Community News (V9-I50)

Antioch mosque fire was not a hate crime:Official

ANTIOCH, CA–Arson investigators say the fire at an Antioch mosque in August most likely was not a hate crime, a detective said last week.

Antioch police, who are waiting for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives to return evidence, say that some disgruntled transients may be responsible for the blaze that destroyed the interior of the 18th Street mosque.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Center of the East Bay has started to rebuild its place of worship. On Tuesday, crews gutted the charred facility and performed asbestos work. The mosque hopes to reopen in four to six months, said Abdul Rahman, chairman of the center’s board of trustees.

“We felt we really needed to make a statement that we’re not going anywhere,” said Rahman, whose group has used insurance money to rebuild.

A motive for the Aug. 12 blaze remains in question, but all parties agree that it was arson. Rahman said that investigators found matches and burned books and newspapers in three different areas inside the mosque. Most of the damage occurred from the thick smoke, he said.

Antioch police Detective Steve Bergerhouse of the property crimes and arson division said it does not appear to be a hate crime. The FBI, which assisted the investigation with its hate crimes unit, declined to comment on the open investigation.

Feces left at University of Miami’s MSA meeting place

MIAMI, FL–On Nov. 6, members of the Muslim Student Association came to their usual meeting place, building 21-Q in the Apartment Area, and found it desecrated. Someone had left feces on the front steps of the student’s place of meeting and prayer, the campus newspaper reported.

“We are considering this a hate crime because there are bathrooms around the area,” said Omar Howeedy, vice president of the Muslim Students Association. “I don’t think anyone would want to do that with a good intent.”

The students removed the feces from their meeting place immediately because “we always keep it clean out of respect,” Howeedy said. Though the students did not file a police report, they met last week with Officer John Tighe of the Coral Gables Police Department to discuss the case.

“He told us that with the evidence gone there was nothing he could do,” said Moiez Tapia, adviser to MUSA.

Although the police may not be able to investigate this particular event, the MUSA executive board plans to e-mail President Donna E. Shalala detailing the event. Their goal in sending the e-mail is to raise awareness on campus that intolerance is still alive and among us.

Dean of Students Ricardo Hall said that if any individual is found guilty, he or she may be suspended or expelled.

“My office and I take these types of incidents very seriously,” Hall said. “It is disrespectful, disgusting and uncalled for in a college campus and anywhere else.”

Howeedy said he thinks the incident may have occurred as a result of the recent Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which began Oct. 22. The week of events “highlighted the threat from the Islamic jihad, and the oppression of Muslim women,” according to the Web site

Although there have been no documented hate crimes on campus this semester, someone shouted, “Go home, you Islamic terrorist” to a female Muslim student in 2001, which spurred media attention and a mass e-mail to Arab and Muslim students from Shalala. The e-mail said, “You deserve our respect, and you deserve to feel safe.”

Members of the MUSA hope to use the most recent incident as a way to reach out to the UM community and encourage students to express their opinions in a respectful manner.

Utah Muslims confused by Romney’s contradictory statements

SALT LAKE CITY–After GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney apparently made contradictory statements about whether he’d appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position, a Utah area Muslim leader says “time will tell.”

Romney has reportedly said both that he wouldn’t consider a Muslim and that he wouldn’t use religion as a deciding factor in making top-level appointments if he’s elected.

Shuaib ud-Din of the Utah Islamic Center in Sandy told the Deseret News that politicians often change their stands, so Romney’s “clarification should be taken at face value.”

That clarification came last, when Romney told reporters in Florida that he would choose Cabinet members “based on their merits. … I’m open to having people of any faith, ethnic group.”

However, at a private fund-raiser in Las Vegas earlier this month, Romney reportedly said: “Based on the numbers of American Muslims — as a percentage — in our population, I cannot see that a Cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration,” according to a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece written by Mansoor Ijaz.

Din said he hoped that Romney’s statement that he would consider candidates based on their merits is the one that accurately describes his position.

“Even if the numbers don’t add up to Protestants or Catholics, they (Muslims) have a lot to give to the security and stability of this country,” Din said. “You can’t find a better person to combat terrorism than a Muslim, if he is qualified.”

Dr. Nadia Khan joins Milford Family Practice

Hanover, NH–The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre announced that Dr.Nadia Khan has joined its Milford Family Practice.

Dr. Khan received her medical degree from Dow Medical College. She completed her residency in family medicine at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is board certified in family medicine and she is also fluent in Urdu/Hindi. She has privileges at both Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital.

Dr.Naqvi joins Marshfield Clinic

WASSAU, WI–Syed Hasan Naqvi, M.D., joined Marshfield Clinic Hospitalist recently.

A native of Pakistan, Naqvi completed his medical education at Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his residency at Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., and served as chief resident. He conducted research at Yale University’s Department of Endocrinology.

Naqvi will concentrate on caring for people in the hospital, who often have more than one health problem. Naqvi also will conduct research and be training residents as well.

The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education with more than 40 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin.

Muslim barred from Air Canada flight files complaint

TORONTO – A Canadian Muslim who says he was blocked from a domestic Air Canada flight because of racial profiling has filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

While attempting to purchase a ticket in Vancouver to fly to Victoria in May 2004, Shahid Mahmood said he was flagged as a security threat. Mahmood’s Chilean-born wife, however, was allowed to purchase a seat.

“I was stunned at their refusal to allow me to board this flight,” he said Tuesday.

Despite repeated attempts to find out why he was barred, the Toronto-born editorial cartoonist said the airline has never given him a reason.

“I am just as in the dark, with no tangible answers from Air Canada, now as I was three years ago.”

Mahmood, who grew up in Pakistan, believes he was blocked because of his race and faith.

Nicole Chrolavicius, Mahmood’s lawyer, said the case is the first of its kind in Canada, and that it brings into focus the plight of other Muslim Canadians who have been unjustly flagged as security risks and restricted from travelling.

She also suggested that Air Canada was unofficially using a U.S. no-fly list at the time.

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada representative, declined to comment on the case because it is now being reviewed by the commission.


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