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Legal Updates

This month, Ryan Tack-Hooper, our staff attorney, is initiating a suit against a landlord who discriminated against a Muslim family. The landlord illegally refused to renew a lease to the Muslim family in an attempt to resolve a conflict created by the biased attitudes of an anti-Muslim tenant. The ethical and legal response, of course, would have been to address the hateful tenant, not kick out the Muslim family.

Every American has the right to rent and buy property without regard to his or her religion. Contact our legal department if you have been denied housing or treated differently by a landlord because you are a Muslim.

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Promotional Opportunity in Our End-of-Year Newsletter

CAIR-Philadelphia is offering businesses, organizations, and individuals an opportunity to reach the Muslim American community in the Greater Delaware Valley during the month of December. CAIR will be mailing and distributing over 4,000 newsletters to our community describing CAIR’s numerous accomplishments in 2014. This newsletter will also be sent out electronically to our mailing list and others, offering an even wider outreach for your message.

Ad space (3.5 in. x 2 in.) will cost $200 (in color), which is less than 5 cents a contact and considerably less than a postage stamp. You can also just send us the text you want in your ad. Act quickly to reserve your spot!

Confirm your reservation now!

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Director’s Desk, October 27, 2014

I will be speaking about CAIR and Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA on Monday evening, Nov. 3. For more information, click here to see a flyer for the event.

I will also be screening my documentary film, “Out of Cordoba,” at New African Center on Friday night, Nov. 14. For more information, click here to see a flyer for the event.

Finally, another in my series of reading recommendations, this is an important article by Rachid Ghannouchi, the founder and chairman of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, called “Tunisia shows there is no contraction between democracy and Islam.” Click here to read the article in The Washington Post.

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Jacob Bender interviewed on the SEPTA ads controversy (audio)

KYW Radio 1060

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Interfaith Statement on the Anti-Muslim Ads Bought for SETPA

We — the undersigned leaders, clergy, religious scholars representing the mosaic of faith communities in Philadelphia — strongly condemn the content of the anti-Muslim ads targeted for SEPTA. The real purpose of these ads, bought and paid for by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller and her misnamed “American Freedom Defense Initiative,” is to sow mistrust and hatred between Philadelphians of different religions, and as such, these ads should be denounced by all people concerned about interfaith relations and the civic life of our city.

As defenders of the First Amendment, however, we support Ms. Geller’s right to free speech, no matter how spiteful her words, and we do not seek to ban her ads from SEPTA buses and billboards. As people of faith, we believe it is better to expose ignorance to the light of reason than to try to keep it in the shadows. For the thousands of Philadelphians who are Muslims, or who have Muslim friends and neighbors, these ads will be nothing more than a reminder that this kind of open bigotry still exists, and that we need each other’s support to fight it. Indeed, Islamophobic groups like Ms. Geller’s are stunningly well-funded, taking in over a hundred million dollars between 2008 and 2011 to spend on hate speech that distorts Islam and smears American Muslims. These ads, also running in Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, are stark evidence of the need to organize and finance efforts to counter this hate and to build bridges among America’s faith communities.

SEPTA’s refusal to air the ads is no doubt motivated by their disgust with the ads — a disgust we share. But in Philadelphia — the birthplace of the Constitution, the city of William Penn and Quaker values, and where a statue to religious liberty stands astride Independence Mall — these ads offer an opportunity to re-affirm our belief in free speech, even for the hate-monger. And in responding to the ads — no matter our differences on other issues — we can demonstrate another of Philadelphia’s great legacies: religious pluralism and interfaith tolerance, ideas that have the power to bring us together rather than divide us by creed.

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