1) In Solidarity with the Sikh Community (August 2012)
In the wake of the shooting at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Tree, Wisconsin, the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coaltion (MACLC) stands in solidarity with the Sikh American community and offers its prayers and support during this difficult time. Emerging information about the shooter only underscores the need to promote tolerance and protect the rights of minorities in the United States. This is only one of a growing number of incidents of violence and hate that American Sikhs, South Asians, Arabs and Muslims have experienced in the past few years. Recognizing the growing ties between the Sikh and Muslim communities, we offer our help to our Sikh neighbors in New York and our allies in the Sikh advocacy community.
MACLC is a New York-based coalition of citizens, community and faith leaders, organizers, advocates, attorneys, and organizations. MACLC aims to give voice to absent perspectives on issues of national security, counterterrorism, law enforcement, and civil rights, especially as they impact Muslim communities in post-9/11 New York City.
2) Addressing Our Own Leadership (Summer 2012): “At What Price Dignity”
Please see Imam Talib Abdur Raschid’s blog for an important Open Letter to NYC Muslim Leaders made on August 6, 2012:
3) MOTHER OF NYPD’S VICTIM’S OPEN LETTER TO LEADERS OF MUSLIM COMMUNITY (2011)
Mayor Bloomberg’s Breakfast is Unacceptable
Since Mayor Bloomberg still publicly supports the NYPD…
In the past, NYPD has met with certain Muslim communities and leaders many times, and nothing positive has resulted, except false promises, diversions, and empty rhetoric. In fact, even those who have met with the Mayor or the NYPD, many of them have also been under surveillance and targeted by them. This breakfast of the Mayor is also one of their tactics. First they will feed you breakfast, then they will continue to target you.
Since 9/11, NYPD and CIA have worked together to entrap young Muslim men in fake and self-manufactured terrorism cases, and especially targeted those young men who have developmental and intellectual disabilities, or those who are mentally unstable or have even been admitted into hospitals many times or are on medications, or those who have substance abuse problems. These cases have been created through the use of NYPD paid informants and undercover officers. No one approached these young men except the informants and undercovers. You can research for yourself. These are innocent young men who have no links to terrorism. The lives of these young developmentally challenged and unstable have been used for a larger agenda: to keep continued funding for the NYPD; to keep the American public scared; and to keep Muslim communities quiet and scared.
An example of this is my own peaceful and innocent family, who has been punished over the last many years for a sin we didn’t commit except to be Muslim. My son Shahawar Matin Siraj was entrapped by a paid NYPD agent and an undercover into a fake terrorism case through deception. For this, the agent was paid $100,000. My son has mental and developmental disabilities, and has an IQ of 78. The co-defendant who was arrested with my son, James Elshafay, also has mental problems like schizophrenia and substance abuse problems.
Additionally, a young man named Ahmed Ferhani, who also has mental health problems and is bipolar, and has been to the hospital many times, and takes medications, has also been entrapped by a NYPD undercover. Now, another young man named Jose Pimental, who was recently arrested, has also been reported to have mental health issues like talking to himself or attempting to circumcise himself. We expect to hear a similar story in his case about the role of the informant or undercover. That would make all three of the three NYPD “sting operation” cases, and at least five of the six defendants from these cases.
These cases are all the result of the NYPD programs. In all these cases, the Mayor has either approved of the NYPD’s actions, or in the case of Ferhani and Pimentel he has actually participated in the press conferences of the cases. It seems that some of our Imams are confused about the role of the Mayor. I know some have mentioned of the Mayor’s support when the two fires happened in the Bronx, or the Park51 case. But that is the job of a Mayor. He is supposed to show such support to all our communities as New Yorkers, and he should be commended for having done his job. But it is also his job to appoint and oversee the NYPD Commissioner and his management of the department. Has he done his job?
This secret spying operation by the NYPD and CIA has been ongoing for 10 years and been watching the Muslim community, masjids, schools, bookstores, and every other place of Muslim life. Paid agents and undercovers have been spread out all over. Are these real cases? Muslims know very well that in our communities such secret spy operations are taking place, and innocent people are being targeted, and our rights are in danger. In the meantime, Mayor Bloomberg refuses to say anything, and continues to stand with the NYPD at their press conferences publicizing these manufactured cases. What has been gained by such cases, and the NYPD’s operations? Is the city any safer for the NYPD having manufactured cases for itself to solve? What has been the benefit except the funding of the NYPD?
For many years I have been fighting alone for the life and rights of my son, and for the life and rights of other families who have been similarly affected. Many other families are affected by other policies of NYPD and are living quietly out of fear or lack of support. Shamefully, during these times, I have rarely seen any Muslim leaders or organizations stand up with any of these families, come to any protests, or say anything publicly. Is it more important to stand with such victims, such families, and our communities or is it more important to shake hands and have breakfast with the Mayor? When you go to such meetings who do you represent? Our communities? Or yourself?
Now more bills and legislation have been passed that will further target Muslims as well as other communities and undermine our rights. NYPD rather than protecting us, will further target more people. As we have seen the protestors at Occupy Wall Street were beaten mercilessly and driven away. Black and Latino men are being targeted by the NYPD. Corruption scandals and misconduct by the NYPD are spreading. We should learn from these incidents. Learn for ourselves, and also to hold Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials accountable.
In such circumstances, Muslim leaders, or in fact leaders of any faith, should not be attending the Mayor’s breakfast. Now, instead of going to the breakfast, it is better that we stand for our safety, our rights, and our dignity. All this prejudice and hate that has been spread against Muslims, needs to be addressed by leaders of all faiths. It is time to have courage and be steadfast.
Shahina Parveen Siraj Mother of the targeted and entrapped Shahawar Matin Siraj
(Letter translated by Saniya Siraj and Fahd Ahmed)