Muslims

Jimmy Carter at a book signing in 2010.
Geoff Holtzman / Talk Radio News Service/Flickr

The former president, who will turn 90 on October 1, will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for the nation's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic Society of North America's 51st annual conference will be held at the Cobo Center from August 29 through September 1. The theme of the conference will be on "elevating Muslim-American culture."

More from the Toledo Blade:

President Carter will talk on the subject of his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, at a luncheon Aug. 30.

That night, at a session called “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim-American Culture” -- the same title as the entire conference theme — the outgoing president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid, and four other Muslim speakers will offer ideas for Muslim-American advancement over the next five years. A “secret special guest” is also on the bill.

The Blade reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at the opening of the conference, which will also feature "Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the national leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim member of Congress."

Here's one of the Society's promotional videos for the conference:

A Muslim civil rights group is suing the federal government on behalf of five Michigan plaintiffs who are challenging their placement on the government’s “terror watchlist.”

Wikipedia

Civil rights groups, Muslim community and Dearborn city leaders are denouncing that city’s apparent designation as a terrorist hotspot.

The Intercept, an online magazine, obtained secret documents from the National Counterterrorism Center listing “known or suspected terrorists.”

They contain a graphic showing the top 5 locations for “known and suspected terrorists” in the US.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR – A jury has awarded nearly $1.2 million to a Muslim man who said he was called a terrorist and repeatedly passed over for promotions while working for Washtenaw County.

The verdict was returned Thursday in Detroit federal court. Attorney Shereef Akeel says Ali Aboubaker was awarded money for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Aboubaker worked for Washtenaw County for 17 years until 2008. The native of Tunisia says he was demoted and bypassed for promotions despite having engineering skills and college degrees.

legislative portrait

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan member of the Republican National Committee says he's made mistakes but he's not quitting the party post.

Dave Agema issued a statement Friday, hours after chairmen of the Michigan and national Republican Party urged him to step down.

Last March, Agema posted an article on Facebook with an unsubstantiated claim that gays account for half the murders in large cities. He also came under fire from the Council on American-Islamic Relations for a Facebook posting this month questioning Muslims' commitment to charity.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Dave Agema served from 2006 to 2012 as a state representative in the Michigan Legislature. He hit his term limit and moved on to other things in 2012.

Now he represents Michigan as a member of the Republican National Committee. Many Republicans wish he weren't.

Some are naming names and calling for his ouster. Others aren’t calling him out by name but are “asking for more civility,” as MPRN’s Rick Pluta reported:

Official legislative portrait

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - As the Republican National Committee prepares for meetings in Washington this week, Gov. Rick Snyder and other party leaders in Michigan are criticizing repeated anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks by Committeeman Dave Agema.

The 64-year-old ex-state representative from western Michigan represents the state on the Republican party's national board.

Snyder made a semi-veiled reference to Agema in Thursday's State of the State speech, calling for civil discourse in the public arena.

A new festival will feature comedians from Arab-American and other minority backgrounds. 

The 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival happens September 27 and 28 at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

Amer Zahr is the festival's producer and he'll also be performing a few sets.

user Ahmed Rabea / Flickr

I was traveling in Indonesia when I first experienced Ramadan. I was wondering why so many people at the McDonald's in Surabaya were sitting at the table, wrappers open, waiting to eat their Big Macs.

It was the holy month of Ramadan, and they were waiting until just after sunset - for the iftar - the meal that breaks the day-long fast.

Flickr

Should homeowners be allowed to do pretty much whatever they want with their garages, as long as it doesn't bother neighbors?

That's the essence of a growing debate in Dearborn, where a desire by some residents, largely Arab-Americans, to use their garages as living space is being met with resistance at City Hall and the prospect of tighter garage ordinances.

Jeff Karoub is with the Associated Press, covering issues pertinent to the Arab-Muslim community, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

bbmcshane / flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit judge says a lawsuit can go forward against federal authorities accused of violating the rights of Muslims at U.S.-Canada border crossings.

Federal Judge Avern Cohn says he's not ruling yet on the merits of the case. But he denied a request by the government to dismiss it Tuesday.

Some Detroit-area Muslims sued last year, saying they've been held at gunpoint, handcuffed and repeatedly questioned about their religion when returning to the U.S. from Canada. Some have given up on crossing the border.

