Monday, December 27, 2010

Muslim Women Gain Higher Profile in U.S.

Yet in their quest to break stereotypes, America’s Muslim women have advantages. They are better educated than counterparts in Western Europe, and also than the average American, according to a Gallup survey in March 2009. In contrast to their sisters in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they are just as likely as their menfolk to attend religious services, which equates to greater influence. And Gallup found that Muslim American women, often entrepreneurial, come closer than women of any other faith to earning what their menfolk do.
Read on: NYT

Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Muslimah Super Heroes

Words of support from a colleague:

"Many superheroes allow their capes to hang off their back, but I love how you have chosen to wrap yours around your head."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rep. Peter King, Bigotry and Hypocrisy All-In-One

If "IRA" were replaced with "Hamas," the sort of fundraising King did would these days earn you a lengthy prison sentence for material support for terrorism.
Read More: Salon
The Republican who will head the House committee that oversees domestic security is planning to open a Congressional inquiry into what he calls “the radicalization” of the Muslim community when his party takes over the House next year.
Enlarge This Image

Representative Peter T. King of New York, who will become the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was responding to what he has described as frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations.
Read More: NYT

Too Many Mosques

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shut Up!

After 35 years of practicing law in the trenches of state and federal courts, I have narrowed my advice for all my clients down to one, simple, direct sentence: "Shut Up."

No kidding. Really. Just shut up.

Living in Florida, I have come to love deep-sea fishing. Enter my law office, and on my walls, above my desk, staring and glaring at my clients, is a stuffed, six-foot steel blue Marlin. Below the fish is a plaque that reads: "Behold the beautiful, majestic Marlin. He would not be here if he had not opened his mouth."

When you are a 7-year-old kid growing up, and your mom catches you with your hand in the cookie jar, you inevitably and sheepishly try to come with an excuse. Mom pushes and prods you to confess, and you do. She then hugs and kisses you, and you make up as she tells you everything is going to be all right.

It does not work that way with a cop when he pulls you over. The police are not your parents. The sheepish lie you first tell him becomes a prior inconsistent statement that is going to be used in a court of law against you. The cop does not hug you, kiss you, and make up. He searches you, arrests you, and locks you up. So what you should do is just shut up.

Do not bargain with cops, negotiate with cops, or promise deals you cannot deliver on. The promises they make on the street are not binding in the courts where prosecutors charge you. Deal with the reality that if you are caught with drugs you are now the prisoner of a drug war. In war, you are only required as a prisoner to give your name, rank, and dog tag number. Do not give consent to search your car, your person, or invite cops back to your home. Do a Nancy Reagan: just say no.

As my friend William Panzer says, an Oakland, California based criminal defense attorney, also on the NORML Board of Directors, "If everyone kept their mouth shut, half the people in jail would not be there. The cop's job is to put you in a cage and anything you say beyond identifying yourself helps them put you there." His advice too: "Shut up."

Read On: Counter Punch

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Aspirational vs. Operational

Although many argue that this was simply entrapment, evidence does indicate that Mohamud became increasingly radicalised and voluntarily continued with the FBI's fake terror plot. Regardless, CAIR attorney Zahra Billo told me, "The FBI seek out troubled people – nobody is arguing that some of these individuals aren't deeply troubled – and then enable and facilitate their aspirations. It is the FBI's job to stop operational terrorists. It is not the FBI's job to enable aspirational terrorists."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque

In the Irvine case, Monteilh's mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Local Muslim Leaders See Portland Terror Plot Arrest As Possible Entrapment

San Jose: Local Muslim leaders said Monday they were concerned the Portland terror plot arrest over the holiday weekend could be possible entrapment by the FBI.

Watch Video: Here

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interracial Love

Nadeah: "With more intermarriage, the world becomes more tolerant."

Yousef: "There is tolerance, then acceptance, and then the final jump: making family together."

Read More: SF Gate

Imperialist Barbie: The Case Against Rimah Fakih

When I see Rimah’s smiling face being carried into the air Iremember Iraq; I remember coming to terms at such a young age with the idea of war. I revive the knots which built upon one another in the pit of my stomach as I sat listening to the screams and cries, the wailing and supplication – through the haze and noise of a television screen. I remember the ashen children being carried into the air by their tormented parents. I remember the anguish, the hurt and the harrowing shame.

Rimah Fakih is the product of our shame, that of the Arabs. This is what is being promoted as deliverance for our occupied and subjugated people. The idea of uniformity and acceptance is touted and accepted without reluctance – we fear the sting of the slave-masters whip to such a degree that we ignore, brazenly, the cries of our brethren for help.

