Remembering The Rochdale Child Sex Abuse Ring

The scandal shocked all of Great Britain. Nine men were eventually convicted of sex abuse crimes included rape, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and conspiracy, after which another investigation found that more men were involved in keeping at least 47 girls as part of a child sex abuse ring. The investigations resulted in apologies from the Manchester police force, which failed to recognize and investigate these atrocities. 

These sent the Muslim community reeling, because eight of those convicted men were British Pakistani — most of whom were respected members of the Muslim community before their fall from grace.

Child sexual abuse survivors often experience symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts, inability to socialize, and anxiety. Many struggle to find good paying jobs.  It is important to recognize that the consequences of this kind of crime last forever. Simply uncovering such abuse and putting those who perpetrate it behind bars is not enough. We need to approach the survivors and provide them with lifelong medical and therapeutic assistance. 

It’s important that we never forget what happened — and that we never stop striving to keep our kids safe from those who would do them harm.

The young girls who were a part of this ring were especially vulnerable to coercion, taken from environments in which they were already deprived. These girls were provided with alcohol, drugs, financial assistance, and food in order to see they remained quiet about what was being done to them behind closed doors. 

One of the lead traffickers, Shabir Ahmed, forced a girl to engage in sexual intercourse with co-trafficker Kabeer Hassan as a birthday gift. She was raped. But this kind of criminal activity was the least of the girls’ problems. They were often raped by more than one man at a time. According to courtroom documents, they were coerced into having sex with “several men in a day, several times a week.” One girl was convinced to seek an abortion when she became pregnant following one of the rapes.

The perpetrators cried foul during courtroom hearings, arguing that the trial and sentencing were a matter of race and had nothing to do with the nature of the criminal activity.

The public reaction was strong. Labor MP Ann Cryer asked the Muslim community to respond: “I went to a friend of mine, who was a local councilor and happened to be a Muslim and therefore able to represent me to the elders, because I thought it was a good move to try to get those elders involved. I hoped that I would be able to persuade the elders to go knocking on doors and say ‘this behavior is un-Islamic and I want it to stop because I’m going to tell the whole community about you and what you’re doing if you don’t.’”

Unfortunately, our community failed to meet the call to action.

Chief Executive Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation said that Pakistani elders had “[buried] their heads in the sand” when it came to the crime of sexual grooming. He described the shame that had been showered upon the entire community because of the inaction. 

Remembering The In-Fighting After Ramadan Restrictions

This year’s Ramadan looked very different from those in years past. That’s because COVID-19 cases were still skyrocketing all over the world, even despite the fact that millions had been inoculated to ward off the disease’s most dangerous complications. Government restrictions limiting Ramadan festivities were inevitable — and so was the conflict that followed. Israeli authorities and Ramadan worshippers fought bitterly in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The first skirmishes between Israeli police and Muslim followers occurred near the Damascus Gate. Authorities had placed barriers to prevent anyone from congregating in the plaza area just outside the gate, a decision which caused Muslim followers to become agitated. Some were caught vandalizing police property — and even turning to violence. Stones and bottles were seen flying through the air. 

The police asked for understanding. They said that the decision to block the Damascus Gate was meant to regulate the flow of people in or out of the Old City at a time when close congregation can lead to sickness or even death. But each night, yet more Palestinian men tried to remove or hop over the barriers. There were dozens of injuries on both sides of the conflict.

It’s easy to understand why Palestian worshippers might feel that their rights were violated — after all, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been boiling for decades. 

Only around 70,000 followers prayed at Temple Mount, a historic low for this time of worship. This was due in part to Israel’s decision to bar the majority of West Bank followers from entering the holy city. Only 10,000 worshippers were allowed to enter. Perhaps the demand that these 10,000 be vaccinated before they were allowed to enter fueled tensions even further.

Although these restrictions might be necessary, we must always ensure fairness between peoples from different nations. Fostering understanding is the only way to maintain peace — especially in times of turmoil.

