Boston, MA — May 9, 2007– Boston immigration judge Robin Feder scheduled a full day deportation hearing for Imam Muhammad Masood of the Sharon mosque on October 11, 2007 instead of the requested July date. Because Masood cannot work until the immigration matter is resolved, this five-month wait is a hardship.
The Boston-area chapter of the Muslim American Society ran a signature drive and fundraiser for Masood, his wife and eight children. The organization has raised approximately $13,000 on his behalf. Local clergy including Rabbi Barry Starr of Temple Israel in Sharon, Rev. Theodore Newcomb III of the Orthodox Congregational Church UCC in Mansfield, Rev. Horacio Da Valle of First Baptist Church, Mansfield, and Rev. Diane Teichert, of First Parish Unitarian Church, Canton have signed the petition and tried to help in other ways.
Two local bloggers, Martin Solomon of Solomonia.com and Mary Oâ€™Hayes of MissKelly.typepad.com, are leading an internet campaign to support deportation.
The deportation case is complex and relates to whether Masood departed the USA as required upon expiration of his student visa. An immigration attorney has provided a parking ticket issued to Masoodâ€™s car during the period he was supposed to be outside of the country as evidence of illegal entry.
If Masood, his wife, and his five eldest children are deported, it will be very frightening for his three youngest children, who cannot stay in the USA alone even though they are US citizens. Masood has indicated he will apply for political asylum if immigration succeeds in obtaining a final deportation order.
The imamâ€™s brother, Hafiz Saeed Masood, is the founder of Lashkar-i-Tayibba, a Kashmir liberation movement, and Imam Masood and his family would be in danger in Pakistan if forced to return. Imam Masood has denounced his brother and has had no contact with him for a long time.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Masood, his son Hassan and 31 others on November 15, 2006 and held them for one week as a part of a multi-state immigration sweep. Most of the detainees came from states whose Muslim population tipped the 2006 elections to the Democrats.
Real estate developers in Sharon have expressed interest in the Islamic Society of New Englandâ€™s Sharon property.
Muslims involved in anti-mosque work?
Boston–May 12, 2007–New evidence has surfaced which indicates efforts to enlist professional critics of Islam, including Muslims, in the conspiracy against the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). Attorney Jack Fainberg, who previously helped construct a legal case against their mosque, volunteered discovery materials to the ISB.
The ISB shared with TMO a June 1, 2004 opposition email which refers to an unnamed â€œpro-Jewish Muslim ally in Boston,â€ who used Roxbury Community College connections to help conspirators investigate parking infractions the mosque might have committed inadvertently, that could be used in a legal attack.
Khaleel Mohammed, an academic who advocates â€œIslamic reformâ€ to right-wing audiences, was also mentioned in the anti-mosque correspondence.
An October 1993 Boston Herald article linked a quotation from Mr. Mohammed about mosque financing with two succeeding anonymous quotations so that he would appear to accuse the ISB of connections to â€œfundamentalist Islamist politics.â€
ISB director Jessica Masse claims to be in possession of emails in which Mr. Mohammed discusses with professional Israel advocates the allegedly Wahhabi content of library materials at the ISB. TMO asked Mr. Mohammed to comment about his involvement with the anti-mosque group.
â€œI am sad to find out that organizations are now using government funds to combat the building of mosques,â€ Mr. Mohammed began.
â€œI have imparted no â€˜secretâ€™ information to anyoneâ€¦I donâ€™t know any of the people in the Boston Mosque. I would at most say that if they are into radical Islam, I would be against their building a mosque.â€
Mr. Mohammed informed TMO that he verified â€œsome translations [of statements by] someone on the mosque boardâ€ for a good friend at the ADL.
According to the ISB, Islamic scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi claimed under oath that the pro-Israel Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) misrepresented a political comment made in Arabic by ISB Board of Trustee member Dr. Walid Fitaihi.
In April 2007, Dr. Walid Fitaihi returned from Saudi Arabia to offer â€œan apology without conditionâ€ to Jewish leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts for his words, which â€œhe recognized were offensive to Jews.â€
Fitaihi was on a list of twenty Muslims compiled by the David Project, the ADL and Steve Emerson.
On February 3, 2005 at a synagogue in Newton, Massachusetts, Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer summarized their broad and unsubstantiated allegations in a PowerPoint presentation entitled â€œThe Boston Mosque: Do Tolerance and Diversity go both ways?â€
Original emails: http://members.aol.com/tprovoni/DavidProject/FainburgDiscovery.pdf
Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner Reaches Out to Roxbury Muslims
Boston–May 12, 2007–TMO attended a Rainbow Caucus meeting at City Councilman Charles Turnerâ€™s office in Roxbury. Viewed as more of a spiritual leader than a politician, the Councilman is fondly addressed as â€œChuckâ€ by his supporters. The Rainbow Caucus focuses on minority inclusion in the Green Rainbow Party (GRP).
The Green Rainbow Party of Massachusetts unified the Green Party and the Rainbow Coalition in 2002. Traditionally, the Greens advocate for the environment while the Rainbow Coalition focuses on issues of social justice for urban people of color. Most of the meeting dealt with internal issues. Toward the end of the meeting someone suggested that GRP might be able to expand their minority support base by specifically addressing issues of concern to local Muslims.
GRP has taken reasonable positions on matters of foreign concern, calling for â€œthe end of all American military and economic aid to Israelâ€ and rejecting US intervention in Sudan.
GRP has not yet addressed local Muslimsâ€™ biggest headache: the coordinated media and legal campaign against the Roxbury mosque.
Chuck Turner told TMO, â€œIt wasnâ€™t our major concern.â€
Relatively wealthy Muslim immigrants tended to vote Republican until 2004. Then they switched to Democrat even though Democrats like Hilary Clinton returned some Muslim campaign contributions.
Turner explained to TMO that Muslims want to be in the elite class, but itâ€™s time to face reality.
â€œArabs and Pakistanis are the Negroes of the world,â€ Turner said.
Rainbow Coalition leaders first conceived of the Roxbury Mosque in 1989. The primarily African American Muslim Council of Boston (MCB) was to manage the project but due to lack of funds passed control of the project to the predominantly Arab Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). The new Arab leadership tended to ignore the local community. They made no special effort to hire local African American construction workers.
In 2003 when anti-mosque articles began to appear in the Boston Herald, the ISB pursued a policy of apologizing to the Boston Jewish community instead of apologizing to its friends in the African American community. The whole conflict has been a good learning experience for the ISB.
GRP activist Mike Heichman told TMO, â€œChuck Turner was very eager to work with the Muslim community.â€
The stage is set for greater participation of Massachusetts Muslim Americans in the Rainbow Caucus. Muslim voters could potentially replace unfriendly Democrats and Republicans through the Green Rainbow Party.