Community News (V14-I1)

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslim author’s appearance cancelled after complaints

HATFIELD,PA–A Muslim children’s author had to cancel her talk at an elementary school after reported complaints by some parents. Lisa Abdelsalam is a Muslim convert who has written a children’s book focusing on her son’s experiences at his school titled  “A Song for Me, A Muslim Holiday Story.”

The book has illustrations based on pictures of the York Avenue school and details a Muslim boy’s efforts to fit into the holiday spirit at Christmas time.

The principal, according to Abdelsalam, told her a few parents had complained about the program and threatened to bring in an outside group to protest if the classes went forward. “They did not want a Muslim or a Muslim book read in their classrooms,” she was told.

The principal told Abdelsalam that she can go ahead with the scheduled talk but that they mutually decided to cancel the event as she thought, “It’s not a battle that should be fought in an elementary school parking lot.”

Islamophobic individuals appear to be targeting authors these days. Recently, a campaign was unleashed by them to stop award winning author from speaking at the prestigious Mercersburg Academy boarding school in Pennsylvania. That event, however, was held as scheduled and the only complaints where from outsiders who had no relationship with the school.

Missing Muslim student found safe

OVERLAND PARK,KS–A missing Muslim student of a Kansas college was found safe and unharmed. She esd reported missing from a university library more than week ago but it was later found that she had left voluntarily.

Her family had announced a $10,000 reward for any information leading to her. Theey have now decided to donate it to the Overland department and a few other charities.

Family members posted a statement Friday on Facebook thanking the public for its support but asking for privacy as they try to heal.

San Bernardino Muslims feed one & all

SAN BERNARDINO,CA–First Islamic Healing & Wellness Centre reaches out to the needy by helping them with food and clothing requirements. Last week the group held its  first Community Give Back event at Seccombe Lake Park.

Malek Bendelhoum of the group said that they do all they can. In an interview to the Sun he said, he finds people who have just fallen on tough times and need a hand.

“We aspire to be the people who can reach out that hand,” Bendelhoum said.

Programs are available at the center to people of all faiths, including 12 Paths of Recovery each Thursday evening, Job Preparation and Training, Purification of the Self and Peer to Peer Counseling.

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Houstonian Corner (V13-I51)

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Inaugural Grand Ball of International Trade Center

With the splendid light blue and white backdrops, Westin Galleria Hotel Grand Ballroom showed a picturesque setting for the around 700 guests that were in attendance at the Inaugural Grand Ball of International Trade Center (ITC). Program included exciting entertainments from across the globe; motivating interactive auction professionally done by Former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt; Silent Auction on the beautiful artifacts & jewelry from across the world; sumptuous dinner from the Chefs of Westin Galleria, and much more. Our media outlets congratulate the whole team of ITC on this most wonderful program.

Chris Wilmont, Chairman Greater Houston Partnership World Bank Task Force & Honorary Grand Ball Chair; Honorable Gordon & Sylvia Quan, Grand Ball Co-Chairs; Wae Lee, ITC Founder; Gezahgen Kebede, President of ITC; Yuki Rogers, Executive Director; and Munira Panjwani-Zahid  & Munir Ibrahim, Co-Chairs of the Grand Ball Steering Committee; welcomed all the guests.
Keynote speaker on the occasion was James Edmonds, Chairman of Port of Houston Authority (POHA), who informed all the guests about the services POHA is providing for international trade; more potentials for trade with the projected widening of Panama Canal; and incredible opportunities for local small businesses to get contracts of the various projects happening at POHA all the time.
Guest of Honor Congressman AL Green gave special congressional proclamation to ITC and said he felt really proud to have recently visited Shanghai China to start the “Made in USA Center” over there, which has been inaugurated by Wae Lee of ITC: “I will like to visit China again with ITC,” added Honorable AL Green.

Robert Sakowitz Hazak received a beautiful memento for the Life-Time Achievement Award of ITC for his success in the world of fashion & business.

Other esteemed globally recognized award recipients were AT&T (International Corporation of the Year); Mr. Moez Mangalji of Westmont Hospitality Group (International Businessman of the Year); Late Dr. Michael Elias DeBakey of Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center (International Legacy of the Year); UNICEF (International Humanitarian Organization of the Year); Houston Community College System (International Academia Award); Ms. Sandra Bloem-Curtis of Rice University (International Educator of the Year); and three persons got the International Students of Excellence namely Mr. Yuqian “Kevin” Wu (University of Houston), Mr. Sumedh Warudkar (Rice University), and Ms. Sung Un Lee (Houston Community College).

For more information about the services & programs, and recurring updates of ITC, please regularly visit http://www.itchouston.org/

HPD Officers’ & Volunteers Donate Food

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, Houston police officers, including Officer Muzaffar Siddiqui, and dozens of community volunteers finished packing food supplies, that will be distributed to those less fortunate in Houston. This annual effort was held at the Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. Plant at 9300 La Porte Freeway.

Thanks to the generosity of the Houston community, food and monetary donations were collected by HPD officers stationed at Fiesta Mart locations throughout Houston during HPD’s 26th Annual “Comida” (“Food” in Spanish) Drive.

The Comida Drive began 26 years ago, in December 1985, with an officer’s concern for the less fortunate citizens of Houston. That began what is now one of the largest food drives in the city of Houston. During its first year, approximately 600 families received a box of non-perishable food. Each donated box feeds a family of four. The food drive now provides food for more than 3,500 pre-registered families throughout the City of Houston.

For more information, please call 713-308-3280.

Experience of a lifetime

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Internship with the Center for Global Understanding

By Moshtayeen Ahmad

Moshtayeen_Ahmad_120811So basically, all interns come to the District of Columbia because they are trying to save the world. If not that, it is all about resume boosters and looking good on paper. In reality, let us hope that an intern’s intentions match that of the first motivation over the latter.

Before I began my internship, I definitely saw myself saving the world one day and getting involved in activities for the greater good. But I guess the world was too much for me to tackle, so I decided to conquer D.C. first. Don’t worry world, I’ll be there one day.

When I embarked on my journey to D.C., I was a bit all over the place.

I’m a senior at Florida State University majoring in International Affairs and Middle East Studies, with a minor in Urban & Regional Planning. With the thought of graduation so near, before I left for D.C., I was rushing to take the GRE, finishing up the first chapter in my honors thesis and getting more and more excited to get into the city. I imagined running into Obama where we would become great friends on a level where I could say “I’m in the hizhouse,” more commonly known as the White House. I also fantasized about running into Hilary Clinton at the Department of State where we would be drinking coffee as we discussed the next move in America’s foreign policy and I would lightly mention how I read her memoir in the eighth grade and that I loved her since! It is good to dream, especially when D.C. is filled with infinite possibilities.

With all the craziness set aside, I packed my bags and left for our nation’s capital. When I arrived, I was seeing exactly what I was expecting to see, everyone running around in suits looking very professional. I arrived to the housing facility and loved my new home right away. I was a very fortunate person and got stuck with the ideal roommate and we both aided each other through the process of adjusting to the city, internship, and classes. With this program, I not only networked with higher officials, but I made relationships with my peers that will be lifelong and valuable.

Having an internship is a great  experience, but it is programs like The Center for Global Understanding (CFGU) that really enhances it.

Their mission is “to provide a platform to cultivate the next generation of American leaders through internships in Washington D.C.

and continued training and education on leadership development.” CFGU provided a scholarship to me and 17 other students from across the country in the summer of 2011 to be part of this once in a lifetime experience. For summer 2012, CFGU is offering 25 scholarships for Muslim American college students to intern in Washington D.C.  You must be a college sophomore in an accredited college or university to participate in the program.

Because of CFGU, I attended lectures at various embassies, networked with potential employers, and met prominent figures in our community, as well as the Muslim American community. I did not just meet the stereotypical “political representatives,” but I got perspectives from leaders of all ages with various backgrounds dealing with issues ranging from improving a community to global health. We had discussions with well known Muslim American Leaders such Ambassador Rashad Hussain  from the State Department, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Noosheen Hashemi, former Oracle Corporation executive and a Social Entrepreneur among others. It is extremely important for minorities to foster skills to become future leaders of America, which is the main mission of the Center for Global Understanding.

