Tuesday, 24 October 2017

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CAIR Year in Review 2012 - 2013

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Fast-Facts

In Only the Past Year:

  • CAIR-Florida’s central office has three full time attorneys and two support staff offering free legal representation and aid to victims of discrimination or harassment.
  • CAIR-FL has assisted over 100 victims of discrimination.
  • CAIR-FL has won more than $13,000 a month in settlements for victims of discrimination.
  • CAIR-FL has helped many community leaders, doctors, and businessmen stop wrongful harassment from the FBI and law enforcement.
  • CAIR-FL has helped three community members wrongfully arrested because of their faith and all of them have been exonerated.
  • CAIR-FL has met with and presented to the top State and Federal government officials on issues of concern for the Muslim community.
  • CAIR-FL has presented over 50 seminars on civil rights and understanding Islam at schools, universities, churches, and mosques.
  • CAIR-FL has had hundreds of media appearances in the past year, generating millions of dollars’ worth of positive media coverage for the Muslim community.

 

  2013 Focus: Upcoming Goals and Issues to Address

 

In addition to assisting over 60 clients at any given time facing employment discrimination, public accommodation denial, or government harassment, CAIR will focus on the following issues in 2013:

Challenging Anti-Muslim Law Enforcement Training

CAIR-Florida has been actively monitoring state law enforcement training sessions to address the issues of cultural and religious awareness when handling Muslim citizens.  CAIR-Florida is working to challenge anti-Muslim training and lectures that depict Islam and Muslims in an inaccurate and negative light and may lead to discriminatory practices by local law enforcement.

In the past year, CAIR-Florida has distributed over 1,000 guides to local and state law enforcement officials on understanding Islam and Muslims. CAIR-FL has attended Florida Department of Law Enforcement Training sessions to further promote awareness when law enforcement deals with American Muslims.

CAIR-FL is monitoring law enforcement training on Islam and is working to ensure that anti-Muslim training is not tolerated and that law enforcement receives productive and accurate training on the communities they serve.

Supporting Social Media Campaigns by Promoting Accurate Understanding of Islam and Countering Islamophobia

CAIR-Florida is joining with other chapters and Muslim Civic Engagement organizations to impact the local and online communities through awareness campaigns such as #MyJihad, which utilizes local transportation system advertisements to break the perceived negative connotation behind “jihad”, and original campaigns facilitated through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Challenging Discriminatory Prison Policy

CAIR-Florida has planned to facilitate the improvement of treatment of Muslims in the public prison system. Just as kosher meals are offered in the local prisons, CAIR-Florida will push for halal-friendly meals as well.

We will focus this year to stop wrongful arrests of Muslims due to religious discrimination or language misunderstandings in addition to working to change Florida Law Enforcement policy to forcefully remove the hijab from Muslim women and place such photos on the web.

Challenging Unconstitutional Anti-Muslim Legislation

CAIR Florida will work with other leading Muslim, Interfaith, and Civil Rights groups to once again challenge anti-Sharia legislation that has been filed once again this year in Tallahassee. We will also lobby State and Federal representatives on issues of concern to the Muslim community.

Employment policyContinuing to Represent Victims with over 60 Active Cases

Within one year, the number of cases and victims of discrimination have escalated dramatically. CAIR-Florida’s common cases fall under FBI entrapment, employment discrimination, public discrimination on the basis of hijab, immigration delays, among many others. Currently, we have reached over 60 open cases for the month and expect that number to increase as we progress further into the year.

Upcoming Special Projects

► Sponsoring Accurate Law Enforcement Training on Islam: $5,000 each, $10,000 Total
► Two  Ad Campaigns to raise awareness about Islam and Muslims: $6,000 each, $12,000 total.

Click here to support our upcoming projects!

 

  2013 Focus: Upcoming Goals and Issues to Address

 

Alhamdulilah, CAIR-FL has had tremendous success and growth over the past year. Internally we have grown and become better organized and equipped to serve the Muslim community.  Externally, we are quickly becoming recognized as the leading central Florida civil rights organization—and not just for Muslims!

While it is impossible to discuss every case and issue we worked on here, particularly because many are confidential due to ongoing litigation or settlement agreements, below are just a few highlights of the many issues our office tackled in the past year:

January 2012:

muslimgopCAIR-FL Miami Director, Nezar Hamze, calls out Islamophobia in Politics

Nezar Hamze confronted the Congressman Allen West at a town meeting to refute his claims about the Quran’s “talk about killing infidels”.

"To make him understand that discrimination and bigotry is real. And his comments are irresponsible and it fuels that bigotry and intolerance," Hamze said.

Nezar Hamze helped expose Islamophobia among the Republican Party in Broward County through a special segment of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show that aired to millions of viewers nationwide.

