Thursday, December 28, 2006

Op-Ed: Why Israel favors cease fire with Palestinians, By Mohammed Mar'i, Ramallah

Why Israel favors Cease fire with Palestinians
By Mohammed Mar'i

(Permission granted to republish with full attribution to the author. You are also encouraged to pay a fee to the author.)

(Arab American Media Services/Ramallah, Palestine) -- The cease-fire (Hudna) between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip went into effect on November 26, 2006. The Palestinian factions agreed to halt all rocket fire from the Caza Strip against Israel while Israel agreed to halt military operations and withdraw from Palestinian territories. It is the first time that Israel agrees bilaterally to stop all military operations against the Palestinians since the April Understandings between Lebanon and Israel in 1996 after the Operation Grapes of Wrath which led to Qana Massacre leaving 118 dead Lebanese civilians.

The Hudna came after months of Israeli military operations in Gaza Strip following the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Palestinian military wings. The Israeli "Operation Summer Rains" lift more than 400 Palestinian deaths.

Last week, according to the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) the Palestinians fired 40 rockets. The rocket attacks were carried out by members of Islamic Jihad, an organization which opposes participation in the cease-fire, in response to the killing of two Islamic Jihad militants near Jenin. The renewal of homemade rocket attacks from Gaza Strip against Israel raised the question to what extent the Hudna is in favor of Israel.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the visiting Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg, Olmert said that "for a number of weeks now I have used my authority in order to prevent a response to the continued Qassam rocket attacks, but it is clear that it is impossible to ignore this for long, so long as the Palestinians continue to shoot."

Notwithstanding the continuous Palestinian violations in the form of Qassam rocket attacks, "the cease-fire provides more calm than without it," a senior Israel political source said. Olmert is keen to stress that Israel should not be the one that announces an end to the cease-fire and that the cease-fire is also important for Israel diplomatically, the source added.

It would seem that so long as the homemade rocket attacks result in no injuries, Israel will continue its policy of relative restraint.

This is a particularly relevant point in view of the infighting that has prevailed in the Gaza Strip during the past week. Israel may choose to adhere to its commitment to the cease-fire precisely because it wants to avoid being blamed for intervening in an internal Palestinian conflict.

But Israel has other real reasons behind the recent restraint in the face of ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian factions rather than Israel's interest in securing international backing in case the government decides a large-scale operation in Gaza following a multi-casualty attack by Palestinian factions on Israeli southern residents so the (IOF) can act under massive pressure from the public, or a recognition of the fact that the (IOF) has no effective solution to stop the rockets fire.

It turns out that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is practicing restraint primarily because he wants to give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a chance to undertake the decisive and dangerous process that he kick-started last week. The process intended to remove control of the territories from Hamas hands and hand it over to Fatah by calling for early elections.

It's reasonable to assume that this is a strategic move, coordinated in advance with Abbas and his supporters, and thus, this is most likely why Olmert was so quick to approve a ceasefire a few weeks back.

Besides Israel has an estimation that renewed (IOF) operations in Gaza would cause the warring Palestinian factions to unite against Israel, and Abbas, who in such a situation, would have to postpone the disbandment of the government, refrain from setting a new date for the early elections and, thus, lose an opportunity of getting rid of, or at least weakening, the Hamas government.

Moreover Olmert doesn't want to give Abbas an excuse to get down from the high ladder he climbed on when he decided to go head-to-head with Hamas. The prime minister decided to bet on the Palestinian president and risk the potentially high price of restraint.

Another reason for Israeli restraint is an estimation that renewing army operations in the Gaza Strip will lead to a 100 percent increase in rocket attacks leaving the Israeli government no choice but to order the (IOF) to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza. The (IOF) however is split over operating in Gaza which is a high densely populated area and is not convinced that a large-scale operation would hamper the capability of Palestinian military wings to fire rockets at Israel. Although large-scale operation should give a fundamental and long-term answer to arms smuggling into Gaza, the problem is Gilad Shalit. By all judgments, Shalit is being held in the southern Gaza Strip where the (IOF) would have to operate. A large-scale operation will almost certainly stymie his release and even put his life in danger. In this case the Hudna with Palestinians is a solution despite the issue of weapons smuggling from Egypt.

