December 25, 2001
Byline: P-I NEWS SERVICES
NEW YORK — The 22-member Arab League filed suit yesterday alleging that its landlord is illegally trying to evict it from its Manhattan offices after the terrorist attack Sept. 11.
The league says in court papers that the landlord’s managing agent, Sage Realty, asked the league to leave its midtown offices about a week after the attack.
The agent said other tenants wanted the league out of the building because they were worried that the group would attract trouble, according to court papers.
The Arab League, which has permanent observer status at the United Nations and diplomatic immunity, believes it has a valid lease and has no intention of leaving, according to the court papers.
“I told them that this was uncalled for,” said Ambassador Hussein Hassouna of Egypt, the league’s permanent representative to the U.N. “We feel like we are being discriminated against, and we informed the U.S. mission to the U.N.”
The landlord told the league in a Sept. 17 letter that security would be increased throughout the building, and earlier this month the league received a bill for $79,027 for the changes, the court papers said.
Hassouna, who has headed the 56-year-old Arab League for four years, said he has had office space in the building for 30 years.
Muslims fear being harassed for giving
The government’s decision to freeze the assets of three of the nation’s top Muslim charities has had a chilling effect on some Muslims in the United States.
Even some of the most devout followers of Islam did not make charitable donations during the holy month of Ramadan, a time designated to help the poor, the leaders said.
“They want to know, `Are we going to get in trouble?’ and, to tell you the truth, nobody knows how to answer,” said Khalil Jassemm, chief executive officer of the International Relief Association in Dearborn, Mich. “They’re confused and scared, extremely uncomfortable.”
This month, U.S. government officials closed the offices of two Muslim charities in Illinois – the Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International Foundation.
On Dec. 4, President Bush froze the assets of the nation’s largest Muslim charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which is in Richardson, Texas.
The worsening economy has contributed to the decline in donations to two of the largest Muslim charities, organizers acknowledge. But they said the main cause is that Muslims are concerned that donating would spur government action against them.
“They are afraid that if they give to us, they will be liable,” said Muhammad Rahman, executive director of the Islamic Circle of North America in New York.
Rahman’s organization has experienced a 50 percent decline in donations since the September attacks.
The Islamic Circle of North America operates a women’s shelter and distributes food to the homeless in New York. It also offers case management services and counseling to families in Detroit and East Orange, N.J. Other projects include international humanitarian aid.
The International Relief Association, which offers aid in the United States and abroad, has also experienced a decline, though not as sharp, Jassemm said.
War not a worry for Cheney, his wife says
WASHINGTON – Don’t worry about how Dick Cheney’s heart is taking wartime stress, the vice president’s wife says – the busier it gets, the more serene he is.
Lynne Cheney, in rare public comments on her husband’s health, said yesterday that her husband is happy, he’s calm, and he’s happiest when he is in control.
“Dick is doing something he’s spent his whole life preparing to do,” she said on CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports.”
“I think stress is when you feel frustrated, when you don’t feel control of your life. … He’s having a remarkable time right now, and is not feeling stressed in the least.”
Cheney, 60, has suffered four heart attacks and had a pacemaker-defibrillator implanted in June to control a potentially dangerous heart rhythm.
Cheney’s involvement in the day-to-day running of the country was unusual for a vice president before Sept. 11.
Since the attacks, he has made few public appearances and is said to have spent much of the time at undisclosed secure locations.
President Bush says he is confident Cheney’s health is not an obstacle to fulfilling his duties, a view shared by others in the administration, according to Lynne Cheney.
“I heard (Defense Secretary) Don Rumsfeld say the other day that (Cheney) gets … calmer as the situation becomes more perilous, and that may be true,” she said.