The Chicago Activist | | CAIR-Chicago

Struggle For The Soul of America
By Ahmed Rehab

Every now and then, history throws America a curve ball that tests the breadth and depth of its professed values and ideals. Today, history is hurling a tricky ball at a new generation of Americans; we must swing hard to hit that ball and we must not miss.

In the heated aftermath of 9/11, much has changed in America. Shadows of suspicion have been cast on an entire group of Americans simply because of their religious affiliation. A large number of Muslim-Americans have found themselves the subject of intense scrutiny as a direct result of crimes they never committed nor ever sanctioned. Good law-abiding citizens are often rendered guilty until proven innocent. Muslim immigrants are singled out for sporadic incarcerations and deportations leaving behind torn families and a shattered American dream. Muslims face intimidation on the streets, degradation at airports, and mass demonization in the media.

Why is this happening in America, the land of the free?

Because 9/11 changed everything, some will argue.

But should we allow it to change everything?

Should America crack under pressure? Should its institutions cease to govern equitably? Should its Bill of Rights cease to protect unanimously? Should the intense fear and paranoia born on 9/11 and meticulously bred ever since by doomsayers with narrow political agendas become the new rule of the land? Should we now stifle the diversity that has always been a source of our strength? Should we now choose what is easy when we have always opted for what is right?

Affirmative answers send a message to the world that Bin Laden has succeeded in breaking America and exposing the frailty of our democracy which quickly crumbles if struck with the right force. Forsaking our values and our civil liberties that have made us who we are - under the pretense of precautionary measures - is essentially conceding victory to organized terrorism.

The health of a democracy is not ascertained in times of peace but in times of conflict. Our Civil rights as law-abiding citizens are not a trust given to us until security becomes an issue, but are permanent and persistent rights that must be respected even in perilous times. Defending America from foreign threat should never result in undermining the very constitution that makes America worth defending. Those who argue otherwise imply that the democratic paradigm with its emphasis on civil liberties and justice is inherently flawed since its applicability is conditional. The rule of law cannot have human eyes, because human eyes are biased. As our government purports to export democratic ideals to remote parts of the world, will Americans not demand that they be preserved here at home?

The vicious attacks of 9/11 may have brought down the twin towers in Manhattan, but bringing down the twin towers of American equality and justice is all on us; will they prove sturdier than steel? It takes the mistargeted wrath of a few riled up policy makers, public commentators, and vigilante joes to bring down those towers. Will the defenders of democracy rise up to challenge those who are rocking its ship? Therein is the struggle.

You once had to be of a certain color to be fully American enjoying full civil rights; a determined generation of Americans fought a courageous battle and changed that forever. Today, some factions suggest that you have to be of a certain faith to be fully American enjoying full civil rights. This generation must fight this abomination and once again carry America to new heights.

A great nation will always face great challenges. personally, I am not intimidated by the sight of the approaching ball, but I pray to God we don't put our bat down because this struggle, in the end, is a struggle for the soul of America.

Talk on Muslim Civil Rights
CAIR-Chicago’s Civil Rights Coordinator, Christina Abraham spoke at an event held by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) for the Jewish holiday, Lag Ba’omer, last Thursday, May 26th. Christina discussed the state of the Muslim American community after 9/11. The event, “Barbeque without Borders” was a part of the JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative and featured speakers and guests from several community-based organizations. The talk focused on the impact of the USA Patriot Act on Muslim Americans and the types of civil rights abuses that CAIR-Chicago has dealt with as a result of the act.

Like Clockwork . . .
CAIR-Chicago's primary Governmental Relations endeavor, Project O, is moving forward as scheduled.  CAIR-Chicago's team of dedicated weekly volunteers has identified all the registered American Muslim voters in the 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 13th Congressional Districts of Illinois for entry into our database of registered Muslim voters. The names of more than 5,000 American Muslim voters residing in the 9th Congressional District - an area including Evanston, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, Niles, Morton Grove, and part of Des Plaines - have been identified and entered into the CAIR-Chicago database. For more information on Project O or to volunteer your time, please contact Fadi Farhan, CAIR-Chicago’s Director of Governmental Relations, at

Civil Rights Update 06/01/05:

The following incidents were reported to CAIR-Chicago within the past two weeks:


  • A Muslim man working at a car dealership was repeatedly subjected to racist comments by his manager and several co-workers. Employees of the dealership would watch news coverage of the Iraq war and would make comments to the victim such as “look at your siblings being killed”. The manager of the dealership would repeatedly say to him “I hate all Muslims” and “I wish I could behead all Muslims.” CAIR-Chicago is currently working on contacting the dealership’s attorneys.
  • A Muslim woman was hired by an employment agency to work as a temp for another company. She was later told by the agency that she could not wear her headscarf (hijab), which was referred to as “that thing on your head”. The agency then told her that another woman who was hired to work at the same company was also required to remove her “turbin.” CAIR-Chicago is working on contacting the employment agency and the company involved.
  • A Muslim woman was hired at a drugstore but was required by the store manager to remove her headscarf (hijab) while at work. Union representatives also encouraged the woman to comply with her manager’s orders. CAIR-Chicago will contact the company’s representatives and call for an investigation on the issue.
  • A Muslim woman was subjected to derogatory comments by co-workers and the owner of a salon she was employed at for 3 years. Co-workers would mimic the woman while she was speaking Arabic on the phone. Important staff meetings would be held at local bars where the woman could not attend and important decisions would be made without her input. The owner of the salon also singled her out in front of customers as she made comments about “people from your country.” CAIR-Chicago will work with the woman to pursue a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • A Muslim woman was hired at a large newspaper. The day after she had made a complaint to human resources about a comment that was made during training class by an instructor she was fired without reason. CAIR-Chicago advised the woman of the options available to her and recommended filing a formal complaint for retaliation, which the woman filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).
  • A Muslim man was selling his car, and received a phone call from a woman who said she was interested in buying. When he met the woman at a Starbucks he learned that she and her companion were actually Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agents. They proceeded to question him about his involvements, his past acquaintances, his family and friends. They then informed him that his home was being searched as they spoke and showed him the warrant. The FBI had banged on the door of their home demanding his wife to open up. When she had asked them to give her a minute so that she could cover up they forced the door open. They then proceeded to search their apartment for six hours with utter disregard for his personal belongings while his wife and young children were made to sit in silence. Nothing was found to incriminate the man; he was neither arrested nor charged. CAIR-Chicago is working to get in contact with FBI representatives to pursue a complaint regarding the incident.
  • A Muslim man was pulled over on the highway for a minor traffic violation, was arrested on questionable charges and subjected to mistreatment and racist remarks by arresting officers. CAIR-Chicago is currently working with the man to pursue a complaint against the officers who arrested him.
  • A Muslim man applied for citizenship 3 years ago. He passed the citizenship exam in December of 2002 and has been waiting for his background check to clear since. CAIR-Chicago is currently working on several similar cases.
  • A Muslim man discovered at Midway Airport that he was put on a traveler’s checking list despite being a citizen with a clean record.
  • A Muslim man was arrested by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for charges that were not made clear to the man or his family at the time of his arrest. CAIR-Chicago determined the detention facility where the man was being held, as well as obtained the charges upon which he was arrested. Because the man was to be transferred to a detention facility in Ohio, CAIR-Chicago referred the case to CAIR-Ohio.
  • A Muslim family placed several offers on a home, offering more than the asking price. The owners refused to sell despite their having no other offers made on the home. CAIR-Chicago advised the family to file a compliant with the Fair Housing Commission (FHC).
Ongoing Progress
  • CAIR-Chicago worked to find financial help for the wife and children of a Muslim man who was arrested by the FBI. The man, who was arrested in February, was the primary breadwinner of the family and since his arrest his family lost their home and has come under severe financial hardship. CAIR-Chicago is currently looking for an attorney that can represent him.
  • A local university is coordinating a meeting with several Muslim student groups and the university’s catering company in order to discuss halal food options and vegetarian alternatives for Muslim students that were previously not made available.
Citizenship Delay:
  • CAIR-Chicago and the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) discussed the citizenship delay issue with the Department of Homeland Security’s Community Liaison. It was there determined that the phenomenon is a national issue and the options available to individuals facing this problem were discussed.

Action Alert Update: Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:
As part of a class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for anyone who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at . An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.

Below are the facts of the case of the class action law suit:

A Muslim student was asked to remove her headscarf on two separate occasions at a testing center before she began a standardized test required for graduate school. The supervisor and employees of the testing center refused to show her a written copy of the policy requiring Muslim women wearing a headscarf to be searched. A witness at the testing center also observed the employees making discriminatory remarks about Muslims while the victim was taking the test.

Please let us know if you or someone you know have experienced a similar incident and would like to take action to prevent such forms of religious discrimination at standardized testing centers in the future.

Action Alert Upate: Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process

CAIR-Chicago has received reports from five individuals in the last two weeks that have experienced a delay in their citizenship status due to an ongoing background check.

As a joint effort with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), CAIR-Chicago is asking individuals who passed a citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 90 days, or have been waiting for a Green Card for permanent residence for over 90 days to contact us at either or .


