Houstonian Corner (V11-I50)

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Picture AE  Picture AF

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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Dubai Babylon: The glitz, the Glamour – and Now the Gloom

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Property of TVS, Inc. Dubai, the Arabian city state that tried to turn itself into Manhattan-on-the-Gulf inside a decade, looks this weekend as if it may end up more like an expensive imitation of Sodom and Gomorrah. No brimstone, no vengeful God, but still an awful lot of wreckage after an orgy of hedonistic excess.

This, until last week, was the world capital of greed, a Legoland of lolly, where flashy malls, artificial islands, and preposterous skyscrapers were run up in no time; where monied chancers booked into £4,000-a-night hotel rooms; and where celebrities who didn’t know better were lured into a place that was even gaudier than their own homes. People said it was all built on sand, but, after the businesses at the core of the Dubai empire revealed a black hole of $80bn, we now know it was actually built on debt, semi-slave labour and the glossiest puffery that borrowed money can buy.

This, before we get down to the juicy details, is not how Gordon Brown saw it. The Dubai dream was largely the creation of the late Sheikh Maktoum and his successor, the current ruler Sheikh Mohammed. The day before Dubai’s shock debt announcement, the sheikh was in London. According to UAE’s national news service, Gordon Brown said he was “impressed with the quick recovery made by the UAE economy and the measures made by the leadership and government there that led to minimal impact of that crisis on the country’s economy.”

Once upon a recent time, this was true. At the height of Dubai’s property bubble, developers competed to outdo each other and impress the sheikh with more and more outlandish projects at the city’s annual property show Cityscape. Ski fields in the desert and the world’s largest shopping mall of 1,200 shops, complete with an aquarium housing 400 sharks, are among the projects already built, and plans for an underwater hotel.

Prospective buyers would queue for hours for the chance to purchase off-plan property. Ten minutes later they would sell on to someone at the back of the queue for a £10,000 profit.

While the economy boomed, the city partied hard. Dubai quickly became a favourite playground for Russian gangsters, Bollywood movie stars, and British footballers and their WAGs. David Beckham and Michael Owen were among those splashing out on multimillion-pound properties on the Palm, while Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington were also rumoured to have homes there.

Paris Hilton made a version of her reality show in the bars and malls of city this year. On any given night, parked out front the Grosvenor Hotel, with its popular bars, would be an eye-popping collection of the most expensive sports cars. “Soon,” one sheik was quoted as saying, “every Count of Monte Cristo will be in Dubai. In 10 years, only rich and famous people will live here.” And the servants? “I would hope robots or clones will do all that by then.”

With Western cash came Western cultural norms. Though foreign residents need a liquor licence to drink in their own homes, alcohol is widely available in hotel bars. All-you-can-drink brunches where expatriates got sloshed on champagne became the favoured way of passing Friday afternoons. While the Muslim community spent the holy day at the mosque, Westerners drank themselves legless.

It was at one of these infamous brunches that two Britons fell foul of the strict laws that govern the state. Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, who had met for the first time that day, were sentenced to three months in prison in July 2008 after being arrested for having sex on the beach. Not long after, British women Marnie Pearce and Sally Antia were jailed for adultery after their husbands told the police they were having affairs. Yet Arab men will drink openly in hotel bars and prostitution is rife.

The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper at 818m, disappears into the clouds high above this emirate of contradictions. Dubai is an architectural odyssey, yet an urban planner’s worst nightmare which employed, until recently, 50 per cent of the world’s largest cranes. The people of the more sedate and richer emirate of Abu Dhabi 70 miles down the road have often been said to shake their heads at the money its neighbour has wasted. Abu Dhabi’s developments such as the breathtaking Yas Marina Circuit used in this year’s Formula One championship have been carefully planned.

Dubai has simply built bigger and bigger with little thought given to planning. It was bound to fail: no city or region could sustain such growth – particularly as the oil that drove that expansion has been slowly running out. The financial crisis simply exacerbated the long-term structural problems of its economy. Last week’s announcement that Dubai World, the developer of the famous man-made Palm Jumeirah island development that can be seen from space, wanted a standstill on its repayments on a chunk of its $60bn indebtedness shocked the financial markets. Banks in London and Edinburgh, such as HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, had lent Dubai World billions of pounds. Now there is the very real possibility that they will lose much of this as Dubai World defaults.

On the Palm, on the Persian Gulf’s man-made coastline, is the Atlantis Hotel, an imposing construction of two towers linked by a bridge. Kylie Minogue sang at its star-studded opening last year, with spectacular fireworks visible for miles a one-night jamboree that cost £20m. Dubai World could not have chosen a worse time to open the seven-star hotel.

Attracting Western tourists has been one of the pillars of Dubai’s gross domestic product growth, but as Westerners tighten the purse strings so Dubai’s tourism industry has started to wobble. The fear now is that the dreams of Sheikh Mohammed could turn into an economic nightmare for both the emirate and the rest of the world. Economists are analysing whether this is the disaster that will create a so-called W-shaped recession – that is, two collapses rather than just the one of a V-shape.

It might seem extraordinary that a tiny emirate of about 1.5 million people could cause such global turmoil, but Dubai is intertwined with some of the most everyday parts of the UK economy alone. Dubai World owns P&O, the ferry operator, while Dubai International Capital (DIC), the state’s international investment arm, has a 20 per cent stake in the company that runs Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and the Sea Life Centres.

The reciprocal nature of the UK and Dubai economies means that British firms are now coming to the rescue. The Independent on Sunday can reveal that Dubai World’s big lenders, led by the UK-based institutions, have lined up the London-based financial restructuring team a accountants KMPG to salvage the $30bn-plus they are owed. A formal appointment is expected this week.

They will have their hands full.

Gulf state’s holdings: Small sample of Dubai’s global reach

Millions of dollars have been invested in Sheikh Mohammed’s passion: thoroughbred racehorses. In Newmarket, he owns Dalham Hall stud farm and Godolphin stables. The sheikh’s 4,000 acres in Ireland make him the largest farmer in the country. He also owns 7,000 acres of paddocks in Britain and 5,000 acres of farmland. Other assets owned by Dubai investors include:

* The QE2, currently moored in Cape Town
* The Adelphi on the Strand and the Grand Buildings in Trafalgar Square
* A 20 per cent stake in Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian circus troupe
* Budget hotel chain Travelodge
* A stake in Merlin Entertainments, which runs Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye
* Scottish golf course Turnberry
* Chris Evert tennis clubs in the US
* A ski resort in Aspen, Colorado
* A 21 per cent stake in the London Stock Exchange
* Ports and ferries group P&O

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MJ Khan in Houston Controller Run-Off

November 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ilyas Hasan Choudry, MMNS

Houston—November 4–“It is a distinct honor for the Muslim, Pakistani and South Asian Communities that a competent person with right credentials, has qualified through Houstonians Votes, to the run-off elections of December 12th, 209 for the Controller Position of the fourth largest metropolis of USA.”

These were the sentiments of those gathered at the Campaign Headquarter of the termed-out City Councilman M. J. Khan located along Richmond Avenue just east of Hillcroft, as they celebrated the strong showing by M. J. on the actual voting day to come from behind into the second position behind the termed-out City Councilperson Ron Green and qualifying for the run-off on Saturday, December 12th, 2009. Early voting for Run-Offs is tentatively expected to be between November 30th and December 08th, 2009. M. J. Khan’s wife and son were also present on the occasion.

Khalid Khan, who was vying to replace M. J. Khan on the City Council Position “F”, came in a strong third place in a race of seven candidates. On the voting day of Tuesday, November 03, 2009, Khalid Khan was number two in the number of votes received, but Al Hoang got majority of his votes in the Early Voting.

When the early vote count came in around 7:00pm., M. J. Khan was third in the pack of three candidates for the Controller position, trailing the second place Pam Holm by about 1,300 votes. By the end of the evening, M. J. Khan had about 2,000 votes more than Pam Holm, who called into M. J. Khan Campaign Office to congratulate him for qualifying for the run-off.

In fact on the voting day of Tuesday, November 03, 2009, M. J. Khan received the most number of votes, as compared to Ron Green and Pam Holm, which according to analysts show that voters learned about M. J. Khan’s credentials late in the race through his TV advertisements and once the voters knew about his strong financial background, he got many votes. The same thing of educating voters through electronic media can help him win on December 12th, 2009 and for that M. J. will need good sum of donations from well-wishers and Houstonians.

This Controller race became most heated, when in the last few weeks to the elections, Ron Green admitted certain issues with liens on his properties by IRS and that these problems were much highlighted by his opponent Palm Holm, while M. J. Campaign stayed out from any negative comments.

M. J. Khan has created history by becoming the first ever Muslim, Pakistani and South Asian Candidate to be running in the run-off elections for the second biggest position of Controller of the 4th largest city of USA .

“I feel most humble that with the support of my community and right choice of the voters to elect a person with right credentials, I will be contesting in December 12th run-off. City of Houston is the best place to live and after having served the City for the past six years, I feel my qualifications are the most appropriate for the Controller position, so that I can contribute more towards the well-being of all Houstonians. I am grateful to each and everyone, who has voted for me and expect more voters to come out in the run-off and elect him to be the next City of Houston Controller because I have the right background and expertise to run the finances of this great city in the most amicable manner,” said M. J. Khan, as final results came in late around 11:45pm.

In other races, it will be mayoral election run-off as well. Here again all political pundits were proven wrong, when City Councilperson Peter Brown, even after spending more than $2-Million of his own and wife’s money, came in third. Since none of the candidates got 50%+, there will be run-off between top position Annise Parker and Gene Locke.

