Iowa: Linn County using tax-payer funds for employee trip to mosque, Islamic dawah

Employees have a choice: get paid to go to the mosque and be proselytized by Muslims, or work. via Linn County attorney questions Mosque lecture – TheGazette. h/t halalporkshop

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden is all for the county’s diversity education initiative for its employees.

Even so, Vander Sanden is questioning the county Diversity Committee’s invitation to all county employees to take paid time off to attend a lecture during the workday on “Intro to Islam, Including Information about Ramadan, and Muslim History in Iowa.”

The hourlong sessions on June 3 and June 4 will be conducted by Imam Taha Tawil and Sara Tawil at the Mother Mosque of America, the first permanent structure to be built specifically to serve as a mosque in the United States, at 1335 Ninth St. NW, Cedar Rapids.

Vander Sanden said the event can be viewed in a legal sense as government promotion of religion, which would be a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In essence, they are promoting a proposal where government employees are getting paid time off to go to a religious facility and learn about the history of that religion,” Vander Sanden said. “It doesn’t matter what the religion is.

I can’t state unequivocally that this is outside the bounds of the First Amendment. But it certainly is in that murky area. And I believe that the average person might look at this and consider it to be an improper use of taxpayer money.”

Lisa Powell, Linn County human resources director and a Diversity Committee member, on Tuesday said that her office came up with the idea of a Diversity Committee for county employees about three years ago. It’s an idea that she said has been strongly supported by the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

The committee tries to sponsor about three or four training events a year, and she said past events have included in-house training on stereotyping and labeling and on diversity of thought.

There has been a program on black history, and last year the county sponsored the movie, “42,” about black baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

Powell noted participation is voluntary.

“If you’re interested, if you want to be educated, fine,” she said. “But we don’t promote one thing over another. It’s just an opportunity to learn about something you might not know anything about.”

Powell said a few employees have questioned the June program at the mosque, wondering if it was promoting a particular religion.

“Which is not the case, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said.

Supervisor Ben Rogers on Tuesday said he appreciated Vander Sanden’s comments, but he said he expected the scheduled June program at the mosque for county employees to take place.

“Really, this is an opportunity for employees, if they choose, to learn about a diverse population in Linn County that we serve,” Rogers said.

“It’s not favoring a religion. It’s not putting beliefs onto people. It’s just an opportunity, if our employees choose, to learn about diverse groups in Linn County.”

Rogers said the county’s public health director, Pramod Dwivedi, and his wife, Seema, are from India, and Seema Dwivedi gave a “fascinating” talk as part of the Diversity program recently to county employees about India and the country’s culture and way of life.

“This included an open dialogue on her religion, Hinduism,” Rogers said. “Linn County has a considerable Indian population, and the information she provided gave a deeper insight and perspective on what it means to be Indian in Iowa.

Rogers said he thought Vander Sanden’s concern was more about “optics” that anything else.

“I respect Jerry’s opinion, but we feel it (the June event) is appropriate,” Rogers said.

Vander Sanden likened the county’s plan to give county employees paid time off to attend a session at a mosque on Islam to the recent controversy at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department over Christian imagery and a Biblical verse on the bucket of the department’s 100-foot ladder truck.

The department removed the image, which had been in place since 1997, after someone complained that it favored one religion. The executive director of the city’s Civil Rights Commission said removal of the image was a good choice.

“This is something like that,” Vander Sanden said.

“I know it’s a voluntary option,” he continued. “But on the other hand, when you get right down to it, it is taxpayer-funded, and in that sense, I believe it can be viewed as government promotion of an event that has a religious purpose.

I view the role of our office is to counsel our government leaders to act in a certain way that avoids unnecessary litigation.”

…not to promote Islam at taxpayer expense. Iowan taxpayers should necessitate the necessary litigation.

Iowa: Lack of physical evidence exonerates imam in nude Islamic ritual

via Jurors announce verdict in religious ritual assault trial h/t @VinIenco

Jurors announced a verdict Friday just hours after starting deliberations in the Nermin Spahic trial.

They found Spahic not guilty on all three charges.

Spahic was emotional at hearing the verdict and was in tears.

Defense attorney Angela Campbell said the quick jury verdict may have come from the lack of physical evidence in the case.

“It’s a he said, she said case,” said Campbell.