Hate Crimes: Define and Respond
June 12, 2005

Muslim Community Center, (Community Hall)
4380 N Elston Ave., Chicago

Sunday, June 12th (2-4 pm)

Expert Speakers will address:
What is a hate crime?
How do I know if I am a victim of a hate crime?
What do I do if I am exposed to a hate crime?

Guest Speakers:
Christina Abraham (CAIR-Chicago)
Jacob Overton (FBI)
Diana Lin (Chicago Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law)

Co-sponsored by MCC

Islamic Foundation Fair
June 12, 2005

CAIR-Chicago will take part in the Foundation Fair at the Islamic Foundation. The Foundation Fair is an afternoon bazaar of booths filled with everything from international cuisine of the Middle East, Persia, and South Asia to booths containing ethnic clothing and jewelry. Come visit our booth and learn more about our activities and how you can get involved.

June 12 (12pm - 6pm)

The Islamic Foundation (300 W. Highridge Road, Villa Park, IL. 60181).

June Blood Drive

CAIR-Chicago is taking part in a summer-long campaign called Muslms Care (, initiated by CAIR-National, to promote community service in the Muslim community. A theme is selected for each month (June-August). June is Health Awareness Month.

CAIR is currently coordinating a June blood drive with several Chicagoland Muslim organizations: On a typical day, 1500 blood donors are needed to meet patient's needs in the Chicagoland area. Blood is needed to save the lives of people undergoing surgery for trauma or heart disease; for persons suffering from bleeding disorders; for patients with severe burns; and for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. If every eligible donor would give-the-gift-of-life only 2 times annually, there would never be a blood shortage in Chicagoland. Each unit of blood donated potentially saves three lives. If you are a person over the age of 18, weigh more than 100 lbs, have not donated in the past 2 months, have no significant heath problems, and have not traveled to Asia or Africa within the last 12 months, you can donate.

Come donate blood during June (Health Awareness Month)

Where?  When?

Muslim Community Center 4380 N. Elston Ave., Chicago IL. 60641 Call 773-775-9047 to volunteer or email Sunday, June 19th, 2005 (9 AM - 1 PM)

Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs (ISNS) 3890 Industrial Ave., Rolling Meadows, IL. 60008 Call Thabraize Ahmed at 847-507-7447 Sunday, June 19th, 2005 (8 AM - 4 PM)

Mosque Foundation 7360 W 93rd St., Bridgeview, IL. 60455 Call Tareq at 708- 430-5666 Ext. 0 Thursday, June 23rd, 2005 (10 AM - 4 PM)

Downtown Islamic Center 231 S. State St., Chicago, IL. 60604 Call Tamer Abouzeid at 773-627-1859 Friday, June 24th, 2005 (10 AM - 5 PM)

The June Blood Drive is co-sponsored by the Health Awareness Committee of MCC ( and the Compassionate Care Network (CCN) (

Blood Drives to be held at the Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, Downtown Islamic Center and Mosque Foundation. Stay tuned for more detailed information! If your mosque or community center is interested in hosting a blood drive, please contact Dina Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator, at or 312-212-1520. Check our website and newsletter regularly for future MUSLIMS CARE summer events.


- What is a hate crime?
- How do I know if I am a victim of a hate crime?
- What do I do if I am exposed to a hate crime?

IT Intern Wanted
If you have strong HTML skills, good graphics skills, and are interested in web development, please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at . Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).
Journalism Intern Wanted
If you are a journalism student or someone who is interested in covering news, commenting on issues, or interviewing people, then please contact us at 312 212 1520 or email us at . CAIR-Chicago can provide you with a heavily-visited forum through which you can share your work. Please specify if you are interested in volunteering (2-10 hours) or interning (10-20 hours).


Help Wanted: Operations Coordinator

CAIR-Chicago has an immediate opening for the full-time position of Operations Coordinator. This position requires working knowledge of IT related issues (HTML, MS Office, Excel and Access). A college graduate is preferred. For more information, visit our career center. Qualified candidates may email their resume to

Executive Director
Yaser Tabbara

Director of Communications
Ahmed Rehab

Director of Governmental Relations
Fadi Farhan

Civil Rights Coordinator
Christina Abraham

Outreach Coordinator
Dina Rehab

Board of Directors
Susan Janaan Hashim, JD - Treasurer
Shakeela Hassan, MD
Alim Elliott Khan
Mazen Kudaimi, MD
Kamran Memon, Esq.
Alif Muhammad
Ahmed Rehab
Zaher Sahloul, MD
Abdullah Salah, Esq. - Vice President
Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President

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For more information, please contact:

CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 405, Chicago IL 60604
Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
Email: , Website:

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The Chicago Activist is a publication of CAIR-Chicago
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