Community News (V9-I20)

Mason University seeks Halal vendor

After taking the first step and providing Halal meat at the Johnson Center Convenience Store, George Mason University’s Student Senate is now required to find a new distributor because of a failed Sodexho food inspection, reports the student newspaper.

Ryan Bloomfield, a Student Senator, has been leading the process of attempting to provide more venues for Halal meat, which is meat slaughtered in the manner prescribed by Islamic law.

Washington Lamb, the initial distributor, failed the Sodexho food inspection after Bloomfield and the newly-formed focus group alongside him spent three months on the first attempt to make Halal food accessible to Muslim students on campus.

“I started noticing that my Muslim roommate was not eating on campus because he couldn’t eat the food available,” said Bloomfield. “I then contacted the Muslim Students Association President and we talked about what could get accomplished.”

According to a Halal Food Research Study conducted by MSA, 48 percent of participants said they would not eat on campus as long as Halal meals are unavailable.

The study presented to the focus group on Jan. 29 also indicated that 100 percent of participants would choose Halal meat if they were offered a choice between Halal and non-Halal meals.

Receiving support from the Muslim Students Association, the Arab Students Association, the Persian Club, the Pakistani Students Association, the Turkish Students Association and the Bengali Patriots, Bloomfield and Senator Lena Mualla were able to launch the process on offering Halal meat on campus by working with the focus group, consisting of student senators, various organization presidents and university administrators to then pass a resolution to the Student Senate.

Brooklyn school is dropped as site of Arabic Academy

NEW YORK, NY–The New York City’s Department of Education has abandoned plans to operate the Khalil Gibran International Academy, NY’s first public school devoted to the study of the Arabic language and culture, in the same building that houses Public School 282. The department is looking to house the school in another building.
The move comes in the light of a comapaign by parents of children at P.S.282 to barrage the Schools Chancellor with emails and protesting outside department headquarters over the plans for the two schools to share a building.

The parents said they were worried about losing classroom space and activities to accommodate the Khalil Gibran school. In recent weeks, some columnists in The New York Sun joined the battle, with accusations that the school was a madrasa, which teaches the Koran, a claim the department dismissed.

David Cantor, a department spokesman, said, “After further consultation with the principal and school leadership team of P.S. 282, we determined that siting the Khalil Gibran International Academy at the school would be detrimental to its core academic programs.”

Sikh, asked if he was a Muslim, to get $24,000 damages from health club

SILICON VALLEY, CA– A judge in California has ordered a health club chain to pay USD 24,000 in damages to a Sikh who sued the company for denying him a job after asking him whether he was Muslim.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Sukdev “Devin” Singh Dhaliwal, who is of Indian-origin, applied for a sales job with one of Chicago-based Bally’s Total Fitness’ five centers in June 2004. An interviewer asked Dhaliwal, who was born and raised in California, about his religious and ethnic background and then denied him a job. The Commission said that Bally’s hired a non-Sikh, non-Indian applicant with less experience.

“He was basically asked where he was born, where his parents were born, what religion he subscribed to and whether he was a Muslim,” said EEOC program analyst Linda Li. According to Joan Ehrlich, director for the EEOC’s San Francisco district, the questions violated federal employment laws and amounted to discrimination on the basis of religion. Under the consent decree approved by US District Judge Jeffrey S White, Bally’s must pay Dhaliwal USD 24,000 in damages. The lawsuit initially sought compensatory damages up to USD300, 000.
The company must also provide training in equal opportunity hiring practices to its managers. Dhaliwal said he plans to donate some of the money to his alma mater, California State University, Fresno, where a business law professor steered him to the EEOC after hearing about the interview.

New mosque to come up in New Jersey

CHERRY HILL, NJ–Nearly three years after the foundation laying ceremony construction will finally begin for a Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The $1.5 million mosque will be two levels — a ground floor and balcony section. The bottom floor will be limited to men and the upper level to women, Dahodwala said. Like other mosques around the world, a tiled structure called a Mehrab will face the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

A kitchen and dining hall will be attached to the mosque since Dawoodi Bohra followers always eat meals together after prayer services, Dahodwala said. Also, the congregation’s amilsaheb — the equivalent of a priest — will live in a house on the mosque’s property.

“The mosques we build become landmarks,” Dahodwala said.

The Dawoodi Bohra denomination has mosques in New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston and Washington, D.C. Currently, the closest Dawoodi Bohra mosque to Cherry Hill is in Cranbury, Middlesex County.
Cherry Hill has warmly welcomed the mosque, said Biviji, noting the congregation has gotten next to no opposition.

“By having a diverse community, our residents and businesses are exposed to the best and brightest people in the region while creating a comfortable environment for anyone to move into,” said Mayor Bernie Platt in a prepared statement.

The groundbreaking “gives me great pride because it stands directly counter to the name-calling and bigotry many Muslim groups were exposed to after the tragic events of Sept. 11,” the mayor stated.
Platt said its his goal to make Cherry Hill the region’s most inclusive municipality.

Verizon donates to Muslim shelter

CLIFTON, NJ–Verizon Wireless has announced that it will give a financial donation to a Muslim shelter to mark the opening of its newest store in Clifton. The ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 4th included a $2,500 HopeLine(R) donations to Strengthen Our Sisters, a shelter and supportive service program for homeless, battered women and their dependent children, and WAFA House (Women Against Family Abuse), a privately run domestic violence crisis center based in Paterson that caters primarily to the needs of women of South Asian, Arabic and/or Muslim descent. A recognized corporate leader for its commitment to preventing domestic violence and raising awareness of the issue, the Verizon Wireless donations are made possible through the company’s HopeLine phone recycling program.

The Clifton Communications Store is the 58th to open in New Jersey and one of 140 Verizon Wireless retail locations in the New York Metro area.

Thirty-two Million Dollar Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Brooks Eckerd Pharmacy

The Law Offices of Karl J. Stoecker announced that it has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of five Muslim Americans against the Jean Coutu Group (PJC) USA, Inc., which operates Eckerd Pharmacies.

Eckerd Pharmacy managers, the Complaint asserts, routinely referred to the five Muslim Americans as “terrorists” and “Bin Laden’s brothers” and ultimately terminated their employment after falsely accusing them of participation in a Muslim conspiracy to steal from the Company to fund terrorist activities.

“This is one of the most blatant and egregious instances of discriminatory conduct by a large public company that I have ever prosecuted,” said Karl J. Stoecker, plaintiffs’ lead attorney. The five Muslim Americans, the Complaint alleges, “were (i) relentlessly berated, belittled and demeaned by their superiors in front of fellow managers, subordinates, and customers; (ii) subject to repeated and unwarranted scrutiny, interrogations, and false accusations of theft and other malfeasance; (iii) compelled to work additional night and week-end shifts; and, (iv) provided with inadequate staff, security, and resources.”

“It is unusual for a company of this size to tolerate or endorse discriminatory conduct of this magnitude. The Company’s response to plaintiffs’ complaints of discrimination was equally, if not more disturbing, than the conduct of plaintiffs’ immediate superiors,” Mr. Stoecker continued. The Complaint further alleges that after being apprised of the foregoing claims the Company initiated a campaign to further slander and defame the five Muslim Americans by claiming that they (i) were part of an organized terrorist group; (ii) were caught stealing cigarettes from the Company; (iii) used the proceeds of this theft to support terrorist activities; and, (iv) were, or would be, deported by Homeland Security.

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the eastern district of New York.

Celebrating Religious Diversity One Meal at a Time

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”
Ronald Reagan

Troublesome contradictions, violence, and heated arguments dominate religious headlines today. But a deeper, softer story is dawning as well:
Soon thousands of Coloradans will be taking significant personal steps in celebration of religious diversity. And they will do so using the most ordinary of experiences – a shared meal around a common table. That’s the vision of Randy Harris and Sandra Sommers of Aurora and of two other Denver area couples . . . and is the purpose of the organization they’ve founded, Common Tables, LLC.

The Common Tables model is a simple one: Members join Common Tables, either as individuals or as pairs, by visiting the website at, providing some basic personal data and paying a $25.00 annual administrative fee. They are then introduced into a diverse group, called a Table, which consists of four members – or member pairs. Member Tables are formed with a goal of maximizing the diversity of religious, spiritual and/or philosophical beliefs while maintaining a general geographic proximity for members. Over the following six month cycle each Table will get together four times – typically for dinner and most commonly in a member’s home.
Members are asked only to begin their six months with open hearts and with a spirit of curiosity. Most will end their first cycle with new friends and with an expanded optimism about what’s possible for the world.

Common Tables’ vision recognizes that in all religious, spiritual and philosophical belief systems, the simple act of sharing a meal together is also a symbolic act of great significance. They see millions of diverse people breaking bread together. Here a Baha’i, a Baptist, a Hindu and a Jew are gathered around a Common Table. There perhaps a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Muslim, and a Taoist are sharing a meal.

And here is what to many will be an interesting point: Their picture doesn’t really involve people sitting around a Common Table engaged in deep religious or philosophical discussions – though it is recognized that there will be some of that. The vision is much simpler:
“Our ideal is that most of the conversation in the majority of our groups will be simple, non-judgmental, getting-to-know-you sorts of dialogues. We hope members talk about their children and grandchildren and their gardens and about the price of a loaf of bread. Our prayer is that our members will simply get to know one another and that in that knowing they will discover that they have much in common. That they share many of the same hopes and dreams”, said Randy Harris.

For additional information about the Common Tables model for interfaith dialogue, visit their website at www. At this time Common Tables is accepting members from through out the United States. An international roll out will soon follow.


1 reply
  1. Gobler
    Gobler says:

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