Monday, June 25, 2007

Local Hijab "Victory"

SAN FRANCISCO - A Muslim teenager who was ordered by a school monitor to take off a headscarf she wore for religious reasons returned to classes after school officials apologized to the family.

Issra Omer, 13, told her parents she was too embarrassed to show up for summer school classes at Seaside High School on Wednesday, the day after a monitor demanded she remove her hijab, the Muslim scarf covering the head and neck, to conform to the district's no-hat policy. Issra, whose family is originally from Sudan, explained that her scarf is worn for religious reasons, but the school employee still yelled at her, said her father, Yousif Omer. The teenager, who will be starting 9th grade in the fall, felt humiliated by being singled out in front of her peers, and started crying, he said. The school's principal, Syd Renwick, explained the employee didn't intend any harm.

Read on at: The Californian

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

World Refugee Day

Food for thought as we near the end of World Refugee Day:

  • As of December 31, 2005, the largest source countries of refugees are the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, and Sudan.

  • An estimated 80% of refugees are women and children. They often carry the heaviest burden of survival for themselves and their families. Women and adolescent girls in refugee settings are especially vulnerable to exploitation, rape, abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.
Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My 5 Minutes of Fame is Still Going Strong

It seems as though maybe the folks at CAIR Watch are actually very fond of me. It turns out they came back to my blog when they heard I posted about being profiled on their website - and they updated the profile accordingly!

"About Billoo being profiled on CAIR Watch: "It's sad because I don't deserve such an honor. Subhan'Allah a lot of the folks in that Hall of Fame [CAIR Watch Profiles] are true superstars. We're talking about the likes of Dr. Sami Al-Arian who has suffered ridiculous injustices, along with so many others who have made innumerable contributions to the cause of social justice. I'm not fit to clean the shoes of so many of those people." (CWZY MUSLIMA, ‘Famous,’ June 12, 2007)"

Check it out: CAIR Watch

"Nation of Mutes"

"Objectively, the American public is much more responsible for the crimes committed in its name than were the people of Germany for the horrors of the Third Reich. We have far more knowledge, and far greater freedom and opportunity to stop our government's criminal behavior."

Read on at: Counter Punch

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bay Area Activist/Muslim Events

The Bay Area had been making me crazy for a while and I couldn't understand why. However, this past Wednesday (when I received an email about a HUGE event taking place this Saturday (mind you I'm on a lot of listservs, and there had been almost ZERO advertising for this event beforehand)) it kind of all just fell in place. It isn't there aren't enough activist or even spiritual events up here - rather it is that there is almost ZERO coordination amongst the various hosting/organizing groups. People sometimes double and triple schedule various events on the same day such that you could have several events happening in one weekend and NO events in another. Unlike in Southern California (Alhamdulillah for SCAMA!), the Bay Area does not seem to have a single location where ALL relevant events are listed such that people could refer to it before deciding on dates.

So, as a minimal contribution to event coordination in general (as well as my sanity) I decided I was going to put every event that ever came my way HERE.

Check it out. Add it to your Google Calendars. Bookmark it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"The Israel Lobby Signup"

This is by far one of the better cartoons I've seen this week. I should say though, I am a tad sad that my two favorite Democratic candidates as of yet (Edwards & Obama) are depicted as being closest to the signup sheet!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Check out the links folks; it's fabulous! I wonder if my parents ever speculated I'd be such a super star?

So yes for the 2nd time now in six months, an Islamophobic website has decided to make a feature presentation out of me!
  • It's crazy because of all of my years of activism, I'd have to say that at least in these past 10 months I've been less of an activist than ever before. In fact, a large amount of my activism has become confined to my blogs - are the Islamophobes really that concerned about my minimal contributions to the marketplace of ideas?
  • It's sad because I don't deserve such an honor. Subhan'Allah a lot of the folks in that Hall of Fame are true superstars. We're talking about the likes of Dr. Sami Al-Arian who has suffered ridiculous injustices, along with so many others who have made innumerable contributions to the cause of social justice. I'm not fit to clean the shoes of so many of those people.
  • On the upside, I'd like to thank the CAIR Watch folks for picking a somewhat decent picture of me. When the Militant Islam Monitor/Pipes drama went down, they first put up a video of somebody who was not me and when they finally put up a picture of me it wasn't such a great one. However, I'd have to say that relatively speaking I actually like the one up on CAIR Watch. Alhamdulillah.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Subhan'Allah. This story is another reminder of just how fortunate and privileged we are.

Chinese Leave Guantánamo for Albanian Limbo

TIRANA, Albania — Ahktar Qassim Basit says he is not angry about the four years he spent as an American prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before his captors mumbled a brief apology and flew him to this drab Balkan capital to begin a new life as a refugee.

It is this new life in Albania, Mr. Basit and other former Guantánamo detainees say, that is driving them to desperation.

The men, Muslims from western China’s Uighur ethnic minority, were freed from their confinement in Cuba after they were found to pose no threat to the United States. They have now lived for more than a year in a squalid government refugee center on the grubby outskirts of Tirana, guarded by armed policemen.

The men have been told that they will need to get work to move out of the center, they said, but that they must learn the Albanian language to get work permits. For now, they subsist on free meals heavy with macaroni and rice, and monthly stipends of about $67, which they spend mostly on brief telephone calls to their families. But some of the men have already lost hope of ever seeing their wives and children again.

“We suffered very much at Guantánamo, but we continue to suffer here,” Mr. Basit said. “The other prisoners had their countries, but we are like orphans: we have no place to go.”

Mr. Basit and four other men here, who spent time at a hamlet in Afghanistan run by Uighur separatists, are still considered terrorist suspects by China’s Communist government. Only Albania’s pro-American government would give them asylum, but Albanian officials have since told the men they cannot afford to give them much else.

Things could be worse, the former prisoners note. At least 15 of the 17 Uighurs who remain at Guantánamo have also been cleared for release, but not even Albania will accept them — and neither will the United States. Instead, American diplomats say they have asked nearly 100 countries to provide asylum to the detainees, only to find that Chinese officials have warned some of the same countries not to accept them.
Read on at: NY Times

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Student Loan Debt

June 5, 2007

Senator Jack Scott, Chair
Senate Education Committee
State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: (APLLPI), AB 171 (Beall), Hearing Date June 13, 2007

Dear Senator Scott:

I am writing in support of AB 171 (Beall), Assumption Loan Program for Law in the Public Interest (APLLPI). The APLLPI would give students like me the financial ability to enter into the field of public interest law and give back to our communities.

Many graduating law students are prevented from considering a public interest job because of unprecedented levels of educational debt, which for most law students exceeds $80,000. This cumulative debt is a strong consideration in whether I will be able to pursue a public interest career focused on serving California’s communities most in need of legal assistance. This is especially true when private sector jobs earn a salary that can be three times as much as that of a public interest salary.

Many schools offer only a minimal amount of loan repayment assistance through school funded programs. In addition, very few employers have the ability to provide loan repayment assistance to newly hired graduated law students. The Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment Program will ease a grave barrier to entry into public interest law, allowing more students wishing to pursue a career in this area to move forward with this dream.

I strongly support AB 171 and respectfully request your support as well.


Zahra Billoo
1L at UC Hastings College of the Law

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ahmed Billoo in the Jewish Journal?

Yup folks, my lil' brother was quoted in the Jewish Journal.

Check it out: Pew Poll finds some U.S. Muslims support suicide bombing.