Government Thanks CAIR & Muslim Community for Keeping Community Safe

When a local Muslim was charged with terrorism, CAIR-Florida was featured on virtually every major local media outlet making it clear that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, that the Muslim community was thanked by law enforcement for keeping the community safe, and that we should not forget constitutional principles like the presumption of innocence.

CAIR-Florida also appeared on local television and print news multiple times to give a Muslim perspective on a wide array of current affairs.

February 2012:

Terry Kemple and the Hillsborough County School Board Controversy

In reaction to CAIR-FL Executive Director’s, Hassan Shibly’s, 7 class presentations about Islam at Steinbrenner High school, Terry Kemple, Candidate for Hillsborough County School Board running on an Islamophobic agenda, hijacked School Board meetings for nearly a year to spread hateful attacks against the Muslim community.

The school board, the local media, and the community however stood strongly with CAIR. The school board refused to give in to Kemple’s pressure to ban guest speakers and dozens of editorials blasting Kemple’s xenophobia were published.

b2s skulboard041112 218064cAt the end of the year, Kemple was defeated and the school board member that stood the strongest with the Muslim Community was elected chair of the school board.

Tampa Tribune: [CAIR-FL] Mosque Open House a Success

"I thought it was pretty enlightening," said Debbie Golbom, of Largo, who said she came to the event with "zero" knowledge and understanding of Islam. "I was taken by the similarities of the religions."… Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR's Tampa chapter, headed the 90-minute program. He recounted the history of Islam, outlined its beliefs and took questions from the audience of around 50 people, about half of whom weren't practicing Muslims.

The Tampa Tribune wrote a profile of CAIR-FL executive director Hassan Shibly “As an advocate for Muslim rights, Shibly has reached out to the community at public speaking engagements and open houses, urging those with the questions about Islam to ask not assume."

March 2012:

CAIR Starts Effort to Defeat Anti-Muslim Bill in Florida

Senate Bill 1360, which attacked the religious freedom of Floridians, Muslims in particular, was first circulated in the Florida Senate by Senator Alan Hays.  CAIR was the first organization to discover this bill was targeting the Muslim community and started an interfaith community effort to oppose this unconstitutional bill.  Thanks to pressure against the bill from groups like CAIR, the bill died in the Senate floor.

CAIR also visited more than 100 congressional offices in Washington DC to promote an end to racial profiling and ensure American citizens could not be held in indefinite detention without Due Process.

Orlando Taxi Company Prohibits 8 Employees from Prayer Breaks

CAIR-FL filed discrimination complaints with the Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of Eight Arab-American employees working for an Orlando Taxi company. One of the employees was fired for attempting to pray on break, even though Christian employees were allowed to pray on their breaks.

NAMAZI KESHILLA“Star Taxi explicitly prohibited these taxi drivers from praying, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR Florida. “It’s un-American and it’s illegal.”

The complaints filed by CAIR-FL made national headlines and the case is currently ongoing.

WMNF News: Hassan Shibly, CAIR, dispels myths about Islam at St. Petersburg College

CAIR-Florida assists a USF bus driver obtain prayer accommodation for daily prayers through mediation – Issue resurfaced in October and was also successfully resolved through mutual agreement.

April 2012:

Students Speak Out At School Board Meeting in Support of CAIR

Dozens of supporters attended the Hillsborough County School board, including a student who attended a talk by the CAIR-FL executive director, to show support for CAIR’s public education work and oppose those attacking Islam.

"People come to this nation because we offer something to them that many other countries don't offer. We have something that no other nation in the world was founded on," April Griffin, board member of the Hillsborough County School Board, said. "I will stand up to anybody who tries to change it."

"The solidarity and intolerance I saw at the last meeting truly astonished me," Larry Golbom, one of the speakers who addressed the board, said. "I was frightened by what I saw. I witnessed a mob mentality in my community. Don't succumb to fear. Our leaders can't be afraid of what is right."

After being accused of discrimination, one of [the anti-Muslim protesters] Kathy Brown, said discrimination isn't always a bad thing. 

May 2012:

Republican Chris Ingram’s Special to the Tampa Tribune: “The enemy isn’t Islam”

Local Republican political consultant and analyst for Bay News 9, Chris Ingram, is vocally opposed to Islamophobic attitude. In a Special to The Tampa Tribune, Ingram relates the persecution of his ancestors to that of the countless immigrants in United States history. He published two editorials in the paper expressing his support for CAIR’s work and exposing the bigotry of those who attack the Muslim Community.

July 2012:

CAIR Condemns Anti-Terrorism Police Training ‘Biased’, Asks to Drop Trainer

CAIR-Florida held a press conference exposing its findings that over 20 anti-Muslim trainings has been given to Florida Law enforcement by Islamophobe Sam Kharoba. Since then, CAIR-FL has met with top leadership of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and is working to ensure that deceptive and bigoted training that teaches cops to fear and profile Muslims is not tolerated.

