Community News week ending May 17, 2006.

May 18, 2006 by  


Indianapolis center to build new mosque

INDIANAPOLIS,IN— Leaders of the Nur-Allah Islamic Center say that they plan to build a new mosque as their current facility cannot accomodate the growing number of congregants. The center is currently housed in a converted doctor’s office.

The center hopes to raise $500,000 soon to begin construction a 1.2 acres site they bough a year ago. Leaders of the mosque said that they hope to build a full time school at the new centre. Imam Michael Sahir told the Indianapolis Star that when completed the facility will be the city’s first mosque built through the joint efforts of American-born Muslims as well as converts.

New mosque in Grand Blanc Township

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, MI—The recently completed facility of the Grand Blanc Islamic Center will open this week. This is second mosque in the area. The new mosque, located about half a mile west of Genesys Health Park on Baldwin Road, caters to about 35 families in the area.

The opening ceremony and open house will be held on Saturday, May 20, at the Islamic Center. The vent is open to people of all faiths. Several political and community leaders are expected to attend.

Interfaith Advisory Committee helps Gulf Coast religious leaders apply for grants

BILOXI, Miss., May 12 / — Gulf Coast religious leaders of all faiths are urged to attend “Help for the Helpers,” Saturday, May 20, at Biloxi High School at 1845 Richard Drive. Bishop T.D. Jakes will open at 11 a.m. with an ecumenical renewal service. Immediately following, breakout sessions will offer counselling for leaders, rebuilding advice, and technical information to help in completing grant applications to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund for rebuilding. On-site registration on May 20 is 9:30 to 11 a.m. Religious leaders may pre-register by calling 1-866-749-1956 or by going to bushclintonkatrinafund.org

In December 2005, Presidents George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton allocated $20 million from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund for local and regional faith-based organizations. The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund asked Dallas-based Bishop T.D. Jakes and Rev. William H. Gray, III, of Philadelphia, PA, to co-chair an interfaith committee to advise in the grant process.
“My heart goes out to people who have suffered devastation,” Bishop Jakes said. “And though these residents are resilient, it is our privilege to be part of the restoration. I am excited to take part in turning tragedy into hope.”

“Twenty million dollars alone can’t rebuild a region, but it can renew spirits and lay the foundations for people to help each other,” Rev. Gray said.

Dr. Abdelhafiz Bensrieti of the Abu Baker Al-Siddiq Mosque in Metairie and member of the American Arab Ant-Discrimination Committee is part of the advisory group.

Muslims cancel protest against Wachovia after assurance

HERNDON,VA—Muslim activists put on hold their campaign to protest that Wachovia bank’s unexplained closure of a local Muslim charity called FAITH. According to latest reports FAITH and CAIR received assurances that the matter will be investigated by the bank.

The activists held a new conference in front of a Wachovia branch in Washington to urge supporters to express concern about the bank’s action against the Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, or FAITH, a Northern Virginia charity.

According to a news release by CAIR, Wachovia sent a letter to FAITH last November announcing that the organization’s accounts would be closed in January 2006, despite their good standing.

Numerous attempts by FAITH to discuss the issue with Wachovia officials were unsatisfactory and, according to CAIR, bank Senior Vice President Jeraldine Davis wrote in a letter to the charity, “As you are aware the Bank’s contract with FAITH provides that the Bank can close any customer’s account at any time . . . “

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called Wachovia’s approach “heavy-handed” and said an explanation was required.

“Since 9/11, the American Muslim community has noticed disturbing trends within the national banking community where law abiding American Muslims are seemingly and summarily being denied service based solely on their name, religion or ethnicity,” Awad said.

According to The Washington Post, FAITH serves needy residents of all faiths, including offering crisis counselling and providing emergency payments for rent, food and utilities.

Summer Leadership Institute at ISNA

PLAINFIELD,IN— ISNA’s Leadership Development Centre is offering three intensive weeklong courses taught over a three-week period. Each course consists of 45 course hours, including 36 contact hours and 9 credit hours of either an essay or practicum. Participants who complete all program requirements will receive a Certificate in Leadership and Islamic Excellence (CLIE).

Participants who complete one course will be given a transcript of completion for that course.
Participants will learn effective leadership and managerial skills, communication and conflict prevention skills, present central Islamic principles, so participants gain understanding as to how Islamic teaching relates to life in North America.

For more details, call 317-839-1807 or visit www.ildc.net

What’s Right with Religion Award for CAIR-St.Louis

St. Louis, MO—The St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-St. Louis) received a “What’s Right with the Region” Award from FOCUS, an organization that honors individuals and organizations who make the St. Louis area a better place to live.
CAIR-St Louis was honored specifically for improving racial equality and promoting social justice in the area.

Kamal Yassin, CAIR-St. Louis President, accepted the award on the chapter’s behalf and said that it is part of CAIR’s mission to encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, and to build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding in communities across America.

Family of slain teens want tougher DWI laws

PATERSON, NJ— Family member of two teenagers killed by a drunken driver of a passing car called for tougher DWI laws in New Jersey. The two sister aged 15 and 16 were struck as they were walking near their home on April 20. The driver admitted to the police that had drunk half liter of Vodka before getting into his car. He was also reportedly on anti-anxiety medication.
At a press conference organized by CAIR and MADD speakers called tougher laws.

Teresa S. Stevens, the state executive director of MADD, based in Trenton said that DWIs are considered motor vehicle violations. Though alcohol-related fatalities have declined overall, she said 270 deaths in New Jersey in 2004 were attributable to alcohol. She added that the figures in 2005 may be higher and that early figures of 2006 indicate another spike. All of this, she said, is alarming especially because it is before the peek season of drunk-drivers.

Yet New Jersey still hasn’t criminalized DWIs, though there is legislation being worked on, Stevens said. “The families’ cries for justice are very familiar: 270 families had the same cry last year.”

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