Wajahat Ali Tackles Islamophobia

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt O’Brien

wajahat-aliPlaywright, lawyer and humorist Wajahat Ali is known to fellow Fremont residents as a man of many projects. As we meet for an interview downtown, a passer-by interrupts to ask Ali, in Urdu, “What are you working on now?” One answer is scripting an HBO pilot, with novelist Dave Eggers, about a Muslim cop in San Francisco. Ali, 30, has made a career of writing about ordinary Muslim Americans with humor and candor. Another project marks Ali’s first big dive into political advocacy, with a report (due out this week) he has co-authored with researchers at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Ali says it exposes how a small network of anti-Muslim activists transformed a fringe movement into a mainstream cause.

Q So your report hasn’t even come out yet, but the anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller has already called you a “stealth jihadist.” Are you offended?

A Not at all. Pam Geller attacked me because I pretty much exposed her and her agenda on a radio station in New York, because she and her allies were mentioned more than 200 times in (Norwegian mass shooter) Anders Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto. … He was ideologically inspired by people like her and her allies.

Q What made you get into this political project?

A My whole life I’ve been the unintentional token spokesman for all things Muslim and Pakistani. It was not by choice. I call myself the accidental activist. When I was a young kid I was, like, the only open practicing Muslim, and I knew a lot about my Pakistani roots. So inevitably I gave dozens of impromptu lectures about all things Muslim and Pakistani. And (for) a lot of my friends in the Bay Area, I was their only Muslim or Pakistani friend. So they were like, Hey, Waj, what’s up with Pakistan? … The Center for Progress thought, why not go to a non-D.C. guy and think outside the box. I realized, as a student of American history, the current boogeyman is American Muslims.

And I wanted to help turn the tide toward civil discourse, in which we wouldn’t divide Americans based on ethnicity and religion.

Q What do you think of the depiction of Muslim Americans on TV?

A It’s usually framed through the lens of national security, terrorism, violence and fundamentalism. A recent report says Americans have a negative image of Muslims (for) two reasons: ignorance, in the sense that a lot of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim; … and they say the media frames their perceptions of Muslims. … The hope is to move beyond that frame, to show the nuances. We need authentic Muslim American storytellers telling authentic Muslim American narratives.

Q On a blog post you mentioned the Ramadan State of Mind. What’s that?

A On the blog I try to remove what I call the “ascetic monk lens” from which both Muslim Americans and average Americans view Ramadan — Muslims being this spiritual, superhero monk type who have this insane biological system that allows them to fast without water and drink.

We’re like Ivan Drago from “Rocky IV,” right? It’s very inhuman almost, the presentation of Ramadan and Muslims fasting. … I just try to talk like a normal person, to expose my whiny-ness, the fact that sometimes it sucks being Muslim. Sometimes I’m spiritually elevated, sometimes spiritually defeated. Sometimes I just want to eat food.

Q You’ve talked about how kids who grew up in the shadow of 9/11 are helping to push a new narrative. What is that narrative?

A The narrative is: “I am both Muslim and American; one cannot coexist without the other. My values from both identities complement one another and intersect. I am living proof that there is no conflict between the West and Islam. Proof that there needs not be an Armageddon or a clash of cultural values.” Just go talk to these people. They fast during Ramadan and listen to Jay-Z’s latest album. They eat their mom’s dal but then they also eat pho. Their best friend is African-American or Vietnamese-American, and they’ll invite them over for Eid. That’s as American as apple pie, or maybe as American as falafel and hummus.

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Ahmed H Zewail

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

File-ZowelDr. Ahmed Zewail was born  in Egypt in 1946. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alexandria University. He earned his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974.  Joined the  California Institute of Technology in 1976 after two years as an IBM Fellow at UC Berkeley. In 1999 he was the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions. Dr. Zewail received E.O. Lawrence Award, administrated by the Department of Energy. Other awards include the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, A. Welch Award in chemistry and the Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society. In 1999, he received Egypt’s highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile.

Zewail’s technique uses what may be described as the world’s fastest camera. The method uses ultrafast laser flashes of such short duration that we are down to the time scale on which the reactions   happen -that is femtosecond or  one millionth of one billionth of a second. This area of physical chemistry has been named femtochemistry a brand new branch of Chemistry. This new techniques for observing chemical reaction has open the door for amazing useful discoveries.

Femtochemistry enables us to understand why certain chemical reactions take place but not others. We can also explain why the speed and yield of reactions depend on temperature. Scientists all over the  world  are studying processes with femtosecond spectroscopy in gases, in fluids and in solids. Applications range from how catalysts function and how molecular electronic components must be designed, to the most delicate mechanisms in life processes and how the medicines of the future should be produced.

Dr. Zewail is also paying  attention to his home land, Egypt. He established two prizes in his name, one at the high school in Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt where he went to school and the other at the American University in Egypt (AUC).The  Ahmed Zewail prize, awarded for the first time in 2005 at AUC’s commencement. He thinks that the prise will provide an incentive for students to pursue excellence in science.  He is currently writing article for Nature magazine called “Science for the have nots,” in which he tries to explain why building a solid scientific base is so important for developing nations.

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My Flag, My Deen, My Life!

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Qasim ibn Ali Khan

flag at homeAs I drive down the streets of my neighborhood on any given United States federal holiday, I acknowledge the homes and tree lawns  displaying the American flags, whose owners proudly flaunt their perception of patriotism.   “Old Glory”, they call it…the historical Stars and Stripes… a concept by General George Washington, Colonel Ross, and Robert Morris, who recruited Philadelphia seamstress Mrs. Betsy Ross to apply her talents to stitch.  In the years since that morning in 1777, and stars were added to correspond with the addition of each new state to the union, the sentiment surrounding the flag increased, giving birth to songs, and the nearly sacred Pledge of Allegiance.

During my Christian life as well as deep into my Islamic life, I too enjoyed showing my “American pride” by displaying the American flag on my house, automobile, and clothing.  I would stand, placing my hand over my heart to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, assuming I was making a statement by slightly adjusting the recitation to say, “….and one nation, under Allah….”.  I would use my inherited melodic baritone voice to impress audiences with the National Anthem, accepting all of their compliments with pride.  I recall even once trying to convince boxing promoter Don King to contract me to sing The Star Spangled Banner at a Mike Tyson fight. (By the way, he refused, telling me that I wasn’t famous enough.) Yes, even as a devout Muslim, I was about as typically American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

In the meantime, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, (RA), inspired by his father’s (RA) vision, also designed a flag, originally calling it the “New Flag for the Nation of Islam”, but more importantly, making a statement of devotion to the book that is the epitome of the oneness of Allah and loyalty to His final Messenger (SWS)….The Qur’an Kareem.  It would be an original flag…something the Muslims could truly call their own.  It would be a flag amazingly not stigmatized by the media’s warped portrayal of Islam by a handful of radical Muslims who wave flags bearing the Arabic inscriptions of “No God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, while contradicting the spirit of Al-Islam with unjustified violence, corruption, and other haraam (forbidden) acts.

For many years after the introduction of the flag designed by Imam Mohammed (RA), I proudly displayed it alongside the American flag, almost as if they were equal.  For many years I considered myself an “American Muslim”, insinuating that I am an American who happens to be a Muslim.  Since then I have arrived to the realization that much more importantly,  I must be a “Muslim American”….that I am a Muslim who happens to be an American, because my Islamicity must come first. 