It should be noted that Israel can bring about an almost complete cessation of rocket fire in Gaza if it agrees to Hamas and Islamic Jihad demands to stop assassinations of their activists and to stop its operations, not only in Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank, since most rocket fire is a response to such assassinations. Searching pretext to pressure the Palestinians, perhaps this is the reason why Israel didn't agree to implement the Hudna in the West Bank: once it assassinate an activist in the West Bank the response comes from Gaza strip

Israel didn't accept this condition fearing that not operating against Palestinian activists in the West Bank will lead to "terror" attacks within Israeli territory – attacks that will cause many casualties as was the case in the beginning of the intifada.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah.)

Op-Ed: Is Abbas-Olmert meeting more than PR? By Mohammed Mar'i, Ramallah

Is Abbas-Olmert meeting more than public relations?
By Mohammed Mar'i

(Permission granted to republish in full. You may also donate a writing fee to the author.)

(Arab AMerican Media Services/Ramllah, Palestine) -- After many months of preparation between senior Israeli and Palestinian aids, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert finally held a meeting.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted on leaving his official residence to welcome President Mahmoud Abbas and his convoy with kisses on cheeks. "It is my pleasure to welcome you, Mr. President," said Olmert to Abbas.

Olmert introduced his wife Aliza, who is an artist known for her dovish views, to Abbas and the Palestinian officials.

The Palestinians were surprised to find the Palestinian flag and the Israeli flag standing side by side in the PM's driveway. The two flags were found together on the table inside the house as well. This is the first time that Palestinian flags were waved inside any official Israeli institution, not to mention the prime minister's residence.

Olmert's men explained that the warm welcome and the Palestinian flags being raised alongside the Israeli flags were meant to prove that there is no patronization on the Israelis' part, and that they were negotiating with Abbas because they truly believe he wants peace and they hope to make him a real partner. In the past, Olmert described Abbas as a weak leader, and Israeli minister Tzipi Livni considered him irrelevant to the peace process.

"Abu Mazen," said Olmert's men, "was welcomed at the prime minister's residence just as any other head of state would be". But apart from the hosting generosity the Israelis show towards their Palestinian guests, with what results the Palestinians went back to Ramallh? Did Olmert agree to a series of concessions to help bolster the PA chairman? Did President Abbas receive dramatic concessions from Olmert or promises to reactivate some committees? Did Olmert reject the key Palestinian demands announced by Abbas?

Olmert has agreed to unfreeze $100 million from the Palestinian National Authority tax revenues to be used for humanitarian purposes and after the establishment of a mechanism to ensure the money is used for the purposes intended by Abbas, and does not end up in the hands of the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, Olmert also agreed to remove several West Bank checkpoints, and reexamine security procedures at the Karni commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, in order to facilitate to movement of goods into Gaza, Olmert promised to meet a quota of 400 trucks moving through the main cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel.

Israel has also agreed in principle to allow Egypt to provide Abbas' security forces with weapons as well as allow the PLO's Badr Brigade to enter the territories. The brigade is currently stationed in Jordan.

But the two leaders failed to reach agreement on key issues - a prisoner swap and to extend the cease fire to the West Bank. Regarding the issue of prisoners which is a high superiority to the Palestinian society, the two sides reactivate a committee to decide the criteria for those who will be released and when. It known for the Palestinians that Olmert can't agree on genuine prisoners deal including those with "blood on their hands" without the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit taking into consideration that Israel launched its military operation "summer Rain" to get him back. The extension of cease fire to the West Bank will achieved before Abbas secures calm in Gaza; to stop the home-made rockets "Qassams".