Full Piece: Ikhras

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Open Letter to Friends and Foes

Dear Readers,

I'm sure you've all heard about the controversy surrounding the mosque in New York City. Everyone has an opinion, but what concerns me is the alarming increase in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric in mainstream media as well as the hate motivated actions the rhetoric has spurred ranging from mosque protests to violent crimes. Though based in the Bay Area these days, I see these incidents happening across the country daily because of my work with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). For example this coming weekend there's a group in Florida planning to burn Qurans (the Muslim holy book), and their leader has been given numerous platforms from which to spew hate. Some Muslims are saying that the current environment is more frightening than it was immediately post-9/11. It distresses and frightens me to see this kind of hate increasing, and I realize that one of the reasons for this is that a lot of people really do not know much about Islam and Muslims.

This letter is to encourage you to ask me any questions you have about Islam or Muslims. Seriously, any questions. I will make every effort to ensure you walk with an educated answer versus an assumption based on a sound bite. AND I hope that when you hear someone say something hateful about Muslims, you will remember me. Remember that I am a down-to-Earth activist with no intentions to take over the world. I pray you will stand up for me and let that person know that you know someone who is a Muslim and that she defies the stereotypes and hate mongering.

Lastly, CAIR has put together some great PSAs to address the increasing Islamophobia featuring faith leaders and American Muslim 9/11 first responders ( If you haven't yet had a chance to view them, please do.

Zahra Billoo

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

There Is No 'Ground Zero Mosque'

"...because this is America damn it, and in America when somebody comes for your neighbor, or his Bible, or his Torah, or his athiest manifesto, or his Quran, you and I do what our fathers did and our grandmothers did and our founders did. You and I speak up."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Comedy Central's Ramadan Gift to American Muslims

John Stewart Takes on Ground Zero Mosque Critics [and the Entire Anti-Mosque Movement]

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Municipal Land-Use Hearing Update
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Does "Islam Inspire Nazism"?

Awesome. Pamela Gellar is finally being called out on her blatant bigotry.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Words to Live By

A friend sent these sentiments my way, via a listserv of like minded individuals. Her words really resonated with me as I've tried to express them before, in explaining why I live my life as I do.

We have to live this life with courage-- seeking Him only-- not afraid of "the blame of blamers" (be they Muslim or non-Muslim) when we're standing for truth, so in that moment that we meet our Creator, we can say, "Ya Allah, I really tried."

So the question is, will we really be able to assert that we "really tried" when we meet our Creator?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Great Piece on Stoning by Reza Aslan

Without exception, zina must be proven in a court of law either by four clear and unambiguous confessions made in four separate meetings with a qualified judge, or by the attestation of four men of “blameless integrity” who must all profess to be direct eyewitnesses to the crime. (If four men are not available, three men and two women will suffice.) Where one finds four blameless men who happen to have simultaneously witnessed the very private act of sexual intercourse between two people is another matter.
. . .
Nevertheless, despite its illegitimacy as a Quran-mandated punishment and regardless of the many legal impediments embedded in Islamic law to deter its use—especially when the accuser himself can be punished if the accused is found innocent—the practice of stoning adulterers continues in a number of conservative Muslim countries. The vast majority of these stoning cases are undocumented because they occur in the most rural, poorest, and least-educated regions of the countries (though often with the tacit approval of the government).
Consequently, those like Ms. Ashtiani, who have been charged and “tried” by their village elders, are often totally unaware of their rights under Islamic law; indeed, the judges themselves are sometimes ignorant of the complexities of the law and the burden of proof required for conviction. Too often, this ignorance allows the zeal of the community to dictate guilt or innocence, which is why zina laws are so often used as a means of exploiting women (men are rarely convicted of adultery even though the crime, by definition, requires two people to commit). Jealous husbands have used the zina laws to punish their wives, while angry fathers have used the laws to castigate their daughters.
And while global support and outrage seems to have stopped the Iranian government from stoning the mother of two to death this time, there are too many women who can’t garner that sort of attention. Women you will probably never hear about until it is too late.

Full Piece: The Daily Beast

CAIR Advisory: U.S. Muslim Travelers Warned of 'Forced Exile'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/9/10) -- CAIR today issued an advisory to American Muslims -- whether citizens, permanent residents or visa holders -- warning of the risk of "forced exile" when traveling overseas or attempting to return to the United States. Muslim travelers are urged to know their legal rights if they are placed on the so-called "no-fly list."

In the past few months, CAIR has received a number of reports of American Muslims stranded overseas when they are placed on the government's no-fly list. Those barred from returning to the United States report being denied proper legal representation, being subjected to FBI pressure tactics to give up the constitutionally-guaranteed right to remain silent, having their passports confiscated without due process, and being pressured to become informants for the FBI. These individuals have not been told why they were placed on the no-fly list or how to remove their names from the list.

SEE: Cases of American Muslims Barred from U.S.

