Muslims of Manitoba billboard sponsored by the Islamic Social Services Association. Similar billboards are on display throughout Winnipeg, the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
TMO Editorâ€™s note: There are approximately 850,000 Muslims in Canada, out of which about 5,000 live in the Canadian mid-western state of Manitoba. The following article is a Canadian Broadcasting Service feature about an interesting project by Winnipeg Muslims.
Winnipeg Muslims are building a little mosque on the Prairie, and plan to ship it to the Arctic.
Dozens of Muslim families in Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories, currently send their children to live elsewhere in Canada because the community doesnâ€™t have a mosque or Islamic education centre.
A Winnipeg-based charity plans to change all of that.
â€˜It is very important to this community â€” really important.â€™â€”Abdalla Mohamed, Inuvik resident
The Zubaidah Tallab Foundation is raising money to build a mosque in Winnipeg then ship it 4,000 kilometres by truck and barge to the northern community.
Abdalla Mohamed, who lives in Inuvik but sent his children to live in Edmonton, said he cannot thank the Winnipeg group enough.
â€œThis project will help us along for planning, and putting some curriculum in place and putting some schooling in place. It is very important to this community â€” really important,â€ he said.
Right now, the business owner travels between Inuvik and Edmonton to visit his children as often as possible.
â€œItâ€™s really tough, but sometimes you do what you have to do,â€ he said.
About 100 Inuvik Muslims
The Muslim community in Inuvik has tried raising money for a mosque, but itâ€™s just too small to do it on its own â€” only about 100 members, Mohamed said.
What it has raised it will contribute to the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, which needs almost $300,000 by September to get the mosque on the final barge of the year to Inuvik.
â€œWhat a beautiful project. Itâ€™s amazing sending a mosque [almost] to the North Pole,â€ said Hussain Guisti, who heads the foundation.
When it arrives, the structure will be the northernmost mosque in the world.
â€œWeâ€™re looking at a very small charity thatâ€™s ready to make Islamic history,â€ said Guisti.
By Adil James, MMNS
The blowback of the Bush administrationâ€™s fierce pressure against Muslims has been the movement of once stalwart Republican Muslims over firmly to the Democratic camp. Thus, 28 powerful Muslim businessmen and politicians flocked to a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, meeting with White House and Democratic Congressional leaders on April 14th and 15th–a project sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
The event was organized by Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the two Muslim congressmen.
It comprised on the first day (April 14) a visit to the White House, and on the second day (April 15) a breakfast and meeting with House Democratic Congressional leaders.
This meeting was actually the second annual DCCC â€œLeadership Summit.â€ The delegation of 28 Muslims went to the White House and met with White House senior advisor Valerie Bowman Jarrett (Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Relations), who interestingly was born to American parents in Iran and speaks Persian.
The delegation had a very friendly and fraternal meeting with congressmen including Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, and the following Democratic congressional leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip James Clyburn, DCCC Chaimran Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the House Finance Committee Barney Fank, Chairman of Ways and Means Committee Sandy Levin, Chairman of the Homeland Securiity Committee Bennie Thompson, as well as seven other members of congress, and the DCCC executive director Jon Vogel. The friendly nature of the meeting is evidenced by the testimony of attendees and also by the warmth of the discussions from pictures from the event.
Saeed Patel, a prominent New Jersey businessman, President of Amex Computers, said of the two days of meetings that â€œthe main theme was making introductions, raising concerns, and the second thing was promotion of business.â€
â€œEllison now has been looking into arranging trade delegations to other countries, including India,â€ explained Mr. Patel–â€heâ€™s focusing on Muslim countries but there are also 150 million Muslims in India.â€
Patel attended a recent such trade commission to Turkey. â€œWe went to Turkey last year–one week, different places, to promote trade. We were hosted by the US ambassador in Ankara. We met quite a few people… made a lot of contacts.â€
â€œI am hopeful,â€ he said. There can be â€œa lot of business between here and Turkey.â€
The delegates, as described by Mr. Patel, included â€œa lot of people, some social activists, some doctors.â€
â€œI felt that [Democratic leaders] were very gracious–they went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. Pelosi, Jarrett, all were very nice. Very sympathetic.â€
The honorable Mohammed Hameeduddin, a city councilman of Teaneck NJ, explained that his agenda was â€œracial profiling.â€
As an example, Hameeduddin cited the recent visit by Saeed Patel to Turkey–saying Patel on his return trip was â€œtreated harshly by the TSA.â€
â€œI expressed my views to Pelosi, Frank, and Benny Thompson,â€ said Hameeduddin.
Patel explained that the meeting was â€œvery promising, Ellison and Carson both mentioned that, and Jarrett–this is not just hello and goodbye, this is hello and more hello, more interaction.â€ The democrats communicated that â€œYou are more than welcome, give us your personal opinions and experiences to take into account.â€
â€œIt was a good exchange,â€ said Patel. â€œNobody was holding back, everyone was speaking his mind.â€
Some of the delegates expressed some consternation, he said, that Obama and the Democrats have been in office more than a year and yet there is still harassment in travel.
Benny Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, explained in seriousness that if a person is mistreated by airport security personnel he should â€œalways get the name of the person disrespectful to you.â€ But he also quipped, â€œNot too long ago your community was Republican, was it not?â€
Patel explained that a follow-up meeting is in the works with Attorney General Eric Holder, on the subject of civil rights abuses against Muslims.
Supreme Leader Signals Willingness To Talk Peace
By Stephen Grey in Kandahar
Taliban fighters pose in front of a burning German military vehicle in Isaa Khail village of Char Dara district of the northern Kunduz Province April 3, 2010. Three German soldiers were killed and five others seriously injured in fighting in Kunduz, the German Army Command in Potsdam said on Friday.
April 18, 2010 â€œThe Timesâ€ — The supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has indicated that he and his followers may be willing to hold peace talks with western politicians.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, two of the movementâ€™s senior Islamic scholars have relayed a message from the Quetta shura, the Talibanâ€™s ruling council, that Mullah Omar no longer aims to rule Afghanistan. They said he was prepared to engage in â€œsincere and honestâ€ talks.
A senior US military source said the remarks reflected a growing belief that a â€œbreakthroughâ€ was possible. â€œThere is evidence from many intelligence sources [that] the Taliban are ready for some kind of peace process,â€ the source said.
At a meeting held at night deep inside Taliban-controlled territory, the Taliban leaders told this newspaper that their military campaign had only three objectives: the return of sharia (Islamic law), the expulsion of foreigners and the restoration of security.
â€œ[Mullah Omar] is no longer interested in being involved in politics or government,â€ said Mullah â€œAbdul Rashidâ€, the elder of the two commanders, who used a pseudonym to protect his identity.
â€œAll the mujaheddin seek is to expel the foreigners, these invaders, from our country and then to repair the countryâ€™s constitution. We are not interested in running the country as long as these things are achieved.â€
The interview was conducted by a reputable Afghan journalist employed by The Sunday Times with two members of the shura that directs Taliban activity across the whole of southern Afghanistan, including Helmand and Kandahar provinces. It was arranged through a well established contact with the Talibanâ€™s supreme leadership.
Looking back on five years in government until they were ousted after the attacks in America on September 11, 2001, the Taliban leaders said their movement had become too closely involved in politics.
Abdul Rashid said: â€œWe didnâ€™t have the capability to govern the country and we were surprised by how things went. We lacked people with either experience or technical expertise in government.
â€œNow all weâ€™re doing is driving the invader out. We will leave politics to civil society and return to our madrasahs [religious schools].â€
The Talibanâ€™s position emerged as an American official said colleagues in Washington were discussing whether President Barack Obama could reverse a long-standing US policy and permit direct American talks with the Taliban.
If the Talibanâ€™s military aims no longer included a takeover of the Afghan government, this would represent â€œa major and important shiftâ€, the US official said.
The Taliban objectives specified on their website had already shifted, Nato officials said, from the overthrow of the â€œpuppet governmentâ€ to the more moderate goal of establishing a government wanted by the Afghan people.
In the interview, the two leaders insisted that reports of contact between the Taliban and the Kabul government were a â€œfraudâ€ and stemmed from claims made by â€œcharlatansâ€. Up to now, no officially sanctioned talks have taken place, they said.
They laid down no preconditions for substantive negotiations, saying simply that the Taliban were ready for â€œhonest dialogueâ€. Another Taliban source with close links to the Quetta shura said the movement was willing to talk directly to â€œcredibleâ€ western politicians, including Americans, but not to intelligence agencies such as the CIA.
This source said that although the Talibanâ€™s unwavering objective remained the withdrawal of all foreign troops, their preconditions for talks might now be limited to guarantees of security for their delegates and a Nato ceasefire.
According to a Nato intelligence source, Taliban representatives have established direct contact with several ministers in President Hamid Karzaiâ€™s government. But they refuse to have any direct contact with Karzai, whom they regard as an â€œillegitimate puppetâ€.
