HPD Police Chief Recognizes Officer’s Heroism

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Houston, Texas: Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. proudly presented HPD Lieutenant Harry Zamora with the Medal of Valor Award at a ceremony on July 06 at the Fondren Police Station.

HPD Chief Charles McClelland Jr presents Lt Harry Zamora with the Medal of ValorOn February 22, Lieutenant Zamora saw an elderly man trapped in a Cadillac engulfed in flames on the inside shoulder of the Southwest Freeway.  Several citizens braved the flames in order to lift the vehicle away from the guard rail so Lieutenant Zamora could open the door and free the man.  Lieutenant Zamora suffered third degree burns to his hand in the process.

It was those actions which prompted Chief McClelland to present Lieutenant Zamora with the department’s most prestigious award.

“I’ve known Lieutenant Zamora for a long time,” said HPD Chief McClelland.  “He has always been a dedicated professional and a dedicated police officer,” he said.

“Heroes always think of themselves last and clearly Lieutenant Zamora’s actions fall into that category.  However, they go to the heart and soul of what HPD is all about,” Chief McClelland added.

“All I remember is seeing the vehicle completely engulfed in flames.  There were pieces flying off and it was exploding,” said Lieutenant Zamora.  “The heat was so intense, I knew I was going to get burned, I just didn’t know how badly I was going to get burned,” he added.

“I’m deeply honored to be receiving this award today,” said Lieutenant Harry Zamora.  “But it is also a sad reminder that Mr. Lloyd Sanchez passed away shortly after the incident.”

Lieutenant Zamora’s actions were much appreciated by Mr. Sanchez’s daughter.

“April told me she was thankful we were able to get her father out of the car and get him to the hospital so she had time to make the trip from Dallas and say goodbye,” said Lieutenant Zamora.

April Sanchez is now creating the Sanchez-Zamora Foundation in honor of her father and Lieutenant Zamora.  Proceeds will go towards helping other burn victims.  For more information email the foundation at sanchezzamorafoundation@gmail.com.

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Iraq’s Booming Funeral Market

May 13, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Afif Sarhan, IslamOnline.net

2010-05-11T080728Z_1227782277_GM1E65B18RJ01_RTRMADP_3_IRAQ-VIOLENCE

Residents carry a coffin of a victim who was killed in Monday’s bomb attack during a funeral in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad, May 11, 2010. Bombers and gunmen officials linked to a battered but still lethal al Qaeda killed more than 100 people on Monday during a day-long wave of attacks on markets, a textile factory, checkpoints and other sites across Iraq.

REUTERS/Atef Hassan

BAGHDAD – With deadly attacks still claiming more lives in the war-torn country, the funeral market in Iraq has turned from a simple work into a booming business.
“Before US-led invasion, I had one ceremony to take care,” mourner Ali Abdel-Kareem al-Shuwafi, 48, told IslamOnline.net on Friday, October 30.

“But in the last four years, I had to hire 12 employees and other 15 who are used when we have many ceremonies to hold in the same day.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in violence plaguing Iraq since the US invaded the country in 2003 to topple the Saddam Hussein regime.

“Violence in Iraq changed my life. I know that it isn’t a nice sentence to say but it is the true,” said Shuwafi.

“The continuing killings in my country helped me become a wealthy man and able to give a very good life to my family who years ago were suffering with the need of everything.”

Before the US invasion, Shuwafi was hardly able to provide basics to his family.

But his life has totally changed after the US troops invaded the oil-rich country.

“I decided to open a shop in Baghdad two years ago which takes care of everything, the three days mourning process, the burying and other ceremonies asked by our clients,” he said.

Shuwafi had borrowed money from a friend of his to open his shop.

“After few months, I had enough to pay him back and open more two shops, one in Baghdad and one in Basra where my brother takes care,” he said.

“I know I’m successful today because of people suffering, however, I didn’t kill them and just made a way for families to be well supported in a so hard moment of their lives.