CAIR-FL Defends Muslim employee in hostile work environment

CAIR’s legal team in partnership with Morgan & Morgan filed a law suit against a major corporation which workers to spy on him in a restroom and otherwise harass him because of his Arab background and Muslim faith.  The law suit resulted in national media coverage and the issue was resolved.

August 2012:

CAIR, New Tampa Welcomes New Tampa Mosque in Ramadan

CAIR-Florida helped generate very positive media coverage regarding the opening of a new Mosque in New Tampa and foster better community relations.

CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Firebomb Attack on Fla. Muslim Family

A Muslim family of South Asian origin in Panama City reported that a firebomb or "Molotov cocktail" was thrown at their house at about 3:45 a.m. on August 15th, 2012. The occupants awoke to find outside a 4-foot-wide fire burning under the father's bedroom window. The fire was extinguished with a hose. Five adults, some of whom wear Islamic head scarves, were home at the time. CAIR contacted the FBI immediately to ask for a hate crime investigation.

tv0"Any time the home of a family belonging to an ethnic or religious minority is attacked in this manner, it is necessary to investigate a possible bias motive," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

CAIR-FL Helps Exonerate Pregnant Woman Denied Service then accused of Terrorism

CAIR Florida represented a pregnant Muslim woman who was denied proper service from a local Domino’s Pizza, then wrongfully arrested on terrorism charges. CAIR-FL attorney Hassan Shibly met with her within 12 hours of her arrest and was able to get her released from prison the next day. CAIR led an investigation within 24 hours of her arrest and gathered enough evidence to get the charges dropped against the woman. CAIR is now preparing civil litigator complaints on behalf of the woman.

September 2012:

CAIR-Florida represented succeeds in two cases against UPS

 We assisted an employee denied religious accommodation to attend Friday prayers, and were able to get the employee a break totaling 2 hours and 45 minutes  to attend Friday prayers.

CAIR-Florida successfully represented another USPS employee who was subjected to a hostel work employment for a number of years finally reach closure through settlement.

Candidates at Muslim Community Forum in Temple Terrace

On October 19, 2012, City of Temple Terrace candidates for Mayor and City Council were invited to speak at a panel to the Temple Terrace Muslim Community, hosted by the Islamic Community of Tampa. Among the panelists were: Frank Chillura (Mayoral), Cheri Donahue (Mayoral), Grant Rimbey (City Council), Mary Jane Neale (City Council), and Ed Vance (City Council). The community question candidates on future plans to address key topics ranging from religious discrimination to small business subsidiary. The event was co-sponsored by CAIR-FL, with a guest speech were made by CAIR-FL Executive Director, Hassan Shibly.

Muslims Condemn Violence

CAIR-Florida  appeared on many major local media outlets from Fox News to NBC to talk about Muslims in America 11 years after 9/11 and sharing a Muslim perspective on breaking current events news from the protests in Egypt to the tragic killing of the American ambassador in Libya.

October 2012:

CAIR-FL Supports Anti-Domestic Violence Declaration with Family Justice Center

Ministers, clergy and pastors took turns reading the proclamation that pledged "spiritual and religious leaders of Tampa Bay, proclaim with one voice, that domestic violence exists in our own Tampa Bay communities and is morally, spiritually and universally intolerable."

 The proclamation was signed by representatives from 16 religious and community organizations, including Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Congregation Schaarai Zedek, Unity North Tampa, CAIR Florida (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Peace Progressive Primitive Baptist Church, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa and First United Church of Tampa.

CAIR-Florida also helped generate lots of positive media coverage over Eid!

CAIR-Florida also assisted an Orlando family avoid having trouble with their son’s elementary school, after the father was denied the right to take his son for Eid in August.

November 2012:

CAIR-FL Receives Commitments from Law Enforcement against Anti-Muslim Training

CAIR-Florida met with the leadership of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission to request an end to the use of anti-Muslim training offered by Kharoba. In response to our requests, the FDLE and CJSTC made it clear that Kharoba is not a "CJSTC certified instructor" and that the FDLE has stopped using Kharoba for over a year and he is not scheduled to conduct more FDLE training. In fact, the FDLE has adopted the BJA's State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT), standards that completely discredit Kharoba's training. CAIR Florida has also received confirmation from several training directors that they would not permit Kharoba's training.

Hillsborough School Board’s Kurdell defeats conservative activist Terry Kemple

Hillsborough County School Board member Carol Kurdell beat back a challenge Tuesday from a candidate who wanted to keep a Muslim advocacy group out of the classrooms.

Kemple LostTo his detractors, including CAIR executive director Hassan Shibly, Kemple stood for intolerance.

Shibly said the controversy motivated some Muslims to vote for the first time: "I want to thank Kemple for making that possible.”

