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“Beware of injustice. For injustice will be darkness
on the Day of Resurrection.”

-Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2578


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THIS RAMADAN YOU CAN GIVE

THE MOST
GIFT

JUSTICE!

Our work would be impossible without courageous advocates like you joining our cause. For some, MLFA is their only hope for legal counsel in matters of national security because we take the “impossible” cases and fight for justice on their side.

CHANGE THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE FOR MUSLIMS IN AMERICA

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MLFA CASES THAT CHANGED THE TRAJECTORY FOR MUSLIMS IN AMERICA

What’s your 17-year plan?

The Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), funded by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), successfully fought for the rights of Mr. Manouchehr Jafarzadeh to become a lawful permanent resident. The CLCMA co-counseled with the attorney Ladan Mirbagheri-Smith on this case.

What’s your 17-year plan?

The Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), funded by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), successfully fought for the rights of Mr. Manouchehr Jafarzadeh to become a lawful permanent resident. The CLCMA co-counseled with the attorney Ladan Mirbagheri-Smith on this case.

Mr. Jafarzadeh first applied for permanent residence in 2002 in the United States based on his wife’s employment application. He was kept waiting for 8 years for his first application. In 2010, Mr. Jafarzadeh applied a second time for permanent residence, based this time on his adult daughter’s U.S. citizenship. Again, he was kept waiting more than 9 years for his second application. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) didn’t deny his application but “refused to adjudicate it”. This means that they kept him in limbo for more than 17 years. Can you imagine waiting 17 years without the ability to make any coherent plans for the future? Can you imagine waiting 17 years wondering if you may be forcibly separated from your family?

This is what I found disturbing:

The case reveals a “pattern of harassment meant to discourage worthy individuals from asserting their rights to a fair immigration process”. This is a systematic application of processes to discourage immigrants, especially from Muslim countries, from applying for legal residence. It’s a kind of Muslim ban by default. This represents “a targeted effort to discourage members of the Muslim community from settling in the U.S. by creating a sense of uncertainty and terminal delay of immigration benefits”.

Mr. Jafarzadeh was relentlessly approached by the FBI with demands that he become an FBI informant against his community. This is not uncommon. If you refuse to work for the FBI, they may apply various forms of pressure. In Mr. Jafarzadeh’s case, he was threatened with imprisonment and deportation. “USCIS, in concert with the FBI, secretly uses the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP) to subject immigration applicants to heightened scrutiny without cause. The court documents clearly show how CARRP was developed in secret and without public notice, then unfairly administered to applicants unwilling to cave to FBI intimidation”

Not only did our lawyers successfully achieve legal permanent residence for Mr. Jafarzadeh (Yay!). They also set a precedent for future cases in which eligible immigrants will have the opportunity to request legal permanent residence with significantly less intimidation and fewer barriers overall.

“CLCMA will also fearlessly continue to expose and oppose the U.S. government’s efforts to separate Muslim families through its unfair practices, especially in its application of the CARRP and FBI harassment against the Muslim community.”

Spread the word, Donate, Get involved!

Works Cited

https://www.clcma.org/clcma-and-attorney-ladan-mirgagheri-smith-successful-in-mandamus- and-apa-litigation-case-for-mr-manouchehr-jafarzadeh

are you able to attend Friday prayers?

So many of us, myself included, have asked ourselves this question. Being present at Jummuah prayers, beyond being a religious obligation, is a source of joy and peace that recharges us through the week. Akili Ujima works as a Special Learning Needs coordinator for the Bureau of Prisons in Georgia. This is what he says about his work: “My job is important to me. I am trying my best to make sure our inmates are prepared to go out into society and not return back to prison because of not being prepared adequately.”

Are you able to attend Friday prayers?

So many of us, myself included, have asked ourselves this question. Being present at Jummuah prayers, beyond being a religious obligation, is a source of joy and peace that recharges us through the week.

Akili Ujima works as a Special Learning Needs coordinator for the Bureau of Prisons in Georgia. This is what he says about his work: “My job is important to me. I am trying my best to make sure our inmates are prepared to go out into society and not return back to prison because of not being prepared adequately.”

Mr. Ujima requested permission to attend Jummuah prayers during his lunch break at the mosque across the street from his place of employment. In response, his employer “just said no”, as Christina Jump, his CLCMA lawyer, stated on his behalf. The wardens “didn’t speak to Mr.

Ujima, didn’t consult with Human Resources, or Legal, or Chaplaincy services. They just said no. Mr. Ujima asked again. He was denied again. The agency cannot point to a single accommodation that it ever presented during the relevant time frame. No accommodation has been offered, and that is a violation of the law.”

When CLCMA and MLFA accept a case, they fight for you, fearlessly and tirelessly. They will continue to the Supreme Court if need be. In this case, Mr. Ujima was awarded monetary damages and had hundreds of hours of paid time off restored. Disciplinary documentation was removed from his employment file. Although this is a partial success and a recognition of the injustice he suffered, CLCMA and MLFA continue to fight so that Mr. Ujima (and likely many, many others like him) can attend Friday prayers in peace.