City Of Dallas Offers Legal Search Engine To Help Muslim Americans

Finding the right kind of legal help can be a huge chore — especially since most people question when they might need it at all. The answer is usually simple. If you start wondering whether or not you need a lawyer, then you probably do. Minorities face yet another obstacle: discrimination. Most people in most “public service” professions, such as firefighters, police officers, judges, and lawyers, just want to help. But some will put up barriers based on prejudice.

A search engine called “Muslim Lawyers” helps those who might be more predisposed to prejudice find high-quality bankruptcy legal help for a number of related issues.

The engine description states: “We will submit your legal issue to licensed, pre-screened Muslim personal bankruptcy attorneys in Dallas, Texas who match your search criteria. We verify the licenses of attorneys whom we connect clients with once a year and require them to maintain a zero misconduct record with the state agency issuing their license.”

Be warned, however, that using this engine does not guarantee legal help, nor does submitting information via the contact form create a connection. It simply facilitates the act of connecting. Finding the right attorney for you is still your responsibility. An attorney is not obligated to take your case or offer you legal advice — although most will offer free legal advice during the consultation phase.

In order to find a qualified Dallas bankruptcy lawyer, the client will have to use the contact form to describe their case in a few words. You’ll also want to provide your email address and phone number to guarantee a reply. 

Need any other kind of legal help in the Dallas area? No problem. The same engine can be used to find help related to business law, IP law, Civil Rights law, Immigration law, etc. Simply click on “practice areas” and find the practice area most suited to your case. Don’t worry if you’re not entirely sure which practice area is right for your case — you’ll be pointed in the right direction!

Keep in mind that this search engine provides a prospective client with a directory of Muslim lawyers. It can be used by anyone! And another option on the contact form allows prospective clients to check a box to find additional “non-Muslim” attorneys in the region. These options simply make it easier for practicing Muslims to reduce the chance of discrimination in complicated legal matters.

Those prospective clients who wish to find additional legal resources might find it useful to research the City of Dallas, the Dallas Court system, or the Dallas Police Department directly. If you have been attacked or injured in an accident, we recommend contacting the police immediately. If you believe that you were treated unjustly in court, we recommend seeking a second option from new counsel. Whatever you need, you can find qualified, unbiased help as long as you know where to look!

Hassan Shibly Under Investigation For Domestic Abuse Allegations

Popular Muslim civil rights leader Hassan Shibly was recently accused of infidelity, sexual harassment, and bullying. The 34-year-old man was unaccustomed to the public lens until his estranged wife, Imane Sadrati, decided to turn to the public for help. She posted to a GoFundMe begging for support after Shibly allegedly cut off financial payments. They have three children together. The spectacle has reminded activists that even their own groups are not immune to this terrible behavior.

Sadrati said in the video, “For years, I’ve been in an abusive relationship, and the situation at home has become unbearable. I finally decided to build the courage to start over for my children and I.”

Only fifteen days after the video was posted, Shibly put in his resignation. He subsequently denied his wife’s allegations, which included vivid descriptions of the abuse for which he was accused. Sadrati said that he had twisted her arm, slapped her, and pushed her up against a wall.

As with most cases during which a man is accused of this type of behavior, more women came forward to make similar allegations. Some of these individuals said that he had abused them both emotionally and sexually in and out of the workplace — CAIR’s national office.

One of these women, Laila Abdelaziz, said she resigned because of Shibly’s sexual harassment. According to her accounts, CAIR already knew about the situation but has done little to prevent it from happening again. She believes the inaction stemmed from anti-Muslim hate and rhetoric and how the situation could be perceived by the public.

Abdelaziz commented, “When your community is being attacked and diminished and demeaned every single day, it’s difficult to invite even more of that.”

CAIR is perhaps the largest Muslim civil rights organization operating in the United States, composed of 33 chapters who manage operations independently of one another. 

Yale University anthropologist Zareena Grewal said, “There is a certain brand recognizability. Muslims do turn to them in crisis.”

Does A French Anti-Extremism Bill Infringe On Civil Rights?