Accordingly it's hard to understand what Abbas expected to gain by the summit with Olmert since he can't deliver the two things that Israel wants most: a serious undertaking to stop firing "Qassam" rockets and the release of Shalit. Abbas knows also that Olmert might want to bolster him by a few concessions especially a release of Palestinian prisoners, but he knows that the Israeli public will not tolerate this generosity after a summer of costly operations in Lebanon and Gaza. Abbas knows that there will not be a revival of Olmert's "convergence" plan for further withdrawals in the West Bank. Abbas knows that his photo being kissed twice on each cheek by Olmert will not easily replace the photos of Prime Minister Ismail Honeyed with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Abbas Knows that the preconditioned unfreeze of $ 100 million will not be welcomed by the Palestinians as the $ 120 million donated by Iran to Hamas led government. Abbas knows that the absence of concrete achievements from the meeting will embarrass him in his internal crisis. He knows that Hamas, which holds Shalit, will not agree to any concessions in the Shalit deal especially the criteria and names of the Palestinian prisoners to be released. He knows that a cease fire in Gaza will not be achieved without full cooperation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He knows that ending of the deportees and wanted fighters files can't be solved without calm in the West Bank.

Many Palestinians questioned the reason behind Abbas acceptance to participate in the meeting.

Taking into consideration that Olmert has no interest in advancing the peace process, and that Abbas can't deliver a unified Palestinian understanding regarding the cease fire and Shalit deal, it seems that the meeting is no more than a public relations one. Under the pressure of US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minster Tony Blair, Abbas participated in the meeting to show moderate leaders in the region and to distance himself from Hamas. Bush and Blair want optimistic pictures rather than those of Iraq and Iran and they got it from the meeting.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah)

Op-Ed: Soccer for Peace by Mohammed Mar'i -- Ramallah, Palestine

The Match of Peace
By Mohammed Mar'i

(Permission granted to republish this column in full with attribution to the author. You are also encouraged to make a donation as a fee to the author for publishing rights.)

(Arab American Media Services/Ramallah, Palestine) -- With an attractive slogan "It's Possible" the "Match for Peace" took place on Wednesday December 27th 2006 at 9 PM at the Olympic Stadium of Seville, the Andalusian capital in Spain. The Peace Team from renowned Palestinian and Israeli soccer players came together to play a magnificent soccer match with a team of Andalucian soccer stars from the Spanish Premier League.

The Peace Team is sponsored by the Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres and his center (Peres Center for Peace). The "Match for Peace" was hosted by the Junta de Andalucia to send the international community a positive message of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation, highlighting the importance of continued efforts to build peace between the sides.

A long side Shimon Peres, Jibril Rajjoub, Palestinian National Security Advisor, Michel Platini, French soccer star, and a number of dignitaries, royal representatives and political leaders will come to show their support for peace.

The Palestinian players from the West Bank and Gaza Strip arrived to Seville through Jordan and Egypt since they are not allowed to travel through the Ben Gurion Airport due to security measures exercised against the Palestinians. The Peres Center for Peace which organizes and participates in the "Match for Peace" to foster a strong alliance for peace was not able to organize this very important symbolic move which is to depart from the same place.

The uniform of the "peace Team" was red. It was an important symbol also. The red color in Palestinian- Israeli daily life is connoted with blood and death that we hated to see in TV screens every day. There, in Seville, the red has another connotation. It is a symbol for peace of peace that we hope to achieve between the two Peoples.

Ninety amazing minuets passed in the Olympic Stadium, the Palestinian players replace their Israeli colleagues. Imad Nasser El Deen replaces David Ravivo. The Israel national coach Dror Kashtan and Palestinian coach Jamal Hadeideh of the West Bank Tulkarm club worked together in harmony, the matter which is absent all the time. The two coaches left just one Palestinian player in the second half, but they remembered to add four Palestinian players later. They remembered that no side can be eliminated from the scene.