Through my experience in D.C., I attained hands-on experience with things I never expected to have. I saw myself making a difference as I got more civically engaged. I lobbied on the hill, volunteered at a homeless shelter, and made a stance on issues I believed in strongly, such as women’s rights. I contacted people of prestigious titles and spoke to various officials from several embassies as if they were my colleagues. Not many twenty-one year olds are blessed with such amazing experiences. Words cannot fully describe the thrills of Washington D.C.

So it isn’t really the world that I’ll be saving, but I do see myself impacting our community. This past summer gave me the confidence to feel this way, and encouraged those that I work with to be confident in me. The Center for Global Understanding guides their interns towards a more successful future and endless opportunities. You can visit http://www.centerforglobalunderstanding.org for more information or contact me, Moshtayeen, at mba08c@my.fsu.edu.

Moshtayeen Ahmad is a senior at the Florida State University majoring in International Affairs.

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Biggest Allies of Pakistan Are the Pakistani-Americans: Congresswoman Lee

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hon Green, Lee, & AL Hoang at the Alliance Benevolent 40-Feet Container Sending-Off Ceremony

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“According to the latest reports from Pakistan of this past Thursday, three millions out of the original six million brothers & sisters in humanity are still suffering from the after affects of the floods of late August & early September, including hundreds & thousands of children. It is clear that several thousands will continue to struggle in months and years to come,” informed Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of the Houston Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, a collaborative of 42 organizations and media outlets.

Mr. Sheikh was doing the welcome speech at the Pakistan Center of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), on the occasion of preparation and sending-off ceremony of 40-feet container termed the Benevolent Container from the Houstonians Community for the brethren in humanity in Sindh Pakistan, who are suffering from the aftermath of the floods of 2011.

Honorable Congresspersons AL Green and Sheila Jackson Lee; Councilman AL Hoang of City of Houston, and Honorable Consul Generals of Pakistan & Turkey Aqil Nadeem and Cemalettin (pronounced Jemalettin) Aydin were the special guests of honor at this ceremony, together with President of PAGH Taslim Siddiqui, Sindhi Association of North America (SANA)’s Jamil Daudi, Sam’s Club’s Khaled Khan, Hashoo Foundation’s Cristal Montanez, and many others. Emcee of the event was Noorunisa Ghanghro, who included several inspiring quotes of Madam Teresa in her talk.

Special Congressional and Mayoral Proclamations of Excellent Service by the Alliance were given by the three elected officials.

Hon AL Hoang; Hon Aqil Nadeem; Hon Cemalettin; President of the Texas-Turkish Chamber of Commerce Celil Yaka; and Taslim Siddiqui spoke on the occasion, appreciating the work of the Alliance under the leadership of Muhammad Saeed Sheikh; in doing the unified efforts, and said Alliance has shown how when several hands join together have such positive impact.

Coordinator of In-Kind Donation Mian Nazir of PAGH thanked his team of volunteers lead by Zeeshan Qavi, and more than 15 volunteers of Red Cross from Dulles High School Sugar Land; plus several volunteers of SANA.

Honorable Congressman AL Green said that the motto of Alliance is Blessings in Unity and the excellent results of the efforts of Alliance truly reflect that. He applauded the efforts of Pakistani community in helping people in need everywhere including at the time of Katrina and Ike, when the Pakistani community got together in helping the fellow Americans. He appreciated PAGH for always offering Pakistan Center, when humanity has the need.

Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said she is totally impressed to see more than $81,000 raised in cash by the Alliance and more than $100,000 wholesale value of in-kind donated items raised by the Alliance of 42 entities to benefit the flood victims of Pakistan. She said when the nutritious meal will reach the mouth of those needing it the most and hygiene items reaching to cleanse them, they will indeed remember this nice gift sent by Pakistani-Americans, who are the biggest allies of Pakistan.

Honorable Lee went on to say she is extremely sorrowful on the recent loss of army soldiers as well as several of the Pakistani army personnel and civilians losing their lives in this war on terrorism. These are trying days in the USA-Pakistan relations, where their friendship goes back to decades. We need to continue informing leaders of USA and Pakistan that this friendship should be strengthened rather than made weaker; and although many tragic incidents may have happened, but that should not affect the otherwise cordial relationship between the two nations and countries.

In his presentation Coordinator of the Alliance Muhammad Saeed Sheikh said in the end that last year at an emergency meeting called by Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee at her office, she mentioned about sending a Mercy Plane to Pakistan. Although it is not a Mercy Plane, but we want to report to Honorable Congresswoman that it is a much larger 40-feet Mercy Container holding more than $100,000 retail worth of in-kind donations of the most needed food and hygiene items plus blankets for the flood victims of Pakistan.

For more information about the Alliance, one can call Muhammad Saeed Sheikh at 1-281-948-1840.

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Community News (V13-I50)

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Philanthropist Shahid Khan to buy Jaguars

URBANA,IL–Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-American businessman and philanthropist, is all set to acquire Jacksonville Jaguars, according to media reports.

He is the president of the Flex-N-Gate company which manufactures auto parts. It employs over 12, 000 workers in U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain.

Flex-N-Gate is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 168th largest private company in the United States, with estimated revenues of $2.57 billion for the previous fiscal year.

Last year Khan had launched an unsuccessful bid to acquire St. Louis Rams.

Lafayette Islamic Centre to hold community kitchen

LAFAYETTE,LA–The Lafayaette Islamic Centre will hold a community kitchen on December 10. This is the centre’s first ever project of this kind, KATC reported.

The event is open to everyone, and local shelters will be given the information to invite their patrons. Gumbo will be served. Volunteers from the Islamic Center, the UL Muslim Students Association, and the Islamic Education Weekend Program will be on hand to serve those in attendance. The Community Kitchen will be Dec. 10 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

No prayer room at Purdue University Calumet campus

CALUMET,IN–University campuses across North America have a common meditation/prayer area which all students including Muslim could utilise. The Purdue University Calumet campus, however, lacks one creating a challenge for the three hundred Muslim students to offer their five daily prayers.

The issue has been brought to the front by a recent article in the Purdue University Calumter Chronicle. The adminsitration’s contention is that they cannot provide a prayer space for specific religion as it is a state school. The Muslim students have asked that a common prayer open to all religions be provided.

PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon voiced his sympathy for the Muslim students’ quandary, though he held the position that the school is not legally allowed to host a specified prayer room. Although the administration’s hands seem to be bound in red tape, Keon shared his suggestion to work out a resolution to benefit all faiths.

“We need to have a better, long-term approach to resolving the concern. I have suggested that the campus, for the first time, develop an inter-faith counsel and I would like to find church leaders from the region and work with them to see if we can come up with a resolution. In the meantime, I have approached the Vice Chancellors about properties for sale near the campus we may be able to purchase for this specific purpose,” Keon told the student newspaper.

Tulsa police captain’s plea denied

TULSA,OK–A Tulsa Police Department Captain’s plea to amend his lawsuit filed against the department over mosque attendance row has been denied by a US District Court judge.

Capt. Paul Fields filed a suit alleging his First Amendment rights were infringed upon after he was suspended for disobeying orders to attend a community event.

In February, Fields refused to attend Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Islamic Society of Tulsa.  He was then suspended without pay June 12-25 for his actions.

Upon filing the suit, Fields emailed his supervisors.  In the statement, he said, “I believe this directive to be an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my personal religion’s convictions.”

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More on the ILM Foundation – Expansion and Service

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The ILM Foundation will be familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer. ILM is the Arabic word for “knowledge” and also stands for the virtues of intellect, love, and mercy. Many sub groups have been seeded by ILM including the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity (CPHD), Go for the Game, Islam: A World Movement, Humanitarian Day, and a prison outreach support services.

ILM was founded in 1998 through the efforts of Imam Saadiq Saafir who sought to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. He had a vision inspired by his Muslim faith to work for community cohesion and social justice. ILM is the fruit of his vision. Imam Saadiq now is the Chairman of ILM Foundation’s Board of Directors and senior Masjidulus member of Masjid Ibaadillah, Los Angeles. Imam Saadiq’s son, Imam Jihad Saafir, is currently doing a wonderful job as resident Imam.

ILM’s Director, Naim Shah, Jr. has spoken to The Muslim Observer to tell readers of the latest actions and goals of ILM.

Mr. Shah last year spent six months as a trainee with the Community Organizing Residency (COR) project. COR is a product of Jewish Funds for Justice. His placement was with LA Voice Pico. LA Voice Pico is a local federation of the PICO national network. LA Voice represents over 20 multi-faith congregations throughout Los Angeles representing nearly 20,000 families. It works in the arenas of education, responsible banking, immigration, health care reform, and violence prevention.

During that period Mr. Shah was able to introduce LA Voices’s responsibility banking initiative to the Muslim community.This initiative seeks to support legislation that seeks leniency from banks regarding foreclosures and encourages community reinvestment and increases in small business loans. Mr. Shah’s work was highlighted when he organized nearly 80 Muslims to attend a townhall meeting packed with nearly 800 people hosted at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.

Now LA Voice has Muslim representation through the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity which ILM uses to coordinate Humanitarian Day. He and ILM’s Associate Director, Umar Hakim, joined LA Voice in a rally coordinated by Pico California in Sacramento to encourage our elected officials to stop delaying the passage of the state’s budget. It is with great pleasure to announce the excellent community organizing work coordinated by Umar Hakim at LA Voice, as the new COR resident for 2011-2012.

Humanitarian Day, founded by the ILM Foundation but coordinated through CPHD , is now in its 11th year. What began in a few cities as a one day outreach to the poor and homeless community has now become an institution. Food, toiletries, and other personal items are distributed free of charge, and representatives of medical clinics are usually available to answer questions. It is observed in 13 cities throughout California and nationally. The Humanitarian Day monthly effort is coordinated by ILM Director, Taswiyah Muttaz, which includes the distribution of fresh, warm meals, hygiene kits, occasional health screening services, and student community service learning engagement. ILM Foundation is extremely grateful for the support of and sponsorship from the Hassan Hathout Foundation, Masjid Ibaadillah, Orange County Islamic Foundation, Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation, Islamic Center of Irvine, UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles Police Department,  the USC Ansar Partnership for Service and many other institutions.

ILM has expanded its interfaith work and has partnered with the LDS Church (Mormon), LA Voci the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC), and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, and NewGround Muslim Jewish Dialogue.

Mr. Naim Shah Sr., Director of ILM Foundation Prison Outreach Services, corresponds with federal and state chaplains about the conditions of Muslim inmates and how the foundation can assist. Currently, on a monthly basis, ILM distributes inmates care packages which include books, oil, prayer rug, etc.. We have volunteers who correspond via mail to assist with referrals and letters during the inmate re-entry process back into society.  ILM’s goal is recruit additional Muslim men to mentor inmates while in rehabilitation to prepare as much as possible to prevent recidivism after their release.  

Mr Shah and Mr. Hakim also graduated from the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a product of Nadia Romani and institutional partner of the Center of Religious Civic Culture Department at the University of Southern California.

Shaykh Ayub, ILM Director of Islamic Studies and Arabic, will visit Ghana to work on many of ILM’s humanitarian projects. Ghana is now approaching it 4th Annual Humanitarian Day. ILM’s focus in Ghana is education, breast cancer, youth recreation and infrastructure building. ILM Foundation currently supports several students with school tuition, technological support and other vocational training. In Ghana the top pastime for youth is soccer.  Currently through the gracious support of Zeeni Sports, ILM sponsors an entire youth soccer team with uniforms, socks, bags and educational support. ILM has recently been offered land to build a center to house all of our services in an area near Accra called Caswa. The annual ILM Ghana Tour is an attempt to increase the awareness and penitential of re-seeding our roots in West Africa. Ghana has a Muslim population of 30%,and rising. With a good political climate, strong economy , Islamic scholarship and good interfaith relations, ILM future in Ghana looks very bright. The partner organization in Ghana is the Bureau for Social Services located in Accra, Ghana.

Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim have answered questions regarding their work posed by The Muslim Observer.

TMO: Could each of you tell our readers how you came to hear of the Community Organizing Residency (COR)?

NAIM: I learned about COR as result of participating in the American Muslim Civic Engagement Institute. Nadia Romani co-founder of AMCLI works as one of the program consultants with COR. So was really blessed to be included within this civic engagement network, which constantly share opportunities for graduates to further expand upon their experience and education.

UMAR: The opportunity for Community Organizing Residency (COR) came through our social network, American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. We are always building essential leadership skills, and seen this was a great opportunity to learn hands on community organizing with agencies in California and/or throughout the U.S such as LA VOICE.

TMO: Will you describe your days at COR? Was it all study, was it hands on organizing?

NAIM:  COR is nice blend of on-site hand on community organizing with leadership and peer support training. I love it. The founders of COR were passionate and extremely professional. The residents were the spot light and we were provided all the tools to use our natural talents for extracting as a much from the 6 month residency as possible. I was also very fortunate to serve my residency at LA Voice Pico under the leadership of Zach Hoover and Rochelle

UMAR:  The COR training at Mt. Eden in the New Jersey countryside, was a genuine break from urban Compton. I spent 4-5 days within a faith-based cohort of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, and Latino Indigenous; together we focused on several key learning areas a preparation for sustaining this organizing experience. My objective is phase II of ILM’s community organizing vision, identify and build the organizing component of the CPHD.

TMO: What about the COR program impressed you the most?

NAIM:  My most impressive moment was witnessing the excellent talent pool residents selected for the program. I felt so honored to represent Islam in such a setting. There was once central focus of exploiting our faith for the betterment of humanity not just ourselves and not just members of our faith. I was drawn into the coordinator’s of COR collective intention to make this program address the critical drought America was facing due to lack of replenishing our community with organizers. The experience increased my faith in Islam and in what can be accomplished working for a common cause!

UMAR:  One of the impressive moments was during Shabat, led by a Jewish cohort. It’s where I learning the meaning of Shabat and how Judaism is closely aligned to Islam, through Ibrahim and his worship of Tauhid. Dispelling a lot myths I had and now I’m able to apply my conduct of Islamic Fiqh more appropriately.

TMO:  What was the most valuable thing you learned at COR? What was the most valuable thing you think you introduced to that group?

NAIM:  The most valuable thing I learned is that Allah is the one who choose your teachers. I have been working in the Muslim community for nearly 18 years. Community organizing was not taught or practiced formally by any Masjid to my  knowledge. The skill sets, however, are re-surfacing back into the community though participants such as myself and Umar in wonderful programs like the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and COR sponsored by the Jewish Funds for Justice. Both programs transformed me into a more effective leader and I am extremely grateful.

UMAR:  A valuable walkaway is knowing I now have the ability to reach out into different communities for religious and social intellectual insight, share my ideas and simply have another effective social network an email away; something that is very needed in our world of changing dynamics. Good question, what was the most valuable thing I introduced; I would say the second Pillar of Islam, Salat. Each member was asked to share an aspect of their religion or way of life and I was asked to explain Salat. I explained it through an interactive presentation for a customized delivery about our obligation prayers.

The Muslim Observer wishes to thank Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim for their cooperation in conducting this interview.

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The Candidates on Islam

December 8, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Muslim Chaplain, Attorney and Political Analyst

2011-11-23T013356Z_410979054_LM2E7BN04CK01_RTRMADP_3_USA-CAMPAIGN-DEBATE

Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, businessman Herman Cain, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), stand at attention during the singing of the national anthem during the CNN GOP National Security debate in Washington, November 22, 2011.

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

As republican voters near the time to elect their presidential candidate for the 2012 election, the candidates’ respective religious perspectives become significant to many. One topic that does not escape public scrutiny is the candidates’ stand on Islam and Muslims in America. It has become an important issue that calls the attention of both Muslim and non-Muslim voters. Noticeably some candidates appear not to realize that the American Muslim community has a significant number of political conservatives sympathetic to many issues within the Republican Party platform.

The GOP presidential hopefuls’ stand on Islam and Muslims has been varied. Their stands have ranged from being thoughtful and considerate to being discourteous, rude and unappreciative of the history, losing potential support.

Some candidates have clearly opted to try to win votes by denigrating Islam and disparaging Muslims. Taking the lead in the anti-Muslim frenzy is Herman Cain, who has consistently held a hostile discourse on Islam, belittling almost anything or anyone resonating Muslim. Among many instances we may take as example Cain’s opposition to the construction of an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., unreasonably arguing that it’s not religious discrimination for a community to ban a mosque. On this same line, Cain has also affirmed that he wouldn’t appoint Muslims to his cabinet and even suggested to impose a loyalty test on any Muslim before allowing him to serve in his administration.

His anti-Muslim rhetoric returned recently when he expressed that more than half of American Muslims are extremists based on a “trusted adviser” who informed him so.

Rick Perry has wisely distanced himself from the bigoted rhetoric and instead has a history of good and positive relations with the Muslims community. Perry endorsed Texas public high school teacher education programs on Islamic history. As governor he signed a Halal Law, which makes it a criminal offense to sell Halal and non-Halal meat in the same store without specifically labeling the two and to misrepresent non-Halal meat as being Halal. Governor Perry has held constructive ties with the Muslim Aga Khan’s community and hosted their world known leader on his visit to Texas. He followed up by attending the inauguration of their Ismaili Jamatkhana Islamic Center in Sugar Land, Texas in 2002; and later laid the first brick for another of their centers in Plano, Texas in 2005. On the other hand, Perry’s ties to the rest of the mainstream Muslim community as a whole are scarce, and his posture is mostly perceived as neutral, with neither “pro” nor “against” community stances.

Mitt Romney’s relations with the American Muslim community have not been smooth. Recently, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the presidential hopeful for the ouster of Dr. Walid Phares a recently appointed foreign policy adviser to his team. Phares authored “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America” and also acts as an advisor to the U.S. Congress on the Middle East. According to CAIR he worked as an official in the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia, and other militias that reportedly took part in various massacres of Muslims. The controversial appointment has certainly created a wave of controversy within the American Muslim community that waits for Romney to take their concerns into consideration.

Newt Gingrich’s stance on issues related to American Muslims and Islam has been scornful. Falling victim to the Muslim hysteria on the debate on the Ground Zero Mosque, Gingrich compared the Islamic Community Center project to building a Nazi monument outside the Holocaust Museum. This was clearly a very insensitive position that will take more than a simple apology — not that it is expected — to amend.

Michele Bachmann has not demonstrated a capacity to engage the American Muslim community neither shown capacity to understand and respect diversity. Her comments on the civil uprisings that took place in France back in 2005 were very discomforting: “Those who are coming into France, which has a beautiful culture, the French culture is actually diminished. It’s going away. And just with the population in France, they are losing Western Europeans, and it’s being taken over by a Muslim ethic. Not that Muslims are bad, but they are not assimilating.”

Rick Santorum has joined Gingrich’s Islam-bashing team, expressing misleading comments on the question of sharia taking over the U.S. court system. On the most recent debate Santorum was even more assertive on his opinion on Muslims. When asked if he would support ethnic and religious profiling he replied: “The folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes … obviously Muslims would be someone you’d look at, absolutely.”

Among all candidates, libertarian leaning Ron Paul seems to be the one who have consistently pronounced himself distant from any expression that could be construed as Islamophobic. He issued firm statements condemning Pastor Terry Jones’ controversial call for a “Burn the Quran Day.” In September 2010 Paul stated: “This blame of all Muslims for the atrocities of 9/11 only makes things worse — especially since it wasn’t the Taliban of Afghanistan that committed the atrocities.” More recently, on a CBS interview, Paul said that al Qaeda itself cited American intervention in the region as its motivation for attacking the U.S. and “to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we’re free and prosperous I think is a very, very dangerous notion because it’s not true.”

John Huntsman is another candidate that for the most part has rejected to take a ride on the Islamophobia train that most republic candidates not only designed but are now fueling and giving hand-detailed maintenance.

The comments and actions that vilify Islam and Muslims — or any other religion and its practitioners — by the Republican Party presidential hopefuls show an evident betrayal of commitment to the freedom of religion consecrated in the U.S. Constitution. Exploiting Muslims for political gain will undoubtedly alienate them from a significant section of the voting public who hold religion dear to their hearts.

Follow Wilfredo Amr Ruiz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnalistaInter

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Community News (V13-I49)

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

North Jersey Muslims fight hunger

TEANECK,NJ–Muslims in North Jersey are fighting hunger and throughout the state by raising non-perishable food items and money. The recently formed American Muslims for Hunger Relief is coordinating efforts at mosques and Islamic schools to their project, the Northjersey.com portal reports.

“We are trying to engage local mosques and form a volunteer task force among youth to continue this noble cause,” said Ghani Khan, chairman of the association, which is based in Old Bridge. “It’s a way to fulfill our Islamic religious obligation while helping the underprivileged.”

The food items collected in the latest drive would be donated to the  to the Center for Food Action in Hackensack. The group has held five such drives in the recent past.

Birmingham Muslim doctors hold health fair

HOOVER,AL–Muslim physicians in Alabama held a free health fair which dozens of area residents attended. The fair was held at the Hoover Crescent Islamic Centre and treated people of all faiths and backgrounds.

The Muslim doctors in the area are planning to open a clinic in January 2012, the Birmingham News reported. It will be a coordinated effort  by the Birmingham Islamic Society and the Alabama chapter of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani-descent in North America.

Huntsville Islamic Centre participates in free health clinic

HUNTSVILLE,AL–More than 300 people lined up for free basic health and wellness screening and counseling last month during a free health clinic held in Lowe Mill. Physicians and nurses, especially from the Muslim and Hindu communities, volunteered to staff the event.

The clinic offered all the ABCs of basic health and wellness screenings and counseling, such as allergy, anxiety, blood pressure, bone density, glucose, cholesterol, scoliosis, and breast self examination tips.

Many volunteers from the Huntsville Islamic Centre participated in the clinic.

Syed Majid honored by Assemblyman

1300286534_9a64New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) hosted his first annual “Veterans Hall of Honor” ceremony, recognizing deceased Oceanside resident Syed Majid among nine local veterans who have distinguished themselves through bravery, patriotism and commitment.

A longtime resident of Oceanside, Syed Majid was someone people could depend on. As his wife Barbara remembered, “He was a great guy. He was a good, kind, giving man.”

A member of the Oceanside Kiwanis for more than 30 years, Syed was known as one of the hardest behind-the-scenes workers. He also gave his time and energy to other organizations he believed in, including as Commander of the Baldwin American Legion Post #246, Oceanside Community Service and Oceanside Fire Department. In addition, every Tuesday and Thursday for 20 years, Syed would pick up veterans at their homes, drive them to the V.A. hospital and return them home.

An engineer by trade, Syed worked for Precise Development Corporation in Oceanside. Later he formed his own engineering company, SAM, where he worked until his retirement in the early 1990’s. Not one to sit at home and do nothing, Syed became a messenger for the Oceanside School District.

“Syed’s service is a source of great pride to his family, and an inspiration to all within our community,” stated Curran. “In his civilian life, as in his service to our nation, Syed Majid led by example. I am honored to recognize this outstanding hero posthumously, at my ‘Hall of Honor’ luncheon.”

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Unique Ceremony to Celebrate Positivity in the Community

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Grand Honoring Event for Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi

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Large Number of Persons Attended the Honoring of Deputy Sherrif Nasir Abbasi Event

More than two hundred persons were in attendance to honor one of the first Pakistani-Americans to have become Deputy Sheriff after the completion of his training. He is Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi in the Harris County Sheriff Department.

Honorable Sheriff Adrian Garcia with his wife attended this honoring event for Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi this past weekend. Very few events in the community happen to celebrate the true success of Pakistani-Americans; and this was quite a unique & encouraging occasion for the whole community. Special flowers bouquet and traditional Sindhi & Hazara Cap and Shawls were both Sheriff Garcia and Deputy Sheriff Abbasi.

Deputy Abbasi was very gracious in inviting and profusely recognizing during the program four Pakistanis during the event, namely Sergeant Sajid Rasheed (very first Pakistani-American in the Houston Police Department HPD 1993), HPD Officer Muzaffar Siddiqui, HPD Officer Asim Qureshi, and HPD Lt. Sohail Aziz.

This event was held at and sponsored by La Sani Restaurant, in collaboration with community organizations like Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), Hazara American Welfare Association (HAWA), Pakistani American Council of Texas (PACT), Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA), and SindhInstitute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

Program started with Matloob Khan of Bear Creek ISGH Masjid welcoming all the guests, followed by heartwarming recitation of Quran and its translation in English & prayers by young Hafiz Tauqir Shah, followed by national anthems of both USA & Pakistan. Emcee of the program was Ms. Natashah, who in her eloquent British style English made the event further exceptional.

HPD Lieutenant Harry Zamora, who recently got the Medal of Valor Award, attended the ceremony with is family members, & congratulated Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi and the Pakistani-American Community.

In his short presentation, Saeed Sheikh of HKSCA thanked Nadeem Malik, Faisal Ahmed, and all the team members of La Sani Restaurant, in coming up with the idea of the honoring a successful person in the community, and arranging everything in most befitting manner. He added that for any thriving community, city, county, country, and in fact the world, safe and serene environment is one of the most important ingredients; and that people in Harris County are lucky that they have the most competent leadership of Honorable Sherriff Adrian Garcia in providing that important security and peaceful environment for us, which help us in bringing up our families in the right manner and that in turn positively contribute towards the betterment of our society.

P. J. Swati of PCC-USA requested Sheriff Garcia to appoint Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi as Liaison for the Muslim-Pakistani-Communities. His cousin Mazhar Chaudhry talked about how he & Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi, used to have long talks about his future and how every time they used to conclude that he should go into law enforcement agencies. He informed that during his student life, Mr. Abbasi was very active in students’ union political process.

Others, who spoke included Farah Iqbal (inspirational poem), Faisal Ahmed (La Sani Restaurant), Gul Faraz Khan (HAWA), Taslim Siddiqui (PAGH), Talat Talpur (SANA), and Ghulam Bombaywala.

In his largely expressive presentation both in English & Urdu, Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi created inspirational atmosphere by first kissing the American and then the Pakistani flags; and on his death, he would like to be wrapped in Texas flag, saying being loyal to the place where one lives is among the teachings of Islam. He further made the atmosphere warm by reciting in Urdu the famous Supplication Poem of Allama Iqbal (Lab-e-Aatee Ha Duwa). He thanked everyone for the ceremony and inviting his boss Sheriff Garcia and his wife. said initially due to less resources of his father, he studied at low grade schools, but his parents were very visionary and made sure that eventually he gets the best possible education, which is the biggest gift any parent can give to their children. He quoted famous personality Helen Keller, who was blind, that what is her biggest fear; and she said if someone has sight, but has no vision. He said he wants to give this message to his Pakistani-American Community to have a vision. He had a vision and dram to serve the humanity. For that he transformed his vision into smaller goals; and today is thankful to God that he has achieved his dream of becoming Deputy Sheriff and is able to serve his fellow human beings. He admired and recognized his wife Ms. Siddiqua and his father-in-law, who had travelled all the way from New York for this ceremony.

Honorable Sheriff Adrian Garcia in his speech thanked the Pakistani-Americans for giving the son of the community to his department. He said his policy is to diversify his department, since in Harris County, the third largest in USA, more than 100 languages are spoken, and he needs at least one officer if not more, who can speak one of these languages: “Many Nasirs are needed”. He said we are public servants and should never forget that, as we continue to make the community safer & healthier for businesses and families.

Event ended with scrumptious dinner of La Sani Restaurant.

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Community News (V13-I48)

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Imam Abu Bakr Salahuddin receives social justice award

Imam Abu Bakr Salahuddin of the Islamic Centre of Redding received the Peace and Social Justice Award from the Shasta County Citizens Against Racism, the Redding News reported.

He’s consistently served the community since moving to Redding, said Eddie McAllister, a community organizer with Shasta County Public Health. McAllister nominated Salahuddin for the award.

“I’m very honored to be chosen for this award because as hard as a person works, it’s getting awards like this that you know you have touched someone in the community somewhere,” Salahuddin said.

Muslims distribute meat to soup kitchens

Muslims across North America reached out to the needy by organizing meat drives for the soup kitchens. These are part of the larger celebrations of Eid ul Adha.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joined Turkish Cultural Center Brooklyn and other supporting organizations at Brooklyn Borough Hall to distribute more than 700 pounds of packaged beef to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the borough.

In New Brunswick, Canada, too the small Muslim community donated  more than 350 pounds of ground beef and stew beef to the  Fredericton Community Kitchen.

“We’re just overwhelmed by the generosity of this community to help us,” said Cheryl Mercer, who’s the bookkeeper for the kitchen.

“It means that we’re going to be able to put food on the table, good quality beef that arrived,” she said, estimating it will produce about 600 meals.

Newburgh Muslims hold free clinic

NEWBURGH,NY–Free flu shots, cholesterol and blood-pressure checks, and diabetes tests were among services offered at a no-cost health clinic Sunday at the Masjid Al-Ikhlas mosque in the City of Newburgh.

Doctors with different specialties were also on hand to talk one-on-one with participants and answer questions.

The mosque members say that the clinic might become a weekly service in the future.

Fraudsters use “Muslim” sounding names for mortgage scheme

SACRAMENTO,CA–United States Attorney Benjamin B Wagner announced that Glenn Watkins, 31; Kevin Watkins, 26; and Frederick Davis, 41, all of Elk Grove, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud for a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, co-defendant Jake Weathers, 35, of Elk Grove, orchestrated a scheme where the defendants changed their names to Muslim-sounding names in order to obtain new credit and to conceal poor credit histories and other liabilities. For instance, Glenn Watkins legally changed his name to “Rasheed Khaleb” to fraudulently purchase two homes. Once those homes fell into foreclosure, he legally changed his name to “Jason Johnson.”

Likewise, Kevin Watkins changed his name to “Jamal Ali,” then to “Calvin Carter.” Their uncle, Frederick Davis, changed his name to “Ammar Rashad,” to purchase a home, then to “Corey Green” once that home fell into foreclosure. According to the plea agreements, the defendants admitted that their income and employment histories were falsified on loan applications.

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Islamic Relief CEO Honored

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

CEO of Islamic Relief USA Appointed to U.S. State Department Working Group

Abed Ayoub, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, has been appointed to the U.S. State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group to help inform U.S. policy.

Along with the other members, Ayoub will take part in dialogue and provide input on relevant topics including the challenges and opportunities for partnership. The group also will identify model action programs or projects for collaboration between the U.S. government and NGOs.

“We feel honored to be in this group, working with diverse leaders,” Ayoub said. “As a humanitarian organization, we can bring a lot to the table. Unfortunately, most of the disasters in the world are in the Muslim world, and we’re hoping that we can maximize the benefits going to the beneficiaries by being in this group.”

The Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group is divided into sub-groups. Ayoub will serve on the Sub-Group on Faith-Based Groups and Development and Humanitarian Assistance, which examines faith-based organizations’ challenges, opportunities and resources in addressing societal needs for such assistance. This forum also will work to ensure NGOs’ freedom to operate and deliver humanitarian aid.

Other members of the Development and Humanitarian Assistance sub-group include Richard Stearns, President/CEO of World Vision; Carolyn Woo, CEO of Catholic Relief Services; David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World; and Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service.

Muslims distribute meat to soup kitchens Muslims across North America reached out to the needy by organizing meat drives for the soup kitchens. These are part of the larger celebrations of Eid ul Adha.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joined Turkish Cultural Center Brooklyn and other supporting organizations at Brooklyn Borough Hall to distribute more than 700 pounds of packaged beef to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the borough.

In New Brunswick, Canada, too the small Muslim community donated  more than 350 pounds of ground beef and stew beef to the  Fredericton Community Kitchen.

“We’re just overwhelmed by the generosity of this community to help us,” said Cheryl Mercer, who’s the bookkeeper for the kitchen.

“It means that we’re going to be able to put food on the table, good quality beef that arrived,” she said, estimating it will produce about 600 meals.

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Helping Detroit… Tree by Tree

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jumana Abusalah

Jumana AbusalahDetroit is slowly but surely changing for the better. There are many sites and organizations that have been created for the sole purpose of bettering Detroit. One such organization is titled “The Greening of Detroit”. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and guide others to create a ‘greener’ Detroit through planting and environmental educational programs.  They work to benefit Detroit socially, economically, and environmentally.

On Sunday November 6th, Wayne State University’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) teamed up with The Greening of Detroit to plant trees along Dingeman Park. The group of volunteers was large and we succeeded in planting many trees. It was  a very fun experience, yet it was very inspirational. A person does not really think that a tree can make a difference, but after working hard digging and planting for hours, we looked at the end result and realized that that planting a single tree does make a difference! The entire street, once empty and vacant, was transformed into a beautiful landscape with colorful fall leaves and maple trees. 

Waking up the next day with aches and pains never felt better! Feeling that we did something to help the community and please Allah at the same time, left the entire MSA satisfied and eager for more. This experience inspired many students to care about their community and made them realize that when we work together, we can achieve great things!

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AMP Dinner as a Community Gathering

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Silicon Valley–Your reporter’s commentary on Lauren Booth’s stirring observations on Palestine during Ramadan was part of a community Ramadan Iftar banquet presented by the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) as a fund-rising dinner.

Now, shortly, after Eid al-Adha, as your writer writes, the nearby Occupy Oakland encampment is being brutally removed.  This week (last for you) Professors (several of your reporter’s friends are  Muslims employed within the organization)  plan to have a one day strike against the California State University (ies) system brought on by the collapse of this State’s finances.  Also, related to Sacramento’s woes was the violent repression of the student demonstration at U.C. Berkeley within the fortnight.   (Your correspondent has just heard an announcement of occupy-type campus actions across he American land.)  Curiously, the  American issues your Scribe has been mentioning do relate to the Arab “Spring” where the success of the Tunisian elections is one of the bright spots!
The Islamophobic repression of the Gaza show at the Children’s Museum in Oakland has been blunted by the placement of the Gazan child depictions of Operation Cast Lead gallery in that very same city whose owner, fortunately, was sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.  Thus, the report below:

Yours truly originally drafted this piece as part of his concentration on our Holy Land of the  Night Ride going to the United Nations (U.N.) to demand her right to be an independent entity within the world’s sovereign nation-states.  Well, that has happened but, as your reported predicted, it was referred to Committee as a delaying tactic, and now that it has emerged from that Committee with a mixed report-back.  Now, its chances of succeeding in the Security Council are being obfuscated.  President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) would accept nothing less than the status of full Statehood; therefore, the option of partial recognition with all its benefits is, at this time, rejected by the Arabs of the trans-Jordan.

Simultaneously, UNESCO (the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), an important sub-section of the U.N., has recognized Ramallah as an autonomous member.  This has encouraged Tel Aviv to punish Palestine by approving 2,000 new Settlements on Arab-speaking traditional land, and to refuse to reimburse the “Occupied” Territories the taxes they collected on their behalf to finance the P.A. itself!   In essence the Jews have stolen from their neighbors their rightful wealth!  At the same time, a Bill is going through the American Congress to punish the Levant’s oppressed even further.  Please, our readers, who are U.S. citizens or residents, ask your Representatives and Senators to oppose these moves, and the President, if it should appear on his desk, to veto it!

With the recent outrageous jet attacks upon (Palestinian) Gaza with Israel, further, killing five Egyptian soldiers as “collateral damage” leading to riots in Cairo’s streets.  Bi-lateral relations between the two nations (Egypt-Israel) have never been worse since the Camp David Accords  –  besides, it was not Hamas (the unfairly vilified rulers of Gaza) who were involved, but the most likely combatants were the Islamic Jihad (org).

Dr. Hatem Bazian was the spokesman at the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine) at the Banquet that night.  Bazian is the co-founder and primary chief organizer for that night’s Iftar fund-raising dinner. 

Further, he is the co-founder of Zaytuna College of Berkeley, the only accredited Islamic institute of higher education in the United States.   He is now serving as an Academic Chair there and at U.C. Berkeley.

Bazian’s doctoral training is in Philosophy and Islamic Studies at the University of California there in Berkeley.  For five years (2002-2007) he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at U.C.’s Boalt Hall (Law School).  Presently, he is a Lecturer in both the Departments of Near Eastern Studies Lecturer and in the Ethnic Studies

His central academic interests include Islamophobia and its de-constructing and the Othering of Islam – especially in the U.S. and secondarily in the West in general.

He has, also, served as a Visiting Professor at Saint Mary’s College (directly across the East Bay hills in the town of Moraga in Contra Costa County in what is known as the Outer Bay) in Religious Studies plus he is an advisor to the University of California’s Center on Religion, Politics and Globalization.

At Berkeley, he founded the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia, too.

Dr. Bazian, a Muslim Palestinian-American, has been a player in several local (S.F. Bay Area) human rights agendas including the defense of the Americans for Disability Act (ADA), the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Anti-Globalization uprising, which, curiously, has influenced the current “Occupy Wall Street” Movement that has recently  sprung up not only here but all over the U.S.A. and elsewhere.

Bazian began his talk by stating that Muslim students within the community should be encouraged to move away from the traditional engineering and medical doctor’s degrees into broader liberal arts and other professions of direct visibility and leadership within American society.  (This is something this paper has advocated – especially in journalism.  To achieve agency, i.e., self-determination, Islam requires prominence within the greater society and a voice in public policy and politics and elsewhere in the U.S.)

One of the central goals of the AMP is to donate books to public libraries on Islam and especially Palestine to show that “I am Palestinian, and I love freedom, too!”  The AMP is attempting to put a human face on Palestine. They wish to “Bring awareness on Palestine from a Muslim perspective.”

The “Palestinian cause is a civil rights struggle.”  Hatem continues that “The Palestinian cause is a civil rights campaign!” (Your author ascertains at this point in the resistance in the Occupied Territories within the Fertile Crescent, it is a battle for Human Rights.  There is a difference between Civil Rights and Human Right that is often blurred, and your narrator would like to delineate it in greater detail at a future time.) Nonetheless, we are talking about Human Rights here, and it is much more pungently serious! 

Further, Hatem states, “Homo Sapiens are suffering by human hand…the AMP is educating Americans [on]what our (U.S.) government is doing [that] it doesn’t want us to know…You are changing one American at a time!”

Dr. Hatem Bazian got to his business of the night.  The AMP requires money for its upcoming grandiose plans for placards within buses in every major city in the United States to tell the story of the Palestinian plight et al.

In the following week, your author received a Facebook communication from the American Muslims for Palestine that it was changing its primary emphasis from an educational group to an organization to raise money to finance their educational efforts. 

(To be quite honest, your author cannot perceive the difference.  Their end goal is to educate Americans on the plight of Palestine.  They previously have depended upon the Zakat to finance their educational efforts.  This is what this dinner was about, and it was most certainly educational, too, with Lauren Booth’s witness upon which your columnist reported in a past issue.  Your writer believes what Hatem’s post was that the AMP would be making more of an effort to finance their very ambitious projects on education on the Palestine-Israel imbroglio to change “the hearts and minds” of Americans away from the prevalent Israeli propaganda.)

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$5,000 Given By HHRD To Turkish People

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

On the evening of Tuesday, November 01, 2011 at the picturesque Turkish Center in Houston, Five Thousand Dollars Check was given by ILyas Choudry, U. S. South Central Region Coordinator of Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD), to the Honorable Consul General of Turkey in Houston Cemalettin Aydın, as sincere gesture of solidarity and assistance to the people of Turkey for the recent Van Earthquake.

The visiting Turkish Government Delegation and local Houston Muslims & Pakistan Community persons were present on the occasion.

Members of Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts were present. This Alliance is a collaborative of 24 Community Organizations and 12 Community Media Outlets.
In his remarks, Honorable Aydin thanked the Alliance and HHRD for the most thoughtful donation, and said that people of the region of Pakistan, especially those from the areas of Pakistan, also had worked diligently in the 1920s for the people of Turkey, during the times when Turkey was getting her independence.

