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Community News (V12-I51)

Study finds benefits to Muslim religious leaders, hospitals partnerships

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Physicians may be able to improve American Muslims’ health by building and strengthening partnerships with Muslim religious leaders, according to a new study led by the University of Michigan Health System.

Previous studies show health systems have established partnerships with priests and rabbis to improve Christian and Jewish health, and included these religious leaders in hospital chaplaincy programs.But few imams, the Muslim religious leaders who hold various roles within the community, are included in these initiatives, says Aasim I. Padela, M.D., an emergency physician, instructor in the U-M Department of Emergency Medicin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® Clinical Scholar at the U-M Health System.

“Imams play key roles in American Muslim community health and partnerships with them may be a means to improve community health and deliver culturally sensitive, high quality care to American Muslims,” says Padela.

The research appears online ahead of print publication in the Journal of Religion and Health.Padela and his colleagues interviewed 12 Muslim community leaders in southeast Michigan, including two imams, to see how each perceives the imam’s role in community health.

Participants identified four central roles:

•    encouraging healthy behaviors through scripture-based messages in sermons
•    performing religious rituals around life events and illnesses
•    advocating for Muslim patients and delivering cultural sensitivity training in hospitals
•    assisting Muslims in health care decisions

But researchers say several barriers, such as hospitals’ required chaplaincy credentials and imams’ lack of availability, could prevent partnerships between imams and health care systems.Padela says future research should focus on gaining views from multiple communities and a larger cross-section of individuals to gauge the depth and generalizability of the study’s findings.

Lilburn Council rejects mosque plan

ATLANTA,GA–The Lilburn City Council has denied a rezoning request that would have allowed a Muslim congregation to build a 20,000-square-foot mosque.

The council met in Lawrenceville and deadlocked 2-2 on the request Monday night, and an attorney representing the congregation says the next step is to take the case to court.

Homeowners have argued the mosque would create noise, storm water and parking problems, and runs counter to the city’s land-use plan.

For the past 12 years, the group has held prayers in two 2,000-square foot buildings. Congregation leaders want to buy an additional 6.5 acres and build the mosque, a cemetery and gymnasium to accommodate the city’s growing Muslim community.

Muslim woman sues city over headscarf arrest

ATLANTA, GA–A Muslim woman who was arrested in a Georgia courthouse for refusing to remove her headscarf has sued the city of Douglasville.

Lisa Valentine was accompanying a nephew to court in Douglasville in December 2008 when an officer at the courthouse metal detector told her headscarves could not be worn in court, according to the suit.

Valentine told the officer the policy was discriminatory and tried to leave the courthouse but the officer arrested her and a judge cited her for contempt.

She was forced to remove her headscarf, handcuffed and sent to jail for much of the day, the suit said. Authorities released her later that day and the contempt charge dropped.

Valentine’s suit argues that by prohibiting her from wearing a headscarf in court, the city violated her constitutional rights to free expression of religion.


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