Here is how the final outcome of various campaigns was:

Houston Mayor – Annise Parker 54,193 (30.5%); Gene Locke 45,954 (25.90%); Peter Brown 39,904 (22.4%); Roy Morales 35925 (20.20%) (Run-Off);
Houston Controller – Number Of Votes Are For Harris County Only – Ronald C. Green 53,993 (36.3%); M. J. Khan 49,424 (32.5%); Pam Holm 47,701 (31.2%) (Run-Off);
City Council At-Large Pos. 1 – Stephen Costello 24.1%; Karen Derr 19.6% (Run-Off)
City Council At-Large Pos. 2 – Sue Lovell 48.8%; Andrew C. Burks Jr. 21.4% (Run-Off);
City Council At-Large Pos. 4 – C. O. Bradford Won 52.3%; Noel Freeman 21.1%;
City Council At-Large Pos. 5 – Jolanda “Jo” Jones (I) 42.1%; Jack Christie 36.4% (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. A – Brenda Stardig 31.9%; Lane Lewis 21.8% (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. B – Jarvis Johnson (I) Won 82.0%; Roger Bowden 18.0%;
City Council Dist. C – Anne Clutterbuck (I) Won 81.8%; Randolph Locke 17.5%;
City Council Dist. D – Wanda Adams Won 76.2%; Larry McKinzie 11.0%;
City Council Dist. E – Mike Sullivan (I) Won 74.1%; Wayne Garrison 25.9%;
City Council Dist. F – Mike Laster 2,436 (25.5%); Al Hoang 2,351 (24.6%); Khalid Khan 1,859 (19.5%) (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. G – Oliver Pennington Won 59.1%; Mills Worsham 17.8%.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I44)

October 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ICNA Relief USA Starts Homeless Women’s Shelter

Picture V Famous Journalist and Houston Fox TV Channel 26 News Reporter Isiah Carey has called the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA (ICNA Relief USA) Houston Homeless Women Shelter as: “Providing Haven for Houston’s Homeless”.

“We will able to accommodate 14 homeless ladies at a time, without any discrimination (religious and/or ethnic), at this ICNA Relief USA Houston Women Shelter Facility, We do have a procedure and interview all the candidates for eligibility to stay at our Facility. At this time, we are unable to house children with the women. We do have a food pantry, where any needy person can come and avail from the non-perishable food items. We also follow certain procedures for this pantry. Moreover, we have an Islamic book service, from where people can borrow or buy books for their review. We are looking for generous cash donations from people of all backgrounds, to pay for the beds we have purchased for this shelter and for other amenities. People can give in-kind donations as well in terms of computers, not expired non-perishable food items, toiletries’, items used by women like hair brushes, lipsticks, etc., cleaning stuff, and so on. For this people can call us at 713-692-2408 or visit the Center located at 4021 Baden Street, Houston, Texas 77009.”

These were some of the things informed at the Open House this past Saturday, October 10, 2009 by Manager of Operations Sister Munirah Vaid & Project Coordinator Sister Seemi Bukhari of ICNA Relief USA Houston Homeless Women Shelter.

“This is building upon the success of our Temporary Housing Facility in New York City. We have a well known track record in the Southern States for sheltering those displaced by Disaster and providing short term emergency assistance. Now we will be offering long term care and shelter for internally displaced and homeless women,” informed Ayub Badat, the National Executive Director of ICNA Relief USA.

Throughout the day from 9:00am. till 9:00pm., several gentlemen, ladies and families kept pouring into the Center for the Open House and prayed for all those involved in this project of extreme social need. For further information, Ayub Badat can also be reached at 1-917-602-4450 (Cell) or call Munirah Vaid 936-355-3751 (Cell) or Seemi Bukhari 832-382-1669 (Cell).

Two Rallies for Former President/General Pervez Musharraf’s Visit to Houston

Picture W Quarter of a mile from the main hotel doors at the entrance of the access road to the Omni Hotel, several Pakistanis had gathered this past Saturday, October 10, 2009 between 10am. and 2pm. to organize two separate rallies: One against him and another one in his favor. Since Mr. Musharraf was staying in the same hotel, he may not able to see these demonstrations.

Those against him were carrying banners with the name of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif Group) and Tahreek-e-Insaaf, asking Musharraf to go back to Pakistan and face the cases filed against him, where according to the protestors he had resorted to unconstitutional measures. They were calling him the oppressor of judiciary, who committed crimes against the innocent families of the judges, by keeping them under house arrests for weeks.

Those in his favor, were mainly young students from colleges and universities of Houston, carrying banners, calling the Former President a national hero, statesperson and reformer, who had worked hard for progressives, enlightenment and moderation in the Pakistani Society.

After the special morning breakfast reception with the World Affairs Council Members & other large contributors of the luncheon event with the World Affairs Council, General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and his wife Ms. Sehba inside the Omni Hotel had group photos with hundreds of Pakistanis, who had to remain in the queues for more than thirty minutes, to have their picture taken with the former President and his wife. Some of the Pakistanis present over there; did not have a picture with him, because they wanted to distance themselves, considering him a dictator, who had started an unnecessary fight with the judiciary and trampled upon the constitution of Pakistan.

Picture X At this occasion, the Honorable City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan gave Honorary Citizenship Proclamation Certificate of behalf of the City of Houston to General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and Space City Memento to Ms. Sehba Musharraf.

M. J. Khan called Mr. Musharraf the man of vision for whom the nation has been waiting for years and gave him the tile of the greatest Statesperson of Pakistan after Quaid-e-Azam, on which General (Retired) Musharraf said this is huge title given to him and has placed much burden on him to fulfill. Some people over there felt, it was not appropriate to give this title, since Pervez Musharraf did many excellent things for Pakistan, but also did a few contentious decisions towards the end of his tenure.

Honorable M. J. Khan, who is running for the City Controller position, said he was expecting that during the World Affairs Council event, he will get endorsement of his candidacy from General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf. He did not directly endorse M. J. Khan, but just said: “Why not”. Again people felt that it is unfitting to ask for endorsement for an American Elections from someone from Pakistan.

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New Muslim Mayor Inherits Possibility of Uniting Rotterdam

October 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Henry Chu, LA Times Reporting from Rotterdam, Netherlands

Aboutaleb_1
Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb

The veiled women clutch their children’s hands as they scurry past the liquor store, ignoring rows of vodka bottles on their way to the Muslim butcher’s next door.

Across the street, male customers emerge from the Climax sex shop with their purchases and quickly stride away without a second glance at the Turkish kebab restaurant just opening for lunch.

The conservative and liberal, religious and secular, Dutch and foreign stand side by side here in Rotterdam, in a contrasting and at times uneasy coexistence where social and cultural middle ground can be elusive.

The job of finding that middle ground has now fallen onto the shoulders of a thoughtful Moroccan-born Muslim who arrived in Rotterdam just nine months ago. His address: the mayor’s office.

Ahmed Aboutaleb is the first Muslim immigrant to lead a major Dutch city. The son of an imam, he was appointed mayor of Rotterdam late last year and in January became the official face of the Netherlands’ second-largest city.

His is the classic immigrant success story, the saga of a youth who landed in the Netherlands as a teenager, worked hard and climbed the social ladder, first as a journalist, then as a politician in free-wheeling Amsterdam.

But his nomination as mayor by political party leaders in Rotterdam, who sought someone of national stature for the largely ceremonial post, took even seasoned observers by surprise.

This is, after all, a city where the national clash over immigration and integration, particularly of Muslims, has been at its most volatile.

In 2002, Pim Fortuyn, a populist and openly gay politician who slammed Islam as a “backward” religion, was fatally shot by a white assassin claiming to act in support of the Muslim community.

How the 48-year-old Aboutaleb fares as mayor could well have an effect beyond Rotterdam’s borders. With ethnic minorities accounting for almost half its population, the city serves in many ways as a laboratory of demographic change for the rest of the Netherlands, and potentially other parts of Europe.

Thus far into his six-year term, analysts say, the bespectacled Aboutaleb has trod softly, getting a feel for Rotterdam’s tricky political landscape. Though he is a member of the city’s ruling left-wing Labor Party, as mayor he is supposed to hold himself above party politics.

Within the last several weeks, however, Aboutaleb has said that he intends to step into the debate on integration. Although he has not specified how, it will mean navigating a minefield of competing beliefs, agendas and power plays by politicians, activists and bureaucrats.

“That is quite a risk for him, because if he fails . . . there is nobody above him,” said Rinus van Schendelen, a professor of political science at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University.

As mayor, Aboutaleb must gingerly maneuver a cultural war pitting those who believe Dutch liberal, secular society to be under threat from a growing religious minority against others who say that Muslims and other immigrants have been unfairly scapegoated.

Right-wing politicians demanded that Aboutaleb demonstrate his loyalty by giving up his Moroccan passport (he holds dual nationality). Geert Wilders, the country’s most inflammatory public figure, declared that Aboutaleb’s appointment was “as ridiculous as appointing a Dutchman as mayor of Mecca.”

Muslims, by contrast, were excited that one of their own had risen so high — an “Obama on the Maas,” as some have dubbed him, for the river that runs through Rotterdam.

“I was really happy that he became mayor,” said pharmacist Jilani Sayed, 29. “A mayor has to hold the city together. He’s got the potential to do that.”

The mayor’s job is largely ceremonial, with the big exception of public safety and police, which comes under his supervision. But what the post lacks in direct authority it makes up for in influence and longevity.

“After every election, you are the one that stays. . . . So people start trusting you as the consistent part of the city government,” said Marco Pastors, head of Livable Rotterdam, the right-wing party of Fortuyn. “People look up to you, and when you are looked up to, you have powers.”

Aboutaleb declined requests for an interview. A spokeswoman cited the need for him to stay focused on his duties.

Friends and foes praise him for spending his first months on a listening tour of various neighborhoods, to help damp skepticism over the fact that he comes not just from Morocco but — as egregious for some — from Amsterdam, Rotterdam’s big rival.

But there have been missteps. Critics questioned an official trip Aboutaleb took to Morocco in June, during which he met the country’s foreign minister and appeared to step on the toes of the Dutch central government.

In August, a dance party for thousands of beachgoers devolved into pandemonium and brawls in which one man was killed. The mayor, criticized for not assigning enough police officers to patrol the event, ordered a two-year ban on such parties.

And in a foretaste of the challenges that await in the simmering caldron of immigration issues, the city in August fired integration advisor Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Islamic scholar. City officials said Ramadan’s hosting of a show on Iranian state television could be perceived as an endorsement of the regime in Tehran.

Although he had no role in the decision, Aboutaleb expressed support for it. That, in turn, outraged many Muslims here, especially the young, with whom Ramadan was a popular reformist figure.

“Aboutaleb goes with the wind of politics,” said entrepreneur Abdel Hafid Bouzidi, 30, who is of Moroccan descent. “He goes too much to the right.”

Right-wing politicians certainly laud Aboutaleb for criticizing his own and insist that he keep on doing so.

rotterdam mosque
Rotterdam Mosque, under construction, 2008.

Before his appointment as mayor, his highest-profile moment came during the national uproar after the 2004 slaying of anti-Islamic filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist who shot him and slit his throat. Speaking at an Amsterdam mosque, Aboutaleb sternly told Dutch Muslims that if they did not subscribe to the Netherlands’ values of tolerance and openness, they ought to catch the first plane out.

Pastors, the head of Livable Rotterdam, was a member of the conclave of city leaders who nominated Aboutaleb for mayor, and he took some heat within his party for acceding to the choice.

Now it’s time, he said, for Aboutaleb to start speaking out on “friction points” such as homosexuality and the role of women.

“In that position there are three good opportunities a week to do something about it, and he hasn’t,” Pastors said. “I think it’s OK to have the first Muslim mayor [of a major city] in Europe. But let it be somebody that means something to the integration of Muslims in Europe, and not just an able civil servant.”

Aboutaleb has acknowledged the pressure on him, especially from foes “who expect me to fail.”

“If I can succeed, I will be a key element in persuading immigrant communities that they can have access to power. If I fail, it will have huge consequences for those coming behind me afterwards,” he told a British newspaper soon after taking office.

“My job is to build bridges, and Rotterdam is a good place to do that,” he said.

“This is the city of big projects where the sky is the limit, but also a city with high levels of poverty. My job is to be mayor for everyone, from the businessmen to the kid from Suriname just trying to earn a living.”

henry.chu@latimes.com

Raphael B. Johnson, Candidate for Detroit City Council

September 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

raphael b johnson Farmington–September 23–This upcoming Detroit city election is historic because of the candidacies of four Muslim candidates, including Imam El-Amin, Raphael B. Johson, Mohamed Okdie, and Reggie Reg Davis.

Despite the loss of Imam El-Amin in the primary, three of those candidates have soldiered on into the general election, and I had the chance to interview one of them, Raphael B. Johnson.

“I believe there is no god but Allah,” began Mr. Johnson.  “Our odds are high–I believe faith without work is like a ship without water–we are putting in the necessary work to make sure victory is ours.  We are knocking on doors, visiting churches, reacing out into all the neighborhoods not likely to vote.  We are doing everything.”

Asked if he has run for any office before, he shows his quick wit–joking, “I’ve only run for my life.”

Mr. Johnson worships at Muhammad’s Mosque Number 1, a Nation of Islam mosque, in Detroit.

Asked why he is running, Mr. Johnson explains, “because I owe the city of Detroit, because as a young person I took an innocent life… in Detroit.  Our leadership has failed us time and time again.  Our leadership should be the example of the change to see in the people.  If the leadership did not change in themselves, they can’t change the city.

“I have nothing to hide–Islam is what changed me.  Islam comes when all else has failed.”

For Detroit, “nothing has worked, we have tried everything”  — except Islam.

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All-American

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–September 10th–The “Season” has begun and authors are trampling through Northern California – Muslims and non-Muslims, knowledgeable about the Ummah and its people – hawking their books.  Jonathan Curriel, author of Al’America:  Travels Through Arab and Islamic America visited my city the week after Labor Day.  Curiel is no scholar, but was trained as a journalist.  Although employed by the San Francisco Chronicle, he was partially educated in and reported from the Middle East.

The book under discussion was published by The New Press in November of 2008, and details the historic influence of Arab and Muslim culture on America — from the time of Columbus to 9/11 — with the ramifications of the latter event.  This is a book that concentrates on the historical and Pop Cultural aspects of Islamic influence upon America, but it does a great service by exposing the underpinning of Islam at the Grassroots of North American culture.  The author too often degenerates into uncomfortable insensitivity to your reviewers’ target audience. 

Reading the press release composed for his tour, I notice a “slickness” that makes your reporter feel ill at ease. His publishers are not presenting J. Curriel humbly forcing his readers to concentrate on his credentials rather than his work!  Still, that did not prevent the book from translation into Arabic by Arab Scientific Publishers, the Beirut print house that, also, has exposed several important European and American writers to an Arabic-speaking audience.

In 2005, his Newspaper was honored by Columbia University (the dominant) U.S. J-School (of Journalism) in New York City for Jonathan Curiel’s exceptional articles on race and ethnicity!  Your Observer commentator — does not know about bragging rights — but he should be proud of this!  This is something that he attempts to bring to this study, but he is honest enough to note where he fails.

For him – even after September 11th 2001 – denying Islamic civilization is not being part of the American fabric is wrong.  “Muslims not only belong…but are part of [the American] culture in so many ways!”

In fact, Christopher Columbus reached out to the Muslim “Moors.”  The Admiral of the Ocean Seas was substantially influenced by the Arabs to the point he could not have reached the New World in 1492 without his North African designed sails.  While Arab culture was waning in Southwestern Europe by the late 16th Century (CE), Columbus’ voyages notably brought subtle Arab influences to the Spanish colonies and later the Portuguese colony in the Americas – including those parts in the United States that Washington (D.C.) seized in the Mexican-American and the Spanish-American War plus the Louisiana Purchase!

Although Madrid prohibited Muslims from the Americas, the Alamo now in Texas is a classic example of Arabic Architecture!  New Orleans was a city shunted back and forth between the Iberians and the French.  Finally, President Thomas Jefferson bought it from the Emperor Napoleon.  When the Spanish possessed that famous city, they imported Islamic ironwork for which the Metropolis near mouth of the Mississippi — plus the renowned Muslim-styled courtyards within the Big Easy — migrated from the Middle East via the Iberian Peninsula.   

The date palm was brought to the Western Hemisphere — including the California of yours truly — from the Middle East, also, via Hispania. 

In the United States, a Muslim slave actually wrote a book in Arabic while being held in South Carolina.  Until the Twentieth Century most American Muslims came from West Africa (since they were victims of that ugly Slave Trade).  Jonathan Curriel, as well as a few eminent musicologists, believe that the American “Blues” musical sub-structure comes from Islam’s call to prayer.  

No less than the extremely important American thinker of the Nineteenth Century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was profoundly influenced by Muslim culture.  Many important American intellectuals have been influenced by Islam, too, throughout the history of the American Republic (and even before –Thomas Jefferson, of course, comes to your reporter’s mind most quickly) up into the contemporary period.  There has been a long-standing cultural interaction between the Potomac and the Islamic nations according to Curriel. 

Of course, some of this interaction was not fully comprehensible to the Americans; and, thereby, can be considered in bad taste.  The Shriners and the Masons adopted pseudo-clothing accoutrement and symbols of the Muslims.  At its most forgiving was mere mimicry, but at its worst was insulting and in bad taste.  (Your scribe must point out that Jonathan Curriel did make these issues transparent, and did not cringe from describing it for what it was.)  Yet, since the immigration reforms under the late President Lyndon Johnson, highly prominent Muslim immigrants have been attracted to, and have joined the aforementioned organizations.  They have pressured these groups to give a form of Zakat and to make them even more service-oriented. 

The iconic Los Angeles rock(-n-roll) band of the 1960s, the Doors, were highly influenced by Arab music while the ultimate Rock star (of the 1950s), Elvis Presley, was a great admirer of Khalil Gibran, a Christian Lebanese immigrant to America.  His best known work was a sequence of inspirational essays, The Prophet.  They were pitifully greeted by the critics when they were published in 1923.  It definitely belongs to the opus of Arabic-language literature, but not Islamic literature.  Having read the book as a young man, when it was still a best-selling “underground” rage, your reviewer considered it to be  overly simplistic.  How much of it might be based on Mohammed (PUBH) is hard to say because of the elevated ambiguity of its poetic language.

Curriel maintained Presley somehow turned this book into his Bible.  Also, along religious lines, the Christian Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II had instructed that his casket placed on a Persian Carpet to demonstrate the unity of all religions.

Back to Pop Culture, the movie cycle and “cult” television series, Stars Wars borrowed motifs respectfully from the religion from Mecca.  Jonathan Curriel concluded, “Cultures go back and forth, and always borrow from each other,” continuing, “Muslims have contributed from the inception of the American nations,” and they are still highly visible and contributing members of our society.  Their contributions are no longer seen as insignificant within North American society.  

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9/11 Investigation Referendum on NY Ballot: 30,000 Signature Petition Achieves Aim

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Reuters

NEW YORK, Sept. 10–In a last minute decision, lawyers for the City of New York conceded that the New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN), a group comprising 9/11 family members, first responders and survivors, indeed did submit over 30,000 valid signatures to put the referendum for a new 9/11 investigation before the voters of New York City this November.

In an earlier letter from the City Clerk dated July 24, 2009, the City had claimed too few valid signatures had been on the petition.

Asked whether he thought NYC CAN could overcome the City’s challenge to the legality of the petition, legal counsel to the petitioners, Dennis McMahon, said, “Absolutely. Although the City has an incredibly successful record of shooting down ballot initiatives, we will be arguing from a fresh perspective that reflects the unprecedented events of 9/11. We believe the courts will see how critical an issue this is, and be persuaded with our legal reasoning and point of view.” A final determination on the legality of the petition will be reached in time for the referendum to be included on the November ballot should the petitioners prevail.

