Houstonian Corner (V11-I50)

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Helping Hand For Relief & Development Has Started Office in Royal Center Houston

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Sheikh Yousuf Islahi In Houston As Guest At The OPEN HOUSE Of Helping Hand For Relief And Development.

Voting In City of Houston Run-Off Elections Is On December 10, 2009…;

Eminent Islamic Scholar Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi inaugurated the US South Central Region office of Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD), which is located at 11945 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77099, Phone: (713) 984-4558, Fax: (713) 429-1421, Webpage: www.HHRD.Org.

Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi met with several people from the community, as they kept coming to the OPEN HOUSE of HHRD from 1:30pm. till 4:30pm. Also present on the occasion were ILyas Hasan Choudry, Coordinator of HHRD for US South Central Region; and Maaz Adil, Administrative Assistant of HHRD for US South Central Region.

HHRD is considered most proficient in the field of Basic Healthcare & Disaster Relief Services (Emergency; Short-Term; & Long-Term Recuperation) and are still involved in the field works of Tsunami 2004-2005 (Sri Lanka & Indonesia); Earthquake 2005 (Kashmir & NWFP, Pakistan); Floods of Bangladesh 2006-2007; Earthquake 2008 (Ziarat, Baluchistan, Pakistan); Floods 2008 (NWFP, Pakistan); & IDPs 2009 (Swat & now Waziristan, Pakistan).

Due to the works of HHRD, they have recently received grants of over $3-Million from the World Food Programme of UNO and World Health Organization (WHO).

This year HHRD crossed the record 8,000 mark in the performance of Qurbanis, booked by people from USA and Canada in 60 different countries.

HHRD most famous project is “Orphan Support Program”, where with just $365/Year (or automatic deduction of $30/Month), one can sponsor an orphan (age 0 till 19), to bring food, clothes, education and much happiness to his or her life. These orphans are in about 15 countries, including Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Palestine, and Iraq.

In his communiqué, the Executive Director of HHRD Farrukh Raza has remarked: In recent years, HHRD works have been recognized by Americans and International Relief Agencies. This has been due to the Blessings of God; most generous donations by people of USA & Canada of various backgrounds; hard-work of our field & office staff and our partner agencies; and so on. HHRD Office in Houston has brought opportunities of benevolence near the people living in the South Central Region of USA. Our office and programs need the moral & monetary support from all the members of the society. With the end of year approaching us, this is a reminder that general public, professionals as well as businesspersons; need to start thinking and consulting experts to determine their tax status, so that they are able to mutually benefit by donating to a 501 (c) organization. In this case, they must strongly consider HHRD for their contributions in our “Orphan Support Program”; “Water For Life” Wells Projects; “Give the Gift of Eyes” Surgery Program; “Wedding Box” for Needy & Orphan Girls; and Ongoing Disaster Relief Projects. They must consider HHRD because of our credible work in the field and track-record of delivering competent services, due to the Grace of God. Visit www.HHRD.Org for this purpose.”

Cold Front Could Not Stem the Heat in the Run-Off Elections

Temperatures are expected to hover between low 40s and high 50s as the first week of Early Voting started on Monday, November 30th, 2009 in the City of Houston Run-Off Elections, with the last day of Early Voting being Tuesday, December 08th, 2009; and Saturday, December 11, 2009 is the actual voting day. For all election details, one can visit: www.harrisvotes.com.

Despite the cold weather, the Mayoral Race got heated up on the first day of Run-Off Elections, as Candidate Gene Locke launches a damaging commercial against his opponent Annise Parker, who promised to retaliate in kind. Earlier at his fundraising event, City Controller Candidate M. J. Khan said he is very lucky to have got a candidate, who has Federal Liens on his Properties.

Before the end of the first day of Early Voting, Annise Parker did hit back, with an E-Mail Press Release from her Campaign Staff Sue Davis, asking Gene Locke to come clean on several charges of Conflicts of Interest.

Now in the negative commercial, Mr. Locke has criticized Parker for saying she would “take apart the police department”. Ms. Parker has made such remarks on several occasions, including recently at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Monthly Luncheon, where she said she would not only change the face of METRO, but also change HPD Chief.

Locke defends this advertisement, saying it is accurate and gives chance for voters to reflect on the number one issue of the campaign (Public Safety).

Parker said this Ad is deceptive, and said it shows desperation in Gene Locke’s Campaign.

Later on in the afternoon, Annise Parker Campaign for Mayor called on Gene Locke to say whether he will take himself out from voting on lucrative city contracts that his law partners will bid, if elected mayor.

“Lawyer-Lobbyist Gene Locke continues to demonstrate his disdain for open and transparent government and his disrespect for the voters,” said Adam Harris, Parker’s Campaign Manager. “He still refuses to say whether or not he will vote on millions of dollars of city contracts for his law partners if elected mayor.”

Locke is a partner in the politically connected law firm of Andrews Kurth. The firm has made more than $17 million in the last six years alone from the City of Houston, METRO, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the Port Authority of Houston, the same public agencies whose board members Locke would appoint as Mayor – while his law firm, Andrews Kurth, continues to bid for contracts from the city and each of those agencies.

Locke has billed local government agencies like METRO at rates of up to $640 an hour. He billed $574,000 in fees to the Sports Authority alone in the last 30 months.

Gene Locke has refused to release his tax returns for weeks after Ms. Parker voluntarily released hers, and agreed to release them only after being cornered by a Texas Watchdog reporter the week before Thanksgiving.

In one setback to Annise Parker Campaign, the Houston Police Officers’ Union has come up with a stark question for voters’: How would you feel if someone had stolen your identity? The Today, the Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU) put out an all-points “press” bulletin asking Houston voters to be wary of false and misleading radio and television ads by mayoral candidate, Ms. Annise Parker. HPOU, Houston’s largest and most respected police officer organization, is warning Houston voters not to be misled by Parker’s radio and television ads, which falsely imply she has the police group’s endorsement. The police organization has endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor in the upcoming runoff election.

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AMU Alumni Celebrate Sir Syed Day in New York

November 25, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Shaheer Khan

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Zakir Ali Khan Receiving the Award.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was born on October 17, 1817. Sir Syed, the famous 19th century scholar, historian and social reformer spent most of his time on promotion of social, economic and educational conditions of Indian Muslims.

Sir Syed’s untiring and painstaking efforts over a long period of time bore fruit when he was able to establish the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College in 1875, which subsequently developed into Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. The institute was founded with the primary objective of removing the educational backwardness of the Muslim community. In this task Sir Syed sought cooperation of all the communities and the institute was open to all, irrespective of caste creed and religion. For Sir Syed Ahmed Khan it was impossible to conceive the growth and progress of India without simultaneous development of communities in harmony, brotherhood and cooperation. Today AMU symbolizes on the one hand the secular ideals of the Republic of India and on the other the aspirations of more than 150 million Muslims in India.

The AMU alumni are spread in large numbers in all over the world. On Sir Syed’s 192nd birth anniversary-on October 17- hundreds of thousands of students, alumni, and well wishers of AMU around the world celebrated the founder’s day popularly known as ‘Sir Syed Day’.

The AMU Old Boys’ Association in New York also celebrated the day at Akbar Restaurant in Long Island, New York.

The evening started with light refreshments. The formal program started off with the recitation of some verses from the Holy Qur’an by Ms. Naila Ali. Mr. Faiq Siddiqi and Well known TV personality in New York was emcee for the program.

Secretary of the association, Mr. Muzaffar Habib presented the annual report and thanked the volunteers and sponsors. He stressed the need to keep the Aligarh tradition alive and spoke about what needs to be done to achieve association’s goals. He presented a plaque to Mr. and Mrs. Riaz Alvi for their services to the association.

Ex-president of the association Dr. Masood Haider presented the obituaries of Dr. Abdul Bari and Haneef Akhgar Malihabadi, popular poet of USA, who passed away this year. Mrs. Bari was presented a plaque to recognize the contributions of her late husband to the association.

On the occasion, Mr. Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan was also honored with “Life Time Achievement Award” for his outstanding services to the continuation of the spirit of the Aligarh Movement and to the cause of higher education in Pakistan. The prize carried cash amount of Rs. 1, 00,000 and Citation.

Born in 1926 at Rampur (UP) Zakir Ali Khan did his B.Sc. in 1945 and B.Sc. Engineering in 1948 from the Aligarh Muslim University. He is one of the founders of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi. He has served as the general secretary of the Aligarh Old Boy’s Association, Karachi for almost 4 decades and has edited the Association’s monthly magazine ‘Tehzeeb’ for many years.

The author of number of books Zakir Ali Khan was awarded the first ‘ International Award for Literature’ instituted by the Aligarh Muslim University, at last year’s world alumni summit at Aligarh.

The keynote address of Zakir Ali Khan was equally inspiring. He shared Aligarh anecdotes and wisdom that just had to be appreciated and emphasized on team work which resulted in the establishment of Sir Syed University. Mr. Khan said that the best tribute to Sir Syed is to take his educational movement forward.

Mr. Zakir Ali Khan expressed his gratitude for the award and he donated the whole prize money to the welfare of AMU students.

The first part of the program ended with the traditional singing of the Tarana of AMU which was presented by a group.

The second part of the program was dedicated for an interesting Mushaira wherein some famous poets from India and Pakistan including Tahir Faraz (India), Abbas Tabish (Pakistan), Meraj Faizabadi (India), Waseem Barelvi (India), Zamin Jafri (Canada), Saleem Kausar (Pakistan), and Manzar Bhopali (India) were invited who enthralled the audiences for almost four hours.

A new website (www.aligarhmovement.com) on Sir Syed and his mission “Aligarh Movement” was launched by one of the flag bearer of Aligarh Movement, Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan.

The proceedings started with a brief introduction of the website and its developer, Mr. Afzal Usmani by this scribe.

Mr. Afzal Usmani spoke on the need of a website where introductory information and Sir Syed, Aligarh movement and prominent Aligarians is easily accessible. He said that the new website would fill the vacuum and would inspire others to work in this direction.

While inaugurating the website, Mohammad Zakir Ali Khan expressed the need of such website which can fulfill the void in cyberspace to carry on the mission of Sir Syed and Aligarh Movement. This is an era of information Technology and people look for information on internet because it is easy and accessible from anywhere on a click of a button. He congratulated Mr. Afzal Usmani, the brain behind this website and his team and extended his support to make this website as a reference portal for all the information of Aligarh Movement to carry on mission of Sir Syed.