Politics for the Palestinians and Israelis is fate. Peres, even he was sponsor of the event, was updated of the Israeli government decision to renew targeted killing of Palestinian activists. He hoped that" the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas will resolve their differences so that they can both work together with Israel for peace in the Middle East", and that" he was aware of the "profound differences" between Fatah leader and Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of the Islamic movement Hamas, but that it was necessary for the two to cooperate", and that " he believed Hamas was an important force in the peace process and must play a role in it, and the group's importance in the religious sphere and in the economy of Gaza", Spanish national news agency Efe reported.

But Peres knows that a "Palestina Libre" as written in Spanish behind the goal keeper, needs a renewal of the peace process to bolster the moderates in the two sides, to give the two Peoples hope in place of daily depression.

The Israeli sports commentator Shlomo Scharf said that if he given the authority to replace players, he will replace the defense with General Rajjoub, who has a long experience in defense. It is known that Rajjoub is a peace warrior but the Israelis damaged his security headquarters in Ramallah. Do they really want moderates in the Palestinian People?

Scharf was astonished that he found supporters for "Bitar Yorshalaim" soccer team, but once the Israeli player Klemi Saban scored his goal, Palestinian flags were waving to salute him. The Israeli player Haim Ravivo played thirty five minutes though he didn't play since two and a half year, whereas the Israeli decision to remove checkpoints and other good-will steps evaporated like dreams.

"It is Possible". All the Palestinian People know that it is possible to reach a lasting peace if Israel has the intention. As it is possible for the kids Mohammed of Abu Tour and Elian of Sderot to play football together, it is possible to put their dream to invite each other to his home into reality. It is possible to replace the Palestinian home made rockets and the Israeli artillery bombs with soccer goals between Palestinian and Israeli teams. It is possible to replace the slogan "Born to Kill", used to be written on the helmets of Israeli occupation soldiers, with "Yaboo Shalom Alaino O'al Kol H'olam", the song of Israeli singer Noa hoping that peace comes on us and the world.

It is possible to achieve peace if Peres kicks the peace process forward as he made the honorary kickoff at the start of the match, not to let this move for his successor as he did when he was the Israeli premier after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabbin. At that time, Peres was authorized to handle the West Bank City of Hebron with the late President Yasser Arafat according to Oslo agreement, Peres lifted this merit to his successor Benyamin Netanyahu.

We wasted months of negotiations between Arafat and Olmert to reach Wye River agreement just to handle Hebron.

* Mohammed Mar'i is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury denounces Israel's Wall around Bethlehem

Press Release 22/12/2006


The Israeli-built wall is “a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today in Bethlehem.

Speaking to the town’s civic representatives shortly after walking through the wall, Dr Williams said the wall symbolised “the terrible fear of the other, of the stranger, which keeps us all in one kind of prison or another”, from which God 2,000 years ago came to release people.

Dr Williams was speaking on behalf of a delegation of UK church leaders to the town of Christ’s birth, which included the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the moderator of the Free Churches, David Coffey, and the Armenian patriarch of Great Britain, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian.

Accompanied by Christian church leaders from Jerusalem, the delegation made its way through the notorious checkpoint at the entrance to the town, which prevents all but a few Bethlehemites – who need special permits - from traveling and trading with neighbouring Jerusalem.

The church leaders had planned to walk through the pedestrian checkpoint – an elaborate steel construction involving turnstiles, CCTV cameras, and gun-wielding soldiers.

But at the last moment, the Israeli security forces diverted them through the less humiliating vehicle entrance point, causing camera crews waiting on the other side to rush to get pictures.
The delegation walked from the checkpoint down Star St to Manger Square, following the route said to have been made 2,000 years ago by Mary and Joseph.

They were greeted in the square by civic leaders at the International Peace Centre, close to the Basilica of the Nativity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks were in response to a speech by Bethlehem’s Mayor, Dr Victor Batarsheh, which described how Bethlehem was now cut off from the outside world by the wall, causing economic hardship and the emigration of families. Bethlehem, he said, had been “transformed into an open prison” by the wall.