Cohn says the government might come up with valid reasons for pulling Muslims aside for additional questions at the border. But he says that's not the key issue at this stage of the litigation.

U.S. State Dept.

DETROIT (AP) - Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan plans to visit Detroit next week and says he wants to help revitalize the city.

The Chicago-based Nation of Islam announced Thursday that Farrakhan plans to visit starting May 16 and give a public address May 17.

The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit the 1930s. In a statement, Farrakhan says he plans to look at the condition of Detroit and consider buying properties to help in revitalization efforts. He says there's a need for help in the schools and city government.

Detroit's problems include crime and abandonment, and its finances are being run by a state-appointed emergency manager. Its budget deficit is $327 million and the city has a long-term debt of more than $14 billion that includes retiree and other obligations.

Dearborn Mosque
user rypix / Flickr

The site of the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn is moving and admission could be charged.

Niraj Warikoo reports for the Detroit Free Press that tensions in recent years involving Christian missionaries has led to the change of venue.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said Friday that the city plans to shift the festival — the biggest annual outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. — from Warren Avenue to Ford Woods Park, near the corner of Ford and Greenfield roads. One of the reasons for the move is liability concerns; the city has been hit with lawsuits from some Christian missionaries alleging their free speech rights were curtailed at the festival.

The 18-year-old festival is held each June by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, some Christian missionaries from California picketed at the festival with anti-Islam signs.

The Islamic Center of America will hold a "Rally against Hate" even this afternoon at 3 p.m.
Islamic Center of America

One of the largest mosques in the United States plans a rally at 3 p.m. this afternoon against hateful speech and violent acts.

The "Rally Against Hate" is in response to the violence in the Middle East stemming from the low-budget, privately made anti-Islam video, Innocence of Muslims, the film mocks the prophet Muhammad. The AP reports the video "resulted in at least 30 deaths in seven countries, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya."

The Islamic Center of America is inviting people of all faiths. Organizers say they hope to call attention to those who provoke violence in their speech.

More from WDIV:

"The level of freedom to express one's views in any country is judged by how all expression is protected, including abhorrent speech that is considered hateful. However, those who produce and promote expression that is hateful and which has no redeeming value, other than to promote division and encourage bigotry, should be put on notice that good people of faith will not stand idly by and allow hate to triumph over truth, love and respect," organizers said.

Muslims hold a vigil in Royal Oak in response to attacks in Libya.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit Muslims held a vigil last night in downtown Royal Oak, in memory of those killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with four Americans and many civilians were killed in Benghazi.

Zanah Ghalawanji is a Syrian American.

"The Muslim community absolutely does not support anything that occurred in Libya. Violence is against our religion. Our religion is all about peace," said Ghalawanji.

Candles burned as Ghalawanji gave words of condolence to the Stevens family.

"We are deeply thankful for the courage and selfless dedication that so many of the U.S. diplomatic corps have shown in Libya, Syria and throughout the region during this turbulent period," said Ghalawanji.

The violence was sparked by a video that makes fun of Islam, and the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

David Sawulski didn't participate in the vigil. But he had a front-row sit at a nearby cafe.

"I think it is great. They're supporting the American ambassador and the U.S. by standing here and giving support for some body who has killed who was assisting those people. The ambassador was obviously loved by the Libya people," he said.

The controversial video has sparked violence in several countries.

Fasten your seat belts. We are in for another three and a half months in which President Obama and his surrogates will try to make us believe that Mitt Romney’s main goal is destroy the middle class and outsource every last American job to China.

Meanwhile, the Romney forces will try to make us think that President Obama is totally incompetent and single-handedly responsible for the long recession.

Hyperbole and exaggeration have been how campaigns have been conducted since George Washington’s time. But what has been taboo is reckless, vicious and false character assassination. We did have one very infamous practitioner of that kind of politics - Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, whose name we now use to define them. Back in the early 1950s, McCarthy destroyed lives, careers and reputations by recklessly accusing people of being Communists without the faintest shred of evidence.

Much of the nation was in a grip of terror. Eventually, McCarthy was stripped of his powers and soon drank himself to death. Ever since, there’s been agreement that there was such a thing as too far.

Until now, that is. A form of new McCarthyism has been growing across this nation and this state ever since President Obama was elected. My theory is that this was inspired by racism. There are millions who just can’t stomach that we have a black president.

Hamed Saber / Flickr

A new study sheds some light on how health care providers can better meet the cultural needs of American Muslim patients.

Michigan is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.  Some Muslim patients report that they experience discrimination in health care settings.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan interviewed groups of Muslim men and women from different backgrounds attending mosques in Metro Detroit.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new group is trying to organize clergy members statewide to address the problem of youth violence in Michigan.

The group Prophetic Voices gathered a Christian, Muslim and other religious leaders to a meeting in Lansing this past week. 

Reverend Ira Edwards is the spokesman for Prophetic Voices.   He says youth violence is hurting more than just young people in Michigan.

A Muslim civil rights group says federal agents are wrongly detaining and questioning Muslim-Americans coming into the U-S.

The Michigan Council on American-Islamic Relations lays out those accusations in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

They’re suing on behalf of four Muslim U-S citizens. All say they were subject to “invasive religious questioning” when they tried to re-enter the country from Canada.

Shareef Akeel is a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He says Muslims are clearly being singled out for this type of "persecution," and that’s illegal.

Premshree Pillai / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A Muslim rights advocacy group says it's filing suit against the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for what it says is the mistreatment of Muslims at the U.S.-Canada border.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced plans for the lawsuit Thursday, saying it will release details at a news conference Friday in Detroit.

The council says the suit is based on "the repeated detention and questioning of Muslims" on religious matters at and near the border.

In a statement, the group says the suit is by four U.S. citizens who say that Customs and FBI agents "detained and handcuffed them without evidence of wrongdoing and questioned them about their
religious beliefs and worship habits."

The Associated Press has asked the U.S. Justice Department for comment.

Photo from TLC's website

The groundbreaking reality show "All-American Muslim" has been canceled.

The show, which followed five Muslims families in Dearborn, will not be picked up for a second season, a TLC executive confirmed.

"I’m certainly sad to hear the show wasn’t being renewed," says Suehalia Amen, one of the women featured on the reality show.

She says "All-American Muslim" sought to humanize Muslims in a way mainstream media hadn’t done before…and it made viewers look at Muslims and Arab-Americans in a new light:

"It’s been an eye-opening experience," explains Amen. "To have people tell you 'I hated Muslims, and after your show I’m able to understand your community and have a new-found respect.'"

The show’s creator, Mike Mosallam, agrees. He says the show's ratings dropped throughout the season, but he says that doesn’t mean the show didn’t succeed on a cultural level in terms of "what it taught people and what it dispelled in terms of people’s perceptions. I mean those are things that no ratings will ever be able to show."

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - The city of Dearborn has paid $100,000 in legal fees to attorneys for a Christian evangelist whose free-speech rights were violated at a popular Arab-American street festival.

Dearborn has a large Muslim population and one of the nation's biggest concentrations of people with roots in the Arab world. (Photo above of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the U.S. by Flickr user ruffin_ready.)

City police in 2010 barred George Saieg and his allies from freely walking sidewalks with literature to convert Muslims to Christianity. Chief Ron Haddad says he was just controlling foot traffic, but a federal appeals court says the city violated the First Amendment.

The court says allowing the evangelists on the festival's perimeter wasn't good enough.

As the prevailing party, Saieg was entitled to legal fees and other costs from Dearborn. His lawyers say the money was paid last week.

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it plans to file a federal lawsuit against an Ann Arbor-area community for denying a zoning change request to allow construction of a Muslim school.

Michigan Islamic Academy officials say the school is too big for its location in Ann Arbor. They want to build at a site in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township.

Last fall, the township board denied the request, following an earlier rejection by its planning commission.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the decision violates federal law. CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid says the suit will be filed Wednesday on behalf of the school.

The township has said the decision isn't based on religion. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with the township supervisor.

TLC

One national civil rights group says it’s seen an uptick in discrimination complaints from Muslims—especially in the past month.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says it’s received triple the number of complaints this December, compared with the same month last year.

Andrey Belenko / Flickr

Delta Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines are being sued by two imams who were asked to leave a Delta flight last May (Atlantic Southeast contracts with Delta on some flights).