Representatives for NYC CAN, 9/11 family member Manny Badillo and Executive Director Ted Walter, arrived at the Board of Elections on the morning of Wednesday, September 9, to assist the court-appointed referee in commencing a line-by-line review of the disputed signatures, only to learn the referee’s review had been called off due to a last minute concession by the City. Mr. Badillo immediately got on the phone to inform others of the news.

“The City conceded we have 30,000 valid signatures. Big victory.”

The City’s concession comes as a result of the immense effort put forth by 50+ volunteers who gave more than 1,000 hours over a two week period from August 10 to August 25 to identify a total of 7,166 signatures that were wrongly invalidated by the NYC City Clerk and Board of Elections. On August 27, NYC CAN filed the 631-page Bill of Particulars cataloguing each of the 7,166 signatures it contended were in fact valid. NYC CAN submitted another 28,000 signatures on September 4 to guarantee the referendum will go on the ballot if they win the court case, bringing the total signatures submitted to 80,000.

NYC CAN must deliver its memorandum of law in response to the City’s motion for summary judgment by Monday, September 21. The City will be given an opportunity to reply before the referee’s decision is made on Monday, September 28. Fast-track appeals will likely follow no matter who wins. A final decision will have to be made by September 30.

If the referendum passes in November, it would lead to the creation of a local, independent commission with subpoena power that would be tasked with comprehensively reinvestigating the attacks.

For more info: http://www.nyccan.org.

Community News (V11-I38)

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslims least likely to report discrimination

NEW YORK– Despite fears that Muslims in the United States may be unfairly targeted or harassed because fears about terrorism, a new survey by Public Agenda finds Muslim immigrants are less likely than other immigrant populations to say there’s discrimination against immigrants in the United States, no more likely to encounter it personally, and overwhelmingly more likely to say the United States will be their permanent home.

The report released this week  by the nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, Public Agenda, follows up on a groundbreaking 2002 survey and tracks immigrants’ shifting attitudes during a tumultuous period.  Conducted in May 2009, and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, “A Place to Call Home: What Immigrants Say Now About Their Life in America,” utilized landline and cellular telephones along with oversamples to provide the widest perspective possible from more than 1,100 foreign-born adults overall, and including over 100 Muslims.  Of those surveyed, 3 out of 4 Muslims immigrated in 2000 or before.

Some 63 percent of Muslim immigrants say there is no (or only a little) discrimination against immigrants in general in the United States, compared with 32 percent of other immigrants. In addition, Muslim immigrants report encountering discrimination personally at about the same rate as other immigrants, with 27 percent saying they’ve experienced “some” or a “great deal” of discrimination personally compared with 26 percent of all other immigrants.

An overwhelming 92 percent of Muslims say the United States will be their permanent home, (compared with 69 percent among other immigrants).  Sixty-one percent of Muslims report that they’re “extremely happy” in the United States (compared with only 33 percent of other immigrants).  Muslims are more likely to give the U.S. better ratings than their birth country on key questions, such as having a free and independent media (79 percent say the United States does a better job, compared with 54 percent of other immigrants).

Salim Ejaz running for NYC Comptroller

Pakistani-American accounting professional Salim Ejaz is contesting the NYC Democratic Primary on Sept 15 to become eligible to run for the Office of Comptroller.

Salim Ejaz is the only Democrat candidate for the Comptroller’s position who is a professional Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who has worked for more than a decade with the State of New York as Director Audit.

With 40 years of financial expertise, including 12 years as Director of Audit of Nassau County in the State of New York, a multi-billion dollar governmental entity, his performance record is stellar, having exposed waste and losses generating savings which exceed $ 500 million through his audit reports and recommendations.

The NYC Comptroller oversees a budget of $ 60 billion and is also responsible for pension funds of $ 120 billion. In these financial turbulent times, it is imperative that the Comptroller, the City’s fiscal watchdog, has the right professional qualification and experience and a demonstrated record of achievement, says his press release.

His agenda is what every taxpayer wants: eliminate wasteful spending, lower taxes and achieve job growth, the PR adds.

OCU celebrates diversity with Islam Day

EDMOND,OK–Oklahoma City University hosted Islam Day Sept. 10 to encourage cultural diversity with various campus activities, including a charity fundraiser called “iFast.”

Political science professor and Middle East expert Mohamed Daadaoui organized a list of activities for students and faculty in order to foster cross-cultural dialogue and to spread awareness about the world’s second largest religion.

Daadaoui established iFast, an aspect of Islam Day when students, faculty and staff are encouraged to donate money to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

“Instead of spending money on lunch, donors will be contributing toward meals for the hungry,” he said, noting that Muslim followers are encouraged to donate to charitable causes during Ramadan.

“There are many misconceptions and stereotypical views about Islam,” Daadaoui said. “If we can show students and the OCU community what it means to be a Muslim, hopefully it will be a step in the direction of furthering goodwill and understanding.”

Community organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue and the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council have partnered with OCU for some of the activities.

Daadaoui organized lectures and interfaith panel discussions with community leaders including Razi Hashmi of the Oklahoma Council on American-Islamic Relations; Imad Enchassi, Imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City and Rabbi Abbey Jacobson of the Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City.

“Islam Day is about people of all faiths communicating and learning about the cultures of others,” he said.

Free halal meals at Wayne State U.

DETROIT–The Pakistani Student Association is offering all Wayne State University is offering free halal meals as part of the observance for the month of Ramadan. The ‘cultural dinner’ is intended to create awareness about Islamic beliefs and practices.

PSA President Harris Khan told the South End News, ‘We are hoping to create a bridge between the PSA and other Wayne State students.’

The event has been called “From Fast to Feast’” and took a month of planning to organize.

Interfaith vigil supports Obama plan

BINGHAMPTON, NY–An interfaith vigil was held in Binghampton supporting President Obama’s healthcare reforms. It was attended by people of all faiths.

“It’s not for one group or another group.

This is for all of us, all together, the children of God on the face of the Earth,” said Muslim Speaker Kasim Kopuz.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I38)

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Qari Sharafat Ali & Hafiz Amjad Saeed Featured At Pakistan Center

Picture M Houston, Texas (Pakistan Chronicle Report): The First Annual Iftar-&-Dinner and Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers were organized this past weekend by Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD) at Pakistan Center located along Bissonnet at South Dairy Ashford.

For this program, famous Qari Sharaft from Baltimore and Hafiz Amjad Saeed from Atlanta came and made motivational presentations. Qari Sharafat Ali presented heartwarming recitation of Quran and during the Taraweeh Prayers, he moved people with recitation of Surah Ar Rahman. He also presented a couple of Nasheeds.

Program started with Quranic recitation by students of Hafiz Tauqer Shah of Houston. Program was open to public and around 150 people attended.

In his Motivational Presentation, Hafiz Amjad Saeed informed everyone about Helping Hand’s project, especially the $1/Day; or $365/Year; or $30/Month-For-12-Months Orphan Sponsorship Program, where Helping hand and its aligned organizations take care of the educational, health and food needs of an orphan for one year in one of the fifteen countries. About $10,000 were raised during this program, while almost $22,000 were already raised before the program through the efforts of volunteers of HHRD.

For more information about the programs of HHRD, one can visit www.HHRD.Org or 832-275-0786 / 1-214-707-8159.

Houston Police Department Seeks Outstanding High School Youth

Houston police are looking for several outstanding high school youth to take part in the department’s Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC).
The students, 9th through 12th graders at Houston area schools, will take part in the yearlong program which emphasizes leadership, respect, education, community service and an exposure to life outside the inner city.

The high school students will serve on an advisory council to HPD Chief Harold Hurtt that will address such issues as peer-pressure, dating violence, gangs, drugs, as well as career goals and higher education.

The goal of the YPAC program, begun more than a decade ago, is to develop leadership skills among high school students. It stresses the need for participants to serve as leaders among their peers, act as liaisons between students and the City of Houston, and to take what they’ve learned and share it with their fellow students.

Students interested in participating in this year’s program should fill out and submit the attached application by October 02.  Anyone with questions about the program should contact Rhonda Conner, YPAC Director, at 713-308-3292 or E-Mail: RhondaR.Conner@CityOfHouston.Net

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I37)

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Largest Ever Gathering At Houston Mayoral Iftar-&-Dinner

Picture L “This is my last term as well as Council Member M. J. Khan’s last term. My Descendant Mayor and other Elected Officials should learn that when you move an event from outdoors to indoors, the number of people gets tripled.” These were the words of Mayor of Houston Honorable Bill White, as he welcomed hundreds of Houstonians of all faiths present at the traditional Annual Iftar-&-Dinner by the Mayor. Prominent among them were several present and former elected officials & various candidates vying for City Hall Positions in November 2009 Election; Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem & his wife; Congressman AL Green, Houston Police Chief Harold L. Hurtt; City of Houston Councilpersons Pam Holm, Peter Brown, Jolanda Jones & M. J. Khan; President, Vice President and General Secretary of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), who were one of the major organizers of the event, Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, Hashim Badat & Kamal Husain; President & Former President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston Khalid Khan & Ghulam Bombaywala; President of Council On American-Islamic Relation Houston Chapter (CAIR-Houston)  Dr. Tarek Hussein; Hafiz Mohammad Iqbal and many others.

Sumptuous Food was catered by Mezban and Demasis Restaurants and served in a well organized by volunteers of Aga Khan Ismailia Muslims Community. This year saw record number of people attending.

Dr. Aziz Siddiqi and Dr. Tarek Hussein Faraz Khan, talked about the lessons learnt from Ramadan, as the month brings God Consciousness’ and an ingredient of thankfulness in a person. As such we need to be thankful to God for all the Blessings. God has informed us in Quran that if we do not thank human beings for their services, God will not be happy.