U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad (Wash. Post)

FBI agents have reportedly told a number of individuals that they face being stranded outside the United States longer, or forever, unless they give up their rights to legal representation or to refuse interrogations and polygraph tests. But even those who submitted to interrogations without an attorney or to the "lie detector" tests remain stranded.

CAIR cooperated with the ACLU on its recently-filed lawsuit challenging the lack of due process in placing travelers on the no-fly list.

SEE: ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Unconstitutional 'No Fly List'

"We ask President Obama to review this disturbing new policy that denies American Muslims their constitutional rights and due process of law," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

He said American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. And as Americans, we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right to due process and to re-enter their own country.

If you know of any criminal activity, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Know Your Rights if Placed on the No-Fly List:

[IMPORTANT NOTE: Before traveling overseas, obtain the cell phone number of an attorney who would be available for consultation if you are barred from returning to the United States. Contacting an attorney once you have been stopped or detained is much more difficult. Provide the attorney's contact information to those scheduled to pick you up at the airport.]

1) Understand that agreeing to an interview with FBI agents is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any questions from law enforcement officers. You must however provide them with a passport or other official identification.

2) You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. CAIR strongly recommends that you consult with an attorney before being interviewed by law enforcement agents. CAIR may provide legal assistance or can refer you to an attorney.

3) Stay calm. Do not get into an argument with law enforcement officers.

4) Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and that lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense. Also note that an FBI agent is permitted to lie to you in the course of an interrogation.

5) Should you decide to speak to agents without an attorney despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, whether a third party such as a family member is present, which questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time. Take detailed notes during any interview.

6) Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers and business cards of ALL agents or officers. Similarly, make a note of the name, agency, contact information, and supervisor of any other government employees, including embassy staff.

7) Contact your attorney and CAIR to report the incident and to discuss your next legal steps. If you believe that your civil rights have been or are being violated, you may file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and with the Department of State. CAIR can help you with this process.

8) To file a civil rights complaint with CAIR, please visit:

9) If you have Internet access, file a complaint with DHS TRIP by going to:

10) Have your spouse or other family members contact your elected representatives to seek assistance.


"FBI Interview: Knowing the Law Can Protect You," by Ahilan Arulanantham and Ranjana Natarajan. InFocus News, February 2007.

Video: "Got Rights: Protect Yourself and Your Family at Home and at the Airport,” by Muslim Advocates.

[Please note: The points outlined above are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about this material or about a specific case, please consult with an attorney.]

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ACLU Mounts First Legal Challenge to No-Fly List

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to sue the U.S. government Wednesday on behalf of 10 citizens or legal permanent residents who have been placed on a no-fly list and, in some cases, stranded abroad.

In the suit, the ACLU accuses the government of violating the plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

The number of names placed on the list has increased significantly since the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound aircraft on Christmas Day, U.S. officials said. Some Americans have been barred from flying home from overseas because their names were listed.

The ACLU says Americans are being deprived of their rights as citizens and of due process.

"It really is abominable that they would treat U.S. citizens this way," said Ben Wizner, a staff lawyer at the ACLU's National Security Project. "There is simply no legal basis for placing a U.S. citizen into involuntary exile. And to use a secret government list without any process to accomplish that goal is so un-American and so unconstitutional."

Full Story: Washington Post

Friday, June 11, 2010

The FBI Knocked On My Door!

This is a great video. This woman walks through an entire real life encounter with the FBI, including breaking down each part of her encounter with rules.

If you have not read anything I've posted about this, don't worry about it. Watch this video instead. AND please show it to your family and friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"I'm a criminal"

Lately, I've been telling people that I'm a criminal. This shocks most people, since I don't "look like" one. I'm a fairly clean-cut, light-skinned black woman with fancy degrees from Vanderbilt University and Stanford Law School. I'm a law professor and I once clerked for a U.S. Supreme Court Justice -- not the sort of thing you'd expect a criminal to do.

What'd you get convicted of? people ask. Nothing, I say. Well, then why do you say you're a criminal? Because I am a criminal, I say, just like you.

This is where the conversation gets interesting. Most of my acquaintances don't think of themselves as criminals. No matter what their color, age or gender, most of the people in my neighborhood and in my workplace seem to think criminals exist somewhere else -- in ghettos, mainly.

They have an unspoken, but deeply rooted identity as "law-abiding citizens." I ask them, "Haven't you ever committed a crime?" Oddly, people often seem perplexed by this question. What do you mean? they say. I mean, haven't you ever smoked pot, didn't you ever drink underage, don't you sometimes speed on the freeway, haven't you gotten behind the wheel after having a couple of drinks? Haven't you broken the law?

