By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
Detroit, MI–One of the great benefits of Muslims uniting and working with each other is the respect we garner from non-Muslims, particularly from the religious and political communities. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) has been successful in bringing together representatives from most ethnic and cultural groups; and especially Shia and Sunni groups. In Detroit, Michigan, 16 Imams from varying communities joined Mr. Greg Roberts, liaison to the Governor in religious affairs, and Gov. Granholm to discuss 3 concerns of the Muslim community and the economic condition of Michigan.
Imam Mustafa Elturk, spokesman for the group, began with reading a statement relating to Islamophobia, then addressed the Governor regarding the need for better enforcement of Michiganâ€™s Ethnic Intimidation Statute, the need for a statewide bill banning racial profiling similar to a bill already approved by the City of Detroitâ€™s, and desire to work with the State to increase services for convicts, who are attempting to be productive citizens upon the release from prison.
The Governor showed interests in sitting with the Muslim community to devise a plan to proactively fight Islamophobia. Mr. Roberts stated that he would help coordinate the effort with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan State Police in regards to the better policing and enforcement of Ethnic Intimidation as well as coordinate a meeting with one of the mosques in regards to the Muslim community working with the State regarding Housing & Land Development.
Dawud Walid, of CAIR-Michigan, mentioned to the Governor that the problem wasnâ€™t enforcement of the Ethnic Intimidation Statute but that it was weak, and gave an example of how this charge was dropped in a case were a Muslim was beaten because the prosecutor felt that Ethnic Intimidation Statute was useless. Imams Hassan Qazwini and Ali Elahi gave very personal examples of Ethnic Intimidation recounting experiences they had at airports in this country.
Imam Achmat Salie also presented an idea that the Gov. liked regarding having leaders throughout the State (the Upper Peninsula especially) come to masajid to speak with leaders in a way similar to the way that the US State Department brings in people from other countries to come to masajid to learn about the community.