In his short presentation, ILyas Choudry mentioned that Turkish people have always been in the forefront of humanitarian work in USA & worldwide, especially Pakistan; has contributed a lot to the economy and culture of the world; and that today when Turkey needs much assistance, as thousands of our brethren in humanity in Van Turkey, are struggling in the cold weather after the severe earthquake, we at HHRD feel it as our foremost obligation to assist our Sisters and Brothers of Turkey.

Most recently two days before earthquake hit Van Turkey, Turkish Community had open their picturesque Turkish Center at no charge for the Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts and Turkish Community themselves raised more than $25,000 from their own Community for Pakistan, under the umbrella of the Alliance (up till Nov 05th, $76,000+ have been raised by Alliance for Pakistan Floods victims).

ILyas Choudry also informed that HHRD’s Local Rep. from Istanbul Turkey Imam Zulqarnain, has already done $10,000 worth of food distribution to the most affected families of Van; and that more humanitarian work will continue to be done.

For more information, one can go to www.HHRD.Org

Event was covered by community media as well as mainstream local American TVs Channel Two and Channel 39.

The Senior Government of Turkey officials present on the occasion were from “Ministry of Energy and Natural Resource”.

They included:

Prime Ministry – Privatization Administration
Sefa Sadık Aytekin, Deputy Undersecretary
Ozturk Selvitop, Head of Department, Ahmet Aksu, President
Arzu Atik, Head of Project Group
M. Günden Cınar, Head of Project Group
National Regulatory Authority (EMRA)
Alpaslan Bayraktar, Vice President 
Zekeriya Göksenli, Board Member  
Gülefsan Demirbas, Head of Department   
Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey ( ISPAT)
Hasan Pehlivan, Principal Advisor
Erkan Kaptan, Project Director

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Community News (V13-I45)

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Ahmed leads Wisconsin Badgers to victory

URBANS,IL–The University of Wisconsin Badger’s cross country team won the 2011 Big Ten Championship. Leading the team was junior Mohammed Ahmed who set a Big Ten meet record with his 8-kilometer time of 23 minutes, 18 seconds.

Born in Somalia, Ahmed moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, eight years ago with his parents and three younger brothers. During high school, he started to make a name for himself in cross-country running and track by competing for Canada at national and international junior championship meets.

He came to Wisonsin on an athletic scholarship and has won several honors.

Zikria Syed, CEO, NextDocs

Zikria Syed,  is the co-founder & CEO of NextDocs, a software compliance management company. He is responsible for overall management of the company as well as guiding the business and product strategy for NextDocs. His company was recently ranked as the 13th fastest growing company in Phialdelphia by the Phialdelphia 100 list.

Previously, as CEO of Broadpeak, Mr. Syed successfully led the company to market leadership of clinical trial management software. After Broadpeak was acquired by DataLabs, he served as Vice President of Product Management & Collaborative Solutions. Prior to Broadpeak, Mr. Syed held several senior technical and management positions at Microsoft Corporation and Siemens Medical Systems.

Mr. Syed holds a Masters of Science in computer science from Drexel University and Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Lock Haven University.

Grant to help ties between Muslims and non-Muslims

NOVATO,CA–The San Francisco Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) are partnering with the One Nation Foundation over the next two years to strengthen relationships between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the Bay Area.

These Bay Area community foundations and AAPIP have been investing and working with Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities over the past decade and are taking part in this new small grants fund to:

Strengthen relationships among and between American Muslims, non-Muslim partners, and their neighbors by creating welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces and opportunities for them to partner with each other on common community concerns.

Increase the civic participation of American Muslims by supporting inclusive partnerships to address key community issues.

Organizations in Marin that are interested in applying for a grant can learn more at the One Nation Bay Area section of the foundation’s website. Applications will be accepted starting November 7.  This new fund will make grants up to $10,000.

Faith communities in Canada address climate change

OTTAWA,CANADA–Faith leaders, politicians and members of the public gathered in Ottawa from Oct. 23-24 to address global warming, responding to a broad interfaith effort to call attention to climate change as a moral issue.

The meeting highlighted a letter, titled the “Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change,” signed by representatives of Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Baha’i and ecumenical groups, according to a news release from the Canadian Council of Churches, which organized the Ottawa event. The Muslim signatories included Imam Hamid Slimi and Mobeen Khaja.

Responding to the letter, participants discussed the values necessary for a sustainable economy, the challenge of climate justice, and climate change “as the root of a spiritual crisis,” according to the release. The letter was prepared for the U.N. Climate Change Conference, also called COP-17, to be held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 in Durban, South Africa.

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Community News (V13-I44)

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Rehan Khan new Northeastern VP

rehankhanBOSTON,MA–Northeastern University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Stephen W. Director, has appointed Rehan Khan to become the University’s new vice president and chief information officer. Khan, who begins his new role on Nov. 14, is currently the associate provost and chief information officer at West Virginia University.

In an email to faculty and staff, Director noted that “Rehan will oversee the strategic vision and leadership for Northeastern’s information technology and services that serve as vital components in supporting administrative, academic and leadership functions.”

Khan is also charged with enhancing Information Services to meet the growing needs of the Northeastern community, which relies on its vital services for everything from classroom instruction and research to conducting critical administrative duties.

“In order to attract and retain the best faculty and students and remain competitive in academics and research, it is essential that planning and investments in technology infrastructure remain a high priority,” said Khan. “Technology plays a key role in pedagogy, research, health care and service. I look forward to developing strategies that improve and enhance our services. I am very excited to join Northeastern.”

IS provides central information technology to more than 25,000 students, faculty and staff who use Northeastern’s secure, high-speed connectivity to the Internet through the on-campus network. IS also provides a range of other services, such as wireless connectivity through NUwave, robust high-speed Internet in residence halls, the popular 24/7 InfoCommons computing facility, access to the Blackboard instructional tool, myNEU access and academic and administrative software applications.

At West Virginia University, Khan was responsible for upgrading the institution’s core network to 10G/s, as well as the IT infrastructure in the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences. He was also responsible for implementing an identity and access management system, a degree audit system, and launching a shared computational high performance computing (HPC) facility.
Prior to West Virginia University, Khan worked at the University of Georgia, Emory University’s School of Medicine, and at Dartmouth Medical School, as well as in several private-sector information services roles.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Massachusetts in 1981, and an MBA from Rivier College in New Hampshire. He was a 2006 Fellow at the Woodruff Leadership Academy at Emory University.

Harvard Muslim students dissatisfied with halal options

CAMBRIDGE,MA–Muslim students at Harvard have expressed their dissatisfaction with the halal options available on campus. The Crimson student newspaper reports that many students have completely given up eating on campus or have switched to a vegetarian diet.

Although Harvard University Dining Services has taken some steps to accommodate Muslims in dining halls, some students say the University could do more.

“The Muslim community is growing. There are many more Muslim students than there were a decade ago, or even five years ago,” says Abdelnasser Rashid ’12, a former president of the Harvard Islamic Society. “That’s something that [Harvard University Dining Services] and HIS should be talking about.”

Dr. Raza Dilawari Remembered

MEMPHIS,TN–Dr. Raza Ali Dilawari was the assistant dean for clinical affairs at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences and the vice chairman of the department of surgery at Methodist University Hospital. He died Sept. 18, ten days before what would have been his 65th birthday, and was described as the premier surgical oncologist in the MidSouth in the obituary published in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. Dilawari, a native of Pakistan, practiced surgical oncology and taught in Memphis for 35 years. His areas of academic interest were in the fields of breast cancer, melanoma and hepatobiliary malignancies, and he was the author of more than one hundred peer-reviewed publications, the obit said. He represented University of Tennessee Cancer Institute on the NCCN Melanoma/Thyroid/Colorectal Cancers. Significantly, he was the recipient of the 2005 Living Award from the Methodist Healthcare Foundation. According to the obit: It is not difficult to find Memphians who have a story about how he helped them or a loved one.

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Reggie Reg Davis’ Statement About Proposed Detroit Charter on November 8th Election

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Editor’s note:  Some of you may remember TMO’s series on Muslim candidates in the local 2009 elections.  Reggie Reg Davis, a famous radio personality and convert to Islam, was one of those we interviewed during that time, as he ran for a seat on the Detroit Charter Commission.  He was elected and the following is an open letter from him concerning the newly proposed Detroit Charter, to be voted on and potentially ratified in the November 8th election.