During an interview that lasted for several hours and was interrupted only by the coming and going of messengers on motorbikes, our reporter heard nothing from the Taliban leaders to suggest that the movement was weary of war, as some western analysts have claimed.
Instead, he was told that the Taliban believe they are winning and are able to negotiate from a position of strength. Asked about a forthcoming Nato offensive in the Kandahar region, a local Taliban commander who sat alongside the two scholars boasted: â€œWeâ€™re ready for this. Weâ€™re going to break the Americansâ€™ teeth.â€
The Taliban leaders said that lessons had been learnt from Natoâ€™s last big offensive in the Marjah area of Helmand province earlier this year. When Nato gave advance notice of the operation, the Taliban were lured into sending too many fighters to the area, some of whom died.
The leaders said that in Kandahar a plan to counter Nato had already been prepared.
â€œThere will be no surprise there,â€ said Abdul Rashid. â€œWe have our people inside all positions in the city, in the government and the security forces.â€
He added that America already had enough problems â€œto haunt herâ€ and fighting in Kandahar would only turn more people against it.
â€œPeople donâ€™t trust the foreigners because they are backing the warlords. People are fed up with crime and brutality and thatâ€™s a big problem for the Americans. Weâ€™re well positioned, with supporters everywhere.â€
As they prepare for the traditional summer fighting season, the Taliban leaders are placing as much emphasis as Nato on winning the hearts and minds of the population.
Abdul Rashid said there had been Taliban commanders who had financed their campaigns by taking bribes to give safe passage to Nato supply convoys or from drug smugglers. But the Talibanâ€™s leadership had ordered a halt to this.
â€œWhat we do is not for a worldly cause â€” it is for the sake of Allah. More important than the fighting for us now is the process of purification. We are getting rid of all the rotten apples,â€ he said.
â€œSleepingâ€ with the Enemyâ€
By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Differences Between the U.S., Afghani and Indian Governments
Point Isabel, Point Richmond (Calif.)–Your author is taking his subtitle from a less than notable American film of several years ago to finish up his report on the recent Indian Ambassador to Kabulâ€™s comments , Gautam Mukhopadhaya.
At the moment your reporter finds himself at a lovely promontory pointing into San Francisco Bay, and it seems strange to be considering so many matters so far away that I begun two weeks ago from Berkeley. At that time I decided to divide the presentation into two parts because of its length.
Mukhopadhaya continued on how the political position amongst the American voters regarding Afghanistan was shifting away from support to criticism of official military policy in the Hindu Kush. Therefore, the District of Columbia had to change its tactics in response.
Pakistan operates in this War as it perceives to its own interests. Thus, the Ambassador deems that NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationâ€™s) allies in the Hindu Kush consider Rawalpindi to be unreliable — which is far from the truth in your writerâ€™s opinion.
Both the U.S. and Pakistan are targeting the Taliban, (but Islamabad only considers one branch of the Taliban to be hostile to their interests. The other four branches â€“ which are within their territory, too â€“ they do not consider a threat, and all these parties are comparatively accommodating to the other â€“ including Pakistan. Up to 80% of the Pakistani Taliban resides in the federally administered Northwest Provinces.)
The Americans and Pakistani Armies mutually oppose one â€œclanâ€ of Taliban, and they are fully within Islamabadâ€™s Federally Administered Territories. Thus, Peshawar sees no threat to their survival from the Afghani Taliban.
Further, Washington sees no alternative to the Karzai government that the District of Columbia (D.C.) perceives as militarily undependable. At the same time, the U.S. Administration comprehends Kazaiâ€™s Presidency to be a corruptible one â€“ an uneasy alliance to say the least!
In the London Conference on the Afghani conflict last January (2010), the European and Canadian allies supported the â€œAfghanizationâ€ of the War and the â€œregularizationâ€ (normalization) of our relations with the Taliban! This, hopefully, would lead to meaningful discussions and, eventually, peace within the Mountains! These talks should be mutually respectful between each party â€“ including the Taliban.
At same time, the Indian representative from New Delhiâ€™s Department of External Affairs had to take a dig at their traditional competitors: â€œWe need leadership from the Pakistanis!â€ (This struggle beyond the Khyber is an opportunity to bring these two South Asian nuclear neighbors closer together instead of tearing them further apart to the dangerous detriment to all!) His Excellency accused D.C. of a failure of leadership during this international crisis. To settle the military security, he urged U.S.-Pakistan operations. (Of course, the loss of Islamabadâ€™s national sovereignty would be totally unacceptable to its Muslim citizenry, and put the security of Pakistanâ€™s topography under question for its Western and regional allies!) Simultaneously, the Saudis close allies to both, are working with Islamabad and Washington to bring their policies closer together.
On the other hand, the Taliban itself is fed-up. The London Conference approved the Talibanâ€™s grasp of the countryside while NATO and the Afghani government would occupy the cities. This is not the battle plan of these â€œStudents.â€ They wish to hold the total fasces within the dry, cold hills, and their mindset is far from compromise at this time.
Yet the Americans presume that they have an upper hand, and, correspondingly, are in the position of strength to negotiate with their adversaries. Actually, it is the Pakistanis who are central for negotiating with the problem some Quetta branch of the Talibani. The Pakistani Army has already begun to begin dialogue in Baluchistan. Rawalpindi considers it has made some progress, and the Generals at their Military Headquarters are encouraged by their discourse with the irregular tribesmen.
The U.S.A. has been following a contradictory policy in the Af-Pak itself. While D.C. has been throwing development funds in Southern Afghanistan, it has been shoring up the military on the frontlines in Pakistan.
Ultimately, though, Ambassador Maukapadya does not discern a desire by the Taliban to parley. In the late 1990s, the Taliban regime in Kabul led the U.S. on their intentions. (Your essayist has some questions about this, and that is His Excellency is not separating the goals of a Nationalist Taliban and an Internationalist Alâ€™Quaeda.) Would the Taliban be willing to form a coalition government with Karzai or whoever may succeed him (them)? (Whatever, a re-establishment of the regime of the 1990s is totally unacceptable to International Civil Society without the checks and balances of the partnership of all Afghani peoples and tribes!) The Ambassador is â€œâ€¦not optimistic.â€
There is preparation for a major NATO assault upon the Taliban stronghold around the southern city of Kandahar, the center of Talibani power. Maukapadya does not feel the battle will turn the War around.
Concurrently, Europe and North America and their regional associates are employing dual strategies against the Taliban who are replying in kind. This War is far from coming to a mutually acceptable denouement.
By Khurram Shahzad, Pakistan Link
Pakistanâ€™s Federal Minister for Sports Pir Aftab Shah Jillani presenting Maria Toor with a cash award as her family looks on during a ceremony to reward top players on the national circuit in Islamabad.
-Photo by APP
Pakistanâ€™s squash champion Maria Toor Pakay cut her teeth fighting boys in a tribal district synonymous with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, defying convention to become a trailblazer in her sport.
She hails from South Waziristan, part of Pakistanâ€™s tribal belt branded by Washington as the most dangerous place in the world. It is rife with militant groups, while tribal customs often force women to remain at home.
None of that stopped 19-year-old Pakay, however, who is now Pakistanâ€™s top-rated female squash player and the world number 85.
â€œI never acted like a girl and always played and fought with the tribal boys,â€ she told AFP in the northwestern city of Peshawar, now her home.
â€œMy early days roaming around the Shakai streets wearing boysâ€™ clothes and fighting against them eventually made me an independent young woman.â€
Dressed in shorts and smart T-shirt, hair boyishly cut above the neck, she would stand out in her home village of Shakai, on the outskirts of South Waziristanâ€™s capital Wana, where many women wear the all-encompassing burka.
Muscular Pakay smacks the ball against the wall almost 30 times in a minute. Face perspiring with aggression and gripping the racket tightly, she moves swiftly across the squash court.
It was Pakayâ€™s father Shamsul Qayum, a government servant and elder of the Wazir tribe, who first noticed her athletic potential. Concerned about her days spent brawling with street boys, he decided to channel her anger into sports.
Risking the scorn of his conservative Muslim tribe, he took his daughter to Peshawar and began training her as a weightlifter.
But with few opportunities for female weightlifters in Pakistan, he was forced to disguise 10-year-old Pakay as a boy and enter her in the National Boys Weightlifting Championship under a fake boyâ€™s name, Changez Khan.
â€œAnd Changez Khan won the championship!â€ Pakay says with a laugh.
â€œIt was the first step for me, my first achievement, and then I never got scared by any pressure, restrictions or tribal tradition.â€
It was a meeting soon after with former world squash champion Jansher Khan that set Pakayâ€™s life on its current course, and in 2004 she became Pakistanâ€™s top female squash player and started climbing the international ranks.
She has risen seven places in the world rankings in the past month, and made the semi-finals of the World Junior Squash Championship in India last year.
She is a regular player on the Malaysian circuit, and aims this year to participate in the Cayman Islands Open and the Texas Open Championship.
