Sunday, November 01, 2009

We are all responsible for shooting Luqman Abdallah

Yes, I said it, we are all responsible. But before I explain why we are responsible let me share with you my reading of the events.

Fact: The FBI implanted an informant in the group lead by Luqman Abdallah in 2006.

Fact: Luqman Abdallah's group has anti-establishment views as well as an ideology prohibiting Muslim integration in the American society.

Opinion: The FBI is right to have an informant inside such a group. Such an ideology is worrisome to say the least.

Fact: The informant failed to find any evidence that the group was planning or thinking of planning any violent actions. Three years of good intelligence work didn't yield any evidence of terrorism.

Fact: Despite the extreme ideology of the group, they were very well known to offer shelter for the homeless and help the poor.

Opinion: At this point I see no reason for further pursuing such a group by law enforcement. I think that keeping the informant may not be a bad idea but beyond that this is a group with a corrupt ideology and benevolent actions. Law enforcement has no business putting away people because of their ideology. This is the job of the rest of the institutions of the society. The civil society should call such ideologies out and expose the weaknesses of their arguments. This was a job of Muslims like me. However, where were we? We weren't doing our job. We didn't work hard enough to convey the message of Islam as it is, a message of peace, tolerance and integration. These people were living in a very rough part of Detroit and we didn't do anything to help them with poverty, health care, education or at least providing a dignified life. This is the case for everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, who live in this part of town as well as many parts of Michigan and the US. Many of us enjoy our easy lives and feel comfortable passing judgments over people like Luqman Abdallah for his ideology. This was the point where law enforcement should have stopped and we should have taken over.

Fact: The FBI decided to put away the group anyway and hence they asked their informant to provoke them to engage in criminal activities. The FBI has been successful in other cases to encourage groups to engage in terrorist activities.

Opinion: The FBI failed to move the group to violence despite the availability of firearms, the apparent lack of law and order in Detroit and the extreme ideology of the group. It's my belief that had the FBI been able to provoke Luqman Abdallah's group to engage in violence they would have done it. However, they failed and that's when they resorted to put them away for any other offense. Luqman Abdallah's leadership prevented his group from getting involved in terrorism. His leadership channeled his group's efforts in serving the poor and sheltering the homeless. Yet because of his ideology, the FBI had to put him away. That's what happens when the civil society disappears and the law enforcement takes on roles they were not supposed to play.

Opinion: Selling stolen goods and all other offenses the FBI managed to provoke the group to do are not sanctioned by Islam. Luqman Abdallah was not following Islam, rather his wrong understanding of it, when he got himself involved in such activities.

Fact: At the time of the arrest the FBI dog attacked Luqman Abdallah who defended himself by shooting once at the dog. The agents in return shot Luqman Abdallah 18 times. After that they handcuffed him and sent him by car to the hospital. The dog, however, was airlifted to the hospital.

Opinion: This is straight up racism. Is a black man less than a dog? Is a criminal human being less than a dog? Since when do you handcuff a criminal who needs emergency medical attention? Was it because he was black? Or was it because he was Muslim? Or was it because he was both? Maybe because he was preaching an extreme ideology? Luqman Abdallah had rights that were violated both when he was alive as well as when he was dead.

I believe that the law enforcement should be held accountable. I believe that the policies that lead to the cascade of events should be revised. I also believe that all concerned people should get together to fight extreme ideologies. At the same time all concerned people should get together to ensure that everyone has a dignified life, proper housing, good education and affordable health care.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I know that the senate finance committee is planning to vote today on amending the public option (or a form of it) to Senator Baucus' bill.

I understand that to insure people with preexisting conditions we need to have an individual mandate. I however feel that it's unfair to be forced to buy insurance from the current private insurance companies. Therefore, the public option is very important to me.

In my opinion, the public option and the individual mandate go hand-in-hand. I understand that the public option may only cover 3% of the population. However, I don't want to feel that my government is giving me away to an industry whose primary incentive is to profit off my health care.

Moreover, I would like to see the senate finance committee increasing the subsidies for the poor and starting the exchange earlier with all businesses included.