Muslim Legal Fund of America stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in all kinds of tough situations. Insha Allah when MLFA and CLCMA make sure that Mr. Ujima can attend Jummuah prayers, this will blaze the trail for many more of us who may struggle to balance religious and work obligations.

I want to stand with Mr. Ujima and anyone else who wants to practice their religion.

Spread the word, Donate, Get involved!

 

Works Cited

https://www.clcma.org/clcma-attorneys-represent-client-in-administrative-trial-before-the- equal-employment-opportunity-commission

That’s not the end of the story.

Muhammad Ali’s funeral was on Friday, June 10, 2016. Many of us remember seeing the incredibly moving funeral procession with so many people showing their love and support for this prominent Muslim fighter. I remember the khutba that day. The imam talked about Ali’s faith and acts of service: “When we are of service to others, we are with God.” Something was shifting in the public vibe. People were starting to open their hearts to Islam, remembering this beautiful human example. I could feel it in the air. It felt hopeful.

That’s not the end of the story.

Muhammad Ali’s funeral was on Friday, June 10, 2016. Many of us remember seeing the incredibly moving funeral procession with so many people showing their love and support for this prominent Muslim fighter. I remember the khutba that day. The imam talked about Ali’s faith and acts of service: “When we are of service to others, we are with God.”

Something was shifting in the public vibe. People were starting to open their hearts to Islam, remembering this beautiful human example. I could feel it in the air. It felt hopeful.

Two days later, on June 12, 2016, the Orlando nightclub shooting was all over the news, and that hopeful feeling seemed miles away. It seemed like violence was the default association, and it would be enforced at all costs. I was at an all-day retreat, sitting silently for hours, no cell phones or distractions. Yet this piece of news still made it through our media blackout and shook us all up.

For Noor Salman, wife of the shooter Omar Mateen, the nightmare was just beginning. You can hear in the video how scared this young mother was when the police stormed her house, guns pointed at her. How all she could think about was her scared 4-year-old child in the next room.

As it turned out, her only crime was being the wife of someone who committed a horrible crime. Perhaps she asked herself privately if there was anything she could have done, as would any of us in the same situation. The answer is, not much. Omar Mateen was responsible for his actions, and he was shot the same day. It is not a crime to be related to a criminal.

“The Supreme Court has declared guilt by association ‘alien to the traditions of a free society and the First Amendment itself.’ … It violates both the Fifth Amendment, which requires that guilt must be personal, and the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of association.”

Nevertheless, the FBI interrogated Noor for more than 12 hours until they obtained a “confession” that she was with her husband when he “cased” the nightclub days before the attack. “After more than a thousand hours of investigations and with the assistance of forensic experts, at trial The Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA, funded by MLFA) used cell phone data and other evidence to prove that neither Mateen nor Salman had ever been to the Pulse nightclub before the attack. Mateen had not visited Pulse’s website the night before the attack or on any other night, and Mateen had actually chosen the Pulse at random. CLCMA further proved that Salman was telling the truth when she told the investigators that Mateen had told her was going out with a friend and she was unaware of his actual plans.”

Here’s the twist – it came out in the trial, through the persistence of our lawyers, that one of the motives for targeting Noor was not what you’d expect. “When CLCMA announced its intention to call Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, the government was forced to admit Seddique was an FBI informant. Rather than protecting the community, the only thing Seddique had protected was his son. In turn, rather than telling the community the truth about what happened and why, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Florida chose to scapegoat a young mother.”

The jury returned with a verdict of not guilty on all charges. This is amazing because unfortunately, with cases related to terrorism charges, an acquittal is hard to come by. Although the criminal justice system generally operates with the assumption of innocent until proven guilty, since the PATRIOT Act was passed in 2001, this has been inversed for charges of terrorism. Defendants have been assumed guilty, with the burden of proving their innocence, which is much, much harder to do. “To say that this win was historic is an understatement. In 184 terrorism cases that had gone to a jury since 9/11, there have been only three acquittals, and only one in an ISIS case, that of Noor Salman.”

How many people may have found themselves in similar situations, both in the U.S. and abroad, without any recourse? MLFA and CLCMA were able to change this story. Let’s show up for them and give our support so that they can change the outcomes for many, many more.

Works Cited

Internal legal documents by Charles Swift https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvuq6wkgcmU

https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/442

MLFA funds the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in American (CLCMA) to defend unjust prosecution, governmental overreach, and systems of oppression through civil, immigration, and criminal litigation.

In 2021, MLFA launched The Ishan Standard by investing in the Lily School of Philanthropy's Muslim Philanthropy Initiative. We protect our Muslim charitable organizations through individualized assessments. The Ihsan encourages continual growth toward the highest levels of excellence in the philanthropy sector. We adopt the word “ihsan” to communicate our goal to encourage the highest levels of leadership excellence.

Make an impact in the lives of real people in your community. This Ramadan, you can extend our reach in the defense of Muslim nonprofits, immigrants and citizens who face religious and racial discrimination and inequity in the Federal system. Give an irreplaceable gift – JUSTICE!

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