But her determination to defy tradition and champion girlsâ€™ sports in the conservative northwest has won her some enemies.
Taliban militants who operate across swathes of the northwest oppose co-education of girls and boys and advocate a harsh brand of law, staging bomb attacks to try and advance their aims.
â€œI have received some threats from unknown people who have advised me to stop playing and going out of the house, otherwise they would kill me. But they canâ€™t detract me… I would never quit playing,â€ she tells AFP.
â€œI feel pity for other women of the area, they are confined in the walls and have no rights. I feel pity for my cousins, who donâ€™t have rights and canâ€™t go out, and who have to wear burkas.â€
Although she is glad to be free from the restrictions of tribal customs, Pakay says she owes a great deal to her upbringing in the badlands along the Afghan border, which sit outside direct government control.
â€œMy strong muscles are a gift from hiking the rocks of Shakai. I love the solid mountains and feel sorry that I canâ€™t go there now,â€ she said.
The streets of Shakai where Pakay once fought neighborhood boys have now become a battlefield for the Taliban and Pakistanâ€™s armed forces.
The military sent 30,000 troops into South Waziristan in October last year to try and quash Taliban strongholds, and the fighting rages on.
The instability was one of the reasons Pakayâ€™s father wanted her to break free of the tribal region and he has nothing but pride now in his daughterâ€™s achievements, despite the reaction from his Wazir tribe.
â€œThey call me honorless and say you have lost pride and gone away from the traditions of Islam and the tribe,â€ Shamsul Qayum told AFP. â€œBut I donâ€™t care, I have won for my girl and her victories are my pride.â€
By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
As the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate under the boot of Israeli oppression, groups which provide direct aid to this beleaguered land become all the more worthy of support and endorsement. They shine a laser like beam on the suffering there and then provide outstanding aid. One such group is KINDERUSA (Kids in need of development, education and relief) which focuses primarily on the smallest victims of war and occupation — the children.
KINDERUSA held a banquet/fundraiser this past Saturday night in Garden Grove, Ca. Titled: â€œOperation Survivalâ€, the event filled the dining hall to capacity.
Two screens in the dining hall showed film clips from footage shot in Gaza. This presentation included horrific scenes of destruction caused by Israelâ€™s â€œOperation Cast Leadâ€ as well as — at the other end of the spectrum — scenes of children enjoying the basic staples of childhood with the relief that KINDERUSA provided to them. In scenes that were particularly poignant, children in Gaza enjoyed summer camp activities, a staple in Western nation but not in this occupied territory until a KINDERUSA program was implemented.
Dr. Jess Ghannam, a member of KINDERUSAâ€™s Board of Directors, was the Master of Ceremonies. Dinner followed evening prayers.
Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, Chairwoman of KINDERUSA, was introduced by Dr. Ghannam. She told her audience that 81% of monies raised for KINDERUSA go directly to projects. Only 19% is used for various administrative expenses. In Gaza KINDERUSA partners with local organizations to optimize their efforts.
KINDERUSA aims not only to encourage local agriculture, for example, but to give families choices over their purchases. This concept she juxta positioned with the donation of food baskets which eliminates choice.
KINDERUSA, Dr. Al-Marayati continued, works in the West Bank, Lebanon, and now Pakistan as well as Gaza. Their work has been expanded to include children with diabetes and children who are educationally disadvantaged. Dr. Al Marayati, an obstetrician and gynecologist, spoke about one particular dark aspect of the many Israeli checkpoints, an aspect perhaps not familiar to the public. The Israelis make no allowances for pregnant women in labor, women who are on their way to a hospital to give birth. These checkpoint delays can and often do result in birth taking place outside of a hospital, an unhealthy and possibly fatal complication for mother and child. In addition, cancer sufferers must pass through these checkpoints to and from their chemotherapy visits. This is often discouraging, lessening the number of people who seek treatments because they do not want to endure the accompanying stress.
KINDERUSA was in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
John Ging, the Director of Operations of UNRWA in Gaza, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Ging arrived at LAX from abroad a few hours before his presentation. The recent volcano eruptions in Iceland and their attendant flight delays raised fears that he would not be able to make the trip. Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, in introducing him, commented on our dependence on God in such circumstances.
Dr. Ging spoke of the three aspects of Israeli control of Gaza. He said it is â€œillegal, inhuman, and insane.â€
Operation Cast Lead, he said, only exacerbated an already horrific situation. Israel imposed a blockade in 2007 after electoral victories by HAMAS. They declared Gaza a hostile entity.
Gazan water has to be treated in the home because of its intrinsic biological impurity.The sewage system does not work, and an unpleasant odor pervades the water even after treatment. The inhuman treatment of Palestinians is rooted in disrespect by the Israelis of international law. He traced the origin of this oppression to 1948 and the displacement of one million Palestinians. He called for the right of return, the right to compensation and the right to resettlement for Palestinians. The Palestinians must work with the problems and decide on the solutions. Since 1967 Israel has been an occupying power and has practiced, among other matters, collective punishment. The world has an obligation to protect the people who suffer under collective punishment.
What is insane, he asked? It is insane to subject people to the brutality that Gazans must endure and not comprehend that you are feeding radical and extreme elements. He encouraged his audience to travel to Palestine and see the truth of what he has said first hand.
He described the Palestinians he had worked with as extremely protective of their children and, despite their predicament, resilient, hopeful and positive.
Mr. Ging urged his audience to give generously.
â€œMr. Ging is on scene. He certainly knows what he is talking aboutâ€, said one young woman after hearing the presentation.
Dabke followed the event. Palestinian embroidery, contributed by the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund ( PCRF) , was available for purchase.
For more information on KINDERUSA and/or to make a donation, please access them at: www.kinderusa.org.
The case of Brother Imam Kwame Teague
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
Most of the time when we hear a person has been arrested we feel he must have done something or he or she wouldnâ€™t have been arrested. And when we hear someone has been convicted of a crime, our certainty of their guilt is strengthened. After all there must have been overwhelming evidence that left no doubt of the guilt. There was either a jury trial of 12 people that listened to evidence, weighed it in their minds and came to a unanimous decision; or a learned, educated judge who has sworn to uphold the law according to knowledge and investigation has rendered a decision. Again, it must be right.
Then there is the case of a person who has been arrested, tried, convicted, and serving time in a penal institution. Now this person HAS to be guilty. Right? Because appeals have been heard, and the evidence has been looked over for a second or third time, by different people, and they come to the same conclusion, the case is closed as far as we are concerned. And we say they must be guilty.
Well, that may, or may not be the case. With the advent of new technology, including DNA testing, we are finding there are many people who have been incarcerated for many years and we come to find out they were totally innocent. Just think of the many people falsely accused and wrongly convicted who would still be in prison if not for the technological advances and/or persistence by legal experts, friends and family.
Of course, we also are aware that of the entire prison population, I would guess that 90% of them claim they are innocent. And we also know that all of them that claim innocence are not innocent. But because we have seen so many cases of wrongful imprisonment, it behooves us to take all available means to prove a personâ€™s innocence. This is especially true when there are major discrepancies and obvious omissions of evidence by the law enforcement and legal representatives.
One such case that may fall in a similar category is the case of Kwame Teague. Brother Teague is a Muslim brother who has been incarcerated since February 1, 1994 in the North Carolina jail system. His charge is Murder. At the time of his arrest he offered an explanation of his whereabouts and gave the name of the person he was with. This person was picked up and questioned but the statement was never allowed to be used in court.
Other questionable actions was the appointment of a defense attorney who had been attorney for the opposition; not allowing testimony of people who gave statements exonerating Brother Kwame; allowing the testimony of a person who was in prison, had a bad case of AIDS-related dementia, and a reason to implicate Brother Kwame, and many others.
Brother Kwame has been a model person since his incarceration. He has served as imam at the institutions he has been imprisoned at with nothing but glowing remarks about his character Islamic spirit. His father, Brother James C. Teague, of Newark, NJ, is a very well respected brother in the Muslim community and has done a magnificent job of instilling moral qualities and academic and professional excellence in all his children, two boys and two girls. He says of them all he is most proud of Kwame because â€œhe has overcome the profound barrier of incarceration to perform the same type of dedicated contributions from behind prison walls that his brother and sisters perform in free society.â€
This article is by no means being written to try and establish the guilt or innocence of Brother Kwame. It is being written to shed light on the many injustices that occur in our penal system and to encourage strong and persistent investigation of cases when proven facts may prove a person is being denied justice. And because it LOOKS LIKE Kwame could be innocent, we owe our all.
There are many people like Kwame throughout the country and we encourage you to help in any way you can to present overlooked facts and omissions that could bring the truth to light.
We also encourage you to not automatically assume that when the authorities say someone did a crime that they must have done it. Mistakes can and have been made. No one is infallible except Almighty ALLAH.
