North American Community News, Vol. 8 Iss. 39

September 21, 2006 by  


Connecticut College appoints first Muslim Chaplain

NEW LONDON, CT– Ayesha Siddiqua Chaudhry has been appointed Connecticut College’s first Muslim Chaplain. She joined the college´s team of inter-faith chaplains over the summer and hopes to create an environment where Muslim students feel safe to discover themselves. Many students, she says, are eager for safe spaces where they can critically examine their traditions and identities.

Her husband, Rumee Ahmed, is the first Muslim chaplain at Brown University in Providence, where the couple lives. He accompanies her to Connecticut College once a week, and the couple works as a team on both campuses.

The need for a Muslim chaplain at Connecticut College had grown, especially since Patrice Brodeur, the former dean of religious and spiritual life, took a public role after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, said Claudia Highbaugh, dean of religious and spiritual life, there is a growing number of practicing Muslims on campus, including a large percentage of international students.

Her husband, Rumee Ahmed, is the first Muslim chaplain at Brown University in Providence, where the couple lives. He accompanies her to Connecticut College once a week, and the couple works as a team on both campuses.

The need for a Muslim chaplain at Connecticut College had grown, especially since Patrice Brodeur, the former dean of religious and spiritual life, took a public role after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, said Claudia Highbaugh, dean of religious and spiritual life, there is a growing number of practicing Muslims on campus, including a large percentage of international students.

“Ayesha will round out a team of inter-faith chaplains who will work both as a team and as individuals in faith-specific communities,” said Highbaugh. “And the local Muslim community is hoping for ways to engage her and her intellectual energies in a larger circle.”

A native of Toronto born to Pakistani parents,Chaudhry is currently working on her doctorate degree at New York University´s department of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.

MPAC wants dialog with Los Angeles Cardinal

LOS ANGELES, CA–The Muslim Public Affairs Council wants to hold a dialogue with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict’s remarks about Islam. Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of MPAC, said relations between local Muslims and Catholics have always been “excellent.” and the dialogue was aimed at reinforcing those ties.

Al-Marayati said the Los Angeles Archdiocese responded positively to MPAC’s request, which was delivered in a letter to Mahony earlier this week.

Research studies link between obesity, religion

CHICAGO, IL–Adherents of religions with strict dietary codes are less likely to be obese, says a report published by Purdue University sociologist Ken Ferraro in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Ferraro’s study was an extensive follow-up to 1998 research that found a correlation between weight and religious practices. This time, he tracked 2,500 people over eight years, teasing out the differences among denominations.

The lowest rates were among Jews and non-Christians (Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist), faiths that all have dietary behavior codes.

Obesity by Religion:

How religions and denominations fared in percentage of members found to be obese:

• Baptist, 30 percent
• Fundamentalist Protestant (including Church of Christ, Pentecostal/Assembly of God, Church of God), 22 percent
• Pietistic Protestant (including Methodist, Christian Church, African Methodist Episcopal), 19 percent
• Catholic, 17 percent
• Reformation-Era Protestant, 9 percent
• No religion, 7 percent
• Non-denominational Protestant, 5 percent
• Non-traditionalist (including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon, Seventh-day Adventists and Christian Scientist), 3 percent
• Jewish, 1 percent
• Other non-Christian (including Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists), 0.7 percent

Source: Center on Aging and the Life Course, Purdue University

Muslim community of Austin growing

AUSTIN, TX–The Muslim community in Austin is growing reports CBS Channel 42. The North Austin Muslim Community has grown so much they’re building a new 9,000 square foot facility.

“Austin is the oasis of Texas, I couldn’t think of a better place to be Muslim in the state of Texas,” said Clay Chip Smith, with the North Austin Muslim Community Center. “Austin has a long tradition of tolerance and acceptance even going beyond that to embracing as community.”

Some Muslims say people do look at them differently since 9-11, like they should be afraid of them. But they say that happens outside the city limits.

“It’s like anywhere else, more or less, you have some cultural differences but otherwise since I’m from India and it’s not an Islamic country so I really don’t feel much difference,” Zain Syed said.

Most say, the biggest difference since 9-11 is racial profiling. Having folks fear you because of the way you’re dressed or because of the way you worship.

An estimated 10,000 Muslims live in the Austin area. Some leaders say if 9-11 never happened there could be more. They think the negative images of Muslims after that day may have scared folks away from the religion.

Maryland teacher arrested after anti-Muslim tirade

GAITHERSBURG, MD–A substitute teacher in Maryland was arrested after allegedly making anti-Islamic comments in front of high school students. According to reports, Carol Joan McVey, 49, was charged with resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. She reportedly became upset after hearing some students at Gaithersburg High School being assisted by another teacher, practicing a speech and using some Arabic words.

The Washington Post reports she reacted after overhearing the group utter an Islamic greeting of peace.

Charging documents allege McVey shouted, “Islam doesn’t mean peace, it means killing everyone for peace” and “Because of you, our families died in New York!”

Police said she refused to leave and was escorted from the school by the educational facilities officer.

While being escorted from the building, McVey allegedly yelled at a Hispanic teacher about the inappropriateness of speaking to students in languages other than English.

McVey was later released on her own recognizance.

Canada–Mosque Vandalized in Winnipeg

The Manitoba Islamic Association mosque in Winnipeg was spray-painted with Nazi swastika and profanities and ethnic slurs such as “packy.” The vandalism was discovered early Saturday morning by worshippers coming for Friday prayers.

CAIR-CAN called on the Winnipeg Police to ensure that the incident is investigated swiftly as a hate crime and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

This most recent episode is part of a disturbing trend of similar incidents that have occurred recently across Canada.

The Manitoba Islamic Association in a statement stressed on the importance of respecting all religions and the sanctity of religious institutions.

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