Case Highlights

Mosque Opposition  |  Mar 22, 2012

CAIR-LA filed a lawsuit on behalf of a local Islamic Center that was denied a permit to rebuild its facilities. The Department of Justice also opened a formal investigation into the permit denial. Our work with the mosque has included community workshops and town halls, and empowering community members to assert their rights to religious freedoms.

No-Fly List  |  Feb 22, 2012

A young man, who is a U.S. citizen, had been wrongfully placed on the No-Fly list and was unable to pursue his religious studies abroad for approximately two years. Because of CAIR-LA's intervention with the Department of Homeland Security, the young man was able to fly recently for the first time in almost two years. He emailed us as he was boarding his flight and said, “Thank You Thank You Thank You !!!! I'm at gate 9, and going to board very soon.... I'm indebted to you and CAIR [for your] help.”

From the Civil Rights Deskback to top

Being Vigilant on Drones

As the drone silently glides across the horizon, hundreds of civilians and militants alike are stalked. It surveils homes, businesses, hospitals, and schools, and reports its findings to officials safely tucked into military compounds hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the dangers of war. A drone is not susceptible to human emotions nor will it hesitate once the command to take a life is issued.

During President Barack Obama’s time in office, the United States has conducted over 300 drone strikes in Pakistan-- five times as many used during the Bush Administration. These strikes have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 3,577 persons, and out of that number, 2,693 are deemed “combatants.” Unfortunately, there is no real method for determining exactly how many of the 2,693 lives taken belonged to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban since recent reports indicate all military-aged males, typically anyone between the ages of 18 and 65, are targeted as combatants although they may be unarmed civilian bystanders. The use of drones in warfare has not garnered much public attention in the U.S. However, the use of drones in the extrajudicial murders of Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman sparked a necessary debate over the legality of drone use—at least with respect to the targeted killing of American citizens without charge or trial.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution restricts the government from “depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Due Process is our right, as Americans, to a fair legal proceeding with an opportunity to be heard before the government seizes our life, liberty, or property. However, in the case of al-Awlaki and Abdulrahman, there was no trial where they were afforded the right to be heard before they were assassinated.

Moreover, the use of drones overseas has garnered scrutiny from the United Nations. The United Nations recently reported that a panel will investigate the rise in drone strikes by the U.S. and other nations and the related allegations of unlawful killings. The International Bill of Human Rights exists as a universal constitution providing humans, criminal or not, with fundamental rights such as the right to innocence until proven guilty. In using drones to assassinate suspected terrorists, the U.S. government clearly disregards Articles 7, 10, 11, 12 and 28 of the International Bill of Human Rights.

More recently, the suspected use of surveillance drones in the search for Christopher Dorner raised additional concerns as civilians, reporters and politicians questioned the government’s invasion of our constitutional right to privacy. Ultimately, drones may have assisted in finding Dorner, but we should not disregard the breach in privacy of Americans being eyeballed in their homes and businesses by drones. Normalizing the use of drones enables a path towards increasing government infringement on our civil liberties if left unchecked and unpressured by the public.

A Second Chance to Rebuild

On Sunday, Feb. 10, community members enthusiastically gathered at the Islamic Center of South Bay in Lomita for a forum to discuss future renovation plans on its site. As part of a recent settlement agreement between the mosque and city, the city will consider a renewed application by the Islamic center on an expedited schedule and waive application fees, explained Anne Richardson of Hadsell Stormer Richardson and Renick LLP, a private law firm that is working with CAIR-LA in representing ICSB in its lawsuit against the city.

The community forum occurred one week after the Department of Justice alleged in a lawsuit that the city violated the law when it denied the Islamic center’s application to refurbish its facility in March 2010.

CAIR-LA’s staff attorney Ameena Qazi explained the implications of the DOJ agreed order, that city officials who make land-use decisions will attend trainings on federal law protecting religious institutions.

CAIR-LA is honored to continue working with the Islamic Center of South Bay and its congregants towards building a beautiful, new mosque, as the community’s involvement has played an integral role in achieving both settlements. During the investigation, CAIR-LA staff attorneys helped establish a community action committee, held multiple meetings and townhalls, and worked with the committee to submit dozens of letters to DOJ officials describing how the city’s application denial negatively impacted community members. Additionally, CAIR-LA worked with community leaders to garner 200 signatures on a petition they presented to the city supporting the DOJ-led investigation.

At the forum, the Islamic center’s future expansion plans were laid out by architect Shakil Patel, and community leaders Shakeel Syed of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, along with mosque leaders Dr. Iraj Ershaghi and Ehtesham Mirza who spoke to the importance of working together to build a strong community. Later, a youth representative spoke about the role of the Islamic center in her life, and how it has given her friends and other teenagers a place to develop camaraderie within their community.

The progress that has been made on this case speaks volumes to the strength and resiliency of the South Bay community. This is truly an example of a community coming together.

Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Schools

As we start off another school year, CAIR-LA is providing the following information as a resource to our parents and students who may encounter discrimination or harassment in a school setting. Some of those most hard hit by harassment are also the most vulnerable of the Muslim community - our children.

Under the First Amendment, students have a right to practice their religion free from discrimination and harassment. Their rights are also protected under various federal and state laws. This brief guide is intended to help you understand your rights at school and assist you in dealing with harassment by fellow students and teachers.

Parents and students need to establish open dialogue and make sure they communicate with each other in order to properly address any of the following issues. Remember to keep each other apprised of positive and negative developments, large or small.

Please take a moment now to review information in our "Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Schools" guide on the left under Resources.

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