Fanatics and Freedom

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.

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A Letter from Jacob Bender About His Colleagues

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…

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After Gaza

I spent Monday glued to the BBC, Reuters, Aljazeera, and Haaretz broadcasts from Gaza. By Tuesday morning we knew that 58 Palestinian demonstrators had been killed by Israeli troops, while a staggering 2,700 had been wounded, including one infant who died from tear gas inhalation.

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20 Bullets: On the Death of Stephon Alonzo Clark

Clark, who converted to Islam several years ago, died in a hail of bullets on Sunday March 18th when two officers fired a total of 20 shots at him. As Dallas-based Imam Omar Suleiman, said last week, “Stephon Clark was massacred. His body was in such bad shape that we couldn’t do the ritual washing (ghusl). The brothers did a substitute ritual (tayammum) and are horrified by the sight. We cannot allow this to keep happening.” At Clark’s funeral, Imam Suleiman further observed that Clark, whom Sacramento police shot at 20 times, “had almost as many bullets put into him as the years he’s been on this earth.” This is a grave injustice.

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A Less than Perfect Union: Trump’s State of the Union address does not negate the Islamophobia he inspires

Yesterday evening, President Trump addressed the 115th Congress on the State of the Union. Some, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others, have described the address as a departure from President Trump’s polarizing, tumultuous, and chaotic first year in office. Notwithstanding, as Greg Sargent writing for The Washington Post noted, “The real core of the speech was his effort to rhetorically recast the key elements of that approach as unifying and conciliatory, without moving past them at all.” Thus, while President Trump’s State of the Union address did not feature the sort of flagrant Islamophobic remarks he has made in the past, his rhetoric, past and present, has emboldened many who share his distorted worldview.

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What Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Means to CAIR

I was born in Memphis, and reared in the Atlanta area. Thus, I was born in the city where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. was assassinated, and came of age in the city that made Dr. King the man he was. For most of my life, I found myself fascinated by the man who would become an icon for justice. As a child, I often watched his speeches in awe, as a teenager, I dutifully read biographies of him, as a college student, I walked the same halls he once did as I pursued my undergraduate education at Dr. King’s beloved alma mater—Morehouse College. His legacy is part of the reason I became a Civil Rights Attorney. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my foremost influences, particularly as it relates to my desire to pursue the cause of justice.

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Director’s Desk: Mr. Trump: Do Not Move the Embassy!

For American Jews of my generation, the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War was a seminal event. In the official narrative propagandized by the mainstream Jewish community, the beleaguered Jewish State, surrounded by millions of fanatical Arabs bent on “pushing the Jews into the sea,” beat back a surprise attack by the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria only to emerge victorious. The Sinai, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights were conquered the Israeli Army. That such a seemingly miraculous victory was even possible confirmed, in Jewish eyes, the righteousness of the entire Zionist endeavor.

It would take many years to learn that this official Jewish narrative was built upon a foundation of lies and injustice.

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On Tweets and Tyrants

White supremacists and neo-Nazis have lauded President Trump as a champion of their causes, and have regularly celebrated his vile stances. Indeed, President Trump has made his worldview clear both as a private citizen, and as the occupant of the nation’s highest office. He did so again earlier this week with a series of inflammatory tweets meant to disparage Islam.

On Tuesday, President Trump retweeted three tweets from the Twitter account of Jayda Fransen, Deputy Leader Britain First, a racist, neo-facsist organization whose leaders have been prosecuted for hate crimes and incitement to violence. In short, the President of the United States, the man who holds the most powerful individual position in the world’s most powerful nation, has unapologetically endorsed the bigoted, Islamophobic views of a fringe, extremist organization by sharing these inflammatory videos.

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On Treason and Thankfulness

For American Jews who, like myself, have long been public critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and its draconian human rights abuses, the insults are nothing new. And one unfortunately gets used to these sorts of slurs on social media. Still, I was unprepared for this short email that arrived in our office on Monday morning this week…

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Timothy Welbeck – In the Community

On Friday October 20, 2017, I spoke on a panel as part of the third annual Advance Initiative Conference. The conference, hosted at Stone Hill Church in Princeton, NJ, is a national gathering of church leaders, primarily of Indian descent, who seek to provide a more profound understanding of biblical application for churches that service immigrant and second-generation American communities. My panel focused on the role church leaders who preside over congregations who are primarily Indian American can play regarding the important dialog of faith-based initiatives toward racial reconciliation and justice.

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