Only out of sincere respect for what it means to others, do I show respect for the American flag…and stand for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, however without  saluting or placing my hand on my heart.   I say only out of respect for what it means to others, because to me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America….the good, the honest, the law abiding citizens who fear The Creator of us all.  To me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America who cry at the news of suffering of complete strangers…or the good people of America who wish the bad people would either change or go away…or the good people of America who pray daily for the trillion dollar wars around the world to stop….or the good people of America who are tired of spending billions of dollars annually on security systems for their homes, cars, and businesses….the good people of America who  have to stand by struggling to take care of their families while legislators with almost unlimited expense accounts take our tax dollars to give themselves raises.   No, brothers and sisters, to me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America, instead it seems to represent an unjust and contradictory government that although it is of the people and by the people…it is not for the people.  When I see the American flag, with all the respect that I show it, I don’t think about the American people any more than I think about the people who designed it.

Proudly displayed on the front of my home from dawn until sunset is an Islamic flag, designed by Imam W. D. Mohammed, yet admittedly that display is not a salute to him, nor do I think of him when I look at my flag.  To me, the Islamic flag I display is a salute to the inscription emblazoned in bright gold letters, surrounded by a green silhouette of the Qur’an Kareem, casting a glowing ray onto a crimson background…it is a flag that represents everything that I live and work for…La illaha ilAllah, Muhammadur Rasulullah, There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!  Although this is the testimony that was introduced to me by Imam W.D. Mohammed (RA), yet whose interpretation of patriotism I may not completely agree with….when I raise that flag….when I gaze upon its flowing beauty in the wind, gracing the front of my dwelling place that I have made into a place of worship, I only think about Allah t’Ala and His Messenger (SWS).  This wonderful design, that I display, that I salute, that I pledge allegiance to in the same language that is bound upon it, that represents everything that I am about… this Shahada-tain, to this Muslim American patriot, is my flag, my deen, my life.

www.shadesofwhite.us

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Kassim Living the Dream

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

KassimOuma4Kassim Ouma is a Ugandan boxer who is the current North American Boxing Association middleweight champion.  His life has been so interesting that he was the subject of a documentary entitled “Kassim the Dream” which was made in 2008. It went on to become an official selection at several film festivals.

Born the seventh of 13 children, he started out in poverty, and at the age of six he was kidnapped and forced to join the National Resistance Army in Uganda. As a result he did not see his family for the next five years. Ouma started boxing after leaving the army. He racked up an impressive 62 and 3 amateur record and subsequently made the Ugandan national boxing team and was selected to fight at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. However, he did not attend due to financial difficulties.

On a Ugandan national amateur team trip to the United States, Ouma decided to stay to undertake a career as a professional boxer to support his family in Uganda. Ouma later won the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Middleweight world title.

Ouma has been a champion and top-level contender in the Light Middleweight division, ultimately earning the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Light Middleweight title. He later lost this title in a unanimous decision defeat against Roman Karmazin. However, on September 25, 2010, Ouma defeated Joey Gilbert in the 6th round of their 10-round bout for the vacant North American Boxing Association middleweight title at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.

Among the twists and turns in his life chronicled by the documentary, Ouma was shot twice in Florida in December 2002. Among the violence in his life, Ouma also reports that his father was beaten to death by the Ugandan army in retaliation for his leaving the country. Ouma’s younger brother, Hamza Wandera Ouma, is also a professional boxer. So, Kassim Ouma hopes that, moving forward, his dreams, and the dreams of his family, are only happy ones.

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Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus Chairman Attends White House Reception for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Chairman of the Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus, Nazmul Hassan Shahin, was invited to the White House for a reception to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on June 22.
The social event was held for networking opportunities for 200 U.S. political representatives in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Hassan said President Obama greeted the crowd with a speech and shook hands with those in the front row and with others who were close enough to reach him. 

Hassan took the 10-15 seconds he had with the president to thank him for his work (the healthcare, Wallstreet and housing reforms). He said, “Change is not easy Mr. President. You are doing a fantastic job. Under your leadership America got back its respect in [the] outside world,” he said partly referring to an ongoing relationship with Bangladesh with the appointment of a new ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, in May.

He also handed Obama a thank-you letter on behalf of the BADC and an organizational newsletter, which the president accepted and said, “Keep doing the great work.”

It was a great once-in-a lifetime experience, said Hassan, from visiting the White House to shaking hands with the president. It was a, “Great honor as a Bangladeshi American to represent everyone [in] BADC,” he said.

BADC is an affiliate of the Michigan Democratic Caucus with 71 members in a “four-tier” organization. The executive council is comprised of members from the three entities: a task force committee; a congressional district committee with members who work closely with congress members and elected officials in those districts on issues relating to Bangladeshi Americans; and a standing committee with various branches including women, fundraising and student groups. An advisory council works with the organization.

Hassan describes the grass root organization as, “The voice of Bangladeshi Americans in mainstream politics working on issues important in our community.” The organization worked with democratic leaders in the past local state and presidential elections, fundraising and helping political candidates interact with the Bangladeshi Americans (a growing population in Michigan), such as Congressman Hansen Clarke.

States such as California, Delaware, Minnesota, and Texas, with Bangladeshi American populations are interested in replicating the organization, said Hassan. The organization may create a national board to work with all states.

Hassan has been working with BADC since 2009. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award at the Annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in April 16, 2011 by the Michigan Democratic Caucus for “an individual who works promoting the equality and inclusion of the people for every race, color, creed and gender in the Democratic Party,” said the website www.michbd.com, which reports on Bangladeshi news in Michigan.

BADC leaders and supporters motivate and energize me to do my job, said Hassan. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Michigan Democratic Party is a symbol of acknowledgement of our hard work.”

Hassan said he hopes more youth will get politically involved and help bring about a change in government by building the organization and leadership to, “Carry out the momentum and take it farther than we have created.”

Upon request of Hassan, Congressman John Conyers Jr. offered internships to youth during a Muslim Ummah of North America north zone conference on June 5. Hassan encourages people to apply. He said Bangladeshi American youth have potential to rise up and become political leaders. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

Elections for BADC will be held in November.

For more information visit www.mibadc.org, or to get involved contact Executive Vice Chair Ripa Haq at 248-520-1921.

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Getting on Board with Peace in Israel

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

An Israeli American explains why she will be among many boat passengers trying to break through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

By Hagit Borer

Later this month an American ship, the Audacity of Hope, will leave Greece on a journey to the Gaza Strip to attempt to break Israel’s blockade. It will join an expected nine other ships flying numerous flags and carrying hundreds of passengers from around the world. I will be one of those passengers.

I am an Israeli Jewish American. I was born in Israel, and I grew up in a very different Jerusalem from the one today. The Jerusalem of my childhood was a smallish city of white-stone neighborhoods nestled in the elbows of hills. Near the center, next to the central post office, the road swerved sharply to the left because straight ahead stood a big wall, and on the other side of it was “them.”

And then, on June 9, 1967, the wall came down. Elsewhere, Israeli troops were still fighting what came to be known as the Six-Day War, but on June 9, as a small crowd stood and watched, demolition crews brought down the barrier wall, and after it, all other buildings that had stood between my Jerusalem and the walls of the Old City, their Jerusalem. A few weeks later a wide road would lead from my Jerusalem to theirs, bearing the victors’ name: Paratroopers Way.

A soldier helped me sneak into the Old City. Snipers were still at large and the city was closed to Israeli civilians. By the Western Wall, a myth to me until then, the Israeli army was already evicting Palestinian residents in the dead of night and demolishing all houses within 1,000 feet. Eventually, the area would turn into the huge open paved space it is today, a place where only last month, on Jerusalem Day, masses of Israeli youths chanted “Muhammad is dead” and “May your villages burn.”

