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August 8, 2016

White House Combats Religious Discrimination

On July 22, the White House hosted a Religious Discrimination Convening – culminating six months of community roundtables held across the country to highlight and institutionalize strategies to address religious discrimination.  Convening attendees heard from a number of federal officials, including Neil Eggleston, White House Counsel, Melissa Rogers, Faith-Based Office Executive Director, Jenny Yang, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Catherine Lhamon, Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Washington Counsel, Michael Lieberman, represented ADL on a panel on Preventing Religion-Based Hate Violence and Attacks on Houses of Worship.

(From left to right) John Walsh, US Attorney for Colorado Moderator;  Megan Mack, Department of Homeland Security; Robert Moossy, Department of Justice; Paul Montiero, Department of Justice; Michael Lieberman, Anti-Defamation League; Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates.

(From left to right) John Walsh, US Attorney for Colorado Moderator; Megan Mack, Department of Homeland Security; Robert Moossy, Department of Justice; Paul Montiero, Department of Justice; Michael Lieberman, Anti-Defamation League; Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates.

A number of new resources were unveiled at the event, including:

  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) released an excellent new report on religion-based discrimination,  The report presented findings from community roundtables, including disturbing trends of religion-based discrimination in education, employment, hate crimes, and land use.  Importantly, the report made a series of recommendations to address these issues and includes a comprehensive listing of federal resources to address religious discrimination.

 

DOJ has made fighting discrimination through the enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) a priority.  DOJ released an updated report on its enforcement of RLIUPA between 2010 and 2016.

  • The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights unveiled a new section of its website devoted to Religious Discrimination.  The website aggregates relevant resources on bullying prevention and religious harassment.  In 2015-2016, for the first time, every public school in the nation will report to OCR on the number of religion-based bullying or harassment incidents in schools through the OCR data collection tool, Civil Rights Data Collection. Though they have collected bullying information since 2009, this is the first year they are asking for religious-based data.

In addition, OCR unveiled a revised online complaint form to clarify when it can investigate complaints from individuals who believe they have experienced racial, ethnic, or national origin discrimination involving their religion.

  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced it will collect more precise data about the religion of the individual alleging discrimination.  EEOC released released a fact sheet, in English and in Spanish, primarily designed for young workers to educate them about their rights under the law.

The Obama Administration has made addressing hate crimes and religious discrimination a priority.  These new resources and programmatic initiatives will help pave the way for further progress.

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August 3, 2016

Anti-Muslim Extremists’ Disgraceful Attack On The Family Of An American Hero

Khizr Khan has been in the public eye since he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  In reacting to Khan’s prominence, some long-time anti-Muslim activists are seeking to discredit him.

Walid Shoebat

Walid Shoebat

Anti-Muslim extremist, Walid Shoebat, who is known for promoting Christian militancy, published an article on his website claiming that Khizr Khan, the father of Cpt. Humayan Khan is “a Muslim Brotherhood Agent Who Wants To Advance Sharia Law And Bring Muslims Into The United States.” Cpt. Khan was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004 and posthumously was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service.

The article bases this claim on a scholarly paper published in the Houston Journal of International Law in 1983 titled Juristic Classification of Islamic Law, which Shoebat claims was written by Khizr Khan. However, it is not clear that this is the same Khizr Khan who is the father of the slain Cpt. Khan.

Based on this scholarly paper, Shoebat claims that Khan’s fascination with Islamic Sharia stems from his life in Saudi Arabia, and that the paper cites Islamic Law, a book written by a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Said Ramadan.  For Shoebat and others like him, fabricating absurd claims to attack opponents is nothing new. However, what is unusual here is that anti-Muslim extremists are using this vile tactic to defame grieving families of fallen American soldiers.

Publicly exposed after a 2011 investigative CNN report revealed his fabrication of several stories about his background, Shoebat promotes a form of anti-LGBT/anti-Muslim Christian militancy. He also posts articles on his website that express hostility towards Jews. One article written by his son Theodore published on Shoebat’s website on June 18, 2015 claims, “There are many Jews (the majority in America are far-left) who harbor anti-Christian sentiments, and express vitriol when you try to talk about Christ with them.”

In February 2016, Shoebat, who claims to have converted to Christianity, attacked evangelical leaders who condemned his son’s remarks that in “a biblical society…every f-g would be rounded up and killed.” Shoebat responded to their criticism of this comment by asking, “So how far will the Evangelical movement in the United States go to please the LGBT agenda?”

Other anti-Muslim extremists echoed Shoebat’s attack on the Khan family. Some of them are planning to attend an upcoming anti-Muslim event in Los Angeles about Islam and Western Civilization on August 21st.

The event will feature speakers known for their anti-Islamic bigotry including Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Frank Gaffney, and Pamela Geller. The event will also feature Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) as a speaker.

By attacking the Khan family, who made the biggest sacrifice a human can endure, the hateful agenda of anti-Muslim extremists has reached a new low.

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July 21, 2016

Leader of Aryan Circle Motorcycle Club Arrested

The leader of the Aryan Circle Motorcycle Club (MC), David Wayne Williams (aka Big Dave) of Mamou, Louisiana, has been arrested along with seven other Aryan Circle members and associates for their alleged roles in the shooting death of Clifton Hallmark.

Richard Smith and Leland Hamm

Richard Smith and Leland Hamm

The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s office has charged Anissa Hallmark, Michael Auxilien, Elizabeth Auxilien, David Wayne Williams, Christa Williams, Heather Tate, Jeremey Wade Jorden, and Brian Elliot Granger with accessory after the fact to 2nd degree murder.  Two additional Aryan Circle members, Richard Smith and Leland Hamm, are wanted on charges related to the murder.

On July 1, 2016, Anissa Hallmark and another woman called 911 from a local gas station alleging Clifton had been shot there during a robbery. Responding deputies found Clifton Hallmark outside the gas station with a gunshot wound to the head.  He was transported the hospital, but later died.  The following murder investigation found discrepancies in the robbery story told by the women and revealed that Hallmark was actually shot during an altercation at a nearby pre-July 4th party.

The Aryan Circle MC, previously called the Iron Circle, is a subgroup of the Aryan Circle, a racist prison gang.

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