Tag Archives: islamophobia

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Massapequa Park, NY – Hundreds of Long Island residents and local organizations will come together on Friday, February 3, 2017 for a demonstration outside the office of Congressman Peter King showing unity against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees indefinitely from Syria and temporarily from 6 other Muslim majority countries.

Protestors will march in front of Peter King’s district office to protest his reported role in co-authoring the President’s Executive Order. Groups organizing the rally intend to underscore that Donald Trump’s order is unconstitutional, un-American, and illegal while aiming to unite individuals and organizations against Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and racism.

Protestors will march in solidarity with members of the Muslim community unfairly targeted because of their religious beliefs, and in support of refugees fleeing war-torn countries leaving everything they had with little or nothing on their backs risking their lives in search of a better future.

“Families are being separated and there are real consequences to this ban. I know of people who cannot visit their loved ones who are sick and elderly and this hurts us very badly,” said Habeeb Ahmed of Islamic Center of Long Island. “This country was made great by immigrants so let’s continue that.”

“We will march to uphold American values. America is a nation built by immigrants,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley of NY’s 2nd District Democrats in a press release. “We are all immigrants. Long Islanders call on President Trump to reverse his hateful, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant executive order, and District 2 constituents call on Rep. Peter King to denounce this executive order.”

“President Trump showed his true colors and issued radical, sweeping Executive Order that upend our immigration system and strike at the heart of our American values. These orders create a massive federal and state law enforcement deportation force to track down and deport immigrants and will rip apart American families, destabilize our communities and make us less safe” stated Lisa Tyson Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

WHO: New York’s 2nd District Democrats (NY02Dems), ATLI, The Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), The Islamic Center of Long Island, Long Island Activists

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, 4-6 p.m.

WHERE: Congressman Peter King’s Office, 1003 Park Boulevard, Massapequa Park, NY 11762 {map link}

PUBLIC TRANSIT: Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station, Jamaica, or points east on the Montauk/Babylon line to the Massapequa Park station.

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

Last week the Coalition Against Hate released the discriminatory records of individuals who have been raised as potential appointees or senior staff in a Trump administration with deep ties to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The Coalition urges Donald Trump to eject known extremists from his inner circle, such Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Mike Pompeo, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Laura Ingraham and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

On Eve of GOP Debate Carolinians Gather for Vigil at Mosque to Counter Xenophobic Rhetoric

On Eve of GOP Debate Carolinians Gather for Vigil at Mosque to Counter Xenophobic Rhetoric

Charleston, SC — Local Carolinians will hold a candlelight prayer vigil at the Central Mosque of Charleston {1082 King St, Charleston, SC} to pray for the GOP Presidential hopefuls on the eve of the debate. The group, comprised of members of South Carolina’s queer, muslim, christian, women’s rights, and latino communities, will gather at 5:45pm to pray for them to “know, experience and share God’s love rather than human hate, greed and hostility.”

“We come from different faith traditions, but we all recognize love and compassion as key tenants of our respective faiths,” said Pastor Thomas Dixon. “Today, we pray for the candidate’s running for President, that God will protect them and show them the way to encourage love, compassion and community and to reject hate, prejudice, violence and greed.”

WHO: Activists with Lowcountry Peace and members of South Carolina’s Queer, Muslim, Christian, Women’s Rights, and Latino Communities

WHAT: A Candlelight Vigil and Prayer Service

WHEN: Today (Wednesday) 5:45pm-6:15pm

WHERE: Central Mosque of Charleston, 1082 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

[Albany / Binghamton, NY]  Yassin Aref, the Albany imam convicted of material support for terrorism along with pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain in a 2006 FBI sting operation, will file a § 2255 petition in mid-July requesting, among other remedies, for his conviction to be overturned, or alternatively, a new trial be granted. Aref discovered significant new evidence about his case as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he made in 2011. This evidence, which misidentified Aref at the inception of the FBI’s investigation, was apparently shown to the trial judge and the appellate court, but not to either the defense attorneys or to the jury at his trial.

The § 2255 motion, can be filed directly by the prisoner if new evidence is found that may materially affect his conviction. Over several years of incarceration, Aref has exhausted his formal appeals (to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City and to the U.S. Supreme Court) and also filed an earlier § 2255 motion, which was unsuccessful, though it did not include presentation of this new evidence.

