Community News (V9-I30)

Morris County Muslims seek zoning approval

ROCKAWAY, NJ–Muslims in Morris County are hoping to get permission to open a new mosque and community center in Rockaway Township, the Daily Record reports. Ths Islamic Center of Morris County is seeking zoning approval to create a 15,000-square foot spiritual home in an office and warehouse off Route 46.

At a recent meeting mosque members laid out their plans. The building that the Islamic Center is seeking can accommodate about 80 families or 250 people.

The Islamic Center is ready to buy the building on the condition that the borough’s zoning board grant a change of use variance for the project to move forward.

House Fire Being Investigated As A Hate Crime

SARASOTA, FL–A hate crime investigation has been launched into a fire at the home of a Bosnian family, where vandals sprayed anti-Muslim slogans in red paint.

Sheriff’s spokesman Lieutenant Chuck Lesaltato said there are no suspects in the case at this time.

Hasib Sejfovic, his wife and three children have lived in the home for three years. The family came home from vacation to find the inside of their house destroyed and their garage vandalized with graffiti.

Sejfovic and his family left Bosnia in 2001. He works in lawn maintenance, and his wife works at a grocery store.

Event educates community about Islam

BAKERSFIELD, CA–Despite images of Muslims in the news, Christianity and Islam actually have much in common, Sheik Yousuf Estes told a crowd of many faiths Saturday, the Bakersfield California reported.

“There’s so much that’s alike and so little that’s different, Muslims and Christians should be best buddies on earth,” Estes told the crowd gathered at Cal State Bakersfield Saturday for a program called “The Truth About Muslims: Everything You Want to Know — But Were Afraid to Ask” presented by the Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield.

Estes emphasized that both religions are built upon the worship of only one God.

Estes, a former Christian minister from Texas and Sheik Salim Morgan, a former atheist, spoke to the group about the true meaning of Islam, why they converted and how they live their lives.

They took anonymous written questions from the audience about the roles of Muslim women and men in family life, the New Testament versus the Quran and one question about why Muslims are silent when it comes to terrorist attacks by other Muslims.

Estes said Muslims do often speak out about terrorism. He said the public just doesn’t hear about it because of skewed media coverage.

“Muslims are not silent about it,” Estes said. “Half of the people on this planet claim to believe in the same God. Think of the victory for the devil if he can get these groups … to go at it full blood. You’re talking about Armageddon.

“All of us are no more than brothers and sisters to each other in humanity,” he added.

Walk against violence in Chicago

ZAM’s Hope organization is organizing a march against violence on Sunday, July 29th 2007 at Chicago’s Devon Avenue.

The Walk is a youth-created program. A few years ago, several victims of violence within our neighbourhood asked ZAM’s Hope for help. The youth decided to take a stand against violence by organizing this Walk. Violent crime remains a problem in the community, and the youth continue to raise awareness of the issue. For more information contact Zehra Quadri at 773-719-9267

School bus driver pleads not guilty to harassing Muslim kids

PANAMA CITY, FL–A school bus driver pleaded not guilty to hate crime charges involving the harassment of Muslim children, the News Herald reported.

Thomas Plaisted, 60, pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of evidencing prejudice while committing an offence.

Plaisted was arrested in May after he allegedly cursed and spit at the children in a Lynn Haven fast-food restaurant.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference before the arraignment and demanded prosecutors not waiver on the felony charge and that the Bay District School Board fire Plaisted.

Ahmed Bedier, of organization’s Tampa chapter, said the number of anti-Muslim incidents in Florida is increasing.

“We don’t want to wait until it gets worse,” he said.

According to Bay County Sheriffs Office reports, Plaisted was in a Taco Bell when a Muslim mother, wearing a traditional scarf, entered with her children.

When the mother went to the counter to order, Plaisted cursed and made threatening gestures at the children. He then uttered anti-Muslim epithets and spit food on one of the children, deputies reported. Plaisted also shoved an 11-year-old child, the report stated.

He left after customers and employees confronted him, according to his arrest report.

Woman Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Against Arab-American Boss

A Philadelphia woman has pleaded guilty to committing a federal hate crime by sending a note with threatening statements to her Arab-American supervisor, the Justice Department announced.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Kia Reid was working at the Sheraton Suites Hotel in Philadelphia when she left an anonymous letter in her supervisor’s office that included threatening phrases that appeared to be cut out of publications, such as “REMEMBER 9/11,” “you and your kids will pay,” “tie onto the fece,” “strategically planned,” and “death.”

After pleading guilty, Reid faces a maximum term of one year in prison, a one-year period of supervised release, and a $100,000 fine. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct.ober24, 2007.

“It is twisted to believe that threats or violence against innocent Arab or Muslim individuals somehow avenge the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” says Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for the Just Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our system of justice will not permit threats against innocents. The Justice Department will remain committed to vigorously prosecuting these crimes.”


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