Friday, May 20, 2005

FMAT Declares March Against Terrorism a success May 20, 2005

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kamal Nawash
May 20, 2005
Phone: 202-776-7190

Washington, DC (May 20, 2005) The Free Muslims Coalition (FMC), a leading American Muslims organization with 13 chapters, is proud to announce that the first annual March Against Terror was a success. For those of you who were unable to attend the rally, you can watch it by visiting

There are two videos, a short video by the Washington Post and the entire rally on C-span. We hope you enjoy watching the rally. The rally was a success because of the quality of the speakers and because our message was carried across the world. Not only was the event covered by major American media outlets but also by Al-Jazeerah and Al-Arabia, the two largest media outlets in the Arab and Muslim world.

We have received hundreds of e-mails from the Arab world expressing support for our efforts and from those who hate our efforts. That is fine with us aslong as our message of tolerance, non-violence, separation of religion and politics, equality for women and democracy is heard. Please help us cover the cost of the rally by sending a contribution at:


New Zealand (May 19, 2005) Thomas Haidon, the President of the New Zealand Chapter ofthe Free Muslims Coalition (FMC) testified before the New Zealand Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee on how to combat Terrorism. Haidon argued on behalf of FMC that New Zealand must work harder to strengthen the provisions of their anti-terrorism laws in order for New Zealand to meet its international obligations while at the same time achieving a fair balance between human rights and national security.

Haidon argued that New Zealand’s laws require strengthening by adding language to punish people who participate in terrorist activities based on recklessness as opposed to justintentional involvement.

FMC believes that we have a wider role to play in the public policy spectrum in theUnited States and internationally. According to Haidon, "As Muslims we must work withinour own communities and outside of our communities to present a unified front against terrorism.For more information, visit or website at


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Arab groups join ACLU lawsuit May 18, 2005

ADC Press Release:ADC Joins ACLU in Lawsuit Asking for Information Release on Possible FBI JTTF Spying on Political and Religious Groups

May 18, 2005, Washington, DC - Today the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Greenpeace, and United for Peace and Justice, among other organizations in filing a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the US Department of Justice.Today's lawsuit asks the court for injunctive relief to intervene in the expedited processing of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by ADC, the ACLU, and the other organizations in December.

BACKGROUNDIn December, 2004, citing evidence that the FBI and local police are illegally spying on political, environmental and faith-based groups, ADC joined the ACLU in filing multiple FOIA requests around the country to uncover possible FBI JTTF spying activities on political and religious groups.

The requests sought information about the FBI's use of the JTTF and local police to engage in political surveillance. As part of the request, the organizations also requested expedited processing on the ground that the records sought pertained to "[a] matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence."

ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, "As always, ADC supports all efforts to keep our country secure and support the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to keep us all safe from real terrorists and criminals. However, the non-response we have so far had to our FOIA requests leaves a lot to be desired from our public servants. Targeting Arabs and Muslims on the basis of national origin, sending undercover agents to completely lawful and constitutionally protected anti-war meetings, and infiltrating student groups does not make us safer."

ADC and the other plaintiff organizations have pointed to many documented examples of JTTF involvement in the investigation of environmental activists, anti-war protesters, and others who are clearly neither terrorists nor involved in terrorist activities, including:> aggressively questioning Muslims and Arabs on the basis of religion or national origin rather than suspicion of wrongdoing> tracking down parents of student peace activists> downloading anti-war action alerts from Catholic Peace Ministries> infiltrating student groups> sending undercover agents to National Lawyers Guild meetings

These activities were, and are, not the only evidence that the FBI JTTF is building files on activists. It should be noted that ADC had already documented multiple incidents where JTTF members have inappropriately questioned, pursued, and, in some instances, harassed individuals for no reasons other than their political views and/or their national origin.A classified FBI intelligence memorandum disclosed publicly last November (2004) revealed that the FBI has actually directed police to target and monitor lawful political demonstrations under the rubric of fighting terrorism.

Included in these FOIA filings are national and local advocates for well-known causes, including the environment, animal rights, labor, religion, Native American rights, fair trade, grassroots politics, peace, social justice, nuclear disarmament, human rights and civil liberties. Requests were also filed on behalf of numerous individuals, including anorganizer for Service Employees International Union, a former Catholic priest, and student activists.ADC has joined in today's lawsuit because of the FBI's lack of response in complying with the requests in an expedited fashion.-30-

Amazon.Com racism denounced May 18, 2005

MPAC & Muslim Customer Call for Condemnation by National Online Bookseller

(Los Angeles, 5/17/05) – An American Muslim woman who ordered a copy of the Quran from received one with the words "F*ck this piece of sh*t" and "Death to all Muslims" scrawled across the inside cover. Customer Azza Basarudin and the Muslim Public Affairs Council will demand that Amazon issue a formal condemnation and take corrective action at a press conference on Wednesday, May 18 at 11:00 a.m. at the Islamic Center of Southern California.

"The cult of hatred against Islam and Muslims is manifesting in different sectors of our society," said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati. "The sooner we address these problems, the better we can serve America's national and international interests."

