American Subjects Celebrating the 4th of July and the Promise of Equal Citizenship:

In a few days we will be celebrating the 4th of July. Americans of all backgrounds, all religions and nationalities, celebrate the day of the birth of America as a nation. We will also be celebrating the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, rights and freedoms that define America as a nation. These are promised to all American citizens. American history, however, shows that for many groups the enjoyment of these constitutional rights has been a struggle. The struggle of African Americans, for example, to overcome slavery and Jim Crow laws is the most powerful example of promises going unfulfilled without a prolonged and costly struggle. At this historical juncture, it is our turn to struggle to have our rights and freedoms respected by the government.

The Political Persecution of the Holy Land Foundation

We celebrate the 4th of July while we are the subjects of unfair treatment by the government. Many of our American Muslim charities have been shut: Holy Land Foundation, Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Help the Needy. Individuals of high moral caliber, such as the group that ran the Holy land Foundation, find themselves convicted and serving many years in prison on a flimsy legal theory of prosecution. Muslim charities are pursued ruthlessly while we see real spies for Israel receiving a slap on the wrist and our most infamous spy, Jonathan Pollard, receiving Israeli citizenship with the Israeli government treating him as a hero and lobbying for his release. Also, despite the fact that a number of Jewish organizations and other organizations are on the terror list, the bulk of law enforcement attention is focused on American Muslim organizations, especially the charities. When is the last time anyone was charged with supporting the Zionist fanatics of Kiryat Arba who have built a shrine to the terrorist and mass murderer Baruch Goldstein?

Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Blanket Conviction of Muslim Charities

National security scholarship sees American Muslim charities as a threat to be eliminated. Michael Scheuer, a veteran CIA officer writes in Through Our Enemies’ Eyes:
“Islamic NGOs have been another source of funding, as well as a fairly easy and secure mechanism for invisibly transferring funds to Bin laden and other Islamist leaders. These organizations proliferated and matured during the Afghan war and are now found in virtually every location in the world where Muslims are at war, suffering, in refugee camps, where there are populations susceptible for conversion to Islam…Most Islamic NGOs are overwhelmingly occupied with humanitarian work…All are equipped, however, to knowingly or unknowingly, assist Bin Laden’s movement and other Islamists because they can provide employment, move and distribute funds and acquire legitimizing documents and work permits.” He adds “[T]he use of Islamic NGOs as conduits for funds and contraband, and as curtains behind which to hide illicit activities is an excellent example of how Bin Laden and other Islamists have manipulated the West’s legal system to their benefit.”

Muslim NGO Abiding by the Law Seen as a Disaster

The fact that the NGOs are law abiding is seen by Mr. Scheuer as a disaster: “Disastrously for Western countries, Islamic NGOs are largely immune from western police action because they are almost always legally registered, certifiably involved in humanitarian and charitable activities and affiliated with legitimate religious organizations. The use of Islamic NGOs as conduits for funds and contributions, and as curtain, behind which to hide illicit activities is an excellent example of how Bin Laden and other Islamists have manipulated the West’s legal system to their benefit.”

National Security Scholarship and Arabs and Muslims Americans: Subjects, not Citizens

Reading the scholarship on national security as it relates to Arab and Muslim Americans it becomes clear that these communities are not being thought of as communities of American citizens. Missing from the writing of individuals such as the 22-year CIA veteran Michael Scheuer and CIA veteran Marc Sageman are references to the rights of citizens, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, due process, free exercise, freedom of association- all these key democratic values are missing form their analyses. The government, which seems to be listening to these writers and implementing at least some of their ideas, needs to be reminded that Arab Americas and Muslim Americans are also citizens covered by the constitution and the promises of the Declaration of Independence. However, it is a big net being cast. The former attorney general John Ashcroft in Never Again (it is interesting that this is the same title as one of the late terrorist Meir Kahane’s books) writes: “The truth is, we don’t know how many people we caught who may have been involved in terrorist activity. But if they were involved in any criminal or immigration violations, we prosecuted them aggressively, incarcerated them, or sometimes expelled from the country, if we had that option.”

Recognizing Our Heroes: ACLU, ADC, CAIR

This Fourth of July, the Arab and Muslim communities should be celebrating groups that are fighting for the civil rights of Arab and Muslim Americans- fighting to have Arab and Muslim Americans treated as citizens and not as subjects. They are doing so by injecting into the national security debate the key democratic terms of Constitution, civil rights, civil liberties, free exercise, free association, chilling effect on exercise of rights; all terms that have been absent from the national security scholarship and seemingly forgotten by the government. Of these groups the American Arab anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) deserve special recognition. Recently the ACLU issued its report on American charities that highlighted the heavy price that government policy on Muslim charities has inflicted on the American Muslim community. ADC continues to fight for our rights locally and nationally. CAIR, despite enormous pressures, continues to educate on American Muslim issues and fight for the civil rights and liberties of American Muslims.

Joining, Donating or Simply Thanking

Let the Fourth of July be an occasion to recognize the vital work of the advocates that toil tirelessly to make this country what it promises to be. To show appreciation, you can engage in any and all of these constitutional rights’ affirming activities: joining, donating or simply saying thank you.

Happy Fourth of July ADC, ACLU and CAIR- and thank you.


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