The Refugee Question That Won’t Go Away

By Uri Avnery

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Dear Salman

YEARS AGO I was invited to a UN conference on the Palestinian refugees in Paris. I was to open the debate as an Israeli, after the Palestinian representative, Salman Abu Sitta, a refugee from a Bedouin tribe in the Negev, had opened as a Palestinian.

Before the debate I was warned that Abu Sitta was the most extreme of the refugees, a notorious hater of Israel. When my turn came, I said that I had to choose between answering him or reading my prepared text. I decided to read my text and promised to invite him to a private dinner and discuss his points.

When I finished, Abu Sitta reminded me of that promise. We had dinner in a quiet Paris restaurant and I found Abu Sitta a very engaging person. Rachel, my wife, was deeply moved by his account of his flight as a boy during the Naqba, and so was I.

Abu Sitta, by now a very wealthy international contractor, has devoted his life to the plight of the Palestinian refugees and is, perhaps, the world’s foremost expert on the Naqba.

This week I received from him a letter, which I feel the need to copy here verbatim:

Dear Uri

I read with great interest your interview in Haaretz about your rich and eventful life. You stuck to your principles since the early fifties when you found that the old doctrine was neither workable or moral.

I remember vividly our chat over dinner in Paris with your kind wife Rachel, bless her soul.

You described your early days as a young German by the name of Helmut, when you joined the terrorist organization, the Irgun, and when you, carrying a machine gun on a hilltop at Hulayqat (where now there is a war memorial to “honor” those soldiers) watched the sea of humanity of expelled refugees march towards Gaza by the sea shore.

I also told you my story; how I became a refugee without ever seeing a Jew in my life and how I spent years to find out who did it by name, face and battalion.

I remember asking you “would you agree to my return to my house if it is next to you?” You said emphatically NO.

I wrote all this in my memoirs to be published this year in Europe and USA.

I am reminded of a similar story but with a different ending. I refer to Reflections of a Daughter of the ‘48 Generation by Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass. It is a moving account of how truth and reality faced her, as a Palmach soldier, with the grave injustice done to Palestinians. Since then she spends her energy to defend their rights, including the Right of Return.

I saw no trace or hint of retraction in your interview or what I have hoped, namely your recognition of the Right of Return, or the atonement and remedy of the greatest sin: the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Would it not be a fitting last station of a long life (and I wish you more of it) for you to stand at hilltops (again) and shout for all to hear, summing up all your life experiences, saying: the refugees must return, we must repent the sin of ethnic cleansing?

Is this too much to ask for a principled man like you to do this?  I am not asking this on behalf of the Palestinians, because no doubt they WILL return. I am hoping that it would be a crown to your life achievements in the Israeli milieu.

As I wrote repeatedly: The history of the Jews will not be marked any more by the alleged killing of Christ nor by the Nazi atrocities in WWII, but will be indelibly marked by what they have done to Palestinians, deliberately and constantly, without remorse, regret or remedy, thus reflecting that side of the human spirit which does not learn from history and that which empties itself of its own moral posture.

Best regards,

Salman Abu Sitta

These girls are among more than four million refugees in Gaza Strip and West Bank. Corbis

…
Dear Salman

I was profoundly moved by this letter. It took me days to find the courage to answer. I try to do so as sincerely as possible.

I also vividly remember our conversation in Paris, and wrote about it in the second part of my memoirs, which will appear  in the course of this year. It may be interesting for the readers to compare our two descriptions of the same conversation. About the scene near Hulayqat I have written in the first part, which has already appeared in Hebrew.

When I was wounded in the 1948 war, I decided that it would be my life’s mission to work for peace between our two peoples. I hope that I have been true to that promise.
Making peace after such a long and bitter conflict is both a moral and a political endeavor. There is often a contradiction between the two aspects.

I respect the few people in Israel who, like Tikva, completely devote themselves to the moral side of the refugees’ tragedy, whatever the consequence for the chances of peace. My own moral outlook tells me that peace must be the first aim, before and above everything else.

The war of 1948 was a terrible human tragedy. Both sides believed that it was an existential battle, that their very life was hanging in the balance. It is often forgotten that ethnic cleansing (not a familiar expression in those days) was practiced by both sides. Our side occupied large territories, creating a huge refugee problem, while the Palestinian side succeeded in occupying only small Jewish areas, like the Old City of Jerusalem and the Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem. But not a single Jew remained there.

The war, like the later Bosnian war, was an ethnic war, in which both sides tried to conquer as large a part of the country as possible – EMPTY of the other population.

As an eyewitness and participant, I can testify to the fact that the origins of the refugee problem are extremely complex. During the first seven months of the war, the attacks on the Arab villages were an absolute military necessity. At that time, we were the weaker side. After a number of very cruel battles, the wheel turned and I believe that a deliberate policy of expulsion was adopted by the Zionist leadership.

But the real question is: Why were the 750,000 refugees not allowed home after the end of the hostilities?

ONE HAS to remember the situation. It was three years after the smokestacks of Auschwitz and the other camps had gone cold. Hundreds of thousands of wretched survivors crowded the refugee camps in Europe and had nowhere to go but to the new Israel. They were brought here and hastily put into the homes of the Palestinian refugees.

All this did not obliterate our moral obligation to put an end to the terrible tragedy of the Palestinian refugees. In 1953 I published in my magazine, “Haolam Hazeh”, a detailed plan for the solution of the refugee problem. It included (a) an apology to the refugees and the acknowledgment in principle of the right to return, (b) the return and resettlement of a substantial number, (c) generous compensation to all the rest. Since the Israeli government refused to consider the possibility of the return of a single individual, the plan was not even discussed.
WHY DO I not stand on a hilltop and cry out for the return of all the refugees?

Peace is made between consenting parties. There is absolutely no chance that the vast majority of Israelis would freely agree to the return of all the refugees and their descendants, who amount to six or seven million people – the same number as Israel’s Jewish citizens. This would be the end of the “Jewish state” and the beginning of a “bi-national state”, to which 99% of Israelis strenuously object. It can be imposed only by a crushing military defeat, which is currently impossible because of Israel’s infinite military superiority, including nuclear arms.   
I can stand on the hilltops and shout – but it would not bring peace (and a solution) one step closer.

To my mind, waiting for a solution in a hundred years, while the conflict and the misery continue, is not really moral.

…

Dear Salman,

I have listened attentively to your presentation.

You say that Israel could easily absorb all the refugees by putting them into the Negev, which is almost empty. That is quite true.

The vast majority of Israelis would reject that, because they are fiercely resolved to have a large Jewish majority in Israel. But I also ask myself: What is the logic of that?

When I met with Yasser Arafat in Beirut during the war of 1982, I also visited several Palestinian refugee camps. I asked many refugees whether they wanted to return to Israel. Most said that they wanted to return to their villages (which were eradicated long ago) but not anywhere else in Israel.

What is the sense of putting them into the harsh conditions of the desert in a Zionist dominated and Hebrew speaking country, far from their original homes? Would they want that?
Arafat and his successors limit their aim to a “just and AGREED solution”, giving the Israeli government a veto right. That means, in practice, at most the return of a symbolic number.
My latest proposal is for the Israeli president to apologize and express the profound regret of the Israeli people for its part in the creation and prolongation of the tragedy.
The Israeli government must recognize the moral right of the refugees to return.

Israel should organize the return of 50,000 refugees every year for ten years. (I am almost alone in Israel in demanding this number. Most peace groups would reduce that to 100,000 altogether.)
All the other refugees should receive compensation on the lines of the compensation paid by Germany to the Jewish victims. (No comparison, of course.)
With the foundation of the State of Palestine, they would receive Palestinian passports and be able to settle there, in their country.

In the not too distant future, when the two states, Israel and Palestine, shall be are finally living side by side, with open borders and with their capitals in Jerusalem, perhaps within a region-wide framework, the problem will lose its sting.