It is a different Jerusalem now. It is not their Jerusalem, for it has been taken from them. Every day the Palestinians of Jerusalem are further strangled by more incursions, by more “housing developments” to cut them off from other Palestinians. In Sheik Jarrah, a neighborhood built by Jordan in the 1950s to house refugees, Palestinian families recently have been evicted from their homes at gunpoint based on court-sanctioned documents purporting to show Jewish land ownership in the area dating back some 100 years. But no Palestinian proof of ownership within West Jerusalem has ever prevailed in Israeli courts. Talbieh, Katamon, Baca, until 1948 affluent Palestinian neighborhoods, are today almost exclusively Jewish, with no legal recourse for the Palestinians who recently raised families and lived their lives there.

In his speech on Jerusalem Day, Yitzhak Pindrus, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, assured a cheering crowd of the ongoing commitment to expanding the Jewish neighborhood of Shimon Hatzadik, as Sheik Jarrah has been renamed.

This is not my Jerusalem. The tens of thousands of jeering youths that swarmed through its streets on Jerusalem Day have taken the city from me as well. That they speak my native tongue is almost impossible for me to believe, for there is nothing about them or about the society that gave birth to them that I recognize.

Did we know in 1967, in 1948, that it would come to this? Some did. Some knew even then that a society built on conquest and dispossession would have to dehumanize the conquered in order to continue to dispossess and oppress them. A 1948 letter to the New York Times signed by Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt, among others, foretells much of the future. Martin Buber did not spare David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, his perspective on the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948-49.

But too many others, including members of the U.S. Congress who recently cheered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are determined to not hold the Israeli government responsible or the Israeli-Jewish society culpable.

Let us note that some Israeli Jews do stand up and protest. There are soldiers who refuse to serve, journalists who highlight injustice, and human rights organizations, activist groups, information centers. In a sense, all of us seeking justice have been on a virtual boat to Gaza all these decades. We have been trying to break through the Israeli blockade, in its many incarnations. We wish to say to the Palestinians that, yes, there are people in Israel who know that any viable future for the Middle East must be based on a just peace — not the forced imposition spelled out by Netanyahu to Congress — or else we are all doomed. We want it known that the soldier is not the only face of Israeli Jews. There are those who say to the government of Israel, “You do not represent us.” We say to the people of the United States in general and to American Jews in particular that yes, you do have an alternative. You can support peace. A true peace.

Hagit Borer moved from Israel to the United States to study in 1977. She became an American citizen in 1992 and is currently a professor of linguistics at USC.

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Community News (V13-I26)

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslim-American Encyclopedia Racks Up Awards

communitynewspicThe “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History,” has been named one of best reference books of 2010 by “Library Journal”; one of the top 40 reference titles of 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association; an editor’s choice reference source by “Booklist” ; and an “honor book” by the Society of School Librarians International.

The recognition is gratifying for the encyclopedia’s general editor, Edward E. Curtis IV, Millennium Chair of Liberal Arts and professor of religious studies at IUPUI. “This is exactly the kind of attention we need to get this encyclopedia into public and school libraries, where the reference is really needed,” said Curtis.

Ten undergraduates and one graduate student from the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI are among the 125 contributors to the “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History,” published in 2010. The IUPUI students contributed entries to the reference book by way of Curtis’ spring 2008 religious studies course on Islam in America.

A recent wave of Islamophobia, including protests over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan, a number of state legislative attempts to outlaw shari‘a, or Islamic law and ethics, and U.S. Rep. Peter King’s hearings in the House of Representatives on Muslim American “radicalism”, has helped to make Muslim Americans more visible and more vulnerable.

“Knowledge of the various contributions made by Muslim Americans to U.S. society” has never been more critical, according to one review of the encyclopedia.

“Many of today’s anti-Muslim sentiments express the idea that Muslims and their cultures are foreign to America,” said Curtis. “The encyclopedia shows instead how Muslims and Islam have been part of American life since before the republic was even founded.”

Several reviews of the “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History” describe the reference as the first to chart the long history of Muslims in the United States.

“It is unique in that there is no other source that chronicles the history of Muslim-American experience so broadly,” states “Reference Reviews.”In addition to covering religion, the encyclopedia analyzes Muslim contributions to realms of American life such as agriculture, poetry, basketball, philanthropy, and politics.

According to Curtis, the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI deserves some credit for the reference’s success. “By creating an environment where public scholarship is rewarded rather than punished,” he asserts, “the school is helping to show how the liberal arts are essential to navigating today’s world.”

Halal poultry plant to add new jobs

PRINCESS ANNE, MD–Tauherr Poultry plans on bringing 15 to 25 jobs to Princess Anne. The company plans to use the recently purchased plant in the Princess Anne Industrial Park to process halal chicken.

Terrence Nichols, part owner of Tauherr Poultry, says he’s excited to help and bring jobs to the community. The facility in Princess Anne is already paid for. Nichols met with Somerset County town commissioners on Monday evening to explain his plans and inform them of the jobs the plant will create.

Nichols says the plant is looking to serve a niche market. Halal chickens are prepared according to Islamic dietary laws.

Naiyer Imam appointed to Stem Cell Assurance

JUPITER, FL–Stem Cell Assurance, Inc.  today announced it has created a Scientific Advisory Board and has appointed Naiyer Imam, M.D., M.Sc. to serve as an advisor. Dr. Imam will assist the Company in establishing strategic relationships with leading physicians, scientists, and medical institutions as well as participating in potential clinical trials and stem cell applications.

Dr. Imam received a Medical Degree at an accelerated program from Brown University, as well as a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. In addition, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Biostatistics at Harvard University. Dr. Imam completed his radiology training at USF in Florida and a neuroradiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, MD. His previous academic posting include Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and Professor of Radiology at Virginia Tech School of Medicine. Dr. Imam is well published in the medical and radiological literature as a physician, computer scientist and businessman.

Dr. Imam is currently serving as the chairman and CEO of Advanced Medical Imaging and Teleradiology, LLC — a new-generation teleradiology corporation that he founded in 2009. Dr. Imam is also the chairman of Gulf Advanced Imaging Corporation, a growing network of imaging centers based in Dubai, UAE. He has previously served as medical director for NightHawk Radiology Services, a publicly traded corporation, and chairman of American Teleradiology Nighthawks (ATN). He has previously served as chairman of Medical Imaging Specialists, a radiology corporation that he founded in Virginia, which served as a base for a number of imaging centers and surgical centers that Dr. Imam has either founded or developed.

Dr. Imam commented, “I am delighted to be involved with Stem Cell Assurance as a member of its Scientific Advisory Board. Stem cell science is a very exciting and evolving industry and Stem Cell Assurance is appropriately building its management and advisory team to ensure progressive strides in its research and clinical initiatives.”

Mark Weinreb, Stem Cell Assurance’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are very pleased to have Dr. Imam, a highly regarded physician and scientist, join our Scientific Advisory Board. His expertise in medicine, science and business will prove to be highly beneficial to the Company’s ongoing efforts in supporting our growth and expansion.”

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Great American Patriots

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Glenn Greenwald, AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, just as the U.S. President does each year.  Here is how the American Congress — especially the super-patriots of the American Right — reacted to their own President the last two times he addressed them (with frosty coolness and even passive-aggressive hostility):

And here is how the super-patriots of the American Right — largely joined by their Democratic colleagues — reacted to the speech given today by this foreign leader: with multiple standing ovations, including for ludicrous and absurd proclamations such as equating Hamas with Al Qaeda and claiming that Israel is “not a foreign occupier” in the West Bank:

Indeed, according to ABC News, Netanyahu received more standing ovations from the U.S. Congress (29) than the U.S. President did the last time he spoke (25); all of the ones Netanyahu received were from the super-patriots of the GOP caucus (and most from the Democratic caucus as well), whereas those right-wing patriots joined in only a small fraction of the ones received by their own country’s President.

