As Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director, emphasized in his recent “Director’s Desk” article “On Losing a Battle,” despite the waves of sad and angering events in our country, we are keeping our spirits up by channeling our energies to serve and empower the American Muslim community in these difficult times.
Many of our readers know that I was born into a Jewish immigrant home, my parents and grandparents having migrated to this country to escape the anti-Semitic persecution and poverty of Czarist Russia. This experience, as well as the commitment to justice that lies at the heart of Jewish tradition, contributed to my family’s engagement with social justice activism across four generations.
We believe the shooting death of Jeffery Dennis was an inexcusable homicide. It is our belief that the investigation presently conducted by the Attorney General’s office will arrive at a similar conclusion. Notwithstanding, some have attempted to justify the killing of Mr. Dennis by signaling he was the potential target of a police investigation at the time of his death. This is the wrong perspective. To quote Lee Merritt, Esq., the attorney representing the family of Mr. Dennis: “We have to stop distinguishing between good and bad victims of police brutality — as if there are people worthy and others unworthy of constitutional protections. The station in life of the victim is an irrelevant consideration in determining whether a shooting is justified or unjustified.”
If all goes according to plan — and that’s a big “if” given the unprecedented absurdism of the current presidential administration and its chief executive — this Thursday, a lonely woman will walk into Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in our nation’s capital to be questioned by, among others, a clique of white men determined to prove her a liar and destroy her reputation before the eyes of the world. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that the fate of American democracy may hinge upon how Dr. Christine Blasey Ford responds to her tormentors.
The United States of America is the oldest constitutional republic in the world, launching its “improbable experiment in democracy” nearly two and a half centuries ago; however, the nation has only granted its most sacred right — the right to vote — to all of its eligible citizenry for several decades. The Nineteenth mendment, which granted women the right to vote, is less than a 100 years old. African Americans did not receive the unencumbered right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Supreme Court of the United States finally announced its ruling in the long-awaited decision in the case of “Trump v Hawaii,” better known as the “Muslim Travel Ban” case. By a narrow vote of 5-4, the Court in essence supported the bigoted efforts of the Trump administration to view Muslims as a separate class of persons before the law, thus turning back the clock of history to other such nefarious Supreme Court decisions as the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), the Dred Scott case (1857), the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. CAIR and its many supporters believe the Supreme Court decision in “Trump v Hawaii” is both legally and ethically wrong.
On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in support of Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban. This is bad but we will keep fighting. It’s more important than ever to know your rights despite this decision. Since December 4, 2017, the Muslim Ban has been in full effect for certain individuals from: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. All are facing difficulty in their applications for visas to be united with family, study in the U.S., get medical treatment, or visit for tourism.
Essay by Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu
Published in Pennsylvania Legacies Magazine (Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring 2018).
It has been one of the foundational principles of democratic nations that the law exists as a guarantor of liberty. From the Magna Carta to the American Declaration of Independence, from the French Declaration of Rights of Man to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the march of history can be seen as the expansion of freedom to ever greater numbers of the Earth’s inhabitants.
There can be no doubt that Islam, viewed as a systematic and religiously-based physiological guide for human behavior, frowns upon extravagant displays of arrogance on the micro-level (“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise…” Sahih Muslim), as it eschews extremism on the macro level (“Oh People of the Book, don’t go to the extreme in your religion…” [Qur’an, An-Nisa’ 4: 171]).
It is best, therefore, to praise others than to heap acclaim and acclamation upon oneself. It is in this spirit (especially prescribed during Ramadan) that I take this opportunity to write about my two colleagues: Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu and Timothy N. Welbeck, Esq., respectively, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Education and Outreach Director, and our Civil Rights Attorney…
Views and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not represent the positions of institutions, organizations, or individuals that the author may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.