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Community News (V10-I21)

May 15, 2008 by  


School’s effort at diversity attracts criticism

CHICAGO, IL– A suburban Chicago school district has put cultural diversity on its meeting agenda after a complaint that Muslim students received preferential treatment.

The principal at Prairie View Middle School allowed a group of Muslim students to have a separate lunch table to accommodate religious observances during the month of Ramadan, but rejected a similar request by Catholic students for Lent, The Chicago Daily Southtown reported Wednesday.

“It’s not just about the table,” said Jennifer Cimaglia, a Tinley Park mother of three. “It appears that there is preferential treatment for Muslim students.”

Principal Joe Martin said he never intended to set a double standard for students, particularly along religious lines. Rather, Martin said he rejected the request of Catholic students because they failed to make it before the Lenten season began.

“Do I want to accommodate those students? Yes,” he Martin. “We’re going to look at accommodations for kids at Lent next year.”

Golden Apple for Samina Khan

CHICAGO, IL–For Samina Khan, teaching science gives her an opportunity to help students develop a level of healthy scepticism about scientific discoveries and other claims made in the name of this subject. The winner of the prestigious Golden Apple award this year, Khan is a teacher by choice, and passion.

The award, one of the highest honours of US in education, is given to educators of various schools across America for teaching excellence. It is for the first time in 22 years – ever since its inception – that the honour has been bestowed upon an Indian.

Daughter of Malerkotla-based educationist Prof MH Khan, who retired as a professor of education at PPS Nabha, Samina teaches science at Clark Academic Magnet High School in Chicago.

For this 29-year-old, winning the Golden Apple was no less important than getting either the Nobel or the Oscar. Immediately after getting the news that she had been declared a winner from the competing 850 teachers, Samina called her parents in Malerkotla to share the good news.

“I’m just speechless,” said Khan, as her science class began to clap in unison. “I want to thank God first of all, as well as my colleagues and parents. I will always be the apple of their eye.”

“This is like a dream come true,” she added. “My father used to say that the most respected professions are teacher, priest and doctor. I feel as though this is the Nobel Prize in my profession. But I couldn’t have done it without these great kids.”

Student Sierra Mitchum said about her teacher: “She is very approachable and supportive of the students. She’s like a second mother. That’s why she is so well liked. If we are having problems with our assignments, she will work overtime to assure that we understand the work.”

New Mosque plannedin Connecticut

WALLINGFORD – The Islamic mosque planned for the corner of Leigus Road and Route 68 is expected to be voted on by the town wetlands commission this week.

The 4,900-square-foot mosque is being proposed by brothers Tariq and Kamran Farid, the founders of Edible Arrangements. They hope to accommodate the mosque with 40 parking spaces, but the site could hold up to 135.

The town wetlands official, Erin O’Hare, has stated that the mosque does not present any major wetlands concerns.

The Farids plan to name the mosque the Salma K. Farid Islamic Center, named after their mother.

Germantown Mosque Refuses Suspect’s Burial

PHILADELPHIA ― Leaders of a mosque in Germantown said that a Muslim deserves the right to an Islamic burial, but in the case of one man, they are refusing to do so because of the events surrounding his death.

The Germantown Musjid As Sunna An’Nabawiyyah said when a family friend of Howard Cain, the accused bank robber and killer of Sergeant Liczbinski, asked if the mosque would conduct funeral services for Cain, the answer was a resounding “No.”

“We don’t condone the activities that occurred last Saturday,” Mosque Managing Director Tariq Al-Shabazz said.

Cain was shot and killed by police minutes after authorities allege the 34-year-old used an assault rifle to gun down Sgt. Liczbinski on Saturday.

Defense Attorney Tariq Al-Shabazz is also the managing director of the mosque.

“It’s a sin to transgress against someone, to rob them, burglarize them, or steal their money or possessions and it’s against Islam to commit murder,” Al-Shabazz said.

According to authorities, Cain, an ex-convict, had a lengthy criminal history. But leaders of the mosque in Germantown said Cain’s history should not reflect their teachings.

“Just like when someone who may be a Christian commits a crime, it’s not from Christianity; it’s someone who commits a crime. Islam is a perfect religion. Individuals are not perfect,” Al-Shabazz said.

Georgetown graduating seniors honored for their service

Georgetown students who have spent their college careers serving people in their communities are getting something back.

Georgetown University recently honored 20 Georgetown undergraduate students with the Lena Landegger Community Service Awards, in the amount of $2,500 each, for their distinguished contributions to community service.

The following Muslim students are this year’s winners:

Hammad B. Hammad, Livermore, Calif. – International Politics (SFS ’08)

Drawing from personal experience, Hammad has devoted his time at Georgetown to bridging cultural divides and working with disadvantaged and marginalized populations. He recently co-founded the organization “Inspire Dreams” which aims to use recreational activities and the arts to promote health education and advocate for social change in the U.S. and abroad. He has served as a resident assistant with the Justice and Diversity in Action Living Learning Community, a performer with Spoken Word & Dance and as a guest speaker with Washington Cultural Seminars. At Georgetown he served as president of Students for Justice in Palestine, as a volunteer with Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity and he helped organize activities around World Refugee Day while studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt. Hammad has also volunteered as a mentor and tutor with Academia Bilingüe de la Comunidad Public Charter School and the Kids 2 College Program, and served as a participant and peer leader with Young Leaders in Education about Diversity (Y-LEAD) pre-orientation program. “I have found that by participating in community service activities, I was able to give back to those who have not been as fortunate as I am to escape the circumstances that cause them to live their every day lives under extreme hardship or oppression,” Hammad said.

Hafsa Y. Kanjwal, Sylvania, Ohio – Regional Studies of the Muslim World, International Development (SFS ’08)

Drawing on her family’s roots in Kashmir, Hafsa has been committed to interfaith and intercultural relations. She founded the nonprofit group KashmirCorps with the goal of promoting positive change in the Indian-administered region through volunteer and service opportunities. The organization brings ten students and young professionals to Kashmir over the summer to volunteer in the fields of healthcare, economic development and education. At Georgetown, Hafsa helped found the Interfaith Council which promotes dialogue between student religious groups. She serves as a fellow with the national Interfaith Youth Core and is involved with the Muslim Students Association and the Georgetown chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. She also volunteers with the Healthy Babies Project in Northeast Washington, D.C., and hopes to bring lessons learned there related to maternal and child health to KashmirCorps. “My involvement with community service that has incorporated all my diverse identities has helped me realize my career and life goal: I am personally and academically committed to the empowerment of disenfranchised peoples living in vulnerable contexts, specifically women and youth of the Muslim world,” Hafsa said.

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