“The war changed my life for better but I sometimes I wish that things were like before and I would had been able to improve my living conditions under other ways offered by the government.”

Lucrative

Like Shuwafi, many mourning professionals have made a fortune from the deadly violence.

“There was periods where I had to refuse ceremonies because I didn’t have enough materials to organize it,” Kamal al-Jumeiri, a funeral business owner in Baghdad, told IOL.

“During 2006 and 2007 I was able to make enough money to send my family away to Jordan to protect them and I use to visit my kids and wife every three months.

“My family accuse me of taking advantage and making money from people who were victims but someone had to make it and I had enough conditions to offer my skills.”

Jumeiri recalls that he only owned two coffins to run his business before the US invasion.

“After violence in 2006, I had enough money to open two shops,” he said.

“By two trucks, I import supplies from outside with better quality, offer a proper burial with all stuff needed like chairs for the mourners, recorders, speakers, people to read Qur’anic verses, kitchen apparatus to cook food during the three days ceremony, generators, tents and other specific things that sometimes is asked by grieving families.”

According to Iraqi traditions, families rent tents for the three days of mourning and professional mourners to add emotions by crying while speaking verses of the Qur’an.

In addition, coffee, tea and cigarettes should be offered to visitors during the three days of mourning.

In the last day, food is cooked and offered to all people present, including poor people who usually get close to get free food.

“I moved from a simple mourning workers into a first-class business and most of my clients have wealthy living conditions and hire my work due to my excellent materials used,” said Jumeiri.

The booming funeral market is also sparking rivalry among mourning professionals.

“I suffered threats from other mourning professionals,” said Jumeiri.

“Many of them, not all, have organised gangs to prevent us from keeping work and leave all ceremonies to them but I insisted and have to pay a security guard to follow me.”

Prices for the funeral services have skyrocketed over the violence.

“I lost my father before invasion from heart disease and didn’t spend more than US $50 for all ceremony and coffin,” Haydar Muhammad Khalif, a government employee, told IOL.

“But two months ago, my uncle was killed and we had to pay US $300 for the same ceremony, without any changes.”

Coffins now cost about $80, from only $10 before the US invasion.

A complete ceremony would cost from $150 to $400, from only $60 before the invasion.

“Even to die in Iraq you have to have enough money or you will have to be buried without proper Iraqi Muslim traditions,” said Khalif.

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600 Chinese Working in Saudi Embrace Islam

October 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Gulf News

Riyadh, September 27: Over 600 Chinese nationals working on the Haramain Rail project have embraced Islam in a recent ceremony in Makkah.

They are workers of the Chinese Railway Company, which won the multibillion contract for implementing the 450km rail road linking the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and Rabigh.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Khudhairi, undersecretary at the Makkah Governorate, said that this year’s celebration of the Kingdom’s National Day coincides with a number of auspicious and historic occasions.

These included launching of the prestigious international research university – King Abdullah University for Science & Technology (KAUST), celebration of Eid Al Fitr and a recent ceremony of Chinese workers pronouncing their Shahada.

Dr. Abdul Aziz, who witnessed the event, described it as a “direct response to critics of the government for contracting Chinese company.”

Among the converts, there are 70 workers who are engaged in the construction of Makkah monorail project, which links the holy city with the holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat.

“Their conversion took place 24 hours after getting books introducing Islam in Chinese language at their worksite at Arafat, which is outside the Haram area,” he said adding that the credit goes to the Office of the Call and Guidance for Expatriates in Makkah.

Efforts are underway to spread the message of Islam among some 5,000 Chinese nationals working on the Haramain train,” he said adding that the major problem for the Call and Guidance Office is the lack of enough books on Islam in Chinese language.

It is noteworthy that the first phase of Haramain Rail consisting of 70km has well been started a few months ago. This represents expropriation of land, filling works, construction of bridges and tracks. The project is expected to be operational in 2012.-Agencies

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