What makes this more remarkable still is that this foreign leader whom they were cheering so boisterously and continuously just completed a public, ugly conflict with the American leader and has a long record of demonstrated indifference to American interests; yet the super-patriots of the American Right sided so brazenly and publicly with this foreign leader over their own country’s President.  Meanwhile, both political parties in Congress are in a frantic competition to see which one can lavish Netanyahu with more obsequious praise; this statement sent out in the name of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is typical of the entries.  For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ran to AIPAC to undercut (and rebuke) his own President and the leader of his own party on Israel, something that — as Andrew Sullivan correctly observed –  would be inconceivable on any foreign policy issue other than Israel.

In sum, the same faction that spent the last decade demanding fealty to the Commander-in-Chief in a Time of War upon pain of being accused of a lack of patriotism (or worse) now openly sides with a foreign leader over their own President.  The U.S. Congress humiliates itself by expressing greater admiration for and loyalty to this foreign leader than their own country’s.  And because this is all about Israel, few will find this spectacle strange, or at least will be willing to say so.

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Haroon Siddiqui Speaks at Indian American Muslim Council Event at Tawhid Center in Farmington

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

P5210005One of the most prominent journalists in Canada spoke at the Tawheed Center Saturday evening.  Haroon Siddiqui, originally from Hyderabad, India, started working as a reporter before leaving India, then came to Canada and progressed through a meteoric rise at the Toronto Star, Canada’s best newspaper.  He progressed from reporter to national editor in only twelve years (1978 – 1990).  Finally he served for eight years as “Editor Emeritus,” the editorial page editor of the Star.

Siddiqui is the recipient of numerous awards from organizations and from national and provincial bodies.  For example, in 2000 and 2001 he became a member of the Order of Ontario, for crafting “a broader definition of the Canadian identity,” inclusive of our First Nations, French Canadians and newer Canadians he is active in several organizations, including service as a professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism.  He is also the author of Being Muslim, a book which he signed for visitors on Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.

Saturday, Asim Khan of the Tawheed Center explained in detail the recent achievements of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) which sponsored the evening with Haroon Siddiqui.  the IAMC is an Indian advocacy  and service organization based in Washington DC.  Recent changes included changing the name to reflect the IAMC’s center of gravity in the USA.  Achievements include serious work to counter discrimination in India (and to some extent in America) against Muslims.  Mr. Khan explained the most important achievement was the work of the Human Rights Law Network, an association of 300 lawyers in India who work to protect Muslims from abuses and injustices by authorities in India. The lawyers handled 50 cases this year.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Siddiqui, spoke on wide ranging issues concerning the philosophical foundation for Muslims to live in the United States and Canada. He spoke about the three levels of conflict that arose out of the 9/11 attacks (a generalized war on terror, actual war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by a few, a cultural warfare aimed against Islam and Muslims–blaming every Muslim for every evil done by any Muslim).  He quoted Anne Frank, who in her diary explained that when a Jew does something wrong, every Jew is blamed, but when a Christian does something wrong then only that Christian is blamed–Siddiqui showed the parallel current situation for Muslims. Siddiqui emphasized that “there is no dichotomy between being Muslim and being American, no clash, no law contrary to Islamic principles, except one–four wives.”  He emphasized that in the West there is in fact sometimes more freedom to practice Islam than in supposedly Muslim countries.

He also advised against pitfalls that he said confronted Muslim immigrants to the West, including individual success built at the cost of community success.

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Muslim Leadership Summit

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

IMG_0056The tectonic shift of the American Muslim community towards increased activism and strong support for the Democrats was exemplified this month by a visit of Muslim business leaders to congress and the Executive Office Building next to the White House, in an event arranged by first-ever Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-5th-MN).

About 30 leaders from the Muslim community, businessmen, medical professionals and politicians, went to Washington May 11th and 12th, to meet with prominent congressmen including Keith Ellison, Andre Carson (D-7th-IN), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-8th-CA) and to participate in discussion on foreign policy issues.  Attendees also made significant contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), under whose auspices the meetings were held.

New Jersey businessman Saeed Patel, owner of Amex Computers, said of the event that “Obviously there was a big change this year, because [the Democrats] are not in the majority anymore.”

DCCC trip 051111 052
DCCC Muslim Leadership Summit attendees and speakers including Valerie Jarrett, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Keith Ellison, Saeed Patel, and others.

Some of the prominent invitees were Mr. Patel, the attorney Mazen Asbahi from Chicago, Safir Rabb, Riaz Fakhoury from Ocala FL, SA Ibrahim, Nihad Awad of CAIR, Winston Ibrahim, Kamran Farid, and the mayor of Teaneck New Jersey, Mohammed Hameeduddin, Adnan Durrani, Uzma Iqbal, Hurram Waheed, and Kemal Oksuz were also there.

Rashad Husain, White House representative to the OIC, attended the event and spoke with the Muslim delegation members.

The Muslim delegation represented a broad swath of Muslim ethnicities and regional backgrounds, from Turkish diplomats to American businessmen of Indian origin, to African American interfaith activists and businessmen from around the world.

This was the third annual event of this type, and those in attendance expressed their wish that this annual event should continue and that the Muslim community should increase in political clout.

13-21

Community News (V12-I20)

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Karan Johar, others receive MPAC award

LOS ANGELES–Bollywood director Karan Johar and four other media personalities received the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Awards at a glittering ceremony held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

The recipients in the categories were as follows:

* Director KARAN JOHAR for the groundbreaking Bollywood film “My Name is Khan”, blending of love story with the harsh realities of being a South Asian Muslim in the U.S. post-9/11

* Pulitzer-nominated author DAVE EGGERS for his bestseller “Zeitoun” about a Muslim American family facing the fallout of Hurricane Katrina

* First-time writer/director CHERIEN DABIS for her award-winning independent film “Amreeka” about a family of Palestinian immigrants grappling with intolerance and identity against the backdrop of the 1991 Gulf War

* ABC TELEVISION for a touching episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” called “Give Peace a Chance” featuring a Muslim character in a positive role.

“We are thrilled to be able to recognize these talented and inspirational voices for bringing humanizing and multi-dimensional portrayals of Muslims to millions of television and film viewers,” said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati.

Dr. Sultan Sikander Ali Khan obtains fellowship American Society of Hypertension

NEW YORK–Dr. Sultan Sikander Ali Khan, MD, FACP, FASH, has been granted the prestigious fellowship of the American Society of Hypertension. There are only 113 Fellows of American Society of Hypertension in the US.

The Hyderabad, India, born Dr. Khan is a Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine, Diplomate American Board of Clinical Lipidology and Fellow of American College of Physicians.

He has published several articles in leading medical journals.

He is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at New York Medical College and has a private practice in Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Board recommends approval for Sheboygan mosque

SHEBOYGAN, WI–The Town of Wilson Plan Commission in Wisconsin unanimously recommended approval for a conditional use permit to allow to convert a former health food store into the county’s first mosque.

Commission Vice Chairman June Spoerl, who chaired Monday night’s meeting in the absence of commission Chairman Doug Fuller, said Mansoor Mirza, the owner of the building at 9110 Sauk Trail Road had satisfied “quite a few of the concerns we had,” including well, septic, fire code and occupancy issues.

The building’s 25 parking spaces also are adequate, officials said, but stipulated that no on-street parking be allowed and that if the parking lot is to be expanded, there would be no runoff onto neighboring property.

No public comment was allowed before the Plan Commission but will be taken when the Town Board meets at 6 p.m., on Monday, May 17, to consider final approval of the mosque.

If approved, the permit would be for two years at which time the mosque would have to apply for permit renewal.

Florida mosque firebombing condemned

JACKSONVILLE, FL–Political and religious leaders in Jacksonville have condemned the firebombing of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.

In a statement issued to the press Florida. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp said, “I strongly condemn the alleged Monday night attack at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. No one in this country should ever be concerned for their safety when they practice their chosen faith. The free exercise of religion is one of our most cherished rights as citizens of this great nation. Ironically those targeted were exercising that right while gathered in prayer inside the Islamic Center as this act of hatred was carried out.  

I have full confidence that federal, state and local law enforcement authorities will conduct a thorough investigation and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for this crime.”

The Interfaith Council of Jacksonville issued the following statement, “The Interfaith Council of Jacksonville deplores and condemns the attempt to bomb the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, one of our most faithful member communities. The attempted bombing on Monday night was a cowardly andmorally reprehensible act. Such an act besmirches the good name of our city and exposes how much work there is yet to do in teaching the values of religious tolerance and brotherhood. There is no more place in our city for this sort of religious intolerance and hatred than there is for racial bigotry. The IFCJ calls on all responsible citizens of our community to bear witness that this sort of violence will not be tolerated in our midst.”

12-20

CAIR Attack Condemnation

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

CAIR’s Press Release:

“On behalf of the American Muslim community, we condemn the attack in Times Square and thank all those who reported their suspicions, disarmed the bomb or are participating in the current investigation. We welcome the arrest of a suspect and hope that anyone involved in the attack will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“American Muslims repudiate all acts of terrorism and will continue to work with local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to keep our nation safe and secure. We ask anyone who has information about this attack to contact local police and the FBI. Any person who is afraid to contact the authorities directly should contact CAIR. We will then assist these individuals in contacting relevant authorities.

“In no way, shape or form does this attack represent American Muslims or what they stand for as a faith community. We must also, as a civil rights group, remind everyone that we are a nation of laws and that in our system of justice, every suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

“We urge that our fellow citizens and our nation’s leaders reject the inevitable exploitation of this incident by those individuals and groups devoted to demonizing Islam, marginalizing American Muslims and feeding the unfortunately growing Islamophobic sentiment in our society.”

12-19

US Muslims Condemn Times Square Attack

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By KWTX

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2010)–In separate statements, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, pledged their loyal citizenship and support for law enforcement and condemned the botched attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square.

CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad said, “In no way, shape or form does this attack represent the American Muslim community and what we stand for as a faith community.”

Authorities in New York have brought terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges against Faisal Shahzad, who’s a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan.

A criminal complaint says Shahzad confessed to buying an SUV, rigging it with a homemade bomb and driving it Saturday night into Times Square, where he tried to detonate it.

12-19

Community News (V12-I17)

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Parvez Ahmed nominated to serve on Human Rights Commission

Dr. Parvez Ahmed, assistant professor of finance at University of North Florida, has been nominated by the mayor of Jacksonville to serve on the city’s Human Rights Commission.

“There are some here that believe they caught somebody that’s an evil person,” Mayor John Delaney told the council committee. “That is not the case here. It has the feel of lynching. It has the feel of what happened to the Japanese citizens on the West Coast in World War II who were incarcerated for simply being who they were.”

There were two protestors at the council meeting one of whom was escorted out.

The council committee voted to approve the nomination. The process will be complete when the full council votes later on.

Ahmed’s nomination was opposed by councilman Clay Yarborough who had earlier voted in his favor but reverses his stance this week. He did not cite the reason.

“I think there is a lot of fear, and the fear is exploited by people with definite agendas who have stated agendas of disempowering Muslims in America,” Ahmed said.

Young Muslims in US Seek Homegrown Imams

By Vidushi Sinha | Voice of America

The Muslim population in the United States is growing, and so is its need for spiritual guidance. A new generation American Muslims is demanding more from local mosques than they can always provide.

“It’s not what you see on television or it’s not what people are talking about or a dress code or whatever. It’s about being good to your fellow man, about being good to your God. That’s all it is. That’s what it is,” said Adeel Zeb, an aspiring imam and a Muslim chaplain at American University in Washington. He reaches out to young Muslims with what he calls the real message of Islam.

Zeb says there is often a disconnect between young Muslims and the foreign born leaders who head many mosques in the United States.

“When a youth comes and approaches the imam who comes from a different country – first of all there is a language barrier, second of all, there is a cultural barrier, and then there is also an age barrier. Many barriers have to be overcome,” he said.

Sayyid Syeed is a top official with the Islamic Society of North America. He concedes that many imams at American mosques are from overseas, but he says that’s beginning to change.

“We had to reject some imams who only knew the Koran, but could not relate themselves to the people. They came with the mentality that did not fit with our constituency where you have men and women actively in the leadership positions of islamic centers and these imams who came from overseas could not reconcile themselves with the fact that women were running the islamic centers,” he said.

In many Islamic countries, the imam’s   sole job is to lead the prayer. But here in  the United States, they often serve a  broader role.

“It is much more about leading the community than leading just the prayer,” said Sheikh Shaker Elsayed, the imam of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia. “Here you are a judge, you are an arbitrator, you are a mediator, you are a psychologist, you are a psychiatrist at times and you are a friend. You are a brother, you are a leader, a teacher, and all of those combined, and everybody wants to pick from you what they need.”

Imam Elsayed came from Egypt three decades ago. “The learning curve of most imams is very steep. It takes an average of five to eight years for an imam to become a true, local, effective imam, especially when you move from your very small environment to a big, large, open environment like the United States,” he said.

But young American Muslims often have questions that require more immediate answers. “You need an imam who has an understanding of Muslim life here. I know I grew up around a mosque I went to only twice a year,” said Tanim Awwal.

The community at large understands the need for an imam who knows the turmoil a Muslim American goes through while growing up in a non-Muslim country.

“You have to reach them at high school level, at the college level when they are exploring. When they are learning, when their mind is still young and receptive,” said Adeel Zeb.

Zeb argues that Muslim Americans want a spiritual guide who can help to reconcile 14 centuries of Islamic scholarship with the modern traditions of American life.

12-17

Community News (V12-I12)

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Seven Muslims Awarded Soros New American Fellowships for 2010

Soros fellowship There are seven Muslims among thirty awarded of the Soros New American Fellowships for 2010. The awards are granted to high achieveing immigrants or children of immigrants in the United States. The fellowships are funded by income from a $75 million charitable trust created by philanthropists Paul and Daisy Soros, of New York City and New Canaan, Conn. Since its founding, more than $33 million has been spent to support graduate education of immigrants and the children of immigrants.

The Muslim Observer will be publishing the profiles of Muslims each week beginning this issue.

ABDULRASHEED ALABI is the son of supportive Nigerian parents who were seeking advanced degrees in the United States.  He is now pursuing MD and neuroscience PhD degrees at Stanford Medical School.  AbdulRasheed grew up in Nigeria but then returned to the United States to complete an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University where he was, and remains at Stanford, an active member of the Muslim community amongst other activities.  Balancing complex personal and financial responsibilities, he soon made his mark as a young researcher, a student leader, and a civic volunteer.

For three summers, he conducted biomedical research with Dr. Emery Brown at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital culminating in a co-authored article in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology.  As an Undergraduate Scholar at the National Institutes of Health, he worked with Dr. Kenton Swartz on electrical signaling proteins in the nervous system, research that netted him a first-author article in Nature.  At Stanford he has been leader of the Student National Medical Association and the annual SUMMA (Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance) conference—where over 500 young people are encouraged to consider science and medicine. AbdulRasheed plans on a career as a physician-scientist-public advocate intent on innovative basic science for diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative applications. He also has a defined interest in international scientific exchange for biomedical development and enhanced educational opportunities in Africa.

Jewish students tour Islamic center

HAMPTON,VA–Far from the conflicts a world away efforts are being made in Virginia to bridge the misunderstandings between Muslims and Jews. On a recent Sunday, students from Beth El Temple in Williamsburg visited the Mosque and Islamic Center of Hampton Roads for an educational tour. The two dozen students, their parents and teachers, and their Rabii were given an introductory talk about Islam and the Muslim faith.

The reactions by the grown ups and the children were positive. Rebecca Feltman, 10, was struck by the egalitarian nature of Islam. “I didn’t know Islam was such a popular religion,” she said. “I like that it’s open to different races. I didn’t know that they [Judaism, Christianity, Islam] were so alike.” Esther Shivers, attending with her daughter Erin, 8, was also impressed by the similarities between the religions. “They’re burdened with that terrorism. They have a lot of damage control to do,” she said. “All religions have extremists. We have more in common. It’s wonderful that they open their facility and educate the children.”

12-12

Another Week in the Aafia Siddiqui Trial

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By ondelette, seminal.firedoglake.com

kangaroo_court It’s been a long week in the “terrorism” trial in Manhattan. A week which ended with first Mayor Bloomberg then President Obama backing away from trying any more terrorists there. Which is what the commentators wanted all along, Michelle Malkin and her supporters, that is. Aafia Siddiqui, about whom very few people cared for years, has suddenly become the cause célèbre for those who want suspects waterboarded, new courts formed, military tribunals held, and prisoners kept indefinitely for the duration of a conflict they will never end. Never mind that nobody knows for sure how indefinitely she’s been held already. Or that her accusers are looking more and more like the guilty parties. She may just be convicted on fear or is it hate?

As always, Petra Bartosiewicz is doing an excellent job of blogging the trial. Her daily blogs are at CagePrisoners.

I wrote already about Monday, when the nameless but very sympathy evoking injured Chief Warrant Officer testified. And the medic testified and was questioned about a statement given to the FBI five days after the incident in which she reported being told that the Captain would get “fried” if anyone found out it was his gun, but the Chief Warrant Officer wouldn’t. Ms. Siddiqui also, in one of her increasingly perceptive “outbursts” claimed she was shot by somebody else. Hustle her out again.

The defense began their case, thus, with the prosecution having failed to substantiate that the M-4 was ever fired, and with conflicting testimony about how she supposedly fired it, and with testimony about two alleged holes in the wall from the M-4 bullets, but no casings or bullet pieces, and the prosecution’s own forensics expert saying there was no proof an M-4 was ever fired in the room.

So they brought on a forensics expert who has examined hundreds of such gunfire scenes and testified on behalf of the government about them. He testified that in his judgment the holes were not from M-4 bullets and that he doubted they were from gunfire at all. Remember that, because it isn’t clear the jury did.

The defense’s other witness testified by video, meaning a video tape of testimony from Ghazni. He was the Afghan counterterrorism chief, and he was at the scene, and he was there before the Americans arrived, and he clearly testified that Ms. Siddiqui did not pick up a gun or shoot at anyone, rather the Americans went behind the curtain where she was, three shots were fired, and Ms. Siddiqui went down with gunshot wounds, and was suddenly being whisked away by the Americans, Hamid Karzai on his way notwithstanding.

The defense sent letters to the judge to prevent their client from testifying on grounds that her mental state was degenerated, and that she would likely talk about negotiating with the Taliban which would work against her with the jury. The prosecution insisted on giving her her constitutional rights to take the stand. Probably the first time since she was arrested in Ghazni, but not the only time this week, that the government cared about rights of the accused. They held a hearing with the jury sequestered, and the judge asked Aafia Siddiqui if she could remain on the subject and understood the proceedings. Probably the first time since Judge Berman got on the trial that he cared enough to ask her if she understood the proceedings, since he pointedly didn’t during her competency hearings which were all about — whether she understood the proceedings.

But wait, there is another issue, and this one was so glaring during the competency hearings as to make one hang one’s head in shame at the state of American rule of law. It regards the FBI transcripts, two page write-ups by the day of her interrogation while in the Craig Field Hospital in Bagram, starting with the day she got there, apparently. The timeline for her transportation came out in the prosecution’s testimony, she was operated on in the field at 1am on July 19th, and then transported to Bagram and placed in a room with 24/7 lights and three cameras, on a four-point restraint bed. The interrogation logs begin with that morning which was — when she arrived?

So the judge and the defense team asked Aafia Siddiqui about those interrogations. She (the defense must have been thanking their stars) reported, and later also testified with the jury present, that she was dizzy the whole time, that she was on morphine and percocet the whole time, that she was denied sleep the whole time, that she was worried about her daughter and other children the whole time, that the male interrogator threatened her that she told them everything or she would be handed over to “the really bad guys” and watched when they opened her clothing to change her dressings, that she was dependent on her interrogators for food, water, to use the toilet, that she had no idea they were agents because everybody had their badges turned backwards that entered her room, and that she was not Mirandized until she got to New York and saw no consulate representatives (the “equivalent right” to Miranda when not in the United States), and that she thought she was headed back to the secret prison the prosecution so dearly wants expunged from her “outbursts”. They so dearly want to admit the FBI notes that “prove” she was never held incommunicado, that she was in Karachi the whole time. They who have their own problems with FBI transcripts which seem to indicate that the soldiers and FBI agents in the room in Ghazni are covering up a cold-blooded shooting or a panic shooting of a prisoner who, in terms of the military who shot her, was a civilian and a prisoner and hors de combat regardless.

So, upon hearing that the defendant was drugged, deprived of sleep, in a stress position, and threatened and believed her children threatened, ruled that her comments in such a situation were “voluntary and knowing”, and the FBI transcripts could be used to impugn her testimony. After all, the Supreme Court declined to review an opinion about prisoner abuse not on American soil, the jury is so petrified that jurors who are pointed to or spoken to are in fear for their lives, and the family’s advocate, International Justice Network’s Tina Foster, has said that regardless of how weak the prosecution’s case, which currently looks like a flea circus, it all comes down to whether an American jury can acquit a woman with a scarf covering her face.

Aafia Siddiqui’s testimony was by all accounts lucid and to the point. She preliminarily testified about her childhood and education, and when she got to the matter of the trial, mentioned that she had moral objections to the trial but testified anyway. [For those new to the case, her moral objections include that $2 million in Pakistani money is being spent on her even though she believes she will be convicted anyway, which she believes should go to the poor, and that she believes it is her accusers who should be on trial -- for shooting her.] She testified that she peaked through the curtain with the thought of trying to escape because she was sure they would take her back to “the secret prison”, and then she was shot, she says, by two people, and hit twice. She heard them say, “We’re taking this bitch with us,” passed out and went in and out on the way to Bagram, but heard someone say that a couple of people would lose their jobs if she died.

The prosecution tried to impugn her testimony by asking about the contents of her bag, she said it wasn’t her bag, and the notes were things she was ordered to copy from a magazine in the “secret prison”. And when they asked about her shooting ability, and simultaneously put up a slide of a picture of a gun from her “notes” for effect, I guess, she asked that the slide be taken down, that she never drew it, and told the prosecuting attorney Jenna Dabbs, “You can’t build a case on hate, you should build it on fact.” Needless to say, the line was carried in much of the press as an incoherent outburst. To my mind, it was the most lucid comment since this whole sorry detention of people as information units, torture, incommunicado enforced disappearance solitary confinement sleep deprivation, drugging, threatening, enhanced interrogation, child torture, desecration of the Constitution and international treaties began.

Lamely, the prosecution put another witness on the stand, this one a gun range instructor from Braintree, Mass, whom the FBI found apparently two weeks ago by asking if he recognized a picture of her, and he did. He testified that she took a 12 hour NRA sanctioned course on pistol shooting and fired “400 to 1200 rounds” during the course (she says she never took that course, but took one in physical conditioning). He has no records of her taking it, supposedly in 1990, no certificates issued, no record of it at the NRA, nothing, he just recognizes one student, out of all of them, after 20 years and seems to have just remembered it. Not sure why that’s supposed to prove that nothing Aafia Siddiqui says can be trusted, maybe it’s the “white guy who’s a member of the NRA” v. “brown woman in a chadoor” thingy. I’m so confused. Apparently, when the prosecution presents its case, the prosecution calls witnesses to the stand, and when the defense presents its case, the prosecution calls witnesses to the stand. Or something.

But Michelle Malkin’s rantings that this trial proved you couldn’t try terrorists in New York City got amplified all over the internet and in newspapers and television stations around the country last week, until Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama pulled the plug and will move the trials. Is it just me, or should a brown girl like her worry just a leeetle bit more about convicting brown girls for nothing at all but being different?

Of course, all of this has played in the foreign press, and to the Pakistanis, this is confirmation both of her innocence and of her incarceration and torture. You see, if the events in the room in Ghazni are not as the Americans say, and few in Pakistan believed they were anyway, and if Pakistani journalists are denied access to the trial and have to watch it in another room on video, and if Pakistanis have been put on a list in the last month of people who require special searching by the TSA at American airports, and if now the prosecution looks like it is covering up a cowardly shooting by a room full of American soldiers of an unarmed 100lb woman who disappeared during a time when their president bragged about making money selling Pakistanis to the Americans, what’s not to believe? If there is a guilty verdict in the courtroom in Manhattan after what’s transpired there, the world, at least for the few billion in Asia, will see that Americans no longer believe in human rights and the rule of law. It’s as simple as that.

So it was no surprise on Friday, when Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudry of the Lahore High Court ordered the barrister handling the Aafia Siddiqui case there on behalf of her family (which is related to a Senate inquiry to press charges against the former president and head of the national police for kidnapping and rendition into torture — to wit, to the Americans), to send any and all evidence he has on her disappearance, to her defense attorneys in the United States, and that after 7 years, police investigators returned to the scene of the abduction with Ahmed Siddiqui, the New York defendant’s eldest son.

In the eyes of the U.S. Department of Justice, Aafia Siddiqui, the dangerous terrorist “Lady al Qaeda”, is on trial for attempted murder. In the eyes of the world, the United States of America is on trial for abduction, black sites, torture, and attempted murder to cover it up.

You can’t build a case on hate, you should build it on fact.

Maybe that’s why she thought she could change things by talking to President Obama.

12-6

(Former) Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Gaza

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sacramento– January 10th–(Ex-Representative) Cynthia McKinney spoke here at the Salam Center, a Community nucleus for the Islamic Community of the Greater Sacramento Area as part of a program put together by the new American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).  Before the speeches by Cynthia and Hatem Bazian (whose comments your journalist will report on in a future article), we ate a communal Halal dinner at the Center. 

McKinney is an Afro-American Person of the Book who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives gaining the ire of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) for her strong support of the Islamic nations of Pakistan and Palestine. The two lobby organizations’ political “war chest” money and power cause her to lose her seat in a prominently Black District twice despite the fact she had served six terms in Congress. 

She has doubts facts about September 11th, 2001, also; so, she served on the Citizens Commission on 9/11.  After looking at the details of that day in New York City, she signed the 9/11 Truth Movement asking for new investigations on the unexplained aspects of that incident. 

While still in the Lower House, she presented Articles of Impeachment against former President Bush, Vice President Cheney and (then) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Further, Cynthia McKinney’s educational background and experience makes her solidly authoritative on foreign affairs.

During Tel Aviv’ attacks upon Gaza she attempted to enter the Strip with humanitarian supplies — twice unsuccessfully by sea and once successfully by land. 

On her first endeavor, the blockading Israeli Navy rammed her ship.  Mentioning that she was not a Palestinian, she asserted “That I [would] die is one of the [most] honorable [things] I could” do. 

On the second effort, McKinney found herself surrounded by Israeli War boats.  All the passengers and crew were “kidnapped” (captured), and imprisoned for ten days.  Cynthia was, additionally, banned from Israel for ten years – including the Occupied Territories (i.e., Palestine). 

After she was released from detention and deported, she received a call from the British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, who is the director of Viva Palestina which has entered Gaza with conveys of trucks containing relief supplies, called Ms. McKinney and asked her to come with his trucks across the Rafah crossing from Egypt into shattered Gaza.  The (prior) Congresswoman described that the horrible devastation of the diminutive State was over-powering, but, on the other hand,  she attested to the defiant spirit of the people.

“We have to resist” our (own) government (U.S.) “…like the Palestinians” the Israeli.  “Washington D.C. is ground Xerox,” too.  Describing her experience on the Coastal Strip, “I was the one whose spirit was uplifted…In my heart, I am a Palestinian!”

12-3

Military Muslims: What Now?

November 12, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

2009-11-08T171028Z_192441419_GM1E5B902TX01_RTRMADP_3_TEXAS-SHOOTING When Major Nidal Hasan went on a murderous rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas, the entire nation snapped to rapt attention and said, “Here we go again.  Those crazy Muslims are at it again.”

Immediately after the story hit the airways the usual apologies from Muslim organizations and individuals started pouring in.  “We Muslims do not condone the actions of Major Hasan.  “This is not Islam.”  “Islam means peace,” etc etc etc.

I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring about the grief being felt by the family and other loved ones of the slain.  Of course, we abhor the actions of any deranged person who without warning, and seemingly without any justification or provocation, takes innocent human lives.  This person was obviously not in a rational state of mind, and plainly his actions had absolutely nothing to do with his religion, or lack of it.  I believe the world knows this but the anti-Islamic fever sweeping the world, fed by the other media, will keep people’s rational thoughts from surfacing.

Some news accounts make reference to the Islamic signs that major Hasan had on some of his property.   The news media interviewed some people who made statements like “I heard him speaking Muslim talk.” (He could have been saying as-salaam-alaikum).  It is an obvious attempt to discredit anything with any ties to Islam.  And by making note of his artifacts, they are saying that having these things in his possession automatically makes him a dangerous “Islamic Radical.”

But actually it is no stranger than a Catholic crazy man having a rosary, or a Buddhist crazy man with his statue of Buddha, or a Jewish crazy man with copy of the Torah and a yarmulke on his head.  It does not matter what his religion is.  If you’re crazy, you’re just crazy.

But on the other hand there are numerous Muslim soldiers and veterans who have annual observances to mark Veterans Day in this country.  But for the most part, they are not reported.  I realize that good, positive events that enhance humanity are not as sensational as a shooting rampage by a crazy person. But they are nevertheless so very important because with the automatic sensational reporting of negative events getting all the attention, it takes extra effort to put some balance in the reporting.

For several months the Dawah Team at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan, under the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, has been planning a salute to all veterans from any branch of service and any dates of service.  The event will be a luncheon held at Masjid Wali Muhammad from 11AM – 1PM.

Brother Lawrence Ziyad, a veteran of the Viet Nam war and one of the coordinators of the event, says the program will be one heavy with reverence for ALLAH, and patriotism for the United States government.  It will begin with prayer followed by the National Anthem and Lift Every Voice and Sing, popularly known as the Black National Anthem.  Also, as part of the opening and closing of the luncheon, they will salute the American flag.

These Muslim brothers, maybe more than many other people, are keenly aware of the ills of this country.  Most are descendants of slaves that suffered what is arguably the worst treatment of any human beings in the history of mankind.  Still they recognize the beauty and importance, and the privilege of being Americans, and are grateful for being so. This picture of Muslim patriotism is rarely seen in the media.

Another group, the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA) is a nationwide service organization comprised of former members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The group is officially recognized by the United States government along with other veteran groups such as the veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legions, Polish American Veterans, Jewish Veterans, Italian Veterans and other Veteran organizations.  The Muslim-American group is made up primarily of Muslims of African American descent since most Muslims that immigrated here from other countries, came here past military age.  The group, comprised of five posts in various cities is headed by National Commander Saleem G. Abdul-Mateen.

What major media cared to report that the MAVA Commanders recently met on Capitol Hill in Washington to meet with Muslim American Congressman Andre Carson to present ways to help assist young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  What media (other than the Muslim Observer) cared to report that the MAVA Post #1 received a community service award from CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionalism for its untiring efforts in making life better for those who sacrificed and served this country unselfishly.

Congressman Carson was so impressed with the group that he invited them to establish a forum for dealing with veteran affairs and open up a dialogue for addressing these issues.  MAVA has already created programs to assist returning servicemen and women.  “Our aim is is to interact locally and nationally with organizations and institutions that have exhibited care and concern for these service members,” said member Saleem Abdul Mateen.

Another fine example of Muslim American patriotism is in the person of Chaplain Lt. Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad.  Chaplain Muhammad is another Muslim American in the community of Imam Warith Denn Mohammed.  I have personally watched his rise in the military and admired his character, and balanced approach to different situations.

These fine Muslims are just a few examples of the great majority of Muslims in this country.  They love their religion, they love their country, and they love being fine and caring representatives of both.

Let us remember the victims, and their families in our prayers.  And let us strive to be good Muslims and good Americans.  Ameen.   

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Chris Hedges & Laila Alrian–Collateral Damage

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Camp Meeker (Calif.)–A few months ago your writer caught the award-wining combat journalist and his co-author Laila Alrian, the daughter of the much maligned, Sami Alrian, on a book stop for their Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians.

In this new book, the two journalists present the voices of fifty American combat veterans of the Iraq War and their understanding of the U.S. occupation and why Iraqis are so opposed to it.

Hedges began with the statement that the strife in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan are unequivocally intertwined.  Hedges, further, maintained he had covered every American War of the past twenty years in order to bestow his words authority.  The rules of engagement of the American Military were set up to protect our soldiers.  He judged “This type of racism to be intrinsic,” for there was no accountability. (Your columnist’s viewpoint is that  what America was dealing is not racism but rather Sectarianism.)  Further, “We [the American Army] never found anything [of military significance]…” after the invasion.  This was never covered by our (American) media.  “When we sent them [our soldiers] on two or three tours, they would go crazy,” too.

Laila noted that the term our GIs utilized against us was “hajji” which in the context that it was applied- became blatantly bigoted.  Iraq was/is not Afghanistan.  There was/is a high rate of suicide in both theaters, though.  None of the fifty veterans that were interviewed could relate to their experiences.

An occupation is culturally and linguistically malevolent.  The Occupiers lash out at the innocent.  “These forms of wars are organized,” though!  The foreign media have picked up our book, but we have largely have been ignored in the US because we (Washington) have destroyed Iraq, and, thereby, have become a state terrorist, (and they exposed that.)  “I can’t stop the Iraq conflict…it is a freight train of death!…I am disillusioned with the Obama Administration’s acceptance of pre-emptive War, also.”  (An allegation with which your correspondent does not agree.)

Hedges states that “To increase troop levels in Afghanistan” is foolish.  Then, following illogically from his previous contention, Chris Hedges asserts that as a news reporter, he could not comment on policy.  Still, the Iraq War for him derived from a Utopian project – literarily in the mode of the 16th Century English philosopher and (Christian) Martyr, Thomas Moore.

“In Palestine, Israeli policy…has created eighty enclaves…”Arian emphasized that “Politics is always the game of pressure…” Therefore, funds to Israel must be blocked – especially while  Gazans are under the pressure of War crimes.

“Our Imperial projects in the Middle East are eating up our wealth!..Permanent War is a part of our economy!”  Resuming,“[Our] Empire’s expansion is causing its collapse.”

The journalist Hedges is most concerned about a war with the Pushtoons.

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The CMU Black Hole

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslims Isolated in special US prisons

By Karin Friedemann, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

polit prisoners Not much is known about the new federal prisons called Communications Management Units (CMUs), that house primarily Muslims and political activists, except that they are located in Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois. Although the US government refuses to disclose the list of prisoners to the public, inmates include Enaam Arnaout, founder of Islamic charity Benevolence International Foundation, Dr. Rafil Dhafir, physician and founder of Iraqi charity Help the Needy, Ghassan Elashi, founder of Holy Land Foundation and CAIR Dallas, Randall Royer, Muslim civil rights activist, Yassin Aref, imam and Kurdish refugee, Sabri Benkahla, an American who was abducted the day before his wedding while studying in Saudi Arabia, and John Walker Lindh, an American convert to Islam who was captured in Afghanistan, plus some non-Muslim political activists. Most of these prisoners were falsely accused of terrorist offenses and then imprisoned for lesser charges but given sentences meant for serious terrorism-related crimes.

Carmen Hernandez, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said, “The primary problem with the opening of (the CMU) is that no one knows the criteria used to send the person imprisoned to that unit.” What the prisoners have in common is that they were well disciplined, studious, and often religious compared to those in the general prison population, they maintain strong commitments to various causes, and for some reason the government wants to keep them separate, to restrict their communication with the outside world.

Prison officials claim, “By concentrating resources in this fashion, it will greatly enhance the agency’s capabilities for language translation, content analysis and intelligence sharing.”

Attorney Paul Hetznecker stated, “These Communication Management Units are an expansion of a continued war on dissent in this country… of using that word “terrorism” to push a political agenda and to really dominate and to control–attempt to control these social movements.”

Andy Stepanian, an animal rights activist who is the first to be released from a CMU, called it “a prison within the actual prison.” He said that the prisoners “are not there because they harmed anyone. They’re not there because they approach anything that most reasonable people would consider even close to being terrorism.”

He further stated, “From what I observed, about 70 percent of the men that were there were Muslim and had questionable cases that were labeled as either extremist or terrorist cases. But when I grew to meet them, I realized that the cases were, in fact, very different…  what it appears to be is that they don’t want people that are either considered to be fundamentalist in Islam or more devout than your average American in Islam to be circulating amidst the regular prison populace in the Bureau of Prisons. Whatever their objective in doing so, I mean, that would have to come from the Bureau of Prisons. But one can surmise it’s because they don’t want the spread of Islam in the prisons or that they’re trying to silence communications from these individuals, because perhaps their cases are in question themselves, and they don’t want to allow them access to the media.”

He concluded, “At the end of this prison sentence, … I’ll look back on the fact that I had a tremendous opportunity to meet people from different cultures, to be exposed to the Islamic world and understand that it’s not something to be feared, it’s not something to be vilified.”

Daniel McGowan, a non-Muslim political activist in “Little Guantanamo” wrote: “The most painful aspect of this unit, to me, is how the CMU restricts my contact with the world beyond these walls. It is difficult for those who have not known prison to understand what a lifeline contact with our family and friends is to us. It is our link to the world — and our future (for those of us who are fortunate enough to have release dates).”

The US houses 2.3 million domestic prisoners. Conditions are far worse in some of the other prisons. Within the CMU, Muslim prisoners are at least safe from violence.

However, the discrimination against prisoners at CMUs, in addition to the severe limitations on visits, phone calls and letters, includes a lack of access to vocational training and paying jobs that are available to other prisoners. More than half of the men face deportation after their release, and the difficulty in obtaining law books makes it difficult to prepare for an immigration hearing.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed lawsuits on behalf of several prisoners challenging the CMUs’ “violation of federal laws requiring public scrutiny” as well as the prison’s restrictions of Islamic group prayer. This legal struggle must be supported by increased activism on the outside to demand the release of the innocent either falsely convicted or intimidated into pleading guilty to bogus charges.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women.

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