North American Community News volume 8 issue 34

August 17, 2006 by  


Dr.Khalid Baig Elected President of the Islamic Society of the East Bay

FREMONT, CA—Dr.Khalid Baig was elected as the new president of the Islamic Society of the East Bay. He replaced Dr. Mohamad Rajabally, a Fremont dentist, who opted to retire. Dr. Baig’s tenure will oversee the additions to the mosque including a mortuary, a library, and expanded Islamic school and a prayer room for women.

Dr. Baig is a physician who is known for his professional excellence and his commitment to community work. He was born and brought up in Hyderabad where his father was the dean of the medical school. Since 1991 he has been a resident of Fremont with a successful family practice and has been on the staff of Washington Hospital. He has spent several hundred volunteer hours at Washington Hospital on a variety of committees. He was voted one of the Top Doctors in the Bay area for two consecutive years by the Bay Area Consumer Checkbook.

As president of Islamic Society of the East Bay, Baig said he intends to continue to hold open houses and bring in guest lecturers who can attract broad audiences.

“We want to continue to do that so people understand what happens (here),” he told the Argus newspaper.

Baig also hopes the mosque will strive for unity and moderation under his tenure.

“I wanted to be a doctor to improve people’s lives,” he said. “So what’s really strikingly distressing to me is that people of religion — any religion, including my own — would try to destroy lives.”

Muslims Help in Building Habitat House

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Muslims, Jews and Christians joined hands to build houses for the Habitat for Humanity project in Indianapolis. Their latest project is called the House of Abraham which will now house a needy family. Apart from building the house the participants also wanted to celebrate diversity and share a sense of unity. They called the project the House of Abraham because, “Abraham played a very important part in all three faiths and all three faith recognize Abraham,” said Dean Illingworth, former director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis.

“This is a sign of what can be done around the world,” Michael Saahir with the Imam Nur-Allah Islamic Center said.

“If people of faith, different religions can put their differences aside and come together the good of helping a family. It’s very important because when people help people they’re serving God,” Saahir said.

“I really think Indianapolis is indeed a crossroads where Jews, Christians and Muslims can make a statement to the world,” David Berry, associate pastor for missions at Second Presbyterian Church said.

Muslim Students Honored in Miami

MIAMI, FL—The Universal Heritage Institute, a nonprofit Islamic group, recognized the Muslim nominees of the prestigious Miami Herald Silver Knight Awards.

Daniel Afzal, 18, the valedictorian at Felix Varela High School, was honored for tutoring seniors in math in preparation for the FCAT.

‘‘My dad didn’t think I’d be able to become valedictorian. I wanted to prove him wrong,’’ Afzal told the Miami Herald.

Sophie Khokhawalla, 18, recently graduated from the American Heritage School in Broward. She was honored for organizing a 5K walkathon for children with cancer, which raised $35,000. Khokhawalla asked children at Broward General Hospital to create a wish list.

Zoning Board Delays Decision on Temporary use of Building by Muslim School

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Zoning Board of South Brunswick has delayed a decision last week on the temporary use of a building on Route 1 by the Noorul Iman School, the Sentinel reported.

On Aug. 3, representatives of the Noor-Ul-Iman School requested that they be allowed to use a building donated by a worshiper from the local Islamic Society of Central Jersey, as a temporary site for grades 1-3. At the moment, school classes are held in a group of trailers that, according to school Principal Janet Nazif, will soon grow too crowded. Moving 80 students would free up more room, she said.

According to Nazif, as construction begins, some of the trailer classrooms will need to be demolished, reducing space even more. Time is therefore of the essence, she said.

The building, located on Route 1 about a mile down the road from the Islamic center where the current school sits, has been empty for years, and was formerly the site of a computer software company. Because it is located in a commercial zone, the school needs a use variance in order to occupy it. The building, located on Route 1 about a mile down the road from the Islamic center where the current school sits, has been empty for years, and was formerly the site of a computer software company. Because it’s located in a commercial zone, the school needs a use variance in order to occupy it.

According to the planner hired by the school, Lester Nevinzahl, the “training facilities” which are allowed in that zone are schools in function, so the proposal is compatible with the master plan. Further, he stated that schools are viewed as inherently beneficial.

The board raised concerns centering mostly about how long the school will be there.

“How temporary is temporary?” asked board member Barry Nathanson, who was also elected to the Board of Education this year.

Nazif said that the site would serve as a school for a number of years, as groundbreaking isn’t expected to happen for another year or two. The board is expected to reach a decision this week.

Gunman with Anti-Islam Message Arrested

PALM BAY, FL—A man armed with an AK-47 is in custody after a standoff with police on Rostock Circle in Palm Bay.

Police say Jerry O’Neal Bonner was emotionally disturbed and possibly suicidal.

They say he went out of control shortly after two o’clock Sunday afternoon after his wife refused to let him spray paint “down with Islam” on her car.

Police say Bonner then rammed his truck into his wife’s car and grabbed an AK-47.

Neighbor Yvette Burgos says she heard shots being fired.

“I heard a loud noise, I thought it was a car accident and I ran outside and I saw these two cops in a corner”.

Police say Bonner hid in the bushes of a neighbor’s home for about two hours, and shots were exchanged with police at least once. But no one was hit, and Bonner eventually surrendered.

Pakistan Day Parade in Chicago Marred by Divisions

CHICAGO, IL—The Pakistan Day parade in Chicago was held as scheduled by the organizers on Devon Ave but it also showed the ugly divisions in the community. Just days before the parade, the Coalition of Pakistani Organizations accused the parade permit holders of trickery in using the group’s name to obtain the permit. The permit holders insisted it was their turn to stage the parade under a rotation agreement brokered years ago.

A judge said Friday that the parade organizers had been deceptive in obtaining the permit but did not grant the temporary injunction the plaintiffs had requested.

The dispute disrupted planning for the parade because of rumors it would be canceled, and one organizer said he was embarrassed that the court battle had made the community’s internal divisions a public matter.

“It’s a shame. When you are talking about the interests of the community, individual interests should be put aside,” said Nemat Chudhry, chairman of the Pakistani parade committee to the Chicago Tribune. “People just want to have a good time and watch the event pass by. They don’t care who the committee chairman is.” •

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