A Rising Star of the Muslim Community

SHAAN_100_0137Shaan Mobin Khan can be any parents’ dream child, particularly if he is of the Islamic heritage. 

In the blissful weather of summer, when most of the teenagers take pleasure in jolly rides with their parents and indulge in sightseeing , while Shaan studied  Principles and Techniques of Molecular Biology and Principles of Biochemistry, a six-hour undergraduate credit course, at Harvard University’s Summer School Program of 2012.

In the past few months of his school days as a Junior at Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Shaan was busy in preparing and appearing for four Advanced Placement courses and maintaining his membership in the National Honor Society, whose students recently elected Shaan as the school’s president, first for a Muslim student in the school’s history.

In his 5th grade, Shaan was elected president of his school’s student council.

However, Shaan’s best avocation is his being the president of the school’s Muslim Students Association.  Brimmed with enthusiasm for the Muslim youth, Shaan was groomed for the MSA presidency by his seniors, right the day he got admitted at the school in his freshman year.  A humble person to say the least, Shaan loves to volunteer for the MSA events.  Another equally passionate duty for Shaan is to be a teaching assistant at the Sunday School of the Islamic Foundation, Villa Park, Illinois. As soon as he graduated from the Sunday School, he was asked to be a TA in the eleventh grade, taught by none other than Mr. Faisal Hamouda, who is known in the Muslim community of Illinois as one of the most articulate and compassionate teachers for the Muslim teenagers.

Winner of several prestigious essay contests, a creative writer of English, an avid learner of French, and a fluent speaker of Urdu, Shaan tutors Tajweed to his 7th grade students in the Arabic class at the Islamic Foundation’s Sunday School.

After school hours, Shaan plays for his school’s tennis team. Recently, he was selected for All Conference Academic Honors in Tennis by his school. However, Shaan loves basketball and his favorite team is Da Bulls.

On community outreach front, Shaan took initiative in requesting and lobbying the Village of Lombard to name a street in honor of Daniel Tani, an American Astronaut, a former student of Shaan’s high school district 87, a former resident of Shaan’s home town – Lombard, and an Asian American hero.

In addition, Shaan has taken some interest in local politics too. With his father, who is aggressively involved in the DuPage County Republican Party, Shaan has volunteered in various political campaigns and participated in several area parades.                                                                                                        

If his stand-up comedy performances are itemized here, the list of his volunteerism will become terribly long. He had the honor of performing with famous Muslim stand-up artist Azhar Usman, whose works Shaan impersonates and he is Shaan’s mentor in this genre.

Shaan’s dominating philosophy in life is – Either you can take pain in delineating the sharpness and prickliness of the thorns of a rose plant or you can rejoice the ethereal beauty of a rose flower and admire its eagerness to co-exist with the contrasting conditions.

This kind of stoic yet epicurean pronouncement is aptly the mellifluous music to the ears of Shaan’s mother – Shanu Khan, and father – Moin Moon Khan.

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Ramadan’s Fight Against Hunger in Detroit

By Summayah Ahmed

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Dr. Muzammil Ahmed,  Chairman, addressing the audience.

On August 22nd in Detroit, the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) and the United Way of Southeastern Michigan hosted the “Ramadan Fight Against Hunger” celebration recognizing the efforts of dozens of Muslim volunteers and organizations who collectively fed over 25,000 people this Ramadan. The Ramadan Fight Against Hunger was a joint project in partnership with United Way of Southeastern Michigan, MMCC, Zaman International, Muslim Family Services, Gleaners Food Bank, and many local mosques. The MMCC has been serving the community since 1988 and is formally known as CIOM and ISCOM.

Panelists who spoke at the event included Michael Duggan, CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, Najah Bazzy, the president of Zaman International, Michael Brennan, CEO of United Way of Southeastern Michigan, and Muzammil Ahmed, chairperson of MMCC.  The panelists congratulated the community for providing essential services to Michigan’s impoverished areas. Brennan thanked the efforts of the Muslim community and looked forward to ongoing collaboration.

Syed Mohiuddin said, “It is amazing to see how many Muslims in Michigan are working to help their neighbors.  We want to recognize their efforts and be inspired by their activities.” According to the United Way, 1 in 5 Michigan residents are struggling to find affordable and nutritious food.  Michigan has been amongst the hardest hit states economically.

There were many efforts recognized at the Fight Against Hunger event.  The volunteers from the Tawheed Center in Farmington Hills packed 6 trucks with food boxes filled with food items such as cereal, sugar, pastas, and other non perishable goods. According to Muqsid Syed, the Tawheed Center volunteers provided over 15,000 meals to local families.

Zaman International, a Michigan based charitable organization, packed ethnically appropriate food items in baskets which were distributed to over 300 families. They collected 14,180 lbs of food and raised over $30,000 to purchase meat and other perishable items for distribution.  Najah Bazzy said her organizations collaboration with other local groups allowed them to significantly increase their food capacity this Ramadan.

Many local mosques and youth groups also conducted food drives. The youth group in the Canton mosque, MCWS, led by 11th grader Hassan Ahmed, orchestrated a food drive that collected over 2,000 pounds of food goods.  Coordinators Anas Alkatib of MMCC and Sabrina Ali also took kids to food pantries for packing and serving the food. Nimra Hasan, 10th graders stated, “it really was awesome to help people while we are fasting. I think Ramadan really makes you realize how lucky we are and how much we need to give it up.”

Other mosques participating in the food drive were the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Muslim Center of Ann Arbor mosque, IAGD of Rochester Hills, Unity Center of Bloomfield Hills, IONA of Warren, and the Muslim Community Center and the Islamic Center of Detroit.  Over 2 tons of food were collected this Ramadan by these mosques.

Several mosques and services had their own soup kitchens or Ramadan dinners provided for the community. The Detroit Muslim Mission and Masjid Walli Muhammad, the original mosque where Malcolm X preached, have been feeding underprivileged neighbors for many years.  Other efforts recognized at the event included those of Impact : Muslims Making a Difference. These volunteers fed Masjid al-Haqq in Detroit once a week by collecting donated hot meals and delivering it in the evening for local congregants and neighbors.

More information on the Michigan Fight Against Hunger can be found at www.mimuslimcouncil.com.

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Hafeez Tops Cricket Bowler List

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Mohammad-HafeezPakistani cricketer Mohammad Hafeez was named the top bowler in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) One Day International (ODI). The all-rounder replaced South Africa paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe as the top-ranked bowler in the ICC Player Rankings for ODI bowlers, which were released on Monday after a one-off ODI between Australia and Afghanistan. This was quite an honor for Hafeez, who is Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain. He was given the top spot just a day before Pakistan’s three-match one-day series against Australia.