After placing an order with earlier this month, customer Azza Basarudin received the Quran she ordered from Bellwether Books, a subcontractor of the national online bookseller. Basarudin contacted MPAC when she discovered the desecration and profanity inside. Last week, MPAC contacted Amazon CEO Jeff Bazos' office to demand an investigation and called for the company to issue a public condemnation, establish a policy of zero tolerance toward this type of behavior, and support MPAC's hate crime prevention programs. apologized for "distress caused by incident" but has taken no corrective action. MPAC has invited to participate in the press conference and share their position on this case. MPAC, which is representing the customer, will call for Amazon to take swift and decisive action against those responsible for the desecration.

The Quran desecration case comes in the wake of national attention on the alleged desecration of the Quran by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.

WHAT: Press Conference Demanding Take Action in Response to Delivery of Desecrated Quran to Muslim Customer WHO: Azza Basarudin, customer who received desecrated QuranSalam Al-Marayati, MPAC Executive representative (invited) WHEN: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 at 11:00 A.M. WHERE:Islamic Center of Southern California434 South Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020 [CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443,]

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Summer Camp program in Palestine

Palestine Summer Encounter

Application deadline for both sessions is May 12, 2005

The Palestine Summer Encounter is a one or two-month Arabic language training and volunteer program. This unique encounter gives travelers the opportunity to meet and help Palestinians. During their two-month stay, participants will learn Arabic with an intensive language-training program, partner with Palestinian humanitarian and non-profit organizations and live with a Palestinian Family.

For more information
George Rishmawi
Director,Travel and Encounter Program
Holy Land Trust
#529 Manger Street
Bethlehem, Palestine
Tel: + 972 2 276 5930Fax: + 972 2 276 5931

Mobile: 059 674 995

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

New play by Betty Shamieh premieres in San Francisco

Betty Shamieh’s
a world premiere production directed by Jessica Heidt
Northside Theatre

Developed at the Magic through the Martha Heasley Cox Raw Play Series and with generous support from The Tournesol Project.

Four Arab women from across the ages wait at the "Gates of Martyrs." As they struggle to come to terms with their culture, their lives, and their choices, this shockingly funny play skewers traditional views on sex, family, and terrorism.

Previews: Sat., May 7, 8pm;
Sun., May 8, 7pm;
Tues., May 10–Fri., May 13, 8pm

Opening Night: Sat., May 14, 8pm
Performances continue:
Sun., May 15, 2:30pm
Tues., May 17, 8pm
Fri., May 20–Sat., May 21, 8pm
Wed., May 25–Fri., May 27, 8pm
Thurs., June 2, 8pm
Sat., June 4, 8pm
Sun., June 5, 2:30pm
Tues., June 7, 8pm
Fri., June 10, 8pm
Sat., June 11, 2:30pm
Sun., June 12, 2:30pm
Tues., June 14–Wed., June 15, 8pm
Sun., June 19, 2:30pm

Betty Shamieh is a Palestinian-American playwright, who was born and raised in the Bay Area. Her play ROAR premiered at the New Group in April 2004 and was selected as a New York Times Critics Pick for four consecutive weeks. She performed in her play of monologues CHOCOLATE IN HEAT in three sold-out off-off-Broadway runs and at over twenty universities throughout the country. She has been awarded an NEA grant, New York Foundation for the Arts award, New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, Ford Foundation grant, and Sundance Theatre Institute residency. She has been selected as a 2005 Bunting Institute Fellow at Harvard/Radcliffe. Her next play has been commissioned by Trinity Rep (RI). Shamieh is a graduate of Harvard University and the Yale School of Drama, and is currently serving on the playwriting advisory board for the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Jessica Heidt, director, is thrilled to helm her first mainstage production at the Magic Theatre. She has worked at the Magic since 1998, when she began as in intern in the casting department. She then became Casting Director, Director of Education, Company Manager, and in 2003, Associate Artistic Director. She has worked with a vast array of playwrights on developmental readings and workshops over the years ranging from Neena Beber, to Catherine Filloux to Robert Clyman. Outside of the Magic Theatre most recently directed the world premiere of Apocrypha by Ignacio Zulueta, as well as in SFSU’s Greenhouse Project and the Best of Playground Festival. She serves as casting director for many Bay Area theatre and film productions including Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Traveling Jewish Theatre, Zoetrope LiveStory, and Hodge Productions. She also teaches at various Bay Area high schools and universities.

# # #

creating dialogue...fearlessly

David Perry & Associates, Inc.
Flood Building
870 Market Street, Suite 670
San Francisco, CA 94102-3008

P. (415) 693-0583
F. (415) 693-0584

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Palestinians must battle extremists to achieve peace -- May 5, 2005

Palestinians must battle their extremists to achieve peace
May 5, 2005/Arab America Media Syndicate
Permission granted to republish
By Ray Hanania

Palestinian and Israeli peace is threatened by a growing movement of uncompromising rejectionists nourished by the ongoing conflict.

Extremists can’t afford to let the conflict end.

Many Israelis are thwarted by an inability to distinguish between the criticism of Palestinians moderates and the criticism of extremists.