Well, yeah, they say, but I'm not a criminal. Oh, really? What are you, then? As I see it, you're just somebody who hasn't been caught. You're still a criminal, no better than many of those who've been branded felons for life.

Perhaps there should be a box on the census form that says "I'm a criminal." Everyone who has ever committed a crime would be required to check it. If everyone were forced to acknowledge their own criminality, maybe we, as a nation, would second-guess our apparent zeal for denying full citizenship to those branded felons.

In this country, we force millions of people -- who are largely black and brown -- into a permanent second-class status, simply because they once committed a crime. Once labeled a felon, you are ushered into a parallel social universe. You can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits -- forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind.

Full piece at: CNN

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aiyana Jones

she was alive yesterday, 7 years old. she went to bed on a couch in a first floor room with her grandmother last night. in the wee hours of the morning, cops raided her house. a man outside the house shouted that there were kids inside. a man on the second floor of the house was a suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old last Friday.

the police threw a "flash bang" through the front window. it blinded everyone inside; it lit aiyana on fire.

the news reported a tussle with the grandmother, during which the firearm discharged. everyone in the family says there was no tussle, that the grandmother was throwing herself over the baby when aiyana was shot in the head.

what do you call the blinded, terrified groping of a grandmother who knows her grandchildren are in the room, blasted from safety and sleep into chaos and danger, whose granddaughter is on fire? how do you comfort a man like aiyana's father, which was forced to lie face down in his daughter's blood by the same police officers who killed her?
. . .
the police shot and killed aiyana. they shot her in the forehead. her family saw her brain on the couch. by accident, perhaps. which doesn't even matter to a 7-year-old. you don't get let off any hooks for your intentions in this case, officer.

apparently a crew from the television show 48 Hours were with the police during the raid. i can't help but wonder what their footage shows, and if filming for the show had anything to do with the drastic tactics and fatal timing - flash bombing a home in the middle of the night when the women and children are most likely to be home and sleeping.
. . .
why are police officers legally able to use military tactics on a house with children in it on a sunday morning...or any morning, on any house, with anyone in it?
why do the grieving faces of people on this street look so unsurprised?
. . .
to step back from the immediate events is to see what happens in communities who internalize the corporate military worldview that some people are expendable. the way we function as an economy that places profit first is that it's normal for people in uniform to throw bombs into the home of civilians and shoot children.

an economy that valued people first could never justify those tactics.
. . .
we have to demand that police fundamentally shift how they are allowed to function in our communities - they must be disarmed, we must demand they focus their training on the humanity of communities, unlearning these tactics of creating devastation from a safe distance.

More at: Feministing

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ALERT: Reports of FBI Visits Prompt Reminder of Legal Rights

(SANTA CLARA, CA, 5/18/2010) -- The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) said today that CAIR offices nationwide have been receiving an increasing number of reports of FBI agents, along with local law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officers, visiting and interviewing American Muslims, particularly members of the Pakistani and Yemeni community. Reports received by CAIR-SFBA describe visits by the FBI as "community outreach" visits.

Considering recent events, and the increase in FBI/Joint Terrorism Task Force-related (JTTF, including officers from the Department of Homeland Security and local police or sheriff departments) incidents reported to our office, it is important that Muslims understand their rights when visited by FBI/JTTF at their home or workplace:

1) Understand that your providing information to the FBI or any law enforcement, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any of law enforcement's questions, other than giving your name and sometimes your address.

2) You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement in your specific case. CAIR-SFBA may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.

3) If an FBI/JTTF agent shows up at your home or workplace, and they do not have a search or arrest warrant, you have no obligation to let them in.

4) If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you can still exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times. Remember that you retain the right to remain silent and do not have to comment or respond to any inquiries. You also have the right to an attorney.

5) If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to refuse to speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you. Again, CAIR-SFBA may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.

6) Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense.

7) Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, and deciding what questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time.

8) Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers, and business cards of ALL agents or officers.

9) Contact your attorney and/or CAIR-SFBA to report the interview/incident and to discuss next steps. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. CAIR-SFBA can help you with this process.

10) To file a complaint with CAIR-SFBA, please go here: CAIR-SFBA Civil Rights Page


1. "FBI Interview: Knowing the law can protect you," by Ahilan Arulanantham and Ranjana Natarajan. InFocus News.

2. VIDEO: "Got Rights: Protect yourself and your family at home and at the airport," by Muslim Advocates.

3. To file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, go to:
DOJ Civil Rights Page

American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. As Americans, we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right of due process and to be politically active.

If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.

[Please note: This above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about the material herein or about a specific case, please consult with your attorney.]

CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA, 408.986.9874, E-mail:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Disturbing Police Abuse News

There have been numerous reports of police abuse recently, ranging from Washington to Missouri and now Illinois.

