Community News (V13-I37)

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Quinn names members to Muslim American Advisory Council

CHICAGO, IL–Illinois  Governor Pat Quinn, last week,  named members to serve on the Muslim American Advisory Council, which will help ensure Muslim American participation in state government. Governor Quinn announced the new council during “Eid,” the close of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Illinois is a diverse state, which is one of our greatest strengths,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more than 400,000 Muslims and 300 mosques within our borders, representing various racial and ethnic sects of Islam. I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for input in how we address issues such as education, public safety and jobs, because the strategies may need to differ based on the history, culture and needs of different communities.”

The Muslim American Advisory Council will advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. Additionally, the council will recommend strategies to better integrate Muslims in Illinois socially, educationally, culturally and economically. The council will facilitate relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, and identify ways to more effectively disseminate information and outreach to Muslim Americans regarding state programs and services.
The council will advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims. It will bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues. It will also strengthen communication between the state and Muslim leadership and the general community.

Samreen Khan, senior policy advisor and liaison to Asians and Muslims for the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, and Kareem Irfan, president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, have been named as co-chairs of the council.

S.E. Idaho Muslims plan to build mosque

Southeastern Idaho’s Muslim population has swelled beyond numbers that can be accommodated in the current mosque, a small home near downtown Pocatello, the Idaho State Journal reports.
As a result, religious leaders from the region are trying to raise some $200,000 to erect a new facility that’s capable of holding about 300 people.

Still, local leaders said it’s been tough to raise the cash for a building and accompanying parking space.

Approximately, 150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.

Justice Dept. & Henrico Reach Settlement For Mosque Lawsuit

HENRICO,VA–The Justice Department recently  announced a settlement with Henrico County, Va., resolving allegations that the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied the application of a Muslim organization to rezone property to construct a mosque. The settlement, which must still be approved by a federal district judge in Richmond, resolves a lawsuit between the United States and the county of Henrico.

“Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and that right includes the ability to assemble and build places of worship without facing discrimination,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the county of Henrico has agreed to take steps to ensure that all people exercising this basic American right will not encounter discrimination during the zoning and land use process.”

“The law – not stereotypes or bias – should dictate whether a worship facility can be built in a community.” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “No one should be discriminated against based on their religion, and this agreement will ensure that religious freedom is upheld in Henrico County.”

The case arose from the county’s denial of a 2008 application from a Muslim organization for construction of a mosque. The government’s complaint, which was filed with the court along with a consent decree resolving the lawsuit, alleged that the county’s denial of the rezoning application was based on the religious bias of county officials and to appease members of the public who, because of religious bias, opposed the construction of a mosque. The complaint further alleged that the county treated the Muslim organization differently than non-Muslim religious groups that regularly have been granted similar rezoning requests.

As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to treat the mosque and all religious groups equally and to publicize its non-discrimination policies and practices. The county also agreed that its leaders and various county employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA. In addition, the county will report periodically to the Justice Department.

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Garden of Peace Flint Cemetery Update

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Flint–July 10–The Flint Islamic Center’s Garden of Peace cemetery is slowly and inexorably growing, as one might expect.

Last year I wrote an article about the opening of the first Muslim cemetery in Flint, Garden of Peace (http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=6191).  At the time the cemetery had only five people interred there–and at the time I wrote the article I had never visited the site.

Now I have visited the cemetery, and it has grown to about 29 people buried there. 

Most of the graves have stones lying horizontally on top, and stone markers saying the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased, however a few are only marked by dirt.

The cemetery itself is in very gently rolling hills–a very simple site has been prepared for use, of a few acres–of which only a small amount of space has been occupied.  The access is very adequate but very simple–perhaps the biggest investment other than buying the land was the fence and gate that enclose the cemetery–which is as advertised last year only a very short distance from the Flint Islamic Center mosque.  A simple asphalt driveway comes to a stop and cul-de-sac about a quarter mile from the gate, and from there the headstones are a short walk.

I looked at the headstones, and the graves are a testament to the unpredictability of death, with a few older people as one might expect, but also a few infants and some middle-aged people–a reminder to all of us that we cannot expect to stay on this earth for any guaranteed amount of time.

One WWII hero is buried at the cemetery, a Bronze Star recipient–and from this position of his grave it appears that he was one of the very first people interred–a convert to Islam.

The corporate name for the cemetery is the “Flint Islamic Cemetery,” and it is administered by the Flint Islamic Center.  Its policies have matured somewhat since its inception a year ago.

The policies follow:

1.  24 Hours advance notice should be given to arrange preparations for burial.

2.  A completed application form (available at the FIC office) must be filled out and duly certified by the respective Islamic Center. The following items should be submitted before the burial is accepted:

•    Certified check or money order in the name of Flint Islamic Cemetery or cash for the applicable amount (no personal checks are accepted).
•    Hospital release / death certificate must accompany the application.
•    Interstate transportation certificate (if applicable).

3.  Ladies attending the funeral must observe proper Islamic attire while in the Islamic Center and/or cemetery.

Unfortunately cemetery officials were not available for comment before this article went to print.

The cemetery is at 1310 South Morrish Road, in Swartz Creek, Michigan.  For more information, you can call Hossam Shukairy, 810-691-7738, Abed Khirfan, 810-877-1415; or Muhammed Saleem, 810-730-1776.

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