It hurts me to write this letter. For me, the refugees are no abstract “problem”, but human beings with human faces. But I will not lie to you.
I would be honored to live next to you (even in the Negev desert)

Salamaat,

Uri.

16-22

Saudi Allocates Sr80 Billion to Develop Education Sector

The plan includes building 1,500 nurseries, providing training for about 25,000 teachers and establishing educational centers and other related projects.

 
 

JEDDAH – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved a five-year plan worth more than SR80 billion ($21.33 billion) to develop the education sector, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

The plan includes building 1,500 nurseries, providing training for about 25,000 teachers and establishing educational centers and other related projects, Education Minister Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was quoted as saying by SPA. The SR80 billion is in addition to what is being allocated annually to the Education Ministry.

Prince Khaled said the King endorsed the implementation of the executive working program in order to realize the goals of the King Abdullah Project for General Education Development (Tatweer), which has been introduced a few years ago to bring about dramatic changes in the Kingdom’s education sector. The program consists of setting up and developing support service centers for special education, linking schools with high frequency Internet, setting up of smart class rooms, computer labs for e-education, special schools, and school clubs.

Tatweer also envisages creating appropriate school environment through expropriation of required plots of land, strengthening safety requirements, and setting up of endowments for general education to help find independent financial sources for the ministry without causing additional burden on the state’s general budget. The program also aims at construction and renovation of school buildings and carrying out their proper operation and maintenance.

According to Prince Khaled, the ministry has drafted a working mechanism to supervise the program so as to realize its noble objectives. “The King also endorsed the formation of a higher-level committee comprising the concerned ministers to undertake general supervision of the program’s implementation.”

The minister said that the King’s approval of the program emanates from his vision to make education an excellent model and core element for developing human resources and making investments in this vital sector. “This approval will help the general education to have a qualitative leap which will benefit the Kingdom and its younger generations. The program will also improve the performance and standard of teachers and students alike,” he said.

The Kingdom is giving top priority to the development of education and training, with the appropriation of one-fourth of the total allocations for 2014. Out of the total expenditure, amounting to SR855 billion, the allocation for education and training was SR210 billion, a three percent increase compared to an all-time high of 21 percent last year.

16-22

Why Teaching English in Saudi Arabia Has Been a Unique Learning Experience

By Ozma Siddiqui

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As language in its essence cannot be taught in isolation of its culture, the adoption of the communicative approach in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) answers the conundrum of bridging the gap between the threat of English dominating the status quo and the preservation of the unique Saudi identity

For several years now, English has been touted to be an important lingua franca in many countries where it is widely used as a means of communication among various ethnic groups and people of different backgrounds.

The advent of the internet has only reinforced its eminence where almost 30 percent of the data is in English. In addition, most of the world’s music is in English (although this is debatable) while job opportunities are certainly better in non-English speaking countries with good salaries and perks.

According to the British Council, English is the official language in more than 75 countries across the globe.

However, as English has steadily gained prominence in the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia in recent years, attention is increasingly being paid to pedagogy in Saudi English classrooms and a debate is on as to how it should be taught. There has been much criticism about the Saudi educational system, its ‘flaws and inconsistencies’.

A World Bank study suggests that the Saudi educational system is deficient in ‘imparting higher-order cognitive skills such as flexibility, problem-solving and judgment’ (World Bank, 2002, p. 2). Added to this is the lack of critical thinking and analytical approaches to the learning/teaching of the curriculum, English or otherwise.

In response to this, Arab governments including Saudi Arabia have adopted western curricula and pedagogy with the aim to open up their countries to the rest of the world. It is for this reason that the curricula, content and pedagogy are often not in tune with the needs of the learners who are rooted in Islamic traditions and identity. In addition, the social media, new media and free access to the internet have opened up Saudi society like never before. Although mobile apps are increasingly being downloaded on smart phones, they are more widely used for chatting and sharing videos or photos. There is also research currently underway to test the feasibility of applying mobile apps in English classroom teaching.

Interestingly, Saudis are increasingly being faced with a phenomenon common in other countries of the world which have put up a stiff defense against the adoption of English as a main language of communication, for example, France and Belgium perceiving the foreign language as a threat to their national identity.

The parallel wave to the English prevalence in the country- the back to basics theory calls for a reversion to the Arabic language in official meetings inside and outside the Kingdom and to have shop titles in the native language.

Some learned quarters do not perceive English as a tool to progress maintaining that Arabic will serve just as well. However, the increasing number of students on the King Abdullah Scholarship program with exposure to western thoughts and values come back with different notions and are instrumental in rooting to have English become a compulsory part of the curriculum from the early years.

As language in its essence cannot be taught in isolation of its culture, the adoption of the communicative approach in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) answers the conundrum of bridging the gap between the threat of English dominating the status quo and the preservation of the unique Saudi identity. That said, English remains as foreign and as alien as ever.

Some foreign language researchers (Al-Hazmi (2003, p. 341) have suggested a paradigm shift to English pedagogy in the Saudi Arabian context. But questions remain about its appropriateness in an environment where rote learning is still the preferred mode of study in subjects across the schools’ and university curricula.

According to Bhabha, 1994, ‘there needs to be an acceptance of the hybridity of teacher and student identity. Consequently, English needs to be placed within the ‘third space’ with a hybrid English language pedagogy which combines the traditional Islamic approaches and relevant Western practices to achieve the best learning and teaching experience for the learners.’

In essence this means that we as educators need to work towards finding a middle ground where we can meet half-way with the student to help to attain a level of English language proficiency which would enhance not only communication skills but also a critical approach to the language. A wide-ranging curriculum with English as the medium of instruction in a whole school mode should answer the many deficiencies prevailing in the system.

The English curriculum in higher institutions needs to embrace the Islamic cultural values and take the best practices from western pedagogy, as Bhabha says. Native language oriented English books have been introduced into the Saudi educational system time and again but the huge disparities have resulted in frustration both as far as results are concerned and at the cultural level.

Recently, a supplementary reading program has been initiated at the foundation year in the universities in the Kingdom which is an attempt to open up different cultures to the students. This can pose a challenge to a mindset which does not equate human emotions with animals for example.

A suggestion has been made to introduce more Islamic oriented books in English into the curriculum with a special focus on language, grammar, syntax and semantics. Good translations in Standard English could be utilized for the purpose. There are many Arabic writers with western backgrounds currently writing profusely in English and there is no reason why a graded series of books cannot be produced for students.

Although Saudi Arabia is gradually opening up, its people are essentially in a state of transition and English as it is being taught in institutes of higher education, across the Kingdom is constantly evolving. The way forward is to help students appreciate their Islamic identity and understand that the English language is a means to an end; it is by no means a substitute for the Arabic language.

16-22

The Urinary System

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The urinary system, also known as the renal system, consists of the two kidneys, ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Each kidney consists of millions of functional units called nephrons. The purpose of the renal system is to eliminate wastes from the body, regulate blood volume and pressure, control levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulate blood pH. The kidneys have extensive blood supply via the renal arteries which leave the kidneys via the renal vein. Following filtration of blood and further processing, wastes (in the form of urine) exit the kidney via the ureters, tubes made of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine towards the urinary bladder, where it is stored and subsequently expelled from the body by urination (voiding). The female and male urinary system are very similar, differing only in the length of the urethra.

Urine is formed in the kidneys through a filtration of blood. The urine is then passed through the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored. During urination (peeing) the urine is passed from the bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body.

About 1-2 litres of urine are produced every day in a healthy human, although this amount may vary according to circumstances such as fluid intake.

Average urine production in adult humans is about 1 – 2 L per day, depending on state of hydration, activity level, environmental factors, weight, and the individual’s health. Producing too much or too little urine needs medical attention. Polyuria is a condition of excessive production of urine (> 2.5 L/day), oliguria when < 400 mL are produced, and anuria one of < 100 mL per day.

The first step in urine formation is the filtration of blood in the kidneys. In a healthy human the kidney receives between 12 and 30% of cardiac output, but it averages about 20% or about 1.25 L/min.

The basic structural and functional unit of the kidney is the nephron. Its chief function is to regulate the concentration of water and soluble substances like sodium salts by filtering the blood, reabsorbing what is needed and excreting the rest as urine.

In the first part of the nephron, the renal corpuscle blood is being filtrated from the circulatory system into the nephron. A pressure difference between forces the filtrate from the blood across the filtration membrane. The filtrate includes water, small molecules and ions that easily pass through the filtration membrane. However larger molecules such as proteins and blood cells are prevented from passing through the filtration membrane. The amount of filtrate produced every minute is called the glomerular filtration rate or GFR and amounts to a staggering 180 litres per day. About 99% of this filtrate is then reabsorbed as it passes through the nephron and the remaining 1% becomes urine.

The urinary system is regulated by the endocrine system by hormones such as antidiuretic hormone, aldosterone, and parathyroid hormone.

The urinary system is under influence of the blood pressure, nervous system and endocrine system.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH), is a neurohypophysial hormone found in most mammals. Its two primary functions are to retain water in the body and to constrict blood vessels. Vasopressin regulates the body’s retention of water by acting to increase water absorption in the collecting ducts of the kidney nephron. Vasopressin increases water permeability of the kidney’s collecting duct and distal convoluted tubule by inducing translocation of aquaporin-CD water channels in the kidney nephron collecting duct plasma membrane.

16-22

The Tides Will Change

The tides will change,
The road will curve,
Sometimes it will hurt,
and we will need to swerve.
The pain we’ve felt,
The pain we feel,
The wounds we have,
The time we heal.
The choices we make,
The paths we take,
Will threaten to destroy us,
Don’t let that precious heart break.
The ones we’ve lost,
The ones we’ve found,
The ones who have left us bleeding on the ground.
The One who came,
To heal our hearts,
from the ones who left in them,
their poison darts.
The waves of life,
That wash over us,
attempting to defeat,
and weaken us.
The One who promised,
He would not leave us,
is the One,
who we must trust.
We will lose some along the way,
the ones who are true,
are the ones who will stay.
The ones who have hurt us,
as a memory they pass,
and the sands of time,
count down the hourglass.
Make the time count,
every moment you spend,
for every moment you know not,
when the moment will end.

A poem by Ayesha Khadija

16-22

Arizona 2014 Grad Announcement

By Nidah Chatriwala, TMO

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Zoya Tariq at Wells Fargo Arena

Arizona State University (ASU) recently wrapped up its graduation ceremonies for the spring semester honoring leaders of tomorrow including Zoya Tariq.

Tariq, who is originally from Pakistan, is a passionate individual with dreams of making a difference in the world. Throughout her college life, she was found volunteering her time at interfaith and multicultural ASU groups and events educating, encouraging and exemplifying the sophisticated youth of today.

Tariq earned her undergraduate degree in computer and information systems.

“The idea of writing words that make programs just fascinated me,” Tariq exclaimed. “I studied both subjects in my school in Pakistan and developed extreme passion for computers and technology… binary code,  especially, showed a whole new world to me.”

Furthermore, the curious soul Tariq is, she experimented her interests by accepting volunteer positions at multiple companies where she was involved heavily in organizing events.

“This cultivated in me the interest of management and business relationships,” Tariq explained. “This combination of interests made me choose computer information systems as my major.”

On May 14th, Tariq walked up the grand graduation stage to collect her degree with her family cheering her on from the bleachers at Wells Fargo Arena.

How did she feel after the graduation ceremony?

“I no longer had the safety net of saying that ‘I am studying right now’,” Tariq admitted. “But, I also didn’t have the burden of saying ‘I am studying right now’ because I felt ready and anxious to start working towards accomplishing my goals.”

Unlike most fresh graduates who take a break of a few months or so before starting their job search; Tariq, on the other hand, is excited to start achieving her career goals.
“I hope to pursue a career in managing events for for-profit charitable organizations,” Tariq enthused. “I want my focus to be on fighting hunger in poverty-stricken countries.”
Tariq is dedicated to utilizing her skills and interests to develop a contributory community globally so that everyone helps each other around the world.

The TMO team wishes the very best to young individuals like Tariq to become influential leaders of tomorrow.

16-22

Book About Life in Anarkali Bazaar Has Come Out

By Ilyas Choudry, TMO

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Our Special Correspondent: Haroon K. Ullah was in Houston this past weekend for several speaking engagement about his book “The Bargain From The Bazaar”, as story of a shopkeeper in Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar, the largest open market in South Asia.

Haroon is a Pakistani-American scholar and diplomat, who was handpicked by Richard Holbrooke for his policy team on Pakistan and Afghanistan. He currently serves on Secretary Kerry’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. State Department, where he focuses on public diplomacy and countering violent extremism.

His new book THE BARGAIN FROM THE BAZAAR, which can be bought from Amazon.Com is about a Family’s Day of Reckoning in Lahore. It tells the story of modern-day Pakistan through the lens of one “ordinary” family living in Lahore. Story is true, but to avoid any undue repercussions for the actual people, the characters have been named differently.

Story is about Awais Reza, who is a shopkeeper in Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar—the largest open market in South Asia—whose labyrinthine streets teem with shoppers, rickshaws, and cacophonous music. But according to the story, Anarkali’s exuberant hubbub cannot conceal the fact that Pakistan is a country at the edge of a precipice. In recent years, the easy sociability that had once made up this vibrant community has been replaced with doubt and fear. Old-timers like Awais, who inherited his shop from his father and hopes one day to pass it on to his son, are being shouldered aside by easy money, discount stores, heroin peddlers, and the tyranny of fundamentalists.

Every night before Awais goes to bed, he plugs in his cell phone and hopes. He hopes that the city will not be plunged into a blackout, that the night will remain calm, that the following morning will bring affluent and happy customers to his shop and, most of all, that his three sons will safely return home. Each of the boys, though, has a very different vision of their, and Pakistan’s future.

The Bargain from the Bazaar—the product of eight years of field research by Hroon K. Ullah — is an intimate window onto ordinary middle-class lives caught in the maelstrom of a nation falling to pieces. It’s an absolutely compelling portrait of a family at risk—from a violently changing world on the outside and a growing terror from within.

Haroon has received incredible advance praise for this one—from Malala Yousafzai, Reza Aslan, Strobe Talbott, Peter Bergen, Eboo Patel, Michael Wolfe—and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

To get this book, one can visit Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more

16-22

Community News V16-I22

Murad Mohammad named among Top 100 lawyers in Minnesota

downloadThe National Trial Lawyers has recently named Murad Mohammad among its list of top 100 trial lawyers in Minnessota. He is a partner at Mohammad, Schiks and Jaafar, P.A.
According to the organization’s website, membership for The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers is extended only to attorneys are considered to be the most qualified criminal defense and civil plaintiff lawyers in their states or regions, according to the organization’s website.

Mohammad earned his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Prior to joining the firm he served as an Assistant Public Defender in Ramsey County. In addition to his acceptance into The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100, Attorney Mohammad has also been selected for the 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, an honor that is granted to no more than 2.5% of Minnesota’s attorneys. The list of Rising Stars recognizes outstanding up-and-coming attorneys who are age 40 or below, or who have no more than 10 years of practice experience.

Prof.Reza Abdiain receives $1.8 million grant

Mohammad Reza Abidian, professor of biomedical engineering at Penn. State University, has received a $1.8 million single-PI grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Institute for Neurological Disorders (NINDS).

The five-year grant is titled, “Neural Tissue Engineering Based on Combinatorial Effects of Multiple Guidance Cues.”

“The aim of this project is to provide an understanding of effect of gradients of guidance cues on guidance and modulation of axonal growth,” said Abidian, in an interview to the Penn State News.

Zahra Ahmed selected salutatorian of Tolman High School

Senior Zahra Ahmed has been selected salutatorian of her graduating class at the Tolman High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A brilliant student throughout Ahmed is planning on attending Brown University as a biomedical engineering major.

Ahmed was vice president of the National Honor Society, Key Club secretary, and a Math League member. She ran and volunteered at 5K races, was captain of indoor and outdoor track, a member of Young Voices, a member of the yearbook staff, and was a freshman mentor.

She won the Lieutenant Governor’s Leadership Award, was the top scorer in the Scholastic Math League, and won the Tolman Key Player Spirit Award for the outdoor track team two years in a row.
Ahmed volunteered with the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, the Slater Park Halloween and Winter Wonderland celebrations, and the Tolman Summer Cleanup Project.

Aly Khan Bhamani receives Rotary Scholarship

SANTA MONICA–The Rotary Club of Santa Monica offers many scholarships each year funded by its members and supporters. They go out to exceptional students in the community. Santa Monica High School student Aly Khan Bhamani  presented with $1,000 scholarship, in honor of past Rotary Club presidents Russell Hart.

16-22

HDF Fundraiser

By Adil James, TMO

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Audience members watch Mr. Ahmar Iqbal speak.

May 17–The Human Development Foundation held a successful fundraiser this past Saturday evening in Michigan.  Over 500 people were present at the fundraiser at the convenient MET hotel in Troy.
Speakers included Dr. Nina Rehman Khan, emcee Mr. Ahmar Iqbal, keynote speaker journalist Ash-har Quraishi, and the surgeon Dr. Abdul Majid Katranji.

The event garnered approximately $250,000 in gifts and pledges.

HDF provides development work, medical aid and educational aid in many locations around Pakistan.  It is a relatively old organization–this was its 16th annual fundraising dinner.

The theme of the keynote speaker’s speech was that courage is a vital moral quality for which fearlessness is a poor substitute.

Mr. Quraishi gave several humorous examples from his own life as a journalist travelling around the world with his life of life threatening situations where he did not know enough to be afraid, giving these as examples of fearlessness, which he compared less than favorably with the actions of a very young Pakistani man who confronted a suicide bomber and prevented an attack on school children while losing his own life.

On a lighter note, Mr. Quraishi gave us a wonderful story in which he and his wife travelled to a foreign country where they lived in fear that they were being spied on.  His wife found and removed one apparent listening device in each of their closets.  Later they learned that the “listening devices” were actually the doorbells of their rooms–removing them prevented a meeting with their friend and associate.

Dr. Katranji invoked the people present to conjure up their wallets and their pledges with impassioned pleas, with some success.

16-22

Halal Fest: Michigan’s First Halal Food Festival

Canton, MI, May 7, 2014 – On Saturday, August 9th, 2014 from Noon to 7 PM Michigan’s first and largest Halal Food Festival (Halal Fest) is coming to the Heritage Park in Canton, Michigan.

Halal Fest is being organized by East Essence Chef, LLC, the first culinary school in metro Detroit area focusing exclusively on the next generation of Muslim Americans and their need for practical, nutritious food without compromising traditional tastes and religious beliefs.

Halal means permissible and refers to the dietary guidelines outlined in Islam, which practicing Muslims follow.  It is similar to kosher food for those who practice the Jewish faith.

With an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Muslim Americans living in the Detroit metro area, Halal Fest is meant to showcase what the Muslim and Halal markets have to offer to the entire community. Halal Fest will host over 30 different food, drink and dessert vendors; it will be the largest festival of Halal Restaurants in Michigan’s history! Muslim Americans come from all backgrounds and cultures, and one of the goals of this festival is to showcase the diversity of Muslim culture and food in the Detroit metro area.

“If you like ethnic food, this will be the one event you do not want to miss. We encourage and invite people of all faiths to come and enjoy this unique event with their friends and families” says Mostansar Virk, one of the main organizers of Halal Fest.

There will be live cooking demos for all ages. Children will be able to enjoy a large super slide, air jumper, small carnival rides and games. You will also be able to participate in a Chess tournament for a chance to win prizes.

Interested food vendors and sponsors who would like to showcase at the Halal Fest should contact:

Mostansar Virk, Event Director
Halal Fest: Michigan’s First Halal Food Festival
halalfest@eastessencechef.com

16-22

The Hidden Agenda of Modi: Not So HiddenEnter a post title

By Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

2014-05-21T092949Z_50815320_GM1EA5L1C1101_RTRMADP_3_INDIA

Outgoing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C), along with India’s Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi (2nd R), sit after paying respects at the Rajiv Gandhi memorial on the occasion of the former Indian Prime Minister’s 23rd death anniversary in New Delhi May 21, 2014. Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a female suicide bomber during election campaigning on May 21, 1991. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The BJP led alliance victory has at least assured one thing. No longer can Muslim Indians be accused of living off a policy of official favoritism and appeasement. The Hindu nationalists had always relied on this issue in their electoral strategy. Now they are in power and they can easily stop all such schemes and programs they felt were created to appease Muslims. Moreover, with a clear majority of its parliamentarians, the Modi government is in a position to do what it had always asked the Congress governments to do, i.e, implement universal civil code, amend article 370, and abolish special privileges given to minority institutions. Above all, the Hindu nationalist law makers have the ability of taking care of anti-nationalists, non-patriotic foreign agents and traitors from places their leadership had described as bastions of terrorism. As the prime minister of the country, Modi now has the privilege to learn firsthand about those Muslims who he always thought believed in the division of the world into Darul Harb and Darul Aman with India being defined as the former.

No doubt development would be the priority. But behind this screen, there is a three tier agenda that the Modi government would likely to implement as the whispers from RSS and hard core BJP inner circles suggest.  Through social media forums, internal memos and literature distributed during and after the election as well as speeches delivered in homes and smaller gatherings away from the glamour of the media, one can easily figure out the social engineering that is likely to take place in the next five years under Modi, if the government survives its tenure.

RSS and BJP views Hindus and India interchangeable. They are inclusive. Others that exist in India may be Indians but their status is less than those who profess Hinduism as their dharam (way of life). Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism can be defined as part of Hindu society as they are indigenous. Islam and Christianity are imported religions and they cannot be considered part of Hindu civilization unless their adherents renounce their faiths.

So when Modi government talks of national development or national policy, we must understand it as referring to Hindu development and policies favoring Hindus.  During the next five years, the BJP would ensure that such polices are formed and implemented in the name of Indian nationalism. India has always allowed a section of people living outside the periphery of mainstream culture as the plight of Dalits suggest and if Muslims replace them as neo-Dalits, no one is going to shed tears.

The real strength of BJP is over 5 million RSS workers who are disciplined, and loyal. These workers would ensure that the Modi government policies are popularized in public and projected as the best in the interest of the nation.

Public Positions

The main task that the Modi government would start implementing from day one is the appointment of RSS and BJP supporters on non-competitive places in various department of public sector. This would mean appointments of individuals considered loyal to RSS and BJP in film censor boards, higher, secondary and elementary educational boards, bureaucracy, law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, research institutes, universities, courts etc. In a span of five years, all those who may be considered liberal or secular or supportive of a plural society would find their way out replaced by those who may still use the same clichés but serve the interests of their ideology. They may find their way in various echelons of government under the façade of secularism. Thus from text book writings to film production to university and college curriculum, things would notice slow but steady changes.

Development

Through legislations and public funds, companies and corporations supportive of BJP and RSS would have opportunities to maximize their financial gains. They would determine the labor laws, minimum wages, working conditions and the pace of development. They would develop policies of hiring and firing and decide who would move up from those sections of society who support RSS and BJP agenda. In states where non-BJP governments rules, though economic incentives, their opposition would be minimized and climate for an economic alliance would be created.

Hindutva

The RSs and BJP would implement its Hindutva agenda very meticulously avoiding the publicity. Before touching the Rama Mandir issue, the party workers would focus in rural areas especially in places where minorities are in insignificant numbers. With law enforcement agencies turning blind eyes, many of these communities would be lured back into Hinduism thus changing the demographics of these areas. After all RSS and its supporters believe that Muslims and Christians were Hindus forcibly converted to their new religion and it is the duty of every Hindu to ensure that the lost sheep are returned to their flock. This would happen in a subtle and organized manner. None of these two communities are organized to even have an data about their scattered folks in rural areas. Very few of these communities have actually been approached by Muslim groups in the past 66 years of independence. Majority of them are not even aware of the true dimensions of their faith. All they know is that they were born in Muslim families without realizing the meaning of being a Muslim.

How to combat the Modi Agenda

RSS and BJP are organizations created by people and strong leadership. Muslims can also create strong organizations and leadership. Their leadership must have a vision, a vision of whole of India not of their party, or community or sect. This vision must be based on the concept of human dignity of each and every one and not on the notion of Muslim superiority or supremacy.

The vision must be backed by a grass roots organization, an organization that reaches to the last Muslim living even in the remotest area.

The vision must be popularized through education, an education that does not make distinction between religious studies and social and natural sciences. An education that is value based preparing Muslims to serve humanity through improving their own living conditions. A vision that promotes peace and harmony and that inspires Muslims to forward thinking.

The education should be imparted through improving existing educational institutions that can adopt a new curriculum based on objective analysis rather than historical claims to subjective negative thinking.

There should be grass roots educational movement starting from angan wadi (pre KG schools) and elementary to institutions of higher learning.

Resources

Indian Muslims have tremendous human and material resources. The community runs over a million grass roots madrasas and other similar institutions though its own resources. It also has a strong ally in Muslims of Indian origin who have settled overseas. Through the combined resources of indigenous and overseas Muslims of Indian origin, Muslims of India can certainly create a new path for them.  But they would need a leadership that is sincere and dedicated to India and the community and those values of Islam that promote peace, human progress, fellowship and human dignity. There is no point in trying to settle issues pertaining to factional and sectarian differences. They are world wide issues and Muslim Indians alone cannot solve them overnight. What they can do is to ensure that even weakest of their community is given an opportunity to live with dignity.

The time to act is now, otherwise it would be too late to respond to the new challenges that would emerge in the next few years. There are many Muslim groups in India and each is busy doing something. But, in general, their program is not beneficial to either Muslims or the country. With the exception in southern and eastern India especially in Assam, Muslim Indians, by and large, have not created a vision for themselves of India. All they have are some emotional slogans and historical clichés. But a nation does not rise on the basis of clichés and slogans. It rises on the strength of its own will to change itself.

16-22

Libyan Militias Led by Former General Attack Parliament and Declare it Dissolved

By Hassan Morajea and Abigail Hauslohner

TRIPOLI, Libya — Militias allied with a former Libyan general staged a brazen attack on Libya’s parliament on Sunday and declared it dissolved, in some of the worst fighting the capital has seen since the 2011 revolution.

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Libya’s Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq speaks during a news conference in Tripoli May 21, 2014. REUTERS/ Hani Amara

By Sunday night, those forces announced that the elected General National Congress was being replaced by an existing constitutional drafting committee. It was far from certain that the order would be observed. But the power grab threatened to send Libya hurtling into a full-blown civil war.

Khalifa Hifter, leader of uprising, says in an interview that he envisions a long battle against Islamists.

It said the decision was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. It denied a coup d’etat was underway.

Tripoli residents and journalists reported heavy fighting, including rocket attacks and gunfights, in several central neighborhoods. Dozens of vehicles mounted with antiaircraft guns could be seen speeding toward the center of the capital from a southeastern suburb. Plumes of black smoke rose over the city.

It was unclear whether ex-general Khalifa Haftar commanded sufficient force to prevail in the showdown in Tripoli — the latest chapter in a struggle for power, land and resources that has raged in this oil-rich country since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The central government has struggled unsuccessfully to rein in scores of militias that emerged from the anti-Gaddafi uprising.
“In Libya, there really isn’t a party on the ground that is more powerful than the other,” said Essam Gheriyani, a prominent businessman.

The Associated Press quoted hospital officials as saying that two people were killed and more than 60 were wounded in the fighting, which occurred two days after Haftar’s forces launched an assault on Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, leaving 70 dead.

Libyan news media reported that Haftar’s militia members had also kidnapped several national lawmakers Sunday. And rumors circulated that the justice minister had narrowly survived an assassination attempt.

Reached by phone, the justice minister, Salah Merghani, sounded shaken but would not comment on the reports. “My colleagues and I are okay. I can’t really talk. Thank you,” he said.

In an ominous sign, militias from the coastal city of Misrata were en route to Tripoli on Sunday night, said Anwar Salwan, a powerful local leader from the city about 110 miles east of the capital.

Haftar is a mysterious general-turned-opposition-leader who sought exile in the United States in the 1980s and lived for years in Falls Church, Va. He returned to Libya during the 2011 uprising.

Gen. Mokhtar Farnana, speaking for Haftar’s forces, the so-called Libyan National Army,said on Libyan television Sunday that the country’s 60-member constituent assembly, elected this year to draft Libya’s new constitution, would replace parliament, according to the AP. He said Libya’s central government would continue to act on an emergency basis.

“We announce to the world that the country can’t be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism,” said Farnana, according to the AP.

But some members of Libya’s government said they would ignore the demands by Haftar’s forces.

“The government condemns the expression of political opinion through the use of armed force,” Merghani said in a statement, the AP reported.

In recent months, Libya’s militias have roughly divided into two groups. One includes Islamist militias in Benghazi, joined by allies from Misrata. The other is a diverse group of more-liberal politicians, Gaddafi-era military officers and tribal militias from Tripoli and the western mountains.

Both sets of forces hold positions, or at least allies, in the central government and in parliament, and have received funding and resources from the state.

On Sunday, two Tripoli militias who form part of the anti-Islamist grouping stormed the parliament’s empty headquarters.

The militias — known as the Qaqa and Sawaiq — pledged allegiance to Haftar. As darkness fell over Libya and the country’s political future, it was also unclear where the former general was.
Haftar’s history with U.S.

Haftar is a well-known figure in Libya. He was a military officer who took part in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power. He later commanded Libyan troops in their war with neighboring Chad, but was taken prisoner by Chadian forces.

In 1988, he broke with Gaddafi and established the Libyan National Army, described as a rebel group based in Chad. Haftar claimed publicly that he had U.S. backing.

In a 2011 interview with CNN, Libya’s former ambassador in Washington, Ali Aujali, who supported the anti-Gaddafi uprising that year, declined to confirm whether the CIA had bankrolled the Libyan rebel group established years earlier by Haftar. But he said, “The Americans know him very, very well.”

He added: “I think working for the CIA for the sake of your national interest is nothing to be ashamed of.”

When The Post asked in 2011 about Haftar’s possible connections to the CIA, a senior intelligence official said the agency policy was not to discuss such issues.

Haftar had struggled unsuccessfully to gain control over Libya’s disparate rebel forces during the early months of the 2011 uprising. After Gaddafi’s ouster, he had gradually faded from the Libyan political scene, until recently.

Some Libyans called Haftar’s assault Sunday a military coup.

But other observers said that that description would lend the forces more legitimacy than they deserve.

“It’s silly to say a military coup, because there is no military,” said Jalal el-Gallal, a former member of Libya’s transitional authority.

Massoud Ali Shalash, a Haftar supporter and a local leader in the western mountain town of Zintan, said the militias had given the government a chance to show it could run the country.

“The Congress is a failure and the government is a failure. The purpose of [Haftar’s] actions was to purify the army and the Congress,” he said.

Salwan, the Misrata leader, said the city’s militias had stopped about 60 miles from Tripoli on Sunday night, to try “to understand more about who is fighting with whom before sending in our forces.”
But “Zintan must be stopped,” he added, referring to the Qaqa brigade’s home town.

Hauslohner reported from Moscow. Erin Cunningham and Lara El Gibaly in Cairo contributed to this report.

16-22

So Called ‘Invasion’ of Mosques by Far Right Group, Britain First

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The Muslim Council of Britain condemns in the strongest terms the act of violating a place of worship by the recently formed extreme far right, anti-Muslim group, Britain First. The most recent incident occurred at midday yesterday, where the emboldened action by three middle aged men and woman entered one of the largest Islamic institutions in the country, wearing their shoes and trampling on prayer surfaces to carry out their misguided propaganda. This has left many members of the community angered and disappointed with the inability of the government and the authorities to curtail this type of thuggish behaviour.

The East London Mosque, a local affiliate of the MCB, is a hundred year old institution which has pioneered community cohesion initiatives over decades, and is now one of the largest mosques in the country, providing services to people from all walks of life. Britain First, who are dressed as a militant fringe element of the British National Party recently ‘invaded’ mosques in Bradford and Scotland in a similar way, distributing army bibles and anti child grooming leaflets to worshippers by entering the mosques and demanding to see the Imam. This can be clearly seen in their own You Tube videos.

Everyone is welcome at a mosque, many of which hold open days for new visitors. Visitors are also requested to respectfully adhere to the sacred etiquettes when at a place of worship. The aggressive and intimidating manner in which members of Britain First enter Mosques, is nothing short of sacrilege.

We urge the authorities and the government to urgently reassure our communities that action will be taken to safeguard our places of worship as, up until this time, there has not been any form of public condemnation of this extreme behaviour which threatens the peace in our communities.

16-22

NSA Row and Rush to Encrypt Email

New Vision

text-email

A new push to encrypt email, keeping messages free from government snooping, is gaining momentum.             Nicholas Kamm/AFP/File

One new email service promising “end-to-end” encryption launched on Friday, and others are being developed while major services such as Google Gmail and Yahoo Mail have stepped up security measures.

A major catalyst for email encryption were revelations about widespread online surveillance in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

“A lot of people were upset with those revelations, and that coalesced into this effort,” said Jason Stockman, a co-developer of ProtonMail, a new encrypted email service which launched Friday with collaboration of scientists from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the European research lab CERN.

Stockman said ProtonMail aims to be as user-friendly as the major commercial services, but with extra security, and with its servers located in Switzerland to make it more difficult for US law enforcement to access.

Encryption is a tool that can help dissident activists avoid detection in places like China or Iran, but the movement has also gained credence in the United States among those who want to stay clear of snooping from the NSA or other intelligence services.

“Our vision is to make encryption and privacy mainstream by making it easy to use,” Stockman told AFP. “There’s no installation. Everything happens behind the scenes automatically.”

Even though email encryption using special codes or keys, a system known as PGP, has been around for two decades, “it was so complicated,” and did not gain widespread adoption, Stockman said.
After testing over the past few months, ProtonMail went public Friday using a “freemium” model — a basic account will be free with some added features for a paid account.

“As our users from China, Iran, Russia, and other countries around the world have shown us in the past months, ProtonMail is an important tool for freedom of speech and we are happy to finally be able to provide this to the whole world,” the company said in a blog post.

Google and Yahoo recently announced efforts to encrypt their email communications, but some specialists say the effort falls short.

“These big companies don’t want to encrypt your stuff because they spy on you, too,” said Bruce Schneier, a well-known cryptographer and author who is chief technology officer for CO3 Systems.

“Hopefully, the NSA debate is creating incentives for people to build more encryption.”

Stockman said that with services like Gmail, even if data is encrypted, “they have the key right next to it .. if you have the key and lock next to each other, so it’s pretty much useless.”

By locating in Switzerland, ProtonMail hopes to avoid the legal woes of services like Lavabit — widely believed to be used by Snowden — which shut down rather than hand over data to the US government, and which now faces a contempt of court order.

Even if a Swiss court ordered data to be turned over, Stockman said, “we would hand over piles of encrypted data. We don’t have a key. We never see the password.”

Lavabit founder Ladar Levison meanwhile hopes to launch a new service with other developers in a coalition known as the “Dark Mail Alliance.”

Levison told AFP he hopes to have a new encrypted email system in testing within a few months and widely available later this year.

“The goal is to make it ubiquitous, so people don’t have to turn it on,” he said.

But he added that the technical hurdles are formidable, because the more user-friendly the system becomes, “the more susceptible it is to a sophisticated attacker with fake or spoofed key information.”

Levison said he hopes Dark Mail will become a new open standard that can be adopted by other email services.

Jon Callas, a cryptographer who developed the PGP standard and later co-founded the secure communications firm Silent Circle, cited challenges in making a system that is both secure and ubiquitous.
“If you are a bank you have to have an email system that complies with banking regulations,” Callas told AFP, which could allow, for example, certain emails to be subject to regulatory or court review.
“Many of the services on the Internet started with zero security. We want to start with a system that is totally secure and let people dial it down.”

The new email system would complement Silent Circle’s existing secure messaging system and encrypted mobile phone, which was launched earlier this year.

“If we start competing for customers on the basis of maximum privacy, that’s good for everybody,” Callas said.

16-22

Homeland Security Agent Caught Lying at Hearing

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

USA-EXPLOSIONS/BOSTON

Robel Phillipos (center) arrives for a hearing in his case at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts May 13, 2014.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Three friends of Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev: Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, and Robel Phillipos went before Judge Woodlock May 13-15, 2014 and sat through three full consecutive days of FBI and Homeland Security testimony. Dias Kadyrbayev was poised to testify regarding the nature of his detainment, interrogation, and arrest, but did not end up testifying.

There were only a few observers in the courtroom other than the media; Boston marathon bombing victim Marc Fucarile, and a few family members and friends of the defense. Dias and Azamat, accused of obstructing justice, and Robel, accused of lying to the FBI, had filed motions to dismiss the charges, which Judge Woodlock denied. He agreed to hold three separate trials for the defendants. Azamat will go first on June 30, 2014, followed by Dias on September 8 and Robel September 29. The judge denied the defense request for a trial outside Boston.

Most of the hearing focused on whether or not statements made by the defense while in custody of the FBI were voluntary, when they were detained without a warrant from 9pm until 5am the night of April 19, 2013. There was also the issue of whether or not their English was sufficient to understand what was going on and what they were signing.

The apartment near UMass Dartmouth was shared by the three students. They had a group cell phone plan that was billed to the home under the name Tsarnaev. A couple hours after police killed Jahar’s brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, while Jahar was still on the run, one of these phones was used in the New Bedford home at 10:06am on April 19. It was Azamat calling his mom in Khazakstan. Shortly after Tamerlan was announced dead on TV, someone used the phone to text his parents in Dagestan. The FBI sent a SWAT team to raid the house without a warrant. Jahar was not there, but Dias, Azamat and Bayan were taken into FBI custody.

FBI Agent Walker testified that they were not under arrest, but they had accepted an “invitation to talk” at the police barracks in North Dartmouth. Walker said he was “not sure” if they were read their Miranda rights before they confessed to removing a backpack full of spent fireworks from the home, or before signing documents giving permission to search their computer, apartment and car. The boys were friendly and cooperative. While they were there, Dias’ attorney called saying he wanted to represent the boys but they were not informed of this. Dias had asked, “Do we need a lawyer?” and was told, “We can’t offer legal advice.”

FBI agent Azad testified that he told them they were not under arrest. They were having a friendly back and forth conversation. Dias asked repeatedly to see his girlfriend, Bayan, and was told, “Soon.” He also asked, “Are we almost done?”

At one point, Dias said, “I think we are being held against our will.” Walker testified that the FBI called a taxi, which pulled up out front, but could not explain why the boys did not get in. Attorney Stahl clarified that the FBI had taken away their wallets and keys.

Stahl asked why they did not arrest the boys. Walker said they were not sure if they had probable cause. They were waiting for the District Attorney’s office to tell them how to proceed.

Azamat’s attorney Nicholas Wooldridge cross examined Walker. “If you believe there is probable cause, you don’t need to consult with prosecutor.”

Walker responded, “We preferred to consult with DA first.”

Stahl asked FBI Agent Serillo, “Did Dias ask for a shirt or blanket?” Serilla answered, “I don’t recall.”

“The agents honestly felt scripted and were repeatedly thrown off by Stahl’s questions, answering, ‘I don’t recall…,’” court observer Jennifer told TMO.

Early in the morning, six FBI agents in 3 cars drove the boys home. They entered the home with their permission and removed two items belonging to Jahar: a baseball cap and an ashtray.

That same afternoon, the home was raided again by 12 government agents. FBI agents Quinn and Azad interviewed them for one hour. Azad testified that the boys had a “friendly and pleasant demeanor” and “had no idea what was to come.”

After they signed a consent for the FBI to search the apartment, they were handcuffed. Even though it is not normal for Homeland Security to deal with such technical matters, Homeland Security Agent Wiroll arrested them for student visa violations. He read their Miranda rights but there was no Russian translator present. The boys were forced at gunpoint to remove their shirts and walk backwards out of the apartment with their hands in the air. Even though Dias was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car, Walker testified that he was free to leave anytime he wanted, if he just had said, “I want to leave.”

In the back of the car, Walker told Dias, “Jahar’s life is over. Whether he’s still living or not, his life is over. He’s dead one way or another. Your life is not over. Yours doesn’t have to be. You must tell the truth. You have to tell me right now. Don’t make a mistake.”
“It was disturbing to hear him to say it like that,” a supporter named Ana told TMO. “But in a way he is doing whatever he can to get this to be fair to the boys. He is responsible for their arrest.”
Homeland Security agent Jameson Wiroll testified for at least 15 minutes that Dias did not need help with translating and that no Russian was spoken. But when Wiroll was double cross examined, he changed his story regarding whether or not Dias needed help with translation before he signed documents including a highly unusual immigration form where he “confesses” to throwing away the fireworks (something an FBI agent told the HSI agent to add).
“It is not normal to include extra information not related to the subject a person was brought in for,” observed Attorney Stahl. Wiroll testified that he added it as “background information.” Stahl then pointed out on the same document that the Consul from Khazakstan was present and had helped with translating. The Judge said, “I’m confused.” Wiroll then admitted that Russian was spoken and they needed help with translation.
Wiroll has a history of giving false testimony. He was named as a defendant in a 4th amendment violation civil case against the town of Rockport filed by James Atkinson involving a 2009 weapons case where all the charges against Atkinson were dropped because the local cops and FBI were found to have fabricated evidence, and used illegal wiretapping.
According to a government transcript of a phone call from the Essex County jail to Bayan on May 24, 2013, Dias lamented about how he was treated after he had fully cooperated with law enforcement. “Everything that we did — everything that I did, everything that I signed, I signed it on my own. They asked me, right, “Will you give permission?” and I gave. But, then how they [trashed the place]… like pigs.”

White House Rumana Ahmed Leaving Post for New Assignment

By Ray Hanania

Ahmed

Rumana Ahmed, who was named as the head of a new White House initiative to reach out to American Arabs and American Muslims, will be leaving her post at the Office of Public Engagement, headed by Valerie Jarrett.

A statement released by Ahmed offered few details raising concerns among American Arabs and American Muslims about her fate and also the fate of the initiative which was only launched last March. Ahmed was an executive assistant to Jarrett.

Ahmed’s statement read:

“It’s been an honor serving in the interim role as the liaison to the Muslim American and Arab American communities in my official capacity within the Office of Public Engagement (OPE). Today is my last day with OPE before I return in a month in a different capacity with another office here at the White House.”

No information has been released yet on the new assignment or why the transition will not begin for another month.

Before her appointment to the Office of Public Engagement, Ahmed served as a senior analyst in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, working under President Barack Obama. Prior to joining the White House Staff, Ahmed worked at the Department of Commerce Office of Policy and Strategic Planning.

Ahmed is originally from Maryland and she has her degree from George Washington University in International Affairs concentrating on International Economics and Development.

Ahmed is the only individual on the Office of Public Engagement’s 21 person staff with direct knowledge of American Arabs and American Muslims. She may be the only Muslim on the staff, but that could not be confirmed. Colleague Yohannes Abraham, who also works on the staff, is Ethiopian.

The new office reflects the deep commitment that President Obama and Jarrett have to diversity and the inclusion of minority groups that are traditionally ostracized because of extraneous politics and international conflict, such as Arabs and Muslims.

(Ray Hanania is a former award winning Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. He is managing editor of The Arab Daily News which seeks to be the newspaper of record for American Arabs.www.TheArabDailyNews.com.http://thearabdailynews.com/2014/05/20/white-house-rumana-ahmed-leaving-post-new-assignment/)

16-23

Muslim Capitol Day

By Saim Raza and Ismail Ali

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Hundreds of Michigan Muslims traveled to Lansing on May 13 for the annual Michigan Muslim Capitol Day. The event, hosted by the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC), focused on creating relationships between Muslims and their elected representatives and on getting young people involved in the political process.

The event started with an prayer invocation in the Michigan Senate by Imam Mustapha Elturk of the IONA mosque. After the invocation, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley started the senate session. Throughout the day, attendees observed legislative sessions, toured the government offices from the Supreme Court to the House floor, and met their representatives and senators in one-on-one meetings.

It was an enjoyable and productive day filled with many highlights for students attending the field trip. “Listening to the Quran recitation in the Capitol Building was the highlight of our experience. We reflected on the religious freedom that we have in this beautiful country and the rights and responsibilities that come with it!” said Azra Ali, principal of Huda School. Rayhan Al-Alami, an Educator at Crescent Academy International, said she and her colleagues appreciated the consistency of the message participants received. “Students were constantly being motivated and uplifted to become active in their community,” she remarked. Speakers told them that “their journey of activism starts now.” Imam Mik-ail Stewart, and educator at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy  said, “Muslim Capitol Day allowed our students to see that Muslims are equally important to the success of Michigan, and our country, as anyone else.” Flint’s Genesee Academy, Dearborn’s Muslim American Youth Academy, and Greater Lansing Islamic School were also among the six participating schools.

For the first part of the day, distinguished community leaders, including 6th District Representative Rashida Tlaib and MMCC Board Member Ahmar Iqbal, addressed participants inside the State Capitol’s rotunda and on the lawn. They expressed their appreciation of the community’s work and called for more civic engagement, especially from students. Carol Cain, an Emmy-award winning journalist, emceed the event. She stated, “I was honored to be asked to emcee Muslim Day at the Capitol. The enthusiasm of the young people at the standing room only event inside the rotunda of the state capital was matched by the inspirational stories and advice offered by leaders from the Muslim community and elected officials on hand.” First place achievement certifcates were presented to Huda School Students for participating in the first annual Michigan Muslim Interscholastic Pre-Capitol Day debates that had taken place a few weeks prior to Capitol Day and were presented to Nadia Khan, Mohammed Al-Hadidi, and Danya Obeid, by Senator Hoon-Yung-Hopgood.

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Michigan Muslim Capitol Day 2014 — with (l-r) Amina Iqbal, Dawood Zwink, Kassem Allie from the Islamic Center of America, and Dr. Muzammil Ahmed in Lansing, MI.

During lunch, the attendees listened to speeches from Imam Abdullah El-Amin of Detroit, Representative George Durany, and a heart-moving recital of the Star Spangled Banner performed by Zena Alayan.  In the afternoon, Najah Bazzy of Dearborn offered the invocation before House session. Also at this time, community members met their elected officials, discussing issue affecting the Muslim community and the broader Michigan community, from preventing brain drain among young Michiganders to promoting entrepreneurship in Detroit.

The event grew tremendously from last year, and community members are already looking forward to the next round. Dawood Zwink, MMCC’s Executive Director, expressed plans to continue growing the program, citing plans to ensure more community members sit down in small meetings with their representatives and and a greater participation from schools.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzSQTfHdX8o

16-22

The Circulatory System

ibn tufail 69The circulatory system is an organ system that permits blood and lymph circulation to transport nutrients (such asamino acids and electrolytes), oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, blood cells, etc. to and from cells in the body to nourish it and help to fight diseases, stabilize body temperature and pH, and to maintain homeostasis.

This system is often seen as strictly as a blood distribution network, but some consider the circulatory system to be composed collectively of the cardiovascular system, which distributes blood, and the lymphatic system, which circulates lymph. Blood is a fluid consisting of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets that is circulated by the heart through the vertebrate vascular system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to and waste materials away from all body tissues. Lymph is essentially recycled excess blood plasma after it has been filtered from the interstitial fluid(between cells) and returned to the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular (from Latin words meaning ‘heart’-’vessel’) system comprises the blood, heart, and blood vessels. The lymph, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels form the lymphatic system, which returns filtered blood plasma from the interstitial fluid (between cells) as lymph.

While humans, as well as other vertebrates, have a closed cardiovascular system (meaning that the blood never leaves the network of arteries, veins and capillaries), some invertebrate groups have an open cardiovascular system. The lymphatic system, on the other hand, is an open system providing an accessory route for excess interstitial fluid to get returned to the blood.[3] The more primitive, diploblastic animal phyla lack circulatory systems

The essential components of the human cardiovascular system are the heart, blood, and blood vessels. It includes: the pulmonary circulation, a “loop” through thelungs where blood is oxygenated; and the systemic circulation, a “loop” through the rest of the body to provide oxygenated blood. An average adult contains five to six quarts (roughly 4.7 to 5.7 liters) of blood, accounting for approximately 7% of their total body weight.[5] Blood consists of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, andplatelets. Also, the digestive system works with the circulatory system to provide the nutrients the system needs to keep the heart pumping.

The cardiovascular systems of humans are closed, meaning that the blood never leaves the network of blood vessels. In contrast, oxygen and nutrients diffuse across the blood vessel layers and enter interstitial fluid, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the target cells, and carbon dioxide and wastes in the opposite direction. The other component of the circulatory system, the lymphatic system, is not closed.

The heart pumps oxygenated blood to the body and deoxygenated blood to the lungs. In the human heart there is one atrium and one ventricle for each circulation, and with both a systemic and a pulmonary circulation there are four chambers in total: left atrium, left ventricle, right atrium and right ventricle. The right atrium is the upper chamber of the right side of the heart. The blood that is returned to the right atrium is deoxygenated (poor in oxygen) and passed into the right ventricle to be pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs for re-oxygenation and removal of carbon dioxide. The left atrium receives newly oxygenated blood from the lungs as well as the pulmonary vein which is passed into the strong left ventricle to be pumped through the aorta to the different organs of the body.

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Call for Book Chapters on Synagogues of the Islamic World

By Dr. Mohammad Gharpour

With more than three millennia of history, the Jewish people have been both a minority and an influential community of long standing within the Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia.  The hundreds of synagogues that are located in this part of the world are noted for their rich and unique architecture.  These buildings were constructed and developed under the influence of local trends or stylistic movements, while also representing the visual culture of each particular Jewish community. Whether constructed in a predominantly Muslim society or preserved in its original form from pre-Muslim periods, each synagogue embodies the application of architecture to the articulation of cultural identity.

A general study of synagogues throughout the Islamic world should allow art and architectural historians to draw conclusions regarding expressions of faith, power and desire in Muslim societies, and the formal and theoretical qualities of these structures in Islamic societies.  Further, the architecture of synagogues reveals relationships between the architectural forms associated with Islamic cultures and Jewish readings of architectural tradition.  The development of these structures in Islamic cities is related to multifaceted classifications of synagogues as holy places, cultural centers, or even residences, as well as to the complexities of the Jewish population as an integrated, but sometimes, non-homogenous community.  The facades of synagogues reflect the degree of freedom the Jews have within their local Muslim community, whereas interiors were complex overlays of local and regional elements, forms, and ornaments, and religious symbols.

This book aims to explore the design and development of synagogues in the Islamic world by examining the physical and non-physical links between city and synagogue.  This book will include papers that examine spaces created by and for Jews in an area under the political or religious control of Muslims, as well as constructed before the advent of Islam.  Chapters will clarify how the architecture of synagogues responded to contextual issues and traditions, or how a new context influenced a historically-established design.

Submissions will discuss how synagogues reflect the culture of the Jewish minority at macro and micro scales, from the city to the interior.  They can also study patterns of development of the synagogues in urban contexts and in connection to Muslim quarters and urban monuments such as mosques and shrines.  The contributions may be based on the analysis of case studies of archival and historical accounts, or formal and spatial analyses of synagogues in their urban context. Papers that deploy new methodological, theoretical, and comparative approaches to the analysis of synagogues in the Muslim world are especially welcome.  Case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are welcome.

Please submit proposals or inquiries to:  Dr. Mohammad Gharipour, School of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University, Baltimore, mohammad@gatech.edu

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Iraq … A Desert Land, Or Up Incoming Oasis

By Laura Fawaz, TMO

Sayyidinal Hussein

The mosque and maqam of Imam Hussain in Karbala

Kufa

Kufa

karbala

Karbala

Iraq–The headlines in today’s western media on Iraq surround the notion that it is a desert land with memories of a war still lingering–with daily bombs and military attacks.

I recently ventured off to visit Iraq.  And before I left, all my friends and family in America warned that it is not a safe thing to do, that they are still coming out of a war.  And when watching the local news channels on Iraq, there’s the looming feel that it is an uncivilized country that is unable to function daily without outside assistance.  So the idea of taking a trip there, while the media leads us to believe that it is still a danger zone where no one should go, was a bit shocking to my American friends and family.

But for this journalist being in Iraq, I felt safer walking the streets at night there, than I do in America.  Why?  Well first, a big part of it is what area you’re in.  Every tour group told us not to go to the capital, Baghdad, because being the capital, there is still political unrest and tensions, causing a few terrorist attacks.  For us, we stayed Karbala; a city rich in Islamic and political history.  The most amazing part though, is even with such history, there is not any of the Sunni / Shia tensions that there is played out to be in the western media.  Many believe this to be a plan devised to create a divide and conquer scheme to assist in taking over the land during the American invasion into Iraq.

The way daily life there really is just an Islamic lifestyle, loving Prophet Muhammad (s), and his family.  The only remnants of past apprehensions come from the dreadful memory of Saddam Hussein and his regime.  For example, when you go into the shrine of Imam Hussein (as), you’ll find a beautifully redone, grand mosque.  Yet there are a few small sections of different walls scattered throughout the mosque that are desecrated with bullet holes.  These are the same bullet holes that were fired by Saddam’s men who would wait for people to go inside this mosque, visiting Imam Hussein (as), and then shoot at them, brutally massacring them. 

In this same shrine, there is a museum on the second level, overlooking the entire mosque.  In this museum are artifacts pertaining to the history of Karbala and Imam Hussein’s shrine (as), as well as his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (s).  There was one other powerful item being shown in this museum that is quite telling of the country, as one trying to get out of the past and move towards a new, innovative, bright future.  It was a TV screen that played a photo slide show with visual evidence of the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.  Some of the photos were lines with bodies, or the weapons used to kill them with.  This was used as a method to brag about by the terrorist Saddam.

In the city of Kufa, there are many great places to visit.  The most notable is the Grand Kufa Mosque.  One of the reasons why this mosque is one to visit is because every prophet of Islam prayed here at this mosque.  The night that Prophet Muhammad (s) prayed here was the night he was lifted up to see the seven heavens by Allah (SWT).  After this, the Prophet (s) was sent down to the Grand Kufa Mosque, where he offered two rakat of prayers.  This very spot is still kept with a sign stating its greatness.  We were also able to offer two rakat of prayers there, as well as in other remarkable spots such as the place where Prophet Adam (as) prayed, and a place where Angel Gabriel (as) came down. 

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