According to CNN, Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were cleared to board by TSA officials twice. The flight originated in Memphis and was going to Charlotte. Both men were wearing traditional Muslim attire.

The suit alleges that the pilot of the plane, after leaving the gate, returned to the gate and refused to fly with the men on aboard.

CNN reports a Delta manager tried to intervene on the men's behalf, but could not convince the pilot to fly:

From CNN:

The manager told the men that the pilot, "despite acknowledging that both plaintiffs were cleared to board, was personally objecting to the plaintiffs being on his flight. The pilot indicated that he believed the mere presence and perception of the plaintiffs on his plane would make other passengers feel uncomfortable."

Rahman and Zaghoul are seeking damages from the airlines through a trial.

Photo from "All-American Muslim" courtesy of TLC

A network of Arab-American nonprofits say they will no longer accept donations from Lowe's.

The home improvement chain has gotten tons of media attention since it pulled its ads from TLC's All-American Muslim, saying the show was a "lightning rod" for controversy. The retailer was also the recipient of the conservative Florida Family Association's campaign to get the ads pulled.

Now 22 Arab-American nonprofits have refused to accept any future donations from Lowe's.

Hassan Jaber is with ACCESS, a nonprofit based in Dearborn. He says for the past five years the Lowe's in Allen Park donated shovels, paint, tools, and all other kinds of supplies to ACCESS. The items went to support the nonprofit's home renovation program in some of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods.

"Together we gave hope to the community," says Jaber. But he goes on to say that the decision by Lowe's at the corporate level is "a complete contradiction of their local mission here."

Jaber says they will no longer accept those supplies. He adds they considered the Lowe's in Allen Park a "friend and partner," but he says ACCESS "made it clear that we stand by our principal."

Dearborn Mosque
user rypix / Flickr

Michigan Representative John Conyers (D-Dearborn) says Lowe's Companies, Inc. should "unequivocally apologize" after the company pulled its ads from the reality show "All-American Muslim." Lowe's pulled the ads after it received pressure from the Florida Family Association.

TLC's reality show examines life as a Muslim American.

It follows the life of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn and "the misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community." The show's website depicts the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

In a letter trying to get companies to pull their ads for the show, the Florida Family Association said the show is propaganda and is "attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad."

Associated Press

A Judge has reversed a Dearborn jury’s ruling that found a Christian pastor intended to breach the peace at a demonstration he planned outside the country’s biggest mosque.

Terry Jones is the controversial Florida Pastor who once burned the Quran, and believes Muslim Sharia law is a major threat to the U.S.

He wanted to protest outside Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America in April, but never got the chance. He was hauled to court, found guilty of intent to breach the peace, and ordered to stay away from the Islamic Center of America for three years.

Jones appealed his prosecution, saying it violated his right to free speech. A Wayne county Circuit Court Judge ruled it actually did not. But he still reversed the jury’s decision on a due process technicality.

Jones said he plans to return to the mosque to protest “jihad and sharia.”

“That was why we chose that particular location," Jones told reporters after the ruling. "That particular location had a definite purpose. Because we were targeting [those] two aspects of radical Islam.”

The Judge also overturned a three-year injunction keeping Jones away from the mosque.

Wayne County Prosecutors say they’ll appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Amelia Carpenter / Michigan Radio Newsroom

An Islamic group is no closer to building a new school in Pittsfield Township after a long and controversial meeting last night. The Michigan Islamic Academy owns a residential property in the township and wants it rezoned. The township turned the Academy down after hearing from about 50 people on both sides of the issue.

Stu Collins lives close to the Academy’s property. He says he was pleased with the outcome.

“I welcome them somewhere else just not at that site. I think most people who were opposed to it can concur with what I’ve just said here,” Collins said.

Tarek Nahlawi is with the Academy. He says they are going to keep fighting.

"We are disappointed," he said. "I wouldn't expect this. We came into this with full hope that they would look at things in an objective way - not in a subjective way."

The Academy has said the Justice Department will get involved if the property is not rezoned. The board of trustees for the township still has to vote on the issue.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Television remote control
user ppdigital / morguefile

A new reality show will focus on five Muslim families in Dearborn.

Filming is already underway for the new reality show “All-American Muslims.” The show will debut in November on TLC, the channel behind other reality shows like "Sister Wives" and "Kate Plus 8."

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