As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin
By Sumayyah Meehan MMNS Middle East Correspondent
For the past couple of months now I have been intrigued with an anonymous blog project based in America that has captured the imagination of countless Internet users. The topic of the blog is school lunches in America and the blogger is a schoolteacher that masks her identity for fear of losing her job. Every day, she shares the food that not only her students are eating but what she is eating herself in the school cafeteria. The blog, Fed Up With School Lunch, has ignited a rallying cry that stretches clean across the globe with teachers in countries like Korea and France chiming in to share their school lunch victories and disasters. Most notably, the blog highlights the poor quality of food served in most American schools and the lack of nutrition to sustain students.
What strikes me the most about the project is not the fact that American kids are eating a ton of processed foods intermingled with a mere sprinkling of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the fact that kids in the USA are actually served lunch every day whereas my own children in the Middle East are not offered any form of lunch in their schools whatsoever. In fact, the vast majority of schools in Kuwait donâ€™t offer hot or even cold lunches. And vending machines are absolutely nowhere to be found on school campuses. Most parents send their kids a packed lunch, usually potato chips or chocolate and Pepsi. Some donâ€™t even send lunch at all. And whatâ€™s worse is that there is not an allocated time slot for lunch in most schools in Kuwait, so many children bring their lunches back home with them or eat while they are studying.
Kuwait is not the only Gulf country lacking when it comes to school lunches. Even wealthy Arab neighbors like Dubai have a school system that rarely serves lunch. Parents are left to monitor their own childrenâ€™s nutrition at lunchtime with zero support from the faculty at their school. The biggest problem for parents of school-aged children in the Gulf region is a lack of proper nutritional information. In a recent survey that I conducted in my own daughterâ€™s 3rd grade class, a whopping 90% of children had been given junk food for their lunch with only a handful of children having a healthy lunch and an equal number having no lunch at all.
The price for the â€˜rubbishâ€™ lunches, as my hero/cooking guru Jamie Oliver would say, is more and more children in Kuwait are battling obesity before they even reach puberty. The Ministry of Health in Kuwait has recently projected that the rate of diabetes amongst children in Kuwait is set to double in the coming years. And, so far, no one is doing anything about it.
So no matter which way you, slice, dice or reheat it, the legacy of lunch is something that affects children from all walks of life and in every region of the world. Itâ€™s up to adults to make the right food decisions for the younger generations, and win the battle over lunch once and for all.
Editorâ€™s note: The TMO Foundation conducted a scholarship essay contest and TMO is now printing the essays of some of the entrants to the contest.
This is the second place essay, by Aysha Jamali, on the subject â€œWhy do I want to be a journalist?â€ She received Second Prize, a $1,000 scholarship.
By Aysha Jamali
A journalist strives, researches, listens and educates. A journalistâ€™s role is vast and has been a necessary ingredient in society throughout the history of the world. Media influences what we know about the world around us, how we form our opinions on issues and which issues are the most important to us. A journalistâ€™s responsibility is to report with the intention of being honest and fair in representing what goes on in the world. That is my interest: to uphold the duties of mediaâ€™s mediators.
Wickham Steed, an editor of The Times of London, said that journalism is â€œsomething more than a craft, something other than an industry, something between art and a ministry.â€ Itâ€™s a field that requires skill and creativity, but it also requires a sense of obligation to the people. And there are several obligations.
One obligation of the journalist is to keep a check on those in power. Governments and corporate organizations are often in a position to abuse their power. They serve the larger population, but are often run by a smaller elite circle. â€œMelvin Mencherâ€™s News Reporting and Writingâ€ says that â€œdemocracy is the healthiest when the public is informed about the activities of captains of industry and chieftains in public office.â€ It is the journalistâ€™s responsibility to scrutinize those captains and chieftains in the elite circle, so that the common people can have a say in their policies and the actions affecting them.
Journalists also look out for those who canâ€™t look out for themselves. The minority always needs a spokesperson whether itâ€™s a daughter who lost her father because of hospital malpractice, a school in a low-income district with no money for textbooks, or hundreds of upset and recently unemployed workers from a billion dollar company.
A journalistâ€™s responsibility is also to provide the public with unbiased information on current issues. A decision is so difficult to make when both sides are white-washing and sugar-coating the truth. Journalists are there to investigate and determine accurate from inaccurate. They provide not only facts but the scoop behind the facts. Journalist T. D. Allman said, â€œGenuinely objective journalism not only gets the facts right, it gets the meaning of events right.â€ Itâ€™s with this type of fact-finding that people can make rational decisions.
Another role of the journalist is to bring to concern issues that are otherwise not discussed. In the book â€œDonâ€™t Shoot the Messenger,â€ Bruce W. Sanford said that â€œmost people would not see that they were being denied information about the world around them.â€ This requires the journalist to hunt for these hidden stories, and it can put the journalist at odds with bosses and peers. Stepping away from the mainstream is difficult but something a journalist should remember is often an obligation.
My background has taught me about the need for such responsibilities. My family and my Islamic faith have taught me that judging others is the wrong path to take since you donâ€™t always know the whole story. I learned that what you hear is not always the truth, so you need to stay skeptical. I learned that there is always another opinion about a situation, so you need to stay open-minded. Itâ€™s because of this that I read about a war, a robbery or a movie release and I want to know what else is there that the media isnâ€™t telling me. Did those people really initiate the shooting? Was that person trying to feed his family with the stolen money? Is this actor passionate about his role in the movie?
Beyond finding out the truth, I want to share the new ideas and incidents I discover. My question is always: why didnâ€™t I know this before and why isnâ€™t anyone spreading this around? I love a chance to sit down and hash out the dayâ€™s news. I relish the idea of communicating information to get myself and other people to think in different ways. Itâ€™s my inquisitive attitude and my itch to share information that attracted me to journalism.
Getting people to think in different ways is also a significant reason to have a diverse media. You canâ€™t have variation if everyone thinks the same way. In â€œArrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite,â€ Bernard Goldberg said, â€œItâ€™s past time that we moved from a newsroom that simply looks like America to one that thinks like America â€“ a newsroom that better reflects America in its highly varied beliefs and values and passions.â€ A diversified newsroom is an atmosphere that permits the contribution of unique experiences and attitudes.
Media diversity is also important for avoiding cultural taboos and clearing up misconceptions. This brings to the mind the controversial shooting of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, imam of a local Detroit mosque. Local news stations reported on broadcast and on their Web sites that he was the ringleader of a group called the â€œUmmah.â€ Actually, all Muslims consider themselves to be a part of an ummah, which is an Arabic word roughly translated as community. Itâ€™s similar to Christians belonging to a church community. The mainstream media failed to clarify whether Imam Abdullahâ€™s â€œUmmahâ€ was just confused with the general concept of the Muslim ummah. If there were more people with that type of knowledge and background present in the newsroom, then confusions like that wouldnâ€™t happen as often. When thereâ€™s less confusion in the media, the public is getting accurate information and putting its trust back in its sources.
The need to keep a check on bias by representing all sides of a story is also a reason why the media should be diverse. It only makes sense for the media to be as diverse as the people and the views they are representing. With the melting-pot that is the United States, we should be seeing people of all backgrounds in our media. In â€œArrogance,â€ Goldberg said that â€œdespite the overwhelming evidence, despite all the examples of bias that were documented in my book and others, despite the surveys that show that large numbers of Americans consider the elite media too liberal â€¦ the elite remains in denial.â€ Diversity breaks down that elite circle to allow for proper representation.
These roles are a part of the backbone that holds up a journalist as someone who strives, researches, listens and educates. I believe it should be every journalistâ€™s goal to uphold the fieldâ€™s values. I hope to make my career as a journalist by internalizing these values. I hope to use my Muslim identity and first generation immigrant background in striving for fair media representation through diversity. This should be the journalistâ€™s drive. This is my drive.
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
There is something we Muslims have that no other people on the face of the earth have. We have the comfortable feeling that we posses the last and most perfect scripture from ALLAH and it is 100% TRUE. Therefore we donâ€™t have to guess or wonder about which direction to take or which decisions to make.
This is an example of what living the positive life through positive thinking means.
â€œSay: â€œO ye My servants who believe! Fear your Lord. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is ALLAHâ€™s earth. Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.â€
As the above directive points out, if you want good to come to you, you only need to do good yourself. And, of course, the more good you do, the more good you can expect in your life. It is written, â€œThe more you give of what you get â€“ the more you get of what you give.â€ This includes money (material, giving zakat), happy existence, good wishes from everybody, and anything else you can think of.
What enables you to think positively about life is to be a devout believer in the Word of ALLAH. When you believe and act on what ALLAH tells you to do, you are guaranteed success. But you must believe this for it to work.
If you donâ€™t believe it, you will eventually deny it and slide backwards. It is similar to a person trying to quit smoking cigarettes. There is a big difference between â€œquittingâ€ and â€œstopping.â€
If you just â€œstopâ€, eventually you will slip and smoke again â€“ and you will want it until you get that puff. But when you quit, you are not tortured because you know you are never going to smoke again.
