Community News, Vol. 8 Iss. 42

October 12, 2006 by  


Muslims, Jews celebrate together in Sharon

Sharon, MA–The Interfaith Action, Inc. group in Sharon organized a joint celebration for both Jews and Muslims to mark the holy Muslim month of Ramadhan and the Jewish High Holy Days including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. The event was aimed to promote interfaith learning and advice. More than 300 Muslims and Jews were invited to attend the evening of interfaith learning, discussion and prayer. The guests will also enjoy breaking the fast with a Middle Eastern chicken dish that meets both halal and kosher dietary requirements.

“This event will allow us to discover the commonalities between the people of Abrahamic faiths,” said Imam Masood, a member of the Islamic Center of New England in Sharon, in a written statement to the Jewish Advocate.

Similar events were organized in other places in the Boston area. A communal breaking of fast was recently held at Emerson College in Boston.

Funeral held for four Kentucky kids

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY–Dozens of people gathered at the Islamic Center in Elizabethtown Saturday to say goodbye to the youngsters in a traditional ceremony.

The children, three girls and a boy ranging in age from 8 to 2, were wrapped in white sheets and placed on tables. They were then buried in separate graves in an unnamed Muslim cemetery in Hardin County.

Their 42-year-old father is accused of murdering them Friday in their Louisville home. Said Biyad is charged with four counts of murder and one count of assault, for allegedly beating his estranged wife who immigrated from Somalia with him.

Investigators say the couple had recently argued over the children. A bail hearing for Biyad is set for October 17th.

New York religious leaders support Muslims

LONG ISLAND, NY– New York area religious came out in support of the Islamic Center of Long Island at an interfaith celebration at the Westbury mosque. Rep. Peter King had earlier alleged that the center was being run by extremists, reported Newsday.

“We will not be fooled by fearmongering and appeals to bigotry,” the Rev. Mark Lukens, pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in East Rockaway, said at a news conference yesterday. “We stand with you proudly, shoulder to shoulder.”

Last month King (R-Seaford) wrote in thousands of letters to constituents that the mosque’s leaders “have publicly stated that the CIA or the ‘Zionists’ may have been responsible for the 9/11 attacks.” He also said that 85 percent of American mosques had “extremist leadership.”

Speaking yesterday at a joint celebration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Christian and Jewish leaders called King’s statements “deplorable,” “false” and “outrageous.”

NJ College forms Middle East ‘Peace’ Dorm

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.–About a dozen women students, including a handful of Muslims and Jews, are living together at Rutgers University as they work towards ideals that have seemed out of reach for years in the Middle East: peace and understanding.

The new Middle East Coexistence House was created for students to spend enough time together to bridge their differences and explore solutions to an age-old conflict.

“When you’re brushing your teeth next to someone every morning, you just can’t hate them,” said Danielle Josephs, 21, a senior political science and Middle Eastern studies major from Teaneck who lives in the dorm.

A former Rutgers Hillel president who has an Israeli father and a Jewish-American mother, Josephs proposed a conflict-resolution living area to a school dean two years ago. She wanted to help curb the hostility she witnessed on campus between Jews and Muslims.

“It was very frustrating to me that very intelligent students weren’t able to have productive dialogue on these issues,” Josephs said Monday, as the school held a dedication ceremony for the dorm, a section of a residence hall where students of different backgrounds have been living since early last month.

It’s a place where an Israeli or a Lebanese flag or a Hebrew name can be seen on dorm room doors, but it’s also just like any other college residence: packages of snacks are piled in rooms, Johnny Depp movie posters can be seen on walls.

The 11 women residents, five Jews, three Muslims, one Hindu, one Christian and an agnostic, are pursuing studies such as political science, Middle Eastern studies and English literature. Besides living together, they gather once a week in the residence hall for a conflict resolution class that covers the history, culture and current events of the Middle East.

The students living in the dorm say they spend a lot of time together, going to dinner or talking until the wee hours of the morning. They say they don’t hold back on controversial issues, but the conversation stays respectful.

“We go shopping. We talk about boys and there’s lots of politics, even things we didn’t know we knew,” said Nadia Sheikh, 19, of Weehawkin, a sophomore political science and Middle Eastern studies major who is Muslim.

California State U., Bakersfield Hosts Ramadan Event

BAKERSFIELD, CA– The Muslim Women’s Association of Bakersfield, in partnership with the California State University, Bakersfield American Muslim Student Association is inviting the public to a traditional Ramadan iftar in the Stockdale Room inside the Runner Cafeteria on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. The free event is being held as a way to reach out to the larger Bakersfield community and to share dinner and dialogue with members of all faiths.

“We are inviting our neighbours, co-workers and community leaders to this dinner to promote friendship, openness and communication with the Muslims in Bakersfield,” said Majida Shehadeh, a member of MWAB. “People of faith must lead the way to deepening mutual respect and must learn to work together more effectively for social justice.”

To Muslims worldwide, Ramadan serves as a season of spiritual renewal and gratitude for the bounties bestowed on all human beings, Shehadeh said. It is a month in which families become closer, communities strengthen their foundations and individuals reaffirm their spiritual roots, she added. Fasting is one of the “five pillars” of the Islamic faith. Shehadeh explained the end of Ramadan will be marked by communal prayers called “Eid ul-Fitr,” or Feast of the Fast-Breaking, on or around Oct. 24.

Somalis sue Minn. poultry processor

MINNEAPOLIS, MN–Nine Somali immigrant employees at poultry processor Gold’n Plump Poultry Inc. alleged in a federal lawsuit that they were discriminated against because of their race and their religion, according to news agencies.

The group alleges in a suit filed Friday in federal court in Minneapolis that the St. Cloud-based company would not permit them short breaks during the day to pray at the Cold Spring plant. The Muslim faith, the lawsuit says, requires five prayers a day at times defined by position of the sun.

While the company did allow the employees to take limited numbers of restroom breaks, Khadija Jama claims she was followed into the restroom by a supervisor to make sure that she did not pray there. She said whites at the Cold Spring plant did not get the same treatment when they went to the restroom.

The lawsuit also claims that the company was more likely to force Somalis than whites to work the night shift and do the least desirable jobs in the factory. Whites, the lawsuit claims, were more likely to get promotions than Somalis.

Joe Snodgrass, attorney for the Somalis, asked the court for both compensatory and punitive damages, and asked the judge to order the company to provide ‘equal employment opportunities for all applicants and employees.’ The lawsuit does not specify an amount.

In a statement Monday, Peggy Brown, director of human resources, said Gold’n Plump respects the religious beliefs of all employees and strives ‘to balance their religious practices with the realities of a manufacturing line.’

Brown said Gold’n Plump has made accommodations since 2003 to its Muslim employees to provide them with opportunities to pray. She said the company announced further changes last week, before it became aware of the lawsuit, ‘that we believe provide yet more opportunity for observance of Muslim prayer.’

She said Gold’n Plump was under no obligation to do so, and added that ‘modifications of this nature affect and possibly disrupt the lives and schedules of other employees.’

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