Washington, D.C. | January 29, 2010 | www.adc.org | In a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday to discuss joint efforts against domestic violent extremists, Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American community leaders welcomed commitments by the Secretary to promote meaningful, positive and authentic dialogue. Leaders from national and local organizations representing these communities expressed concern about DHS policies, such as racial, ethnic, and religious profiling at airports and the border, that have eroded the government’s trust and credibility with the communities.
The commitments Secretary Napolitano made to these community leaders include:
- Community participation in an anti-violent extremism task force of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which reports to the Secretary;
- Regular, quarterly meetings with the Secretary;
- Education and training for DHS leadership to promote understanding of the Muslim, Arab, Sikh & South Asian American communities and their concerns; and
- An honest and full discussion of legitimate grievances from members of these communities about DHS policies that are ineffective and have a deleterious, humiliating impact on Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American communities.
Community leaders believe that fulfilling these commitments would be a step forward in establishing meaningful, open and authentic dialogue between DHS and the Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American communities. In addition, these leaders have called for changes to DHS policies that are ineffective and discriminate based on race, ethnicity or religion, including:
- * Rescinding a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive targeting travelers from or through 13 predominantly Muslim nations, plus Cuba.
- Revising a TSA directive on religious headwear, such as turbans and headscarves.
- Setting limits on interrogations and searches by Customs and Border Protection agents that probe an American’s faith, politics, finances or associations, as well as cell phones, laptops and electronic devices, without any evidence of wrongdoing.
John Showalter, Muslim Advocates, 415.336.1868; Amardeep Singh, Sikh Coalition, 212.655.3095, ext. 83; Deepa Iyer, South Asian Americans Leading Together, 301.270.1855; Louay Safi, Islamic Society of North America, 317.838.8130; Edina Lekovic, Muslim Public Affairs Council, 213.383.3443; Hossam Al-Jabri, Muslim American Society, 617.427.2636; Imad Hamad, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-Michigan Chapter, 313.581.1201; Rebecca Brown, Arab American Institute, 202.429.9210; Kiran Ansari, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, 312.506.0070; Nawar Shora, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 202-244-2990; Hannan Deep, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, 313.842.5128; Mohamed Elibiary, The Freedom and Justice Foundation, 214-403-2652.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans.