Community News (V15-I39)

Dr. Jamal Uddin received Wilson H. Elkins Professorship

Dr. Jamal Uddin, associate professor of Natural Sciences at Coppin State University, is the recipient of the 2014 Wilson H. Elkins Professorship Award. Founder and director of Coppin State’s Center for Nanotechnology, Dr. Uddin plans to use the funds to continue supporting Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) research, especially solar research.

This is Dr. Uddin’s second year in a receiving the prestigious recognition.

“We did it again,” Dr. Uddin joyful stated. “This is good for Coppin. As a professor, I am really happy and plan to pursue the award next year. This is really, very, very good news for us.”

The Wilson H. Elkins Professorship Award is the highest honor that the Board of Regents’ bestows to recognize exemplary faculty achievement. As stated in the award letter, the nomine pool was extremely strong but Dr. Uddin’s commitment to Coppin State’s STEM and “excellent work with undergraduate students and his research of multi-junction and dye-sensitized solar cells” led to the awarding of $40,000.

“This is yet another stellar success which simply validates your excellence in the field of Nano sciences,” said Dr. Mintesinot Jiru, associate professor of Natural Sciences. “You make our department shine year after year and we celebrate you for being an inspiration to us and our students. Keep-up the momentum!”

Dr. John L. Hudgins, associate professor of Sociology added, “Your unwavering support of our students and greater opportunities for them is outstanding.  This award is a timely recognition of that.  Keep up the good work.”

Church offers help to Islamic center hit by fire

WINONA,MN–The building of the  Islamic Centre of Winona was destroyed in a fire last week whose cause hasn’t yet been determined. As soon as the word got out two area churches offered help to the Muslim community including the use of their space for prayer services.

According to the Winona Daily News, officials from the  Central Lutheran Church told the Muslim worshippers, “Know that we’re here for you.” The First Congregational Church of Winona United Church of Christ also offered its support.

The noble gesture deeply moved the Muslim community. Ahmed El-Afandi, founder of the Islamic Center, told  the Winona Daily News, “(It’s) beyond description. It’s very big of them,” he said.

Last Friday about a dozen members of the Islamic community offered their Jumah prayers at  Central Lutheran Church, where the doors had been flung open for them.

Interfaith dialogue at Walsh University

AKRON,OH– An interfaith discussion exploring Judaism, Catholicism and Islam will be held  9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 28 in Betzler Auditorium at Walsh University, 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton.

The dialogue will examine how commitment to a faith tradition shapes experiences in everyday life; how people interact with members of other faith groups; and whether it is possible for people of different faith groups and cultures to overcome differences and generate meaningful dialogue. The speakers at the forum are Rabbi Joan Friedman, representing the Jewish perspective; Chris Seeman, representing the Christian view and Zeki Saritoprak, representing the Muslim perspective.

The university is an independent Catholic liberal arts and sciences institution with more the 3,000 students from 15 states and 24 countries.

For more information, call 330-224-4734; email or go to

As Congress Returns, Competing U.S. Rallies Highlight Syria Divide

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With a list of names, a stack of letters and a “Free Syria” pin on his lapel, Asaad Aref wandered the halls of Congress on Monday, trying to turn the tide in a debate that was not moving in his favor.

President Barack Obama’s request to authorize a military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to be losing traction in Congress, and the Obama administration seemed to be reconsidering the idea. Public opinion firmly opposed military action, and even Aref’s fellow Syrian Americans were divided.

On top of that, it’s easy for newcomers like Aref to get lost on Capitol Hill, where one marble corridor looks much like the other and a “suspicious package” can shut down a building for hours.

As the afternoon wore on, hope was giving way to punchy humor.

“Did you get a receipt? Go ask for a receipt,” Aref told a young woman in his group of about eight after she dropped off a letter urging military action at the office of Representative Michael Grimm, a New York Republican.

“Maybe we should come back in 10 minutes and look in their trash can,” he added.

As lawmakers return to Washington after a month-long break, they face what could be one of the most defining foreign-policy votes since Congress backed Republican President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq more than a decade ago.

Obama says Congress should authorize limited military strikes to punish Assad for an apparent chemical attack last month that killed 1,400 people.

But public opinion polls show that Americans have little appetite for further military action after costly and inconclusive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama faces a particularly tough sell in the House of Representatives, where antiwar Democrats and anti-Obama Republicans could join forces to defeat the measure.

Still, most lawmakers remain undecided at this point, according to tallies by several news organizations, giving advocates on both sides of the issue a sense that they might be able to sway the debate in their direction.

The liberal grassroots group planned 160 protests across the country on Monday evening and said its members have placed at least 22,000 calls to lawmakers urging a “no” vote on the resolution.

On the other side, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel organization regarded as one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington, plans to send 250 of its members to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to help make the case for a strike.


Monday saw dozens of Syrian flags waving on the Capitol grounds as rival Syrian American groups staged competing rallies outside the Capitol. Police ensured the two groups did not come face to face.
Clutching a portrait of Bashar al-Assad, Naife Khalouf of Allentown, Pennsylvania said she supported the Syrian strongman because he had protected her fellow Orthodox Christians from persecution in the Muslim-majority country.

“He’s wonderful, I believe in him,” Khalouf, 64, said quietly as several hundred antiwar protesters waved Syrian flags and chanted “Hands off Syria.”

Several others at the rally said they did not believe that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack and warned that a military strike would only deliver the country into the hands of al Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups.

Khalouf, 64, and others who had made the trip from Allentown appear to already have accomplished their mission: Their representative in Congress, Republican Charlie Dent, has said publicly that he opposes military intervention.

On the other side of the issue, Aref has not had similar success. While his congressman, Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, is officially undecided, friends have told him he is unlikely to back military action.

Aref said he wouldn’t try to change his mind.

“It’s a waste of breath,” Aref said. “Some pro-Bashar people got to him.”

Aref said that before he immigrated to the United States in 1988, he had been locked up for a month by the Syrian government for questioning the leadership of Assad’s father while visiting Turkey. He has returned to Syria several times since the conflict started 2-1/2 years ago.

Aref said he was frustrated that Americans were first indifferent to a conflict that has taken more than 100,000 lives and now oppose action even after an atrocity that appears to have gotten their attention.

Waiting for a stoplight, Aref engaged in a high-volume argument with an anti-war protester wearing desert camouflage. He said he appreciated the ability to engage in the debate.
“Would you dare to do something like that in the Middle East? You’d be shot,” he said.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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