Houstonian Corner volume 8 issue 34

August 17, 2006 by  


Have a Good Learning Experience, Houston Children!

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest public school system in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States. All the schools of HISD and fourteen (14) other Independent School Districts in the Greater Houston Region are open after the summer break.

Our publication extends best wishes to the families and children who have returned to school, and pray that this year brings better knowledge and learning opportunities to all of them, as we continue to improve our communities.

Learning is one of the foremost directives of the Creator of things around us; as such we urge all the students to concentrate on their studies, as an act of worship and so that we are able to prepare the best and most productive citizens of present and future.

Round-Table Discussion of Law Enforcement Agencies & Community Leadership

A group of federal and local law enforcement agencies met with President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Rodwan Saleh and panel of Muslim Religious Leaders (Imams) at the Baker Institute of Rice University. Ever since 9/11 (in the USA) and 7/7 (in the UK), Arabs and Muslims have been under public and governmental scrutiny.

Daniel Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the involvement of every facet and community of the society is vital in Homeland Security: Safety for all is dependent upon the team mentality, so Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities have to play a very important part in this.

Having recently gone through the 3rd anniversary of the opening of their small Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at DHS, Mr. Sutherland announced that Arab, South Asian and Muslim Communities initiative is being taken to six cities across the USA, namely Washington, DC, Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.

Different mechanism of reaching out to the communities and their leaders will be used based on the varying structure of these communities in various cities. Typically, whenever a new initiative and/or policy comes, it will be brought to the leadership of the community and over a period of time feedback will be received and issues will be resolved based on the concerns (if any) shown by the communities.

Rodwan Saleh, President of ISGH, said that Muslims want the country at large to know what benefits the USA benefits Muslims, and what harms the USA harms Muslims also. There is a continuous need to educate and learn about Islam and Muslims. Sensitivity Training of DHS officers and embassy officials in different countries is crucial.

Imam Sheikh Isam Rajab asked why his patriotism is always under scrutiny at the airports, where spending 4 plus hours has become normal, while leaders of other religions just go through without any questioning. He said the public may be ignorant and following the wrong information they get from the media—they may have wrong notions about Muslims and that is fine, since that is out of ignorance. But it hurts when the government would discriminate against its own citizens and this leads to the pertinent question: who is a good citizen and who is not? He added as to how we can make America safe, by not discriminating with innocent people everywhere and that will be possible with better understanding and education.

Mr. Sutherland denied that this national tour of six cities is somehow linked to the increased security measures from the Lebanon/Israel conflict.

Controversial Immigration Billboard Campaign Starts In Houston

Posted along the Katy Freeway at Heights Boulevard is an effort by a group focused on stopping lawmakers from passing anything that even resembles amnesty for illegal immigrants. “Its (meaning) is very clear,” says Steve Elliott, president of Grassfire.org. “There’s been tremendous response from all across Texas, and certainly across Houston,” he said. Elliot said his group is trying to have an impact on members of Congress who are holding hearings around the country on an immigration policy overhaul.

House and Senate versions of a bill have passed, but look nothing alike. The House bill emphasizes border security and makes it a felony to illegally enter the United States. A majority of senators voted for a plan that gives undocumented workers an eventual path to citizenship.

Texas junior senator John Cornyn voted against the Senate bill, which has the support of President Bush. “I can tell you from my conversations with constituents around the state of Texas, a significant number of people are angry,” Cornyn said. Elliot’s group is among them.

“This is not a question about immigration,” Elliot said. “It’s a question about stopping illegal immigration and stopping a cultural bombardment in our society. It’s a national security crisis. It’s a law and order crisis,” he said.

But Latino groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens say the rhetoric is getting out of hand. “It’s hateful,” LULAC Houston District Director Rick Dovalina said. “I’d hate to see the United States become one of those countries where we have right-wing groups instigating and bringing back the racism of the 1960s and ‘50s,” Dovalina said.

Houston City Councilman Adrian Garcia would like to see the billboard taken down. “This is not what the spirit of Houston is all about,” Garcia said. While he admits City Hall cannot legally do anything to get rid of it, “I would call out to community leaders, and ask them to ask that it be taken down,” he said. •

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