Hafeez and Tsotsobe swapped places on the bowlers’ rankings after the first match in the England-South Africa ODI series at Cardiff on August 24, which was abandoned due to rain. Tsotsobe ended with figures of 2.3-0-18-0 in the rain-affected game, and he now trails Hafeez by just two ratings points in the bowlers’ table. Hafeez and Tsotobe will, however, get a fair opportunity to either retain or reclaim the number-one spot in the coming weeks.

Hafeez will be playing in a three-match ODI series against Australia that starts on Tuesday (today) in Sharjah, UAE, while Tsotsobe resumes duties in the series against England, also from 28 August. Hafeez, Pakistan’s ODI vice-captain, is one of his team’s most experienced players for the series against Australia. He is at the top of his game and is also the highest-ranked Pakistani allrounder on the ICC computer. He is at number three in the all-rounder’s list, a spot ahead of his countryman Shahid Afridi. Pakistan will be taking the field against Australia with a potent spin arsenal which also includes Saeed Ajmal present ranked number three in the ODI bowlers’ list.

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Muhammad’s College Career Possibly in Jeopardy

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Shabazz Muhammad.

UCLA star freshman basketball player Shabazz Muhammad missed out on an exhibition tour of China last week, according to a source familiar with the situation. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation is reportedly investigating financial dealings between Muhammad’s family and friends. He remained behind, attending classes at UCLA, while the team went to China for a three-game tour that began on August 22nd.

NCAA officials have spoken with Muhammad, but have yet to talk with his family. The decision was made to have Muhammad stay home while the investigation is in progress, the source said. The principal reason for leaving him behind is because the NCAA allows a window of 40 days for an athlete to continue practicing while his situation is under review; that clock would have started in August if Muhammad had gone through the pre-China practices.

The NCAA is looking into whether Muhammad received improper benefits, to pay for unofficial trips to schools, from Benjamin Lincoln, CBSSports.com reported in February. Lincoln’s brother, Geoff Lincoln, is an assistant at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School, where Muhammad played.

The NCAA is also investigating financial help from Ken Kavanagh, a New York financial planner who helped fund Muhammad’s summer team, the Las Vegas-based Dream Vision Foundation. Kavanagh has said he is a longtime friend of the family. CBSSports.com reported that the NCAA contacted schools in February to make them aware of its interest.

UCLA isn’t really permitted to speak on the subject of Muhammad. But UCLA men’s basketball coach Ben Howland commented on how Muhammad looked in their initial practice sessions, “He went through a couple of the earlier skill workouts that we were allowed to do, and that was very exciting,” Howland said. “You could see the motor, aggressiveness. The bottom line is I’m sad and disappointed for him that he’s not able to go on this trip. Yet we’re cooperating with everything we can with the NCAA and the ongoing investigation, as are he and his family. And we’re confident it’ll work out.”

Very little is being said thus far about potential penalties should the investigation turn up concrete infractions, but the NCAA seldom spares anyone when it comes to the issue of improper benefits. There in fact looms the distinct possibility that Muhammad is stripped of all collegiate eligibility. But even in that worst case scenario, Muhammad’s basketball career would seem to be in good standing, as he is projected to be a top five National Basketball Association draft pick even without any collegiate experience.

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Elections 2012

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

The November 2012 Presidential election is not yet another electoral ritual. It is not just a regular contest between the Democrats and the Republicans. It is not just a showdown between Obama and Romney. In fact, it is also not about economy or jobs or recession.  It is about the direction of the future of America and the world. Don’t laugh and don’t think it is an exaggerated observation when you read that the direction of the future of America and the human civilization would depend on how the 169 million Americans vote. 

If it were a context between the registered Republicans and Democrats, the outcome is already pre-determined. Some 86 million registered voters are Democrats compared with 55 million republicans and 28 million others registered.

If it were about jobs, then bulk of the people who are out of jobs are members of the Democratic Party.  The number of unemployed persons in July, 2012 was 12.7 million, 14.4 percent of them were Blacks, 11 percent Hispanics, 6.3 percent Asians, mostly Democrats and 7 percent whites.

If it were about the personality, charisma, or skills of oratory of the two candidates, an overwhelming majority of the country considers Obama a clear winner.

If it were about economy, none of the two candidates can take the country out of the crisis as its genesis lies in something other than economy itself. It is due to the corporate greed, fiscal manipulation, lies and fraud.

The coming election is about the direction of the future of America and the world civilization because America is the only superpower that is in a dominant position in the international system with the ability to influence social and political events. America is the only superpower that has well defined interests and that knows how to project power in the world to protect those interests.

America is the third largest country in the world after the Soviet Union and Canada with 9.37 million square kilo meter area. It has the largest economy in the world with enormous industrial base and a large and modernized agriculture with large volumes of exports and imports. In 2011, its nominal GDP was estimated to be over $15 trillion, a quarter of global GDP. Its per capita GDP of $48,387 is the sixth largest in the world and it is the largest trading nation in the world.

America has the highest military expenditure in the world with its navy surpassing the 13 largest navies combined.  With over 500 permanent bases in 38 countries, the US military budge stands about 700 billion a year.

With a total of 700 thousand movies produced and some 2 million short films on almost every subject, the American cultural influence is beyond measurement even in the most traditional societies in Africa and Asia and Latin America.

With no other nation contributing as much as America in the field of ideas in natural and social sciences through new researches, Americans influence almost every aspect of the human civilization. How and what we eat and drink and dress is determined by the American patterns of production and consumption.

So the one who would control America would also influence the future course of human civilization at a time when old paradigms are changing and a new world is emerging in all its shape and forms.
There are two main camps in America, those who strongly believe in America being the exclusivist and those who believe in America ever changing and adjusting to newer realities.

The exclusivists want an America that is run on ideas rooted in Biblical values coupled with capitalist economy with little interference from the government to support a culture associated with European immigrants and domination. The other group believing in inclusivity wants an America where people and not ethnicities, lobbies and powerful interests run the affairs of the country.

The exclusivists are dominant in the Republican Party and its various outfits, the inclusivists associate with the Democratic Party, yet they are not in a position to influence the party in a significant way as several exclusivists control the blood line of the Party.

The coming election will sharpen the divisions between the two groups and polarize the forces clearly. Romney would emerge as the champion of old establishment and Obama would be seen as the voice of the inclusivists, even though many of his policies in the last three and a half year negate that image.

Muslims, despite having a substantial and crucial number of votes in at least 34 key congressional districts, 11 senatorial seats and 8 governor races have by and large remained non existence in the debate about the future direction of the country. They are still embroiled in issues of countries most of them migrated from. Their younger generations still view the adopted country of their parents with skepticism. The African-American Muslims are suspicious of the system and have little interest in participating in it.

Their voices on issues such as education, crime, military spending, gun control, business ethics, corporate greed and mismanagement are feeble or non existent. Their groups are focused only on issues of hijab and beard and Islamophobia in domestic affairs and on Palestine in foreign policy.

Their contribution to debates on issues that impact ordinary Americans and the future of America is almost non-existent.

This is due to a few factors. Their participation in electoral politics is marginal. There forums on political education are in embryonic stages. There is no accurate data that can identify the number of Muslim votes in each or key congressional districts. There are no organized efforts to provide civic education to new immigrants and encourage the second and third generation Muslims to get involved at grassroots electoral politics.

A few decades ago the Mormon community was not different than the Muslim community in its political outreach. They were a marginal group with less than 1.3 per cent of the total adult population. Today, they have some 15 congressional members with Harry Reid as the leader of the democratically control Senate.

Obviously, the community needs a few visionaries who can motivate Muslims to participate in greater debates about the future directions of the United States. At present, those visionaries are beyond the vision of the community.

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Liverpool Bring Aboard Two Muslim Footballers

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Liverpool-2012In just a week’s time legendary Liverpool Football Club bolstered its midfield with two Muslim reinforcements, Moroccan-Dutch attacking midfielder Oussama Assaidi, and Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin. Assaidi was purchased from Dutch club Heerenveen, while Sahin was brought over as part of a one year loan from Spanish giants Real Madrid. Sahin becomes the first Turkish player in the illustrious history of Liverpool football.

The 23-year-old Sahin’s season-long loan move from Real was confirmed by the Reds on Saturday and he was in the stands at Anfield the next day to watch his new club draw 2-2 with English league champions Manchester City.

With Liverpool putting in their most encouraging performance yet since Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as manager in the summer, Sahin was impressed by what he saw in that game and the Turkey international feels a top-four spot should be the target for Liverpool in 2012-13.

“If you watch the game against Manchester City, you see that the style the team is playing is very good and of course, Liverpool has to play in the Champions League,’ Sahin said. ‘A big club like Liverpool has to play every year in the Champions League and we will do everything to get in the top four. Also there is the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League, and with the potential we have here, we can do some good things.”

Liverpool, who could only manage a disappointing eighth-placed finish last season, brought in Rodgers after he achieved success at Swansea with a dynamic football philosophy. It is a style of play the club’s owners hope he can make work for the Reds and one Sahin believes he is well suited to.

‘The project with Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers is the best for my situation I think – that is why I am here,’ he said. ‘I think the style I play is the same as how the manager wants the team to play. I have settled in very well and I hope it will be the same on the pitch and that we will have a great season.”

Sahin was strongly linked with Arsenal before making the switch to Liverpool, but he is in no doubt that he has made the right decision. “Everything people told me about Liverpool is there, what I see now,” said Sahin, who has revealed Real’s ex-Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso urged him to make the move. “It is a very big club with a huge history and I think I have made the right choice.”

Sahin joined Real last summer after catching the eye during a successful spell with German side Borussia Dortmund, with whom he won the Bundesliga title in 2010-11. Once again he was a member of a championship-winning squad in 2011-12 as Real claimed the Primera Division crown, but Sahin suffered with injuries and with there also being plenty of competition in midfield at the Spanish club, in the end, his involvement amounted to only a handful of first-team appearances. This term, he is hoping to be far more a part of the action.

“This is very important for me after the injury I got last year,” Sahin said. “We became champions at Real Madrid, but I didn’t play so many games, so for me it was important to come to a club where I had the chance to play at the highest level. I think in this case Liverpool is the best club for me right now.”

Asked about the prospect of him making a permanent transfer to Anfield, Sahin said: “In football you never know. I am here for this season and then you never know what will be happening in a few months. I am looking forward to playing this year here and after, we will see.”

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Eid Al-Fitr 2012 Islamic Center of Detroit, MI

By Noor Hani Salem, TMO

On Sunday August 19, 2012, billions of Muslims celebrated Eid Al Fitr, one of the two Muslim holidays. 10,000 of those Muslims joined at the Islamic Center of Detroit in Michigan, where fun is available for the entire family. The day begins early, around 8am the center is filled with people of all ages. The huge lot in front of the masjid is filled with tables, one filled with balloons, another toys and candy bags for children. Other booths are there, where some business owners  are selling things from honey to house frames and décor items. There is also food for sale, like famous bakery cheese, zatar, and meat pies, and the delicious and famous Falafel Paradise stuffed in gourmet sandwiches. Cold drinks and water are also for sale. The takbeer begins early, and the official prayer is at 9:30am. The halls were filled with little girls in their prettiest dresses, and adults dressed to their best. After the prayer there was a short lecture about how we should keep our good deeds from Ramadan consistent, and that we should worship not only in Ramadan, but year round, because our Lord is not the Lord of Ramadan alone, but the Lord of every second of every day. It was a very touchy lecture. Immediately people gathered outdoors, eating playing, and gathering for family pictures. Children ran to the moonwalks and slides that sat in the lot and others ran to be first in line to grab a goody bag, balloon, and toy, which the center gives out for free every single Eid (and it’s been a tradition for years). Families ate and talked and enjoyed seeing other Muslims that they haven’t seen for months. By noon the lot empties, but many families stay and spend the day there. Others visit relatives and friends, take children out to play, or have lunch out to celebrate. Eid nights are spent in laughter, while enjoying traditional sweets like mamoul (date cookies) and tea. Families gift one another and try making the three days of this Eid the best possible. Once the days are over, well the countdown for Eid Al Adha begins!

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Community News (V14-I36)

National “Hand Hygiene Leadership Award” Presented to Dr. Blal Zafar

Blal Zafar, MD, a hospitalist at River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Tenn., was one of six physicians in the country to receive the Lathem Physician Leadership Award in Hand Hygiene from Proventix Systems of Birmingham, according to a press note from the Capella Health Care system.

The 2012 recipients are recognized as dedicated leaders of change within their facilities and provide outstanding examples of excellence in leadership and hand hygiene to patients, visitors and staff members.

Created in honor of Dr. Mickey Lathem of Birmingham’s Shelby Baptist Medical Center, the Lathem Award recognizes high-quality, compassionate care to patients through exemplary hand hygiene practices. He or she demonstrates quality through personal compliance and vocal, active leadership. This year’s winners continue to provide guidance in hand hygiene and ensure routine interaction with their staff while providing education and reminders of the importance of hand washing to reduce and prevent infections.

Effective hand hygiene helps combat healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) that, in the United States, affect about one in every 20 patients, and kill and estimated 100,000 people each year. Physicians and healthcare workers recognize that proper hand-hygiene can have a substantial impact on the reduction of infections and result in increased safety for patients, healthcare workers and themselves. Leadership, like that provided by this year’s Lathem Award recipients, is a critical key to combating HAIs and saving lives.
Nominations for the Lathem Award were made by colleagues who observed the nominee’s leadership and quality practices.

Renowned Muslim Canadian artist is no more

TORONTO,CA–Dr. Ibrahim Shalaby, a prominent Muslim artist in the North American Art scene, passed away on August 27, 2012. His death is being deeply mourned by all those who came in contact with him. A permanent participant in Muslim art festivals and events he used to leave his admirers in awe and wonder with his live demonstrations.

His art was also popular in the Middle East. Dr. Shalaby, was born in Amman in 1956 and was of Palestinian origin. Despite living in North America he always longed for Jerusalem and this yearning is well captured in many of his works.

Bangladeshi students hold Eid celebration at UT

ARLINGTON,TX–The Bangladeshi Students Association at the University of Texas-Arlington hosted a well attended Eid celebration. To many students away from home this proved to be a great to connect with the larger community.

Members of the student organization played violin and the guitar in a unique arrangement called ‘ called “Viva La Bhalobhasha Hoedown’ reported the Shorthorn student newspaper.

Extension granted to Lombard mosque

CHICAGO,IL–The Dupage County Board, through an overwhelming majority decision, gave the Muslim Comminity Association Western Suburbs an extra eight months to finish their mosque construction project. The Muslim association members had requested a 12 month extension. They had cited their inability to raise funds until they had received county permission and weather related factors as reasons behind the delay.

The board in its its decision stated that the eight months extension is ample time to complete the project. However, the Muslim association can request a further extension provided that they show some movement on the project.

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Hassan Nisar in Detroit

By TMO Stringer

The well-known writer Hassan Nisar, from Pakistan, visited Detroit and came to a meeting held at the Tawheed Center in Farmington Hills.  Over 250 people attended.

People listened quietly as Mr. Nisar spoke, saying Pakistan was hijacked before it was born.  He primarily blamed this on feudalism and feudalistic society.  Later he said rampant corruption weakened it further.

The main concept in which founding father asked for Pakistan was for a ‘security’ but we totally lost that concept.

Addressing the gathered people, he said some of you belong to Luidh, some to Punjab, some from Baluchistan and Peshawar, but we all belong to one country and that is Pakistan, we are all Pakistanis.

He lamented that in spite of the fact that Islam prohibits worship of anyone other than God, in Pakistan worship of other people and higher authorities (officers, politicians) have become common.  Allah (swt) is sending His wrath to the people of Pakistan and is another reason for the downfall of its people and Pakistan.

Commenting on the future political leaders he said we need to have a new breed.  Imran Khan, he said, has not been tried so far.  He has earned the people’s respect and we should try him and bring him into power.  If he turns out to be the same as the other past politicians people should throw him out in the next election. He also said that the term of the President should be reduced to four years from the current five year term.

A lively question and answer session followed after his speech. 

He said if we want to rise from the current status, we must be honest in our dealings, prepare ourselves and the future generation to be innovative and be educated, innovative and self-dependent.

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‘Eid Picnic by the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA)

By Adil James, TMO

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Children help a man fly a large kite at Cass Lake Park.

Cass Lake Park–’Eidul Fitr actually arrived over a week previously, but the ICA scheduled its ‘Eid picnic well into the month of Shawwal at a beautiful lake campground in Waterford.

Lake Cass is a large sprawling lakefront play area, with three distinct beaches, accessible in that it is in a central part of northern Oakland County.  It is frequented by thousands of people, many who bring kayaks, sailboats, motor boats, jetskis and waterskis to play in.

The ICA community celebrated ‘Eidul Fitr with a large picnic gathering at this beautiful spot with about 250 celebrants, halal hotdogs and hamburgers and kabobs, among many other tasty treats.  They had arranged a large bounce-house for the children, very close to Cass Lake (which is a relatively large local lake), with a view of kayaks and playboats.

One of the organizers, Hala Alkhabtib, said that “usually we do ‘Eid events indoors (at a big community center in West Bloomfield), but since this year ‘Eid is in the summer we did it outdoors.”
The ICA is a growing community, the formative core of what is now Bloomfield’s Unity Center, the Huda School, Beverly Hills Academy, and more.

“ICA is designed to help the community in its educational, social, and community needs. We have been here for 25-30 years, and we are growing,” said Dr. Samer Nasry, the ICA President.

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Poll: GOP Really Dislikes Muslims

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Anyone wondering why Rep. Michele Bachmann would launch a witch hunt against Muslims or why the Republican Party would add a plank to its platform opposing Shariah law need look no further than a new poll conducted by the Arab American Institute.

The poll, released today, asked Americans for their views on various religious groups, as well as on Arabs and Arab-Americans. It also asked respondents how confident they would be that a Muslim or Arab-American holding a position of influence in government could do their job without letting “ethnic loyalty … influence their decision-making.”

The results are split sharply along partisan lines. Overall, Republican voters hold strongly negative views of Muslims, with 57 percent saying they view them unfavorably and just 26 saying they view them favorably — more than double. The numbers are similar for Arabs, whom Republican respondents view negatively by a slightly smaller margin of 26 percent, 53 to 27 percent. When asked about “Muslim Americans” and “Arab Americans,” the numbers improved slightly, with a 12 and 15 percent net unfavorable rating, respectively.

By contrast, Democrats held favorable views of these groups by margins of at least 20-35 percent in all four cases. The view of Muslims and Arabs among Democrats was still less positive than other religious groups included in the survey, however, underscoring a resilient problem of post-9/11 America. Still, Democrats gave no group a net negative rating, while Republicans gave negative ratings to Muslims, Arabs, Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans.

Of the 13 religious or ethnic groups included in the survey, only Sikhs had anywhere close to the negative ratings of Muslims and Arabs. Among all respondents, the religious group is viewed favorably 45-24, but Republicans are split 36-35, with almost a third unfamiliar. All other religious groups had strongly favorable views by margins of up to 60 percent in the cases of Presbyterians and Jews.
On the question of Muslims and Arabs in the government, the results were similar. While about twice as many Democrats said they were confident a Muslim-American could do his or her job and that ethnic loyalty would not interfere, the results were flipped among Republicans. A slim majority of 51 percent said ethnic loyalty would trump job responsibility, while 25 percent said they were confident Muslim-Americans in government could do their jobs.

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The Key to Competitiveness

By Khaled Almaeena

A group of friends, concerned about their country, were discussing the state of affairs in our country. 

“Why are we so behind?” I asked. Someone else commented that both Germany and Japan were leveled to the ground in World War II, yet today they are economic giants.

“Don’t forget Korea,” I said — where the war ended in 1953, eight years later. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Taiwan also figured in our list of those who have come up fast, defying man-made and natural disasters. “And these countries are highly respected,” I said.

Well, to my mind, these people have progressed because of their strict work ethic. They are sincere and they produce. They don’t go about beating their chests announcing their patriotism. They get on with doing what they think is best for their communities. And that’s why investors from all over the world flock to them.

“They are also competitive,” added one of the participants in the discussion. He referred to several Arab World Competitiveness Reports. The reports identified lack of reforms, outdated regulations and dormant policies as likely reasons for slow growth. To make matters worse there was a decline in foreign direct investment.

“The reason,” I interrupted, “is the lack of conditions that would attract private investments. Glossy brochures, CDs and conferences will not assist in getting investments. First you have to remove the barriers and regulations that hinder investment and prevent its growth.”

According to the World Bank, it takes a lot of money and a higher average number of days to set up a business here. I have known businessmen who spoke of four times that number here. It seems some bureaucrats take sadistic delight in torturing businessmen and potential investors. Add to this vague laws, opaque regulations, interference from different departments and closure of shops without prior warning. These can dampen the brightest spirit and break the strongest will.

I write this because I am upset. I write this because I have just come from a country where Microsoft has invested over a $100 million. While we are focusing on Saudization of cab drivers and employing more Saudis as security guards at shopping malls, others are setting up institutions where young people are now working for international companies. Saudization is not just the replacement of foreigners. It is much more than that. It is creation of jobs. It is setting up institutes where those who qualify graduate to compete in a tough work environment not because of their nationality but because of their knowledge and skill, their hard work, creativity and innovation.

The key to competitiveness is a first class education that will turn out graduates skilled to take on the challenges of the modern day world.

Let us attract real capital in terms of both money and brains. Let it mix with our youth and see the outcome – I am sure it will be positive.

Protectionism will not work. Nor will suspicion. We are a global economy whether we like it or not. So instead of focusing on petty things, let our region work to overcome the root cause of our backwardness – and let us involve all segments of society and not hide behind issues of “cultural restrictions.”  We should not be afraid to absorb new ideas and new ways.

Then I am sure we will no longer sit around discussing why we are far behind; because then, hopefully, we will be in the major league.

— The writer can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed at Twitter:@KhaledAlmaeena

Saudi Gazette

SAMS Training Syrian Medical Professionals in Turkey

By S. Syed,. TMO

Editor’s note:  S. Syed is from Troy, Michigan, and has gone to Turkey representing the Syrian Medical Association, to distribute medical supplies.  He is on the Board of Directors of the TMO Youth Group.

2012-08-29T142539Z_1400673893_GM1E88T1Q5B01_RTRMADP_3_SYRIA-CRISIS

A man carries his daughter as he walks in Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz August 29, 2012. The refugee flow to Turkey has grown as fighting has worsened around Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, split between rebels and Assad’s forces in a street-by-street battle that has ground on for weeks. At the Azaz-Kilis crossing, the main route into Turkey from Aleppo, Syrians described dire conditions for refugees still trapped on the other side of the border.

REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

ANTAKYA, Turkey – Two dozen physicians, medics and medical students from Syria attended a 3-day seminar organized by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) in Antakya, Turkey, this weekend. Medical experts from the US and Saudi Arabia trained the Syrian participants on several critical issues, including portable ultrasound use and advanced trauma and life support. The SAMS trainers also addressed a range of questions based on the daily emergencies faced by the medical professionals in Syria, such as how to prioritize multiple wounds in a patient and how to recognize and treat the effects of chemical weapons.

Medical professionals traveled to Antakya at considerable risk from all over Syria, including Hama, Idlib, and even Damascus, to attend this first SAMS Training Mission and learn new skills to better treat their patients. However, a US-based SAMS trainer noted that many physicians could only attend a couple of the critical seminars before having to return to their field hospitals, given the demand and urgency back in Syria.

SAMS is not just providing physicians with critical training but also delivering critical equipment as well. The organization recently established a warehouse in Detroit, MI, to collect medical supplies, and has already started sending shipments to its newly established medical center in Antakya, Turkey. Several attendees returned to Syria with portable ultrasounds and other medical equipment supplied by SAMS.

In addition to the life-saving training, the event was also an opportunity for the Syrian doctors to network, connect with SAMS, and communicate their needs. Dr. Mazen K., who oversees the new SAMS center in Antakya, plans to establish regular communication with the field hospital networks in Syria to inform them of available supplies and understand where the critical shortages are.

Visit http://sams-usa.net/ to learn more about opportunities to support SAMS or to participate in a SAMS Training Mission (for physicians).

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Sexual Abuse in Religious Education Institutions

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

No, no, I should not write about it. No, no you must write about it. I was torn inside when I thought of writing about it. Why are you showing your dirty linens to the world, especially to those who are waiting for any opportunity to pounce on the community? Why do you want to be critical of your own community? Why not focus on other issues that are more relevant and important?

But then I thought of the scars that are carried by people who are traumatized by this and I felt an uncontrollable urge to write about it. The problem I am going to write about it is not on the table for discussion among Muslims. It is off limits. It is considered a taboo. People do not talk about it or do not want to talk about it. But for the sake of those innocent souls who suffer silently and then carry their wounds to the rest of their life, this subject must be dealt with, hoping that people in our religious institutions would address this problem and prepare guidelines that would ensure that such practices do not take place ever anywhere.

It is about those young and innocent children who suffer sexual abuse during their early years of education in many religious institutions throughout the Muslim world. Regardless of the country, where these schools are located, there are untold stories many young children keep to themselves throughout their lives about the abuse they suffer in the early stages of life.

I personally met several such students in the Indian-Pakistan-Bangladesh sub-continent, in Iran, in Malaysia and Indonesia and in several places in Africa as well as in the Middle East who are now young adults but who are bitter and wounded about what they went through. A teacher, a senior student or a physically stronger person turned their vulnerability to his advantage. They were coerced to take care of the sexual urges of such people. They were forced to do all sorts of acts that would please their controller. They were afraid to tell others because they were threatened of dire consequences.

How could a six year old kid literally abandoned by his parents and left at the mercy of people at the religious institutions defend himself against his attackers when they are the ones who control his future destiny?

There is no need to go into details. The details would hurt. The wounds are ugly and the stories are horrible. Suffice to say that religious institutions, by and large, have no policy to deal with this kind of wide spread abuse. When someone comes up with an accusation authorities either hush up the matter or force students to be quiet. 

While intellectuals and scholars are focused on raising funds and drawing up new curriculum, it is important that they address the issue of sexual abuse of children in a bold manner. I am referring to those in the age group of 5 and under18 coming from poor and vulnerable families often abandoned by those who brought them in this world. I am talking about those who were inducted in the Islamic education system as the families were unable to afford their livelihood. I am talking about those who are afraid to complain about anything as it might jeopardize their future.

It is good to say that Islam promotes an ethics that prohibits this kind of abuse. But how should one deal when this abuse takes place and what measures one must adopt to ensure that they do not recur. 

This is an issue that we have ignored and neglected for ages. No one wants to talk about it. But we must ask the religious scholars and clergy running these institutions to look into the matter seriously. Each institution must find its internal mechanism to deal with the problem. But there must be some overall guidelines for institution not only to deal with the perpetrators but to rehabilitate the victim. The scars and the shame that one carries haunt him throughout the life influencing his behavior and attitude towards life. And it often leads to an unending chain of abuse.

There are several cases that can be published with names of the institutions and individuals, but it would not serve any purpose except initiating furious allegations with no end in sight. But silence is no more an option. The Quran talks about the day when all the secrets would be open: “that day when all things would be tested.” (86:9) That day has arrived.

Before the issue goes out of control and things become unmanageable, it is better to look into the issue seriously and take appropriate measures to deal with them openly and honestly keeping in mind the future of the generations that would one day lead us in religious matters.

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Common Estate Planning Pitfalls

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

If you’re one of the few Americans who managed to establish a sound estate plan, congratulations. However, it is important to not only have an estate plan in place, but to also periodically have it reviewed. A common mistake for clients is to pay the money for a plan, but then to ignore it and not properly manage it, thus making it ineffective when it comes time for it to be of use.

Therefore, once your estate plan is in place, try to avoid these common pitfalls:

1.    Not Funding your Revocable Trust: I’ve come across many clients who informed me that they purchased a Trust, but have not had it “funded,” i.e. having the assets transferred to the trust. Failing to do so would result in putting your loved ones through the expensive and lengthy draining court probate process.

2.    Failing to understand the impact of life insurance proceeds: Many clients are ill-advised when it comes to their life insurance proceeds. They are normally included in the estate of the deceased. This could possibly result in approximately 35%-50% (depending on tax year) of the proceeds being paid to the IRS in estate taxes, instead of your beneficiaries. Looking into an  Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust could save several hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.

3.    Business Planning: By having a properly executed plan, you have the ability to choose who will own and control your business after your demise. However, this needs to be mentioned as part of your plan.

4.    Improper Beneficiary Designations: Even after establishing your plan, be sure to update all of your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, bank accounts, IRA’s, 401K’s. and any other assets that can lead to unintended beneficiaries.

5.    Not Preparing for Minor Children: One of the biggest mistakes people make with their estate plan is not having the proper precautions for protecting their children. If you have minor children, you should always be sure to have personal guardians nominated for the children, in the event that both you and your spouse should die prior the children reaching the age of 18. Without this in place, the court will decide without your input where the kids will live and who will make important decisions about their money, education and life.

6.    Not Reviewing your Estate Plan on Regular Basis: It is understandable for people to not enjoy discussing their estate plan after it is executed, as it entails the discussion of death. However, reality needs to play a factor and understand that economic, family, and health changes require revisions to an estate plan. I normally suggest a formal review of an estate plan every two years to determine if any changes to it are required.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Health Care Law, Business Litigation, and Corporate Formations. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Opinion: A Modest Proposal

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

El Cerrito (Calif.)–One of my overriding fantasies is to win the Nobel Prize for literature and peace.  Well, that is not to be, but I  hope that  I can add something to both of these areas with my pen – especially to peace.

Sometime ago I had written to an extremely important United States Senator with an especial interest in the Himalayan region of Asia –  that is to say over the Kashmir imbroglio, too, which – after the Arab-Israeli crisis — is the second most dangerous flash point on our earth.

This Senator passed on my ideas to the U.S. State Department who referred the letter to the, then, Desk Officer for South Asia.  After the better part of a decade, in cataloguing my papers for a major institutional repository in the Eastern half of the North American continent, I have come across this proposal again, and deeming it to be still a propos I would like to release it to the general public in an enlarged form for further discussion since it is poignantly an Islamic issue upon this Eids.

Since the fall from grace of the right-wing Hindu Chauvinist BJP (the Bharata Janata Party) in India there are glimmers of hope for settlement on this question within the Indo-Pakistani nuclear theater.
As a journalist and a South Asian scholar based in the U.S.A., I have written for Indian and Pakistani plus American publications on the subject of Kashmir.  This has given me access to representatives of the Kashmiri people on both sides of the LoC (Line of Control) as well as the rebels in the Vale (the Indian State Kashmir) plus Hindu Pundits (i.e., Brahmins); representatives and diplomats from the two counties in conflict. 

As an academically trained historian and South Asian regional specialist, it has occurred to me that there very well might be a historical precedent as a basis for resolving this crisis.  Succinctly, revert back to the constitutional status under the British Indian State.  Further, at Independence the Raja of Kashmir had opted for Independence, but tribal irregulars from the  Northwest Provinces and British intervention created the first Indo-Pakistani War which, in turn, produced a division of the princely State of Kashmir into the de facto Pakistani Territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and the Indian State of Jamu and Kashmir (J &K).  A small portion of Pakistani administrated Kashmir, the Shaksgam tract was ceded to China in 1963 and now forms the Uygur Autonomous Region or Xinjiang.  This area of the People’s Republic is the only Muslim-majority portion of China, and they have rebelled against Beijing.  China, also, controls 10% of the Indian State (Aksai Chin) of Jammu and Kashmir acquired through the Sino-Indian War of 1962.  Both Pakistani and Indian Kashmir have territories such as Purig, Gilgit-Balistan, Kargil and Ladakh.   In several areas attached to the two Kashmirs are unique sub-nationalities.   There is a yearning for independence or attachment to an independent Tibet within some.    Thus, there are not two countries vying for Kashmir, but three.  Most importantly there are the Kashmiris themselves as well as the sub-nationalities within those mountains.

Then, there is Jammu which forms a good deal of the Indian State, and part of it is in Pakistani AJK.    Jammu is largely Hindu with a sizable Sikh minority.  Any settlement of the Kashmir question has to ascertain the wishes of the people of Jammu or whether they would prefer to remain part of the Indian  federation or to remain part of the political entity of Kashmir itself.

Thus, back to my purpose:  that Kashmir reverts back to a “princely” State (of course now it would be a republic or an autonomous region).  This region of the two Kashmirs, if it became autonomous from both India and Pakistan, would join together sovereign  in internal affairs, but both would remain divided within their part of the larger States in its external status.

In 1948 after the first Indo-Pakistani War, the U.N. (United Nations)  demanded a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the people of Kashmir on whether they wished to be part of Pakistan or India.  Due to the intransigence of the then Prime Minister in New Delhi, Jaharial Nehru, who was born  in Allahabad in the British Indian State during the Nineteenth Century, but  his antecedents derived from a Kashmiri Pandit (high Brahmin) family, and this may have influenced his policy toward the larger Kashmir which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population. 

I perceive a possible resolution of the conundrum by initiatives of the United Sates and other interested nations (excluding China because they are part of the problem) of initiating shuttle diplomacy between Pakistan and India and secondarily with China.  Ultimately, call for an international conference for resolving the question.  This, hopefully, would lead to the plebiscite called for from New York  forty-four years ago, but now a third option should be included – not only accession to India or Pakistan, but autonomy or independence.  Also, in any plebiscite, Jammu’s determination should be separated from Kashmir ‘s desires because the two Kashmirs seem to be significantly different in religion and ethnicity than that of Jammu.  Basically, it must be determined if Jammu wishes to be bound to the State or territory of the future Kashmir or whether they wish a different political destiny.

The foremost point to my proposal (which should be whittled down through negotiation) is the intransience of New Delhi who refuses to budge from the Simla Agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan that all bilateral issues must be resolved bi-laterally which precludes any third party diplomacy between the two.  Well, I call upon India to allow trustworthy partners to act as interlopers.  If this is tenuous domestically to conduct this “shuttle” diplomacy secretly until it can safely become acceptable to their electorate.

Personally, from my objective study, I believe the Kashmiris will opt for independence or autonomy.  Islamabad has stated this would be acceptable to them upon the determination of the Kashmiris themselves.

Whatever the outcome of a vote Kashmir itself should become de-militarized.   Pakistani and Indian troops and border militias should move back from direct confrontation with each other back to defensible positions outside Kashmir, but adjacent to their borders with it.  United Nations’ blue helmets should divide the two armies, then. 

If autonomy is selected or just to have India ”save face,”  Governors (actually political agents) should be elected or appointed.  Azad Kashmir  could still be part of Pakistan and the Vale would theoretically be attached to India, but together they would form a self-governing entity internally.

There is much to be worked on this proposal to make it acceptable, but there are tremendous advantages in solving this predicament that arose out of the 1947 Partition of the Subcontinent.  It must take into account of the facts on the ground, but a resolution could have great benefits for Islamabad and New Delhi together. 

Primarily, it would lessen the tension between the two countries – especially the nuclear threat that almost became tragically viral a decade ago.  It should lessen the threat of terrorism within the Center  and rebellion on the peripheries of Bharat, for the majority of terrorism involves the bleeding sore of Kashmir, and, if the crisis is amended, there would be little acerbation and support for that sort of action among the people of Pakistan. 

Further , a political entity that straddles between the two could have tremendous economic benefit for both.  It would permit traffic between the two countries.  Pakistan already has secure gas pipelines with Iran.  India desperately must have that cleaner energy (it is dependent on filthy coal which is destroying their grand heritage)to fully compete with the other economic Asian “tiger,” and the best route for that pipeline is through Pakistan, and for that to happen a stable peace between the two must be achieved!

This modest proposal is only a kernel for a possible solution.

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Lobsters Flourish, Fish Dwindle

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

“We have made of water everything living. Will they not then believe?” (Quran 21:30)

imagesIn recent times, over-fishing has resulted in common foods such as tuna, cod and haddock being listed along with zebras and elephants as endangered species! The popularity of Japanese sushi in the West has to a large extent been held responsible for the world shortage of tuna. Efforts have been made to establish fish farms, but these have often been reported to be watery breeding houses of disease.

Yet even as fish supply dwindles, large ships are decimating whales and other large marine life. Not only are these amazing animals being diced by propellers, but their very mode of communication, essential to group survival, is being interrupted by military radar used by ships and submarines.

Some scientists believe that dolphins and whales could be as intelligent, or perhaps more intelligent than humans, based on their brain size and ability to engage in empathy. A few years back, we even heard news reports about a Cuban child victim of a shipwreck who was saved by dolphins, and eventually landed in Florida, forcing the US to actually engage in diplomacy with Cuba in order to return the boy to his father. Using their radar-like signals, ocean mammals like dolphins and whales can communicate to each other through hundreds, even thousands of miles of water. However, due to human-caused electronic interference, their entire way of life has been cut off. It’s the kind of thing that might even make a person feel ashamed of being human.

So with all this bad news, I was pleasantly surprised to read in the Boston Globe that due to the warm temperatures this past summer, the state of Maine has been experiencing much higher than normal sizes of lobster catches. Naturally, humans are ungrateful. The abundance of lobster has inspired Canadian lobstermen in New Brunswick to engage in protests for several days, blocking a highway to prevent US lobsters from being delivered to processing plants, out of fear that the surplus of lobster would drive the price down so low that it would destroy their livelihoods. A Canadian court ruled that this obstruction of capitalism was unlawful, so the Maine lobsters are now being successfully sold on the free market at the going price. If the Canadians continue to try to prevent US lobsters from being processed in Canada, it won’t be long before the US opens up more food processing plants.

While I understand that many Muslims don’t eat shellfish, and in my personal opinion, a lobster looks very much like a large, creepy insect; nevertheless lobster is a very healthy source of protein and fatty acids essential to hormone stability in humans. Lobster is considered a delicacy in most of the United States, with a lobster roll sandwich selling for as much as $21 in Boston. So I’m guessing that among lobster lovers, any price reduction would actually be quite welcome. According to the Boston Globe:

“If the catch turns out to be an aberration, memories of this year’s crisis will quickly fade. But there is fear in Maine that with climate change, the warmer waters that triggered the bumper crop could become a more regular occurrence. If that happens, lobstermen are going to have to adjust to fundamental changes in the fishery… Lobstermen in both countries need to recognize they are fishing from the same ocean and work toward a common solution.”