He told the church leaders that future peace depended on “dialogue, not separation.”“Your presence is challenging this ugly wall,” Mayor Batarseh told them.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said they were “here to say to the people of Bethlehem that they are not forgotten. We are here to say: what affects you affects us. We are here to say, your suffering is our suffering too, in prayers and in thought and in hope.”

He continued:

“We are here to say, in this so troubled and complex land, that justice and security are never something which one person claims and the expense of another, or which one community claims at the expense of another. We are here to say that security for one is security for all. And for one to live under the threat of occupation or of terror is a problem for all.”

Citing an Advent hymn which sings of “Jesus Christ, the one who comes the prison bars to break”, Dr Williams said it was the church leaders’ “prayer and our hope for all of you that the prison of poverty and disadvantage, the prison of fear and anxiety, will alike be broken.”

He added that the church leaders had come because the Incarnation “assures us that these prisons could be broken, broken by the act of God in whose sight all are equally precious – Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Christian and Muslim; and for whom all lives are so equally precious that the death of one is affront to all.”

Following the speeches, the Mayor of Bethlehem declared the delegates honorary citizens of Bethlehem.

The delegates then made their way to the Basilica of the Nativity, where they prayed at the spot in a cave said to be where Jesus was born. As well as the Greek Orthodox-controlled Basilica itself, they visited the Catholic church alongside, from where the delegates made their way down to the cave where St Joseph is said to have received the angel’s warning to flee Bethlehem. Alongside it is another cave where St Jerome made the first translation of the Bible.

The delegates return Saturday, after a day of prayers and visits in the town of Christ’s birth.
The visit by church leaders coincides with the release of surveys in the US and in Bethlehem commissioned by Open Bethlehem.

The surveys show widespread ignorance in the US of Bethlehem and its plight. But the poll, which was carried out by Zogby, also revealed that if Americans knew that the wall had severed Bethlehem and Jerusalem and had led to the large-scale Israeli annexation of (mainly Christian-owned) land, they would oppose the wall.


Your Beatitudes, Your Eminences, Your Graces

We are overwhelmed by the welcome we have received and although we are used – we who have been visitors before – to being welcomed with generosity, today has been exceptional.
We are indeed here to say to the people of Bethlehem that they are not forgotten. We are here to say: what affects you affects us. We are here to say, your suffering is our suffering too, in prayers and in thought and in hope.

We are here to say, in this so troubled and complex land, that justice and security are never something which one person claims and the expense of another, or which one community claims at the expense of another. We are here to say that security for one is security for all. And for one to live under the threat of occupation or of terror is a problem for all.

The wall, which we walked through a little while ago, is a sign not simply of the passing problem in the politics of one region; it is a sign of the things which are deeply wrong in the human heart itself. That terrible fear of the other, of the stranger, which keeps us all in one kind or another of prison. In one of the hymns we sing in English during the Advent season, we sing about Jesus Christ, the one who comes the prison bars to break. And it’s our prayer and our hope for all of you that the prison of poverty and disadvantage, the prison of fear and anxiety, will alike be broken.

We are here on pilgrimage because we trust that 2,000 years ago an event took place here which assures us that these prisons could be broken, broken by the act of God in whose sight all are equally precious; Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. And for whom all lives are so equally precious that the death of one is affront to all. That is why we are here. We are here not to visit an ancient and interesting site; we are not here to visit a theme park. We are here to visit a place and a people which speak of the freedom of God to set human beings free.

That is the truth which remains the same day after day, year after day, and millennium after millennium. It is that Good News which has driven us here. It is that Good News which teaches us the response to despair, and the response to the terrible conditions in which so many of you now live. Thank you, once again, for what you have done to make us feel at home here, we who are now fellow citizens with you here in this place.

