015 when Ziad Abu Naim and his wife, Lisa Aimone, were driving to visit with one of Naim’s business clients on the way to his mosque for Friday prayers. After turning left at a four-way intersection just a block from their home, Abu Naim’s vehicle almost struck another vehicle, driven by Robert Craig Klimek, another Houston resident. Moments later Abu Naim was on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Abu Naim never recovered consciousness and died in a Houston hospital three days later. Klimek told police he shot Abu Naim after Abu Naim reached inside his vehicle and punched him multiple times, while Aimone insists there was no time for any blows before the fatal gunshot, and that the shouted words point to a possible hate crime. In September, a grand jury declined to indict Klimek on any crimes. His defense focused on Texas’ Stand Your Ground law. While 23 states have passed some form of Stand Your Ground self-defense law, Texas is considered one of the most expansive self-defense laws in the country. There’s also real concern that racial bias is at play in the enforcement of the law, and the state’s selection of whom to prosecute for these kind of road rage incidents. By including vehicles in the Texas version of the law, Professor Tamara Rice Lave of the University of Miami School of Law said that it seems to encourage violence against minorities even when other options are available. Prosecutors also ignored Aimone’s demands that the killing be investigated as a hate crime. Although Caldwell’s investigation found years of anti-Muslim rhetoric posted online by Klimek, Aimone said officials were “dismissive” of the possibility, and added, “It was almost like too much work for them to find something to see if it was a hate crime.” [Mint Press]

Being a Muslim in Idaho during a time of backlash
Jan 14: It has not been an easy past few months to be a Muslim in America. After the Paris attacks, presidential candidate Donald Trump said there should be a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. His polls immediately soared. In Boise (Idaho), theIslamic Center says the Muslim population in the Treasure Valley may well be over ten thousand.  Now, some of Boise's Muslims are sharing how it feels to be a Muslim in the current political climate.  On a recent Friday, about 40 Muslim students gathered at the Boise State Student Union for prayer and fellowship. One sings versus from the Koran. That’s followed by a sermon on striving to become a better person. Hakeem Muhamad, who grew up in the U.S. and just graduated from Boise State, says a big problem is how Muslims are portrayed in the media. Helping the poor, for example, is largely ignored by the media who instead focus on terrorism.  Hakeem’s sister Noora agrees that media are partly to blame. She also believes people like Donald Trump are painting a complex religion with a broad brush.  "With Donald Trump saying that we're all Jihadists, what about me? I grew up in America, I've learned American culture and I absolutely love it," says Noora. "Yet I'm still a Muslim woman and I love being a Muslim American." Ali Aldosari is an international student from Saudi Arabia. One of the aspects of American culture that he respects is the country’s diversity. For him, Donald Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country will lead to the scapegoating other groups. "Now he's saying that Muslims should not come to this country," says Aldosari. "If he does that, then he's going to come back to the Mexicans, then the Asians. Then the U.S. will no longer be the greatest country in the world."
[Boise State Public Radio] 

Two D.C. students expelled for sending bomb threat from Muslim student’s email account
Jan 15: The subject line said “Bomb,” and the email — sent to more than 600 current and former students at one of the District’s best-regarded charter schools — appeared to come from a Muslim student’s account. But the message was in fact written by two pranksters, school officials said. The two boys, both high school seniors at high-performing Washington Latin Public Charter School, were expelled for threatening violence, said Head of School Martha Cutts. “I was never really worried that it was a real threat, but you have to obviously take those things very seriously,” Cutts said. “It can be very unsettling for students to open an email and read that.”  Terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris have put many schools on edge. Several Boston-area schools were evacuated Friday after receiving bomb threats via telephone, Reuters reported.   In December, an emailed threat of violence prompted Los Angeles Unified — the nation’s second-largest school district — to take the unprecedented step of shuttering schools for all 650,000 of its students. Later that month, a much smaller district in Nashua, N.H., canceled classes for the same reason. [Washington Post]

Maryland  School Board to give day off for Muslim, other religious holidays
Jan 15: After considering how best to create an inclusive academic calendar — either by removing all but state-mandated public school holidays or by recognizing additional holidays — the Howard County (Maryland)  Board of Education has voted to close schools for students on a Muslim and a Hindu holiday, for the first time in the school system's history. "I am extremely pleased by the Board's ability to discuss and unanimously agree to seek ways to recognize the diverse backgrounds of Howard County's students and families," said Board of Education Chairwoman Christine O'Connor. "We want to do our best to find flexibility within the calendar to provide opportunities for all students to experience all cultures within our community." The motion, which was proposed by board member Janet Siddiqui and voted for by all eight board members, will give students days off on Lunar New Year Eve, as is the case in the current year, but also the Hindu holiday of Diwali, and the Muslim religious observance, Eid al-Adha -- either through school closings or professional development days for teachers. Schools will continue to be closed on the two holiest days of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. "While I did not foresee a unanimous decision," said school board candidate Kirsten Coombs, "I am happy that everyone recognized the multiple cultures that make Howard County a special place." "This vote is proof that it is indeed possible to accommodate the religious needs of multiple faith communities in diverse school districts," said Council of American-Islamic Relations Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry. "Religious pluralism is the hallmark of an integrated and inclusive society. We see that reflected in the Howard County Board of Education's decision." As of the 2014-2015 school year, 42 percent of Howard County students were white, 22 percent were black, 19 percent were Asian, 9 percent were Hispanic and 6 percent were of two or more races. The school system does not record the religious backgrounds of its students. [Baltimore Sun]

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