As the human population is running out of fish protein, God provided us with too much lobster. Sadly, the increase in lobster also correlates with decreasing numbers of lobsters’ natural enemies like sharks, stingrays, groupers, sea turtles and seals. Yet the whole situation made me think about how when God takes something away, He replaces it with something else. Sometimes, the replacement can be pricier than the original loss! Perhaps the increase in lobster meat will give humans some more time before we all starve, to figure out how to save the ocean’s larger sea animals.

As smart as they are, they don’t seem to have picked up on human speech yet, and do not know how to advertise themselves in order to promote their own self-interest, but the haunting sounds of ocean mammals have been recorded by humans. Captive dolphins and whales have gone way beyond their comfort zones to learn how to communicate with humans using sign language and have even learned how to follow instructions in exchange for food. Because dolphins in particular are so emotionally sensitive, child psychologists have been using them to reach out to those with special needs, including autistic children, who are so internally withdrawn that they do not talk. In many cases, scientists have found that befriending a marine animal is so delightful that it stimulates emotional reactions that can lead to amazing progress in otherwise uncommunicative individuals. 

We live in a time when Allah allowed human beings to talk to the creatures of the sea. It is truly an electrifying time to be alive, but with this increased knowledge comes a heavy responsibility. If we don’t take care of the oceans, nobody else will. And that’s a fact that we have to really think about, because our fate is permanently linked with the fate of the earth’s creatures as well as the environment of our planet.

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RNC Convention

By Laila Abdelaziz, Our Special Correspondent Reporting Live from the Tampa Convention

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Mitt Romney takes stage to address the American Legion in Indiana August 29, 2012. 

REUTERS/Snyder

Tampa, Fl–The 2012 Republican National Convention convened in Tampa, Florida this past Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Originally scheduled to kickoff on Monday, August 27th, Republican officials decided to “play it safe” and delay the convention due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

What was originally scheduled to take place over the course of four days in Tampa, Florida’s Tampa Bay Times Forum, was quickly reorganized and condensed into three.

The Republican National Convention is the official presidential nominating convention of the U.S. Republican Party, as well as the presentation of the party platform.

On the first day of the convention, the party made it clear to Americans what the message of the 2012 Republican Party was: Mitt Romney is relatable and Republican ideas for solving the nation’s problems are better than Democrats’.

Beating President Obama’s agenda, showcasing the party’s rising female stars in an attempt to close the gender gap, and lobbying the Latino vote have seemed to be the priorities of the Republican National Convention so far. It is clear that the location of the party’s convention was a strategic move to engage the Latino community in one of the nation’s most important swing states. 

For the American Muslim community, especially the centralized and growing 25-30,000 American Muslims living in the Tampa Bay area, the 2012 Republican National Convention hasn’t been a channel for engagement and participation.

It is true that the American Muslim community constitutes a small percentage of voters on the national level, but the American Muslim vote is in fact largely concentrated in key swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Add on to that the American Muslim community hasn’t been approached or engaged by the Republican Party, it will be interesting to see how this centralized community will vote in November in key swing states that have significant effects on who wins the presidency of the Unite States.

The political climate and rhetoric of Tea Party favorites like  Allen West and Michelle Bachman will most likely rally American Muslims (who, in a poll conducted by ISPU, generally vote in bloc) to continue disengaging from the Republican Party.

Representative Allen West of Florida’s 22nd congressional district, has targeted the American Muslim community multiple times from telling a Muslim questioner “Don’t try to blow sunshine up by butt” at a February town hall meeting to accusing Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) of being the “antithesis of the principles on which this country was established” because he is Muslim. West has continuously defended his remarks.

Similarly, Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) recently wrote letters to various government officials opening a line of inquiry claiming the State Department has created policies supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, in the letters Rep. Bachmann went so far as to cite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, as a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator.

Senator John McCain (R. Ariz.) quickly stood to Abedin’s defense and, on the Senate floor, declared, “These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.”

The bigoted rhetoric towards American Muslims from Tea Party favorites and other Republican leadership hasn’t stopped, and as the Republican National Convention assembles in Tampa, Florida it is clear that the American Muslim community is purposefully disengaged and disconnected.

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Apology

By TMO

Last week we printed an article by Eric Margolis, Secrets of the Syrian War, and a cartoon depicting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia oppressing Shi’a in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

We received a lot of contact from the Syrian community here in the US, complaining that the article by Mr. Margolis was inaccurate, argued things that are untrue, and frames the Syrian revolution as the outgrowth of specific interests, namely Western powers and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The phone calls we received were very polite, and yet addressed the heartfelt concerns of the expatriate Syrian community in the United States, that the revolution in Syria is in fact an act of God, like the other revolutions of the Arab Spring, a movement that grew very organically from the oppression of the people themselves–and not from any materialistic group which is seeking to promote its own interests.

We believe the core concern of the complaints that we received was that the Margolis article portrayed the Syrian revolution as a proxy war of cold-blooded interests, rather than as an act of humanitarian resistance against decades of oppression by people who, by standing up, take tremendous risks for themselves and their families.  Yet they continue to stand up, because they want to live free from oppression.

While the revolution may receive some outside support, the outside support is secondary and minimal–this conflict is between the people and their oppressor, not between competing international political interests.

One caller asked how we can print an article by a non-Muslim about this issue.

The policy of TMO has always been to represent all Muslims, Sunni and Shi’a, under the philosophy that it is dangerous to the entire community to be divided on sectarian lines. Also our intention is to be the newspaper of all ethnicities of the Muslim community.

Unfortunately it is easy for us, not being Syrian ourselves, to overlook issues that are deeply offensive to the Syrian community, and for that we are deeply sorry.  We are aware of the pain felt by the expatriate Syrian community, whose families are at risk, and many of whom have lost loved ones in this revolution.  And we say that we deeply value the Syrian community, a community that Prophet (s) himself blessed, and a community that has supported TMO.

We failed to realize the deep pain that printing such an article would have on the Syrian community, who are our brothers and sisters.

When we print articles we intend to shed light on different situations affecting the Muslim world, from different perspectives.  We sometimes print articles that we do not agree with word for word or idea by idea. However, to be honest, after reading the Margolis article we simply did not realize it would cause offense.

We did recently publish an article describing the murder by the Syrian regime of relatives of a local family.  We also have cooperated with Nauman Shamsuddin Syed, who has travelled to Turkey to try to help the medical treatment of Syrian refugees and to examine the current medical treatment available there.

We offer our sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by the Margolis article and the cartoon of the same week, and we are now seeking to find writers from the Syrian opposition to write about the events there from a more informed point of view.

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