Community News (V9-I48)

Interfaith Alliance Condemns Tancredo Campaign Ad

WASHINGTON, DC – Presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) recently released a campaign commercial insinuating that all Muslim immigrants are terrorists. The ad simulates a terrorist attack at a shopping mall and shows footage of previous terrorist attacks. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

“Rep. Tancredo’s campaign commercial is outrageous. Rep. Tancredo has a long record of disparaging comments towards Muslims, including his support for bombing the Muslim holy city of Mecca without provocation. This Tancredo ad sinks even lower by creating fear of a terrorist attack. In the process, Rep. Tancredo insinuates that all Muslim immigrants are terrorists, which demonstrates an incredible lack of respect for America’s Muslim community. This ad is a last ditch effort to generate media attention for a candidate who is so out of touch with America at its best: a nation built on religious freedom and pluralism.”

The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda. With more than 185,000 members drawn from more than 75 faith traditions and 47 local activist groups throughout America, TIA promotes compassion, civility and mutual respect for human dignity in our increasingly diverse society.

St. Louis Muslims pleased with Mosque decision

St.LOUIS, M0–The spiritual leader of a largely Bosnian mosque said Thursday he is pleased that a legal dispute with the St. Louis County Council has been resolved and that plans to build an Islamic community center can move forward, St.Louis Despatch reported.

On Aug. 14, the council unanimously reversed a previous vote and decided to let the Muslims build a new mosque and community center in South County. Before the vote, the Muslims brought a lawsuit against the county over a zoning dispute that had thwarted plans for the mosque.

With the council’s change in stance, the Islamic Community Center dropped the suit. A consent decree and judgment filed earlier this month outlines the accord.

Imam Muhamed Hasic, the mosque’s spiritual leader, said he is pleased the issue has been resolved. “Everybody can be satisfied,” he said.

Sigh of relief among Columbia Muslims after bomb scare

COLUMBIA, MO–Members of Columbia’s Muslim community say they feel safer now after a bomb scare at a local mosque last week.

An examination of a duffel bag left on a playground at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri last Thursday didn’t reveal any explosives, but Columbia police said the bag did contain books and papers.

“There was some religious stuff in there,” said Columbia police Sgt. Ken Gregory. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the religious material.

Police detained Michael O’Day, 23, for questioning after they said he left a duffel bag at the center, prompting a frantic police response.

Police said staffers at the Islamic Center reported that O’Day used an item to conceal his face.

Staffers said O’Day appeared startled after making eye contact with a worker at the center, police said.

About 50 people from the mosque and adjoining school, as well as a nearby law firm, were evacuated to the parking lot of the Walton building on Providence Road. No one was hurt in the incident. The streets near the mosque at Fifth and Locust streets were blocked off for about three hours but were later reopened.

O’Day was arrested on a warrant for a probation violation. Police were not able to give more details about the probation violation.

Gregory also said that O’Day had previously been ordered off the premises by Islamic Center staff within the last year but declined to say why O’Day had been told to leave.

Lodi Muslim community reunited

LODI, CA–Lodi’s 2,000-member Pakistani community has been reunited under the Lodi Muslim Mosque after infighting led to a division in the community,the News-Sentinel reported.

“In a meeting, we tried hard to work out our problems,” Mosque President Mohammed Shoaib said Friday. “All the problems have been resolved by mutual understanding. We are happy. This is a very good thing.”

The three-year rift stemmed from a legal dispute over land that was to become an Islamic school. A 200-member group broke away from the mosque and started worshipping at a local church.

Since the dispute ended in August, both sides of the Muslim community are again praying at the Eastside mosque, according to Taj Khan, who had prayed at the church with the breakaway group.

“We have reconciled and resolved our issues and are moving on,” Khan said. “Most of the people that didn’t go to the mosque are now coming back.”


Girl blocked from judo event for wearing hijab

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA–Judo Manitoba stopped a little girl who just wanted to participate in a tournament, CTV reported.

Eleven-year-old Hajar Outbih was all prepared to fight her match at a Judo tournament in Winnipeg. Instead, the little girl left the mat in tears.

Hajar was told at the last minute that she had to take off her hijab. She refused. Tournament officials claimed the covering, which is tightly wound around Hajar’s head, was a safety issue. They said they were just following the rules of the International Judo Federation (IJF).

But nowhere in the rules of the IJF, which are posted online, does it state that a head covering cannot be worn. In fact, a search of the website does not mention at all that head scarves are a safety concern in a sport that is practiced widely throughout the world, including in Muslim countries.

The website also states that national and other tournaments have the flexibility to apply different rules than those of the IJF.

Hajar was visibly shaken and crying after she was forced off the mat. The little girl hugged her mother and in tears told her, “They said that I can’t fight. If I want to fight I have to take it off or I have to leave.”

Captured on home video shot just before she was disqualified from the tournament, her father had tried to console his daughter as best he could.

“Just explain to (the referee) you need to keep it on. That you have the right to keep it,” her father said.

“This is discrimination.”

But Judo Manitoba President Dave Minuk defended the decision to bar the girl from competing. He claimed officials aren’t being intolerant. “It has nothing to do with religion. It’s a safety issue,” he insisted.

“It could be used to strangle somebody. It could fall over her face.”

Hajar’s mother, also shaken by the entire incident and holding back tears, said all her daughter wanted to do was participate like any other child.

“As a mom, I feel so bad that my daughter will go through this,” said Khadaja Raoui.

Hajar says the sport should be more accommodating for people of all backgrounds.

“I think they should change the rules because there are lots of different people in the world,” she said.

“There are not just Christians. There are other religions and it should be fair for everybody.”

Oddly, even though Hajar was not allowed to participate, tournament officials tried to pacify the little girl by offering her a participation medal.

She turned them down.


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