It is the same with belief and disbelief in ALLAH. In order to not backslide you must believe that what you read and feel is True.
If we take a look at the world today, we see many people, Muslims included, influenced by the ravages of Satan. We see families breaking up. We see children going astray influenced by the negative images they see on TV and in the movies, and the music they listen to. With so many negatives, positive thinking may seem like it is fighting a losing battle.
But, once again, that is where belief and faith come in. ALLAH has revealed a remedy for every assault Satan places on the human being. ALL you have to do is THINK positively about the revelation of ALLAH and the healing begins. ALLAH is real and His solutions are real.
If you believe ALLAH will do great things for you, it will happen. Your whole life and everything connected to it will begin to change. To make this change, you must first fill your mind with the powerful words of spirituality of the Holy Qurâ€™an. Focus your actions to be like the actions of Prophet Muhammad.
This will change your thoughts from negative to positive. Then give thanks to ALLAH for what He has given you. And you know, it is a curious thing â€“ the more you thank ALLAH, the more He gives you. This is because He knows you are appreciative. If you never thank Him, He knows you are not appreciative, and responds with less help.
So let us think positively about everything. Believe and have faith in ALLAHâ€¦ and expect a miracle.
As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin
By Jon Pahl
(April 16, 2010) â€“ When is a terrorist not considered a terrorist? When the US media identifies him or her as a â€œChristianâ€. And when is a terrorist group not considered a terrorist group? When the US media calls it an â€œanti-government militiaâ€.
Exceptionalism is alive and well when it comes to reporting on violence in the name of religion, as evidenced in the recent case of the Michigan-based Hutaree, a group that the media has labeled a militia following recent FBI raids that uncovered stockpiles of illegal weapons, and a plot to kill law enforcement officers and â€œlevy warâ€ against the United States.
The leader of the group, 45-year-old David Brian Stone, pulled no punches about who he was, coining the term â€œHutareeâ€ which his website translates as â€œChristian warriorâ€ for his group. His motto is the biblical passage John 15:13: â€œGreater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.â€
The behavior of this group seems very similar to that of those termed terrorists by the media.
Yet Joshua Rhett Miller of Fox News described the Hutaree in a 29 March story as a â€œpurportedly Christian-based militia group.â€ In a similar vein, Nick Bunkley and Charlie Savage of The New York Times identified Stone and the Hutaree somewhat apologetically as â€œapocalyptic Christian militantsâ€ in their 29 March report. This, despite the fact that the group not only stockpiled weapons and engaged in training identical to Al Qaedaâ€™s modus operandi, but even planned improvised explosive devices based on those used by terrorists in Iraq.
In its â€œTimes Topicsâ€ section, The New York Times positively contorts itself to avoid using the word â€œterroristâ€. It describes the Hutaree as a â€œMichigan-based Christian militia groupâ€ and, mirroring the language of US Attorney General Eric Holder, as â€œanti-government extremists.â€
Are we reserving the term â€œterroristâ€ only for Muslims these days? In coverage of stories like the thwarted plan to bomb synagogues in New York in May 2009 or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabâ€™s attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit, the mainstream media has no qualms about discussing â€œfoiled terror plots.â€ Such a reservation stokes indiscriminate fear of Muslim â€œothersâ€. It also constructs an implicit â€œus versus themâ€ dualism between a broadly â€œChristian Americaâ€ and an allegedly monolithic â€œMuslim worldâ€, as American political scientist Samuel Huntington most notoriously opined in his â€œClash of Civilisationsâ€ theory.
Religion is all too often seen as the root of terrorist violence, rather than as one of its most effective tools. As Scott Shane argued in the 4 April New York Times article â€œDropping the word bombâ€, we need a robust debate about what terms to use across cases. Journalists can help by practicing consistency, and by pointing out attempts to scapegoat one group and exempt another from the opprobrium associated with terms like â€œterrorist.â€
Mainstream Christians like me cringe when a group like the Hutaree is identified as â€œChristianâ€. Perhaps this incident can help other Americans empathise with what close to 1.5 billion Muslims might have felt every time in the last few years they have heard the words â€œMuslim terroristsâ€ or, far worse, â€œIslamic terroristsâ€.
A good rule to follow, for journalists and for all of us, might be to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
And that means calling a terrorist â€“ of whatever background â€“ exactly that.
Jon Pahl (email@example.com) is Professor of History of Christianity in North America at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and author of Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence. This article first appeared in The Colorado Daily and was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) www.commongroundnews.org
By Mike Whitney
April 18, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) knows that High-Frequency Trading (HFT) manipulates the market and bilks investors out of tens of billions of dollars every year. But SEC chairman Mary Schapiro refuses to step in and take action. Instead, sheâ€™s concocted an elaborate â€œinformation gatheringâ€ scheme, that does nothing to address the main problem. Schapiroâ€™s plan–to track large blocks of trades by large institutional investors– is an attempt to placate congress while the big Wall Street HFT traders continue to rake in obscene profits. It achieves nothing, except provide the cover Schapiro needs to avoid doing her job.
High-frequency trading (HFT) is algorithmic-computer trading that finds â€œstatistical patterns and pricing anomaliesâ€ by scanning the various stock exchanges. Itâ€™s high-speed robo-trading that oftentimes executes orders without human intervention. But donâ€™t be confused by all the glitzy â€œstate-of-the-artâ€ hype. HFT is not a way of â€œallocating capital more efficientlyâ€, but of ripping people off in broad daylight.
It all boils down to this: HFT allows one group of investors to see the data on other peopleâ€™s orders ahead of time and use their supercomputers to buy in front of them. Itâ€™s called front-loading, and it goes on every day right under Schapiros nose.
In an interview on CNBC, HFT-expert Joe Saluzzi was asked if the big HFT players were able to see other investors orders (and execute trades) before them. Saluzzi said, â€œYes. The answer is absolutely yes. The exchanges supply you with the data, giving you the flash order, and if your fixed connection goes into their lines first, you are disadvantaging the retail and institutional investor.â€
The brash way that this scam is carried off is beyond belief. The deep-pocket bank/brokerages actually pay the NYSE and the NASDAQ to â€œcolocateâ€ their behemoth computers ON THE FLOOR OF THE EXCHANGES so they can shave off critical milliseconds after theyâ€™ve gotten a first-peak at incoming trades. Itâ€™s like parking the company forklift in front of the local bank vault to ease the transfer of purloined cash. Due to the impressive research of bloggers like Zero Hedgeâ€™s, Tyler Durden and Market Tickerâ€™s, Karl Denniger, many people have a fairly good grasp of HFT and understand that the SEC needs to act. But Schapiro has continued to drag her feet while issuing endless proclamations about pursuing the wrongdoers. Baloney. She needs to stop yammering and shut these operations down.
In a recent posting, Market Ticker explained some of the finer-points of high-frequency trading, such as, how the banks/brokerages probe the exchanges with small orders in order to find out how much other investors are willing to pay for a particular stock. Hereâ€™s a clip:
â€œLetâ€™s say that there is a buyer willing to buy 100,000 shares of Broadcom with a limit price of $26.40. That is, the buyer will accept any price up to $26.40. But the market at this particular moment in time is at $26.10, or thirty cents lower.
So the computers, having detected via their â€œflash ordersâ€ that there is a desire for Broadcom shares, start to issue tiny â€œimmediate or cancelâ€ orders – IOCs – to sell at $26.20. If that order is â€œeatenâ€ the computer then issues an order at $26.25, then $26.30, then $26.35, then $26.40. When it tries $26.45 it gets no bite and the order is immediately canceled.
Now the flush of supply comes at $26.39, and the claim is made that the market has become â€œmore efficient.â€
Nonsense; there was no â€œreal sellerâ€ at any of these prices! This pattern of offering was intended to do one and only one thing – manipulate the market by discovering what is supposed to be a hidden piece of information – the other sideâ€™s limit price!
With normal order queues and flows the person with the limit order would see the offer at $26.20 and might drop his limit. But the computers are so fast that unless you own one of the same speed you have no chance to do this – your order is immediately â€œrapedâ€ at the full limit price!
The presence of these programs will guarantee huge profits to the banks running them and they also guarantee both that the retail buyers will get screwed as the market will move MUCH faster to the upside than it otherwise would.
