Could Genocide Happen Here? & FBI Meeting

ING Participates in Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, “Could Genocide Happen Here?” 4/24/07

ING was one of the many sponsors of the County of Santa Clara Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, “Could Genocide Happen Here?” on Tuesday, April 24th at the board chambers of the County Government Center in San Jose. While the event featured some of the traditional elements of a holocaust remembrance, it went beyond that to educate towards preventing the recurrence of genocide, and asked the critical question, can it happen again?

The program highlighted some of the precursors to genocide, based on “The 6 Steps from Discrimination to Extermination” by Bart Charlow, Executive Director of the SVCCJ. They include: 1) Spreading myths or stereotypes about people which result in denigration and social distancing from them; 2) Creating mistrust about a people that isolates that group; 3) Fabricating a threat they pose to the public, which creates agreement with illegal laws or restrictions upon the group; 4) De-humanizing the target group, which prepares the public for suspension of its rights; 5) Isolation & concentration, which ensures that the group is away from the public eye, where it is subject to oppression; and the last step is the resultant atrocities that take various forms. Bart Charlow points out that “Each step takes relatively little effort to have maximum psycho-social impact, and once accepted or tolerated by the general populace, makes the next step easier…”

South Bay high school students from the Santa Clara County Youth Task Force who spoke at the event pointed out some of these elements in a post 9/11 world, such as the demonizing of Arabs and Muslims in the media, aspects of the Patriot Act, and illegal detentions. One speaker recounted the story of an Iraqi refugee, Abdul Ameer Habeeb, who came to America to escape persecution, but ended up being arrested and abused here as a result of racial profiling. ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan was one of the many faith and other representatives to participate in the event, where during the opening invocation, she symbolically was the last presenter, reciting from the famous poem by Martin Miemoeller, which ends: “Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

“The organizers of this event are to be commended for their courage and foresight in using this solemn occasion to remind and advocate against the vilification of any people, including Arab and Muslim Americans, and to draw parallels between past genocides and related issues here at home, in a political environment that is often hostile to such suggestions. This is partly a reflection of the growing positive relations between Jewish and Muslim Americans throughout the nation, but particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area,” noted Maha Elgenaidi, ING’s President who attended the event.

ING also co-sponsored and attended a Holocaust Remembrance in the East Bay the previous week on Tuesday, April 17. Remarks at the event about those who in the Muslim world deny the Holocaust reaffirmed the importance for people of justice to condemn any oppressive act, including those of Muslims who commit them in words or deeds.

ING Joins Other Muslim Organizations Meeting with New San Francisco FBI Head, 4/24/07

On Tuesday April 24, ING joined over 30 Bay Area Muslim leaders in a meeting with the new FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Charlene Thornton. Representatives from the MCA, SBIA, ICCNC in Oakland, San Francisco MCC, Mills Valley Islamic Center and tens of other mosques and non profits from the Bay Area’s seven counties attended a presentation on the role of the FBI in law enforcement. This was followed by a Q & A session, which was an opportunity for FBI agents to address Muslim civil rights concerns, as well as for both parties to gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures and perspectives on a range of issues.

Meetings such as this between the San Francisco FBI office and the Muslim community are not new, but a continuation of meetings initiated by former SAC Mark Mershon, (now in N.Y.) immediately after 9/11 which were continued by SAC Joseph Ford (now in D.C.). Such meetings are valuable in that they:

* Provide an opportunity for law enforcement and Muslim Americans to partner with one another in the effort to prevent another terrorist attack.

* At the same time, these meetings provide opportunities for Muslim Americans to express their interests in the legal enforcement of anti-terrorism legislation, while airing any concerns they may have.

The San Francisco FBI office and its leaders and agents are to be commended for convening these constructive meetings, which are not as common in other parts of the country, as are Muslim community leaders for consistently attending in large numbers, and for their courage in voicing support for law enforcement as well as concerns with unfair or illegal profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans.

ING Speaker Presents at Hayward Library Series on Study of Islam & Muslims, 4/24/07

Long time ING speaker Fouzi Husaini was the first speaker in a three part series on the Study of Islam & Muslims sponsored by the Hayward Public Library on consecutive Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00. The first presentation on April 24th provided on Orientation on Islam and Muslims during which Fouzi went over the basic demographics, beliefs and practices of Muslims, followed by a question and answer session. Tonight’s topic will be “Contemporary Issues Concerning Muslims” with Maha Elgenaidi and the last lecture will be on Islamic Contributions to Civilization with Fouzi Husaini again. To organize a similar event in your local library, please contact the ING office.

ING Speakers Visit Bay Area High Schools, 4/25/07 and 4/27/07

ING speakers Khadija Afroze and Naureen Moon visited Gateway High School in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 25th, speaking in a total of three classrooms on an Overview of Islam and Muslims in the context of World History. On Friday, April 27th, Monterey area’s main speaker, Nashwan Hamza delivered a presentation at Watsonville High School in Soquel, California.

ING Speaker Addresses “Anthropology and Evolution in Islam” at GTU, 4/27/07

ING speaker Ismael Nass addressed a group of masters and doctoral students on Friday, April 27th at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where he explained the view of “Anthropology and Evolution in Islam”. The semester long class, which is about Islam and Science demonstrated the depth of contributions Muslims made to science, a topic the students discussed with Ismael, as well as more personal questions about living as a Muslim in a professional environment.

ING Attends Buddhist Ceremonies, 4/28 and 4/29/07

ING’s president and interfaith coordinator attended two separate ceremonies over the weekend, the first a dedication ceremony on Saturday, April 28th at the Buddha Gate Monastery in Lafayette, and the second a grand opening ceremony at the new Chung Tai Zen Center in Sunnyvale on Sunday, April 29th. The new center is one of five overseas branches established in the U.S. by Master Wei Chueh, founding Abbot of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery. Master Jian Deng, Abbot of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery came from Taiwan to preside over the ceremonies. The Abbot of the Chung Tai Zen Center, Master Jian Hu, was a speaker and partner at ING’s first San Mateo interfaith panel.

The day long program in Sunnyvale was attended by over 500 people, including the mayor and city manager of Sunnyvale, county Supervisor Alvarado, professors from Stanford and Santa Clara Universities, and other religious leaders, who along with ING’s represe
ntatives had a private meeting with the visiting Abbott. ING also took part in the dedication ceremony, which included speeches and teachings from the Abbot. See:

The center was extremely gracious and welcoming to all its guests, and the mostly young, successful Silicon Valley attendees were a pleasure to meet and socialize with. For more, information on the center, see:

ING Participates in Global Day for Darfur – Stop the Genocide, 4/29/07

ING was one of the many co-sponsors of a national day of events to draw awareness to the ongoing plight of the people of Darfur and to call for an end to the conflict there. ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan was one of the many faith representatives to open the rally with an invocation.