Prof. Waseem Barelvi, famous Urdu poet also spoke on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts for making the material on Sir Syed, his associates, and Aligarh movement available at one place.

Afzal Usmani requested everyone to share any information which they consider will be relevant for the website.

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Moonsighting for Dhul-Hijjah 1430

November 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Crescent-Moon-20080210-1280 Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday, November 17, that `Eid Al-Adha, one of the two main religious festivals on the Islamic calendar, will fall on Friday, November 27. "The new moon of Dhul-Hijjah was sighted by trusted witnesses on Tuesday in a number of provinces," the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. "Thus, Wednesday, November 18, will mark the beginning of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah."

The Astronomical New Moon is on November 16, 2009 (Monday) at 19:14 UT. This moon cannot be seen anywhere in the world. On November 17, it still cannot be seen in Asia, Europe and Canada. It can be seen in South Africa, Central America, and South America. In USA, there is a small chance to see it on November 17.

Fiqh Council of North America Announces EID UL-ADHA

According to astronomical calculations, the month of Zul Hijjah will begin on November 18 and thus the expected date of Eid ul Adha is Friday, November 27. It is confirmed by Saudi Authorities that ‘Arafah date for Hajj is on Thursday, November 26, and Eid-al-Adha is on Friday November 27.

From Moonsighting.com

US Moves to Seize Four Mosques, Claiming Secret Iranian Control

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jason Ditz

In a move being touted as “a sharp blow against Iran,” the United States government is attempted to seize four Shi’ite mosques across the United States, calling it the largest `anti-terror’ seizure ever and claiming the non-profit which operates them is secretly a front for the Iranian government.

The four mosques are located across the United States, in New York City, Houston, Carmichael California, and Potomac, Maryland. The non-profit Alavi Foundation faces formal charges of violating 1995 sanctions signed by President Clinton.

The group is funded principally through rent collected at a New York City skyscraper it owns, which the government also intends to seize. They provide funds to a myriad of Shi’ite religious institutions in the US and Canada and support for Farsi language education programs in US schools. They also provide interest free loans for Iranian-Americans to attend college in the US.

The seizure of the mosques by the federal government will be a serious hardship for worshippers, of course, but the capture of the 35-year old foundation’s assets and its dissolution will be devastating for America’s tiny Shi’ite community, which amounts to only about one tenth of one percent of all Americans.

Though the seizure of churches by the federal government is not unprecedented, it is extremely rare and fraught with controversy. The seizure of private religious institutions on the premise that they are covertly controlled by an “enemy state” only makes this move all the more controversial and will likely prove troubling to many Americans, Shi’ite or otherwise.

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Community News (V11-I46)

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ruhi Khan named VP of Acorda Therapeutics

HAWTHORNE, NY–Ruhi Khan recently named Vice President, Business Development, of Acorda Therapeutics reporting to President and CEO RonCohen, M.D. Previously, Ms. Khan was the Executive Director, Business Development at Acorda.

Before joining the Company, Ms. Khan was the Senior Director of Business Development at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. While at Lexicon, she led the business development function for both in-licensing and out-licensing of programs, research stage collaborations, technology assessments, spin-outs and other strategic initiatives. She was also responsible for market research and market analysis for clinical product candidates. Prior to that, Ms. Khan was a Director at Fidelity Biosciences, the biotech venture capital investment division at

Fidelity Investments; in that capacity, she had operational management responsibilities at EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company focused on the development of therapies for central nervous system disorders. Ms. Khan has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School.

“I`m delighted to announce the promotion of Ruhi Khan to Vice President of Business Development,” Dr. Cohen said. “Ruhi`s first assignment after joining Acorda was to lead our process to obtain a commercialization partner for Fampridine-SR outside the U.S. She did an outstanding job of executing this process and concluding a great deal with an optimal partner, Biogen Idec. I expect Ruhi to continue to be a major contributor to Acorda`s future successes as we work to capitalize on business development opportunities and build shareholder value.”

Islamic Studies at Lehigh University hosts first speaker

The Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University  welcomed David Lelyveld, author and professor of history at William Paterson University, to give the center’s inaugural lecture in Linderman Library on Wednesday.

Lelyveld’slecture, “Sir Sayyid’s Dreams: Biography and Islamic Dream Interpretation in Nineteenth Century India,” focused on the life, accomplishments and dream interpretation of one of the most well known Muslim reformists in late colonial South Asia, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan.

The Center for Global Islamic Studies was launched in the fall of 2009 with the support and grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is an intellectual community committed to the study of Islamic civilization. “This four-year grant provides support for library acquisitions and faculty research,” said Robert Rozehnal, the director of the center and professor of religion studies. “Thanks to this grant, the center now has a real dynamism and direction.”

The grant also funds three visiting faculty positions: a professor of practice in Arabic, a visiting scholar and a pre-doctorate/post-doctorate scholar.

During their time at Lehigh, each visiting scholar will teach a range of courses in their respective fields, while contributing to the intellectual life and numerous activities of the center.

Lynchburg mosque to hold open house

LYNCHBURG, VA–The Greater Lynchburg Islamic Association is holding an open house this Saturday for everyone in  the community to come and learn  about Islam.

The mosque was opened last December and on average about thirty people attend the prayer services. Speaking to the media GLIA’s president, Maqsud Ahmad, said you’ll often hear in the media about those who are not representing the true image  of Islam.

“We want to tell them that you know we are just like you, we are as friendly as you are. We believe in one God, the same God you believe in.”

Mosque opposed once again in Gwinnett County

ATLANTA, GA–Gwinnett County Commissioners delay voting on a zoning application that would allow a mosque to move forward with its expansion.

The commission is considering a re-zoning application by the Darus Salam mosque. They want to build a 20,000 square-foot, two-story mosque with towers.

Neighbors against the mosque say the issue is traffic and parking.One woman told commissioners, “It is not about the mosque itself. It’s about how they conduct themselves toward the neighborhood.The mosque said they need the space to accommodate a growing number of worshipers. They have bought the surrounding property. In addition to the mosque, they are planning a small strip mall with stores downstairs and a library upstairs.County staff recommended the re-zoning application be denied. The Commission is delaying their vote.

Interfaith prayer service held in Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA–About 100 people from synagogues, mosques and churches gathered last week at the Church of the Transfiguration for an historic service of Evensong (the traditional Anglican late-afternoon/evening service), sponsored by the Neighbourhood Interfaith Group. The Reverend Canon Michael Burgess, incumbent, officiated at the service; Imam Dr. Abdul Hai Patel delivered a sermon; Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl of Beth Tzedec congregation recited a prayer, and Archbishop Terence E. Finlay, former Bishop of Toronto, gave the blessing.

“This interfaith Evensong service and kosher-halal reception is a unique way of bringing people of our Abrahamic faiths together,” said Bryan Beauchamp, chair of the Neighbourhood Interfaith Group, which represents five Christian denominations – Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and United Church – and three Jewish denominations – Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.

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America Pulls Strings in Afghan Elections

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun

Henry Kissinger once observed that being America’s ally can be more dangerous than being its enemy.

Take poor Hamid Karzai, the amiable former business consultant and CIA “asset” installed by Washington as Afghanistan’s president. As the U.S. increasingly gets its backside kicked in Afghanistan, it has blamed the powerless Karzai for its woes and bumbling.

You can almost hear Washington rebuking, “bad puppet! Bad puppet!”

The U.S. Congressional Research service just revealed it costs a staggering $1.3 million per annum to keep an American soldier in Afghanistan. Costs for Canadian troops are likely similar. This huge expense can’t go on forever.

The U.S. government has wanted to dump Karzai, but could not find an equally obedient but more effective replacement. There was talk of imposing an American “chief executive officer” on him. Or, in the lexicon of the old British Raj, an Imperial Viceroy.

Washington finally decided to try to shore up Karzai’s regime and give it some legitimacy by staging national elections in August. The UN, which has increasingly become an arm of U.S. foreign policy, was brought in to make the vote kosher. Canada eagerly joined this charade.

No political parties were allowed to run. Only individuals supporting the West’s occupation of Afghanistan were allowed on the ballot.

Occupation army

The vote was conducted under the guns of a foreign occupation army — a clear violation of international law. The U.S. funded the election commission and guarded polling places from a discreet distance. The Soviets were much more subtle when they rigged Afghan elections.

As I wrote before the election, it was all a great big fraud within a larger fraud designed to fool American, Canadian and European voters into believing democracy had flowered in Afghanistan. Cynical Afghans knew the vote would be rigged. Most Pashtun, the nation’s ethnic majority, didn’t vote. The “election” was an embarrassing fiasco.

To no surprise, Washington’s man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, won. But his supporters went overboard in stuffing ballot boxes to avoid a possible runoff with rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, another American ally. The Karzai and Abdullah camps were bitterly feuding over division of U.S. aid and drug money that has totally corrupted Afghanistan.

The vote was discredited, thwarting the Obama administration’s plans to use the election as justification for sending more troops to Afghanistan. The White House’s Plan B: Forcing its two feuding “assets,” Karzai and Abdullah, into a coalition. But two puppets on a string are no better than one.

Washington just arm-twisted Karzai into agreeing to a run-off vote that will likely be as bogus as the last one. In Afghanistan, ethnicity and tribe trump everything else. Karzai is a Pashtun, but has almost no roots in tribal politics.

The suave Abdullah, who is also in Washington’s pocket, is half Pashtun, half Tajik. But he is seen as a Tajik who speaks for this ethnic minority which detests and scorns the majority Pashtun. Tajiks will vote for Abdullah, Pashtun will not. If the U.S. manages to force Abdullah into a coalition with Karzai, Pashtun — 55% of the population — won’t back the new regime which many Afghans will see as western yes-men and Tajik-dominated.

Abdullah also has some very unsavoury friends from the north: Former Afghan Communist Party bigwigs Mohammed Fahim and Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostam — both major war criminals. Behind them stand the Tajik Northern Alliance and resurrected Afghan Communist Party, both funded by Russia and backed by Iran and India.

Ironically, the U.S. is now closely allied with the Afghan Communists and fighting its former Pashtun allies from the 1980s anti-Soviet struggle. Most North Americans have no idea they are now backing Afghan Communists and the men who control most of Afghanistan’s booming drug trade.