If youâ€™re wondering how Goldman Sachs and other â€œbig banks and hedge fundsâ€ made all their money this last quarter, now you know.â€ (â€œHigh-Frequency Trading is a Scamâ€, Market Ticker)
The HFT uber-computers are able to find out the highest price that traders will pay in a millisecond and then extort that full amount millions of times to maximize profits. Clearly, this has nothing to do with efficiency or innovation. Itâ€™s high-tech highway robbery; institutional bid-rigging on a grand scale, tacitly sanctioned by industry lackeys operating from within the administration. Schapiro was picked by Team Obama for this very reason; because she was known as a regulator with a â€œlight touchâ€ when she headed Finra the financial industryâ€™s self policing agency. As Finraâ€™s chief, Schapiro managed to keep her head in the sand during the Madoff scandal and the auction-rate securities flap. She also issued far fewer fines and penalties than her predecessor. Hereâ€™s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal which sums up Schapiroâ€™s regulatory doctrine:
â€œThe Financial Services Institute, a trade group, was meeting, and Ms. Schapiro addressed the crowd about Finraâ€™s efforts to fight frauds aimed at senior citizens. Frank Congemi, a financial adviser, asked what Finra was doing to regulate â€œpackaged productsâ€ such as complex mortgage securities. Mr. Congemi says that Ms. Schapiro replied: â€œWe have rating agencies that rate them.â€ The credit-rating agencies, by this time, were being heavily criticized for having given triple-A ratings to mortgage bonds that became unsalable as foreclosures rose.â€ (Wall Street Journal)
If the financial crisis has taught us anything, itâ€™s that the system is NOT self-correcting. And it takes more than just rules. It takes regulators who are willing to regulate.
By Adil James, MMNS
The Islamic Shura Council of Michiganâ€™s â€œDay of Goodnessâ€ last Saturday night was deprived of its keynote speaker due to a problem with specialized visas.
However, many prominent and active Muslims from local organizations still attended, perhaps showing more in quality than in quantity, with about 100 people present, but among those people perhaps 10 imams, and the leadership of the many organizations associated with the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan.
The event is essentially a fundraiser, and by the end of the evening it had earned approximately $75,000 towards its stated goal of $150,000. The event was in a conference room at the Southfield Westin hotel on Town Center Drive.
ISCOM Chair Dr. Mouhib Ayas explained that intended keynote speaker Jamal Badawiâ€™s visa did not permit him to speak at Not-for-profit fundraisers. So Badawi was not able to speak despite his coming to Michigan from Canada, and despite his having given the khutbah at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center earlier in the day.
ISCOM was established in 2005 as a non-profit umbrella organization with, according to the dayofgoodness website, â€œthe mission of providing coordination between and building cohesiveness among the Islamic centers mosques, and organizations in Michigan. The council works for the betterment of all Muslims, to advance Muslim interests, and to promote Islamic values.â€
The chairman of the Board of Directors is Mouhib Ayas, and its Vice Chair is Arif Huskic. Attorney Misbah Shahid is the Secretary, and several other prominent Southeast Michigan Muslims are also on the board–the executive assistant and first employee is Reheem Hanifa.
20 different mosques, comprising the majority of the major mosques in Southeast Michigan, including the biggest Shiâ€™a mosque and most of the big Sunni mosques, are involved.
Dr. Ayas gave a long but interesting presentation with a slideshow demonstrating the accomplishments of ISCOM. He pointed out the association of ISCOM with Gleaners Food Bank, and also showed the institutional progress the organization has made by hiring a grant writer to apply for available grants–this alone has netted thousands of dollars in projects and may likely bring more projects in the near future. One project the grant writing process obtained was a $25,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield project.
One program he spoke about was the â€œMaintaining Houses of Allahâ€ program, which is designed to address the disparity between the wealthy mosques and the mosques with less money that are sometimes dilapidated and run down for lack of funds.
In a moving presentation Dr. Ayas pointed to pictures, first of a wealthy mosque then of a more destitute mosque, saying â€œThis is a house of Allah, and this is a house of Allah,â€ driving home the point that ISCOM is working to benefit Muslims who really need help in order to worship Allah in clean and nice mosques.
Another ISCOM project is working with MSAâ€™s, using them really as a lever to connect to non-Muslims in universities–â€we need to start influencing minds when people are young.â€ He explained the goal is to meet future leaders of this country early on, and Dr. Ayas gave examples of programs where non-Muslim students fasted (not during Ramadan) in order to understand the effects of fasting on Muslims.
Dr. Ayas explained also that in order for the institution to move forward, ISCOM needs to start hiring professional full-time people, and he gave the example of Mr. Reheem Hanifa who has begun working full-time for the organization.
Dr. Ayas also showed a fairly inspiring diagram which showed ISCOM as the hub of a wheel reaching about 15 different important Muslim organizations in Southeast Michigan, including Muslim Family Services, MSAâ€™s, the Huda Clinic, Islamic schools, and more.
There was a presentation by a relatively new organization called Muslim Social Services, www.muslimsocialservices.com, whose mission is to extend the reach and value of social services to Muslims in Washtenaw County, Michigan.
There was a strong fundraising effort by a young but dedicated medical student, Farhan Abdul Aziz. He told a beautiful story of a Chinese Muslim who travelled to the United States and passed away knowing nobody, but who was able to be buried by Muslims because of the social service institutions that had been set up in the city in which she died, which drove home the vital importance of such institutions.
For more information about ISCOM, you can visit either www.islamicshuracouncil.com or www.dayofgoodness.com. You can also contact Dr. Ayas at 248-705-9137.
Parvez Ahmed nominated to serve on Human Rights Commission
Dr. Parvez Ahmed, assistant professor of finance at University of North Florida, has been nominated by the mayor of Jacksonville to serve on the cityâ€™s Human Rights Commission.
â€œThere are some here that believe they caught somebody thatâ€™s an evil person,â€ Mayor John Delaney told the council committee. â€œThat is not the case here. It has the feel of lynching. It has the feel of what happened to the Japanese citizens on the West Coast in World War II who were incarcerated for simply being who they were.â€
There were two protestors at the council meeting one of whom was escorted out.
The council committee voted to approve the nomination. The process will be complete when the full council votes later on.
Ahmedâ€™s nomination was opposed by councilman Clay Yarborough who had earlier voted in his favor but reverses his stance this week. He did not cite the reason.
â€œI think there is a lot of fear, and the fear is exploited by people with definite agendas who have stated agendas of disempowering Muslims in America,â€ Ahmed said.
Young Muslims in US Seek Homegrown Imams
By Vidushi Sinha | Voice of America
The Muslim population in the United States is growing, and so is its need for spiritual guidance. A new generation American Muslims is demanding more from local mosques than they can always provide.
â€œItâ€™s not what you see on television or itâ€™s not what people are talking about or a dress code or whatever. Itâ€™s about being good to your fellow man, about being good to your God. Thatâ€™s all it is. Thatâ€™s what it is,â€ said Adeel Zeb, an aspiring imam and a Muslim chaplain at American University in Washington. He reaches out to young Muslims with what he calls the real message of Islam.
Zeb says there is often a disconnect between young Muslims and the foreign born leaders who head many mosques in the United States.
â€œWhen a youth comes and approaches the imam who comes from a different country – first of all there is a language barrier, second of all, there is a cultural barrier, and then there is also an age barrier. Many barriers have to be overcome,â€ he said.
Sayyid Syeed is a top official with the Islamic Society of North America. He concedes that many imams at American mosques are from overseas, but he says thatâ€™s beginning to change.
â€œWe had to reject some imams who only knew the Koran, but could not relate themselves to the people. They came with the mentality that did not fit with our constituency where you have men and women actively in the leadership positions of islamic centers and these imams who came from overseas could not reconcile themselves with the fact that women were running the islamic centers,â€ he said.
In many Islamic countries, the imamâ€™s sole job is to lead the prayer. But here in the United States, they often serve a broader role.
â€œIt is much more about leading the community than leading just the prayer,â€ said Sheikh Shaker Elsayed, the imam of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia. â€œHere you are a judge, you are an arbitrator, you are a mediator, you are a psychologist, you are a psychiatrist at times and you are a friend. You are a brother, you are a leader, a teacher, and all of those combined, and everybody wants to pick from you what they need.â€
Imam Elsayed came from Egypt three decades ago. â€œThe learning curve of most imams is very steep. It takes an average of five to eight years for an imam to become a true, local, effective imam, especially when you move from your very small environment to a big, large, open environment like the United States,â€ he said.
But young American Muslims often have questions that require more immediate answers. â€œYou need an imam who has an understanding of Muslim life here. I know I grew up around a mosque I went to only twice a year,â€ said Tanim Awwal.
The community at large understands the need for an imam who knows the turmoil a Muslim American goes through while growing up in a non-Muslim country.
â€œYou have to reach them at high school level, at the college level when they are exploring. When they are learning, when their mind is still young and receptive,â€ said Adeel Zeb.
Zeb argues that Muslim Americans want a spiritual guide who can help to reconcile 14 centuries of Islamic scholarship with the modern traditions of American life.
Stronger Darul Arqam School means Durable Future of the Community
â€œThere is a famous saying it takes a village to educate someone. Why it takes a village to educate someone? Because in order to gain knowledge and training over time, there is immense need of resources. And why village needs to take interest in education its population. Because a progressing, resourceful, enlightened and prosperous village is dependent of how we educated and knowledgeable its inhabitants are.â€ These were the basic feelings of several speakers at Darul Arqam Private School (North) Fundraising Dinner held at Marriott Greenspoint North Houston this past weekend. Emcee of the evening was one of the parents of student of the Darul Arqam School North Houston Wasif Khan. Present on the occasion were Shaikh Moustafa Mahmoud (Scholar of Islam and Imam of ISGH North Zone Masjid); Dr. Aziz Siddiqi President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH); Roger Yelton Director of North Zone ISGH; Ibrahim Badat Associate Director Adel Road North Zone; prominent members of the community; and administrative & teaching staff of the school.
