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June 7, 2006

After mass demonstrations by the immigrant and minority communities, the Senate passed its version of immigration reform legislation. The final vote, 62-36, came after several months of heated debate from both sides. Though the bill includes some good provisions such as a path to legalization for millions of undocumented individuals, an increase in family and employment visas, and the possibility of legalization for students, it also has some potentially harmful provisions. Such provisions include indefinite detention, enforcement of immigration laws by local police, stricter requirements for citizenship, and a universalized ‘watch’ list.

The House version (HR 4437) and the Senate version (S.2611) are drastically different. Some House and Senate members will meet during the year, in the Conference Committee, to strike a deal that both Houses of Congress can agree on. There is no set deadline and Republicans and Democrats face opposition. The time to influence immigration reform legislation is now by demanding that comprehensive immigration that does not place limitations on people.

CAIR-Chicago, in collaboration with the Asian American Caucus, Indo-American Center, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and other organizations, is initiating a massive postcard campaign throughout the metropolitan Chicago area to galvanize support for comprehensive immigration reform in Asian, ethnic communities and Muslim communities. The postcards will, at the end of the campaign, be delivered to congressional representatives at their offices.

To participate in the postcard campaign or for more details, contact Governmental Relations Coordinator, Sadiya Ahmed at

CAIR-Chicago Meets with Delegation from the Philippines

June 8th, 2006

A delegation of 13 government officials and community/non-governmental organization leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in Southern Philippines visited with CAIR-Chicago staff on June 8th.

The delegation came to discuss issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, as well as to learn how CAIR-Chicago, as a chapter of the leading Muslim civil rights organization in the US, has dealt with issues of discrimination facing the Muslim community in the past.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for both of us to learn more about each other” said Dina Rehab, CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator. “I did not know that it is almost impossible for a Muslim woman wearing the hijab [Islamic head covering] in the Philippines to hail down a cab.”

The delegation and CAIR-Chicago discussed ways in which they could collaborate further. One proposal was institutionalizing a foreign exchange program between the two communities whereby each can learn more about the other through ground work. CAIR-Chicago also resolved to educate the general public on the various issues facing the Muslim minority in the Philippines, reiterating that ignorance is the enemy.

This meeting was facilitated by the International Training Office of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. CAIR-Chicago looks forward to working with the International Training Office on future initiatives. CAIR-Chicago plans to meet with other international delegations this year, including a delegation from the Denmark in June, and one from Kyrgyzstan in September.

Present in the meeting were all members of the CAIR-Chicago staff as well as the following guests:

Suharto Ambolodto (Lawyer; Director, Caucus on Muslim Mindanao Affairs)

Romeo Villanueva (Priest; Notre Dame of Jolo College and Peace Center)

Nazarollah Macalandong (University administrator; Chancellor, Mindanao State University, Maguindanao)

Rajam Akbar (Regional Assemblywoman/legislator, ARMM)

Fatima Kanakan (Government official; Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Office of the Regional Governor, ARMM)

Khanappi Ayao (NGO worker; Kadtabanga Foundation for Peace and Development Advocates, Inc.)

Baicon Cayongcat (NGO worker and university administrator; Convener, Mother for Peace Movement; Executive Assistant on Student Affairs, Office of the President, MSU-Marawi)

Abdullah Jr. Salik (Local government official; municipal vice mayor)

Abdulwahid Inju (Madaris Teacher; Provincial Mufti; Division Madaris Coordinator)

Jurma Tikmasan (Professor, MSU Tawi-Tawi; NGO worker and exec. Director, Tarbilang Foundation)

Fatmawati Salapuddin (NGO worker; Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum)

Bainon Karon (NGO worker; head, President, Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women's Cooperative)

Zainudin Malang (lawyer; Director, Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy)

Lina Davide-Ong (Director of the International Training Office at Northern Illinois University)

NIU Representatives




June 13, 2006

Music video 'contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/13/06) - The U.S. Marine Corps today said it agrees with a prominent national Islamic advocacy group that a video posted on the Internet apparently showing Marines cheering a song that glorifies the killing of Iraqi civilians is "insensitive" and "inappropriate."

Yesterday, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on the Pentagon and Congress to investigate the four-minute video posted in March on the website.

SEE: 'Marines' Cheer Song About Killing Iraqi Civilians (CAIR)

The video, called "hadji girl," purports to be a "marine in iraq [sic] singing a song about hadji." (A "Hajji" is a person who has made the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but the term has often been used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq.) The song tells of a U.S. Marine's encounter with an Iraqi woman. It was viewed by almost 50,000 people. (The video was removed from the website after CAIR issued its news release.)

The song's lyrics include: "I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little f**kers to eternity. . .They should have known they were f**king with the Marines." Members of the audience, not shown in the video, laughed and cheered wildly for these lyrics.

SEE: Music Video About Marine Sparks Anger (AP)
SEE: Video Purports To Show Marine Singing About Killing Civilians (AFP)
(The video's audio is slightly out of synchronization.)

In a statement, the Marine Corps said:

"The Marine Corps has recently been made aware of a video posted to a website that purports to show a Marine singing an insensitive song about Iraqis. The video has subsequently been removed from the website. The video that was posted anonymously is clearly inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines. The video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom. We agree with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."

"We welcome the Marine Corps statement, but we also expect that those who participated in this incident will be identified and disciplined appropriately," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad added that he hoped Congress would conduct hearings on this and similar incidents.

'Marines' Cheer Song About Killing Iraqi Civilians:


By Sadiya Ahmed

June 16, 2006

We heard about the contentious debate in the Senate from the end of April to May 26 on immigration reform. Amendments floated in and out of debates; some were picked up and others were shot down and the debate trudged on. That wasn’t all; the marchers trudged on too. They flooded the streets, coast to coast, from New York and Chicago to Los Angeles and Dallas. What was the impact? The Senate finally struck a deal and passed its version of immigration reform.

Is it really immigration reform? I don’t know if that’s what I would call it but then again, we have to start somewhere. It includes some good and some bad but only time will tell what will happen in the upcoming year. The Senate version is no doubt different from the House version of “immigration reform” and people have been wondering why. Let’s start from the beginning.

James Sensenbrenner, sponsor of the REAL ID Act (the one that mandates the establishment of national identification cards) proposed a very enforcement heavy bill on immigration and decided to fast track it right before Congress broke for the December break (basically, the debate was limited and the bill passed in the House a week after it was introduced). No doubt, the bill was condemned by immigrants and activists alike. Why? Simple, it made all undocumented individuals criminals and people who did so much as give an undocumented individual a ride from point A to point B felons. It also broadens detention provisions so that people being held for immigration issues could spend years under federal custody, until their fate was decided, if ever.

We all saw the rallies in Chicago. Most of us were there, marching alongside activists demanding comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate decided, after long weeks of debate, on S.2611. It’s different from the House version alright! This version provides millions of people with the chance to apply for legalization. The DREAM Act gives students the chance to go to college based on good grades and behavior. It tries to clear the backlog on family visas so your aunt and uncle who have been waiting for 22 years to come to the US may be finally able to come in the next few years! Sounds great right? So what could the problem be?!

Well, the legislation has some “low-lights” too. For example, local police would be able to enforce national immigration laws; they’d be encouraged and reimbursed for trainings etc (. Detentions are still indefinite; DHS would get to add more beds to detention centers to house more detainees. Such individuals can be held for years with no hope to getting out until they get deported. A few million people would have to leave the country and may not be able to come back because they don’t meet the requirements of the tiered path to legalization (people who have been in the US more than 5 years get to pay a fine and apply for legalization; those who have been here between 3 and 5 years have to leave the country then come back and people who have been here less than 2 years, have to go back without any guarantee of coming back. Of course there are more rules in fine print).

Though the bill passed in the Senate, it is so drastically different that a lot of the details will need to be negotiated in a joint conference committee. This committee will have members of the House committee as well as the Senate committee. Chances are, nothing will get done until after the elections, until the immigrant communities put their money where their mouths are and mobilize by the thousands to the polls.

So what’s the deal again? Absolutely nothing!

