Community News (V10-I19)

May 4, 2008 by  


Muslims offer support to vandalized Jewish center

New York, NY—A vandalized Jewish synagogue has received support from a coalition of religious leaders including the area’s Muslims.

The Mohegan Park Jewish Center in Westchester County sustained thousands of dollars in damage April 10 when vandals destroyed a Torah scroll, a menorah and yarzeit plaques, and painted a swastika on a wall.

At a recent rally the inter-faith leaders spoke out against the crime. “This is not just an attack on the Jewish community but people of all faith,” said Zia Ramadan, a leader of a local mosque. “We stand together to bring mutual understanding and religious sensitivity to this intolerable act.”

Three teenaged girls have been arrested in the case. Two suspects, 18 and 17, are being held in jail without bail. A 15-year-old was released to her parents.

University of Wisconsin to launch radio program on Islam

Madison, WI–The national Social Science Research Council awarded a grant of more than $90,000 to UW-Madison’s eight Title VI National Resource Centers and Middle Eastern Studies to support the public communication regarding Islamic issues, the Daily Cardinal reported.

According to Tom Asher, SSRC program officer, nine universities in addition to UW-Madison received the grant, including Harvard University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles and University of Minnesota, among others.

“We are really trying to push academics for working on the subject of Islam to be a part of the broader conversation taking place in the society right now and within the U.S,” Asher said. “I hope that [UW-Madison] will be able to reach out to people living in the surrounding areas of the state and really start a conversation that needs to take place.”

The grant allows UW-Madison’s nine international studies programs, Wisconsin Public Radio and UW-Madison’s Division of Information Technology to host a 12-month radio program and website called “Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates.”

Penn. Muslims Seek ‘Balance’ in Police Training on Islam

The Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA) last week called on police training officials in that state to offer a Muslim perspective in a Municipal Police Officers Education & Training Commission (MPOETC) class on Islam.

CAIR-PA is also seeking clarification of the content of MPOETC’s mandatory in-service training class called “Radical Islam: A Law Enforcement Primer” because of concerns that the class may present stereotypical views of Islam and Muslims.

A recent commentary in the Allentown Morning Call newspaper (“Pennsylvania’s police prepare for radical Islam”) reports that the course includes such topics as the Prophet “Muhammad’s Doctrines of War’’ and the concept of the “’Call to Islam,’ a prerequisite to a Muslim attack on a nation of infidel enemies.”

In a letter to MPOETC Training director Rudy M. Grubesky, CAIR-PA Civil Rights Director Justin Peyton wrote in part:

“We are concerned that this course may provide inaccurate, incomplete or stereotypical information about Islam to state law enforcement officers and could serve to reinforce negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam. The promotion of such stereotypes could neg

atively impact the daily interactions of law enforcement officers with members of the Pennsylvania Muslim community.

“While CAIR applauds MPOETC’s effort to educate police officers about the potential threats posed to American society by extremist individuals and groups, we would like to emphasize that the violent ideologies those individuals falsely attribute to Islam are not characteristic of the American Muslim experience.

“As FBI Director Robert Mueller stated at a congressional hearing just yesterday: ‘And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.’”

The letter also offered assistance in providing a balanced and accurate portrayal of Islam and Muslims to Pennsylvania police officers by providing access to “respected mainstream Islamic scholars and community leaders.” Peyton wrote that CAIR offices nationwide have already offered such training to local, state and national law enforcement agencies.

Submissions being accepted for Arab film festival in the U.S.

An Arab Film Festival being held in the U.S. is calling for submissions including shorts, experimental, documentary and feature length films from Arab filmmakers.

The festival, being held by Mizna, a journal of Arab American literature, will take place in October in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year’s themes are: the Arab world, the Islamic world, and/or the Arab/Muslim immigrant experience in the West.

The deadline for submissions is June 30. Criteria for film selection include artistic merit, technical skills and content. Muslim filmmakers are especially encouraged to submit their work. Submitted will not be returned.

To learn more contact Mizna@Mizna.org

Iraqi-American Perspective on War

Rochester, MN — Sami Rasouli,an Iraqi-American, is working hard to promote peace in war-torn in Iraq. He recently spoke in Rochester on his experiences.

He created several Muslim peacemaker teams in order to bridge the gap between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. Those teams also organize clean up projects in Iraq.

“We’ve got to stop the madness, we’ve got to stop the violence. And the occupation of Iraq must stop now, not next hour,” Rasouli said.

He also spoke about the growing cost of the war which Americans are paying for. Rasouli stressed the only way to move forward with nonviolence is through dialog and negotiation.

Zeba A. Syed named to Harvard’s Honor Society

CAMBRIDGE, MA–Twenty-four juniors were elected earlier this month into the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest undergraduate honors society in the country.

This year, 12 of the “Junior 24” are male and 12 are female, and more than half of the winners in natural sciences are women.

Among the winners is Zeba A.Syed who is part of several organizations on campus. She is the Chair of the Harvard College Interfaith Council.

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