Community News (V10-I4)

Muslim who helped stop NYC Hanukkah attack on Jews gets award

NEW YORK – A Muslim student who helped stop a Hanukkah attack on four Jewish subway riders is being honored for his actions.

Several Muslim organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations, are presenting Hassan Askari with a Good Samaritan Award. One of the victims in the attack, Walter Adler, will receive an Interfaith Commitment Award.

Adler has called Askari a hero for intervening when Adler and three friends were assaulted on a train in lower Manhattan last month after they were heard saying “Happy Hanukkah.”

Askari tried to fight off the 10 attackers, giving Adler a chance to summon police by pulling an emergency brake.

Eight men and two women have pleaded not guilty to assault, menacing and other charges.

Irving Imam denounces honor killings

IRVING, TX–The leader of an Irving mosque denounced honor killings Friday, saying they have no place in Islam, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Imam Zia Sheikh’s comments came after speculation that two teenage sisters were victims of such a killing. Sarah and Amina Said were found shot to death in a taxi in Irving on New Year’s Day.

The girls’ father, Egyptian-born cab driver Yaser Said, is wanted in connection with the deaths. He reportedly was troubled by his daughters’ relationships with boys.

An honor killing is generally defined as one in which a man kills a female relative who is believed to have shamed their family.

The deaths of the Said sisters are tragic, the imam said Friday, but religion should not be tied to the slayings.

“Murdering one’s own children is not permitted at all in Islam,” the imam told hundreds of worshippers during a prayer service at the Islamic Center of Irving. “There is no precedent for it. … That is not the way we deal with children that we are having difficulty with.”

Local Muslims fear that talk of honor killings will hamper their efforts to reach out to the community. They said they are trying to use the situation to educate people about Islam.

Muslim experts say that there’s no sanction for honor killings from the Quran, the holy book of Islam, or from Islamic law.

“Unfortunately, whenever a person with a Muslim name does something, people immediately say, ‘Muslims are doing that, so Islam must permit it,’ “ said Basheer Ahmed, a Tarrant County psychiatrist and past president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America.

Mr. Said’s wife, Patricia, has rejected the notion that Mr. Said’s religion or culture had anything to do with the killings. Her son, Islam, 19, said in a recent interview, “Why is it every time an Arab father kills a daughter, it’s an honor killing?”

New mosque okayed near Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH– Town supervisors have approved plans for the construction of a mosque in the township of Marshall near Pittsburgh, the Tribune Review reported.

The Islamic Center of North Pittsburgh, which is expected to be completed in about four years, would be in the only mosque in the North Hills, officials said.

Mosques already exist in Green Tree, East Liberty, Wilkinsburg, Oakland and Monroeville. Muslims in the northern suburbs often travel to Oakland and Monroeville, where the mosques are run by the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

The two-story 14,600 square-foot mosque in Marshall will be built on a 4-acre site on Warrendale Bayne Road, across from the Tech 21 office complex. The board of supervisors unanimously approved the plans earlier this month, about one year after the township received the initial application for the center.

Plans call for a worship area and a second-floor multipurpose area that includes a basketball court and a kitchen. The approved occupancy for the building will be 391.

The site will accommodate parking for about 165 vehicles, the amount needed for the dozen or so special events that will be held at the center each year, township officials said.

Parking availability had been a concern, said Robert Fayfich, supervisors’ chairman, which capped the number of special events at 10 per year.

“What we did not want are situations where people would park along Warrendale Bayne Road, a road that is just not suitable for parking,” he said.

The site includes some room for expansion, said Andrew Dash, Marshall’s zoning officer.

Jews and Muslims: Working Together

EXETER — “Jews and Muslims: Working Together” is the title of a free public conversational presentation by Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid held this week at the Phillips Exeter Academy Assembly Hall, Front St.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is a leader of Jewish renewal and founder of The Shalom Center. In 1996 he was named by the United Nations one of 40 Wisdom Keepers from all over the world.

Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid is the religious and spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. He has served as a counselor to Muslims living with AIDS, and also as a Muslim Prison Chaplain for New York since 1977. He is the host of a monthly Harlem-based radio show, entitled “Prophetic Echoes.”

“We the People” is a series of free public lectures on crucial issues facing our society. The series is sponsored by the Congregational, Unitarian-Universalist and Episcopal churches of Exeter in cooperation with Phillips Exeter Academy.

Mujeeb Shah-Khan named American Marshall Memorial Fellow

RALEIGH, N.C. – Todd Culpepper, executive director of the International Affairs Council (IAC) (, has announced the North Carolina winners of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship (MMF) for 2008 by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The 2008 American Marshall Memorial Fellows will each spend 23 days in Europe visiting institutions, societies and cultures while learning about economic, political and social issues facing the U.S. and Europe. The following North Carolina residents are among the 53 Americans selected as Fellows representing 17 states and the District of Columbia:

· Natalie English, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
· Jamie Lathan, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
· Mujeeb Shah-Khan, City of Charlotte, Office of the City Attorney
· Ted Teague, Novant Health, Inc.

The MMF was created by the German Marshall Fund in 1982 to introduce a new generation of European leaders to America’s institutions, politics and people. In 1999, the German Marshall Fund introduced a companion program to expose future U.S. leaders to a changing and expanding Europe. The IAC is the sole German Marshall Fund partner in North Carolina and is responsible for recruitment and selection of the American Marshall Fellows across the state.


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