Mayor White and Congressman AL Green lauded the Muslim community for their societal service. Due to forecast for inclement weather, Councilman M. J. Khan moved the event from the City Hall Reflecting Pool to George R. Brown Convention Center. “Weather is good out there, but inside it is cool and we will have a nice and spiritual evening together.” Informed Emcee for the Evening Khalid Khan, President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) and one of the candidates to replace termed-out M. J. Khan for District “F”.

For more information, one can reach Councilman M. J. Khan Office at 832.393.3002 or E-Mail: Rabia.Taslim@CityOfHouston.Net

You Cannot Use Cellular Phone In School Zone In Texas

With the schools back in session in the State of Texas, new traffic laws have been passed by the Texas Legislature that will take effect September first. Experts are saying that a lot of these laws are improvements; and they do also raise awareness for motorists out there, who just sometimes need to be reminded about wireless devices or buckling up.

The new laws prohibit cell phone use in school zones, and require everyone in the car to wear a seatbelt, not just those in the front seat. Tough new penalties on DWI offenders, who are caught with children in the car; first time offenders will automatically have their licenses suspended, and reinstatement fees are going up.

There are also new graduated licensing rules for young drivers’ ages 16 to 19-year-olds. Also starting September first, some younger kids will find themselves back in child safety seats. New medical research shows children under the age of eight – or under four-foot nine – still need special restraints in the car. Tickets for this offense can’t be issued till next summer.

Here are some of the things to see in the new traffic laws:

HB 537: Requires all occupants of a vehicle to be secured by a seatbelt; not just those seated in the front seat.

SB 61: Amends the statute regarding child passenger safety seats. Any child younger than 8-years old or less than four-foot nine-inches in height must be in an approved child safety seat.

HB 55: Makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone, unless a hands-free device is used.

HB 2730: Increases penalties for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. First time offenders will have their license automatically suspended. Reinstatement fees will double.

HB 2012: increases penalties on those driving with a suspended license and without insurance.

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Pakistan Day Parade and Mela on August 15, 2009

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release By PAA President Mohammad Qasim, General Secretary Muhammad Zahid

IMG_5908

l-r:  3rd adult from left, SM Khalid, PAA President Mohammad Qasim, State senate candidate Pam Jackson, Dr. Syed Taj, Canton Treasurer, Mr. Verma Ramesh, Michigan Democratic Party Treasurer, Ms. Natalie Mosher, State senate candidate, Mike McGuiness, Oakland County Demorcatic Pary Chair, fully visible man at farthest right (holding banner), PAA VP Ikhlaq Shah.

Alhamdulillah, it turned out to be the best and the biggest event the Pakistan Association of America has put together in its history since its existence in 1977. Thousands who attended are the living testimony of this fact.

The following are the guests from the Michigan Democratic Party who lead the parade with the Pakistani community and attended the event. Mr. Mark Brewer, Chairman Michigan Democratic Party; State Senator Mr. Micky Switalski; Ms. Rashida Tlaib, State Representative; Mr. Mike McGuiness, Chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party; Mr. Verma Ramesh Treasurer, Michigan Democratic Party; Dr. Syed Taj Treasurer, City of Canton; U.S. Congressional Candidate Ms. Natalie Mosher; State Senatorial Candidate, Ms. Pam Jackson.

Former PAA presidents Mr. Niaz Ali, Dr. Riaz Ahmed, Mr. Sardar Ansari, Mr. Mansoor Ahmad, Mr. Faiz M. Khan and Mr. Shakeel A. Lari were also present.
Governor Jennifer Granholm and Lt. Governor John Cherry could not make it to the Pakistani Parade, but they sent special messages to the Pakistani Community congratulating them on Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Pakistan’s President, Prime Minister, Ambassador and Consul General sent their special messages to PAA’s President Mohammad Qasim, asking him to convey their best wishes and congratulate the Pakistanis living in Michigan.

Besides the Pakistani community, a large number of non-Pakistanis participated in the colorful parade, which was lead by U.S. elected officials from various districts, famous stars Saud, Javeria, Arif Lohar and professional dholies and other instrument players.

Several media outlets attended: GEO TV, TMO, Urdu Times, Pakistan News and Voice of Pakistan Radio were all present to cover the parade and mela.

PAA gave awards and recognition as follows: PAA Community Services Award for 2009–Dr. Zubair Rathur (who has been doing voluntary community services consistently and generously).

Media recognition awards were presented to Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, Mr. Masood Farooqi, Mr. Khalid Gilani and Mr. Faiz M. Khan. The Sharifan Bibi student scholarship award was given to Ms. Sana Ashraf of Sterling Heights. Special Awards were given to famous Pakistani drama on Geo TV “Yeh Zindagi Hai” to Filmstar SAUD and TV artist JAVERIA, presented by State Senator Mickey Switalsky.

There were various kinds of fun rides for the children who had a good time while their parents were enjoying the shopping for clothes, jewelry, media , etc. The food area was probably the most attractive area all day. Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike kept busy trying multiple options of Pakistani cuisine.

There was also a fashion show–American kids wore Pakistani clothes for the show.

Evening Entertainment: The concert was the most popular part of the whole event. Southfield Pavilion was filled beyond maximum capacity. Hundreds of people were celebrating and socializing in hallways and outside the pavilion. People joined the artists in signing, clapping and dancing. The musical concert lasted until midnight.

Artists in attendance: King of comedy Shakil Siddiqui, Chand Puri, Pervez Siddiqui, Fozia, Sumbal Raja, Naeem Abbas Rufi, Queen of Melody Fariha Pervez, and Legendary Arif Lohar.

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Houstonian Corner V11-I35

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistan Center Annual Dinner: Councilman M J Khan Given Bombaywala And Mian “Life Time Achievement Awards”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “I am happy to be here in Pakistan Center and want to congratulate the whole community that now we all have a home of our own”: These were the sentiments of the City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan, as he handed out the highest award given by the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), “The Life Time Achievement Award”, to Former President Ghulam Mohammad Bombaywala and Mian Shabbir. All this happened during the annual dinner of PAGH on Friday, August 14th, 2009, which was attended by Consul General of Pakistan Aqil Nadeem, several Elected and Governmental Officials from the Homeland Security Department.

By the Grace of God, Pakistan Center is a huge place located in City of Houston District “F”, from where Masrur Javed Khan (past President of PAGH) got elected as the first Pakistani and Muslim City Councilman of Houston, but this past Friday was the first time M. J. came to this Center and everyone was most happy to see him and hoped this is not the only time.

Pakistan Center is the first of its kind in North America, was build in an old HEB Store, through the efforts done by the previous President of PAGH Ghulam Mohammad Bombayawala and his team. The huge Pakistan Center has several shops at the front end and huge party hall at the back, from where rental money is received, making the center self-sustaining. Center has nice offices, meeting rooms and library build for the administration of PAGH.

President of PAGH Khalid Khan had to leave for Pakistan to attend the 14th of August ceremonies over there being the Vice President of Peoples’ Party North America, but his wife and daughters filled up his spot pretty well by handing out flower bouquets to M. J. Khan and Mrs. Bombaywala.

Large numbers of attendees were entertained by famous comedians from Pakistan Kashif Khan and Pervez Siddiqui. Many people were listening to them for the first time and their jokes and presentation were quite fresh and most hilarious for everyone.

For more information on ongoing programs and projects for the community by PAGH, once can call 281-933-0786.

Bill King the Grand Marshall of the 1st Pakistan Day Parade in Downtown Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Hundreds of Pakistanis and their friends from other communities gathered in Downtown Houston for the historic first ever “Pakistan Day Parade Houston”, which was held on Sunday, August 16th, 2009.

It is said that inaugural Pakistan Day Parade in USA was held in New York, which was attended by around 100 persons. But this inaugural Houston parade saw seas of human beings coming together to fervently celebrate the day.

People from other cities and States had also come for the Parade. Some people like Dr. Aziz Siddiqi came on their open cars with their names and message of Pakistan Independence Day written on their vehicles. Several Pakistani students from University of Houston and Houston Community College System had their separate floats and vehicles with Pakistani Flags and paling traditional music of various areas of Pakistan. All these Youth were organized by social figures like Mariam Issa and Dr. Birjees Ashraf.

Former Mayor of Kemah Texas Bill King was the Grand Marshall of this first ever Pakistan Day Parade in Houston, as he led several hundred enthusiastic Youth from the Houston Community College System and the University of Houston. Accompanying them were the Founding Members Khalid Mahmood (Chairman) & Nadeem Naik (Secretary); and the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem & City Councilman M. J. Khan.

Later on at the stairs of Tranquility Park, where the parade culminated, having started at 400 Rusk Street and went around Rusk, Milam and Walker; the national anthems of Pakistan and USA were presented and several speakers made enthusiastic speeches. They included Bill King, City Councilpersons M. J. Khan and Jolanda Jones, Consul General Aqil Nadeem, Islamic Society President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, Khalid Mahmood, Nadeem Naik, Mariam Issa, Dr. Birjees Ashraf and others. Stage Programs were coordinated by Saleem and Zara Syed of Young Trang; Rehan Siddiqui of Hum Tum City Radio and Moin Pirzada of Radio Perdes.

Following the parade, speeches and recognition of sponsors like Mega Energy, a concert; lots of food; intermingling of families, friends & colleagues and Pakistanis and Non-Pakistanis happened.