Campbell said she didn’t know what resonated with the jury, but thought officers who said they decided not to collect evidence from Spahic’s fingernails and the victim’s body may have played a role.

They had the opportunity to pursue physical evidence and they didn’t. That resonates with me, and I assume it would resonate with anyone that’s listening to the evidence in this case,” said Campbell.

The case wasn’t without circumstantial evidence. Assistant Polk County Attorney Steve Foritano focused on the defendant’s history of performing the religious ceremony on clothed people. That night with the 18-year-old woman and her mother, he performed the ceremony with them in the nude covered only by a towel.

The 18-year-old texted her friends that she was scared and immediately following the ritual, texted about places his hands should not have been.

Closing arguments were presented on Friday morning and the case was turned over to the jury about 11 a.m.

Spahic, 41, is on trial charged with third-degree sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation by clergy. A mother and her 18-year-old daughter both reported being assaulted by Spahic during a counseling session at a Johnston home last August.

Testimony started on Tuesday and Thursday Spahic took the witness stand in his own defense.

Iowa: Bosnian mosque, cemetery plans move forward in Waterloo


via City Council moving forward with new Waterloo mosque – KWWL

Waterloo is one step closer to getting a new community center.

Monday night, the city council voted in favor of reserving a location for the construction of a new Mosque and cemetery. Plans show it will be located south of Marigold Drive and North of Memory Lane. The center will also include a soccer field and recreational facility.

Organizers say they’re just excited to have a place to call their own.

“We need to have something that belongs to us, that we have to take care of it.” Said Senad Kapic, with the Bosnian Islamic Association of Waterloo. “That’s the way that we do in our country or any Muslim communication that they actually built and take care of their own. So that’s the major thing that we want, to have everything in our hands and take care of it. “

Senad is not sure when the next step in getting this facility will begin but he hopes to see some progress this year.

via Board of Adjustment OKs Islamic mosque, cemetery plans.

WATERLOO | A planned Islamic mosque, cemetery and soccer field on the city’s southeast side has cleared another zoning hurdle.

Members of the Board of Adjustment voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve a special permit for a conceptual site plan for the Bosnian Islamic Association of Waterloo’s development near the Cedar Knoll and Southview Estates mobile home parks.

Board members also unanimously granted a key variance to the city’s required cemetery size.

Planning and Zoning staff had recommended denying the variance because the proposed cemetery would be only five acres while the ordinance requires at least 30 acres for a cemetery. The entire site, including the mosque and soccer field, is only 15 acres.

Iowa: Imam who sexually exploited mother and daughter says religious freedom violated

via Des Moines imam argues sexual exploitation charges violate religious freedom | The Des Moines Register

An attorney for a Des Moines Islamic leader charged with sexual abuse and exploitation is asking a judge to drop two of the charges, arguing that they violate the man’s religious freedom.

In a motion to dismiss filed last week in Polk County District Court, Des Moines defense attorney Angela Campbell argued that Nermin Spahic, 40, had never met the two women who accused him of sexual abuse before the day of a religious ceremony that led to his arrest. The motion also says that Spahic never claimed to offer “mental health services” or counseling.

Spahic faces one count of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. He was arrested in August after a 42-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter told police that Spahic sexually assaulted them during a religious ceremony.

Iowa law spells out that counselors and therapists are barred from “sexual conduct” with patients. But because Spahic never had a formal relationship with the two women, using his religious position to charge him should be unconstitutional, Campbell argued in the motion.

“The ceremony he was performing was not psychotherapy, nor was it counseling,” the motion said. “The sexual exploitation charges are therefore necessarily based on his religious identity and the religious nature of his relationships to the accusers.”

Additionally, there’s no evidence that the two women were “emotionally dependent” upon Spahic, the motion said. Spahic will also argue he is not guilty on the sexual abuse charge at trial.

The woman on Aug. 12 called Spahic to her house in Johnston for help with her daughter, who reportedly suffered personal issues, including depression and drug use, police and court papers said. Spahic allegedly performed an Islamic ceremony that involved “chanting and rubbing the body with oil,” court papers said.

In one section of the sealed minutes of evidence, prosecutors “inappropriately refer to Mr. Spahic as a ‘Voodoo priest,'” according to the motion. At the time of his arrest Spahic served as the imam – a leader of Islamic prayer services – at the Des Moines Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak on Lower Beaver Road.