An 18 year-old male was brutally beaten by officers from an Illinois Police Station in retaliation for his mother's attempt to file a complaint against the way her son had been treated. The mother is a Muslim-American woman and wears the Hijab, the traditional Muslim headwear. During the beating, one of the officers yelled at the young man that this was all because of his "Muslim bitch" mother. ADC has been in contact with the Department of Justice and is working with the family to pursue legal remedies.
Source: ADC

Disturbing. Our tax dollars support this form of domestic terrorism.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bad Hotel? Bad Romance?

I can appreciate Lady Gaga in this format. Check it out and remember to double check on the labor conflict status of the hotels you're staying at this summer.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"Diamonds Are Forever But So Are Cockroaches"

"Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Really? Whoever made that statement, had not met this girl. There are two primary diamond criticisms that served as obstacles to my wanting one.

1) "Blood diamonds"
Blood diamonds are also referred to as conflict diamonds. The term is used to describe diamonds that are mined in war zones and are often sold to fund these war efforts. As if that weren't bad enough for a peacenik like myself, there is more. There are also serious allegations that conflict diamonds are mined unethically, which includes concerns of child labor and worker abuse. The solution? The Kimberly Process, maybe. This process was put into place to ensure greater transparency in diamond mining and selling. Ideally, what it would have done was certify diamonds that were mined ethically and outside of conflict zones. Unfortunately, there were holes in the process and there have been numerous allegations about the access to loopholes.

"Some say the Kimberley Process amounted to little more than a public relations stunt for the diamond industry, and recent reports by Global Witness and other NGOs have found little evidence of genuine attempts to deliver on industry commitments."
More at: Global Policy

2) Apartheid Israel
Is there something disconcerting about the fact that the Apartheid State of Israel participates in the Kimberly Process?

Apartheid Israel is one of the leading world producers in cut and polished diamonds, and most customers won't be able to distinguish a diamond cut in Israel versus one cut elsewhere. According to BDS activists, the very same issues "blood diamond" activists are concerned with are happening in Israel as well. Revenues from Israel's diamond industry fund genocide against Palestinians.

"The WDC fails to mention that the much more lucrative, high-value end of the diamond industry is the main artery of the Israeli economy, accounting for more than 30 percent of Israel's total manufacturing exports worth nearly $20 billion in 2008 ("Trade Performance HS: Exports of Israel" accessed 25 March 2010) (See Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, the budget for Israel's Ministry of Defense was $16 billion in 2008."
More at: BDS Movement

So what's a girl to do? What alternatives are there to satisfy one's desire for pretty things, but ensure that we didn't start out on our life together with blood on our hands?

While there are several options available, we chose Moissanite.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Belated Wedding Blogging

I've fallen behind on my blogging. Post-wedding I made a vow to share the few things we did to create a wedding that was socially conscious. I'm still planning on doing that, soon insha'Allah. My recent reminder that I'm very belated, is that our wedding website is expiring. Six days, and it goes offline.

Must blog about wedding, and then move onto blogging again about ways to make right wingers crazy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To Make You Smile

Friday, April 02, 2010

S.F. Police Chief Gascón makes amends to Arabs

San Francisco Police Chief George Gascón has been on an apology tour this week after making controversial remarks about terrorism and Middle Easterners - and the dustup is likely to lead to changes in the Police Department and at City Hall.

Gascón reportedly said last week the Hall of Justice is susceptible to a terrorist attack by members of the city's Middle Eastern community parking a van in front of it and blowing it up.

. . .

"It doesn't end with an apology, and the community has been very staunch about this," said Zahra Billoo, programs and outreach director for the Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "An apology helps, but this is indicative of a larger problem."

Billoo said the group is also discouraged by Gascón's plan to revive the department's intelligence unit, which was disbanded about 15 years ago after The Chronicle reported one of its officers was leaking information on groups singled out by the Anti-Defamation League. Billoo said her group will seek some kind of civilian oversight of the new unit.

Gascón did not return calls for comment, but department spokeswoman Lt. Lyn Tomioka said the chief was "reaching out to the community. He has already apologized a number of times. He's made it very clear it was not his intent to offend anyone at all."

Theresa Sparks, who as a former police commissioner helped select Gascón for the job, has spoken with the chief numerous times since last week and attended one of his meetings with Arab Americans.

"This was truly his first 'Welcome to San Francisco' incident," said Sparks, now the executive director of the Human Rights Commission.

"I think after a lot of discussions with community members, he actually gets it - that the comments he made were really destructive," she said.

Sparks said the Human Rights Commission will establish a permanent working group to facilitate communication between Arab Americans and the Police Department.

She said the commission will also facilitate sensitivity training in the Police Department and sessions for Arab Americans about knowing their rights. She also wants the commission's sensitivity training efforts extended to Muni operators, taxicab owners and schools.

