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Community News (V9-I35)

Indian Muslim Parliamentarian Visits Chicago

August 12,2007

CHICAGO, IL– Asaduddin Owaisi, the member of Indian Parliament , spoke to a crowd of over 500 hundred at Norshore Banquet Hall in Chicago. In his 80 mins long speech the articulate barrister covered a wide range of issues of concern to Indian Muslims from the community’s low socio-economic status to the recently signed Indo-US nuclear deal.

Owaisi is the lone MP from Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) which is mainly concentrated in the city of Hyderabad and adjoining areas. His party has five members in the Andhra Pradesh state legislature.

Owaisi said that for sixty years of independence all political parties have taken the Indian Muslims for a ride and have failed to take substantive actions in improving their lot. He called for a quick implementation of Sachar Commission report which was delegated with quantifying the socio-economic status of the Indian Muslims by the Prime Minister and presented a depressing picture of Indian Muslims. “If decisive action isn’t taken immediately, there will be widespread political consequences for the secular parties in the next election,” warned Owaisi.

The MIM was recently in the news over the alleged attack on controversial Bengali writer Taslima Nasreen by its members. Barrister Owaisi said that it is unfair to call the action of his party members as an attack. “It was a strong protest…Why is she being allowed to propagate her hateful views in India? She has Swedish citizenship and has no business being in India,” he said. He asked the Indian government to immediately cancel her visa and deport her back to Sweden.

“If someone is interested in abusing then they should abuse me or my family. But we will not tolerate any remarks against our Prophet or our religion,” he declared.

Owaisi called the recently concluded Indo-US nuclear deal as good for India provided that it does not influence the latter’s foreign policies. He said that India has vast capabilities to develop indigenous resources and technologies and that this aspect shouldn’t be ignored. He called for increased peace building measures between India and Pakistan which will guarantee security and prosperity for all.

He praised the entrepreneurship, hard work, and dedication of Indo-Americans and urged them to take active part in the society.

At the event a book comprising of selected parliamentary speeches of Asaduddin Owaisi was also released. The book titled “Representing Indian Muslims: Selected Speeches of Asaduddin Owaisi” has been compiled by Toronto based researcher Mohammed Ayub Ali Khan.

Mohamed Bakri receives Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship

MINNEAPOLIS, MN–University of Minnesota, Twin Cities alumnus and Sudan native Mohamed Bakri has been awarded a 2007 Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship was awarded to only 34 scholars nationally out of the 977 candidates who were nominated for the award by their undergraduate institutions. This program awards scholarships worth up to $50,000 each to college seniors or recent graduates to attend graduate or professional programs.

“I am very proud the University of Minnesota nominated me and pleased to receive such a generous scholarship. I am grateful for the wonderful support from both my sociology professors and the College of Liberal Arts honors advising staff. I will work hard to fulfill the expectations of this great university and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation,” Bakri said.

Bakri is the second U of M, Twin Cities student to win a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship. He is a 2006 summa cum laude graduate in sociology, and received CLA’s Turner Award for Best Summa Thesis for 2006. With the support of the Cooke Scholarship, he will begin work toward a master’s of public affairs degree this fall at the University’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Bakri earned an undergraduate degree in law from the Khartoum branch of the University of Cairo in 1987 and began a promising career as a journalist. An outspoken advocate for democracy, religious tolerance and women’s rights, Bakri won recognition in journalism, poetry and drama before leaving Sudan as a political refugee in the late 1990s.

He and his family settled in Minnesota, where he began taking classes at Century College before transferring to the University of Minnesota. His summa thesis, “Failed Societal Community? The Crisis of Democracy in Sudan,” analyzes the collapse of Sudan’s first democratic government, 1953-1958, from a sociological perspective. Bakri’s long-term goals include founding a research center dedicated to bringing a Muslim perspective to United States and international efforts to support the democratization of developing nations in the Middle East and Africa.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000. The Foundation offers several types of scholarships to help students of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education.

At the heart of the University of Minnesota, the College of Liberal Arts has served Minnesota and its people with distinction for over 135 years-improving people’s lives and contributing to the public good through path-breaking research, service to communities, and teaching.

Chicago mosque defaced

CHICAGO, IL–Two teenaged vandals broke into Chicago’s Jama Masjid and damaged the interior and exterior of the popular mosque. According to press reports, police responded to a 911 call at 12:45 AM on August 20th and found two teens hiding beneath a stairwell.

Idris Thaomas,17, and a 16 year old accompolice were arrested and charged with burglary and defacing property. Police said the boys cut a hole in a fence, broke through a plastic barrier and forced a window open to gain entry to the property. Once inside, police said, they spray-painted graffiti on the walls.

The spray-painted messages did not contain racist or anti-Muslim messages, according to police.

“Nothing that was spray painted would indicate it was a hate crime,” said Officer Marcel Bright to Chicago Tribune, who could not confirm the religious affiliations of the teens. “That’s why they were only charged with burglary and defacing property.”

Rogers Park District Lt. Ken Barnas said the graffiti may be related to gang activity. “The mosque leaders are going to come in and see if anything is missing,” he said.

Bay County Bus Driver Goes to Court This Week

BAY COUNTY, FL–A Bay County school bus driver facing hate crime charges involving a Muslim woman and her two children will go in front of a judge this week,the WJHG news channel reported.

Thomas E. Plaisted will have a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Police arrested him in June for an incident at a Lynn Haven Taco Bell. He’s accused of being hostile to a Muslim family and pushing a five and an 11-year-old.

He allegedly spat on one of the children.

Donations, feedback sought for new mosque in Ohio

DAYTON, OH–Details for a mosque/activity center to be built by the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton on South Alpha Bellbrook Road in Sugarcreek Twp. “are still in the planning process,” said Marwan Younes Maarouf, a member of the New Mosque Committee, reports the Dayton Daily.

“It’s a community project so it’s contingent on the availability of funds,” he said.

The majority of Muslim worshippers in the area “are in the southern part of town, which is why we chose Sugarcreek Twp.,” he said.

Dr. Tarek Sabagh, president of the Islamic Society, said the group hopes to collect donations during the next several months — which includes Ramadan, the holiest period in the Islamic faith, when people are most giving, he said — before submitting an application to the township’s board of zoning appeals.

Ousted Arabic-themed school principal gets support

NEW YORK, NY–Supporters of the ousted principal of a Arabic-themed public school in New York rallied in front of the city’s Department of Education.

“Unless we all send a clear message that racist comments associating Arabic language and culture with terrorism will not be tolerated, we will continue to hear them again and again,” the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee and other community groups said in a statement in support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Debbie Almontasser, who is a Muslim of Yemeni descent and fluent in Arabic, was forced to resign after she explained the word “intifada”–commonly used in the context of the Palestinian uprisings against Israel–as meaning “shaking off.”


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