Spahic bonded out of the Polk County Jail after his arrest and is scheduled for trial on Dec. 2.

Iowa: Imam Charged with Sexually Abusing Teen and Her Mother During Ceremony

Who let the Bosnian Muslims in? via Des Moines imam arrested Monday in Johnston following alleged sexual assault  h/t TROP


Johnston police arrested a Muslim imam who serves at the Des Moines Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak after he reportedly sexually abused two women during a ritual late Monday night.

Nermin Spahic, 40, was charged with third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by a clergy and transported to Polk County Jail, according to a press release from the Johnston Police Department.

Spahic’s arrest came after police were called to a house in Johnston late Monday night where Spahic was allegedly involved in a “ceremonial ritual” with an 18-year-old woman and her 42-year-old mother, according to the release.  The woman told police Spahic sexually assaulted them both.

Police were called to the house just after 10 p.m. on Monday after receiving a report of the abuse. The caller reported receiving texts from the 18-year-old woman that she and her mother were both being sexually assaulted by a man in their house, according to the release.

When police arrived, they found Spahic with the two women. The 18-year-old woman was leaving the house as police arrived, said Johnston Detective Tyler Tompkins at an afternoon press conference.

The mother had asked for Spahic’s help and guidance on ”personal issues” the daughter was dealing with. Spahic arrived at the house and told the women the religious ceremony would help the daughter. Then, during the ceremony, Spahic assaulted them, the two women told police.

Police took Spahic to the Johnston Police Department where he was interviewed and charged, Tompkins said. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, Tompkins said, and police will look into any further allegations.

“At this time, we’ll investigate allegations that come forward, that’s about as far as I can say,” he said.

Tompkins said he did not know how long Spahic had been an imam at the center, but that he’d been there “at least a few years.”

Spahic, a Des Moines resident, denied any sexual contact with the women, but did admit he performed the ceremony. He was released from the Polk County Jail just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday, posting a $15,000 cash bond, according to online jail and court records.

The door was locked at the center on Lower Beaver Road on Wednesday afternoon, and nobody answered when a reporter knocked on the door.


After firing threatening Muslim prof, Univ of Iowa fighting criminal charges…in Jordan

via U. of Iowa objects to criminal charges in Jordan | WSAV TV.

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2011 file photo, then-University of Iowa radiology professor Malik Juweid poses for a picture in his Coralville, Iowa home. The University of Iowa has hired a lawyer to fight criminal charges against two top administrators filed in Jordan, where they school says Juweid is seeking revenge against officials he blames for his firing. The university’s former medical school dean, Paul Rothman, and associate dean Lois Geist have been charged with making a death threat to Juweid, who was fired in August and has returned to his native country of Jordan. A university spokesman called the charges – which are based solely on Juweid’s statement to a prosecutor – baseless and part of a long-running harassment campaign by Juweid. (AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley, File) (The Associated Press) 76d7ca289e22c000250f6a7067004e96
This undated photo provided by the University of Iowa shows Lois Geist, associate medical school dean. The University of Iowa is fighting criminal charges filed against Geist and former dean Paul Rothman by fired professor Malik Juweid in his native country of Jordan. University spokesman Tom Moore says the charges against Geist and Rothman are baseless and part of a harassment campaign by fired radiology professor. Moore says the university has retained a Jordanian lawyer, and questions how two Americans who’ve never been to Jordan can be subject to its courts. (AP Photo/The University of Iowa) (The Associated Press)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) The University of Iowa is fighting criminal charges against two administrators filed by a fired professor in his native country of Jordan.

University spokesman Tom Moore says the charges against associate medical school dean Lois Geist and former dean Paul Rothman are baseless and part of a harassment campaign by fired radiology professor Malik Juweid.

Juweid claims Geist called him and said that she and Rothman could have him killed if he pursued a civil lawsuit.

Moore says Geist hasn’t initiated contact with Juweid since he left the U.S. in 2011. Geist and Rothman plan to skip a court hearing Sunday in Amman.

Moore says the university has retained a Jordanian lawyer, and questions how two Americans who’ve never been to Jordan can be subject to its courts.

Why did the university even respond?

Back stories here including not only that Juweid dropped his charges against the university in US court but claimed his death threats were a result of “cultural differences.” 

(AP) — A University of Iowa professor said his erratic behavior and unprofessional conduct can be explained by cultural differences and by the mental stress he suffered working at the UI.

A three-person judicial panel heard testimony and arguments Friday in a 2 1/2-hour hearing. They will make recommendations to UI President Sally Mason about whether Dr. Malik Juweid, a tenured radiology professor, should be disciplined for alleged behaviors including threatening coworkers and violating patient privacy laws.

Juweid appeared at the hearing via Skype from his home country of Jordan. Although mostly in shadow, Juweid’s verbal outbursts earned him an admonition early on from investigating officer Randall Ney.

“Big liar! Big liar!” Juweid shouted at Dr. Lois Geist, associate dean for faculty affairs in the UI’s Carver College of Medicine.

Geist had just testified that Juweid swore at her in a Dec. 5, 2011, phone call and hoped for her death.

“If I have to stop you again, we’ll hit the mute button until it’s time for you to talk,” Ney warned Juweid.

Members of the UI’s Threat-Assessment Team testified about meeting Jan. 11, 2011, with about 20 hospital employees who were bothered or threatened by Juweid’s behaviors. The next day, the UI put Juweid on administrative leave.

“I was hopeful you could come back to the university,” said Lt. Peter Berkson, a UI police officer and member of the threat-assessment team. “However, you continue to cause problems, send emails that are inappropriate, talk poorly about people, make what people consider threats. You said a number of times that you hoped people died horrible, terrible deaths.”

Wishing death upon someone is common in Arabic cultures and shouldn’t be taken as an actual threat, Juweid said.

“In Arabic countries, people would say ‘I hope God will take you’,” Juweid said.

Juweid asked Berkson why the team did not talk with him before putting him on leave. Berkson said Tom Rice, associate provost for faculty, told the team they did not need to interview Juweid.

Maybe they were afraid Juwied would follow through on his threats of death. As noted at The Iconoclast yesterday, Academic Jihad:

Juweid’s suit was dismissed in November — seeing it was about to be thrown out anyway,  Juweid then apparently “asked” that it be dismissed — and no doubt fooled the University of Iowa into thinking it had heard the last of him. But then Juweid sued the university, preposterously, in Jordan, where Juweid now lives and where he hoped to have Muslim v. Infidel justice done. The University of Iowa, of course, has nothing to do with Jordan, and all of the acts which led to Juweid’s dismissal took place in Iowa. End of jurisdictional story, and no need to solemnly juggle in rem and in personam as one is compelled to, yaningly, in first-year courses in Civil Procedure.

Muslim food supplier in Iowa raided by Feds, faked halal labels?

Muslims bilking Muslims? via US probe targets halal food supplier in Iowa – CBS News.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The maker of a popular brand of food for observant Muslims says it is facing a potentially crippling investigation into whether it falsely labeled meat products as processed in compliance with Islamic law.

The Midamar Corp. said in federal court documents that investigators seized its main bank account and business records under search warrants executed last month. A judge last week upheld the government’s seizure of $454,000 in bank funds and rejected the company’s request to return the money.

No criminal or civil charges have been filed, and U.S. District Judge Linda Reade ruled that the government’s affidavit supporting its search warrant can remain secret so as not to “compromise an ongoing investigation.” The U.S. attorney’s office declined comment Monday on the investigation, which involves the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Internal Revenue Service.

Secret warrants in a food case? Come on now.

Miramar said in court filings that the seizures relate to vague allegations that it improperly branded and sold meat products as meeting Muslim dietary requirements, called halal, when they did not. The privately held business, which has been in Cedar Rapids for 40 years, dismissed the allegations. And it claims federal investigators are trying to regulate something that must be left to religions under the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state.

“Whether Midamar’s meat is in fact halal is a religious question that may not be answered by the U.S. government,” company lawyers wrote last month.

Not without being forced to understand, interpret and determine if sharia law was followed in the U.S., as sharia creeps into another U.S. courtroom.

Midamar says it was the first major U.S. supplier of halal products after its 1974 founding by Bill Aossey, who declined comment Monday. The company calls itself the leading U.S. halal brand and markets more than 200 products for U.S. and international customers, including beef, turkey and chicken. It largely relies on third-party suppliers for meat that it packages.

Reade ruled that she did not believe the company’s constitutional argument was “an appropriate basis to quash a warrant” and is premature because no charges have been filed. Continue reading


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