Islamophobia Strikes Out in Florida

One of Congress's top Islamophobes, Republican Rep. Allen West, lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. With 100 percent of votes in from South Florida's 18th District, Murphy edged out the Tea Party freshman West by less than 2,500 votes, despite lopsided fundraising. West spent more than $17 million, as compared to Murphy's $3.6 million. The race one of the country's nastiest. Several other anti-Muslim candidates including Adam Hasner and Terry Kemple were also rejected by voters.

CAIR-FL does not get involved in partisan politics, but did participate in several important and non-partisan get-out-the-vote and voter education campaigns.

Thanks to CAIR-Florida’s assistance an individual from Jordan finally was sworn in as a American Citizen after a two year delay.

December 2012:

CAIR-FL Helps Clermont Muslim Community Center Stay Open

CAIR-FL represented a Clermont Muslim Community Center at a county meeting where the county was considering shutting down the community center. CAIR-FL was successful in working with the county to convince them to keep the center open and is assisting the community center stay open.

January 2013:

Allen West Ebay Letter Sold on eBay for $2,625

CAIR-Florida announced Tuesday that a letter written by anti-Muslim ex-Congressman Allen West wrote “NUTS!” sold on eBay for $2,625.

Congressman Allen WestWest’s letter dated Aug. 4, 2011 was addressed to Nezar Hamze and Hassan Shibly of CAIR-Florida. The directors sent the South Florida congressman a letter in July of 2011 expressing their concerns about West’s association and support of individuals they said, “have been identified as anti-Islam extremist(s),” and urging West to cut his ties with them.

“I am writing to you with regard your recent letter: ‘NUTS!’” West responded, CAIR said.

West still has not fully explained his meaning, CAIR said.

“We are taught in Islam to meet a bad deed with a good deed. So we turned Allen West’s bad deed into 2,625 good deeds. We thank Allen West for his ‘NUTS’!” CAIR said in a statement. “Every penny of these monies will be used to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”

CAIR-FL Award Offer Leads to Arrest of Anti-Muslim Shooter

Police received 8 tips within an hour of CAIR-FL announcing a $1,000 reward for the first person to give police information that would lead to the arrest of a Florida man who shot a person he thought was Muslim in the face twice with a pellet gun. The suspect was quickly arrested after CAIR-FL announced the award.

CAIR-Florida Welcomes Dismissal of Baseless Charges against Florida Imam

CAIR-Florida welcomed news on January 17, 2013 that a Federal Court dismissed all charges against Miami Imam Izhar Khan who was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly two years on false charges. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola ruled that "no rational trier of fact" could convict 26-year-old Izhar Khan.

JD6Xx.St.56CAIR-Florida's Tampa executive director, attorney Hassan Shibly released the following statement today:

"It is extremely troubling to see that an innocent American was thrown in jail for nearly two years, most of which he spent in solitary confinement, and was consistently denied bail on baseless charges that were so unsubstantiated the judge dismissed the charges before the defense even raised its case… CAIR normally does not get involved in criminal defense cases, however the unjust prosecution of a local Muslim community leader were so egregious in this case that we are proud to have helped secure the Muslim Legal Fund of America's support for this case. We also had contacted the Department of Justice multiple times demanding that they either present stronger evidence or drop the case, as the case was unsubstantiated from day one and false prosecution would lead to community distrust and destroy the government's credibility, but our warnings were not heeded and today, the judge agreed with us.”

CAIR Defends Victim of Discrimination, State Dismisses Charges Against Victim

CAIR-Florida Attorney and Civil Rights Director Thania Diaz Clevenger was successful  in getting charges dismissed against an Arab American Muslim who was refused service at Burger King and then arrested when he complained!

CAIR-Florida issued the following statement:

“We have seen one too many cases where the state or federal government has prosecuted cases against innocent law abiding American Muslims without evidence and using a double standard. While such frivolous and discriminatory prosecutions are not reflective of the honorable service of the majority of dedicated individuals in the State & US Attorney offices, we are grateful that the courts can keep our government in check when it transgresses against the rights and liberties of its citizens."

CAIR-FL Pushes Back against Denial of Religious Accommodations in County Schools

CAIR-Florida has addressed the issue of early leave for many students in the Hillsborough County school system. Working with school board members and school officials, CAIR-Florida responded to complaints that principals were prohibiting parents from picking up their children early on Friday afternoon for weekly religious prayer observances.

School Bullying and Teaching Inappropriate Content About Islam and Middle East

CAIR-Florida has given more than 60 in-class lectures at the school and university levels in the Tampa Bay Area. We have received countless “thank you” letters from students, teachers, professors, and school officials for our presentations. Our efforts have even prevented negative portrayal of Islam and the Middle East in school textbooks from being present in local schools.