NEW EVIDENCE FOR APPEAL

This newly uncovered evidence shows that as early as December 2002, the FBI mistakenly thought Aref was an Al Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yasin, and that “Yassin Muhiddin Aref” was merely one pseudonym for Mohammed Yasin. In several documents, the FBI gives alternate spellings of Aref’s name, which are always denoted by the designating acronym “IT-UBL” (International Terrorism-Usama bin Laden) and the term “Al Qaeda.” This misidentification predated the beginning of the FBI sting by 1½ years, which commenced in August 2003. Aref’s § 2255 motion states that it is probable that “the misidentification of Aref caused the case to become a priority in Washington, D.C. …Petitioner Aref was thus originally targeted based on the FBI erroneously linking him to Al Qaeda.” It is unclear from the FOIA file, which is heavily redacted, why or how this misidentification occurred, although it recurs in different FBI documents dated from 2002 to 2004, up to and including the time of the sting.

Aref’s affidavit to accompany the § 2255 states:

“There is an Al-Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yassin who is reported to have been missing two middle fingers on one hand, who was assassinated in Gaza in 2011. I am still alive and have all my fingers so I cannot be Mohammed Yassin. The government convicted the wrong person and I am a victim of mistaken identity. I have never gone by the name Mohammed Yassin. I know nothing about anyone named Mohammed Yassin. I have never been involved with Al Qaeda. I am completely innocent of the charges against me, and was simply tricked by the FBI into gratuitously witnessing a loan that I believe was entirely legal.”

Aref is serving his 15-year sentence at the low-security federal prison in Loretto, PA.  Aref’s beginning 1/2 of his sentence, served at the Communications Management Unit at Terre Haute, IN, was the focus of a 2011 New York Magazine feature titled ‘Little Gitmo’.  His anticipated release date is in October, 2018.  Federal authorities have indicated they may request immediate deportation upon his release.

Yassin Aref’s 2255 motion requests that the court:

» Unredact those portions of the FOIA file that were sent to Aref

» Provide the defense with a description of the classified material given to the trial and appeal courts, especially material that misidentified Aref as Mohammed Yasin

» Provide the defense with exculpatory material not previously provided at trial

» Grant Yassin Aref a new trial

» Dismiss the charges against Aref on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct

The entire 2255 motion will be posted online at http://www.projectsalam.org once it is filed with the court in mid-July.

TWO SUPPORTING EVENTS & ONLINE PETITION

Friday, July 12 at 6 pm: Because of the importance of this appeal, the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and the Aref-Hossain / Albany chapter of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) will hold a rally and launch a special event on Friday, July 12 at 6 p.m. at the Masjid As-Salam, 278 Central Avenue in Albany. At the rally, which will also commemorate the ninth anniversary of Aref and Hossain’s arrests in 2004, speakers will discuss the new evidence, its impact on the case, and answer related questions. Speakers will include Kathy Manley, Esq., Aref’s appeal attorney; Honorable Dominick Calsolaro, outgoing Albany Common Council member who sponsored the Albany Resolution in 2010 that calls for the Justice Department to reopen all post-9/11 terrorism cases to determine whether exculpatory information was withheld from the defense; Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the Masjid As-Salam, where Aref was imam; and Lynne Jackson, president of Project SALAM and a Muslim Solidarity Committee member.

yassin aref petition

Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm: Jackson, accompanied by other supporters, will launch the “Journey for Justice,” a walk of 133 miles from Albany to Binghamton. To emphasize the importance of Aref’s appeal, Jackson is circulating an online petition that asks the judge who would hear the appeal, Honorable Thomas McAvoy (who was also the Aref-Hossain case trial judge), to give it serious consideration. Jackson intends to hand-deliver the petition signatures to McAvoy’s home court in Binghamton. Immediately following the rally, the Journey for Justice will depart from the Masjid As-Salam for the Pine Hills Library on Western Avenue (Route 20). The next day, Saturday, July 13, at about 10 a.m., Jackson and supporters will reassemble outside the library and continue the 10-day trek to Binghamton, via Route 20 and then Route 7, at the rate of approximately 13 miles per day. They expect to arrive in Binghamton on Tuesday, July 23 at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse on 15 Henry Street, where a press conference is planned to mark their arrival.

For more information visit Project SALAM’s “Journey for Justice” blog HERE. To sign the petition in support of Aref’s 2255 motion visit his Change.org page HERE. To request an interview with Lynn Jackson or to place media inquiries regarding Yassin Aref’s 2255 please contact Jeanne Finley at (518) 438-8728 or via email at finlandia@nycap.rr.com. You can also contact Lynn Jackson directly at (518) 366-7324 or lynnejackson@mac.com.

Johnny Cash Could Teach Peter King a Thing (or two) About Prison-Born Terrorism Plots

Johnny Cash Could Teach Peter King a Thing (or two) About Prison-Born Terrorism Plots

Yesterday Congressman Peter King held his second hearing into radicalization within Islamic communities in the United States. This hearing focused on the potential for radicalization within the state and federal prison industrial complexes, specifically highlighting a conspiracy by four California men to wage war against the United States through attacks against military recruitment facilities and other targets in and around Los Angeles in 2005. One of the four men, Levar Washington, who pled guilty to his involvement in the plot was confined to the same secretive federal prison program I was confined to in 2008 for my involvement in an animal rights protest campaign. Levar and I became friends while incarcerated together, we were both young, we were both vegetarians, we would work out together every day, we would discuss spirituality, politics, and every Friday we would sit together and watch animal planet’s ‘Whale Wars’ show on the prison TV. It was an unwritten code in prison to not ask much about someone’s case unless they brought it up in conversation first, so I never learned about Levar’s charges until one afternoon he opened up to me…

Pter King Hearings

Levar, a once-outspoken member of the Rolling Sixties Crips had spent his adolescent and teen years in the California juvenile corrections system, he eventually turned 18 and served the remainder of his time on the yards of some of California’s hardest state penitentiaries — Pelican Bay, CSP, Sacramento, and Folsom State Penitentiary. His life on the yard was one of constant oppression, violence, and sorrow. Levar would spend weeks and sometimes months segregated in the “Hole” or “S.H.U.” (Secure Housing Unit).  It was in the hole at Folsom State Penitentiary that Levar first picked up the Quran. Also segregated to the hole at Folsom was Levar’s future co-conspirator Shakyh Shahaab Murshid (born to the name Kevin James) and during their time together in the hole Kevin turned Levar onto Islam and onto a secret organization he founded in 1997 called Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS) Arabic for The Assembly of Authentic Islam. Levar’s foiled terror plot years later was to be claimed by JIS according to a pre-drafted press release FBI agents found on the floor of his apartment during his arrest.

Johnny Cash at Folsom State Prison.  “Folsom Prison Blues” Cash’s song about the daily oppression of prisoner life highlights the desperation of men living behind Folsom’s walls.   It was from this yard, rife with oppression, that Levar Washington and Kevin James allegedly hatched their 2005 failed terror plot…

Cash’s words resonated with the Folsom men and prisoners everywhere, a stark contrast to the xenophobic rhetoric Congressman Peter King and some of his hand-selected witnesses used when trying to quantify prisoner radicalization.  King and the “expert witnesses” displayed that the lens from which they view these serious issues through, retards their ability to confront real life issues of oppression and violence that impact all of us… For Levar the Qur’an answered his questions about justice, it gave his life a new meaning, it healed old wounds, and his relationship with the text was purely restorative. Peter King’s witnesses made an attempt to argue that it was the cherry-picking of the scripture itself or Islam by it’s very nature that led Levar down the path that eventually ended with his involvement in a terror plot years later. King’s hearings did so without fully acknowledging the oppression, violence, and conflict that enveloped Levar Washington’s life prior to his introduction to the faith. It may be easier for King to scapegoat a religion and chase fictitious bad guys in a system he does not fully understand then begin to address the all-too-real looming problems of disempowerment in inner city communities, xenophobia, failing foreign policies, poverty, and lack of education. All of these factors enable and encourage radicalization to a greater extent then religious scriptures do.

King however is not alone with his approach. How often do we as a culture search for quick fixes to myriad ailments while disregarding our need to make lifestyle changes that challenge our personal comfort. From deeply personal individual battles with cancer to the global war on terror, human responses to these acute onslaughts are almost always reactionary and seldom preventative. Amidst the immediacy of our tragedies we rarely question what brought us to those malignant moments –instead we desperately reach for quick fixes– surgery, chemotherapy, torture, carpet-bombing. In the global war on terror preventative medicine is often practiced as pre-emptive military action, rendition, entrapment, torture, and sanctions. These means never challenge the cultural roots of the problem and often actually serve as a tool for recruitment. Like flourishing bacterial cultures in a petri dish, terrorism is a symptomatic cultural reflex that can be easily seen growing out of its own hospitable environments. Levar Washington is a reactionary by-product to poverty, oppression, and a life of incarceration, not a terrorist recruit of the Quran. Until King begins to acknowledge the predicate problems that spawn terror plots he will continue chasing his own xenophobic tail, will continue to offend America’s beautiful Islamic communities and will continue waisting US taxpayer money.