If Hamid Karzai really wants to establish himself as an authentic national leader, he should demand the U.S. and NATO withdraw their occupation forces and let Afghans settle their own disputes in traditional ways.

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Saudi to Launch Elite Science, Tech University

October 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tarek El-Tablawy

Capture9-30-2009-12.20.22 PM Cairo–Saudi Arabia has dug into its oil-fueled coffers to set up a new research university, a multibillion dollar coed venture built on the promise of scientific freedom in a region where a conservative interpretation of Islam has often been blamed for stifling innovation.

The King Abdullah Science and Technology University — complete with state-of-the-art labs, the world’s 14th fastest supercomputer and one of the biggest endowments worldwide — is poised to officially open its doors Wednesday on a sprawling campus nestled along the Red Sea coast about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the commercial center of Jeddah.

Saudi officials have envisaged the postgraduate institution as a key part of the kingdom’s plans to transform itself into a global scientific hub — the latest effort in the oil-rich Gulf region to diversify its economic base.

But KAUST, whether its founders intend it or not, has the potential to represent one of the clearest fault lines in a battle between conservatives and modernizers in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is the most religiously strict country in the Middle East with total segregation of the sexes and practices Wahhabi Islam — a byword for conservatism around the region. But the new university will not require women to wear veils or cover their faces, and they will be able to mix freely with men.

They will also be allowed to drive, a taboo in a country where women must literally take a back seat to their male drivers.

With KAUST’s inauguration, “we see the beginning of a community that is unique” in Saudi Arabia, the university’s president, Choon Fong Shih told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.

“We recruit the very best in the world …. and we give them the freedom to pursue their scientific interests,” said Shih, a mechanical engineer by training who headed the National University of Singapore for nine years.

While it takes decades to develop world class institutions like what KAUST hopes to become, the university’s breakneck inception in many ways reflects Saudi Arabia’s rise to wealth and power in the global political and economic arena.

The inaugural ceremony is to be headed by its namesake, the Saudi monarch, as well as several world leaders, dignitaries and officials who will stand on what three years ago was just a sweeping acreage of sand, but is now a 36 square kilometer (13.9 square mile) campus with its beach on the Red Sea.

In a region where Internet access can often be lackluster, KAUSTS boasts Shaheen, a 222 teraflops supercomputer which officials says is the fastest in the Middle East and 14th fastest in the world. The computer is named after the Arab Peregrine falcon, believed to be the fastest animal on earth.

It also boasts a fully immersive, six-sided virtual reality facility called CORNEA that officials say, for example, can allow researchers to visualize earthquakes on a planetary scale.

Among the other equipment and facilities are 10 advanced nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, a coastal and marine resources laboratory and bioengineering facilities with labs needs to study cell molecules for DNA sequencing.

The English curriculum is focused on the sciences, with masters and doctoral degrees offered in nine fields including computer science, bioscience and various engineering specialties. The university is also focused on collaborative work with the private sector, as well as other research institutions.

KAUST has enrolled 817 students representing 61 different countries, of whom 314 begin classes this month while the rest are scheduled to enroll in the beginning of 2010. The aim is to expand to 2,000 students within eight to 10 years.

Of that total, 15 percent are Saudi, say university officials.

With research institutions, cash is king, and KAUST, thanks to Saudi’s oil wealth, has plenty.

It has tossed generous salary packages to prospective hires from around the world, an offer made more tempting by a multibillion dollar endowment that Shih says is “one of the biggest in the world.”

The 71 faculty members include 14 from the U.S., seven from Germany and six from Canada.

Shih did not provide a specific figure, but the funding allows all the students to receive full scholarships covering their tuition plus a stipend.

He says without that aid, students would have to pay about $60,000 to $70,000 per year — roughly comparable to the cost of attending elite U.S. schools like California’s Stanford University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The university is being launched at a time when the OPEC powerhouse has been upping its push to focus on education and development programs aimed at boosting economic growth.

Saudi officials have said they are committed to spending $400 billion over the next five years on various development and infrastructure projects, and the kingdom set a 2009 budget that ran a deficit for the first time in years specifically to sustain spending on such ventures.

But more than a projected research juggernaut in a region where other oil-rich nations are also embracing similar initiatives — albeit on a much smaller scale — KAUST may indirectly challenge the brand of conservatism that critics say has stifled progress in the Muslim world.

“We do not restrict how they wish to work among themselves,” Shih said, referring to whether men and women can freely intermingle on campus. “It’s a research environment …. driven by scientific agenda.”

In many ways, the campus is similar to other Western-style compounds in Saudi where residents are often allowed more flexibility in embracing liberal Western values shunned outside the confines of their community in the kingdom.

But the university also could also be seen as a return to Islam’s golden age — an era centuries ago when Muslim scholars took up the mantle of the Greeks and were pioneers in the fields of medicine, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, among others.

This tolerant and inquiring period was snuffed out under pressure from invasions by Crusaders, Mongols and nomadic desert hordes in the Middle Ages and was replaced by an age where faith superseded reason amid unstable times.

In the modern era, bureaucratic bungling, a lack funds, and a general stifling of freedoms has left much of the Arab Middle East in a state of academic and scientific atrophy.

Officials say KAUST’s embrace of scientific freedom marks Saudi Arabia’s determination to not be left behind as technology increasingly drives global development.

“In a way, we are paving the way,” said Shih, referring to the university’s focus on pure science. But if “KAUST is leading the way, it has to meet global standards of excellence, otherwise how else can we be a global player.”

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kaust graphic

Halal Make-Up

September 17, 2009 by · 8 Comments 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

skin_240809 What started out as a quest to find halal make-up for her own skin, has now taken Layla Mandi on the journey of a lifetime. As a Canadian convert to Islam and with an extensive background as a make-up artist, Mandi was unsatisfied with the quality of the beauty products available to her as a Muslim. “There are pork derivatives and alcohol in most cosmetic products,” Mandi said in a recent interview. She has performed extensive research into many beauty products currently on the market and her findings are pretty alarming.

Many shampoos, moisturizers and lipsticks contain pig by-products such as placenta, blood, urine fat and gelatin obtained from boiling pig skin, bones and hooves. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have long been protesting against the use of animal byproducts in the cosmetic industry, which is a multibillion-dollar industry in America alone. For this reason Mandi moved to Morocco in 2006 to both enrich her Islamic faith and obtain halal beauty products to use for herself. The only trouble was that there were not any halal products available. “I assumed, just as in the food sector, there would be plenty of halal cosmetics for Muslim women. But I suddenly realized there were none,” she said recently, “In fact, people either didn’t know or didn’t care that the cream they were putting on their face had pig and other animal derivatives in it. I decided to try to make my own.”

It took her three years and another move to Gulf powerhouse Dubai, while also enlisting the aid of a chemist and dermatologist from Canada, to create her very own brand of halal make up called, One Pure. Dressed in a flowing black abaya and with blond strands of a perfectly coifed hairstyle peeking out from her hijab, Mandi is slowly making a name for herself in Dubai and the rest of the Middle East. Her products are guaranteed to be free from pork derivatives and come packaged in sparkling luxury wrappers to appeal to even the most refined tastes. Her first clients were Saudi Airlines and Souk Al-Bahar, which is located in the World’s tallest building, Burj Dubai. Mandi has also been selling her halal beauty products online.

The One Pure cosmetic line also has religious backing in the form of halal certification from Malaysia and recent comments from at least one religious scholar in Dubai who has confirmed that Muslims are forbidden to touch the pig let alone allow its bodily fluids and parts to penetrate the skin. For the time being, the line is primarily being released in the Middle East with Mandi already turning her attention to a men’s line.

As with anything new that hits the market, critics of One Pure have already started weighing on in on the whole concept of halal beauty products for women. Some say that it is just a clever marketing ploy to make Muslim women buy the products so that they feel they are better Muslims. Others insist that One Pure is not the first halal make-up to be sold, the secularly marketed ‘The Body Shop’ has been in business for years and all of their products are free from animal derivatives and are not tested on animals either.

Only time will tell if One Pure will become a sensation, with Mandi declared the reigning queen of the halal beauty scene. There is nothing new about halal cosmetics in the Gulf region with an estimated $150 million worth of products being filtered through the tiny UAE alone per annum. However, these products rarely find the hands of consumers. For Mandi, her top priority is fulfilling the halal beauty needs of the everyday Muslim woman so that they can put their best face forward.

11-39

Did Hitler Want War?

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Patrick J. Buchanan

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Poland, 1930 German map of Poland, 1942

 

On Sept. 1, 1939, 70 years ago, the German Army crossed the Polish frontier. On Sept. 3, Britain declared war.

Six years later, 50 million Christians and Jews had perished. Britain was broken and bankrupt, Germany a smoldering ruin. Europe had served as the site of the most murderous combat known to man, and civilians had suffered worse horrors than the soldiers.

By May 1945, Red Army hordes occupied all the great capitals of Central Europe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin. A hundred million Christians were under the heel of the most barbarous tyranny in history: the Bolshevik regime of the greatest terrorist of them all, Joseph Stalin.

What cause could justify such sacrifices?

The German-Polish war had come out of a quarrel over a town the size of Ocean City, Md., in summer. Danzig, 95 percent German, had been severed from Germany at Versailles in violation of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination. Even British leaders thought Danzig should be returned.

Why did Warsaw not negotiate with Berlin, which was hinting at an offer of compensatory territory in Slovakia? Because the Poles had a war guarantee from Britain that, should Germany attack, Britain and her empire would come to Poland’s rescue.

But why would Britain hand an unsolicited war guarantee to a junta of Polish colonels, giving them the power to drag Britain into a second war with the most powerful nation in Europe?

Was Danzig worth a war? Unlike the 7 million Hong Kongese whom the British surrendered to Beijing, who didn’t want to go, the Danzigers were clamoring to return to Germany.

Comes the response: The war guarantee was not about Danzig, or even about Poland. It was about the moral and strategic imperative “to stop Hitler” after he showed, by tearing up the Munich pact and Czechoslovakia with it, that he was out to conquer the world. And this Nazi beast could not be allowed to do that.

If true, a fair point. Americans, after all, were prepared to use atom bombs to keep the Red Army from the Channel. But where is the evidence that Adolf Hitler, whose victims as of March 1939 were a fraction of Gen. Pinochet’s, or Fidel Castro’s, was out to conquer the world?

After Munich in 1938, Czechoslovakia did indeed crumble and come apart. Yet consider what became of its parts.

The Sudeten Germans were returned to German rule, as they wished. Poland had annexed the tiny disputed region of Teschen, where thousands of Poles lived. Hungary’s ancestral lands in the south of Slovakia had been returned to her. The Slovaks had their full independence guaranteed by Germany. As for the Czechs, they came to Berlin for the same deal as the Slovaks, but Hitler insisted they accept a protectorate.

Now one may despise what was done, but how did this partition of Czechoslovakia manifest a Hitlerian drive for world conquest?

Comes the reply: If Britain had not given the war guarantee and gone to war, after Czechoslovakia would have come Poland’s turn, then Russia’s, then France’s, then Britain’s, then the United States.

We would all be speaking German now.

But if Hitler was out to conquer the world — Britain, Africa, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, South America, India, Asia, Australia — why did he spend three years building that hugely expensive Siegfried Line to protect Germany from France? Why did he start the war with no surface fleet, no troop transports and only 29 oceangoing submarines? How do you conquer the world with a navy that can’t get out of the Baltic Sea?

If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?

Why did he let the British army go at Dunkirk?

Why did he offer the British peace, twice, after Poland fell, and again after France fell?

Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser’s fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?

Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.

Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Miklos Horthy’s Hungary and Father Jozef Tiso’s Slovakia.

Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France. And he had written off Alsace, because reconquering Alsace meant war with France, and that meant war with Britain, whose empire he admired and whom he had always sought as an ally.

As of March 1939, Hitler did not even have a border with Russia. How then could he invade Russia?

Winston Churchill was right when he called it “The Unnecessary War” — the war that may yet prove the mortal blow to our civilization.

11-38

Review of Talfazat Box

September 3, 2009 by · 27 Comments 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Farmington–September 2–I recently had the opportunity to review the Talfazat (http://www.talfazat.com) television box supplied by Neulion–one of the advertisers we are proud to have in this newspaper.

Bottom line:  For $30 per month, this is a reliable way to get 24 channels of Arabic television into your home, even if for example you live in the middle of an apartment complex and have no ability to put out a satellite dish.

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I received the Talfazat box late last week and tested it extensively, testing the bandwidth usage of the box, testing the picture quality and resolution, refresh rate, testing the robustness of the system by intentionally bringing it to the breaking point–and the short answer after this testing is that the Talfazat box will not halt or buffer, despite mistreatment–despite some rumors to the contrary about other IPTV sources.

Talfazat in Arabic means “televisions,” more and more of which are displaying signals through means unimagined twenty years ago.  The newest means is IPTV.  Just as VOIP revolutionized and is revolutionizing home telephones, so too is IPTV in the beginning stages of revolutionizing home television.  One key difference is price.  Where VOIP providers charge a flat fee that is perhaps one fifth of a standard telephone monthly bill, IPTV providers are much closer in price to their satellite and cable competitors.

When you get the box, it is about the size of a thick hardback book, but lighter—see above.  It has a power switch on the front, and another power switch on the back.  The box has an HDMI out, Component out, S-Video out, it has at least two USB ports; it also comes with all the cables you need to connect to your TV and internet (except HDMI) and a remote. It comes with a component cable, a special adapter cable to plug component cables into your box, audio right-left channel cables, and more, plus a LAN/ethernet cable.

Setup

Setup is super easy, and the directions are also simple, colorful, and easy to follow.  Without cracking the directions book I was able to install the Talfazat box and begin watching television.

Channels—Live TV

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Note—Mr. Alyas Ali of Talfazat explained to me that in Canada more channels are available than in the US—Canadians have about 10 additional channels available.

The box supplies 24 continuous live stream channels, including Al Jazeera in English.  Most of the other live channels are state broadcasts from the Arab world, except for Al Jazeera Arabic.

Here are the channels I found.

Future TV Al Rai TV
Mehwar Al Aan TV
Sama Dubai Alsumaria TV
Infinity TV Bahrain TV
Arab Woman Channel Program Baghdadia
ZMTV Hannibal TV
Sudan TV Emirates
Tele Liban Palestine TV
Abu Dhabi Bahrain
Al Jazeera (Arabic) Al Jazeera (English)
Arabic News Al Alam
MICFM Panorama
   

The channels are numbered 2 thru 74, with of course many blank channels between 2 and 74.

I can’t comment on the actual programs because I neither speak Arabic nor am familiar with Arabic television.  But AlJazeera in English is interesting, with very high quality stories and not biased as some would have you believe.

There is a program guide that shows programming data about 28 hours in advance—you push a button on the remote and can see what’s currently on (showing six channels on the screen at a time).  You can see up to 28 hours in advance what will be on.

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Channel Quality

Unfortunately I am not in a position to review the quality of the live TV streams made available by Talfazat—I might understand a few words of Arabic but if I try to force myself to watch these Arabic channels I will probably fall asleep.  I did watch Al Jazeera in English—which for some of TMO’s readers might be by itself worth the price of admission to the Talfazat world.

Video On Demand

There is also video on demand, which gives you access to back episodes of perhaps 100 total different TV shows–some individual shows have as many as perhaps 50 different episodes available.

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There are 7 categories under “Video on Demand.”  They are:  Comedy, Drama, Lifestyle, Music, Religious, Talk Show, and Ramadan 2009.  Under each category a varying number of shows are listed (under Comedy there are perhaps 30 shows, under Religion or Ramadan there are only a few).  Once you select a show, you will see the available number of episodes for that show, which again varies.  For some shows perhaps 50 episodes are available.  For other shows, only a few episodes are available.  You select the episode you want with your remote, and after a few minutes it should begin to play.

A few episodes refuse to play, but if you have your heart set on any specific serial you should easily be able to find an episode that will work from that serial (pictured below see the show “La Youmal” with 9 available episodes to watch; Also pictured is a cartoon episode playing via video on demand).

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There are on the remote buttons for fast forward and rewind of video on demand shows, but they did not work well for me—being perhaps the only way I could (despite my tries) to make the Talfazat box seize up and start heavily buffering.  Therefore you will likely have to watch your shows start to finish unless Neulion fixes this feature—it is possible this was just my connection.

 

Settings

In addition to the live TV and video on demand features, there is also a “Settings” screen you can access from the home directory.  When you go there after a few moments you will see a readout of your network, showing ip addresses.

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Note—as far as I can see there is no benefit in tampering with the settings.

Spotlight

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Another screen at the Talfazat home page.  As yet this is unsupported by Talfazat, likely preserved for future use.

Performance Testing

Capture

Here is a screenshot of Tomato running on the wrt-54g after testing.  The test began with Youtube videos towards the left of the screen (where the three sharp peaks are at about 300 kbits per second about a quarter of the way from the left side of the screen), and ends on the right side of the screen. 

I have a DSL network connection that I tested before doing a quick bench test of the Talfazat box at an average speed of 2.22 Mbits per second downstream.  I came to this number by using Firefox’s Broadband Speed Test and Diagnostics add-on, running the download speed check five times and averaging the results.

From this starting point I then went to my Linksys wrt-54g router running Tomato and watched the bandwidth usage as I did tests of the Talfazat box and other computers on the network accessing Youtube, Boxee, and Veoh.

I turned on Youtube and began watching the District 9 original movie, and my bandwidth usage went to 322.27 kbits/sec, then up to about 410 kbits/sec, and hovered in that area.

I turned on Pandora via Boxee and listened to my music stations, where my bandwidth was again in the same region—about 327.15 kbits/sec.

Then I used Boxee to watch Youtube instead of watching Youtube directly via a browser, and my bandwidth was at about 375 kbits/sec.

Then the real testing began—I turned on CSI Miami via Boxee.  After some initial choppiness during the CBS advertisement, the CSI show began, clear as a bell but perhaps with a little bit of choppiness, bringing my bandwidth usage up to 556 kbits/sec.  It varied as high as 1054.69 kbits/sec.

Then I turned on the Talfazat box and tuned to Al Jazeera in English—bandwidth went up to 1510 kbits/sec (Boxee was still on); when I turned off Boxee my bandwidth went down to about 850 kbits/sec and stayed pretty steady at about that level.

I stress tested the Talfazat box by running online video at two other places on my network, using Boxee and Veoh to stream video from three sources at the same time–although the network traffic went up to over 2 Mbits per second, I never saw Talfazat buffer or hesitate.

Therefore Talfazat’s promises of not buffering, and of not requiring more than 1 Mbit / sec, appear completely justified.  It may be that the box needs a little bit of overhead on top of the 700 kbits/sec, so I wouldn’t recommend going below their recommended 1 Mbit / sec, yet in my test Talfazat seemed to want only 700 kbits/sec in order to work just fine, as usual.

Picture quality

Picture quality is slightly worse than a standard definition satellite signal’s image.

Things that could improve

While testing the box I disconnected it from the internet completely while watching a show—to see what would happen.  What happened was the screen went dark.  It would have been better if there had been a simple message—“are you sure you are connected to the internet?” or “lost internet connection.”

More about the box

So if you want affordable Arabic television or if you live in an  apartment and can’t access a spot from which you can put up a satellite dish, or if you just don’t want to pay the relatively exorbitant fees charged by Dish Network and DirectTV, support one of our favorite sponsors, Talfazat and try out their box.

Also consider Talfazat’s Subcontinent cousin, DesiTV—for Indian and Pakistani channels and movies.

 

I will be mailing my box back to Talfazat with heartfelt thanks for their having allowed me to review Neulion’s cutting edge product.  You should definitely consider Talfazat if you are looking for a new way to get Arabic TV.

 

Note:  Since writing the above review I was told by Alyas Ali of Talfazat that the box is also capable of replaying any show from the last 24 hours (as long as it is green in the EPG guide pictured above).  This is like an automated Tivo function, very nice.  I have not yet tested this function and intend to add to this review once I have had a chance to try it.

11-37

Houstonian Corner (V11-I34)

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Inspiring Graduation Party Of Aisha Khan: The Salutatorian From MCHS

Picture G A Grand Graduation Party was organized by the parents of Alsha Khan, daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan of Pakistan Chronicle / Pakistan Journal at Taj Hall.

Famous social, entrepreneurial and media personality of town Shamshad Wali, P.E. was the program coordinator of the event and motivated everyone present to excel in their field of expertise and education.

The evening was very inspiring, as brother and father of Alsha Khan gave accounts of her life and several of her class friends from various communities were present. Alsha gave a nice presentation to inspire everyone to excel in whatever one does in life and try to be among the top achievers.

On this occasion, Alsha Khan received Proclamations from the Congressional Office of Hon. AL Green and City Councilperson M. J. Khan, as well as Special Plaques from the hands of Khalid Khan President of the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) and Azam Akhtar & Ghulam Chisti of Karachi University Alumni.

Alsha Khan is moving forward in life with Biology as her Major in Pre-Med college studies at the University of Texas, with clear vision to become a Surgeon. She informed: “My motto in life is what I have learnt from Messenger Muhammad (PBUh) that seek education from cradle to grave. I am indebted especially to my parents and then to my relatives and friends, who have always encouraged me to excel. It is important for the Youth to listen to their parents as they have prudence and it is very fulfilling to achieve something and make our parents feel proud. It is indeed a happy feeling that all the hard work has paid off,” said a grateful Alsha Khan.

Mayde Creek High School (MCHS), a public high school located in unincorporated Harris County, Texas and is part of the Katy Independent School District, has produced several stars since its inception in 1984. One of them has been this year. Alsha Khan (18), daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan, is the 2009 Senior Class Salutatorian from MCHS with a GPA of 4.7368.

People may ask: What is a Salutatorian? Just as information; Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, was ranked Salutatorian at Whitney Young High School, Illinois, Class of 1981). This is actually an academic title given, in the United States and Canada, to the second highest graduate of the entire graduating class of an educational institution. This honor is traditionally based on grades along with grade point average (GPA), but consideration is also sometimes often given to other factors such as extracurricular activities. The title comes from the salutatorian’s traditional role as the first speaker at a graduation ceremony, delivering the salutatory. The general themes of a salutatory are usually always of growth, outlook toward the future, and thankfulness.

Alsha Khan has received Baylor Presidential Gold Scholarship ($44,000) and the Top Ten Percent Scholarship ($1,000). She has been excellent at all Math and Science subjects and is the President of Math / Science Academy. She is also Vice President of Muslim Student Union and Treasurer of the Key Club.

Alsha’s success lies in proper goal setting; have an appropriate game plan and dedication to achieve the goals and be part of both the studies and the society around her through volunteering. She is an active member of the mosque and immensely assists her dad with the newspaper publication (Pakistan Chronicle).

First Event Of The Helping Hand For Relief & Development In The D-FW Region

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Garland, Texas: At the beautiful Garland Special Events Center, one of the leading international humanitarian organizations Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD) arranged their first event in the D-FW area. Famous Scholar from India Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi and Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez from Michigan spoke at the program.

Due to not getting the final clearance from US State Department, famous Pakistani Nasheed Presenter Junaid Jamshed Khan could not attend the program, but sent a special recorded DVD Message and Nasheed for the attendees, which was quite moving and much appreciated by everyone.

Flagship project of HHRD is the Worldwide Orphan Support Program (OSP). About that, a special DVD Documentary was presented. Other HHRD projects include Health & Education Projects; Water For Life Projects; Emergency Recuperation Programs and much more. Recently HHRD Country Office in Pakistan received a Grant of $3.03 Million from the World Food Programme to distribute food to the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan. Also HHRD Pakistan has received a Grant of $130,000 from World Health Organization to establish Two Child-&-Mother Care Center in Pakistan.

Presently HHRD is involved in Recuperation and Rehabilitation of the IDPs in various areas of NWFP Pakistan.

Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi said world is waiting for someone to show them the path to harmony and serenity, which can be shown only by the Muslims, who have the divine medicine (which is not altered) from Creator of the Worlds God (Allah SWT): Only thing is that Muslims need to show this by action and not words.
Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez conducted a fundraiser, where about $28,000 were received. Everyone promised to introduce HHRD to others in the community and some administrators from the community organizations pledged further support for HHRD in years to come.

For more information on HHRD projects, one can visit www.HHUSA.Org

11-34

Canada Drops Plans to Ban Veiled Voting

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

CBC News

Canada_flag The federal government has no plans to move forward with proposed legislation to force veiled women to show their faces when voting, the minister of state for democratic reform said Thursday.

“We have other priorities as far as increasing voter participation and with the expanded voting opportunities legislation,” Steven Fletcher said in an interview.
“And that is our focus. That obviously will affect a lot more people.”

Dmitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed the government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but said the bill doesn’t have opposition support.

“The bottom line is even if we were to proceed with legislation, it would be voted down immediately,” Soudas said.

The government introduced the bill in October 2007, a month after an Elections Canada ruling allowed Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs during three Quebec by elections.

That decision infuriated the government, and Harper accused Elections Canada of subverting the will of Parliament, which several months earlier had unanimously adopted legislation beefing up voter identification requirements.

“I profoundly disagree with the decision,” Harper said at the time. “The role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it’s to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed.”

The government’s proposed amendment to the Canada Elections Act would have made a limited exception for any voter whose face is swathed in bandages due to surgery or some other medical reason. It also would have given some flexibility to Elections Canada officials to administer the law in a manner respectful of religious beliefs.

Opposition parties initially supported the proposed legislation, but later backed off when the issue was more closely examined.

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand noted that the beefed-up ID requirements passed by Parliament in 2007 did not, in fact, authorize the agency to compel visual identification of voters.

Moreover, it was pointed out that thousands of Canadians have no photo ID. Requiring them to show their faces would be meaningless without photo identification against which to verify their identities.

The Elections Act gives voters three ways to prove their identification in order to cast a ballot: provide a government photo ID; provide two pieces of approved ID, at least one of which must state their address (but neither of which must contain a photo); or have another voter registered in the same district vouch for them.

The federal government’s decision comes days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said full-body gowns that are worn by the most conservative Muslim women have no place in France.

Sarkozy said wearing the burka or the niqab isn’t about religion, but the subjugation of women.

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press

11-33

IFANCA responds to rumors about halal certification at Cargill/Better Beef Plant

July 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Ayub Khan, MMNS

CHICAGO, IL— In response to rumors circulating in USA, Canada as well as on the internet, the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America [IFANCA]  has issued a statement assuring  halal consumers and retailers that all its certified products meet the strictest of Halal criteria and can be consumed without any doubt.

“IFANCA’s procedures have been approved by a team of Islamic scholars and scientists who have developed a very stringent & independently verifiable halal authentication system, in all of its certified plants including Cargill’s Better Beef Plant. IFANCA’s slaughter methods are as close as practically possible to the traditional Islamic method of slaughter, where at least three out of four vessels are precisely cut, while also meeting the Canadian food safety requirements. 

All cattle are slaughtered by specially trained Muslim slaughter men, who are supervised by IFANCA inspectors, the statement reads.

The press release states that the claims by a group which say that the IFANCA approved animal slaughter method do not meet the Islamic criteria are untrue. 

The group in a blog posting suggests that the vertical method of cut during the animal slaughter does not meet the Islamic criteria and that it goes against the scholarly consensus.

To the above allegation IFANCA replied, “First the cut at the Cargill/Better Beef plant is not vertical cut. It is modified horizontal cut. Secondly, The claim about the jurists being unanimous is baseless. There are several methods of slaughtering animals, generally practiced being cutting the throat to sever  four (4) passages, trachea, esophagus, jugular veins and carotid arteries. There is disagreement among the scholars even with the required number of openings to be cut. According to Imam Abu Hanifa all four are required to be cut. (Badai Al Sanaih, 6/41). According to his student Imam Abu Yusuf only one of the two jugular veins are required to be cut besides that of throat and windpipe. (ibid).  According to other scholars only cutting of the throat and windpipe is enough. (Sharh Muhazzab, 9/84). According to Imam Malik the windpipe and the two jugular veins are required to be cut in order for the animal to be halal. (Sharh Al Sagheer, 2/154). According to another reference, the Hanafi School’s ruling is that at least three of the four openings should be cut. (Nasab ul Raya, 4/185-86).  [This requirement of cutting at least three passages as well as complete draining of blood are met at the Cargill/Better Beef plant].”

“ The slaughter men trained by IFANCA are especially instructed in cutting the required number of openings leaving no doubt about this method of halal slaughter. Hence Cargill/Better Beef is halal and zabiha, as has been certified for over 10 years by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America,” the statement reads.

11-31

World’s Youth Leaders Gather to Address the Challenges of Militarization, Nuclear Weapons and the Misuse of Religion

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kathmandu_street
File:  A busy street in Kathmandu.

(Kathmandu, July 10, 2009)  The International Summit of Religious Youth Leaders on Disarmament for Shared Security was inaugurated by His Excellency the President, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, in Kathmandu on 10 July 2009.  Organized by the World Conference of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest multi-religious organization accredited with the United Nations and headquartered in New York, the Summit brought together approximately 100 Nepali and 50 international religious and civil society leaders from 25 countries.[1]   Other prominent participants in the Summit included Mr. Kul C. Gautam, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Mr. Taijiro Kimura, Director, UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Assistant Secretary General, the World Conference of Religions for Peace; and Ms. Stellamaris Mulaeh, International Coordinator, Religions for Peace Global Youth Network.

Globally nearly 1,000 people a day die from various kinds of weapons.  Military spending in 2008 reached a new high of $1.464 trillion, even as the global economy faltered and the majority of the world’s population continued to live in extreme poverty.   Four billion dollars worth of small arms are traded legally each year, while another $1 billion is traded illegally.  The world is confronted with proliferation of nuclear weapons, continued use of cluster munitions, landmines and other conventional weapons, rising military expenditures at the expense of development, and the misuse of religion in support of violence and war.

His Excellency Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, the President of Nepal, stated that “We need to harness the power of the world’s religions to counter violence with the message of peace, love and compassion, especially among the youth of our nations. I want to compliment the Religion and Peace Academy of Nepal (RAPAN) and the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) for convening a very timely ‘International Summit of Religious Youth Leaders on Disarmament for Shared Security’ in Kathmandu.”

Mr. Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, and president of Mayors for Peace, a global coalition of mayors from 2,926 cities in 134 countries and regions, stated in his message that “The possibility of proliferation and the use of nuclear weapons are growing, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is on the verge of collapse.  Mayors for Peace welcomes the possibility of working with the world’s religious communities and young people through the Religions for Peace global network to promote our 2020 Vision, a program to eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” 

Mr. Kul Gautam, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF noted that “Youth are the soul of the society.  They are essential to transform culture of violence we are seeing at present to culture of peace, which is an intrinsic and inherent part of Nepali culture.  Based on my long association with Religions for Peace, I am confident that this conference will help advance a powerful campaign for peace and non-violence through multi-religious cooperation in Nepal and around the world.” He urged the World Conference of Religions for Peace to support a massive campaign to rollback violence in Nepal as a direct follow-up of this conference in Nepal, and consider similar campaigns in other post-conflict countries in the world.

Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Assistant Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, said, “This Summit intends to further unleash the positive socially transformative power of religion, underline the crucial role of young people in shaping our world, and highlight the added value of multi-religious cooperation and multi-stakeholder approach to disarmament for shared security, development and peace.”

Ms. Stellamaris Mulaeh, International Coordinator, Religions for Peace Global Youth Network said, “This Summit is a great opportunity for religious youth leaders to discuss major challenges to shared security and develop action plans.  Based upon these, Religions for Peace youth leaders from national, regional and global networks will launch a campaign on reducing military expenditures to advance shared security.”

[1] Afghanistan, Argentina, Cambodia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Georgia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the US.  

11-30

Dr. Kamran Khan leads team which predicts H1N1 spread

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

kamran khan TORONTO, Canada–A system developed by Canadian researchers to rapidly evaluate the world’s air traffic patterns accurately predicted how the H1N1 virus would spread around the world. The team is led by Dr. Kamran Khan.

Infectious disease physicians at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital say that by evaluating air traffic patterns around the world, they were able to predict how the virus would spread globally.

Dr. Kamran Khan and colleagues analyzed flight itineraries of more than 2.3 million passengers who left Mexico on commercial flights in March and April. The team found that countries that received more travellers from Mexico were more likely to import cases of the H1N1 flu virus.

As well, the cities that received the largest number of travellers from Mexico were more likely to have imported H1N1 flu cases. The researchers found that welcoming 1,400 travellers from Mexico put a country at high risk of imported cases of the virus.

Dr. Khan has an MD from University of Toronto and an MPH from Columbia University. His research focuses on global migration and infectious diseases with a particular emphasis on the health of recent immigrant and refugee populations to industrialized nations such as Canada and the United States.

11-29

Despite FBI Investigation, Minnesota Mosque Has Support

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ramla Bile, Mshale, New America Media

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File:  A member of Minnesota’s Somali community

Despite fears of distractions from the missing Somali youth saga that has engulfed the Somali community in Minnesota, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center held its 9th Annual Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center over the weekend where thirty speakers addressed 10,000 people over three days.

Participants said it was encouraging to see the number of attendees, the breadth of topics, and the scope of talent.

Despite a tumultuous year, the mosque saw increased attendance at this year’s convention and a spike in monetary support. Since last fall, the mosque has come under fire for the “missing youth” debacle, a connection that the mosque administrators and its supporters continue to deny. People close to the mosque did not believe the annual event would occur this year, they feared that the need to address the allegations would distract the administration and volunteers from organizing the convention. But after successfully meeting fundraising goals and having a record attendance with the help of 200 volunteers, the Abubakar community believes it maintains the trust and love of the Somali community. “This crowd and their energy is a testimony to their commitment to the mosque and its respected leaders,” attendee Ali Abdi said.

People travelled from Columbus, Nashville, Toronto, Kansas City, and across the United States and Canada to listen, learn, and meet. Hundreds of others logged-in to a live broadcast through several websites that serve the Somali community. Twenty-year-old Anab Ibrahim travelled from Seattle to attend the convention. “We came because my aunt was impressed with the line-up. When we arrived, we were amazed with the number of people we saw standing and sitting around in the lobby… we were even more shocked to see the packed auditorium,” she said. At the peak of the event on Saturday, an estimated 7,000 thousand people filled the two auditoriums. Anab said she especially enjoyed the English lectures. “Other conferences are only about the politics of Somalia, and often make us feel hopeless. This was applicable to our lives here and our faith. It showed me what we could do for our community and ourselves.”

Speakers addressed a wide range of topics, including the future of Somalis in the diaspora, the prevalence of autism, the importance of knowing your rights, the danger of gangs and extremism, the notion of Islam as mercy among others.

The only wrinkle on the conference was keynote speaker, Sheikh Mustafa Harun, being denied entry to the United States upon landing at Newark airport. He ultimately addressed the audience via webcam the following day. Participants expressed outrage over their revered scholar being denied entry. Harun said he checked in with the U.S. Embassy in Norway weeks prior to his scheduled flight and was told he should not encounter any issues. Norway has a visa waiver program with the United States. Despite his attempt at planning ahead, he did not make it to the convention. After a 9-hour flight, he was questioned for 3 hours and was told that although his identity was cleared, he must leave the country. He was allowed to make a call before boarding another 9-hour flight back to Norway.

Other speakers included imams from around the U.S. including Minnesota, among them Sheikh Abdirahman Sheikh Omar, Sheikh Abdirizak Hashi, Sheikh Jamel Bin Ameur, and others. Audience members were astounded by the knowledge and wit of 12-year-old Mohamud Ahmed Mohamud, who was introduced as “Sheikh Mohamud.” He related the story of Salman Al-Farisi, a historic figure in Islamic history, and spoke on the importance of seeking knowledge and asking questions. He shared the Somali proverb of regret where a person says, “when I had youth, I did not want to learn, and when I had age, I wished I had learned during my youth.” Mohamud says he wanted to send a strong message to the youth, and encourage them to take advantage of their time. “I want young people to step up to the plate because I see so much good in them and it’s time for the youth to rise,” he said. Mohamud spent the past three years helping in the bookstore of the mosque, reading and writing as he could.

Gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley, and Constituent Advocate to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Siad Ali spoke on the health, education, and anti-immigration sentiment. Klobuchar addressed the audience by video where she touched on the cultural and intellectual wealth Somalis bring to Minnesota. Minneapolis welcomed Abukar Arman, the President of the CAIR chapter in Columbus who did a “know your rights” presentation in Somali, while members of the local chapter of CAIR did a program in English. “It’s important for people to understand their legal rights and the implications of their actions – intentional or not. Wanting a lawyer is not an omission of guilt. We want people to cooperate with law enforcement and we want them to know their rights,” he said. Arman also addressed the allegations against certain mosques in the city, saying that, “we’re finding that people are being judged by public opinion, which is ridiculous because this is a nation of law and order, and rumors should not absolve or condemn people or institutions of allegations. Rather, this should be determined by an established legal process.”

Poets Sara Mohamed and Maryam Warsame made their début at the convention. Warsame is one of three organizers for the mosque’s “Youth to Youth” group, a mentorship program for young women. Sara is a student in the program, and the two began writing together this winter. They rhymed about the situation of women in their homeland, and shared the stories of those who did not find relief. “We don’t want to be famous, we just want to get message out and not forget about those who are suffering,” Warsame said. She added that the convention was a good opportunity for students to share their work.

In addition to the poetry and lectures, the convention also included a fundraising component. In a little over an hour, participants pledged $150,000 to help cover expenses incurred over the construction of the second floor of the mosque, as well as to jump-start the next phase of development. The administration hopes to complete the parking lot and make the exterior of the building more visually pleasing.

It is difficult to imagine that this is the same institution that operated from a garage in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood – the epicenter of the city’s newest wave of immigrants. Founding member Abdulaziz Sugule says this vision for a mosque comprehensively serving the community started over a decade ago and the organization began operations in 2000. Then called the Imam Shafi’i Mosque, the name was changed to the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center and the organization moved to an abandoned warehouse in South Minneapolis. “Today, that vision is a five million dollar project,” Sugule said. “The mosque plays a major role in advancing the community; it consists of all kinds of social services including providing family counseling, settling community disputes, celebrating Islamic holidays, working with local and national government leaders, mentoring youth, and providing a place of Islamic worship and education,” he said.

Looking up with a smile, he added, “Contrary to what some people are saying, they (the mosque administration) are trying to build a healthy community with good people… they’re starting a movement for positive change and people love the place and its people.”

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Maulana Barakatullah: An Indian Muslim Revolutionary in America

July 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ayub Khan, MMNS

It was a hot summer night in 1927. An elderly and weak looking man entered a community hall in Marysville, California. The gathered crowd of over 800 Indians became ecstatic and greeted him with a  thundering applause. Strings of sparkling tears rolled down the face of  the elderly man. He went up to the stage and began speaking with his usual forceful delivery but suddenly stopped. He couldn’t utter a word. There were wails and sighs from the audience. The elderly man composed himself and smiled; it’s glow sent a cheer through the audience. But he did not speak. A voice that has shaken the corridors of British colonial authorities was soon going to be silent forever. This voice belonged to the great, but almost forgotten, hero of Indian independence movement Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali. Maulana Bhopali’s life is one full of dedication and service-a fiery journalist, a brilliant orator, an erudite Islamic scholar, a nationalist to the core, an author of several books, a polyglot who knew more than seven languages, a prime minister of India’s government -in-exile. He was all this and more.

Maulana Barakatullah passed away on his way to San Francisco on September 20, 1927 and was buried in the Old City Cemetery of Sacramento. His funeral was attended by Indian Americans of all religious persuasions and they hoped that the Maulana’s remains would eventually be transferred to India once it attains independence. But, alas, the wish remained unfulfilled and the Maulana rests in peace in a particularly beautiful section of this historic cemetery.

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Headstone of Maulana Barakatullah’s grave in Sacramento Historic Cemetery (Courtesy: Sharon Patrician)

Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali was born somewhere between 1859 and 1861 in the princely state of Bhopal in India. His father Maulvi Muhammad Shujaat Ullah was a Madrassa teacher originally with meager resources and income. A bright student Barakatullah successfully completed his religious education at Madrasa-e-Sulaimaniya and qualified as an Alim in 1878. He served as a teacher at the same school from 1879-1880. He was able to utilize the intellectual milieu of princely Bhopal and was likely to have come in contact with the scholar-prince Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan Qanauji. He is also reported to have met the pan-Islamist and reformer Jamaluddin Afghani in 1882 and was much impressed of his ideas.

In 1883 he disappeared mysteriously from Bhopal and ended up in Bombay where he enrolled himself in Wilson High School in Khetwadi. Despite being a mature student he did not mind attending the elementary grades. At the insistence of a certain Mr. Scot he began taking private lessons in English from him  in return for teaching Urdu.  Within three years he was proficient enough to qualify for the university entrance examination.