A new French law first drafted at the end of March in the French Senate could make the country stronger, proponents say. But critics contend that the reverse is true. Instead, they say, it will weaken civil rights and increase divisions in the country. President Emmanuel Macron defended the bill by suggesting that it would increase the country’s core principles of liberty and equality. Many question whether that’s the whole truth.

The civil rights law would place a stringent cap on the funds that certain groups receive from abroad.

Director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council Benjamin Haddad said, “What the French government right now is trying to tackle is what they see and what a majority of the French population sees as rising radicalism in certain neighborhoods…It’s obvious that some of that conversation is being hijacked by populism movements.”

Haddad wasn’t afraid to point out that President Macron is often criticized for his inability to attack radicalism while also courting the right-wing conservative voters who are responsible for putting him into office. This is especially problematic since the next election is only a year away.

Legal scholar Rim-Sarah Alouane said that the law would reduce civil liberty protections: “I see a blatant attack on freedom of association. This bill has no safeguards of potential abuse from public authorities.”

It’s an issue of balance: terrorist attacks have intensified over the past few decades while civil rights groups have mobilized to tackle the issues of the century.

Macron said on October 2, 2020: “We have created our own form of separatism.”

He was specifically referring to neighborhoods where income has stayed low while unemployment has stayed high. Many see these “banlieues” as incubators for extreme forms of thinking. But the bill has support even from people who grew up in these areas.

National Assembly member Anissa Khedher defended her initial support of the bill: “Many people in France and abroad have tried to vilify and twist this bill. This law is not against Islam or about Islam.”

Opponents of the bill disagree, including Alouane, who said, “In France, a good Muslim is an invisible Muslim.”

Her opinions bring to light the greater divides apparent in French society, where even the best of intentions can result in stark divisions based on principle.

Parisian banlieue resident and university student Hajjar Aboulharjan took offense to Macron’s earlier comments. Aboulharjan said, “Islam is not in crisis. Radical people are in crisis.”

But other French Muslims support the bill, including Abdella Aboulharjan (Hajjar’s uncle), who said that he did not “feel oppressed” by the “very balanced” law.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin recently said that a whopping 89 mosques around the country were under investigation for suspected separatism connections. The announcement spurred civil rights groups to hit the streets. 

Political risk advisory firm managing director Mujtaba Rahman said, “There is no doubt — and everyone knows there is no doubt — that [the bill] is aimed at radical, anti-Western Islamic movements.”

Anti-Muslim Propaganda Rising Abroad

For years, anti-Russia and anti-China sentiments have dominated the airwaves in America and around the world. But it seems that many people both here and abroad are growing tired with the sometimes unfounded attacks on America’s biggest adversaries. While decreasing resentment against Russia and China isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s disheartening to see those passions wither in proportion to increasing anger towards Muslims on a global front.

We spend a great deal of time sharing statistics about anti-Muslim resentment and hate crime in the United States, but the truth is more sinister: this is a global problem.

Studies related to anti-Muslim hate crimes in Austria, France, and Germany show a significant rise since 2017. Perhaps not so surprisingly, women were the most likely targets of this hatred.

This social conflict has become even worse since the pandemic started. The Council of Europe’s anti-racism commission (ECRI) said that COVID-19 created an “overall regression in human rights in Europe.”

These conflicts were even more apparent where racial profiling was concerned. Cases of police brutality against Muslim minorities were more widespread.

An ECRI report suggested that more activism is needed to “not only heed the systemic nature of racism but also take a holistic and intersectional approach to dismantle the powerful social hierarchies behind it.” It also called for awareness “about the historical dimensions of racism and inequalities, especially colonialism and slavery, whose legacies have affected the whole of Europe.”

Even abroad, public resentment was shifted to target migrants and asylum seekers. These are the people who were most at risk when resources became even more limited in the wake of COVID-19. Muslims experienced increased health risks, violence, and reduced housing.”

Social media has allowed many unfounded conspiracy theories to explode, especially where the origin of the coronavirus is concerned. This has led to a higher number of hate crimes against those of Asian descent. Although much of the anger is devoted to those who worship Islam, all marginalized groups have experienced substantial increases in hate crimes perpetrated against them.