Media Response System [visit center]
  • A Call for Consistency (A Letter to CNN)
  • June 8, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago Attends ICIRR Asian Consultation Dinner
  • June 14, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago Meets with Delegation from the Philippines
  • June 8, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago Attends Illinois Coalition Civil Liberties Meeting
  • June 8, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago Fights for Immigrant Rights
  • June 7, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago Attends Chicago Tribune Community Luncheon
  • June 6, 2006

Recent Events

  • Ahmed Rehab to Speak at Interfaith Worker Justice Seminar

    June 14, 2006


Civil Rights Update – 06/16/06

The Civil Rights Department at CAIR-Chicago currently has 500 cases documented in which 221 cases are active and are being pursued by department personnel. Below are the cases that were reported to CAIR-Chicago within the last two weeks.


  • A Muslim taxi-cab driver reported discriminating treatment toward cab drivers of Middle Eastern origin by airport security personnel. CAIR-Chicago is investigating the matter and will take whatever action necessary to resolve the issue.
  • A male Muslim student received a racist email that threatened his life two weeks after he had been attacked on campus. CAIR-Chicago is working with the FBI and the college’s administration to investigate the incident and increase awareness on campus.
  • A Muslim doctor experienced discriminatory treatment by supervisors of the hospital where he was performing his residency. CAIR-Chicago is currently in negotiations with the hospital for a settlement on behalf of the Muslim doctor.
  • A Muslim police officer was subjected to harassment from his supervisor and other officers in his department after the supervisor returned from counter-terrorism training. The supervisor would say to the Muslim officer, “I saw your cousins today trying to blow themselves up,” and other derogatory comments. Most recently, the Muslim officer was terminated. CAIR-Chicago is contacting the police department and will take whatever action necessary to resolve the issue.
  • A Muslim woman who practices wearing the headscarf (hijab) has experienced poor service by an employee of a delivery service company since converting to Islam. CAIR-Chicago is contacting the company to file a complaint and push for more adequate service.
  • A Muslim man with a valid entry visa was denied permission to enter the U.S. and was sent home on the next flight. CAIR-Chicago facilitated communication between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the man’s family and obtained the reason for the officer’s decision.
  • A Muslim man was contacted by federal law enforcement for an interview. CAIR-Chicago will assist in finding the man legal representation in his area.
  • A Muslim man has experienced lengthy delays consistently while traveling. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating this case into the Travel Free Project, and will assist the man in getting placed on the TSA safe list.
  • A Muslim man was contacted by federal law enforcement for an interview. CAIR-Chicago will contact the agent and will represent the man in the interview.
  • A Muslim man has experienced a delay in obtaining visas for members of his family. CAIR-Chicago referred the man to an immigration attorney for assistance.
  • A Muslim man was contacted by federal law enforcement for a voluntary interview. CAIR-Chicago is representing the man and has been in communication with the FBI regarding the interview.
  • Due to the overwhelming response to the last Citizenship Delay event at the Mosque Foundation, 19 more Muslims have reported delays in their citizenship process. These Muslims have applied for citizenship and passed all necessary U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements, but have been waiting for citizenship status due to pending background checks. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating these cases into the Citizenship Delay Project. For more information on the Citizenship Delay Project, please see the action alert below.
  • A Muslim inmate has reported lack of availability of halal food in prison. The Muslim inmates of the prison are currently petitioning to make halal food available, just as kosher food alternatives are already available to Jewish inmates. CAIR-Chicago is incorporating this case into the Prison Project, and will work with the inmates in whatever way possible to make their campaign a success.
  • Two Muslim men were arrested and were to be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention. Since the arrest, one of the men has been lost in the prison system and cannot be located – a common occurrence in the prison system today. CAIR-Chicago is contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement to locate the man.
  • A Muslim inmate has reported a lack of accommodations for Muslims performing daily prayers. CAIR-Chicago is contacting the prison’s chaplain to discuss the issue and how Muslims can be better accommodated.
  • A female Muslim student has experienced disparate treatment from a committee that oversees her degree progress. The committee has told her that, despite her above-average grades, she is not ready to move forward because of her communication skills, although her English is excellent. CAIR-Chicago attended a meeting with the university’s administration and was able to secure an increase in the student’s grade. CAIR-Chicago will also work to communicate with her supervising committee to insure that she is not being over-scrutinized because of her Arabic accent when speaking English.
  • A Muslim university student was inappropriately taken out of class, searched, and detained after an email hoax claimed the student was a terrorist. CAIR-Chicago has met with university administrators to discuss the issue and is working on obtaining an apology from the university, as well as to hold events to raise awareness and promote tolerance on campus regarding such issues.