The next parade will be held in Houston on March 28th, 2010. For more information, one can call 832-876-2392; or visit http://PakistanDayParadeHouston.com

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Ottoman Palestine Pictures

August 13, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

From ottomanpalestine.com:

“Until 9 December 1917 for more 400 years the city and Palestine lived peacefully under Pax Ottomana. Despite this 400 year long rule of Turks in Jerusalem there are not many visible Turkish Architectural Works. No slender minarets or Royal Mosque as in Balkans was build. The reason for this was respect for the local traditions and because there was a congregational Mosque of Masjid el-Aqsa. No other Mosque could be built that could surpass the holy shrine. Never the less, the City of Jerusalem has still a visible Turkish Presence. ”

Suleiman had a special relationship with Jerusalem. Evliya Çelebi describes Sultan Suleiman’s special relationship with Jerusalem as follows:

“In the year 926/1520 Sultan Suleiman acceded to the throne and conquered the fortress of Belgrade 927/1521 and later on the island of Rhodes 928/1522 and accumulated thereby intense wealth. The Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w) appeared to him in a blessed night and told him: “O Suleiman you will make many conquests You should spend these spoils on embellishing Mecca and Medina, and for the fortification of the citadel of Jerusalem in order to repulse the unbelievers, when they attempt to take possession during the reign of your followers. You should also embellish its sanctuary with a water basin and offer annual money gift to the dervishes there, and also embellish the Rock of Allah and rebuild Jerusalem.”

“Such being the order of the Prophet (S), Suleiman sends from his spoils one thousand purses to Medina and another thousand purses to Jerusalem. Together with required material he dispatched the master architect Koca Sinan and transferred Lala Mustafa Pasha from the governorship of Egypt to that of Syria, this latter having been ordered to carry out the restoration of Jerusalem, gathered all the master builders, architects and sculptors available in Cairo, Damascus and Aleppo and send them to Jerusalem to rebuild it and to embellish the Holy Rock.”

89-OTTOMAN SOLDIERS (by ottomanpalestine2)

Ottoman Soldiers in Palestine

4-OTTOMAN LOCAL PASSPORT (TEZKEREH) IN PALESTINE (by ottomanpalestine2)

Ottoman Passport Palestine

9-PALESTINIAN WEDDING PROCESSION 1904 (by ottomanpalestine2)

39-PALESTINIAN WEDDING PROCESSION 1904 (2) (by ottomanpalestine2)

Palestinian Wedding Procession 1904

8-THE VISITING OF GERMANY KING TO OTTOMAN JERUSALEM 1898  (2) (by ottomanpalestine2)

44-THE VISITING OF GERMANY KING TO OTTOMAN JERUSALEM 1898 (13) (by ottomanpalestine2)

Visiting of King of Germany to Ottoman Palestine 1898

55- OTTOMAN RAILWAY   FIRST TRAIN TO BI'RšSSEBA BETWEEN HAIFA DER'A (by ottomanpalestine2)

Ottoman Railway, First Train to BI’RšSSEBA BETWEEN HAIFA DER’A

54- OTTOMAN RAILWAY HAIFA TRAIN STATION, WITH THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 1905 PRAYER (by ottomanpalestine2)

Ottoman Railway Haifa Train Station, Opening Prayer 1905

26-OTTOMAN JERUSALEM EL-KOUDS  1898-1914 (49) (by ottomanpalestine2)

Ottoman Jerusulem 1898

11-OTTOMAN PALESTINE  [BETWEEN 1898 AND 1917] SQUARE FACING DAVID'S TOWER (by ottomanpalestine2)

OTTOMAN PALESTINE [BETWEEN 1898 AND 1917] SQUARE FACING DAVID’S TOWER

Modern Palestine:

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

Imam El-Amin Upbeat After Loss in Detroit City Council Primary

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

charles pugh
Detroit City Council frontrunner, Fox 2 news reporter Charles Pugh.

Detroit–August 5–Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center appears largely unfazed by the setback of not winning the primary for the Detroit City Council.

Speaking with TMO this morning, Imam El-Amin explained that he had not won; however he explained that his next column for TMO would be about accepting Allah’s will, which is an important and sometimes difficult decision to make, as here, when things have not gone the way we intended.

While many who engage in politics immediately lose their moral compass once they smell the possibility of success and a fat government paycheck, not so Imam El-Amin.

He explained to me on the eve of the election that “I’m not worried about [the notable people in the election] because we don’t know who’s going to be running, and actually it doesn’t matter–because I just want people to vote for me.  I’m not running against them, I’m running for me.”

The imam met with early success in his bid for the city council spot, collecting 800 signatures–in a weekend–for a petition that required 458 to qualify to run.
In fact, he explained that he  only ran after having been asked to run for the office by a group of Muslims and non-Muslims.

The imam had a core group of approximately 10 volunteers and a larger group of “about 50  or 60” altogether, who worked hard to help him meet people, knock on doors, and pass out flyers.  He was able to build an election budget of over $10,000 with minimal time–in the space of less than three months of campaigning.

He received the endorsement of Reverend Nicholas Hood, a former city councilman, who is in Detroit a relative political heavyweight although he did lose in his mayoral campaign to both Ken Cockrell Jr. and Dave Bing.

El-Amin portrait The campaign was destined to be difficult, as a few minutes’ analysis before the primary could have told you.  Approximately seven incumbent city councilmen intended to hold their seats, and outside of that group there were about 9 very serious contenders for the city council spots from among the former mayoral candidates who had already lost in the mayoral election–of those, all of the politically connected and experienced candidates unclouded by legal action passed the initial 18-person threshold.  There were several other serious political contenders with their irons in the Detroit fire on Tuesday, and it looked like a tough race.

Detroit has a unique political structure, in that it is perhaps the only major city in the nation that chooses nine “at-large” councilmen who are elected by the entire city, without leaving any seats apportioned by district.  The city is not divided into polling districts in order to elect councilmen.  The top vote-getter serves as president of the council, and the second vote getter serves as president pro tempore. 

If the poll numbers from the primaries hold true through the November election, those two spots will be held by, respectively, Charles Pugh and Ken Cockrel Jr.  After the 2005 poll, Cockrel was the president and Joann Watson was the president pro tempore.

The field of candidates in August 2009 was approximately 167 people vying for the city council positions.  Former Fox 2 reporter Charles Pugh was the top finisher with 9% or 59,560 votes.  The formerly dominant Ken Cockrel Jr. was in second place, followed by former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown (who helped set in motion the downfall and disgrace of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick via text-messaging fiasco).

The eighteenth out of those vying for one of the nine seats was John K. Bennett, who won 8,164, or about 1%, out of the total 84,000 voters who cast ballots  (because each voter can vote for nine people).  There was approximately a 15% voter turnout.

John Bennett expressed some dismay as to his eighteenth place finish, tempered with the sweetness of passing this first threshold- “It’s kind of bittersweet, I’m happy to be 18,” he said.  “But some of those people ahead of me have not campaigned at all.  I’ve been out here busting my tail for 23 months.”

Two incumbents, under fire for ethics allegations, lost the primary, Monica Conyers and Martha Reeves.

Detroit city councilmen earn approximately $81,000 per year as compensation for the four-year post–on a par with Michigan state legislators, who are among the highest paid state legislators in the nation.

The mayoral election, absent any major revelations or missteps, appears to be a nearly sure thing for Dave Bing, who is still fresh from his most recent contest with Ken Cockrel Jr. for the seat vacated by Kwame Kilpatrick.

11-33

Houstonian Corner (V11-I31)

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistan Federal Minister Mir Gul Mahmood Jakhrani in Houston

Picture A “Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) represents the whole country, as we have strong presence in all the provinces of Pakistan and we have always worked for the reign of democracy and never accepted dictatorship. The sacrifices of their own lives by the founder of the party Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and recently Benazir Bhutto, have been for stronger and democratic Pakistan and under the present able leadership of PPP, we will achieve the dream of good governance in Pakistan as we will finish our tenure of five years:” These were the sentiments of Mir Gul Mahmood Jakhrani, Federal Minister Pakistan. He was on a short visit to Houston, after attending 25th Annual Convention of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), which was held at Saint Louis, Missouri between July 2nd and 6th, 2009.

Earlier Vice President PPP USA Khalid Khan (who is also President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston – PAGH) and PPP Houston’ President Syed Riaz Hussain welcomed all the esteemed guests, among whom were Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem, City of Houston Councilperson M. J. Khan, Office Bearers of SANA, and many more. They thanked everyone to have come on a very short notice.

City of Houston Councilperson M. J. Khan conferred Honorary Citizenship and Ambassador of Goodwill Proclamation on behalf of Mayor of Houston to Mir Gul Mahmood Jakhrani.

For more infromation on PPP USA activities, one can visit http://www.pppusa.org/

Hillcroft to be “Gandhi Avenue”?

Picture B Efforts are underway, by the India Culture Center, to change the name of Hillcroft between Highway 59 and Westpark to “Gandhi Avenue” before October 02, 2009, which is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and the International Non-Violence Day. Some are in favor, while others are not.

Those who favor it, say that Houston is an international city and this diversity should be reflected in the names of the various streets of Houston. Also as Gandhi’s name is associated with Non-Violence, that will help to restrain crime and ferocity in the area.

Since Hillcroft, between Highway 59 and Westpark, has many international shops and restaurants from South Asia, those in favor of the change in name are saying that this section of roadway qualifies for the new name, which can be either Mahatma Gandhi Street or Gandhi Avenue.

There are others, who say that since majority of businesses are South Asian, it will be proper, if both Indian and Pakistani personality names are part of the new name for Hillcroft, like Gandhi-Jinnah Avenue.

Houston City Council Person M. J. Khan is favoring the change saying if majority of the people of the area want the name to be altered, then it should be changed.

However there are others, who feel that this same area has famous businesses belonging to Spanish, Guatemalan, Arab and Persian Communities: As such they feel that if there is need to change the name, it should be all inclusive.

11-31

Why Jerusalem? Israel’s Hidden Agenda

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dan Lieberman

Three huge granite stones rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Since the Islamic Wafq owns and controls all the property on the Haram al-Sharif, these stones cannot be legally transferred to the Temple Mount nor can a Temple be constructed there? The provocation, represented by the stones, which the Israel government refuses to curtail, lead to a belief that an eventual Muslim reaction to the increasing provocations will give Israel an excuse to seize total control of the Holy Basin – the ultimate of the properties that Israel intends to incorporate into a greater Jerusalem.

