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Community News (V9-I24)

June 7, 2007 by  


Car rental company must pay Muslim woman for banning scarf

PHOENIX, AZ–A federal jury has ordered Alamo Rent A Car to pay a Muslim woman $287,640 (€214,081) for firing her because she refused to remove a head scarf she was wearing during the holy month of Ramadan.

The firing of Bilan Nur, then 22, came just four months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the company for what it termed a “post 9/11 backlash,” alleging that the Somali native was fired because of her religious beliefs in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver ruled last year that the government had proven religious discrimination and Alamo had shown no proof that it had taken reasonable steps to allow Nur to follow her beliefs before firing her.

That left the jury in the trial that ended Friday with only the question of how much damages to award, said Mary Jo O’Neill, the regional attorney for the EEOC.

The jury in the three-day trial awarded Nur $21,640 in back wages, $16,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Maria Khalil among top ten students in Texarkana High School

TEXARKANA, TX–Maria Arshad Khalil, ranked ninth among the graduating class of Pleasent Grove High School. She is the daughter of Drs. Arshad khalil and Rakhshi Hydari. Maria is a member of the President’s Education Awards, Texas Scholars and Gifted and Talented programs; National Honor and National Art Honor societies; Muslim Students’ Association; Students Against Drunk Driving; Rangers Against Drunk Driving; Interact Club; and Red Cross. She completed the Gifted and Talented Mentor Program, is editor-in-chief for “The Edge” newspaper, is a People to People Student Ambassador and serves as a board member on the editorial board of an international American-Pakistani Magazine. She participated in a medical internship, shadowing physicians and EMTs to learn about fitness and medicine practices. Maria holds a red belt in Tae Kwon Do martial arts and competes in workouts and tournaments.

She is a religious studies teacher and is fluent in English, Urdu, Spanish, Arabic and French. Maria is a Visual Arts Contest Regional Award winner with advancement to the state competition, a VASE State Double Gold Medal recipient, East Texas INTEL Science Fair participant and recipient of the Navy Award. She is a University Interscholastic League Scholar, receiving academic recognition in mathematics, english, science and social studies and was the winner of the District and Regional UIL Editorial Writing Award. She received the USAA U.S. History Award, the Academic Pentathlon Award, the Golden Triangle UIL Ready Writing Award and the Genesee County Republican Party Lincoln Day Essay Contest Award. Maria serves her community by being a member of the Youth Advisory Board with the YWCA, helping with community service projects and mentoring younger girls in positive decision-making. Maria received an Achievement and President’s Scholarship to Baylor University, a Foundation Scholarship to Southern Arkansas University, an Academic Excellence Scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an Academic Distinction Scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas.

Credit Union Award for Samina Haq

The Public Service Credit Union in Romulus recently presented 14 scholarships, each worth $1000 to anyone planning to further their education. Samina Haq has won the award twice.

In addition to her $1,000 scholarship this year, she won the Dedicated Romulus High School Scholarship when she graduated last year.

The scholarship committee didn’t know it was her when they chose her for the award, according to McGraw. The committee didn’t know anyone’s names when they were going through the applications.

Haq, who currently attends University of Michigan-Dearborn, was “very excited” to receive a scholarship from the credit union for a second year.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Haq said.

She is currently undecided on her major, but is leaning toward biology. She is involved in many activities on campus, including the Pakistani Students Association, the Muslim Students Association and the Student Activities Board.

Haq also spends a lot of her free time volunteering in the community. She recently completed a walk for mental illness and said that she volunteers wherever is needed.

Her tremendous amount of volunteering and her high grade point average were two of the reasons she was awarded the scholarship, according to McGraw.

MacArthur Invests $26 Million in Chicago Community

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced a new $26 million investment to support the nation’s largest community and economic development effort, which is focused on 16 of Chicago’s lowest-income neighborhoods. MacArthur’s grant is expected to help generate $500 million in new investment in these neighborhoods over the next five years and significantly improve the quality of life for residents.

“Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, even its poorest, are significant assets, holding tremendous untapped human and economic potential,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton at the Auburn Gresham Center for Working Families. “The work of many dedicated community groups and individuals to turn around these neighborhoods is already showing early signs of success, and MacArthur is today reaffirming our support for comprehensive community revitalization and improved quality of life for residents.”

The New Communities Program, run by the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), seeks to rejuvenate challenged communities, bolster those in danger of losing ground and preserve the diversity of areas in the path of gentrification. Participating neighborhoods undertake a community planning process, engaging local residents and leaders in the creation of strategies to improve the community’s quality of life. Creating local and citywide partnerships, communities address issues including employment, parks and recreation, health care, housing affordability, commercial and retail development, child care, schools, neighborhood aesthetics, and safety.

“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley, who joined Fanton for the announcement, “and the way to keep our city moving forward is to make our neighborhoods even stronger. Each of these projects has the potential to be a catalyst for future developments that can dramatically improve the quality of life in a community. Chicago is the greatest city in the country because it has so many people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that’s necessary to turn their dreams into reality.”

“This is a tremendous investment in Chicago’s neighborhoods, underscoring again the Foundation’s deep commitment to the people of Chicago and to the thousands of neighborhood residents who are working so hard to preserve and develop their communities,” said Andrew Mooney, Senior Program Director for LISC/Chicago.

Since 2002, MacArthur has committed $21 million to LISC for the program in Chicago; that early support has already leveraged more than $255 million in overall investment in the 16 targeted neighborhoods. Examples of successes made possible by the New Communities Program include:

a.. The Greater Southwest Development Corporation partnered with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network to build a new neighborhood health clinic.

b.. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association helped 54 families keep their homes in the face of redevelopment plans.

c.. Quad Community Development Corporation is establishing a vibrant commercial district on the city’s mid-south side that will include shops and residences.

Chicago’s New Communities Program is studied around the world and is being replicated in 10 locations: Detroit, Duluth, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington (DC), the Bay Area, rural Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

This announcement is just one component of MacArthur’s overall $150 million, 10-year investment in improving conditions in Chicago’s neighborhoods, including transforming public housing, enhancing community safety, and increasing the income and economic security of residents.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. With assets of more than $6 billion, the Foundation makes approximately $225 million in grants annually.

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