Read on: SF Gate

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Met a Bigot Today

Copying and pasting from the story I told some close friends immediately after the incident:

So I'm at the Panera Bread in San Francisco, between meetings and trying to catch up on other work. Amidst everything I'm doing, I'm on the phone discussing the recent comments by the San Francisco police chief regarding the threat posed by members of the Middle Easter community. Part of the conversation is a discussion about the word "terrorism." I said something to the effect of "terrorism is a loaded word," and a man in a booth near me stands up and looks at me. He sneared as he said, "no it's not" and walks away for a drink refill (or something).

After completing my conversation I was torn about what to do. Should I let him be? Should I try to engage him.

I was having an interesting day, so I decided on engaging him. I grabbed one of my CAIR business cards and headed to his table. It took me a few seconds to get his attention. When he looked up, his expression was hateful. He said, "I'm listening to Michael Savage, you need to leave." Undaunted I explained that I just wanted to give him my business card in case he wanted to have a future discussion. His response, "I don't want that. Don't leave that here."

I left the business card on the table nonetheless, and walked away.

The most unfortunate, and striking part of the interaction was the hateful way in which he looked at me. Call me crazy, but I've heard of people who look at other people hatefully simply because they exist as "different" people. I had never seen it first hand though.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reminding Me of My Student Government Days...

For Immediate Release
UC Berkeley Student Senate Passes Divestment Bill in Response to Israeli Occupation

BERKELEY-- Thursday, March 18 2010

For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from General Electric and United Technologies. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system.

Student Senator Rahul Patel supported the bill, declaring that “in the 1980s the Student Government was a central actor in demanding that the university divest from South African apartheid. 25 years later, it is a key figure in shaping a nationwide movement against occupation and war crimes around the world. Student Government can be a space to mobilize and make decisions that have a significant impact on the international community. We must utilize these spaces to engage each other about issues of justice worldwide.”

The Senate deliberation, which started Wednesday night, concluded at 3 am Thursday morning, March 18. The meeting was flooded with students, educators, and community members, which prompted the relocation of the Senate session from the Senate Chambers to a larger room. The attendees took turns making impassioned arguments for and against the bill. The diverse list of guest speakers included 76 names, ranging in age from college freshmen to Vietnam veterans. After amendments, the final bill passed on a 16-4 vote.

In addition to Israeli military action, the student initiative was motivated by an 2005 call on behalf of 171 Palestinian civil society organizations calling on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel … until it fully complies with the precepts of international law."

According to Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, co-author of the bill, “this vote is an historic step in holding all state and corporate actors accountable for their violations of basic human rights. The broad cross section of the community that came out to demand our university invest ethically belies the notion that the American people will tolerate the profiting from occupation or other human rights abuses.” Student Senator Emily Carlton, co-sponsor of the bill, agreed, adding “this action will only be historic if it is repeated throughout the country and the world; I hope that student governments all over America will see in this a sign that the time to divest from war is now.”

In 2009, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, became the first US educational institution to divest from companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Hampshire College action was advocated by the group Students for Justice in Palestine, and ultimately adopted by the Board of Trustees. Today, through its Student Senate bill, UC Berkeley becomes the first large, public US institution to endorse a similar measure.

UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine has been working on a divestment campaign from entities that profit from the occupation of Palestine since 2000. UC Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, founded in 2007, played a central role in researching the legal issues and the international laws pertaining to Israeli human rights violations.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Boxed Gifts

So now that the wedding hoopla is all over, I wanted to slowly share the different things we did to make our wedding unique. Hopefully, reading the next series of posts will help guide your own planning or at least make you feel comparably sane.

Back in November I blogged about the different things I was learning while researching wedding invitation etiquette. The most controversial part about that leg of planning was the question of "no boxed gifts." Should we include that? Should we not? A lot of people, ranging from parents to friends were concerned that by not including it we would inevitably end up with multiple microwaves, and all sort of other random items.

We nonetheless chose to leave that traditional South Asian line off the wedding invitation. There were several reasons for doing this:

1) It would have looked rude to all of the non-South Asian/Arab guests.

2) We did not want to ask for gifts, which is essentially what that line does.

3) We wanted people to not feel burdened by our wedding, because while it can be easy to get somebody a great gift for even $10-15 it may not be so possible to just give that amount in cash.

4) We wanted people to be able to give us gifts from their hearts.

We did however set up two wedding registries, one at Target and another at Bed Bath & Beyond. However, there are etiquette rules about this as well.

1) Including registry inserts in wedding invitations is not proper. They can however be included with shower invitations.

2) Registry information can be given if asked about.

3) Registry information on wedding websites is allowed, so long as it is not front and center.