He went to London in 1887 and served as a private tutor teaching Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. He himself learned German, French, and Japanese. He was invited by the British convert Abdullah Quilliam to work at the Muslim Institute in Liverpool  in 1895. He subsequently taught at the Oriental College of University of Liverpool. He later distanced himself from the Muslim Institute over its style of functioning.

While in England he came into contact with Indian revolutionaries at India House. In response to the then British Prime Minister Gladstone’s racist comments about India he launched a flurry of articles and speeches criticizing the policies. As a result his activities were severely restricted. 

He left for New York in 1899 at the insistence of Muslim scholar and activist Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb. In his six year stint in New York he churned out a prolific number of articles related to Islam and India which were published in Webb’s The Muslim World and also in mainstream newspapers such as the Forum. To earn an income he taught Arabic. He developed contacts with the Indian community in other cities of US and Canada and sought to instill the revolutionary spirit in them. While in America he kept in touch with fellow revolutionaries in India and had a scholarly exchange with the poet and nationalist leader Maulana Hasrat Mohani.  In these letters he stressed on the need for Hindu-Muslim unity in the freedom struggle. He became a founder member of the Ghadr Party started by the Indians in San Francisco.

Maulana Barakatullah reached Japan in 1909 and was appointed a professor of oriental languages at the University of Tokyo. He brought out a journal The Islamic Fraternity which was known for its anti-colonial content. After its suppression he brought out another newspaper by the name of El Islam which was banned in British India. As a result of his activities his appointment at the university was terminated in 1914. This, however, did not unnerve Maulana Barakatullah. He treated the world as his playground and moved his activities elsewhere.

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Maulana Barakatullah (extreme right) with the Turko-German Mission

He accompanied the Turko-German Mission to Kabul in 1915 and joined Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and Raja Mahendra Pratap to form the Provincial government of India. He served as the Prime Minister of the government-in-exile. In 1919 he met Lenin and sought his help in India’s struggle for freedom. Throughout the the early 1920s he travelled widely in Germany, France, and Russia organizing the expatriate Indian communities on the revolutionary path.

His 1927 visit was his second one to the New World and would prove to be his last. He was suffering from diabetes and had a host of other ailments but his love for the nation was such that he undertook the long journey from Germany along with long time friend and fellow revolutionary Mahendra  Pratap. He arrived in New York in July 1927 and stayed at a hotel in Times Square. On 15th July 1927, he was given a reception by the Indian community at Ceylon Indian Inn on 49th Street. He also met the Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. The two also spoke at a joint gathering of African-Americans and Indians.   He also travelled to Chicago, Gary, and several other cities of the Midwest renewing his links with the Indian and Irish communities among whom he had many friends.

He arrived at the Yugantar Ashram, the Ghadr Party’s headquarters in San Francisco and was pleased with its work. He then proceeded to Marysville where he was destine to give his last public speech. Throughout this trip his constant companion was Raja Mahendra Pratap who was himself not keeping well and aging. According to Mahendra Pratap’s autobiography the Maulana last words were:  “I have been sincerely struggling all my life for the independence of my country. Today, when I am leaving this world, I have regret that my attempts did not succeed. But at the same time I am also satisfied that hundreds and thousands of others have followed me who are brave and truthful…With satisfaction I place the destiny of my beloved nation in their hands.”

Maulana Barakatullah Bhopali was an epitome of sincerity and dedication towards one’s nation. A die hard to the core he never married as he considered it be distracting from his duty to the freedom struggle. It is an irony that this legendary son of the Indian freedom movement is reduced to the margins of Indian history. His name doesn’t find a mention in the country’s text books nor does his portrait grace the famed halls of the Indian parliament. There is, however, a university named after him in his native Bhopal.

Maulana Barakatullah’s sojourns in America also testify to the long standing links which Indian Muslims have maintained with the new world. Contrary to popular perceptions Indian Muslims did not begin arriving in America in the 1960s but at least sixty years earlier. The registers of cemeteries across California will verify this fact.

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Canada: Sharia ETF Poised for Launch

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Proposed ETF from Islamic firm UM Financial and Jovian Capital could be a Canadian first

By Shirley Won, Funds Reporter, Globe and Mail

Islamic financial services company UM Financial Inc. has teamed up with Jovian Capital Corp. JOV-T in a bid to list Canada’s first sharia-compliant exchange-traded fund (ETF).

On Wednesday, Standard & Poor’s launched the S&P/TSX 60 Shariah Index. In compliance with Islamic law, the index avoids firms involved in financial services, alcohol, gambling and pork products.

The proposed product from UM and Jovian would be based on the S&P/TSX 60 Shariah Index so the two firms are in discussions with Standard & Poor’s to get a licence for the new index to start the Islamic ETF later this year. Eventually, “the goal is to launch a family of ETFs,” UM chief executive officer Omar Kalair said yesterday.

The sharia ETF would target Canada’s Muslim population (which numbers about one million), as well as foreign investors, Mr. Kalair said in an interview.

Jovian’s BetaPro Management unit is a provider of leveraged and other ETFs, while its AphaPro Management unit has actively managed ETFs. “Any product launched would come from BetaPro,” Mr. Kalair said.

In recent years, sharia-compliant ETFs have popped up in various countries including Britain, India, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia and South Africa. In March, a sharia gold ETF was launched in Dubai.

Barclays Canada, which administers the iShares ETFs and is the largest ETF provider in the country, “has no plans to go down this route,” said Oliver McMahon, its director of product development. “It’s not in our existing product pipeline.”

Jasmit Bhandal, a spokeswoman for Standard & Poor’s in Canada, said there have been talks with ETF, mutual fund and structured products providers for use of the S&P/TSX 60 Shariah Index, but nothing is final. But a licence with an ETF provider is typically an exclusive one, she said.

A couple of sharia-compliant mutual funds are sold in Canada, but both have less than $2-million in assets.

A Toronto-based investment firm, frontierAlt Management Ltd., launched Canada’s first sharia-compliant mutual fund, frontierAlt Oasis Canada, in 2007. The firm also later started sharia-compliant funds frontierAlt Oasis World and frontierAlt Global Income funds, but these were closed last fall because it was no longer cost effective to run them, said Taras Hucal, president of frontierAlt Management.

The two Oasis stock funds invested in firms in the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes. The income fund invested in sukuk, which is similar to conventional bonds, but pays out a share of revenue from a designated pool of assets or services rather than interest. Islamic principles prohibit receiving interest income.

A problem with selling the Oasis funds is the fact they are no-load funds; they do not pay financial advisers a commission, but rather a 1-per-cent annual trailer fee as long as investors hold them, Mr. Hucal said.

“There has also been a lack of awareness” about products in this niche, and the steep market collapse didn’t help sales, he said.

The frontierAlt Oasis Canada Fund suffered a 42-per-cent loss for the year ended April 30, and an average annual loss of 23 per cent over two years. Funds need a solid three-year return number to attract inflows of money, Mr. Hucal said.

In March, Global Prosperata Funds Inc. launched the sharia-compliant Global Prosperata Iman, a global stock fund that is sold with front- and back-end load commissions. It now has $1.5-million in assets.

“We are expecting another $1-million to $2-million from a number of different investors in the next 30 to 60 days,” said Glenn Moore, vice-president of Toronto-based Prosperata Funds. “There is a lot of pent-up demand.”

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Did U.S., Israel Provocateur S. Ossetia Conflict?

August 14, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Does the Sun Come Up in the Morning?

Courtesy Kurt Nimmo, Infowars

August 9, 2008–Dead civilians in South Ossetia. But you will not hear much about it on CNN or Faux News. Because they are too busy reporting ad nauseam about the extramarital shenanigans of CFR darling John Edwards.

In order to find out what’s really going on in Georgia, you have to read the international press on the internet. Bush, McCain, and Obama may cast blame on Russia, but reading the international press you get a different perspective.

2008-08-09T155205Z_01_OSS16_RTRMDNP_3_GEORGIA-OSSETIA

Chechen special forces soldiers from Vostok (East) army unit sit atop of an APC (armoured personnel carrier) as they move toward the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, at the South Ossetian settlement Dzhava, August 9, 2008.

REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Gori    

Soldiers from the Ukraine, the United States, Georgia and Azerbaijan partake in “Peace Shield 2005” on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine.

Russia accuses U.S. of orchestrating conflict

“Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo,” reports Pravda, the Russian newspaper.

Recall the CIA admitting it “helped to train the Kosovo Liberation Army before Nato’s bombing of Yugoslavia,” according to The Sunday Times. The KLA is a perfect outfit for the CIA. “Known for its extensive links to Albanian and European crime syndicates, the KLA was supported from the outset in the mid-1990s by the CIA and Germany’s intelligence agency, the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND). In the course of the 1999 war, the KLA was supported directly by NATO,” writes Michel Chossudovsky. “The KLA had extensive links to Al Qaeda, which was also involved in military training. Mujahideen mercenaries from a number of countries integrated the ranks of the KLA, which was involved in terrorist activities as well as political assassinations.” Of course, “links to Al Qaeda” translate into links to the CIA.

“The things that were happening in Kosovo, the things that were happening in Iraq – we are now following the same path. The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America. South Ossetian defense officials used to make statements about imminent aggression from Georgia, but the latter denied everything, whereas the US Department of State released no comments on the matter. In essence, they have prepared the force, which destroys everything in South Ossetia, attacks civilians and hospitals. They are responsible for this. The world community will learn about it,” Vasilyev told Pravda.

Indeed, the world will learn about it, but not by way of America’s corporate media, more interested in the entirely meaningless baby-making of Clay Aiken and Jaymes Foster. Bread and circuses shall suffice in America.

U.S. loads up Georgia with weapons to fight “al-Qaeda”

The Federation of American Scientists website reveals that Georgia is the most recent recipient of U.S. weapons and aid, receiving 10 UH-1H Huey helicopters (four for spare parts only) and $64 million in military aid and training to fight Arab soldiers with alleged ties to Al Qaeda that have been participating in the Chechen war and are now taking refuge in the Pankisi Gorge region in northern Georgia. Like many of the recent aid recipients, claims that Georgia has become an al Qaeda sanctuary are dubious at best.

