My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Muslim’

So the Census Bureau won’t pay for toilet paper in New York but will pay to rent out a radical mosque in Virginia?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

UPDATE: The Census Bureau’s Public Information Office told me:

“Office leasings for the federal government are handled by the General Services Administration (GSA). ┬áLease payments for the Census Bureau’s Alexandria, Virginia office are made to Phillips Properties of Alexandria, Virginia.”

I’m looking for more details on this situation. I didn’t intend for the headline to appear like a mirror image of FOXNews, but if these claims are valid (the “toilet paper” in the headline is a reference to a piece I ran yesterday about New York), then FOXNews will probably soon be all over this story from AOL News:

By Chanan Tigay

(May 10) — The U.S. government is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent to a Virginia mosque that law enforcement officials have identified as “a front for Hamas operatives,” according to a new report from an Islamic terrorism watchdog.

In preparation for the 2010 census, the General Services Administration leased office space throughout the country for the Census Bureau. According to the report by the nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), one of those spaces is in an Alexandria, Va., building owned by the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center.

Muslims fill up the driveway and pray after the mosque was full at  Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, 2006.

Alex Wong, Getty Images
Worshippers pray in the driveway of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Falls Church, Va.-based mosque.

The Falls Church, Va.-based mosque was once the home of radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to both Fort Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan and Christmas Day “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the IPT says.

According to the report, the lease contract, initially signed in 2008, is worth $582,026 for 25 months.

The IPT bases its claims about the mosque’s terrorist links on documents it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Those documents state “that Dar Al-Hijrah was ‘associated with Islamic extremists’ and was ‘operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.’ ” and that “the mosque ‘has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing,’ ” the IPT says.

It further quotes from a report, also obtained under FOIA, saying Dar Al-Hijrah “has been under numerous investigations for financing and proving (sic) aid and comfort to bad orgs and members.”

AOL News left phone messages seeking comment from both the General Services Administration and the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, but they were not immediately returned.

The IPT was founded in 1995 by Steven Emerson, a journalist and terrorism analyst who won a George Polk Award for his documentary film, “Jihad in America.” Emerson’s work has upset many Muslim groups, and the nonprofit Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has characterized it as an “unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims.”

Washington Post: Muslims Wary Of Census Participation

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The following piece from The Washington Post reiterates a position that MyTwoCensus.com has expressed for quite some time now, because as recently as 2004, confidential data from the decennial census was handed over to federal law enforcement officials:

By Tara Bahrampour

Tuesday, March 9, 2010; 4:02 PM

The millions of blue forms being mailed this month in the first census count since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, do not ask about religion. But the idea of answering any questions posed by the government makes some Muslims uneasy, so community leaders are worried that many may avoid the Census altogether.

“A lot of people, they have the concern,” said Raja Mahmood, 50, a Manassas taxi driver who moved to the United States from Pakistan 25 years ago. “The majority of Muslims, they don’t want to draw attention.”

Although he plans to fill out the census form — and the Falls Church mosque he attends, Dar Al-Hijrah, has encouraged it — Mahmood said many Muslims he knows are wary about why the government, which treated them with suspicion in the years after the terrorist strike, wants to collect information about them.

“They can look for the count of how many people live here, and that’s a good thing,” he said, “but God knows what is in their heart.”

Muslim leaders have been holding forums to explain the process. Last week, the Justice Department said that information-gathering and sharing provisions of the Patriot Act do not override federal confidentiality laws related to the Census, with stiff penalties for sharing information about an individual.

“That would go a long way toward calming fears,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Still, community leaders say they understand why people might be cautious. Many remember the trepidation that arose after 9/11, when men from some Muslim countries were required to register with the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service. The requirement led to deportations for visa violations or minor infractions unrelated to terrorism, Hooper said, adding that “whole neighborhoods were emptied.”

(more…)

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Continue outreach by using highly skilled professionals

Monday, June 8th, 2009

In recent editorials, MyTwoCensus has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s outreach efforts. However, today, at San Francisco’s Israel in the Gardens celebration, I was able to witness firsthand the effectiveness of highly qualified partnership specialist Pnina Levermore as she communicated with hundreds of members of the Bay Area community who don’t necessarily speak English as their first language. As a long-time employee of Russian and Jewish community organizations in the Bay Area, Levermore is a huge asset to the Census Bureau. I watched as she bounced between English and Russian, fielding inquiries from children as young as five to octogenarians (who have surely lived through many decennial headcounts), answering all questions asked of her with accuracy and care.

Levermore went so far as to create her own Russian language handout about the 2010 Census (we have been told that the Census Bureau will have their own national handouts printed in many languages soon) to distribute at this event.

The Census Bureau should continue to hire highly skilled people like Levermore. Many of the millions of Americans who applied for jobs at the Census Bureau speak more than one language, but hiring someone who has a deep knowledge of the community he/she will be assisting as well as the foreign language skills that he/she will be using on the job is of the utmost importance. We urge the local and regional 2010 Census offices to hire partnership specialists based on intangible factors that won’t necessarily show up on job applications and will only be revealed after in-person interviews and carefully examining individuals’ personalities.

We applaud the San Francisco 2010 Census Office for hiring someone like Levermore and we hope that other offices around the country will follow suit with similar practices.