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Executive Editor: Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Chronology of Islam in America (2019)
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

August  2019

A tale of three shootings within one week in U.S.
August 4: Within just 13 hours apart, two mass shootings took place—in El Paso, Texas Saturday (August 3) and in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday (August 4) —leaving a total of 29 dead and 53 injured. The two mass shootings came less than a week of shooting at the Garlic Festival, Gilroy California, killing three people while the shooter was also killed. Police say Connor Betts 24-year-old white man behind a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, killed his sister and eight others before he was fatally shot by police. Authorities say the shooter was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting with a .223-caliber rifle into the streets of a popular Dayton nightlife area around 1 a.m. Sunday. The bloodshed in Ohio unfolded just hours after 20 people were killed by a gunman, Patrick Crusius-21, who stalked a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. More than two dozen were injured. Six days ago on Sunday, July 28, 19-year-old Santino William Legan opened fire at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, killing three and injuring 12 others. The shooter was killed by the police. Motives behind the Dayton, Ohio killer are not clear. However motives of  El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, and Gilroy, Santino William Legan are known. Crusius posted a four-page manifesto on internet saying he was inspired by a manifesto written by the white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March this year. Tellingly, the Gilroy shooter Legan just before the shooting urged his Instagram followers to read a 19th century book "Might is Right" which is popular with white supremacists on extremist websites. His since-deleted Instagram account says he is Italian and Iranian. [AMP Report]

Trump words linked to more hate crime
August 7:
President Donald Trump has often railed about an “invasion of illegals” at the southern border, words echoed in a screed the El Paso, Texas, shooting suspect apparently posted that called the attack that killed 22 people at a Walmart his response to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Some extremism experts believe that may not be an accident. They say historical data suggests a link between heated rhetoric from top political leaders and ensuing reports of hate crimes, only adding to the fears of those who could be targeted. The rampage in Texas has brought new attention to the dangers of immigration-motivated hate crimes and violence in a country with 58 million Latinos amid daily political rhetoric from the White House, conservative politicians and the dark corners of the internet about migrants coming across the border. A team from the University of North Texas recently produced a study that found counties that hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226% increase in reported hate incidents over comparable counties that did not host such a rally. “I’m convinced now that political rhetoric of elites influences the behavior of supporters,” said North Texas political science professor Valerie Martinez-Ebers. “This research confirms, at least in my mind, that the political rhetoric that’s happening today is influencing the American public’s actions.” Last month at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump questioned the patriotism of Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and then stood silent for 13 seconds while the crowd loudly chanted
‘Send Her Back.’ Over the past year and a half alone, a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat pushed a Mexican immigrant onto the New York City subway tracks while shouting anti-Hispanic slurs. The Hispanic mayor of a Seattle suburb was assaulted from behind at a block party by a man who disparaged his ancestry and policies supporting Latino immigrants. And a New York attorney was caught on video yelling at customers and employees at a Manhattan restaurant, saying he supposed they were in the U.S. illegally and his next call would be to immigration authorities “to have each one of them kicked out of my country.” [Associated Press]

Friend of the Muslim Community Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL) passed away
August 9: American Muslims today offered condolences on the passing earlier today of former Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL) at the age of 98. Rep. Findley served in the United States Navy in the Pacific as a lieutenant from 1943 to 1946. He served in Congresses from 1961 to 1983, was a co-founder of the Council for the National Interest in Washington, D.C., and authored the groundbreaking book “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby.” This was the first book published in 1985 to speak out against the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions resonates today as never before. With careful documentation and specific case histories, Paul Findley demonstrates how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and even presidential elections. “We offer our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Congressman Findley, a tireless advocate for human rights and justice in this country and worldwide, and a tremendous friend of the American Muslim community. Paul had the courage to stand with Muslims and against Islamophobia at a time when that principled stance came with a high cost. I will never forget his good cheer, humor and energy, even in the face of adversity,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “To God we belong, and to Him is our return.” [AMP Report]

Virginia Man Sentenced 5 Years In Prison For Threats To Arab American Institute Workers
August 15: William Patrick Syring, 61, of Arlington, Virginia, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for threatening Dr. James J. Zogby president of the Arab American Institute (AAI) and other AAI employees because of their race and national origin, threatening AAI employees because of their efforts to encourage Arab Americans to participate in political and civic life in the United States, and transmitting threats to AAI employees in interstate commerce.  Evidence presented at trial established that from 2012 to 2017, Syring sent over 700 emails to AAI employees, culminating in five death threats in 2017. According to court documents, Syring previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to sending threatening emails to AAI employees. Evidence presented at trial showed that Syring used nearly identical language that he admitted were threats in 2008 as he did in 2017. According to testimony in court, AAI employees were frightened of Syring because he had sent them death threats in the past and continued to do so over a decade later. Additionally, according to witness testimony, many AAI employees lived in fear that Syring would follow through on his threats and physically harm them. They further testified to the toll it took on them personally and their families and loved ones. [Homeland Security Today (HSToday)]

New York men sentenced for plotting to attack Muslim community
August 16: Two of four young men arrested for plotting to attack an upstate New York Muslim community with homemade explosives have been sentenced to four to 12 years in prison. Twenty-year-old Brian Colaneri and 19-year-old Andrew Crysel pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy in June. They and two others from the Rochester area were accused of planning to attack the community of Islamberg, near Binghamton. Police have said they had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives. Islamberg is a rural community of about 200 residents that has been  targeted with accusations, many spread on right-wing websites, of being a terrorist enclave. Police and analysts dismiss the claims. The two remaining co-defendants also have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing at a later date.