Palestinians suffer under two occupations, the occupation by Israel and the occupation of Palestinian extremists who believe that continued suffering is a better alternative to compromise.

Palestinian moderates face dual obstacles, not the least of which are Israel’s sentinels. Conditioned to defend Israel at all cost, they fail to distinguish between Palestinian moderation and extremism focusing instead on issues of differences that results in a destructive debate.

But the greater threat to peace is the challenge facing Palestinian moderates from within their own confused and battered community.

Palestinians are too defensive and consumed with their suffering and anger. The hatred sometimes produced prevents them from seeing past these emotions. Yet they must see beyond.

In recent months, leaders of the American based al-Awda movement, the organization advocating for the return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel, have unleashed a campaign of hate against moderates seeking to compromise with Israel. Targeted are Palestinians who dare to speak out against unreasonable policies of rejectionism.

There is a conspiracy of doctrine that unites the extremists. They attack those who question the faults of their policies and those who speak out against violence, denounce terrorist organizations like Hamas and denounce suicide bombings as immoral.

As Palestinians strive to define the moderate voice and speaking out against anti-Semitism, extremists are responding with stronger and more forceful campaigns to discredit them.

The most difficult hurdles facing the creation of two states are the sharing Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem. In addressing the refugee problem, Palestinian moderates are seeking to end the suffering of the refugees and their disenfranchised descendents.

To salvage Palestinian rights and to achieve statehood, Palestinians must find the courage to speak to these difficult issues and to prevail over the uncompromising ideologues.

The al-Awda extremists are exploiting not fighting to end Palestinian suffering. They need that suffering to continue, just as all extremists need the conflict to rage on endlessly.

These rejectionists have a direct stake in the conflict. If it ends, they end, too. They have created an industry of exploitation that thrives on the suffering. They have jobs, salaries, lives and a soapbox from which they can continue to preach uncompromising hatred to their choir of disillusioned, disheartened and lost.

For more than half century, this unholy brotherhood has imprisoned the Palestinian refugees in their camps. To prevent peace, they will use any tool including violence that goes far beyond the boundaries of legitimate resistance.

They have duped many well-intentioned supporters of human rights who want to help the Palestinians, but who have no other voices to support.

The average Palestinian is living in a Diaspora of emotion and injured national pride that cannot easily be overcome to see the truth. Rather than challenge the extremists, most Palestinians remain silent, empowering the extremists. It’s a cycle of viciousness that must be broken.

Rather than receiving full support from moderate Israelis and Jews, they are being challenged, not on issues of larger substance but on smaller issues of vanity.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has generated two separate historical narratives that will never meet, not even after a peace accord is achieved. The solution, though, is to recognize that while we cannot agree on details of history, we can agree on the details of a future based on mutual respect, security and sovereignty.

Peace does not mean we cannot criticize each other. We can and we should. But we can criticize policies, not people. Events, not emotions.

Instead of looking back at history to find reasons why we cannot come together, Palestinians and Israelis must turn away and look toward a future, and work together to overcome all extremists working together.

Before this can happen, though, Palestinians must find their true independence. They have to break free from the choke hold of fanaticism that is eroding their future. They must find the courage to face the unreasonable stridency that smothers Palestinians under a more vicious occupation.

Supporters of Israel can either standup and support this effort, or they can continue to remain silent wrongly believing that this debate undermines the strength of the Palestinian cause.

At some point, Israelis and Jews must also standup to the extremists who also exist in their community.

Then and only then can the future be free of violence and Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and dignity in two states.

(Ray Hanania is the former national president of the Palestinian American Congress. An award winning journalist and author, Hanania can be reached at

Palestinian American Congress elects new leaders May 1, 2005

The Palestinian American Congress
April 28, 2005
Media contact:
Marwan ElMasri

The Palestinian American Congress successfully completed it’s sixth Annual Convention in Houston, Texas on April 24, 2005

The convention included a panel discussion about the Palestinian right of return by Dr. Ghassan Shabaneh, workshops, and a presentation describing the detrimental effects the settlements and the Apartheid Wall have on Palestinians by Mr. Mohammed Alatar.
Dr. Mustafa Albargouthi and Father Hanna Atallah addressed the convention via video-satellite from Palestine.
Renowned Palestinian Director Yahia Barakat presented his film about Rachel Corrie.
A board meeting was held on April 24th. Elections for the Executive Committee and Directors of the Board took place with the following results:

Sameer Tuffaha Chairman of the board
Faraj Said Vice Chairman of the board
Dr. Zafer Miqdadi Secretary of the board

National Executive Committee

Maher Abdelqader President
Joanne Abuqartoumi Vice President
Salah Asad Secretary
Khaled Aldumee Treasurer
Mohammad Abdallah Member
Mohammad Nawash Member
Osama Amin Member

The convention was concluded with a banquet, featuring our distinguished guest, Dr. Ahmad Tibi, and an evening of traditional Palestinian dance and songs by Ammar Hasan; The Palestinian Superstar.
A fund raiser event raised almost $130,000 between donations and pledges.