For decades, Israeli authorities have spoken of a united Jerusalem – suggesting a spiritual quality to its message – as if Israel wants the home for the three monotheistic faiths to be solid and stable. By being guided from one central authority, a united Jerusale m also offers a preservation of a common and ancient heritage. However, Israel disguises the lack of a sufficiently supporting and verifiable historical narrative that could bolster its thrust to incorporate all of an artificially created greater Jerusalem into its boundaries. Coupled with inconsistencies and contradictions, Israel’s eagerness to create a greater Jerusalem under its total control becomes suspect. The intensive concentration on a ‘united’ Jerusalem reveals a hidden agenda that debases Jerusalem’s religious ingathering and heightens division, hatred and strife.

Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for millenniums. Although people of the Jewish faith had major presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of Biblical Jerusalem, which included rule by King Hezekiah and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their control and presence were interrupted for two millennia. Extensive commentary has enabled the two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as if it never happened and that today is only a short interval from the ancient years of Hezekiah. Almost one thousand years of Christian and Crusader rule and more than one thousand years of Muslim rule are politely ignored, while their tremendous constructions and creation are not credited. Almost everything becomes nothing and a minor something becomes everything. Myth replaces reality. Spiritual quality replaces actual presence.

Some remains of Jewish dwellings and ritual baths can be found, but few if any major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical era exist in the “Old City” of today’s Jerusalem. The often cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod’s platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. No remains of the Jewish Temple have been located in Jerusalem.

According to Karen Armstrong, in her book Jerusalem, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. After the Ottomans replaced the Mamluks, Suleiman the Magnificent issued a formal edict in the 16th century that permitted Jews to have a place of prayer at the Western Wall.

The only remaining major symbol of Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Holy City is the Jewish quarter, which Israel cleared of Arabs and rebuilt after 1967. During its clearing operations, Israel demolished the Maghribi Quarter adjacent to the Western Wall, destroyed the al-Buraq Mosque and the Tomb of the Sheikh al-Afdhaliyyah, and displaced about 175 Arab families. Although the Jewish population in previous centuries comprised a large segment of the Old City (estimates have 7000 Jews during the mid-19th century), the Jews gradually left the Old City and migrated to new neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, leaving only about 2000 Jews in the Old City. Jordanian control after the 1948 war reduced the number to nil. By 2009, the population of the Jewish quarter in the Old City had grown to 3000, or nine percent of the Old City population. The Christian, Armenian and Muslim populations are the principal constituents and their quarters contain almost the entire Old City commerce.

In an attempt to attach ancient Israel to present day Jerusalem, Israeli authorities continue the attachment of spurious labels to Holy Basin landmarks, while claiming the falsification is due to the Byzantines, who got it all wrong.

King David’s Tower’s earliest remains were constructed several hundred years after the Bible dates David’s reign. It is a now an obvious Islamic minaret.

King David’s Citadel earliest remains are from the Hasmonean period (200 B.C.). The Citadel was entirely rebuilt by the Ottomans between 1537 and 1541.

King David’s tomb, located in the Dormition Abbey, is a cloth-covered cenotaph (no remains) that honors King David. It has not been verified that the casket relates to David.

The Pools of Solomon, located in a village near Bethlehem, are considered to be part of a Roman construction during the reign of Herod the Great. The pools supplied water to an aqueduct that carried water to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem.

The Stables of Solomon, under the Temple Mount, are more likely a construction of vaults that King Herod built in order to extend the Temple Mount platform.
Absalom’s Tomb is an obvious Greek sculptured edifice and therefore cannot be the tomb of David’s son.

The City of David contains artifacts that date before and during king David’s time. Some archaeologists maintain there is an insufficient number of artifacts to conclude any Israelite presence before David. In any case any Israelite presence must have been in a small and unfortified settlement.

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park within the Old City, together with the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center also tell the story. Promising to reveal much of a Hebrew civilization, the museums shed little light on its subject. The Davidson Center highlights a coin exhibition, Jerusalem bowls and stone vessels. The Archeological Park in the Old City contains among many artifacts, Herodian structures, ritual baths, a floor of an Umayyad palace, a Roman road, Ottoman gates, and the façade of what is termed Robinson’s arch, an assumed Herodian entryway to the Temple Mount.. The exhibitions don’t reveal many, if any, ancient Hebrew structures or institutions of special significance.

Well known archaeologists, after examining excavations that contain pottery shards and buildings, concluded that finds don’t substantiate the biblical history of Jerusalem and its importance during the eras of a united Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon.

Margaret Steiner in an article titled It’s Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative in the Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1998, states

“…from the tenth century B.C.E. there is no archaeological evidence that many people actually lived in Jerusalem, only that it was some kind of public administrative center…We are left with nothing that indicates a city was here during their supposed reigns (of David and Solomon)…It seems unlikely, however, that this Jerusalem was the capital of a large state, the United monarchy, as described in Biblical texts.”

West Jerusalem is another matter. With banditry prolific and Old City gates being closed before nightfall, living outside the city gates did not appeal to the population. Philanthropist Moses Montefiore wanted to attract the Jewish population to new surroundings and constructed the first Jewish community outside of the Old City. Yemin Moshe’s first houses were completed in 1860. From that time Jewish presence played a critical role in creating a West Jerusalem. Other institutions, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Muslim soon ventured forth and acquired much property in the evolving West Jerusalem.

In 1948, After the Israeli army seized absolute control of West Jerusalem, the new Israeli government confiscated all West Jerusalem property owned by Muslim institutions. Reason – enemy property. Few Muslims and no mosques remain in today’s West Jerusalem.

One contradiction. By attacking and ethnically cleansing the Christian Arab communities of Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, Israeli forces characterized Christian Palestinians as an enemy. Nevertheless, Israel did not confiscate all Christian properties, many of which are apparent in West Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Church owns extensive properties in West Jerusalem, many marked by its Tau + Phi symbol, which translates to ‘Sepulchre.’

Another contradiction. Israel has cared for the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and expanded it as a heritage site. Part of the famous Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem has been classified as refugee property and is being prepared to be demolished for the new Museum of Tolerance.

East Jerusalem reveals more contradictions. The desire to incorporate East Jerusalem into Israel contradicts the repeated warning by Israeli leaders that co-existence is not feasible and that it is necessary to separate the Jewish and Palestinian communities. Incorporation means accepting somewhere between 160,000 and 225,000 Palestinians into a Jewish state. Or does it? Whereas the older historical Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem have their characters maintained or are rebuilt in their original style, the older Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are entirely neglected (all of Arab East Jerusalem is neglected) or destroyed. How much deterioration and destruction can Palestinians absorb before they decide to leave?

Construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods proceeds and destruction of Arab homes, ei ther declared illegally constructed or illegally purchased, continues. On 44 dunums of lands that previously belonged to Palestinian families, a private company has constructed the gated community of Nof Zion and conveniently separated Palestinian Jabal Al Mukabir from other parts of East Jerusalem. No Arabs need apply. The million dollar condominiums are advertised for American investors.

The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in order to construct a new hotel close to the Old City and near the Rockefeller Museum. The result will be the destruction of an Arab neighborhood and its replacement by Jewish interests, which will one day join with other Jewish interests.

These are only two examples of a master plan to replace the centuries old Arab presence in East Jerusalem with a modern Jewish presence. The ancient Arab presence in an ancient land is further divided by the Separation Wall, which runs through the East Jerusalem landscape and detaches East Jerusalem from the West Bank, making it unlikely for a Palestinian state to have its capital in East Jerusalem. The master plan extends the boundaries of Jerusalem to include the large Israeli settlement (city) of Maale Adumim. Between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem, Israel proposes to construct the E1 corridor, which joins settlements in a ring and adds to the separation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The E1 corridor will divide the northern and southern West Bank and will impede direct transit between Palestine Bethlehem, which is south of E1 and Palestine Ramallah, which is north of E1. Construction of the E1 corridor, portions of which are owned by Palestinians, could prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state.

So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem’s heritage and subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?

Israel is a physically small and relatively new country with an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel needs a capital city that commands respect, contains ancient traditions and is recognized as one of the world’s most important and leading cities. Almost all of the world’s principal nations, from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain, have capitals that are great cities of the world. To assure its objectives, Israel wants an oversized Jerusalem that contains the Holy City. That’s not all.

Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded and provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Mid-East. An indivisible Jerusalem under Israeli control is worth a lot of shekels.

Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of Judaism.

By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in disputes.

Whatever Israel gains the Palestinians are denied. Even if Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its policies to limit the effectiveness of that state. Since East Jerusalem and its holy sites greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and increase Palestine legitimacy, Israel will do everything to prevent East Jerusalem being ceded to the new state of Palestine.

West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.

The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years. Israel’s attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support to more of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of identity that captures world attention.

If Israel has legitimate claims to Jerusalem, then those claims should be heard and discussed in a proper forum. However, that is not the process forthcoming. The Israeli government is using illegal and illegitimate procedures, as well as deceitful and hypocritical methods to force its agenda . Israel is not presenting its case but is exerting its powers to trample all legal, moral and historical considerations.

The Museum of the Citadel of David has an inscription: The land of Israel is in the center of the world and Jerusalem is the center of the land of Israel.

This self praise was echoed at a West Jerusalem coffee house in a conversation with several Israelis, A youthful Israeli abruptly sat at the table and entered the conversation with the words: “All the world looks to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Everyone needs Jerusalem and they will need to talk with Israel.’

And that is why Israel desperately wants its greater Jerusalem.

Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has written many articles on the Middle East conflict, which have circulated on websites and media throughout the world.

11-29

Houstonian Corner (V11-I29)

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Sultans of Science: Yours’ To Rediscover At IDC Downtown Houston

Sultans of Science Exhibition At IDC (A)

The world famous Exhibition called “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered”, has opened on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 at the Islamic Da`wah Center (IDC), located at 201 Travis Street, Downtown Houston, Texas 77002. “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered” is a global touring exhibition celebrating the contributions of Muslim scholars in science and technology during the golden age of the Islamic world and the influence their inventions and contributions have had on our modern day society. The exhibition is very interactive, with sensory displays, and enticing designs and presentations.