Darul Arqam North is the only Islamic accredited school in North part of Houston. It is a full time Islamic School offering classes from Pre K to High school. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.
Some of the speakers at the fundraiser included the first Superintendent for Darul Arqam School Dr. Shaikh Ahmad and Esteemed Principal Saboohi Adhami, who in a most enthusiastic presentation notified that Darul Arqamâ€™s idea is not to just give a piece of credential to their students; their task is to give proper identity and direction about life to each and every student, so that they become role models for the community and society at large. Amidst applause, Ms. Saboohi Adhami informed about that with over 90% of students meeting the criteria of TAKS tests, Darul Arqam School (North) has achieved the coveted Exemplary School status. Over the past five years, Darul Arqam School North has also achieved excellent standings at the Islamic knowledge, literary and creative arts categories regional and national championship in the annual Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST). Darul Arqam North has finished among the top in the past five years in the annual city-wide Islamic School Quranic Memorization/Recitation competition in 2007.
Ms. Saboohi Adhami said over the years, people have come with several excuses and points against the Islamic Schools; but By the Grace of God and dedicated efforts by Administrators, Teachers, Parents and Students, we are able to point out to real examples of high standards achieved by students of Darul Arqam School in Grades up till High School & MIST Competition (where public and private all schools compete) and also dispelled the myth that beyond the High School, Islamic School students will feel left out when they will enter Mainstream American Colleges and Universities, but all that has been proven wrong by several shining examples (some of those confident students like Ayesha Patel and Sara Dar made short presentations at the fundraiser as well).
Facilitator for the fundraising on the occasion was passionate speaker Imam Manzar Taleb of North Texas, who informed about history of Darul Arqam, saying Hadhrat Arqam (18) in Mecca accepted Islam on the hands of Hadhrat Mohammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah SWT Be Upon him – PBUh). He had a vision and donated his whole home to Messenger of Allah SWT so that Muslims could get educated over there every day and that was the first School of Messenger Mohammad called â€œDarul Arqamâ€. Centuries later few Muslims in Houston came with an insane idea of making Islamic School in USA and named it the same Darul Arqam. People within the community and outside the community came with several negative thoughts, but the visionaries persisted and today we have this realty of four campuses of Darul Arqam in Houston and growing.
â€œJust donâ€™t be only dreamers: With hard work and dedication comes Blessings of Allah SWT and achievements: Be an Achiever,â€ added Imam Manzar Taleb. More than $120,000 was raised By the Grace of God.
Elementary and Middle School Students were asked to create Scientific Projectsâ€™ for the evening and the Judge of these various science projects was Engineer Kaleem Khan, an able project manager with a prominent engineering company in Houston. Following students got the awards:
Elementary School: First Maryam Beyabani; Second Akrum Alameldin; Third Saman Ansari; Fourth Yusuf Sham; Middle School: First Ceyda Kural; Second Zaynab Khalifa; Third Saddiya Badat; Fourth Jowanna Siddiqui…
For more information, giving your kind support to this school of excellence and enrolling your children for August 2010 – May 2011 School Year, please visit http://www.north.darularqamschools.org/
By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent
The Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party blames the government of that time for the death of Ms. Bhutto. They claim that the Police could have done much more than they did. Because the PPP knew proper security was not going to be provided that is why they had their own security team.
However things get very hazy when getting into the report as to the whereabouts of the security provided by PPP as well.
Here are some parts of the reports to summaries what the report says and later what is being done after this report has come out.
Parts of Executive Summary of the UN Report:
The Commission was mystified by the efforts of certain high-ranking Pakistani government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources, as revealed in their public declarations. The extension of the mandate until 31 March enabled the Commission to pursue further this matter and eventually meet with some past and present members of the Pakistani military and intelligence services.
Ms. Bhutto faced threats from a number of sources; these included Al-Qaida, the Taliban, local jihadi groups and potentially from elements in the Pakistani Establishment. Yet the Commission found that the investigation focused on pursuing lower level operatives and placed little to no focus on investigating those further up the hierarchy in the planning, financing and execution of the assassination.
The investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth. More significantly, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) conducted parallel investigations, gathering evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel investigations was selectively shared with the police.
UN Report Blames the military for all Ms. Bhuttoâ€™s dismissals:
Her first government ended after just 20 months, and her second lasted less than three years. Both times, she was dismissed by the sitting president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Leghari, respectively, based on allegations of corruption and nepotism. While both men were civilians, each had close ties to the military. Ms Bhutto and the PPP believed that it was the military, or more broadly, the Establishment, that forced her out.
Who does the Report Blame?
Contrary to the police assertion, there was no police-provided box formation around Ms Bhutto as she arrived at the rally, and the Elite Force unit did not execute their duties as specified in the security deployment. Furthermore, the Commission does not believe that the full escort as described by the police was ever present.
According to the report a bullet proof Mercedez-Benz was supposed to be riding right behind Ms. Bhuttoâ€™s vehicle which sped off before the gunshots and the bomb blast. Riding in the black Mercedes-Benz car were the driver, PPP official Mr Faratullah Babar in the front passenger seat and, in the rear passenger seat from left to right, two PPP officials Mr Babar Awan and Mr Rehman Malik and General (ret) Tauqir Zia.
UN Report Findings on the Mercedes Benz:
96. The black bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz car was the first to leave the parking area. It is not clear how much distance there was between this vehicle and the rest of Ms Bhuttoâ€™s convoy at the moment of the blast. Credible reports range from 100 meters to 250 meters. Some of those in the car said that they were close enough to Ms Bhuttoâ€™s vehicle to feel the impact of the blast. Others at the site of the blast have said that the Mercedes-Benz left Liaquat Bagh so quickly that it was nowhere to be seen when the blast occurred. Indeed, the Commission has not seen this vehicle in the many video images of the exit area it reviewed. Despite the acknowledgement of some occupants of the vehicle that they felt the impact of the blast, the Commission finds it incredible that they drove all the way to Zardari House, a drive of about 20 minutes, before they became aware that Ms Bhutto had been injured in the blast.
They should have stopped at a safe distance when they felt the blast so as to check on Ms Bhuttoâ€™s condition, the condition of her vehicle and whether the back-up vehicle was required. Indeed, as the back-up vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz car would have been an essential element of Ms Bhuttoâ€™s convoy on the return trip even if the occupants of that car had confirmed that Ms Bhutto had been unscathed in the attack.
The nature of the crowd was not determined because it was slowing the cars down considerably. The crowd was riled up to the point where it started to worry the people inside as to why the crowd was this way and the cars were slowing down. There was a dispute on the route that was taken as well. Neither the PPP nor the Police side of this story has been confirmed.
The protective box that was promised was never formed. The police claims they were about to form the box right when the blast took place but there is no evidence of that event taking place in the videos. The video clearly shows that there were not enough Policemen to push back the crowds to form the box.
Also PPP blames the police for not giving permission for an autopsy on Ms. Bhuttoâ€™s body. The police say that that was because they wanted consent from the family which is legally not necessary. The PPP claim that situations were created which made the autopsy harder even when the body was handed over to the relatives. How strong an argument this is for PPP is doubtful since President Zardari, the husband himself refused an autopsy.
The crime scene was completely hosed off right after the event took place. The police say it was because the crowds around it were restless and they needed to be put at ease. Once the scene was cleaned off people started to leave. Also the police claim people were rubbing blood from the scene on their faces thinking its Ms. Bhuttoâ€™s blood. However later on it was confirmed that only one person was seen doing such a thing. Hosing down a crime scene is not standard practice in Pakistan.
UN Report on the Crime Scene:
127. Video footage immediately following the blast shows shock, fear and confusion among the people at the scene and little police control. The crime scene was not immediately cordoned off. The police did collect some evidence. Officers from intelligence agencies, including the ISI, the IB and MI, were present and also collected evidence, using, as one Rawalpindi police officer noted, better evidence collection equipment than the police. Within one hour and forty minutes of the blast, however, SP Khurram ordered the fire and rescue officials present to wash the crime scene down with fire hoses. He told the Commission that the police had collected all the available evidence by then. Police records show that only 23 pieces of evidence were collected, in a case where one would normally have expected thousands. The evidence included mostly human body parts, two pistols, spent cartridges and Ms Bhuttoâ€™s damaged vehicle.
The report also states that many times people were scared to speak openly. If that is the case then the question arises that if people are not speaking openly then how did the commission get any facts and how did the commission differentiate between facts and comments made out of fear?
