• President Obama’s speech at Mosque missed American families victimized by state violence

    Op-Eds February 5, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Muslim Matters. Yesterday, I watched as President Obama delivered his speech at his first ever trip to a mosque. There is no doubt that his speech was a powerful one, and the content of his message is one that I hope reached Americans across the country. President Obama talked about the concern and fear that the Muslim community has faced in the wave of hateful rhetoric by politicians and growing anti-Muslim sentiment. He talked about the bullying and harassment that American Muslims have experienced, as well as the vandalism of mosques across the nation. He spoke about the long history of Muslim presence in this country, dating back to the slave trade, and stressed and affirmed the constitutional right to freedom of religion. What Obama did not talk about, however, were his administration’s policies which directly contribute to the hateful, discriminatory environment American Muslims have and continue to endure till this day. The reality of the matter is that our President’s rhetoric is at complete odds with his policies. And his policies are a significant reason why American Muslims have been seen and treated as second class citizens.

  • Too little, too late? Obama to make first Presidential visit to American mosque

    Opinions February 1, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Alternet. It should not be front-page news that a U.S. president is planning to visit a religious institution. But amid the disturbing rise of Islamophobic incitement and violence in the United States, President Barack Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he will make his first visit as president to an American mosque—the Islamic Society of Baltimore—has nabbed widespread attention. The planned visit, however, has also raised eyebrows among some Muslim-Americans, who wonder what took the president so long—and whether the bar has been set too low.

  • When life is disposable: Muslim bodies as precarious in the war on terror

    Opinions February 1, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Amnesty International. When Life is Disposable: Muslim Bodies as Precarious in the War on Terror
    This dehumanization of Muslims explains why 779 Muslim men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay over the course of the last 14 years, many of whom were subjected to enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention, and 91 continue to be indefinitely detained. It is impossible to discuss such policies without discussing the role of Islamophobia. Would a U.S. off-shore prison that completely and utterly disregards established human rights protections exist if it housed a different religious group?

  • “Holy smokes, this stuff is all real?”: How I get my best ideas for thrillers from the good ol’ U.S. government

    Opinions January 30, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. Whenever people ask where I get ideas for my thrillers, I say, “Direct from the U.S. government.”They laugh, but it’s true—in a time of detention (indefinite imprisonment without charge, trial or conviction); enhanced interrogation (torture); targeted killings (extrajudicial assassinations); and, of course, the unprecedented bulk surveillance revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, third-party villains like SMERSH and SPECTRE and the rest can feel a bit beside the point. Indeed, when the NSA, in its own leaked slides, announces its determination to “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All” and, ultimately, “Know it All,” it’s safe to say we’re living in an age of “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  • The dangers of ‘see something, say something’

    Opinions January 25, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Huffington Post. Unfortunately, the federal government has doubled down on broad surveillance (and harassment) of marginalized communities in the wake of 9/11. Most notably, the government has deputized untrained civilians to further their surveillance reach through the now ubiquitous “See Something, Say Something” ad campaign. This desire by the government to cast a wider net to identify and respond to “suspicious behavior” has only heightened the risk of unfair and unjust targeting of marginalized individuals. Experience has shown that this crowd-sourcing of surveillance ensures that it is not behavior or activity that is identified as suspicious, but rather skin color, religious markers, language, and other signs of difference.

  • The presumption of innocence doesn’t apply to my child

    Editorials January 21, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. I leave work early every day. I race to pick up my daughter from her high school promptly at 5 p.m. I’m never late — not even by a minute. I want to be at the door of the school before she emerges out into the U Street District. That D.C. neighborhood isn’t particularly dangerous, but my child and her classmates are presumed to be. They are children of color and their innocence is not presumed. There is no room for childish mistakes for them. There is no carefree lingering with a group of peers on the street corner outside the school. There is no mischief-making running down the street after one another. The cops are there, watching. One slip-up could mean handcuffs or worse.

  • Americans are bargaining away their innocence

    Opinions January 20, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States. In a plea bargain, the prosecutor typically offers the defendant a reduced prison sentence if he agrees to waive his right to a jury trial and admit guilt in a brief hearing before a judge. Prosecutors use their power to pressure people who have been accused of a crime, and are presumed innocent, to waive their right to a trial and admit guilt. Ironically, the prisoners who keep insisting upon their innocence face greater punishment.

  • The mirage of justice

    Opinions January 17, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Truth Dig. If you are poor, you will almost never go to trial—instead you will be forced to accept a plea deal offered by government prosecutors. If you are poor, the word of the police, who are not averse to fabricating or tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses and planting guns or drugs, will be accepted in a courtroom as if it was the word of God. Once you are charged in America, whether you did the crime or not, you are almost always found guilty. Because of this, as many activists have discovered, the courts already are being used as a fundamental weapon of repression, and this abuse will explode in size should there be widespread unrest and dissent. Our civil liberties have been transformed into privileges . . . Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe.

  • Fearmongering around Muslim immigrants echoes anti-Asian hysteria of past

    Opinions January 14, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Murtaza Hussain in The Intercept. “The type of rhetoric we’re seeing today about Muslims is both very similar and also slightly different from that which was used to describe Asian immigrants in the past,” said University of Minnesota professor Erika Lee. A specialist in immigration studies, Lee is also author of the 2015 book The Making of Asian America, which chronicles in part the anti-Asian sentiment that new arrivals often had to contend with. “Like Muslims, Asian immigrants were characterized as a slowly creeping civilizational threat to the security and integrity of the United States, but today, with Muslims, there is also the additional allegation that they have a violent intent to overthrow the existing order.”

  • How the FBI keeps us safe

    Opinions January 7, 2016 at 0 comments

    Times Union. Here we go again. The FBI has found yet another easy mark, another vulnerable young man — black, mentally disturbed, a jailhouse convert to Islam — that it could dupe into going along with a harebrained plot of its own invention so he could be arrested for supporting terrorism and thus make the FBI appear to be on top of things.