With the summer break, the “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered” Exhibition is especially beneficial for Youth to attend. Organized by Liberty Science Center and MTE Studios, the Exhibition will run from July 01 till September 07, 2009. Hours of Admission and Fees to the Exhibition are: Monday to Thursday 10am – 7pm; Friday Closed; Saturday 10am – 7pm; and Sunday 12pm – 5pm. Tickets online at http://islamicdawahcenter.org/ are $15 (Adults); $10 (Children) and at the IDC Box Office $20 (Adults); $10 (Children). All tickets are for single entry: Special Groups Field Trips and School Groups require Reservation.
A Pre-Opening Celebration event was held last Friday, where several influential local political, professional and social leaders were present. Ameer Abuhalimeh, Executive Director of IDC welcomed everybody and read the message of famous basketball player Hakeem Olajuwan, who is President and Founder of IDC (he is presently in Jordan). Keynote Remarks came from City of Houston Councilmember, the Honorable M J Khan and Mayoral Proclamation was given by Minnette B. Boesel, the Mayor’s Assistant for Cultural Affairs.

Consul Generals of Pakistan, India, Egypt and Great Britain were present. Everyone was mesmerized to see the depth of information in a most interactive manner provided to the attendees. “It is a must to attend exhibition for all Houstonians’ and Americans,” said the Former Honorary Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Joanne King Herring.

For further information, one can visit http://islamicdawahcenter.org/ or call 713-223-3311.

Hundreds Thronged Rice University for 4th Annual ICNA-MAS South Region Conference

bill white Fourth of July saw a Major Islamic Conference coming to Rice University Houston: This was the 4th Annual ICNA-MAS South Central Region Conference. Several hundred families came from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere to attend this one day event, whose theme was: “Serve Humanity for the Love of Divinity”. “Not only the theme was unique, but after attending various lectures and segments, I am convinced that all the speeches at the Conference had distinctive message and it was conveyed by all the speakers in a unique manner, which I have never felt at other Islamic Conferences. One needs to get the DVDs and CDs of this Conference for future reference and study,” said one of the regular attendee of the many Islamic Conferences in the Greater Houston Region.

Renowned scholars like Sheikh Nouman Ali Khan; Sheikh Abdool Rahman Khan; Imam Omar Suleiman; Imam Khalid Griggs; Imam Yousuf Estes; Dr. Zahid Bukhari; Dr. Muhammad Yunus; Dr. Mazhar Kazi; Sheikh Nisar-ul-Haq; Hafiz Tauqeer Shah; Sheikh Wazir Ali; Samid AL-Khatib; Reverand Kimberley; and many more, mesmerized the audiences with excellent presentations that had practical solutions to various issues facing communities nationwide in USA, as far as volunteering and assisting humanity is concerned.

“Window to Islam” Morning Session brought some Non-Muslims with Muslims and the Chapel besides Rice Memorial Ley Student Center was packed with people of all ages, as they understood the basics of Islam and learnt from Imam Yousuf Estes as to why he became Muslim. Other topics included “Islam: Not just a Middle Eastern Religion”; “The History of Relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims” and “Interfaith Panel Q-&-A”.

Special “Young Muslims Conference” in the afternoon drew many youth in the community to learn their very crucial role in the society, like “Lead Your Friends to Humanity for Your Lord”; “Islam: A Religion That Came on the Shoulders of Youth”; “Muslim Youth: Serving Humanity”; “Muslim Youth is Ready to Face Challenges”; and much more.

The main topics discussed in the Central Programs included “The Islamic Solutions to Contemporary Social Problems, like the Declining Family System”; “Dawah and Relief Go Hand in Hand”; and “Deliverance Through Service”.

Sumptuous food was served by Lazzezza Restaurant. For more information and getting Conference material, one can call Omer Syed, Secretary of ICNA Houston at 713-253-4599.

11-29

TX Muslim Candidate!

July 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By ILyas Hasan Choudry, MMNS

 

Houston, Texas: I attended a fundraiser for M. J. Khan way back in 2003. This was the first time he was vying to become the City of Houston Councilperson. Many including myself doubted and did all kinds of analysis that M J has little chance to win the elections in the 4th largest city of USA (Houston). Due to the blessing of prayers of hundreds; his personal hard work; his family’s absolute support; the funds he received from his friends and community persons; and team of shrewd advisors, he surprised several pessimists.

khan21

M J Khan will be termed out as the City Councilman in December 2009. Before that in November 2009, elections to various offices will be held in Houston. M J Khan, who in 2007 got the “Outstanding American by Choice Award from the USCIS-U.S. Department of State”, has again shown his courageous character, by confidently entering into citywide election race to become the Controller of the 4th largest city of USA (Houston). The distinction for the Controller of Houston is that it is an independent position and his or her decisions are not influenced by the Mayor or City Council. The City of Houston has strong Mayoral Form of Government.  On behalf of the citizens of Houston, the City Controller is the person that brings the much needed check-&-balance to the Mayor and City Council (the executive and legislative branches) of City government.

The position of Controller of the City of Houston has a rich history of about 106 years. The Controller is the Chief Financial Officer of the 4th largest City of USA, making decisions that affect each and every citizen and businesses of the city. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the assets of the City are properly accounted for and expended in a manner consistent with applicable laws, policies, plans and procedures. To achieve this, the Controller conducts audits of different departments of the City. Controller processes and monitors more than $2.5-Billion Annual Budget.

As such a M J Khan win in November 2009 elections, will not be merely a personal triumph, but a landmark occasion for all the smaller communities of Houston, where they will proudly see someone most competent from diverse communes, making tough decisions for the betterment of all the Houstonians.

More information on his campaign (Theme: “Fiscal Responsibility for a Stronger Houston”), can be received by regularly visiting www.MJKhan.Com Contributions can be made to his campaign at the website by Citizens and Permanent Residents from anywhere in USA.

M J Campaign for Controller is Viable

Saturday, June 27, 2009, saw the Gala Fundraising Dinner of M J Khan for Controller Campaign at the impressive Westin Galleria Hotel. Reasonable numbers of people attended the fundraiser. Prominent among them were all the close members of M J Khan’s extended family; Former City of Houston Councilperson Gordon Quan and his wife; Counsel General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem and his wife; Director of Harris County Houston Sports Authority Board Haroon Shaikh; President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Khalid Khan; Former President of PAGH Ghulam Bombaywala; President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Dr. Tariq Hussein; President of Shifa Foundation Dr. Moien Butt; Chairman Executive Board of Ibna Sina Foundation Nasruddin Rupani; Attorney Noaman Hussain; Attorney Neiyar Izfar; Former Houston President of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) Dr. Asaf Qadeer; Entrepreneurial Zakaria Family; Media and Campaign Coordinators Ghulam Chisti and Azam Akhtar; and several representatives of community media.

Program started with heart wrenching recitation of Quran by young Hafiz Anis-ul-Haq, who recited verses about unity among the community and importance of calling people towards all that is good, while advising people to avoid doing evil. Following Hafiz Anis-ul-Haq recital, Dr. Attiya Khan, wife of M J Khan thanked everyone for coming and requested to support M J Khan for Controller Campaign.

Dr. Neelofur Ahmad was emcee on the occasion, while Ghulam Bombaywala, Dr. Asaf Qadeer, Dr. Abdul Kader Fustok; Attorney Noaman Hussain; Dr. Moien Butt; Dr. Mubashir Chaudhry; Faisal Ameen; and others helped with the fundraiser. It was informed that at the first fundraiser in 2003 for the City Council Election, M J Khan raised $250,000 from our community and six years later, several communities living in District “F” of M J received many dollars in grants to improve the living standards of people: As such the funds of our community, used in the election of the right person to the office of City Council, resulted in the betterment of whole of Houston. This positive investment also brought more than $5-Million to the Pakistani, Muslim and South-Asian Communities in the fields of health and social wellbeing.

It was further informed that the name of M J is not only restricted to Houston, but his name is heard in the Congressional Hallways in Washington, D.C. and Legislative Corridors in Austin, Texas.

More than $103,000 was received at this fundraiser in cash and pledges. M J Khan Camping for Controller already had more than $300,000 in the coffers before the fundraiser. It is projected that it will cost each candidate $1-Million to run for this position. With over $400,000 raised five months before the election, M J Campaign is in a strong position.

Before that, the former city councilman Gordon Quan, while introducing Councilman M J Khan also talked about the challenges he is going to face: “This is a city and not federal government, where one can print millions of dollars to come out of financial crisis. Here one has to balance the budget, show fiscal responsibility and take tough decisions for the future of this great city of Houston, which we and our children proudly call home. M J came up with the catchphrase that District F is the forgotten district and that after getting elected; he will make it the known and best district. With his persistence and hard work, he has brought several positive improvements to District F and we all need to applaud him for the excellent work he has done. With these six years experiences, his strong academic background having done MBA from the prestigious Rice University and having run a business, M J is one of the strongest and most capable candidates for this position. He will be a pride for all communities in these trying economic times.”

M J Khan in his presentation thanked his Sister Yasmin Khan, Wife Dr. Attiya Khan, all extended family members, friends and well-wishers and said his earlier win with Blessing of God due to sincere supplications by everyone in the community and requested for continuing prayers. He said in 2003, people did not give him much chance to win: That motivated him to persistently work and he did not win once, but three times due to the Grace of God. He said putting sincere and complete efforts with clean heart is what is needed; results are in the hand of God.

“I have worked diligently to serve all Houstonians including our community as the City Councilman and will work even more meticulously, if given chance by all Houstonians, to serve them as their proficient Controller:” Said M J Khan.

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