Community News (V9-I7)

US lawmaker condemns threats to Muslim leaders in New Jersey

NEW JERSEY: Bill Pascrell, Jr, a member of the US House of Representatives, has urged federal and local law enforcement agencies to handle the reprehensible threats made to Muslim leaders throughout New Jersey with utmost seriousness.

Mr Bill Pascrell, Jr. observed this in response to threatening messages sent to Muslim leaders throughout the state in his statement on Saturday.

He said the reprehensible threats made to Muslim leaders throughout our state must be handled by law enforcement agencies with utmost seriousness. “There is no doubt in my mind that the threats were acts of hate intended to instil fear in the Muslim community. I join my friends in the Muslim community as we call for the highest level of security for the victims of these dangerous messages. Together we stand in unity against the perpetrators of such awful crimes.”

The congressman also confronted the Virginia congressman who opposed the Muslim member of congress taking his oath on the Qur`an.

Correction officer claims anti-Muslim bias

PATERSON, N.J.– A Muslim corrections officer in New Jersey has alleged that he was fired because he complained of being harassed for his Muslim beliefs.

Kozrosh, 23, was fired one day after his attorney gave Passaic County officials a letter detailing his harassment.

Kozrosh had joined the department as a temporary corrections officer 2002. He claims that he had to endure slurs against his religion that included the staff posting an altered photograph in which his head appeared posted onto an image of Osama bin Laden.

“It was like being bullied, and after you’re bullied so much, so much, so much _ the weaker side eventually fights back,” Kozrosh told The Record of Bergen County for Saturday’s newspapers. “I just really couldn’t take it no more.”

In addition to the doctored photographs, Kozrosh said he was reprimanded for not working overtime shifts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and was subject to constant ridicule about being Muslim.

Oregon Muslims, Christians exchange notes

PORTLAND,OR–Local Christians and Muslims gathered at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland to compare thoughts and beliefs on Mary and Jesus, the Catholic Sentinel reported.

The evening was sponsored by the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding and began with a potluck dinner so people of the two faiths could get to know each other.

About 15,000 Mulisms live in the Portland area; there are almost 400,000 Catholics in western Oregon.

“Many Christians would be surprised to learn that the Muslim tradition of love and reverence of the Blessed Mary and the prophet Jesus (as) lie at the very heart of Islam,” said Aseel Nasir Dyck, a retired Portland State University librarian and a lifelong Muslim.

Dyck grew up in 1940s and 50s Baghdad and recalls it as a cosmopolitan city where Christians — mostly Chaldean Catholics — and Muslims visited each other on their respective holy days. She had brothers named after Jesus, John the Baptist and Moses.

Offering the Christian perspective on Mary and Jesus was Holy Names Sister Mollie Reavis, a longtime educator. She began her remarks by apologizing for the section of a September speech by Pope Benedict that cited an ancient Byzantine emperor’s dim view of Islam. She called that passage “divisive” and pled for more dialogue.

The aim of the talks, Sister Mollie said, is not to gloss over difference, or to argue who is better, but to learn each other’s perspective.

She worked through scripture about Mary and Jesus in the gospels and explained that Mary is trusting, reflective and kind. She is a model disciple for Christians, said Sister Mollie, who helps lead the Christian-Muslim dialogue in Portland.

In mid-November, St. Mary’s Academy hosted an end-of-Ramadan party. More than 200 members of Muslim families attended.

Wajdi Said, a co-founder of the Muslim Educational Trust, called Sister Mollie forward and gave her a plaque noting her long work in Islam-Christian relations.

The first phone call Sister Mollie received after the September 2001 terror attacks was from a Muslim family in Canada.

“Since 9/11, more people have come to realize the importance of reaching out to ‘the other,’ and in the process have discovered that we share many ideals and values,” Sister Mollie says. “This leads to mutual understanding and respect.”

Sister Mollie has taken two courses in Islam, one at Georgetown University, the other at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

“Muslim extremists are definitely a problem in today’s world,” she concludes. “But verbal abuse, hate crimes and anti-Muslim media coverage also are problems.”

Islamic Awareness Month begins at University of Florida

GAINSVILLE, FL–Muslim students at the University of Florida kicked off its month long Islamic Awareness programs with recitations of the Holy Qur’an and an exposition of foods and culture.

The organization set up about eight tables, which displayed items from countries such as Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The students collected donations to help educate kids in Bangladesh who usually cannot afford to attend school after fifth grade, said event co-chairman Sakil Hossain.

About 200 students stopped by and about $500 was donated.

At a table nearby, Islam on Campus President Abdualrahman Hamad swept his fountain pen from right to left as he wrote students’ names in Arabic. Hamad was raised in Chicago but learned Arabic calligraphy from his Palestinian parents.

When he saw a student looking at nearby house ornaments, he explained the Qur`an passages inscribed on them. Pointing at a triangular mirror decorated with the last chapter of the Quran, Hamad said Islam teaches messages that encourage people to open their hearts and rid themselves of life’s burdens through a relationship with God.

Muslim names invite scrutiny, says professor

Gary Grestle, a Vanderbilt University history professor who has studied naming patterns, says that Muslim-sounding names are facing increased scrutiny in the US.

Part of it is rooted in the war on terrorism, and part of it is because Americans sometimes find it hard to extend legitimacy to other religions, he said.