Trump nominates judge who argued countries are stronger if everyone is same ethnic group
August 17:
A White House lawyer chosen by Donald Trump to serve on the federal appeals court previously argued countries were weakened by ethnic diversity. Steven Menashi, the president’s nomination for the Court of Appeals Second Circuit, wrote in an academic journal that “ethnic ties provide the groundwork for social trust” and “solidarity underlying democratic polities rests in large part on ethnic identification”. “Surely, it does not serve the cause of liberal democracy to ignore this reality,” he added in the 2010 article for the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. The passages resurfaced on social media following the announcement of Mr Menashi’s nomination and were later discussed on air by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who described them as “a highbrow argument for racial purity in the nation state”. Maddow described the article as “blood-curdling”, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Mr Trump to withdraw Mr Menashi’s nomination.  Robert McCaw, the CAIR on director of government affairs, called his appointment “unconscionable” at a time when “our nation confronts the growing threat of white supremacy and white nationalism”.  He added: “American democracy is founded on the principle that our rich national diversity is to be celebrated and that we as a people are united by our shared experiences and principles, not by our race or ethnicity.”
[The Independent]

Republican Congressman warns against growing influence of Islam in Democratic Party
August 21:
During an appearance on "The Jeff Poor Show" on Alabama's WVNN radio, Rep. (Republican) Mo Brooks warned that the "growing influence" of Islam in the Democratic Party will eventually lead to the party becoming "very strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel." "Keep in mind – Muslims, more so than most people, have great animosity towards Israel and the Jewish faith," Brooks noted. While Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to Congress, they joined Andre Carson, a Muslim Democrat from Indiana, in the House, bringing the number of Muslims in the Congress to three. "I think you’re going to see this influence in the Democratic Party grow and grow and grow over time but ultimately become the dominant influence within the Democratic Party, where the Democratic Party will become very strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel," he concluded. [Real Clear Politics]

CAIR-New Jersey declines invitation to meet with Indian Consulate Officials on Kashmir
August 21:
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today issued a public letter to the Indian Consul General condemning that nation’s actions in Kashmir and its abuses of Indian Muslims, and declining an invitation to meet with consulate officials. Indian officials requested to meet with CAIR-NJ following its request that Governor Murphy cancel his trip to India in light of recent actions taken by the Indian government in Kashmir. In his letter, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Jim Sues in part states: “CAIR-New Jersey also believes that it would be morally irresponsible to meet with any representatives of the Indian government appointed under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose leaders have been credibly accused of encouraging “communal violence,” and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu nationalists lynching, murdering and brutally beating minorities, especially Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s society….. At present, CAIR-New Jersey remains committed to advancing its advocacy campaign calling on Governor Murphy to cancel his upcoming six-day September trip to the Republic of India – as New Jersey should not prioritize potential economic benefits over the Indian government’s egregious actions in Kashmir and BJP leadership’s open hostility towards religious minorities in India. Regardless of whether or not New Jersey Governor Murphy cancels his trip to India, CAIR-New Jersey plans to continue building coalitions based on mutual understanding to intensify calls on elected state officials and business leaders to refuse engagement with the government of India. We will also continue to coordinate with our national office and network of chapters nationwide to put pressure on the U.S. government to adopt a policy of seeking the immediate reinstatement of Article 370 and the right of residents of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination.”

Pressured to spy on NYC mosques for two years
August 22: New York Public Radio, Gothamist, provides a graphic account of an Uzbek Muslim who was forced to spy on his community in mosques.
Bilol, an Uzbek immigrant, who asked not use his actual name for fear of retaliation, was undocumented, having overstayed the tourist visa with which he first arrived in the U.S. in 2012. In 2017 around 25 people raided his house at night. That night he was asked to hand over his passport and was handcuffed and taken in. And then the officials proposed a deal. He could legally remain in the U.S., but only if he helped the FBI “catch criminals.” Bilol insisted he had never interacted with criminals before, and wasn’t qualified to do what was being asked of him. But reluctantly, he agreed. In return, he received a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that put off any deportation proceedings—so long as officials found it beneficial to their purposes. “Deferred action will allow you to remain in the United States until it has been determined by the United States government that the need for this type of action is no longer warranted," the letter read. The authorization was good for one year and required Bilol to “report periodically to a case agent or officer.” Soon, he said, he was in regular touch with FBI agents, who had him spending time in various mosques around the city, especially those with Uzbek congregants. Faiza Patel, a national security expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said immigrants like Bilol have been deployed by the FBI within Muslim communities for many years, especially since the 2001 September 11th attacks. But she said this type of “fishing” is problematic. “It creates distrust among community members,” Patel said. “Because people are always looking at the guy next to them, and thinking, ‘Oh, is he an informant?’”  As time wore on, Bilol said he became more and more reluctant about working for the FBI. A few months ago, an activist in the Muslim community put him in touch with the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) project at CUNY School of Law for help. [Gothamist

Over a dozen bullets fired at Indianapolis Muslim’s home
August 29: Fourteen bullets shot at a south side Indianapolis home is believed to be racially or religiously motivated by the homeowner. It was just after 4 a.m. when bullets went shooting at the home. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the incident on be investigated as a possible hate crime. “There is a toxic atmosphere of othering promoted by our nation’s top elected and public officials that often leads individuals to act on their biases,” said CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ayan Ajeen said. “Because of this, we urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to treat these incidents as possibly bias-motivated attacks.” Unfortunately, this isn't the first time this couple has been terrorized. Last fall, their yard sign that says, "We stand with American Muslims" was damaged. [The Indy Channel]

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