View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the “Progress Report” section.


Citizenship Delay Project - Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process:

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

Travel Free Project - Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside of the U.S.:

As part of a potential class action law suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CAIR-Chicago is asking anyone who has been detained and questioned on return to the US at any border crossing (land or airport) to please contact .

Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:

As part of a potential 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.

The facts of the above case are as follows:

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.

  • CAIR Launches 'Muslims Care' Volunteerism Campaign

    May 25, 2006

  • CAIR-Chicago and Local Islamic Organizations Co-Sponsor Chicagoland Area Blood Drives

    June 17-18, 23 and 30, 2006

  • We Are America: Democracy Day

    July 1, 2006

  • Backyard Theology Annual Event: "Who is my Neighbor?"

    July 31, 2006

  • Ahmed Rehab, Fall Speaker at Minnesota State University Moorehead

    September 11, 2006

Visit BBC News Photo Journal:
"My priority in life is my calling to Islam. I can’t compromise. Writing books, defending Islam, answering misconceptions. There is a big difference between the misapplication of religion and the truth. If you want to criticise someone, learn the truth first. Some questions cannot be answered by men. I feel it is my job. I hope that I’m a role model for these women."

-Magda Amer

CAIR-Chicago Welcomes Three New Activists to the Team

Susan DeCostanza recently finished her first year of law school at DePaul University. This summer she is coordinating CAIR-Chicago’s Travel Free Project in the Civil Rights Department. Susan completed her undergraduate work at Boston College in 2001 with a double major in English Literature and Elementary Education. Susan is also the Public Interest Coordinator at DePaul’s Law Career Services Office. Susan loves her dog, Stanley.

Ausaf Farooqi joins the CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Department as the Prison Project Coordinator. Ausaf is beginning his second year of law school at the Chicago-Kent College of Law this fall. Ausaf encourages all Muslims to join in the fight for Muslim Civil Rights and would like to remind his fellow brothers and sisters of the activities of early Muslims when they lived as a minority in Mecca. Much of their early activity with the surrounding community consisted of advocating and defending their ability to practice their religion freely. Once again, Muslims have sometimes found themselves in hostile circumstances as a result of their faith. Insha'Allah, all Muslims should stand to fight abuses to the civil rights of Muslims.

Sarah Terman is a second year student at Northwestern University School of Law and has joined CAIR-Chicago as a Civil Rights Intern. She previously interned with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington D.C. and also volunteers with the American Civil Liberties Union here in Chicago. She speaks some Farsi and has traveled extensively in Iran, where much of her family resides. Sarah hopes to pursue a career in impact litigation after graduating from law school.

Are you an Undergraduate or Graduate Student Looking to Earn College Credit While Interning at CAIR-Chicago?
CAIR-Chicago is currently offering 11 internship opportunities. All internships are unpaid, but students may receive college credit. Applicants need to email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: .

CAIR-Chicago is offering the following positions for internships:

  • Civil Rights Intern
  • Communications Intern
  • Community Service Intern
  • Governmental Relations Intern
  • Grant Research Intern
  • Marketing Intern
  • Operations Intern
  • Public Education Intern
  • Public Relations Intern
  • Church Project Intern
  • Faith Core Online Magazine Intern

  • Please Contact the Outreach Coordinator for more information on the tasks and duties of specific internships. Call Dina Rehab at 312-212-1520 or at

Executive Director
Ahmed Rehab

Civil Rights Coordinator
Christina Abraham

Outreach Coordinator
Dina Rehab

Governmental Relations Coordinator
Sadiya Ahmed

Operations Coordinator
Sabah Ahmed

Communications Coordinator
Sultan Muhammad

Staff Attorney
Heena Musabji, Esq.

Legal Advisor
Maaria Mozaffar

Board of Directors
Alif Muhammad
Ahmed Rehab
Zaher Sahloul, MD
Hina Sodha, Esq.
Yaser Tabbara, Esq. - Secretary
Mazen Kudaimi, MD - Vice President
Safaa Zarzour, Esq. - President


For more information, please contact:

CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1410, 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
17 N. State St., Suite 1500, Chicago IL 60602
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