September 3, 2009
This blog post is re-posted from here with permission from the author.
By Shahid Buttar
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano recently highlighted her department’s efforts to reach out to build “stronger relationships with Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as South Asian communities across the country,” seemingly reflecting an awareness of how the war on terror has stigmatized and cast irrational suspicion on these groups. Despite the best of intentions, however, Napolitano’s self-assurance is premature. DHS’s engagement of vulnerable communities emphasizes form over substance and, historically, has amounted to mere public relations.
Outreach efforts conducted by the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), for instance, have long fallen short of repeated requests from vulnerable communities. Just last month, a coalition of over a dozen civil rights organizations issued a letter (PDF) to Secretary Napolitano reiterating a series of substantive and structural concerns, while proposing concrete solutions to fulfill the new administration’s promise to pay greater respect Read the rest of this entry »
April 6, 2009
By Veena Dubal
A Coalition of Muslim groups called the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (based in Newark) has recently announced that they will limit the social interactions between their communities and the FBI. This decision comes on the heels of the FBI’s decision to “limit” its work with CAIR — the Council on American Islamic Relations. According to the SF Chronicle, the FBI’s decision was based on the fact that one of the founder’s of CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the highly criticized and debated Holy Land Foundation case.
There are many things wrong with this decision by the FBI (namely that the Holy Land Foundation case was a political witchhunt in and of itself and also that being “unindicted” means that one has not been found guilty — what happened to due process?). Ultimately, however, the lesson for Muslim and other communities comes as somewhat of a relief for me. Read the rest of this entry »