What We Know About Muslim American Politics Before The 2020 Election

Looking back on the last year is a difficult thing to do — in part because it was such a difficult year for everyone. The coronavirus pandemic has shattered the financial security of millions of Americans, and not surprisingly minorities were the hardest hit. Going into the 2020 election, this was a major topic for Muslim Americans. But so was foreign policy. And it might be in this latter area where then-President Trump missed his last opportunity to win the election.

Literal social security has always been more important to minorities than the socialized program of the same name. We all want to feel safe in our own homes. We all want to make a living. We all want the opportunity for happiness. And we all want to feel like our voices are heard among the masses. But the reality for Muslim Americans and other minority members of society is that this type of social security is much more difficult to grasp.

Muslim Americans have always been an important part of American politics even though they only account for a paltry percentage point of the overall population. Hispanic Americans and African Americans are always cherished for their numbers (and the importance that comes with numbers, since winning is always a game of numbers), but Muslim voices sometimes echo even louder.

Take for example Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. They are Democrats, and their left-leaning politics did not go unnoticed by the right, which demonized both of them. And their Muslim American followers were strong supporters of then-candidate Bernie Sanders. They supported him with a 39 percent following. Before winning, Biden trailed in Muslim American support.

Why did they position themselves behind Bernie so overwhelmingly?

It comes down to foreign policy. Specifically, it comes down to foreign policy where ethnic backgrounds or home countries are concerned. Conversations about immigration are important, but national security interests conflict with Muslim Americans’ identity politics. We have the War on Terror to blame for that.

A Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 90 percent of American Muslims are proud to identify as both Americans and Muslims. And this is why foreign policy is so important: it affects both identities. 

The GOP’s core identity in the early 2000s was driven by both the War on Terror and attacks on civil liberties in the United States. Both of these politically motivated actions resulted in renewed Muslim support for progressive groups — which is likely why they found Bernie Sanders such a alluring candidate.

More interesting is the social dynamic. A 2019 Institute for Social Policy and Understanding poll found that “83 percent of Muslims aged 50 and older vote for Democrats in contrast with 44 percent of their generational peers in the general public.” This is a stark contrast to the rest of society, where younger people generally grasp onto progressive policies while older people are more “stuck in the past,” so to speak. 

Most likely, these paradigms will continue to make it more difficult for the GOP to obtain power — which is why they’re so desperate to restrict voting only to a chosen few.

How Does Social Media Change Our Perception Of Muslim Americans?

We already know that social media has the power to radicalize those who use it regularly. For example, there is a widespread perception that African Americans are far more likely to be involved in drug-related crime than their white counterparts. But the opposite is true: African American kids are less likely to engage in substance abuse than Caucasian kids — even though they are more likely to grow up in an environment that makes procurement easier.

You already know that African American kids are far more likely to spend time in prison for related crimes, though. 

One major issue with social media is tunnel vision. We tend to surround ourselves mostly with people who are similar — meaning we don’t always see or hear viewpoints that contradict our own. Social media algorithms are more likely to show us profiles and posts based on what we’ve already watched before, which makes us all the more susceptible to radicalization. 

Once upon a time, watching a stream of Fox News posts on YouTube would be followed up by automatically played videos about conspiracy theories. When YouTube was heavily criticised for this algorithm, its shadowy overlords changed the equation so that automatically played videos were less likely to provide radical content.

Netflix recently released a documentary called The Social Dilemma. It shows how sites like Facebook and Twitter can promote misleading information over the truth, in turn leading to more partisan, unbending viewpoints.

Former Facebook platform operations manager Sandy Parakilas said, “We created a system that biases towards false information. Not because we want to, but because false information makes the companies more money than the truth. The truth is boring.”

This is a huge problem for minorities, who have been the targets of hate crimes more often in recent years. The conservative branch of politics has been positioned to believe that Black Lives Matter is the enemy of the police, which creates a conflict of interest — as conservatives have always seen police as allies. This problem is only getting worse.

