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Community News (V13-I14)

Chicago area man pleads guilty in scamming Muslim investors

CHICAGO,IL–Amjed Mahmood, a senior VP of construction and 10 percent owner of Sunrise Equities, has admitted to taking part in a scheme that bilked hundreds of Muslim investors out of $40 million. He  pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud.

Mahmood and two other men were accused of cheating about 300 investors while claiming the investments complied with Islamic law. Prosecutors contend they engaged in a Ponzi scheme.

Mahmood admits he used investors’ money to bankroll a motorcycle parts maker in Pakistan and other companies in Illinois. He also says he paid his own mortgage with the cash.

Mahmood says he’s now working as a Chicago cab driver. He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced. The other two men, Salman Ibrahim and Mohammad Akbar Zahid,  remain fugitives.

Fundraising event held for Libya and Egypt

MIDDLETOWN,CT–A fundraising event was held at the Wesleyan University to help the people of Libya and Egypt. It was organized by Islamic Relief USA in association with the Connecticut Muslim Student Association (MSA). The event was attended by around 200 people and raised $40,000.

Guest speakers included New York University (NYU) Chaplain Imam Khalid Latif and Northeast Regional Manager of IRUSA Yousef Abdallah. Spoken word artist Tahani Saleh delivered a moving performance.

The proceeds will provide funding for IRUSA humanitarian projects to aid Libyan and Egyptian families affected by the recent uprisings.

Muslims engage with other faith groups in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS,LA–More than 40 New Orleans Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy from a spectrum of denominations and movements joined the convention of the world’s Reform rabbis to engage in a dialogue on potentially divisive texts, utilizing them as an avenue for exploring wider issues.

The goal of the event, which took place at the 122nd annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), was to renew mutual understanding and reach new insights about interreligious approaches to addressing societal problems and advancing civil society.

The New Orleans clergy sat in circles with attendees of the convention, which includes 500 Reform rabbis from all over North America. (CCAR is the professional organization of nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, the world’s largest group of Jewish clergy.) The starting point of each discussion was a critical look at select texts, including Ecclesiastes 12 and 13, Galatians 3, Babylonian Talmud Berkhot 6b, Qur’An 9:5 (Repentance) and Qur’An 3:110 (Family of Imran).

Event leaders included Rabbi Robert H. Loewy of Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, LA; Imam Omar Suleiman, Imam of Masjid Abu Bakr (Jefferson Muslim Association) in New Orleans; Reverend Don Frampton, Senior Pastor of St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans; Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA.

Dupage County sued for refusing to grant approval to Islamic center

CHICAGO,IL–A lawsuit naming 18 DuPage County officials who declined to approve an Islamic worship center just east of Naperville will move ahead, but the 18 won’t be named, the Chicago Sun Times reports at press time.

In an opinion issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmyer denied the DuPage County state’s attorney’s request to have the case dismissed entirely, but she excused the 11 County Board and seven Zoning Board of Appeals members who voted against the Irshad Learning Center’s request for a conditional use permit. With Pallmyer’s decision that the appointed and elected officials enjoy “absolute quasi-judicial immunity,” the case will now pit Irshad directly against the county.

Filed last April by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the 11-count complaint alleged that the denial of Irshad’s zoning request in January 2010 violated the organization’s equal-protection rights and the provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.


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