UN Report on the Press Conference:
156. At about 1700 hours on the day following the assassination the government held a televised press conference, conducted by Brigadier Cheema, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior at which he announced that: a. Ms Bhutto died from a head injury sustained when from the force of the blast she hit her head on the lever of the escape hatch; and, b. Mr Baitullah Mehsud linked with Al-Qaida was responsible, presenting an intercepted telephone conversation between Mr Mehsud and one Mr Maulvi Sahib in which Mr Mehsud was heard congratulating Mr Maulvi on a job well-done
Un Report Says the Joint Investigation Team was not given access to the crime scene in due time:
166. Once at the scene, the investigators could see that it had been hosed down.
Despite the late hour, they spent seven hours there. They followed the water current, including wading through the drainage sewer and collected evidence from the debris.
They were able to recover one bullet casing from the drainage sewer, later established through forensic examination to have been fired from the pistol bearing the bomberâ€™s DNA. The JIT members left the scene around midnight. The Rawalpindi police provided security for them, and the road was cordoned off during the entire time. The next day, the team returned to continue the search. Upon their request, the scene remained cordoned off and the road closed. They eventually recovered other evidence in the course of their crime scene examination, including the partial skull of the suicide bomber from atop one of the buildings near the site.
The UN Report on The Bomber:
168. The scientific analysis of the suicide bomberâ€™s remains by the Scotland Yard team established that he was a teenage male, no more than 16 years old. According to the JITâ€™s investigations, this young man was named Bilal also known as Saeed from South Waziristan. This was established through the links that the accused persons admitted having had with the bomber and the ISI telephone intercept of Baitullah Mehsudâ€™s conversation with Maulvi Sahib.
According to the report Ms. Bhutto considered (i) Brigadier (ret) Ejaz Shah, Director General of the IB at the time of the assassination, (ii) General (ret) Hamid Gul, a former Director General of the ISI, and (iii) Mr Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab until 22 November 2007 to be a threat to her life but these people were not questioned in the investigation. Most of key persons who were in the car with Ms.Bhutto at the time of her death refused to speak to JIT when asked. They however, deny being contacted by the police.
The UN Reportâ€™s Statemen on The Sottland Yard Report finding:
a. although not possible to â€œcategorically…excludeâ€ the possibility of a gunshot wound, the available evidence suggested there was no gunshot wound; b. Ms Bhutto died of a severe head injury caused by impact in the area of the escape hatch lip as a result of the blast; and c. the same individual both fired the shots and detonated the explosives.
That report was not trustworthy for the PPP leadership since they took a lot of the information given to them by the police on â€˜good faithâ€™.
The UN Report also says that she had threats from Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations. She was also under threat they say from the establishment of the time.
Other hypothesis were her family and people close to her wanting her dead however the report states that there are no basis for these allegations.
Part of Important Findings of the UN Report:
iii. Responsibility for Ms Bhuttoâ€™s security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.
vii. The additional security arrangements of the PPP lacked leadership and were inadequate and poorly executed. The Commission recognizes the heroism of individual PPP supporters, many of whom sacrificed them selves to protect Ms Bhutto. However, Ms Bhutto was left vulnerable in a severely damaged vehicle that was unable to transport her to the hospital by the irresponsible and hasty departure of the bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz which, as the back-up vehicle, was an essential part of her convoy.
xviii. The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms Bhuttoâ€™s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate. In other cases, the failures were driven by uncertainty in the minds of many officials as to the extent of the involvement of intelligence agencies.
After the Report:
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AFP â€œEight officials have been relieved of their duties while the service contract of a retired brigadier has been terminated. â€œTheir names have been placed on the governmentâ€™s exit control list. The Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party has already asked the prime minister to take action against all those involved including Musharraf.â€
Even though this seems to have satisfied many people and the government seems to be taking action against people who are mentioned in the report all does not seem to add up. There are many little things that are amiss still. It seems that there are key people in the PPP who need to be questioned and investigated on some decisions they made on that day as well.
The report mentions all of those incidents and persons but puts no blame or responsibility on them. The same is with the government. The police is being questioned for not providing boxed protection however, the Back up Mercedes-Benz sped up ahead leaving the vehicle with Ms. Bhutto behind; who is going to questions those people as to why they did that?
It is one of the common known facts that the police did not allow an autopsy after Ms.Bhuttoâ€™s death. However they cannot be held responsible when her husband refused to get it done as well. The situation goes against both parties however only one seem to be questioned.
The people of Pakistan get behind anything that gets them closer to the conclusion of any problem. However, this report brings out more problems and questions than solutions.
No one really knows who is saying what any more and who can be trusted. Everything that is presented to the people of Pakistan is wrapped in lies and confusion and in my opinion this is no different.
By Nuran Alteir, In Focus News
Finding a spouse that meets your religious needs has never been easier since Marry Me Muslim launched in Nov. 2009.
Now you can look for potential spouses by answering simple questions, from personality to family life.
Founder Nabeel Khatri said he created the site because of his experiences when looking for a wife.
â€œIn our culture, because we donâ€™t date, we donâ€™t really know much about the person weâ€™re going to marry,â€ Khatri, a 33-year-old network engineer, said.
One of the things he learned from his first marriage was to ask more questions.
He is now married to his second wife after a divorce, which he said was because he didnâ€™t ask enough questions. He met both his wife and his ex online, he said.
Mainly, the two groups of people who would join the site, and others like it, are those who are facing a divorce stigma and those who just canâ€™t find someone they click with.
But Marry Me Muslim is open for all types of people looking for marriage.
One user, who wished to remain anonymous, said she heard about the site from Khatriâ€™s wife and that her experience so far has been pleasant.
â€œI love how the site is set up,â€ she said. â€œIt is different from some of the other matrimonial sites out there.â€
She specifically liked how the answers matched users up. There are more than 100 questions that line users up with someone based on how many common answers two users have. When searching, users with the most in common with you will be at the top.
The user said she thinks matrimonial sites, in general, are great for people who donâ€™t have a lot of â€œnetworkingâ€ in their community.
â€œOnline, there are a lot of people youâ€™re able to interact with, people you may not be able to find otherwise,â€ she said.
The site is devoted to single Muslims. Men who are already married are forewarned that if discovered, their account will be removed.
â€œAs Muslims, we understand the nature of polygamy in Islam,â€ the page reads. â€œHowever, this site has been developed specifically for single Muslims interested in finding a marriage partner.â€
Khatri said he heard of Muslim men looking for second wives on other matrimonial Web sites and didnâ€™t want that kind of atmosphere on Marry Me Muslim.
Muslims, he said, should ask a lot of questions before saying â€œI do,â€ but what it comes down to is that they donâ€™t.
By Charlene Gubash, NBC News Producer
Egyptâ€™s Ministry of Tourism is determined to keep the good times rolling for stranded visitors. Although hotels are overbooked by 7 percent in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada and well over 80 percent in Sharm El Sheikh, hotel owners have been ordered not to expel guests who have overstayed their reservations.
Tour companies must continue to foot the bill for tour groups who overstay and if lodgers are traveling solo, hotels are obliged to offer them low rates. If travelers are in financial trouble, they have been advised to contact their embassies.
Stranded Europeans are taking full advantage.
â€œThe travel agent, they pay all for us, room, food, drinks, everything,â€ said Ulf Daahlbom of Gothenburg Sweden. He took a five hour taxi ride from Hurghada to take in the sites in Cairo. â€œIt was beautiful here. I have been at the Pyramids and the Egyptian museum.â€
Two engineers from Ireland and Scotland couldnâ€™t conceal their smiles as they sat in the shade of a tree after a day in 100 degree heat at the Pyramids and Egyptian Museum. They had been on their way back home from work in the Suez Canal zone when they were obliged to take an all-expense paid vacation.
Charlotte Krum, a stewardess for Scandinavian Air, has nothing to go back for since her airline has been grounded. She and her husband and four children were on a Red Sea get-away when spewing volcanic ash extended their stay. â€œItâ€™s nice for us to have the opportunity to show them [the children] all the sites in Cairo,â€ she said. â€œWe just came from the Pyramids and now we go to the museum. We are trying to make the best out of it.â€
Krum and her family came to Cairo to try and get a flight to Greece, but seemed in no hurry. Travelerâ€™s insurance covered the first four days of their stay. â€œEverything has been working out quite well. We have some nice rooms here.â€
Egypt jealously protects its biggest money earner: tourism. About 12 million tourists, at least 65 percent of them from Europe, bring in about 11 billion dollars a year and 12.6 percent of the workforce lives off of tourism. All guests are welcome, even those who overstay.
While many hotels over overbooked, EgyptAir and other regional carriers sit idle on the tarmac. They are suffering to the tune of 250 million dollars a day. Before noon on Monday, more than 16 planes were grounded on Cairoâ€™s tarmacs.
But in Egyptâ€™s airports, you wonâ€™t find hapless visitors trying to catch some sleep on makeshift bedrolls, or slumped in plastic chairs. Tour guides are under strict orders not to drop anyone off at the airport until they have confirmed their flights.