“The rapid increase in US strategic influence in the Caucasus has alarmed Russian policy planners. Moscow is keen to take steps to shore up its eroding position in the region. However, Russian officials have limited options with which to counter US moves while at the same time maintaining cordial relations with Washington,” Eurasia.net reported on April 8, 2002. “The most prominent US moves in the Caucasus are the decision to dispatch military advisers to Georgia and a March 29 State Department announcement on the lifting of an arms embargo imposed on Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both actions have the potential to tilt the military establishments of all three Caucasus nations away from Russia and towards NATO.”

Imagine Canada decided to enter a military and diplomatic alliance with Russia and Canada began arming itself to the teeth with Russian weapons and training with Russian military advisers. Can you guess what the reaction of Bush and the neocons would be?

It doesn’t take much imagination.

Rose revolution

The Rose Revolution was not a simple uprising but was aided by the CIA and Ambassador Richard Miles

CIA engineered Georgia’s Rose Revolution

Of course, this al-Qaeda presence is not so dubious when one considers the well documented fact the supposed Islamic terror group is a CIA contrivance. As well, this absurd concern for al-Qaeda’s presence under Georgian beds helped make possible Georgia’s so-called Rose Revolution. “The Rose Revolution was not a simple uprising but was aided by the CIA and Ambassador Richard Miles (think Serbia). From early 2002 onwards the CIA had been operating in Georgia, supposedly to combat Al Qaeda,” explains researcher James Schneider.

It appears the CIA has worked behind the scenes for quite a while in Georgia. Back in 1993, for instance, CIA agent Fred Woodruff was assassinated by unknown assailants outside of Tbilisi. “Spokesmen for the State Department and the C.I.A. declined to confirm that Mr. Woodruff was working for the intelligence agency. But high-ranking Administration officials said he was, adding that he was not spying on Georgian officials but was training Mr. [Eduard] Shevardnadze’s security forces,” the New York Times reported at the time. So tight was the CIA with the former president of Georgia, they engineered the “bloodless” Rose Revolution and pitched him out on his ear.

In the wake of Georgia’s much vaunted — by the U.S. corporate media — “revolution,” the installed government of autocrat Mikheil Saakashvilli wasted little time imposing “democracy” neocon-style, resulting in violent suppression of opposition political rallies. “Georgia was rocked by opposition rallies for six days last November as protesters occupied central Tbilisi demanding Saakashvili’s resignation over allegations of corruption and increasing authoritarianism,” reported RIA Novosti. “The Georgian leader responded by sending in riot police to crack down on protesters on November 7. Over 500 people were injured according to Human Rights Watch as police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to break up the demonstrations.” In addition, Saakashvilli’s goons used “non-lethal” weapons of the sort developed by the Pentagon (see video).

U.S. military holds “exercises” in Georgia immediately prior to conflict

Last month, Aljazeera reported that “a total of around 1,650 soldiers form the US, Georgia and several other East European countries, have begun exercises on the formerly Russian-controlled Vaziani base, the Georgian defense ministry said.”

NowPublic reported on July 17:

US officials insist the long-planned wargames have nothing to do with the recent dispute between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But they give Washington a chance to support pro-west Tbilisi at a critical time.

If you believe this, I have a bridge for sale.

In fact, these “long-planned wargames” were so important the State Department packed up and shipped off Condi Rice to Georgia. Her arrival was nicely timed to coincide with “a deadly firefight between Georgian troops and separatists in a Russian-backed breakaway region…. Ahead of Rice’s arrival, a senior State Department official who did not want to be identified told reporters that unchecked conflict in the region could lead to catastrophe. The official also said Moscow should realize its Soviet empire is gone.”

Catastrophe, indeed, although Russia’s response to Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia demonstrated Russia’s resolve to reclaim its supposedly evaporated empire.

Israel gets in on the act

Let’s not forget America’s junior partner in chaos and mass murder, Israel. “In addition to the spy drones, Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an independent military expert based in Tbilisi. Former Israeli generals also serve as advisers to the Georgian military,” reports the International Herald Tribune.

No wonder the horrific photos emerging from South Ossetia have that Lebanon invasion look about them. Israel has over fifty years of experience in invading small countries and has consistently specialized in murdering and tormenting civilians.

Blind eyes all around

As Lavrov explains it, the “Georgian administration has found the use to its arms, which they have been purchasing during the recent several years… We have repeatedly warned that the international community should not turn a blind eye on massive purchases of offensive arms, in which the Georgian administration has been involved during the recent two years.”

Unfortunately, the international community will likely “turn a blind eye” to the U.S. and Israel arming, training, and obviously orchestrating the current conflict, same as they by and large turned a blind eye to Israel’s criminal invasion of Lebanon back in 2005 and the U.S. invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq. In regard to the latter, the “international community” — indeed, the whole of the American people — are so disorganized and demoralized they cannot address the simple fact the neocons lied a nation into war. Nixon was bounced for far less.

It looks like Russia will be obliged to deal with Georgia’s treachery on its own. Regrettably, Russia’s response will entail even more murder of innocents and wholesale destruction, as this is how government historically deals with threats – real, imagined, or provocateured.

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Community News (V9-I46)

November 8, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Little Mosque on the Prairie now available in DVD

Canadian hit show, “Little Mosque on the Prairie” is now available on DVD. The inaugural season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Canada’s breakthrough series produced by WestWind Pictures in association with the CBC, will be released on DVD in Canada on November 13, 2007 by Morningstar Entertainment, a leading distributor of home entertainment products.

Little Mosque on the Prairie debuted in January, 2006 with stellar reviews and huge national and international attention. The series focuses on a small Muslim community in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan many of whose residents are wary of their new, more exotic neighbours. The sit-com reveals that, although different, we are surprisingly similar when it comes to family, love, the generation gap and our attempts to balance our secular and religious lives. The new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CBC.

“Morningstar is proud to present the complete first season of CBC’s popular and innovative series,” says Jason Moring, VP Sales & Marketing for Morningstar Entertainment. “Little Mosque has made a major impact on the cultural landscape of Canada and the world. Consumers will not only love watching the hilarious episodes, they’ll learn more about the making of the production and will hear and see unique perspectives on its success from producers, cast and crew.”

“We are very excited to make the series available on Home Video, says Mary Darling, Executive Producer of the series, “the requests for DVD began pouring in with the airing of our very first episode. This DVD gives us another way to satisfy the appetites of our valued viewers.”

Produced in collaboration with WestWind Pictures, Morningstar Entertainment and CBC Home Video, the 200-minute, two-disc set features 5.1 surround audio, described video for the visually impaired and closed captioned for hearing impaired viewers. Bonus content includes:

- Extended interviews with cast members;

- Behind The Mosque: behind-the-scenes featurette of season 1;

- Under the Veil: Sitara Hewitt’s guide to the wardrobe department;

- Double Audio Commentary for Episode 1 with show creator Zarqa Nawaz and Executive Producer Mary Darling (version 1) and various cast members (version 2).

Little Mosque on the Prairie – The Complete First Season (2 Disc DVD) can be found at retailers across Canada and online at www.cbcshop.ca; available November 13, 2007. The DVD features all eight of the Season One episodes.

Imam preaches at church

WOODBURY, CT—Imam Abdullah Antepli, assistant director of the Hartford Seminary Chaplaincy Program, was invited last month to preach during Sunday service at First Congregational Church of Woodbury. First Congregational Church’s Inter-religious Committee has been developing inter-religious dialogue forums for three years. The church has developed Faith Summits, offered lectures on the Religious Right, Congregationalism and Social Mission and continues to develop a “Justice and Peace” lecture series.

Imam Antepli preached about common values between Islam, Judaism and Chritianity and how to coexist.

The church’s pastor Rev.Mark Heilshorn had visited Turkey and Morocco as part of a inter-religious delgation along with Imam Antepli. The two are also enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Hartford Seminary.

Agha Afzal seeks top Jersey City spot

JERSEY CITY, NJ–Agha Afzal is contesting for the post of Jersey City county executive on a Republican ticket.

The elections will take place next week, the Daily Times reported.

Afzal, former executive director of the Hudson County Republican Party, is currently with the Development Agency of Jersey City commissioner.

Afzal, who hails from Sahiwal, Pakistan has also served as honorary deputy mayor of Jersey City in year 2004-2005 and has helped construct shelter homes for battered and needy women in Jersey City.

A county executive heads the executive branch of the government in a county, which is a sub-unit of regional self-government within a sovereign jurisdiction.

Mosque in Monticello runs into trouble

MONTICELLO, NY–A mosque in the Village of Monticello has run into rough weather after village officials alleged that it was constructed without the necessary permits.

The Argo & Alaudin Corp., owner of the mosque property at 33 Cottage St., was granted a building permit on July 21, 2006, to renovate the one-family house located there. A second permit, to convert the house into a mosque, was denied three days later by then Village Manager Richard Sush because only the Planning Board could approve a place of worship in a residential zone.

Despite the denial the owners gutted the house and built the mosque despite non-compliance warnings from the village, officials said. The mosque was finished this September.

Mosque owners are trying to remedy the situation by going to the Planning Board in hindsight. Their next appearance will be Oct. 27.

Albany mosque has new Imam

ALBANY, NY–The Masjid As-Salam in Albany now has new Imam: Imam Abdul Elmi. The mosque was without an Imam for two years after the then Imam Yassin Aref was arrested for allegedly supporting a fictitious terror plot.

The new Imam currently serves as a senior chaplin in the state prison systemand will serve part time at As-Salam mosque. He handles services and counseling at two prisons in that job, among other duties.

The soft-spoken 55-year-old imam is originally from Somalia and lives in Clifton Park with his wife and five children. He is a familiar face both in Masjid As-Salam and beyond it in the region’s small but growing Muslim community.

Many local Muslims know Elmi from the leadership posts he has held within the region’s Islamic community. He chaired the board of trustees at the An-Nur Islamic School in Colonie. He was president of Troy’s Masjid al-Hidaya. He remains a trustee and is involved in the Troy community’s plan to build a mosque in Latham. And he had already been filling in at the Albany mosque before his appointment as imam.

Imam Elmi has an interestin career path. He studied Islam in high school and later on his own. He is the author of a book in the Somali language about Islamic jurisprudence.

His university education was in a much different subject: agriculture.

Elmi earned a master’s degree from Montana State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas before teaching and doing research at Virginia State University. The professor taught Islam — unpaid — at area mosques because they didn’t have enough teachers.

When he was told New York was looking for prison chaplains, he applied and got the job.

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