Community News (V12-I42)

Staten Island Pakistanis raise funds for flood victims

STATEN ISLAND,NY–The Pakistani Civic Association of Staten Island donated $10,000 to the EDHI International Foundation.

The check was presented at the Staten Island Advance’s Grasmere office by Association President Dr. Mohammed Khalid to Mohammad Chaudhary, head of EDHI International Foundation, Queens regional office. Also on hand were, Irshad Sheikh, Shams Syed, and Javaid Syed, all board members with the Pakistani Civic Association.

Formed in 1989, The EDHI International is a charity organization which provides disaster and emergency assistance to the people of Pakistan. Its services include medical care, emergency services, air ambulances, burial services, mental habitats, child welfare services, abused women safe houses and training facilities for the disadvantaged.

Funding will be used to assist the victims of the July flood in Pakistan that swept through the northwest region claiming 1,900 lives, damaging 1.9 million homes and affecting approximately 20 million people. The flood also damaged critical infrastructure and destroyed $3.27 billion worth of rice, sugar and cotton crops.

American Islamic college to reopen

CHICAGO,IL–Chicago’s American Islamic College is all set to reopen again. The college located on a prime property near the city’s famed lake shore has opened and closed many times in the past. Administrators say that this time it will remain open for good.

The college will be  offering  courses in Islamic history, arts and theology. Administrators said they hope to attract a diverse student body and earn accreditation that will eventually allow the college to become a four-year degree-granting institution.

“The whole of America needs an Islamic institution of Islamic thought,” said Ali Yurtsever, a former research scholar at Georgetown University, who is overseeing the effort. “If you don’t have Islamic colleges, then people are misled, they’ll easily be deceived and the clash will continue to grow.”

The college has been associated with the Organization of Islamic Conference and has been instrumental in leading the interfaith effort including active participation in the World Parliament of Religions. But apart from that it has little to show. For several years a day care facility was being run on its premises.

Muslim, Jewish families raise funds for Pakistan flood victims

NEW HAVEN– Farhan and Shahida Soomro became American citizens on Friday. Originally from the Sindh Province in Pakistan, they have lived in the U.S. for ten years. Two days after becoming Americans, they held an event with their friends Ron Miller and his wife Cathie Miller to raise money and awareness about the floods which have ravaged their province in Pakistan. “It’s been a busy weekend!” said Shahida Soomro in an interview to the New Haven Independent.

The event—“An Evening to Support Pakistani Flood Relief at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven”—was held Sunday night at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven on Audubon.’

The Soomro family is Muslim; the Miller family, of Westville, is Jewish. The idea for the event, a “Jewish-Muslim collaboration,” came about over a dinner with old friends, Cathie Miller said. The Millers then sought the support of the Social Action Committees of the Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven and the Congregation Mishkan Israel of Hamden, which were instrumental in the organization of the event.

After guests Sunday night enjoyed a wide spread of ethnic foods, Farhan Soomro opened the presentation by relaying the severity of the crisis. While the Soomro family was not present during the flooding, they have stayed in constant contact with their relatives in the region. With a fifth of Pakistan underwater, 20 million people displaced, and two million homes destroyed, Soomro explained, farmers have lost two seasons of crops and the Pakistani government cannot meet the food and shelter demands the disaster has triggered.

The event raised about $3,000.

Cambridge schools to close for ‘Eid

CAMBRIDGE, MA–In a move that officials believe is the first of its kind in Massachusetts, Cambridge will close its schools for one Muslim holiday each year beginning in the next school year.The school committee voted unanimously on the idea in December. School officials announced Sunday that the change would begin in 2011.

City officials said the schools will either close for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, or Eid al-Adha, known as the Festival of Sacrifice.

“People recognize three major religions in this country, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It didn’t seem right that we would close for two of those religions but not the third,” School Committee Chairman Marc McGovern said.

Cambridge Ridge and Latin students from varying religious backgrounds made the request last school year. They had been pushing for the holiday for so long that a few are now in college. Some said they were ecstatic about the move.


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