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North American Community News for Week Ending 7/30/06

New York’s Halal Foods Protection Act set to be implemented

By Ayub Khan

NEW YORK,NY—New York’s Halal Foods Protection Act of 2005 will be implemented shortly according to an official. The Act which which was signed into law last year was not implemented earlier as the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets is yet to begin inspection activities.

A department spokesperson said that so far no complaints have been filed and that it continues to conduct outreach with Halal establishments and certifying agents about the new law. The spokesperson also said that, “No Inspectors specifically assigned for Halal work but we can utilize Food Safety Inspectors or Farm Products Inspectors to perform Halal inspections when we begin doing them.

New York ‘s Halal Foods Protection Act of 2005 requires certain individuals and businesses to register or file with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets information as follows:

Producers and distributors, of food in package form which is certified as halal must file the name, address and phone number of the person, (e.g. individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization), who certifies the food as halal.

Manufacturers, producers, processors, packers and sellers of non pre-packaged food which is certified as halal must file the name, address and phone number of the person, (e.g. individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization), who certifies the food as halal.

Any person who certifies a non pre-packaged food product as halal must file a statement of his or her qualifications to certify food as halal.

Food establishments and caterers who sell food prepared on their premises or under their control which is represented as halal must post, at their business in a location readily visible by consumers and file with the Department, a halal certification form.

The recently launched website can be accessed at http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/Halalsite/halals.html

If the implementation of New York’s Kosher laws are any indication it is expected that the Halal laws will also be strictly enforced.

Kosher Enforcement in the State of New York

Year Complaints Investigations Inspections Violations
1998 46 392 8401 105
1999 63 418 7277 103
2000 61 309 7441 84
2001 61 342 8173 97
2002 NA 401 7876 NA
2003 NA NA 7500 NA

In 2003, several provisions of the Agriculture and Markets Law relating to the sale of food as kosher became unenforceable due to federal courts holding them unconstitutional.The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets continued to enforce the disclosure and registration requirements applicable to the sale of foods offered for sale as kosher that were not overturned by the courts. Approximately 7,500 inspections and investigations were carried out this year.

Interfaith solidarity at vandalised mosque

PINE TOWNSHIP, IN—Jewish, Chirtsian and other interfaith community leaders gathered at the Islamic Center of Michigan City to show their support to the local Muslim community after a recent incident of vandalism at the mosque. The vandalism had resulted in bullet holes in the mosque’s dome, doors and windows, and the letters “KKK” scratched into the building’s sign.

Local groups who participated in last Sunday’s interfaith meeting included Chesterton United Methodist, Temple Israel in Miller, Unity of the Dunes, St. Ann of the Dunes, Trinity Episcopal Church in Michigan City, the Religious Society of Friends, the Unitarian Church of Hobart and the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council.

J. Allen Johnson, executive director of the Race Relations Council of Northwest Indiana, who helped organize the meeting, also expressed gratitude to the supporters.

“Thank you for helping to mend our community’s social fabric,” Johnson said.

He said the gathering sent a message against bigotry.

“Standing for justice is never easy and always difficult,” Johnson said. “We stand against those people who shot those shots on that dark night.”

Rhode Island Muslim family alleges discrimination

WEST WARWICK, RI—A Rhode Island Muslim family is alleging that a judge was discriminatory towards them when she ordered them out of their house of 11 years. Karima A. Karim has been living in the house with her 12 grandchildren, son and daughter in law and most of the children are home-schooled, the Kent County Daily Times reported.

The dispute is a result of house’s deed being in the names of Latifa Karim, Musa Abdul-Karim and Linda H.Goodale—Musa’s ex wife. Gour of Goodale’s children repportedly live in the home of their father.

Kent County Family Court Judge Pamela Macktaz ordered the sale of the home, according to Karima.

Macktaz “forced the sale so she could award a scorned ex-wife her due,” read the ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) press statement. ACORN is a community organization for low- and moderate-income families.

On June 29, 2005, the family was ordered to refinance their home to buy out Goodale on the deed. The Karim family applied for refinancing but they found out there was a restraining order placed on the home by Macktaz, preventing them from refinancing. They appeared before Macktaz requesting she lift the order and Macktaz refused, according to the Karims.

Karima said she was discriminated against by Macktaz when she had to appear before the judge because Goodale made false allegations of child abuse against Karima. The Department of Children Youth and Families ruled the allegations as unfounded. When Karima appeared before Macktaz to regain entry into the house following DCYF’s ruling, Macktaz reportedly said to Karima “You can practice corporal punishment in your country, but not in mine.”

She also allegedly told Karima “You should go back to your country.” Karima was born in Virginia on July 10, 1947.

“I had to stand there like a damn slave being hung and I had to take it,” said Karima, referring to the day in Macktaz’s courtroom.

“We feel this is a huge injustice to society,” said Stephanie Cannady, ACORN National Delegate for Rhode Island. “We can’t believe a system can be so unjust.”

The group is calling for Macktaz’s retirement.

Hotel accused of discrimination

Louisville, KY—The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a Louisville hotel for allegedly discriminating against four hijab-wearing Muslim women. The lawsuit says that the women were denied jobs because of their hijab.

The women found other housekeeping jobs where they are allowed to wear the hijab.

Their lawsuit seeks an injunction and court order making the hotel accommodate workers’ religious beliefs, and unspecified damages for the plaintiffs.

Defendants in the lawsuit are Kentucky Convention Hotel Partners and White Lodging Services Corp. A group controlled by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson bought the hotel last month, with White Lodging Services retained as the hotel manager.

Petersburg fire ruled an accident

PETERSBURG, VA—The fire that raged through the Islamic Center of Petersburg has been ruled as an accident by investigators.

Chief Fire Marshal Charles Moore said the fire at the Islamic Center, at 503 W. Washington St., was caused by faulty electrical wiring in an area between the ceiling and roof of the one-story frame structure.

“There was splicing in places that was not done to code,” said Moore, noting that wiring throughout the building appeared to be faulty. He said the structure was a total loss and will likely have to be demolished.

Capt. Anthony Venable said 16 firefighters from the Petersburg department responded to the scene, which was brought under control at 5:03 a.m. No injuries were reported.

Canadian Muslims, Jews cooperate to help war victims

St. John’s, NEWFOUNDLAND—The president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mahmoud Haddara, and Arnold Bennett, speaking for the Jewish Community Havura, announced an “emergency partnership” last week to raise funds for victims of the conflict in the Middle East, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

The Jewish and Muslim Emergency Partnership will contribute equal amounts to the Red Crescent and Magen David Adom, which are both associated with the International Red Cross.

“In the Newfoundland tradition of neighbours working together in time of disaster, our partnership expresses our joint commitment to helping those in trouble,” Haddara said.

“Many of us are already contributing to special humanitarian charities operating in one or another country in the Middle East. Many of us have relatives and close friends under fire or in bomb shelters. Our partnership rises above politics and concentrates on helping all who are suffering, on all sides,” Bennett said.

Haddara and Bennett said that St. John’s Al-Noor Mosque and the Havura would ask for donations at services this past weekend, and they called on churches and other religious groups to ask for donations at their weekly services as well.


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