In case you haven't picked up on it yet, the premise for all of these rules is really only one thing: YOU CANNOT ASK FOR GIFTS.

We followed all of the rules. How did it work out?

There was a mixed bag of results. We had the traditional gift cards and cash, which were great. A lot of people bought stuff off our registry as well, so we were able to fulfill most of our household item needs. The remainder of folks went in one of two ways:

1) Non-registry items that we have no idea what to do with: think funny looking jewelry and random salad plates

2) Non-registry items that were amazing: think compost bins and cupcake stands

Would I make gift notes on my wedding invitations if I had to do it all over again? Absolutely not. It was great knowing that people could spend as much or as little money on celebrating the wedding with us as their heart desired. I would take a random swatch of fabric I may never need any day over asking guests to bring me money.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bombs in their underwear?

Sometimes humor really is the best approach. I'm including, below, an excerpt from a conversation that took place over dinner with some folks on Monday evening.

MIL (explaining to the Grandmother-in-law's friends what I do for work): she gets interviewed for TV alot, you know whenever something happens involving Muslims. Like when the guy tried to blow up the plan with the bomb in his underwear, she was interviewed for that.

80 something elderly white lady: oh! Do you know a lot of men who walk around with bombs in their underwear?

Me: no, not exactly. Since the wedding I don't really go around checking into random men's underwear anymore.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Silence is Consent

The students at UCI were amazing last night, masha'Allah. Scattered thoughts from an email I wrote in response to a Muslim individual who objected to the protesting:

There is no singly correct way to object, or protest. Different methods are appropriate for different circumstances. Not to mention this was not the first step the students took in objecting to the appearance. From what I know of that group of students, they built up to this, they issued statements, they made their voices heard and when all else failed they caused a commotion. The speaker has free speech rights, and so do these students. I'm happy they exercised them. That doesn't even address the fact that 1) a university is an institution of learning, both inside and outside the classroom and 2) UCI is funded by Muslim students in two ways a) taxes and b) tuition. These courageous students sought to change a wrong, with their hands and their tongues, not just their hearts.

Additionally yes, if [an organization I worked with] brought the ambassador of a country that was perpetrating genocide to speak at an event it would be understandable that people would protest and disrupt the event. This would apply to any injustice [the community] sought to promote or facilitate. I have no problem saying that I'd Insha'Allah volunteer to help with the disruption; in fact, I have in the past.

I'm so tired of seeing [Muslims being the least active] around the issue of Palestine. And sometimes I think our apathy, our desire to be PC, and our selfishness (i.e. not wanting to get arrested, not wanting people to talk about us, etc.) are what crush the spirit of the youth trying to make a difference by any means necessary.

May Allah (swt) continue to grant the activists in our Ummah strength

Friday, February 05, 2010

Unprofessionalism in the Muslim Community

Unprofessional? Who? No, no, not us.

As though being late wasn’t bad enough, to top it off, you are made to feel as though the money you’ve worked for isn’t your right, and they are doing you a favor by paying you anything at all. This Islamic Organization is simply out of money at the time, and you have to wait until they get some. It coincidentally comes to your attention that some employees in higher positions had their checks issued on time and without any delay.

An Islamic school wanted you to teach 2 subjects and pay you as a quarter-time employee. Apparently if you don’t teach 4 subjects to the entire school then you will not be considered a full-time teacher (that isn’t a sarcastic remark). In addition, you were told that your pay was based on 1/4 of the full-time teacher’s pay. When you find out what that rate is, you know that it is much lower than what an actual 1/4 is. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are new there and don’t know anyone, or how much they make. Sadly, you do know another teacher, and you realize their dishonesty. As a result, you quit.
. . .
You start to wonder if these organizations had planned to abuse you from the get-go?

But, you haven’t done anything wrong to them, so why would they bother, then you remember Allah SWT’s Words from Surat Al-Hujuraat, “O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin.”

Is it because you are working with Muslim organizations, then your work is “Fe Sabeel Illah” – for the sake of Allah – that people pushing the boundaries shouldn’t bother you?

The short answer is, No. Because if it was, we would all be willing to sacrifice to help get things done, and more importantly to help each other. That executive would give up part of his salary to help you pay your rent on time.

Is it because this is my Muslim brother or sister I should let them fall behind on the payments?

It can’t be, because they are the ones that want you to be there on-time, every time, to work for them. They want flawless work, in a hurry, with an impossible deadline and an insane volume of work to be completed by then. This is a paid position, you were promised a paycheck in exchange for specific tasks and duties, and it is an agreement between you and your employer.

Allah SWT requires us to respect these agreements, as stated in Surat Al-Israa, “…and fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).”

Are all employees doing right by their employers, and inherently the victims?