The newly proposed Charter language is better than the current language however, it is NOT good enough and i feel Detroit deserves nothing less than the best! As a voice for the grassroots community, standing for the have nots and the children of our community; the seniors and working class, I’d like to say vote NO on Proposal C on Tuesday November 8.
This new language is better because with the new addition of the office of Inspector General, it will not allow for an elected official to practice cronyism, in which they put their childhood friend into a position he or she is not qualified for. They wont be able to get away with nepotism in which they hire their family members as a favor to the family or any type of corruption whether it be waste, fraud, malfeasance, misfeasance etc. So for this reason its better, however it is not necessarily the things that are in the proposed language that i am in opposition to but those things that have been left out.

For example, the biggest conflict at the Charter table during the conception of the new language was if a Charter should be ONLY framework for city government to work by or if it should go even farther by adding some legislation measures. The problem with allowing it to be only framework is that by doing so the city of Detroit becomes a non progressive city unlike many other major US cities. Washington D.C. has embodied into their home rule Charter an office of Disability Rights, which deals head on with the concerns of their disability community. And other prominent US cities like San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and more have a commission set up to deal with issues related to disability in their community. The majority of our board voted to not include any dealings with the disability community in our Charter.

In 2009, Oakland Ca. added to their Charter a program called “KIDS FIRST” by which 3% of their general fund goes towards helping children with issues like health, education, and violence. And since 2009, the city of Oakland Ca. has witnessed a dramatic decline in youth violence and a major increase in graduation rates; the city credits their Charter for the change. This type of progression or thinking outside the box, is what we have failed to do in the new proposed Charter language.

Until we have a Charter that is inclusive of all the people of this great city we call Detroit and until we decide to progress, like many other major US cities, to the next level and not be afraid to sprinkle a small bit of legislation into this very important document we should say NO! This document should be prepared to stand until the end of time.

If the Charter is voted down this November, the commission will go back to the table and have no other choice but to SERIOUSLY be a voice for the people as we make the proper corrections to the document to BEST serve the people who we represent. And at that point, we will have newly proposed language prepared for a TRUE election year; 2012.

Thank you Detroit!
Reggie Reg Davis
Charter Commissioner
reggieregdavis@gmail.com

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Tariq Mehanna’s Prosecution a Larger Community Issue

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston, and as usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” are suspect in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual.

The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado’s terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known. For the two years that I knew him in Boston, I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq’s defense.

“Tariq was very involved in the Muslim community, masha’Allah; I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path.”

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won’t be the last. Regardless, that’s OK because, ‘Indeed, Allah defends those who believe…’ [Surat al-Hajj; v. 38]. And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to connect their efforts to smear the Roxbury Mosque with this man’s plight. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Jewish groups and the FBI in targeting this individual. If the David Project is not stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“‘When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc…’ So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Ingrid Mattson Appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IngridMattsonLONDON, ON–Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario, announced the appointment of Dr. Ingrid Mattson as the inaugural London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology. The Chair in Islamic Studies builds on an almost 150-year tradition at Huron University College of open discourse and engagement between people of different faiths. Dr. Mattson will begin her appointment on July 1, 2012.

“Dr. Mattson brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise to this area of study and Huron is privileged to have a scholar of her calibre,” said Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal of Huron University College. “We are honoured that, with her pick of many positions around the world, Dr. Mattson has decided to return to Canada and accept our appointment to the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies.”

Dr. Mattson was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago. She is the first convert to Islam and the first woman to lead the Islamic Society of North America. Before accepting the Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, Dr. Mattson was Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford Connecticut. She has also been an Advisor to both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

“It is an honour to be back in Canada and to accept this position at such a prestigious institution as Huron University College,” said Dr. Mattson. “Huron has a remarkable history of critical inquiry and I look forward to building on this tradition by offering Huron students the opportunity to learn about a faith that more than 20 per cent of the world’s population practices, in an open and liberal environment.”

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Community News (V13-I42)

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Camden street named in honor of Dr. Mustapha Khan

CAMDEN, NJ–Trinidad born Dr.Mustapha Khan was a popular medic in Camden who really struck a cord with the people in the area as a physician. He was honored last week when the street he used to walk down to his office was renamed Dr. Mustapha M. Khan Way in his honor.

Khan, who died in 2009 at 84, retired from his medical practice the previous year. He had spent 51 years practicing medicine in the city, taking all patients who came in and treating them even when he knew they might not be able to pay.

“He found his bliss, found his home in Camden, New Jersey, in this community,” said Khan’s son, Mustapha Jr. “He really savored being a man of the people, treating everyone who came through his doors.”

“Whether it was a little kid with a runny nose, a teenager with a behavioral problem or some adult who needed help changing a tire outside, anything he could do, he was willing to do,” recalled Khan’s son Rasheed. “He didn’t care about the reward, didn’t care about the money or accolades. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Over the years, Khan was offered chances to practice medicine with large health systems such as Cooper, West Jersey and Lourdes. He turned them all down to ensure that he could keep practicing medicine his way in Camden’s Parkside neighborhood and helping people in a city he didn’t want to abandon.

Khan also mentored children in the area and many of them are now themselves professionals in diverse fields.

Charolette Musilms, Christians hold interfaith meeting

CHAROLETTE,NC–Mecklenburg Ministries held its first interfaith prayer meeting, designed to promote greater understanding and common spiritual ground between Christians and Muslims.
The Ministries’ youth council, along with Park Road Baptist and the Muslim American Society  co-sponsored the event.

Imam John Ederer  explained Muslim traditions of prayer, then invited those on hand to take part in or observe the Islamic sunset prayer.

The Revs. Amy and Russ Dean, Park Road’s pastors, discussed Christian prayer, then lead vespers.

Talking and praying together, “will be a much more productive way to spend the evening than arguing over political divisions or pointing a long finger of derision at people because they are different than us,” Russ Dean said in a prepared statement.

Ramy Ahmed wins award at Technon Conference

AUSTIN,TX–Ramy Ahmed, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, won a Best Paper/Presentation award at the 2011 Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Technon Conference.

Ahmed and advisor Dr. Sebastian Hoyos won for their paper, “A 384-MHz Continuous-Time ΔƩ Modulator Using a Hybrid Feedback DAC Based on Spectral Shaping of Jitter Induced Errors,” in the analog/mixed-signal/RF circuit design session.

Ahmed’s award is among a select group of SRC-funded projects. Hoyos said Ahmed’s work has received excellent feedback in the past three years and has had SRC project reviews with one patent already filed by SRC member companies. They also have been invited to submit a full journal article for an IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I special issue coming up soon.

Ahmed received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in electronics and communications engineering from Cairo University (Egypt). He currently is working toward his Ph.D. in the Analog and Mixed-Signal Center, under Hoyos’ supervision. During the spring of 2008, Ahmed was an intern at Rice Nanoscale Systems Laboratory at Rice University, where he worked on non-autonomous chaotic oscillators and 60 GHz receivers. In 2011, Ahmed held a summer internship with the analog and mixed-signal group at QUALCOMM Inc. in San Diego, Calif.

Ahmed’s research interests include data converters and multistandard wireless receivers. He has co-authored more than 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences and has one patent filed under the SRC/GRC patent program. Since September 2009, Ahmed is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in America. He is a member of IEEE and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Anti-Muslim fliers spark debate in San Diego

SAN DIEGO,CA–A religious organization’s campaign that focuses on passing out anti-Muslim literature to students is being criticized in San Diego.

The group passes out the fliers on public property just outside of the high schools. They have gone to Clairemont High School and Kearny High School, as well as other schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The fliers say as Islam grows “Muslims become increasingly more aggressive” and “We must defend students from being recruited and radicalized into Islam.”

The fliers have sparked safety concerns for the Muslim community.

“We’re also concerned about the bullying that’s going on in public schools. So this is only going to spark the fire of ‘Islam-a-phobia,’ possible bullying of Muslim students,” said Edgar Hopida of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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