Pray for us in the western world, for us in England, that our faith may be strengthened by yours. Because you are a gift for us. Unlike the wise men who came from the east 2,000 years ago, we, the not very wise men from the west, have not come to pour out our gifts; we have come to receive the witness of your faith, your endurance and your hope; to receive the gifts of God. So pray for us, pray that we may be strong, and loyal friends to you, and to all the peoples of this land. And we shall pray for you also.

For more information please contact:

Open Bethlehem. Bethlehem. Palestine+97222 777993Austen Ivereigh:

Monday, December 18, 2006

CAIR denounces racist bigot Dennis Prager, calls for his dismissal from government agency

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

CAIR urges members of Congress to help 'expedite' Dennis Prager's removal(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/18/06) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on elected officials who are members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council to repudiate "bigoted remarks" by Dennis Prager, a fellow council member.

(Ten members of Congress serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which is meeting today.)

Prager has written that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should be prevented from taking his oath of office using the Quran, Islam's revealed text. He also wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran "undermines American civilization."

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had previously called on President Bush to rescind Prager's appointment to the council, the governing board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, because of his intolerant views toward Islam in American society.

CAIR had also called on the museum's council to remove Prager from his post because his views are incompatible with the mission of that taxpayer-funded institution.Since coming out against Prager's appointment to the council, CAIR has received hundreds of hate-filled e-mails from Prager's supporters.Two members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council have already spoken out against Prager's intolerant remarks.Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said Prager's comments were "inappropriate, incorrect and reflect a lack of the qualities of tolerance and civility, and respect for other people's religion."

Former New York City Mayor and current council member Edward Koch said, "There is no question that Dennis Prager is a bigot who ought to be repudiated even by his closest supporters."

In a letter to council members Reps. Christopher Cannon (R-UT), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH), and Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor wrote:

"I am writing you in your role as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council to respectfully ask that you join those who are condemning the bigoted remarks of council member Dennis Prager. I also ask that you take action to expedite his removal from the council. . .The United States Holocaust Memorial is an important reminder of where indifference to intolerant and misinformed comments can lead."

Saylor's letter included published comments from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee condemning Prager's remarks. The letter also supported Prager's right to free speech, but said a presidential appointee to a taxpayer-funded institution must be held to a higher standard.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 571-278-4658, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


CAIRCouncil on American-Islamic Relations453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.Washington, D.C. 20003Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726Fax: 202-488-0833E-mail: info@cair.comURL:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

CAIR denounces Iranian Holocaust Conference

CAIR Condemns Iranian Holocaust Denial Conference

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned a conference in Iran that seeks to deny the Holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Jewish community in Europe by the Nazis during World War II.

In a statement, CAIR said:"No legitimate cause or agenda can ever be advanced by denying or belittling the immense human suffering caused by the murder of millions of Jews and other minority groups by the Nazi regime and its allies during World War II. Cynical attempts to use Holocaust denial as a political tool in the Middle East conflict will only serve to deepen the level of mistrust and hostility already present in that troubled region."CAIR also expressed concern that individuals who have promoted racist views, like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, were invited to speak at the conference. "Islam, through the example of the Prophet Muhammad, has always rejected racism in any form," said CAIR's statement.

In his final sermon, the Prophet stated: "All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Also, a white (person) has no superiority over a black (person), nor does a black have any superiority over a white -- except by piety and good action."

SEE: Washington-based council has in the past condemned an Iranian contest soliciting political cartoons mocking the Holocaust and supported calls for an apology from an Arab-American newspaper that published excerpts from an anti- Semitic tract.

In its past statement supporting an apology from the newspaper, CAIR said "we must challenge those who would fan the flames of anti-Semitism." CAIR's statement condemning the Iranian cartoon contest called the Holocaust "one of the lowest moments in human history."

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair.comSource: Council on American-Islamic Relations CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director,+1-202-488-8787 or +1-202-744-7726,, or Rabiah Ahmed,Communications Coordinator, +1-202-488-8787 or +1-202-439-1441,, or Amina Rubin, Communications Coordinator, +1-202-488-8787,, all of CAIRWeb site: