Commemorating 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Detroit Area Muslims Observe Anniversary

By Adil James, TMO

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Farmington–September 11th–The 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent scrutiny on the Muslim community has lasted until this date 10 years after the event.

Muslims have attempted to rebuild ties and bridges of mutual trust and understanding on this 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy through a multitude of different events.

Imams spoke at a CIOM event in Dearborn on the morning of the anniversary, and before the anniversary came, there was a huge food distribution done in Flint, also in the name of rebuilding connections.  Muslims across the nation, individually and through their organizations, also attempted to show their mercy and compassion for 9/11 victims by offering prayers and words of solace to the 9/11 families. 

In this issue of The Muslim Observer, we have attempted to collect some reports from around the country of Muslim events to honor the memory of the tragic events of 9/11.  The following Michigan events are not an exhaustive list of 9/11 commemorations, but a few good examples.

Flint

The Flint event distributed food to “about 1,000 families,” according to Iman Meyer-Hoffman, interfaith director of the As-Siddiq Mosque, from which food was distributed this past Thursday at 5:00PM.  

Each family recipient had to show a distinct i.d. in order to receive food, and the 1,000 family representatives who picked up food at the mosque came in about 300 carloads, showing Michigan’s desperate economic position after years of recession and layoffs.

The Flint Islamic Center in coordination with the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan arranged the event.  Ms. Meyer-Hoffman said of the event that “the two mosques felt it was important for the community to work together.”

Flint Islamic Center coordinators for the event were Bilal Ali, Mohammed Aslam, and Macksood Aftab.  They publicized the event extremely well, and planned it well also–occurring several days before almost all 9-11 celebrations it successfully attracted a great deal of attention and put Muslims in a very good light by helping them to serve the real needs of the larger community.

The immense enthusiasm of Mr. Aftab in building media knowledge about the event and advertising the event to local non-Muslims helped to make it a success.

“We are doing this because we are part of this community and this country. Most Muslims are peaceful people who care about others,” said Meyer-Hoffman.

PWAM Acts of Kindness

The Pakistani Women’s Association of Michigan was one of the other organizations to hold an event to commemorate 9/11.

The organization, in association with CIOM and other organizations, took advantage of the event to discuss past contributions, including helping out at Interfaith Health Fair and Soup Kitchen at the Muslim Center Detroit, as well as active involvement in the annual CIOM Unity Dinner.

Here, PWAM partnered with CIOM, ACCESS, the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the City of Detroit, United Way, WISDOM, J-Serve and Focus: HOPE, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Arts & Scraps, and Detroit’s Cities of Service “Believe in Detroit” Campaign to participate in the “Acts Of Kindness, Transforming 9/11” which had been called for by President Obama to counteract the incredibly negative and divisive event which took place ten years ago.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in projects such as park beautification, vacant lot clean-up, food packaging, sorting art supplies for local schools, and writing thank you cards to U.S. troops serving abroad. As they worked side by side, their energy and dedication helped transform 9/11 into a day of learning about each other’s interests, families, and faith traditions. After the projects were completed, there was a structured dialogue series designed to increase tolerance and understanding, with the goal of promoting a sense of unity, peace, community-building, and mutual understanding.

Dearborn

In Dearborn the morning of 9/11 was marked by a well-coordinated event at which several prominent local imams had the opportunity to speak about 9/11 and its broader meaning to Muslims after 10 years have elapsed. 

This event was held at the prominent Islamic Center of America (ICA), said to be the largest mosque in America–a huge mosque on Ford Road in Dearborn that unfortunately has served as a lightning rod for criticism of the Muslim community.

The CIOM statement about the ICA event stated that “The tragedy … will never be forgotten… The date brings back painful memories.  American Muslims…. wish for our fellow Americans to begin a renewed era of understanding, tolerance, freedom and justice for all.”

One of the prime movers for this event was Ghalib Begg of CIOM, known for his leadership and and hard work, and for his political and interfaith connections.

Some of the prominent imams present were Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam Qazwini of the ICA, Imam El-Turk of IONA, Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center in Detroit, Imam Aly Lela of IAGD,  Shaykh Ali Sulayman Ali of MCWS, Imam Kilyani, Imam Al-Azom, and Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan.

Imam Elahi said at the ICA that the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted a crime, against Americans but also against Islam, agains the teachings of Islam–over 90 nationalities were among the victims, including many Muslims.  “We as Muslims joined to show solidarity with the victims.”

The tenth anniversary, he said, was a day of prayer for the victims, to show national unity, to build dialogue and interfaith cooperation, to build towards “a better America, with justice, peace, and working together.”

He said of 9/11 that it could have been a much worse event, and that the calm and involvement of Muslim and non-Muslim community leaders in the aftermath had managed the event to avoid it being worse for all concerned.

Following the ICA event there were other commemorations attended by prominent Muslim speakers all over the Detroit area and literally all day long, so that the scheduling for the events shortened the ICA event; similar events were held at mosques, churches, and synagogues.

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Youngstown Ohio Remembers 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jessica Valsi

027This year marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The attacks took the lives of many, and shook the hearts of all Americans. Ten years later, the impact of those attacks echoes in lives, fears, and prayers in our communities. A large and diverse group of Youngstown community members gathered to reflect on the September 11th attacks of 2001, and to pray for peace and reconciliation. The prayer service was organized the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches and co-sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core of Youngstown State University. Prayers were offered by Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde of Congregation Ohev Tzedek in Boardman, Julie Thomas of the Mahayana Tradition, Walid Abuasi of the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown, and Rev. Bob Bonnot of the Christ our Savior Church in Struthers. Cary Dabney, president of the Interfaith Youth Core of Youngstown State University spoke, and the Youngstown Connection performance group provided musical entertainment. The event was attended by nearly 100 people of various faiths who joined in prayers and hymns together during the service. The service was held in the Butler North Church, Wick Ave., on the city’s North side.

IFYC president Cary Dabney addressed the audience with his heart on his sleeve as he appealed to the group for cooperation and reconciliation on the tenth anniversary of September 11th and every day onward.  “My grandfather told me when I was young that he had a dream that I was sitting in a room surrounded by great and honorable people. I have walked through life wondering at different times: Is this that moment? Is the moment my grandfather predicted? I know now for certain, that today is the day he dreamed about so long ago. I am so honored to be in this room with you all.”

1539246Each faith tradition took time to pray for the moral fortitude to face the world of intolerance and hatred that can at times be so overwhelming. They asked for patience, understanding, hope, and love to prosper in this time of deep sadness and reflection, and for the families personally affected by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

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Building Bridges Across a Diverse Community

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Milad Alucozai

Milad-AlcuzaiChristian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders reflect on September 11th.

West Lafayette, IN – On the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11th, 2011, Purdue University students, faculty, staff, and community members of all faiths and backgrounds came together in a memorial to the victims and a celebration of shared values and spirit.

The event was organized by Purdue’s Student Government as well as interfaith religious leaders from across all major denominations. Muslim representative Aurangzeb spoke of the universal sanctity of human life and recognized the loss of innocent life on September 11th as well as in the subsequent terrorist attacks around the world in places like Madrid and Pakistan and in the armed conflicts resulting over the last ten years. “Crimes against humanity, no matter in what form they are committed, are to be condemned in the strictest terms,” he said, “In the face of inhumanity, we must be more human.”

Purdue University has the second largest population of international students among American public universities with just under 8,000 and has long been known for its exceptional diversity of students from all nations, cultures, and religions. Purdue’s Dean of International Programs, Mike Brzezinski, honored this legacy by sharing his memories of the campus’s reaction after September 11th.  “Some [universities] were dealing with the desolation of mosques and religious housing but not at Purdue. Some were dealing with attacks on Muslim students, but not at Purdue,” said Brzezinski.

Since the awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts, heated rhetoric and acts of violence against Muslim Americans (and non-Muslim Arab Americans) have increased. Yet the victims, like the citizens of our nation, were of all faiths. Patriotic Muslim Americans were some of the innocent passengers on the planes, they were workers in the buildings, and they were heroic first responders who ran into the building when everybody else was running out.

We need to remember that Muslim Americans contribute to our communities every day. They serve us as police officers, doctors, and firefighters. They are public servants in local and state governments as well as in the federal government where they work tirelessly to guide our counter terrorist efforts. And there are thousands of young Muslim Americans serving overseas to protect the liberties that we all share.

The ceremony, held on the historic Purdue Mall, also included remarks by University President France Cordova, student body president Brett Highley, and students who lived in New York at the time of the attacks. Attendees gathered together holding firm the belief that every human life irrespective of the nationality, gender, color, language, or religion is sacred, united in their resolve to emerge from the tragedies of the September 11th era with greater faith, greater understanding, and greater humanity.

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At Least 23 Golan Protesters Killed, 350 Wounded as Israeli Troops Opens Fire

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jason Ditz

Israeli soldiers attacked protesters along the Syrian border with the occupied Golan Heights today, killing at least 23 protesters and wounding some 350 others. The protesters were marching to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the 1967 invasion of Golan.

The US State Department claimed to be “deeply troubled” by the protest march, and said that Israel had a right “like any sovereign nation” to defend itself by shooting protesters. Israeli opposition figures slammed “trigger-happy” soldiers for the large number of casualties.

Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967, along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Though Israel eventually returned the Sinai (with caveats) to Egypt, and simply walled in Gaza, they have ruled out leaving either Golan or the West Bank.

It is the second time in less than a month that Israeli troops have attacked and killed large numbers of protesters along their northern border. In mid-May troops killed some 20 protesters commemorating Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli territory. The commemoration is illegal in Israel.

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Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui honored with Human Relations Award

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

DrMuzammilSiddiqui-002ORANGE COUNTY, CA–Distinguished Imam Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui was honored with the the Community Leader Award by the Orange County Human Relations on its 40th anniversary.

On our 40th anniversary, OC Human Relations takes great pride in honoring these extraordinary people,” says C. William Wood, chair of the OC Human Relations Commission.  “These are Orange County’s unsung heroes, the people who dedicate tremendous amounts of their own time with no expectation of reward or recognition to make the county a better place for all people to live, work and do business.  At a time in our nation’s history when so many communities are polarized it’s a privilege to highlight the efforts of these bridge builders.”

The commission published an overview of Dr. Siddiqui’s long listing of contributions: “Dr. Siddiqi has served 30 years as the Imam of the first and largest Mosque in Orange County. Despite the hate and vandalism the mosque has too often faced, Dr. Siddiqi has always reacted with compassion. He brings a moderate, forgiving, open and embracing approach to his efforts. Dr. Siddiqi co-found the Academy for Judeo, Christian and Islamic Studies in the late 1970’s to build understanding between these three Abrahamic faiths and to emphasize their commonalities, despite the political conflict that at times drives wedges between them.

He has led and organized many interfaith dialogues, spoken at the World Assembly of Churches and participated in many seminars organized by the National Council of Churches and the National Council of Christians and Jews. In September 2001, President Bush invited him to lead a Muslim Prayer at the Interfaith Prayer Service at Washington’s National Cathedral. The Los Angeles Times, in recognizing Dr. Siddiqi as one of the 100 most influential people in California, described him as “…the religious leader of thousands of Southern California Muslims at a time when xenophobia is running high, he has been a leader in driving home the point that Muslims in the U.S. are peace loving.”

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Press Release: Remembering Deir Yassin

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Deir Yasin

For Palestinians, 9th of April is imprinted in their collective memory.

It is the anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre when in the early morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun and the Stern Gang, attacked the village of Deir Yassin, killing over 200 Palestinians. Armed with explosives and machine guns, a force of 120 men attacked the sleeping village at 4:30 in the morning in what was then code named “Operation Unity”. Eye witnesses and British interrogating officers confirmed brutal killing of women and children.

The massacre in Deir Yassin was part of an official Zionist strategy to frighten Palestinians out of their land and into neighboring countries.

Yosef Weitz, member of the Jewish Agency’s Transfer Committee declared that “between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people together in this country… we shall not achieve our goal with the Arabs in this small country. The only solution is a Palestine without the Arabs and there is no other way than to transfer Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them, not one village not one tribe should be left”.

“Deir Yassin is one in a list of many atrocities against the Palestinians”, said Majed Al Zeer, the General Director of PRC. “Many other atrocities and massacres were carried out simultaneously in 1947 and 1948, when Zionist Para military forces were embarked on a program to expel Palestinians out of their ancestral land. 750,000 Palestinians, over a quarter of the population, were exiled and continue to endure suffering as refugees”.

“Though Palestinians fled, they could not escape Israel’s violence and aggression. Many more atrocities followed, most notably Sabra Shatilla, Jenin, Khan Younis, Hebron and Gaza. Even now as we remember Deir Yassin, Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israel”, said Mr. Zeer.

Gaza continues to be gripped by a siege and on the anniversary of Deir Yassin 11 more, including 5 children were killed and many more were wounded as the Israeli army shelled the already damaged Gaza International Airport in Rafah. Israeli air strikes were also carried out in central Gaza where many homes on the eastern part of the city were shelled.

According to Palestine News Network, A Palestinian farmer was also wounded when the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into the Al Waha area, North West of Gaza city. Several Air Strikes also targeted areas east of Dir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, and Al Hawouz area in addition to the Al Rantissi Base, north of Gaza, causing excessive damage.

PRC calls on all to take a moment and remember Deir Yassin and bear in mind that the forces of aggression and the conditions of injustice behind this massacre has locked Palestinians into a cycle of oppression, exile and violence which has disgracefully normalized violence and aggression against the Palestinians.

Ending this ongoing cycle of violence against the Palestinians and giving them their rights is the only just and realistic path to peace.

This will not happen unless the international community demands that Israel respect and abide by the rule of law and until the international community takes effective measures to enforce them, as it did in Libya.

The international community must show the same level of concern as it did for the civilians of Ben Gazi and impose a similar heavy price on an Israeli regime that drops bombs just because it can. Such double standards must end and real justice must prevail over the national self interest of one party if we are serious about justice and peace.

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It’s All in the Bag

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

handbag Already set to celebrate her ten year anniversary, savvy Lebanese businesswoman Sarah Beydoun has dedicated her life creating a happy medium of harmony between her social activism beliefs and her love of fashion. Through her business, “Sarah’s Bags”, she has found a way to use her skills as an artisan to make a difference in the lives of both the rich and the poor, annihilating social stigmas all along the way.

Born and bred in Lebanon, Beydoun’s modus operandi is none other than most women’s most coveted accessory, the handbag. After writing her thesis about the plight of female Lebanese prisoners languishing in prisons for some of the most heinous crimes, Beydoun recognized an opportunity to make an impact in their lives. She spent some time on the ‘inside’ of a rehab center for female convicts and got up close and personal with their daily struggles. It would be that first encounter that would set the future path for Beydoun and what would become her life’s purpose in “Sarah’s Bags”.

Beydoun sought out her own potential seamstresses in some of the toughest prisons and rehab facilities in Lebanon to create the bags, even teaching inmates how to embroider and sew beads herself. She also reached out to the poorest of the poor in Lebanon’s rural areas to give those women a chance to have a better future. “Sarah’s Bags” currently employs 100 designers who create its entire line of haute couture quality purses.

As Beydoun admits herself, each bag carries with it just a little bit of the impoverished or imprisoned woman who created it. The designs range from glittering spectacles of bling wear to socially aware pieces, like the ones featuring high ranking celebrities like Lebanese singers and even a queen or two. And the results have been outstanding and certainly a surprise to Beydoun. Everyone from top celebrities to the richest elite has clamored to have their own bag.

“Sarah’s Bags” can be found all over the Middle East and in Europe gracing the shelves of the most select boutiques. A single bag starts at $400, with more detailed bags fetching a handsome ransom. The company has also expanded over the years to include everything from shoes to belts to custom-designer jewelry and scarves.

Seeking to mark her tenth anniversary in style, Beydoun plans to handpick ten women to use her purses as their own personal canvas. Each woman will be allowed to share her personal trials and tribulations right on the handbag. In some small measure, they can use the power of the purse to let their voices be heard.

The awards and accolades Beydoun has begun collecting have been quite notable. Most recently, Beydoun’s line of socially aware purses were featured in Washington D.C. as part of the Kennedy Center’s International Festival. The future looks bright for Beydoun as an eager buzz, stretching clean across the globe, surrounds her company. However, the designer remains true to her roots promising to make employing less fortunate women the lifeblood of her company.

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