Muslims in Fresno – Taking a Stand Against Injustice and Oppression 

Listen to our podcast interview with Reza Nekumanesh to learn about the successes and struggles of the Muslim American community in Fresno, his views on the Muslim obligation to stand against the oppression of the innocent, and his reflection on a visit to an ICE detainment facility.

About Our Guest (Reza Nekumanesh)

Reza Nekumanesh has a M.A. Islamic Leadership for the Bayan College of Claremont-Lincoln University), a B.A. Philosophy & Religious Studies from California State University, and he is currently working on completing a Certificate in Public Theology and Social Justice at the American Baptist Seminary of the West/Graduate Theological Union. His major areas of research are Shi’a Law and Jurisprudence, Theology, Islamic History, the teachings and evolving ideologies of Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), the American-Muslim identity and experience, environmental ethics, religious violence, non-profit management and inter and intra-faith cooperation. Reza has been serving the Muslim community in Fresno for the past 20 years.  He is a strong advocate for social, racial, economic and environmental justice and interfaith understanding and cooperation. As a part of the community he serves on many boards including an organization called Faith in the Valley.

About Faith in the Valley  

             Faith in the Valley is a new faith-based grassroots community organization in California’s Central Valley of 120 congregations representing over 100,000 families in Fresno, Kern, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties. Their work is led by volunteer leaders who are among the people most impacted by equity issues: low-wage workers, young people, immigrants, and the formerly incarcerated.
They are part of PICO California, the largest faith based community organizing network in California, with an institutional membership of 485 congregations from more than a dozen faith traditions across the state. They are also part of the PICO National Network. Together, they are anchored in a prophetic theology of resistance that helps people understand the systemic roots of their shared suffering, as well as articulate an alternative narrative that liberates individuals and communities from the dominant cultural norms that perpetuate inequity.

About the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno

             Since its opening in 2001, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno has worked to promote an un-distorted, sincere and peaceful image of Islam and the American Muslim community.   They have worked to do so by building community and relationships with religious organizations and centers, schools and districts, civic leaders and offices, and more.
In addition to religious and cultural understanding programs, ICCF is civically engaged (registering and educating voters, operating as a polling site, and bringing in those in office or running for office for encounters) and works to bring about understanding between its congregants and elected officials for greater community building. ICCF is also a strong proponent of both inter and intra faith relationship building.  As an interfaith leader, ICCF and its members are actively involved in just about every interfaith event and project in the community.  As an intra-faith leader, ICCF actively leads the way in engaging all centers and organizations within the Muslim community to foster peace and to develop a greater sense of the Muslim American identity and what that means in the Central Valley.

Want to learn more about the US ICE Detention Centers? 

Check out our quick fact sheet below, 
According to the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security (https://www.ice.gov/features/ERO-2018)
  • “ ICE was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the former U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ICE now has more than 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel in more than 400 offices in the United States and around the world.”
  • “The agency has an annual budget of approximately $6 billion, primarily devoted to three operational directorates — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA). A fourth directorate – Management and Administration (M&A) – supports the three operational branches to advance the ICE mission”
  • “The number of individuals detained by ERO is driven by enforcement actions taken by ICE and apprehensions made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In FY2018, 396,448 people were initially booked into an ICE detention facility, an increase of 22.5% over FY2017.  Book-ins to detention resulting from CBP arrests increased by 32% over the previous year, illustrating a surge in illegal border crossings. ICE’s interior enforcement efforts resulted in a 10% increase in book-ins resulting from ICE arrests”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union ….
  • “Our immigration detention system locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers. Recently, mothers and children, who are mainly asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America, have been detained in family detention centers.”
  • “Over the last several years, the use of detention as an immigration enforcement strategy has increased exponentially, and immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and asylum seekers, have been detained for prolonged periods of time without any finding that they are either a danger to society or a flight risk.”
  •  “The government is spending millions of dollars to lock up people whose detentions serve no purpose. In addition to being cruel and unnecessary, prolonged immigration detention makes it nearly impossible for individuals to fight their cases—including those with legitimate claims for legal status in the United States.”
  •  “In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained and deported record numbers of people from the United States. Many of ICE’s removal tactics take away even the right to a fair hearing in court, as the government rushes to judgment and tries to ram people through a rubber-stamp system that ignores individual circumstances. These enforcement programs pose a variety of threats to civil liberties: They implicate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the constitutional guarantee of due process, and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. ICE’s enforcement practices also impose heavy social costs, tearing American families apart and undermining community trust in law enforcement.”
  • “The Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), operate in a vast zone stretching 100 miles from any land or sea border. This includes entire states such as Florida and Maine as well as almost all of the country’s top metropolitan areas. CBP’s militarization of the border region has produced rampant abuses ranging from racial profiling to excessive force. CBP uses interior checkpoints and roving patrols located far from the border to apprehend individuals who are not recent border crossers. “
  • “The ACLU is working to ensure that U.S. immigration enforcement is transparent and accountable to the American public.”
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Iqama Magazine is a quarterly publication dedicated to connecting and empowering the Muslim communities of the United States

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