This bill defines who we are as people. Keeping the insurance industry in check, maintaining choice, protecting consumers and taking care of the poor is the outcome I look forward to.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Health care voices: Tell your story, Control your life

To register for the event or for more info please click here.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey to pick a name for the event. We finally have a name :)

Please visit our event website, give us suggestions and if you are in Michigan please come help or attend.

On a side note, I found this interesting article about the power of social networking.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vote for a name for the health care service day

Organizing for America in Southfield, MI is planning a health service day. Blood pressure and Diabetes screening will be offered and attendees will be asked to share their stories with the health care system. They will also be offered information about healthy living and a guide to Michigan products to boost the Michigan economy. Please help us choose a name for the event by voting at the link below.

Click Here to take survey

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Obama at “my” Cairo University……and no he’s not Bonaparte

Goose bumps… yes, and tears as well. I read President Obama's speech before I listened to it and each line touched my heart. When he said "I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum." I had goose bumps. He represents me, he knows it and he's proud of it. He is my president. Nothing he said in his introduction, recounting achievements of the civilization of Islam and Muslim Americans, was new to me but it is redeeming to hear it from him as the entire world is listening.

Egyptian as I am, Napoleon Bonaparte popped in my mind. Bonaparte led the French to occupy my country, Egypt, in 1798. As soon as he landed on our shore, he sent a message to the Muslims of Egypt declaring allegiance to the Ottoman Khalifat and he started praying in Azhar while his soldiers were killing Egyptians and his commanders planning the invasion of Palestine. Bonaparte and his soldiers killed many Egyptians and killed many Arabs and Muslims. His emotional trick didn't work and his little escapade in Egypt failed disastrously. Yet Obama is not Napoleon Bonaparte. He was solid in his positions, consistent with his beliefs and blunt with Muslims. My superficial cynicism was definitely an unfortunate moment of injustice to my president. I don't believe that history repeats itself and I don't believe that we can make any change if we remain hostage to our colonial history. We need to be more self-confident; learn from our history but examine the present with an open mind.

As I listened to him addressing the Middle East conflict, I realized that many Muslims would perceive his position as, yet, imbalanced. I am not going to say if I think it was balanced or not. I will, however, remind everyone that Obama's position is consistent with his pragmatic policies. Obama believes in gradual sustained change. He's willing to compromise so that he can make one substantial step forward. He compromised a lot to pass the stimulus bill but as he promised a stimulus bill passed within his first hundred days. This theme of compromise to achieve what's possible is a consistent characteristic of the Obama philosophy since he was in the Illinois legislature. I don't see his Middle East policy any different from his other policies but I could see the steps forward. For the first time, the Palestinian statehood is a right the American president is pledging to support not just a suggestion on the negotiation table. For the first time, the unbreakable ties with Israel are not justifying ignoring the agony of the Palestinian people. And for the first time this is said in public not just behind closed doors.

This speech advanced the Muslim American identity crisis resolution decades forward. Thanks Mr. President. Peace be upon you.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Back to posting, more heresies for everyone :)

Alright, I haven't been posting for bajillion years and I know that's not right. I apologize. Indeed, I haven't been posting but I was definitely thinking and I have a load of heresies to go around. I will try to pace myself and, God willing, post two heresies every week.

As I toned down my work with organizations I was active with and reflected upon my life and my life goals, I realized that what I really think I need is a community with no organizational strings attached. I don't need an organization for my own personal development but I need a healthy environment to live in. I don't fear for my identity or spirituality if I am not part of a bigger organization, to the contrary, being alone helped me great deal but I need a social life that reflects my values. What I need to create is a community for activists to network, exchange ideas and socialize. A community for peer-to-peer support, a healthy one though. I need an all welcoming environment without any "pre-existing conditions". I feel we all need a community, drama-free, that helps fulfill the very basic needs, from prayers, emotional support to marriage and counseling. Such a community can only be created at a local level and these local communities can network with each other nationally. This community of activists energizes them to invest all their activism energy in all different fields.

I believe we should serve our country through existing mainstream organization and if we find that there is a need not served by an existing organization, we should form one but it should be mainstream as well. By mainstream, I mean open for all citizens equally.

That's my dream and my heresy.