“It took a long time to accept Catholics and Jews as being equal citizens,” he said. “It’s the history of this country that it takes a long time to accept new religions. Islam is going through that now.”

Gerstle said that may end up being a problem for Obama, whose middle name is Hussein, a Muslim name associated with the notorious former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Obama’s last name evokes another hated enemy, Osama bin Laden.

Obama is named for his Kenyan father, and Hussein was a grandfather’s name. In a Nashville appearance last year, Obama joked about his funny name, saying he was sometimes called “Alabama” or “Yo mama.”

Otherwise, the professor does not think most Americans would be troubled by the name Barack Obama.

“There is an acceptance of the fact that America is composed of people from different places and lands,” Gerstle said. “That the strength of America comes from its diversity.”

Profile: Dr. Raza Bokhari, physician, entrepreneur

Recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal “40 under 40” award, the physician turned entrepreneur Bokhari has over the past several years developed outstanding expertise in aggregating and accelerating multi-specialty Pathology companies.

He has a vast knowledge base of developing creative concepts, implementing programs and forming strategic alliances. An effective “change agent” with several years of experience and expertise in start-up and turn-around businesses, he has a special knack of adeptly turning around financially struggling companies. Dr. Bokhari has, over the years, come to realize the special role of private equity funds, venture capital money, and leveraged debt partners, in executing accelerated growth trends in healthcare services.

Recognizing his zeal and passion for innovative entrepreneurship, Temple University Fox School of Business and Management nominated him “Entrepreneur in residence” for the academic year 2001-02. In October 2004, Philadelphia Business Journal (PBJ) named one of Dr. Bokhari’s companies, Parkway Clinical Laboratories as one of the top three, small businesses to work for in the greater Philadelphia area. In June 2005 and 2006, PBJ also recognized Lakewood Pathology Associates (LPA) as one of the fastest growing top 25 companies in South Jersey. In 2006 LPA was also included in the Philadelphia 100® fastest growing companies of the region. In May 2006, LPA received $50 million equity commitment from a Chicago based private equity venture fund, Water Street Healthcare Partners.

In November 2006, Dr. Bokhari made a $1 million gift to Temple University’s Fox School of Business. In recognition of his gift, the suite housing the school’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute in the new state of the art Fox School facility, Alter Hall, will be named after him.

Dr. Bokhari continues to explore across the United States consolidation of clinical laboratories and pathology companies through mergers & acquisitions. He is also retained as a consultant for technical due diligence by private placement venture funds focused in investing in early stage life sciences/bio-tech companies. Regional, national and international media outlets and newspapers, such as “The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Reporter, The Philadelphia Business Journal, DAWN, ,Pakistan Link, NBC 10, CN8 Comcast newsmakers, PrimeTV, GEOTV”, etc, have either interviewed Dr. Bokhari or published his profile as an industry expert and community/civic leader. Dr. Bokhari has also spoken before professional organizations and academic institutions, including US Congressional Caucus at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Dr. Bokhari has a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Punjab, Rawalpindi Medical College, and an Executive MBA from Temple University, Fox School of Business & Management.

Dr. Bokhari currently serves as the President & CEO of Lakewood Pathology Associates (LPA), a new Jersey based national, multi-specialty Pathology company currently serving clients in more than twenty five (25) states. He is also the Chairman of the Board, Parkway Clinical Laboratories (PCL), a full service clinical reference laboratory, serving diverse clients in the mid-Atlantic region for over three decades. He is also elected as the National President for the Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) for the years 2006-07, which is a national, membership-based not for profit lobbying organization registered with the US Federal Election Commission.

Muslim American Society Opens Freedom Foundation Chapter in North Carolina

The Muslim American Society (MAS) announced the opening of its North Carolina chapter of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom). MAS is a charitable, religious, social, cultural, and educational non-profit organization. It is America’s largest grassroots organization, with over 55 chapters in 35 states.

“There is a tremendous amount of excitement concerning Khalilah and the new MAS Freedom North Carolina chapter” stated Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the MAS Freedom Foundation national office, based in Washington, DC.

“Her ability to effectively communicate with the grassroots and community leaders within and outside of the Muslim community will serve as an invaluable asset in our goal to proactively galvanize at the local level residents and people of faith around the important issues of social and economic justice, volunteerism, and civic and community engagement,” Bray added.

Other Washington-based organizations who have chapters or affiliates in North Carolina, have also expressed their support for MAS Freedom-NC. Dr. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance (TIA), America’s largest interfaith organization stated “Imam Bray is an important member of our board of directors and we look forward to our TIA members in North Carolina working closely with MAS Freedom-North Carolina.”

Prof. Majid Khadduri has passed away

Majid Khadduri, 98, founding faculty member of the Middle East studies program at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, died Jan. 25 of failure to thrive at Manor Care in Potomac.

One of the pioneers of Middle East and Islamic studies in the US, he made a number of contributions to the study of the Arab world, particularly Islamic law and jurisprudence, the politics and history of Iraq, and the role of personalities in the Middle East.

He joined the SAIS faculty in 1949 and directed the Middle East Studies Program until 1980. A prolific and acclaimed writer on the legal and political problems of the Middle East, he was honored in 1979 with the Egyptian Order of Merit, First Class, and was later elected a member of the Egyptian Academy, a prestigious organization for international scholars of Arabic language and culture.