Are Minorities Denied Social Security Disability Insurance More Than Caucasians?

Now more than ever, social security disability insurance (SSDI) is important — and the courts have yet to decide whether or not COVID victims qualify for benefits. That makes this an excellent time to ask the obvious question: are minorities denied SSDI benefits more often than their white counterparts? We already know that minorities are more likely to apply for and receive benefits. But where does systemic racism and xenophobia fit into the equation?

SSDI denials are common. In fact, up to 70 percent of all SSDI applications are denied. Most applicants then lawyer up and appeal the decision — and many of these cases are then approved. It can take more than a year to learn the results of the first application, which means every day that goes by is important to the person applying. That’s a lot of money they don’t have to make life easier.

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), more than 40,000 employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) have charged the agency with discrimination. This is a big deal, in part because more than half of those employed for the SSA are labeled as minorities. 31 percent are African American, and 16 percent are Hispanic or Latino. Yet they receive top marks that are disproportionate to their white counterparts.

When systemic discrimination is so pervasive inside the agency, it’s hard to imagine what it might look like outside, especially since most applicants are minority figures. Much of the problem stems from the gutted protections during the Trump administration.

President Richard Couture of the AFGE Council said, “This pattern of systemic discrimination against Social Security employees is undeniable — and in fact the agency acknowledges that it exists — yet the agency has done nothing to rectify the problem or make the employees whole for their losses.”

AFGE National President Everett Kelley said, “The agency’s refusal to come to the table and settle this long standing issue continues a pattern of mistreatment against employees and their union representatives by this administration. This is the same administration that has taken action to decimate federal unions, gut workers’ due process rights and merit systems protections, prohibit agencies from educating employees about systemic discrimination in the workplace, and allow workers to be hired or fired at will.”

Even while this blatant discrimination eats away at the SSA from within, there was a plan last year to make it even more difficult to apply for benefits — which would undoubtedly affect minority applicants disproportionately. This was done by creating a new category of recipient called “medical improvement likely.” It would have paved the way for additional reviews after a set time period elapsed. 

Critics say it was most definitely not designed to reduce or eliminate fraud inside the SSA. They say that most people who receive benefits never return to work — and those who do return to work almost always suffer from a significant reduction in income because of the disability in question. And why should those benefits be stolen from the minorities who rely on them to survive?

What Effect Do Cameras Have On Our Perception Of Hate?

We’ve mentioned one statistic over and over: since Donald Trump decided to run for president in 2015, the number of hate crimes has increased consistently. His anti-immigrant and anti-minority rhetoric quite literally resulted in the murder of American citizens. But how much of that increase in crime is the result of an actual increase as opposed to an increase in the number of cameras at our disposal?

These days, everything we do or say is on camera. Even six years ago, we can argue that was the case. But that might not be true. Along with the rise in hate crimes, there has been a proportional rise in activism meant to protect these targeted groups. And that means there are more people with their camera phones at the ready. 

When Nahla Ebaid and her husband were on vacation in March, a maskless woman came into the Fort Lauderdale Walgreens where they were shopping, was asked to mask up, and immediately turned toward them to excuse her own poor behavior. 

Ebaid said, “She looked at us and she said ‘I wish I am from your country so I don’t have to wear the mask.’ So, we said, ‘Which country is that? We’re from New York.’”

It was at that point that the woman began ranting about Muslims living in America. Of course, the entire exchange was captured on Ebaid’s smartphone and inevitable 911 calls and police body cameras.

The perpetrator, Luba Bozanich, later said, “I don’t like what I saw, but I’m human. When this guy said what he said to me I said what I said to him and I got angry. I felt very angry, and I told him off.”

Ebaid and her family declined to press charges. Ebaid used the incident to tell all Muslim American women: “Wear your hijab, don’t be scared to wear your hijab.”

Events like these have become common all over the world. We live in a time where behavior like this is recorded from every angle — and it’s harder for people to get away with it. But of course it also changes our perception of such events and makes them seem more common.