Of course not. Obviously both cases exist, but, unprofessionalism just breeds more unprofessionalism. The employee that slacks should be fired. The employer that mistreats their worker should loose that employee to a more deserving firm.
. . .
We have reached rock bottom when Muslims sincerely warn other Muslims against getting jobs with Muslim companies or Islamic Organizations, because of the suffering. Why should it be that in exchange for being in a so-called Islamic Environment you will face all sorts of head and eventually heartache?

I’m not writing this with the intention to bash other Muslims or talk smack about the Ummah. On the contrary, I want to point this out and have it addressed and remedied, so that it is no longer the case. I make dua’a that Allah SWT guides us all to the best of manners and etiquette, and that we are among those that take heed of good advice and follow the best of it.

Full piece at: Sumayah Hasan

Thursday, February 04, 2010

She Works. They’re Happy.

While the changing economic roles of husbands and wives may take some getting used to, the shift has had a surprising effect on marital stability. Over all, the evidence shows that the shifts within marriages — men taking on more housework and women earning more outside the home — have had a positive effect, contributing to lower divorce rates and happier unions.
. . .
While it’s widely believed that a woman’s financial independence increases her risk for divorce, divorce rates in the United States tell a different story: they have fallen as women have made economic gains. The rate peaked at 23 divorces per 1,000 couples in the late 1970s, but has since dropped to fewer than 17 divorces per 1,000 couples. Today, the statistics show that typically, the more economic independence and education a woman gains, the more likely she is to stay married. And in states where fewer wives have paid jobs, divorce rates tend to be higher, according to a 2009 report from the Center for American Progress.
. . .
Men, for instance, sometimes have a hard time adjusting to a woman’s equal or greater earning power. Women, meanwhile, struggle with giving up their power at home and controlling tasks like how to dress the children or load the dishwasher.

Linda Duxbury, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, recalls moments in her marriage when she was hesitant to give up control. “My husband would dress our daughter for school, and I’d say, ‘Oh my God, she looks like a clown,’ ” Professor Duxbury recalled. “He would say, ‘That’s your hang-up. She’s happy in it. If you don’t like my choice, then you do it.’ ”
She added, “In many ways women are their own worst enemies — we want men to do it, but we want to tell them how they should do it.”

Men, meanwhile, can struggle with the social expectation that husbands should always be the breadwinner. The recession, among other things, has made that expectation less realistic.

“Today, men need their wives’ income,” says Joshua Coleman, a psychologist in San Francisco who wrote “The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework.” “There is an issue for men of: ‘What is my value here if I’m not bringing in money? I understand you want a communicative, empathic guy who does housework and parenting, but how much pride can I take in that?’ ”

More at: NY Times

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"[Genital] Herpes is Forever"

This is going to be a messy and unorganized read. Bear with me, as I'm really just writing down my thoughts on an issue I have been mulling about since even before I met the Mr., and had an avenue in which to apply this.

I know I've been MIA for a bit, but this is an issue I have been wanting to blog about for sometime now. As some of you may know, the Mr. and I are in the middle of our wedding festivities. Yesterday, I received some good news from Kaiser Permanente. What's the good news you may ask? I was tested for STD/I's last week. Simple test, I went in for blood work and was out in 15 minutes. Yesterday, I called the advice nurse and she confirmed that I had come in negative on all of the tests.

Who cares? Everybody should! I keep hearing stories about Muslim men and women getting married, assuming their partner had a virginal past and then receiving a less than desired wedding present. I'm talking about HIV, and a gang of various other fun infections.

According to Wikipedia's page on STD/I's, a few of the possible gifts to be concerned with include:


Genital Herpes

Shall I continue?

I do have a virginal past, so why the testing? Because I'm so confident in my answer, I am willing to prove it. Everybody claims they have an angelic past. What's to require a person to tell the God honest truth when asked about a pre-marital sexual history. Additionally, how does one get around the rule about not asking others to air their sins?

So the first problem, is the question. How do you ask it? Should you even ask it? Can you ensure a truthful answer?

The second problem is the answer. Assuming you received a truthful confession: if God forgives all, who are you to hold a person's sins against them? Further, even if a person has not had any sexual opportunity to contract the diseases there is still the reality that some of them can be contracted in other ways or even without actual intercourse.

My recommended solution: STD/I testing. It does a few things:

1) It saves you from having to ask uncomfortable sexual history questions

2) It ensures you are making a fully informed decision regarding what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment

3) Even if you're angelic, and your significant other claims you will be there first, still getting tested helps normalize the process for the community. We have a problem, Muslim individuals are passing STD/I's to their new spouses and by getting everybody on board to get tested we can work towards minimizing that problem.

4) People will no longer be able to get out of testing by questioning trust, if everybody is getting tested

Remember Genital Herpes is forever.