Iran Leads Group for World Cup Qualification

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-10-11T195221Z_2103853166_GM1E7AC0AZF01_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-WORLDThe Iranian national soccer team crushed Bahrain 6-0 to stay atop Group E of the Asian World Cup qualifiers this past week. Jalal Hosseini, Mojtaba Jabbari, Hadi Aghili, Andranik Teymourian, Karim Ansarifard, and Gholamreza Rezaee all scored goals for Iran in the 22nd, 34th, 42nd, 62nd, 75th, and 83rd minutes of the game respectively.

Over 80,000 cheering spectators watched the match at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

Iran is in the first place in Group E with 7 points, as they are trying to rebound from not qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They are followed in the group by Qatar, which has five points, and Bahrain with four points. Indonesia is in the fourth place with zero points in a group that consists, coincidentally, of entirely Muslim countries. The 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place in Brazil.

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Anders Behring Breivik, Mystery Man

August 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Following the money trail

by Justin Raimondo, July 29, 2011

What do we really know about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norway mass murderer who killed in the name of his anti-Muslim ideology, nearly a week after his horrific rampage? We know what he did, and why he did it: he left behind not only a 1,500 page manifesto, in which he pours out his hatred of Muslims, but also a day-by-day diary that details his elaborate preparations, in which he claims his crime was nine years in the making. 

That’s an awfully long time for a "lone wolf" to keep his plans to himself, yet the head of Norway’s intelligence agency was quick to state Breivik acted alone – this is spite of Breivik’s own contention, in his online "book," that two other cells of his "Knights Templar Europe" exist. Furthermore, according to Breivik, the Knights were founded at a London meeting in 2002, at which his British "mentor" and representatives from across the continent were in attendance. 

What we don’t know, however, is how he did it. Oh, he gives us a detailed account of his obsessive preparations, including how much protein he added to his weightlifting regimen. We know he set up a front company, Breivik Geofarm, supposedly devoted to the growing of tubers, which is how he managed to get the fertilizer that was a key component of his car bomb. What we don’t know, however, is where money came from.

Breivik hadn’t had much income recently, as detailed here – yet he seemed to have some assets. The exact source of these assets is unknown. According to him, he "earned his first million kroner as an entrepreneur at the age of 24." Yet a number of news accounts flatly contradict this, notably the Sydney Morning Herald, which reports:

"Government records suggest that despite his management qualifications, his early attempts at business were a failure until he established Breivik Geofarm in eastern Norway for the cultivation of ‘’vegetables, melons and tubers.’ The business would have given Breivik access to nitrogen-based fertilizer – one of the main ingredients of a fertilizer bomb."

Yet "Breivik Geofarm" was, according to Breivik, just a "front" company, a legal shell meant to shield his activities from prying eyes. We don’t know that he ever grew a single tuber. The Wall Street Journal tells us: 

"Government records show Mr. Breivik registered a business, Geofarm, in May 2009, though its main business activity was at first listed as trading stocks and other investments. Tax records show he reported no income that year but listed 390,171 kroner (about $50,000) in unverified assets."

If Breivik’s business ventures were failures prior to the Geofarm project, then where did these unverified assets come from? According to the Independent:

"After school, Breivik did a brief stint in the army, and then appears to have gone from one job to the next. He is believed to have started a computer company and earned enough money to live in a luxury apartment and sport a Breitling watch. However, other reports suggest that for years he worked in a lowly call center and lived almost anonymously.

"… Exactly what he lived on in the run- up to the massacre remains a mystery. But his bank details reveal that in 2007, a sum equivalent to €80,000 (£70,000) was added to his account, which would have enabled him to live without having to work."

The mystery deepens….

Check out Breivik’s resume here, wherein he claims to have been the "managing director" of "E-Commerce Group AS," which is described as a "part investment company – 50%, part sales/outsourcing company – 50%," with a "total of 7 employees: 3 in Norway, 1 in Russia, 1 in Indonesia, 1 in Romania, 1 in the US." Like Breivik Geofarm, he says:

"This was a front (milking cow) with the purpose of financing resistance/liberation related military operations. The company was successful although most of the funds were channeled through a Caribbean subsidiary (with base in Antigua, a location where European countries do not have access): Brentwood Solutions Limited with bank accounts in other Caribbean nations and Eastern Europe. E-Commerce Group was terminated in 2007 while most of the funds were channeled in an ‘unorthodox manner’ to Norway available to the coming intellectual and subsequent operations phase."

There is no online record of Breivik’s "E-Commerce Group AS," as far as I can see: an odd happenstance for an e-commerce outfit, wouldn’t you say? As for Brentwood Solutions Limited, there is no record of those guys, either: however, there is a Brentwood Solutions LLC in Naples, Florida. In any case, what I want to know is how did Breivik manage to get his hands on the equivalent of nearly $115,000 added to his account in 2007? If the money was legitimately earned, then why hide it in Caribbean and Eastern European banks and why go through "unorthodox" procedures in order to sneak it into Norway? 

Okay, now let’s summarize what we know about Breivik’s money trail, based not on what he says in his diary but on what little investigative reporting has been done on the matter. It boils down to this: His tax records show a small income in 2007 – the year all that money miraculously appeared in his bank account – and a bit more in 2008. He had no reported income in 2006 and 2009. Prior to that, there is no evidence of his "first million" anywhere to be seen.

While his diary emphasizes that he saved every penny to finance his terrorist operation, there had to be some income coming in from somewhere. And then there’s that mysterious $115,000 – did he rob a bank? Or did he have a benefactor? Here is where Breivik’s money trail simply … trails off.

The idea that Breivik acted alone is absurd: he had to have help, just on logistical matters, never mind the financial side of such an operation. Furthermore, it’s hard – nay, impossible – to believe he kept the secret to himself for nine years. In order to escape detection, and have the means to carry off such a complicated operation, Breivik must have had some organized assistance – and not from amateurs, by any means. At this point, we don’t know from whom.

However, we can see in the reaction to his murderous assault a kind of support network that has sprung up, if not to defend him personally then to defend his motivations and the ethos from which his hatred welled up. As I have said in my other columns on this subject, the so-called counter-jihadist milieu – whose writings were copiously cited in the online manifesto – provided the theoretical basis for Breivik’s horrific actions. The "anti-jihadist" pro-Israel blogosphere played an important role in reinforcing and elaborating Breivik’s crazed worldview, and there is even some frightening evidence that they played more of an activist role than that. 

In a post dated June 24, 2007, Pamela Geller, a leading light of the counter-jihadi movement, posted the following on her web site:

"I am running an email I received from an Atlas reader in Norway. It is devastating in its matter-of-factness.

    "Well, yes, the situation is worsening. Stepping up from 29 000 immigrants every year, in 2007 we will be getting a total of 35 000 immigrants from somalia, iran, iraq and afghanistan. The nations capital is already 50% muslim, and they ALL go there after entering Norway. Adding the 1.2 births per woman per year from muslim women, there will be 300 000+ muslims out of the then 480 000 inhabitants of that city. 

    "Orders from Libya and Iran say that Oslo will be known as Medina at the latest in 2010, although I consider this a PR-stunt nevertheless it is their plan.

    "From Israel the hordes clawing at the walls of Jerusalem proclaim cheerfully that next year there will be no more Israel, and I know Israel shrugs this off as do I, and will mount a strike during the summer against all of its enemies in the middle east. This will make the muslims worldwide go into a frenzy, attacking everyone around them. 

    "We are stockpiling and caching weapons, ammunition and equipment. This is going to happen fast. 

    "Before, I thought about emigrating to Britain, Israel, USA, South Africa, etc. for taxes and politics, but instead (although I believe we are the very last generation on earth before the return of God) I will stay and fight for the right to this country and indeed the entire peninsula, for the God-fearing people, just in case this isn’t the end of the world after all. Doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan. 

    "It’s far from impossible to achieve, after all my people has done it every time before, in feats that match the ancient Greek, hebrew and british ‘legends’. 

    "Oslo and the southeast may fall easily, but there are other lines than ‘state’-borders drawn across this country since long before there was even a single muslim in the world, and we have held them this long, against everyone else too. We are entering a new golden age for my people, and those of a handful other countrys, but only through struggle.

    "Never fear, Pamela. God is with you too in this coming time."

In the comments, one of Geller’s readers warns that the author of the letter could be prosecuted by Norewegian authorities. Geller replies: "Yes … which is why I ran it anonymously."

So here is some nut stockpiling "weapons, ammunition, and equipment," because "this is going to happen fast" – with Geller’s enthusiastic encouragement. Indeed, she’s so concerned her correspondent might be arrested that she’s protecting his identity.

Who is Geller’s mystery correspondent – is it the same Norwegian nut-case who ruthlessly cut down dozens of children, or a different one waiting in the wings to do the same? Come on, Pamela – clear up the mystery. Or would you rather continue to shield your fellow "counter-jihadist"?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the leaders and "scholars" who provided Breivik with the intellectual and political support he needed also provided more substantial support, such as ensuring the confidentiality of communications with the "Knights." Geller has already gone on the public record as supporting the thugs of the English Defense League, who troll the streets of British cities looking for Muslim victims – why not Breivik? 

Never has a "lone wolf" had this much company.

Community News (V12-I19)

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Advertisement–Enroll at university of phoenix california and broaden your horizons.

Two Muslim students named winners of  Spirit of Princeton Awards

PRINCETON, NJ–Two Muslims are in the list of eight winners of the 2010 Spirit of Princeton Award, which honors undergraduates at Princeton University for their positive contributions to campus life. The award recognizes eight seniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the undergraduate experience through dedicated efforts with student organizations, athletics, community service, religious life, residential life and the arts.

This year’s winners were selected from a group of more than 90 nominations and will be honored with a book prize at a dinner on May 5.

The profiles of the two students are as follows:

Muhammad Jehangir Amjad, from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, has worked to create awareness of Pakistani arts and culture. He is the founder of the student group Pehchaan and is a member of the Muslim Students Association. Amjad also has been involved with the International Relations Council, both as a delegate and as a conference leader. In Rockefeller College, he has served as a residential college adviser for two years and a residential computing consultant for three years. An avid cricketer, Amjad worked with other students to create an informal team that competed with Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is majoring in electrical engineering and pursuing a certificate in engineering and management systems. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, and has worked as a teaching assistant for computer science and electrical engineering courses. Next year Amjad will be working for Microsoft Corp. as a program manager.

Mariam Rahmani, from Kent, Ohio, is majoring in comparative literature and pursuing certificates in Persian language and culture, and European cultural studies. Rahmani has been the president of the Muslim Students Association and a co-convener of the Religious Life Council. She has worked to create a healthy environment for Muslim students through interfaith iftars, Eid banquets, the annual Fast-a-Thon and the creation of an alumni community group. With the University’s Religious Life Council, she participated in a trip to India to study religious pluralism, spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, traveled to Tanzania in summer 2008 and participated in a Muslim-Jewish dialogue trip to Spain. Additionally, Rahmani served on the selection committee for the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton and for the new vice president of campus life. In her senior year, she spoke to the freshman class at “Reflections on Diversity” and is a residential college adviser in Butler College.

Vandals deface Ottawa mosque

OTTAWA, CANADA–Ottawa’s Muslim community has condemned the defacing of a sign in Barrhaven marking the future location of a mosque and community centre.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said local residents discovered on Friday that offensive words, phrases and symbols were spray painted in red and black on the sign.

“Such acts are offensive, hurtful and intimidating to local citizens,” the council said in a statement.

“While the recurrence of such incidents is deeply disturbing, CAIR-CAN does not believe that such acts represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians,” the group said. “Which is why we ask our fellow citizens to join us in condemning this and all such incidents.”

The group said mosques in Calgary, and in the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Waterloo and Pickering have also been vandalized in the last four months.

Dr. Zarzour delivers keynote speech at Lexington Islamic school

LEXINGTON, KY–Lexington Universal Academy (LUA) a full-time accredited K-8 Islamic school in the heart of Central Kentucky held its annual fundraising dinner at the local Marriot in Lexington, KY, on April 25. The dinner attracted close to 330 community members from diverse backgrounds. Addressing the guests, LUA President shared the school’s accomplishments for the academic school year.

The keynote speaker, Br. Safaa Zarzour, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America delivered a passionate speech on the importance of Islamic Education.

He shared his personal and professional experience with regards to the important role Islamic schools are playing in building future Muslim leadership.

“In Chicago alone, only 0.5% of Muslim high school graduates come from Islamic schools, yet 60 % of the Muslim student leadership at Chicago universities are graduates of Islamic schools”, said Br. Safaa. He invited the community members to support this noble and critical initiative and exceeded the organizers’ fundraising goal of $100,000.

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A Terrorist by Any Other Name

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jon Pahl

(April 16, 2010) – When is a terrorist not considered a terrorist? When the US media identifies him or her as a “Christian”. And when is a terrorist group not considered a terrorist group? When the US media calls it an “anti-government militia”.

Exceptionalism is alive and well when it comes to reporting on violence in the name of religion, as evidenced in the recent case of the Michigan-based Hutaree, a group that the media has labeled a militia following recent FBI raids that uncovered stockpiles of illegal weapons, and a plot to kill law enforcement officers and “levy war” against the United States.

The leader of the group, 45-year-old David Brian Stone, pulled no punches about who he was, coining the term “Hutaree” which his website translates as “Christian warrior” for his group. His motto is the biblical passage John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The behavior of this group seems very similar to that of those termed terrorists by the media.

Yet Joshua Rhett Miller of Fox News described the Hutaree in a 29 March story as a “purportedly Christian-based militia group.” In a similar vein, Nick Bunkley and Charlie Savage of The New York Times identified Stone and the Hutaree somewhat apologetically as “apocalyptic Christian militants” in their 29 March report. This, despite the fact that the group not only stockpiled weapons and engaged in training identical to Al Qaeda’s modus operandi, but even planned improvised explosive devices based on those used by terrorists in Iraq.

In its “Times Topics” section, The New York Times positively contorts itself to avoid using the word “terrorist”. It describes the Hutaree as a “Michigan-based Christian militia group” and, mirroring the language of US Attorney General Eric Holder, as “anti-government extremists.”

Are we reserving the term “terrorist” only for Muslims these days? In coverage of stories like the thwarted plan to bomb synagogues in New York in May 2009 or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit, the mainstream media has no qualms about discussing “foiled terror plots.” Such a reservation stokes indiscriminate fear of Muslim “others”. It also constructs an implicit “us versus them” dualism between a broadly “Christian America” and an allegedly monolithic “Muslim world”, as American political scientist Samuel Huntington most notoriously opined in his “Clash of Civilisations” theory.

Religion is all too often seen as the root of terrorist violence, rather than as one of its most effective tools. As Scott Shane argued in the 4 April New York Times article “Dropping the word bomb”, we need a robust debate about what terms to use across cases. Journalists can help by practicing consistency, and by pointing out attempts to scapegoat one group and exempt another from the opprobrium associated with terms like “terrorist.”

Mainstream Christians like me cringe when a group like the Hutaree is identified as “Christian”. Perhaps this incident can help other Americans empathise with what close to 1.5 billion Muslims might have felt every time in the last few years they have heard the words “Muslim terrorists” or, far worse, “Islamic terrorists”.
A good rule to follow, for journalists and for all of us, might be to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

And that means calling a terrorist – of whatever background – exactly that.

Jon Pahl (jpahl@ltsp.edu) is Professor of History of Christianity in North America at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and author of Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence. This article first appeared in The Colorado Daily and was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) www.commongroundnews.org

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US Apache Kills Reporters in Iraq

April 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Note:  This video is very disturbing.  If you watch this video you will see a group of unarmed people being violently destroyed. 

 

Full unedited video below, including killing of people attempting to rescue wounded journalist Saeed.

Gaza Freedom Marchers vs Egyptian Police

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

Gaza has become the central focus of the human rights struggle. Many groups have called for its liberation, and many are striving to bring aid to that beleaguered area. This concern has accelerated since the launching of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead last year and the devastation that this operation wrought.

A coalition led by Code Pink had announced plans to enter Gaza through Rafah during a three week period which would coincide with the first anniversary of Israel’s destructive campaign. While in Gaza the group planned to march from Rafah to the Eretz crossing – the entry into Gaza from Israel – and symbolically link there with marchers from Israel.

Mary Hughes-Thompson, familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer and to activists worldwide, was a participant in the planned Gaza Freedom March. Ms Thompson is a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and has travelled to the Occupied Palestinian Territories several times. She  is co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement and was on the first ship to reach Gaza in August 2008, breaking a decades long siege. She has given The Muslim Observer an interview.

The story of the Gaza Freedom March (GFM) and its failure to achieve its announced goal is a story whose central factor and key players are Egyptian collaboration. The Egyptian police used an intimidating physical presence to thwart the peaceful demonstrators.

In late December some 1400 international activists assembled in Cairo prepatory to travelling to El Arish and then on to Rafah.  On arriving in Cairo they were told by the Egyptian authorities that they would not be permitted to assemble or to travel to Gaza.

Code Pink as speaker for the Gaza Freedom Marchers announced a press conference. Immediately after the announcement they were told by Egyptian authorities that they could not hold a press conference.

TMO:  Am I correct that the Gaza Freedom Marchers went to Cairo with the expectation that the proper protocol had been observed and that they would be permitted to travel to Rafah?

Ms Thompson:  The Egyptian authorities had agreed to facilitate our travelling to Gaza.  They had asked that the names and passport information for all participants be provided to them by November 30th, and this was done.

TMO:  What reason did the Egyptian authorities give for disallowing a press conference?

Ms Thompson:  I do know they had originally granted permits for both the press conference and for the orientation meeting which was scheduled to be held December 27th.  A few days earlier Egypt suddenly withdrew the permits which meant we could not hold either event.

TMO:  Could you tell us what threats were made to taxi cab drivers and/or bus drivers to prevent the group from using these means of transportation?

Ms Thompson:  They were told their licenses would be revoked.

TMO:  Could you tell us the behavior of the Egyptian police when they blocked the exits from a number of hotels where activists were staying?

Ms Thompson:  They blocked exits from a number of the hotels where activists were staying.  We had several policemen stationed outside our hotel at all times, and every time we left we were asked where we were going and when we would be back.  The first couple of days a policeman came with us in our taxi and stayed with us all day.  Each time we took a taxi from our hotel, a policeman questioned the driver, took his license number and ID, and, on one occasion, sat on the hood of our taxi refusing to let us leave.

TMO:  Did the GFM group at any time engage in or threaten violence?

Ms Thompson:  I would definitely say no to that. There was not a great deal of violence at all but what there was was on the part of the Egyptian police trying to control the crowds and trying to lock us into our hotels to prevent us from assembling.

TMO:  Did you have an opportunity to interact with the Egyptian people?

Ms Thompson:  While in Egypt we met several high profile people who were actively engaged in protesting. In fact, we went to the courthouse one day to support a local lawyer who was part of a group trying to challenge the Egyptian government’s building of the wall along the Rafah border. At the end of our trip Yvonne Ridley hired a van to take us to the pyramids (so she could videotape Hedy). {TMO: Hedy Epstein, an 85 year old Holocaust survivor and a Palestinian activist}, and our driver pointed to the spot on which we had been roughed up a few days earlier and said:  “The other day there was a revolution there.”

TMO:  Would you describe for our readers the details of the Egyptian police activity vis a vis your group at Tahrir Square?

Ms Thompson:  We decided that on the day we had planned to march to Erez crossing, we would hold a symbolic march in Cairo, and go as far as the Egyptian police would let us.  We started in Tahrir Square, opposite the Museum, and we ended there.  We came in small groups of two or three, from all directions, and the police were waiting for us.  They stopped my group (me, Hedy, and her two friends from St Louis, Sandra and J’Ann) and wouldn’t let us go to the meeting point.  We refused to leave, and insisted we were tired and needed to sit on a bench on the sidewalk.  Suddenly we saw a swarm of people crossing the street, and we ran to join them.  We were immediately surrounded by policemen three deep, and they wouldn’t let anyone in or out.

Generally the police didn’t use rough tactics, and I think my grey hair and cane might have helped me.

Even assembly in small groups was not permitted and any such gatherings were quickly surrounded by Egyptian police in riot gear.

Eventually through the intervention of Susan Mubarak, the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, 100 of the Gaza Freedom marchers were told they could travel to Gaza and bring with them the supplies they wanted to provide to the people there. This happened before the event at Tahrir Square.

TMO:  Thank you Ms Thompson on behalf of The Muslim Observer. You have given us an insight into events in Cairo, an insight not readily accessible in the media.

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Preconceptions, Misconceptions: Disaster in Afghanistan

March 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

PRECONCEPTIONS, MISCONEPTIONS AND “NO FEEDBACK LOOP” LEADS TO AMERICAN DISASTER IN AFGHANISTAN

By Gordon Duff

I have only recently returned from the region where I toured as a journalist and lecturer.  Our group included Jeff Gates, Raja Mugtaba, BG Asif Haroon Raja and BG Ali Raza and me of Veterans Today and Opinion Maker.  We met with some people we will not mention and many we can.  Prince Ali of Afghanistan had a delegation with us headed by Fayyaz Shah,  as advisors.  BG Ali Raza was primary coordinator on the ground for Pakistan during the “Charley Wilson War” against the Soviets.  No person has spent so much time “where he isn’t supposed to be” as General Ali Raza.  BG Asif Haroon Raja is Pakistan’s best known military analyst and author and an invaluable resource.

I would thank the Director General of the ISPR,  Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas and Director BG Syed Azmat Ali for their detailed briefing and great courtesy.

Background on the critical border regions was supplied by the former military head, BG Amir Gulistan Janjua.  His vast experience in the region was an invaluable aid to our understanding.  I would also thank Ahsan Rashid and Col. Javed Mujtaba for their advice, hospitality and analytical skills.

Our primary briefer and advisor for the region and constant correspondent is Admiral I A Sirohey, former Chairman, JCOS of Pakistan.  General Aslam Beg, former Army Chief of Staff and General Hamid Gul, former DG ISI, also briefed us extensively on military affairs.  These three, along with our companions, BG’s Raja and Ali, are the primary experts on regional military affairs and the Taliban.

We also want to thank Tarik Jan of the ISSI for his kind assistance.  I am leaving out two dozen names, some out of kindness.  Many political leaders met with us who normally would never see Americans.  We were treated with more than courtesy and kindness in some of the most unexpected places.

My close friends and personal advisors, Col. James Hanke, USA SF (ret) former Defense Attache to Israel and Fred Coward, former FBI counter-terrorism expert were a continual help.  Their knowledge and extensive contacts in the region were vital.

The question, of course, what did we learn?  Does anyone learn anything if weighed down by prejudiced, misconceptions or military and political theories based on flawed analyses or policies?  Our job is simply to listen, learn and use our best judgment.  Our responsibility is to be honest in our assessments.  The findings in this work are entirely my own.

The root of the problems in the region are historical in nature.  Unless you go back 200 years or more, something we aren’t doing here, nothing will make sense.  The region, Af-Pak, is a creation, primarily of Britain’s, seemingly created out of a design to stimulate instability and conflict to enable “the great game” Britain is famous for to be played, one side against the other.  In 1893, when Afghanistan and India/Pakistan were split by Durand, dividing tribes and even families, continual war was guaranteed.  In 1947, when Pakistan was created out of a group of peoples, roughly “Islamic” but otherwise unrelated, we were guaranteed even more instability.  Pakistan would be a combination of advanced culture, warlike tribes and resentful quasi-independent regions constantly at odds with their powerful neighbor, India.

The alliances that have defined the region, India and the Soviet Union, Pakistan and the United States (and China) and now, India and Israel and the United States(maybe Russia again and part of Afghanistan) and Pakistan and the United States (and China) have led to continual military buildups, including nuclear weapons and other advanced strategic technologies, all within a framework of acrimony and continual terrorism.

India, Israel, the United States, Afghanistan, China and Britain are all accused, on a daily basis, of coordinating terror attacks inside each country of the region, including Iran.  Accusations of training and arming terrorist groups, numbered in the dozens, perhaps the hundreds, in each of the countries involved, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are continually voiced.  In the process, everyone denies involvement in the vast drug trade that has reemerged with the American occupation of Afghanistan and the vast network of corruption based primarily on what seems to be an American policy to stimulate waste.

Permanent war, in itself, has become the only business of the region, other than drug trafficking, with endless thousands of “contractors” from around the world flocking to the region to suck down the American dollars carelessly thrown at every imaginable perceived threat or ill, often with little or no consideration for end result or attempt at accounting.

This has brought American war planners to a number of disastrous conclusions about the area, ones that defy any historical or strategic model.  The gutting of the intellectual capabilities of American policy planners during the Bush administration, based on an overlay of an Evangelical Christian model, applied, not only to the Pentagon but intelligence services, State Department and many key decision making environments has left the United States unable to process and respond properly to feedback.  Thus, failed policies are replaced by untested experiments and short term fixes, none based on broad or sound analysis.

All advice comes from groups tied financially to the continuation of the war and even the destabilization of Pakistan.  One major unseen actor is Israel, whose powerful lobby in Washington is capable of making policy for the region.  Israel’s military alliance with India and extensive investment in the regions gas and oil industry is a major driver in, what has become a suicidal American effort.  With Israel benefitting from billions in arms contracts with the United States and India along with becoming a defacto “super power” of the region by proxy, their “special interest” and unique ability to use their control of media, their massive influence over the electoral process in the US and their long relationship with the Pentagon, continual regional conflict may be a hidden agenda.

Current American policies in the region, both military and economic, seem to prove this out.  All are doomed to eventual failure, seemingly purposely so and all are the result of reliance on advice from sectors profiting from war and destabilization, not only of the region, but of the United States itself.  It is a unique possibility that the series of ill conceived wars begun under the Bush administration may eventually bring about the economic collapse of the United States as had happened to the Soviet Union some years before.

Afghanistan

America claimed they came into Afghanistan seeking the terrorists who attacked on 9/11.  This is blatantly dishonest.  Osama bin Laden had been a guest of the Taliban for some time but had been put under severe restrictions by that group.  There is no evidence any terrorist organizations were being run by Bin Laden in Afghanistan and current intelligence has proven, despite “media” coverage to the contrary, that bin Laden had no involvement in 9/11.  Broad evidence exists that bin Laden died during the initial US attack in 2001.  All intelligence and informed opinion leads to this conclusion causing both embarrassment and consternation when “press driven” demands for a continued hunt for bin Laden come from the United States.

Less publicly, the United States has long accepted the death of bin Laden yet has spent millions of dollars and hundreds of lives in a dishonest attempt to keep a “branded” big name terrorist in front of the public. 

This has caused a general distrust of the United States among its military allies who, universally, believe that the phony “hunt for bin Laden” is proof, not of a need to resurrect a phony “boogieman” for public consumption but rather to create an artificial “icon” to cover massive corruption and a history of failure.

At the outset, America’s approach in Afghanistan was flawed.  Our dependence on the Northern Alliance, a group of warlords wishing to restore drug production, prohibited by the Taliban, to assist us led to establishing a regime in Kabul that was never accepted by the people of Afghanistan.  President Karzai, not only notoriously corrupt and weak but closely allied to India, would make an unlikely leader in a war requiring continual coordination with Pakistan, a country nearly as distrustful of Karzai as his own people.

The decision by the US to support Karzai, even after a rigged election and to build an army and national police force primarily out of tribal minorities from the Northern Alliance who are hated by the majority of Afghanis has led to the need for the current increase in American presence and the stalled military operations in Helmand, the nation’s primary opium producing region since 2001.  Current American plans to consider restructuring the massive national police force on regional ethnic lines is encouraging but doomed to failure.

Tribal traditions in Afghanistan are based on a system called Pashtunwali.  All judicial and police functions reside within a long established tribal structure, one that functioned well prior to the Soviet occupation and one which could be restored.  Replacing this with a “northern occupation” will only lead to continual warfare.

Gun Culture

The economy of Afghanistan is almost entirely non-existent.  Warring groups are living off American bribes, payments to allow supplies to pass unharmed to American forces or from taxes on the massive opium harvest.  With the destruction of tribal cohesion under the Russian backed government and the mining of Afghanistan, the traditional yearly migrations of the large pastoral population within Afghanistan has stopped.  This group, numbering as many as 15 million, are a recruiting ground for “gun culture.”

Replacing normal occupations, farming, husbandry or small industries is a vast number of fighters, many simple bandits and criminals but untold thousands fighting out of a belief they are opposing a foreign occupation.  Discerning the difference between the two and restoring a traditional economy to replace warlord-ism, drug production and mercenary activities is the only way of bringing about stability.  The cost of these programs, some of which the USAID is working on now, is low in comparison to military action.

However, too little is being done and, for every successful program, ten “boondoggle” programs are put in place, building useless projects with massive cost overruns and corruption.

Military Action

American military planners are currently trying a variety of approaches, including working with the Afghan army, a vast mercenary group, primarlily of the northern tribes that is, on the whole, both unsupportable economically and totally helpless when used in any independent capacity.  Afghanistan has a tradition of compulsory military service, a “people’s army” of lowly paid but highly motivated soldiers from every area of the nation.  These troops are paid as little as $5 per month but receive food subsidies for their families and extensive training in civilian trades as part of their service.

This successful system has been destroyed by the United States and the Karzai government, replaced with a “paid” professional army untrusted by any group within the country.  Pakistan fears that this army will fall under Indian command and threaten their borders and, perhaps, rightly so.  The model used is based on Blackwater, a private military contractor, not any national army.  The new national army in Afghanistan is quite likely to work for any group capable of paying them.  The nation of Afghanistan itself will never have that capability.

American efforts to occupy destabilized regions thru “civil affairs” operations used in Vietnam with some success can only function as they did in Vietnam, as part of a permanent occupation force which will be immediately replaced by an opposing “occupation force” of domestic fighters, the enemy, when Americans leave.  In fact, Taliban units simply melt into the civilian population when confronted by American forces beyond their capability of defeating.

Only the foreign fighters in Afghanistan, those who came to fight and die, continue action against the US forces under unfavorable conditions.  Others, trained in “irregular warfare” from birth, simply wait out America’s resolve, exactly as had happened in Vietnam.  Pentagon planners understand this, thus making our current efforts by cynical and deceitful.

America is unaware that most of the Taliban live in Pakistan.  The total number of Taliban exceeds 50 million, a number America and Pakistan can never fight successfully nor do they need to.  The vast majority of those the US considers enemy combatants can be rehabilitated, but not under programs currently being initiated by the United States.  The idea of paying “fighters” or members of the “gun culture” to stop resisting is hardly a thoughtful strategy but it is the one the United States has chosen.

There are forces that need to be defeated and that could be defeated by an Afghan army, a traditional force based on compulsory service and fighting for a government with wide support among the tribes, a government Afghanistan currently doesn’t have.

Current military operations are likely to recruit more fighters against the United States and the unpopular Karzai government and, as things are going, eventually lead to a wider conflict in Pakistan and the economic destruction of that nation, a vital US ally.   We are well along that road already and are more than well aware of it despite our protestations to the opposite and the total lack of media attention to any “reality based” assessment.

Economic development programs being enacted in Afghanistan are primarily based on supporting a corrupt culture and maintaining “cover” for the massive drug trade that powerful groups among all the players, Afghanistan, Israel, the United States, India and Pakistan, are growing immensely wealthy and powerful on.  A restructuring of the economies on both sides of the Durand Line separating Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan along lines suggested by Imran Khan and Jeff Gates and groups supporting Prince Ali Seraj may be the best solution.

Simple “grass roots” development built on supporting and expanding traditional industries while providing improved delivery of educational and health care services is a start.  Only education of men and women can fight the cycle of extremism, broad public education delivered at village level within a social and economic environment supporting a traditional model.  These plans exist, are inexpensive and have broad support among nearly all tribal leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The only thing stopping their implementation is the current much more profitable and corrupt system that is creating a new ruling oligarchy based on American money and continual chaos.

Solutions?

They have always been there but real solutions have been opposed by those profiting off the war and the environment the war has created.  Too many with too much money and power want the wars to continue for too many reasons, including long term geopolitical goals unfavorable to the United States and Pakistan.  With a lack of strong leadership within the United States compounded by the disastrous policies of the Bush administration, US foreign policy will continue to be a “runaway train.”

The first step toward enacting known solutions would be getting real information to decision makers and keeping the American people properly informed.  Currently, media in the United States is so heavily skewed toward misinformation and propaganda that political accountability has nearly disappeared.  An systematically misinformed populace negates all concepts of democracy and representative government.   There can be no accountability and no national policy as long as the mechanisms for disinformation that have taken control of America’s news media exist.

Defacto control of Americas media by foreign nations and a cabal of corporations tied to the war economy has ended effective public participation in American policy and decision making and, in the process, ended Congress’s ability to oversee policy.  Grassroots movements in Afghanistan, while America remains the “prime mover” depend on restoration of similar authority in the United States.

12-12

Muslims Help Haiti

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Letters from Dr. Reshma Vasanwala with International Medical Corps

2010-03-10T181912Z_1906337752_GM1E63B06GF01_RTRMADP_3_HAITI-USA

President of Haiti Rene Preval (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama as they deliver remarks in the Rose Garden after meeting at the White House in Washington, March 10, 2010. 

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

TMO Editor’s note: Here are two emails from Haiti sent by Doctor Reshma Vasanwala. She volunteered her services for Haitian earthquake victims, as has Dr. Khalid Rao from Detroit and other Muslim physicians.

reshma

Hi all,

I arrived in Haiti safely–on a UN plane from Santo Domingo. The airport bar at Port au Prince is buzzing with activity–international NGOs, troops (including the 82nd airborne unit), media, journalists, and aid workers.

We are staying at one of the few standing hotels in Port au Prince–a five star hotel that hosted Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Anderson Cooper, and the like.  There are still a lot of CNN folks here and media from all over the world staying at the same hotel. To my surprise, I’m in the lap of luxury—buffet meals, swimming pool,. Its weird that just across the street hundreds of thousands of people are living in tents and slums.

We are not allowed to leave the hotel and we take a private bus everyday to our place of work. Driving just these short distances, one can see the devastation caused by the earthquake and the suffering of the Haitian people.

We passed some tent cities that were said to have 40,000 people living there! There is a lot of unrest on the streets as gangs are fighting each other for territories.

Our group has tents set up in the hospital compound, since the buildings are unsafe to work in. The hospital grounds have been transformed into an entire campus of tents-each providing a different type of specialized medical care. There is a pediatric and neonatal ICU, a regular ICU, HIV and TB tents, general surgery, OB, and ER. However, in most of these tents the doctors only come by every few days, and no one to cover at night, so people simply die.

Our group, IMC, provides Emergency care on this campus and we provide coverage 24hours a day.  I am assigned to the ER–which has been awesome.There are literally hundreds of patients (600-800)  each day, and there is a line several blocks long every morning.  I have never quite experienced anything like this. The tents are like 100 degrees, it smells, there are rats and  it is complete chaos–but its a blast!

I am doing things here that I have never done, simply because there is no one else to call, or everyone else is too busy. I have never provided such substandard care in my life, because we don’t have the tool and resources to provide good care. However, the reality is that for most of these people, this is the best care they have ever received.

A word about the people on the IMC team…there are about 30 volunteers here, and I am so impressed by these people. They are brilliant, passionate, interesting and loads of fun.

I am working the night tonight so I have the day off, but I wish I was back at the ER tent rather than the swimming pool–its been that much fun so far.

Reshma

Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 8:16 AM:

Working with the IMC group has continued to be a blast. Its really amazing that when people come together for a common purpose, there is a unique bond. Our lives have become really integrated and routine. It sometimes feels like summer camp or a travel experience where you don’t have the tedious routines of running errands or the tending to of details that take up so much time back home– so that you can stay focused on purpose. 

I am getting used to the work in the ER and really like it. Its really frustrating however, because everyday people die and often it feels like we are running a hospice service because there is not much we can offer–especially when we don’t have a full laboratory or radiology service.  The medicine wards, where there seems to really be no medical care going on, seem more like a support group—”Hey, I’m sick, you’re sick–lets hang out together”

Yesterday was especially hard yesterday when a 2 year old died from an unknown cause and we watched the mother cry and scream inconsolably. This really got to me.

It was the first time I had seen such a reaction. I was beginning to think, that the Haitian people, having been through so much, had become stoic or emotionally shut down. Before yesterday, I had not really seen emotion expressed in a way that I might expect when a death occurred or when they heard bad news.

On a more random note, a couple of days ago there was some film people from LA who are starting a reality/documentary series about international community development and they filmed all day at our ER. They got me on camera as they followed me and another doctor deal with a sick kid who needed surgery and the surgeons here did not want to operate. We called the 82nd airborne to get the kid transferred to another facility where the surgery took place and the kid survived.

We’ll see if that scout footage makes it on their first show.

Its hard to believe that I just have a few days left. I think I may come back again very soon.

Reshma

12-11

Don’t Panic. Fear Is Al-Qaeda’s Real Goal

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Fareed Zakaria

In responding to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced the feelings of many when she said that to prevent such situations, “I’d rather overreact than underreact.” This appears to be the consensus view in Washington, but it is quite wrong. The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn’t work. Alas, this one worked very well.

The attempted bombing says more about al-Qaeda’s weakened state than its strength. In the eight years before Sept. 11, al-Qaeda was able to launch large-scale terrorist attacks on several continents. It targeted important symbols of American power — embassies in Africa; a naval destroyer, the USS Cole; and, of course, the World Trade Center. The operations were complex — a simultaneous bombing of two embassies in different countries — and involved dozens of people of different nationalities who trained around the world, moved significant sums of money and coordinated their efforts over months, sometimes years.

On Christmas an al-Qaeda affiliate launched an operation using one person, with no special target, and a failed technique tried eight years ago by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. The plot seems to have been an opportunity that the group seized rather than the result of a well-considered strategic plan. A Nigerian fanatic with (what appeared to be) a clean background volunteered for service; he was wired up with a makeshift explosive and put on a plane. His mission failed entirely, killing not a single person. The suicide bomber was not even able to commit suicide. But al-Qaeda succeeded in its real aim, which was to throw the American system into turmoil. That’s why the terror group proudly boasted about the success of its mission.

Is there some sensible reaction between panic and passivity? Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission and later a senior State Department official in the Bush administration, suggests that we should try to analyze failures in homeland security the way we do airplane catastrophes. When an airliner suffers an accident, major or minor, the National Transportation Safety Board convenes a group of nonpartisan experts who methodically examine what went wrong and then issue recommendations to improve the situation. “We approach airline security with the understanding that it’s a complex problem, that we have a pretty good system, but that there will be failures — caused by human beings, technology, or other factors. The point is to constantly fix what’s broken and keep improving the design and execution,” says Zelikow.

Imagine if that were the process after a lapse in homeland security. The public would know that any attack, successful or not, would trigger an automatic, serious process to analyze the problem and fix it. Politicians might find it harder to use every such event for political advantage. The people on the front lines of homeland security would not get demoralized as they watched politicians and the media bash them and grandstand with little knowledge.

Overreacting to terrorist attacks plays into al-Qaeda’s hands. It also provokes responses that are likely to be large-scale, expensive, ineffective and possibly counterproductive. More screening for every passenger makes no sense. When searching for needles in haystacks, adding hay doesn’t help. What’s needed is a larger, more robust watch list that is instantly available to all relevant government agencies. Almost 2 million people travel on planes in the United States every day. We need to isolate the tiny percentage of suspicious characters and search them, not cause needless fear in everyone else.

As for the calls to treat the would-be bomber as an enemy combatant, torture him and toss him into Guantanamo, God knows he deserves it. But keep in mind that the crucial intelligence we received was from the boy’s father. If that father had believed that the United States was a rogue superpower that would torture and abuse his child without any sense of decency, would he have turned him in? To keep this country safe, we need many more fathers, uncles, friends and colleagues to have enough trust in America that they, too, would turn in the terrorist next door.

Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International. His e-mail address is comments@fareedzakaria.com.

12-3

Military Muslims: What Now?

November 12, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

2009-11-08T171028Z_192441419_GM1E5B902TX01_RTRMADP_3_TEXAS-SHOOTING When Major Nidal Hasan went on a murderous rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas, the entire nation snapped to rapt attention and said, “Here we go again.  Those crazy Muslims are at it again.”

Immediately after the story hit the airways the usual apologies from Muslim organizations and individuals started pouring in.  “We Muslims do not condone the actions of Major Hasan.  “This is not Islam.”  “Islam means peace,” etc etc etc.

I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring about the grief being felt by the family and other loved ones of the slain.  Of course, we abhor the actions of any deranged person who without warning, and seemingly without any justification or provocation, takes innocent human lives.  This person was obviously not in a rational state of mind, and plainly his actions had absolutely nothing to do with his religion, or lack of it.  I believe the world knows this but the anti-Islamic fever sweeping the world, fed by the other media, will keep people’s rational thoughts from surfacing.

Some news accounts make reference to the Islamic signs that major Hasan had on some of his property.   The news media interviewed some people who made statements like “I heard him speaking Muslim talk.” (He could have been saying as-salaam-alaikum).  It is an obvious attempt to discredit anything with any ties to Islam.  And by making note of his artifacts, they are saying that having these things in his possession automatically makes him a dangerous “Islamic Radical.”

But actually it is no stranger than a Catholic crazy man having a rosary, or a Buddhist crazy man with his statue of Buddha, or a Jewish crazy man with copy of the Torah and a yarmulke on his head.  It does not matter what his religion is.  If you’re crazy, you’re just crazy.

But on the other hand there are numerous Muslim soldiers and veterans who have annual observances to mark Veterans Day in this country.  But for the most part, they are not reported.  I realize that good, positive events that enhance humanity are not as sensational as a shooting rampage by a crazy person. But they are nevertheless so very important because with the automatic sensational reporting of negative events getting all the attention, it takes extra effort to put some balance in the reporting.

For several months the Dawah Team at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan, under the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, has been planning a salute to all veterans from any branch of service and any dates of service.  The event will be a luncheon held at Masjid Wali Muhammad from 11AM – 1PM.

Brother Lawrence Ziyad, a veteran of the Viet Nam war and one of the coordinators of the event, says the program will be one heavy with reverence for ALLAH, and patriotism for the United States government.  It will begin with prayer followed by the National Anthem and Lift Every Voice and Sing, popularly known as the Black National Anthem.  Also, as part of the opening and closing of the luncheon, they will salute the American flag.

These Muslim brothers, maybe more than many other people, are keenly aware of the ills of this country.  Most are descendants of slaves that suffered what is arguably the worst treatment of any human beings in the history of mankind.  Still they recognize the beauty and importance, and the privilege of being Americans, and are grateful for being so. This picture of Muslim patriotism is rarely seen in the media.

Another group, the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA) is a nationwide service organization comprised of former members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The group is officially recognized by the United States government along with other veteran groups such as the veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legions, Polish American Veterans, Jewish Veterans, Italian Veterans and other Veteran organizations.  The Muslim-American group is made up primarily of Muslims of African American descent since most Muslims that immigrated here from other countries, came here past military age.  The group, comprised of five posts in various cities is headed by National Commander Saleem G. Abdul-Mateen.

What major media cared to report that the MAVA Commanders recently met on Capitol Hill in Washington to meet with Muslim American Congressman Andre Carson to present ways to help assist young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  What media (other than the Muslim Observer) cared to report that the MAVA Post #1 received a community service award from CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionalism for its untiring efforts in making life better for those who sacrificed and served this country unselfishly.

Congressman Carson was so impressed with the group that he invited them to establish a forum for dealing with veteran affairs and open up a dialogue for addressing these issues.  MAVA has already created programs to assist returning servicemen and women.  “Our aim is is to interact locally and nationally with organizations and institutions that have exhibited care and concern for these service members,” said member Saleem Abdul Mateen.

Another fine example of Muslim American patriotism is in the person of Chaplain Lt. Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad.  Chaplain Muhammad is another Muslim American in the community of Imam Warith Denn Mohammed.  I have personally watched his rise in the military and admired his character, and balanced approach to different situations.

These fine Muslims are just a few examples of the great majority of Muslims in this country.  They love their religion, they love their country, and they love being fine and caring representatives of both.

Let us remember the victims, and their families in our prayers.  And let us strive to be good Muslims and good Americans.  Ameen.   

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

UK’s Huge Jewel Heist Linked to Israel

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press TV

Top Israeli officials have been linked to Britain’s biggest ever jewelry heist, in which gems worth up to $65 million (£40m) were stolen.

According to an Israeli report, three former senior officials in the Israeli army were the main shareholders of the company responsible for guarding the Graff Diamond jewelers in central London, where the robbery took place. The Universe Security Group (USG) has been in charge of the security of the store, after a group of Balkan robbers–dubbed the Pink Panther gang–carried out an armed raid on the same store in May 2005, taking off with 1 million pounds worth of diamonds.

Nahum Admoni, former Mossad chief and Maj. Gen. Uri Sagie, former chief of intelligence in the Israeli army, reportedly resigned from the leadership of the London-based group, just two months before the heist.

Another primary share holder of the security company is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special adviser, Isaac Molho.

The police have meanwhile arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with the robbery, but only described him as a ‘minor player’ in the act.

The August 6 raid, which had all the makings of a blockbuster movie, was carried out by two smartly dressed men, who had disguised themselves professionally with make-up layered on latex masks, Metropolitan Police footage showed.

In just minutes, the leading men drew handguns, grabbed a female member of staff and headed for the exit with 43 pieces of jewelry including rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches.

They fired warning shots, jumped into a waiting blue BMW and abandoned their hostage, speeding through Mayfair. No one was injured in the incident.

An international man hunt has been in progress ever since, with insurers offering a 1 million-pound reward for information leading to the capture of the thieves and the recovery of the jewels.

11-36

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

Community News (V11-I31)

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kent Displays Names Dr. Asad Khan Chief Technical Officer

KENT, OH– Kent Displays announced this week  the naming of Dr. Asad Khan as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Dr. Khan replaces Dr. J. William Doane, a pioneer in reflective LCD technology and Director Emeritus of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. Dr. Doane has moved to the role of Senior Advisor and will remain on Kent Displays’ Executive Committee.

Dr. Khan joined Kent Displays in 1995 as a Research Engineer. He has since held roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as the Vice President of Technology and as a member of the Executive Committee. He has published over 60 papers in U.S. and international journals and possesses over 15 U.S. and international patents (with several applications pending).

In his new role, Dr. Khan has primary responsibility for further development of Reflex(TM) No Power LCD technology, the foundation for which was built by Dr. Doane as cofounder of Kent Displays. Focus activities include authoring the development framework for Reflex technology to meet the overall company strategic plan, directing a growing internal team of scientists in the implementation of the framework, and playing the lead role in managing various strategic relationships with suppliers and joint development partners.

Kent Displays’ CEO Dr. Albert Green stated, “We have been exceptionally fortunate to have the services of two internationally-recognized LCD industry leaders in the CTO role, Dr. Doane and now Dr. Khan. As one of Kent Displays’ longest-tenured employees, Dr. Khan offers keen insight into the company’s history and vast experience in the display industry. This knowledge, combined with an extensive technical background, makes him the ideal individual to lead the development of Reflex technology for new and unique applications such as smart cards, electronic skins and writing tablets. We have great confidence in his ability to provide the necessary direction to take Reflex technology into these new frontiers and many others.”

Mosque opposed in Town of Niagara

TOWN OF NIAGARA, NY–The Islamic Cultural Center of Niagar Falls has sought permission from the town to construct a new mosque. The group wants to convert the old Credit Union building in order to meet the needs of the area’s growing Muslim population.

Earlier requests were already denied by the Planning Board. They have now been placed before the Town’s Board.

Town of Niagara allows places of worship only in residential zones and only with a special use permit. The property also would need a zoning variance because it does not have the proper amount of road frontage required.

A public hearing would need to be held prior to the property’s rezoning. However, town officials delayed scheduling one until the other concerns are addressed and worked out.

Walmart rehires Muslim employee

ST.PAUL, MN–A Muslim employee at Walmart fired for praying in the workplace premises has now been re-hired.

Abdi Abdi was fired in February from the Wal-Mart in Woodbury where he worked as a stocker and loader. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new supervisor fired him after instituting a ban on prayers during work breaks, even though a previous supervisor allowed him to do so.

The St. Paul-based Islamic rights group says Abdi was rehired at a St. Paul store that’s closer to his home. The group says he will be allowed to pray during breaks.

A spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer tells the Star Tribune that the company is “glad everyone came together to resolve the issue on a positive note.”

Madison mosque public hearing postponed to August 3

MADISON, MS– A public hearing on the construction of a mosque has been rescheduled for August 3rd in Madison, Mississipi. Roger Williams, an attorney representing the Mississippi Muslim Association in Jackson, asked the Madison County board of supervisors for a continuance of the hearing on June 7, saying the group needs more time to lay out plans for a sewer system for the property on U.S. 51.

“We thought we had reached an understanding with the city of Madison to provide sewer service to the property, because we thought it was located in the city’s certificated area,” he said.

“But last Thursday, we learned that the property was not in the city’s certificated area.” As defined by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, a certificated area is an area where the certificate holder cannot legally deny water and sewer service.

Now Williams said the group plans to install a private sewer system akin to a septic tank. “We felt it would be inappropriate to go to the board without all the information.”

Muslim charter school sues Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN–The Tarek Bin Ziyad Academy has sued the state of Minnesota for unfairly fining it $1.4 million. In its recent complaint in Ramsey County Court, the Academy claims the Minnesota Department of Education fined it for violating teacher licensure law, but refused to provide enough documentation for the school to appeal. It claims the state made “a purposeful and calculated resistance” in withholding the files.

The academy was sued earlier this year by the ACLU which claimed which claimed the school was sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and was unconstitutionally receiving taxpayers’ money.

The ACLU claimed TIZA permitted and promoted Islamic prayer and rituals in school, in violation of Minnesota Charter School Law.

In June, TIZA appealed the Minnesota Department of Education’s “final determination letter regarding certain allegations of teacher licensure law violations,” which led to the $1.4 million fine.

11-31

McKinney Released, Returning to United States

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Rhonda Cook, Larry Hartstein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s (D-G-11th and 4th) mom said she’s learned that her daughter is on the way home.

Cynthia_McKinney_250_JPG80 Leola McKinney said a friend who contacted the U.S. Embassy in Israel reported that the former congresswoman was released from Israeli custody and taken to Ben Gurion International Airport.

“We finally got word that she was released,” Leola McKinney said late Sunday afternoon. “We don’t know what time she is supposed to fly out. All we know is that they took her to the airport.

“I would be more relieved when I know she’s on the flight,” Leola McKinney added. “But I am relieved that she’s away from there.”

McKinney had been in custody since Tuesday, when she and 20 others were swept up by the Israeli Navy while allegedly trying to sail through a navy blockade. The group says it was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

McKinney and the rest of her group could have been released soon after they were taken into custody but they refused to sign a document admitting they violated Israel’s blockade, according to McKinney’s parents. The group was due to appear in an Israeli court Sunday.

Leola McKinney said she had no information about the court hearing.

Leola McKinney said she had not spoken with her daughter since shortly after she was taken into custody.

Cynthia McKinney and other members of the “Free Gaza Movement ” left Cyprus Tuesday on the Greek-registered ship Arion.

Their ship was stopped when they tried to pass through the Israeli Navy’s security blockade at Ashdod. The group was taken into custody and their ship was seized. Israel officials promised to deliver by ground all of the humanitarian supplies that were on the boat.

Family, friends and supporters say Cynthia McKinney believed she was in international waters and was free to pass.

“The Israelis hijacked us because we wanted to give crayons to the children of Gaza,” Cynthia McKinney said in a recorded statement delivered via telephone and posted on the internet site YouTube [The office of the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta said in a statement released Friday, “According to Israeli law Ms. McKinney and her fellow crew members were suggested to sign a form acknowledging their deportation… Since Ms. McKinney has refused to do so, she is expected to appear before an Israeli judge on Sunday, July 5, and afterwards be returned home as soon as possible.”

Civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery, head of the Atlanta-based Coalition for the People’s Agenda, said he and others have spoken by phone with the Consulate General of Israel.

“Whatever happened, there was no harm done,” Lowery said. “She was not carrying munitions, but medicine. We hope Israel will show compassion and release her and let her go on to deliver the much-needed medicine to the Gaza Strip. … If she were carrying guns, that would be a different thing. [But] she was carrying humanitarian aid.”

Israeli officials blame McKinney and her group for the controversy, saying they were looking for confrontation to attract publicity. The officials note that Palestinian Authority and the rest of the international community had agreed to the off-shore blockade to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is classified by the U.S. and European Union as a terrorist organization.

Leola McKinney said the trip would have received no “publicity if they had been allowed to deliver supplies to Gaza. They [Israel] made an issue out of it by taking the boat and escorting them into Israel.”

Billy McKinney, Cynthia McKinney’s father and a former state legislator, said his daughter was only trying to show “the devastation in Gaza… Anybody who has a humanitarian spirit would not want to see those people live in those conditions.”

11-29

Isn’t it Wonderful to be Muslim?

July 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

El-Amin portrait ALLAH, The Almighty, has the power to use His creation as he sees fit.  He allows people to be Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or even disbelievers.  He also reserves the authority to bestow His special blessings on a group of people that He has favored to carry His message.  That special group of people is us – the Muslims.

When I think about the special blessings ALLAH has bestowed on me, I am filled with gratitude because I could be someplace else.  In fact, I was someplace else before ALLAH rescued me and showed me the correct path.  And I’ve been striving to stay on it ever since.

What is sometimes disturbing is when I see people abusing the good life ALLAH has put them in.  I see men abusing women and taking advantage of them simply because they can.  They can consciously choose and execute this abuse because ALLAH has put the man in a stronger position than the women. But that superior position is only so the man can maintain and protect the woman.  I see men play on women’s emotions and pull them back and forth as though they were puppeteers.  It is definitely something wrong when a person is aware of ALLAH and the goodness He intends for us; and lives a life completely opposite from what she or he knows and preaches.

I am also aware of women who have a faster, more analytical mind than some men and they use this to abuse their spouse (and anyone else who gets in their way).

These people do not have a peaceful soul that is able to rest and enjoy the blessings has bestowed on them.  They see some flaw in themselves and attempt to cover it up by being overly aggressive and finding fault in others.  It seems that today’s world is filled with self-promotion, defending our own rights, taking care of ourselves first, winning by intimidation, pushing for first place, and a dozen other self-serving agendas.  That one attitude does more to squelch our joy than any other.  So busy defending and protecting and manipulating, we set ourselves up for a grim, intense state of being – and it is not new or confined to any certain group of people.

Prophet Isa ibn Maryam, said to “Be unselfish and humble yourself.  That statement is the secret of a happy life.  While someone else is busy building a case against you, you will be in the next room, down the hall, or across the globe being happy and productive.

Do all your deeds with the thought in mind of pleasing ALLAH alone.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind.  Let us regard other people as being more important than ourselves.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

In this way, you, and those you are in contact with will prosper.  And it will be done with less stress and anxiety.

These are basic Islamic tenants that help guarantee a peaceful soul.  It is the way to purify your soul so you can better carry out your role as caretaker of the creation.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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11-28

Community News (V11-I28)

July 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Top scientist receives grant to develop fast test to detect porcine fat

peggy hsieh TALLAHASSEE, June 29, 2009– Y-H. Peggy Hsieh, of Florida State University,  recently received a grant from Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo K. of Japan to develop a rapid method for the detection of porcine fat. The two-year grant provides $216,000 in research funds plus $40,000 in consulting fees.

Pork tissue is strictly prohibited in  Halal diets for religious reasons. Reliable methods for the detection of any porcine tissue, including muscle and fat, are of paramount importance to the practicing Muslim and Jewish populations. Hsieh has previously developed a rapid pork immunoassay which can sensitively detect any pork muscle in food and feed mixtures regardless of their processing conditions. This pork-specific assay was commercialized in 2000 and has been widely used internationally. However, detection of pork fat remains challenging due to the physiochemical nature of the fat. Currently available methods such as DNA based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) techniques, gas and liquid chromatography, and near-infrared spectroscopy, all require sophisticated instruments coupled with complex data analysis procedures for interpreting results. Rapid field tests of pork or any other fat are non-existent.

Hsieh will search for a porcine-specific and thermal-stable biomarker in the porcine fat tissue and develop a rapid method for the detection of the biomarker in raw and processed pork fat. It is anticipated that after two years, she will deliver the very first field assay which can identify even small amounts of pork fat in a wide range of raw and processed materials without using expensive instrumentation. This type of assay will greatly benefit billions of people who try to avoid pork in their diet. Tanaka has signed an optional licensing agreement with FSU in the hopes of commercializing Hsieh’s end product upon completion of this project.

The Tanaka Kikinzoku Group is Japan’s leading precious metals company with a history of over one hundred and twenty years. Although best known internationally for its high specification industrial products, the group is also producer and trader of a variety of bullion and platinum group metals, coins and bars. The group is also active environmentally, and is one of the world’s largest recyclers of platinum group metals. Their newly established Medical Group, which is funding Hsieh’s research, is focused on developing various products through the use of precious metals to improve human health.

Protestors at mosque presented with roses

BOSTON, MA–The mosque complex of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center officially opened last Friday with more than 1800 worshippers in attendance. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, city councilors, and state lawmakers also attended the ceremony.

The mosque had faced a plethora of problems including financial woes and allegations that some of the speakers there had indulged in extreme rhetoric.

A handful of protestors stood across the street from the mosque holding placards led by a leading critic Charles Mosque. Local Muslims gave them white flowers as a gesture of peace. A few arguments ensued but the overall atmosphere was peaceful.

The Muslim leaders of the area hoped that the mosque will become a hub of interfaith programs.

Mayor Bloomberg says schools won’t close for Eid

NEW YORK,NY–Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City’s schools can’t close for Muslim holidays.

The City Council is considering a nonbinding resolution on Tuesday asking the Education Department to observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

The city has the nation’s largest school system. A 2008 study by Columbia University’s Teachers College estimates at least 10 percent of its 1.1 million students are Muslim.

The resolution asks the Bloomberg administration to observe the holidays in schools and for the state to require it by amending education law.

The mayor says the city is so diverse schools can’t observe every holiday.

LAPD appoints first Muslim chaplain

LOS ANGELES, CA–In a bid to improve relations with Muslims, the Los Angeles Police Department has appointed its first Muslim chaplain.

Pakistan-born Sheik Qazi Asad, 47, will become a reserve chaplain at the North Hollywood station, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

“We need to establish very good communication … where both parties are talking to each other,” Asad told the Times. “This is just opening up the door.”

Asad, a U.S. citizen, has spent a decade working to improve relations between police and Muslims  in Los Angeles County.

The LAPD hopes he’ll strengthen relations that have suffered since the department tried to map the city’s Muslim population in 2007, the newspaper said. The department abandoned the plan after critics called it religious profiling.

Asad has served as a member of the sheriff’s Executive Clergy Council, on which he worked to build trust between Muslims and police.

11-28

Somali Woman’s Illness and A Family’s Quest for Healing

June 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Joel Grostephan, New America Media

NAM Editor’s Note: A 31-year-old Somali woman goes missing after she’s diagnosed with psychosis, and her family is baffled when the county won’t tell them where she is so they could begin the spiritual healing treatment they believe will help her, writes NAM contributor, Joel Grostephan.

ST.CLOUD, Minn. — Samira Iman was missing for nearly two years. The 31-year-old Somali didn’t run away. She wasn’t kidnapped. She didn’t go to Africa to fight in Somalia’s decades-old civil war. She was living in St. Cloud, Minn., in a group home for the mentally ill. But Samira’s family lost track of her, and mental health officials did not help them locate her.

One day in the fall of 2007, Samira fainted at the poultry processing plant where she had begun working. She was taken to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with mental illness, according to her family. After she was discharged, she was either sent to a group home or released on to the street, but not to her family. When her younger brother, Yahya Iman, tried to find out where she was, Stearns County Human Services cited government privacy laws and would give no information.

Then, earlier this month, Samira reappeared as mysteriously as she disappeared. Now she’s living with her family. But in the two years she was away, she got herself into trouble. Samira faces felony assault charges for allegedly hitting staff members at the group home last fall. Given her mental state and the nature of the crime, she is likely to be convicted of a less serious offense. She missed her court hearing scheduled for February 2009, so Judge Paul Midwick issued a warrant for her arrest. Yahya doesn’t understand that.

“It don’t make sense how they would charge someone who is mentally ill with something,” he said.

Since the family arrived in the United States in 2001, many things haven’t made sense to them. They still are trying to figure out why the county didn’t allow the family to care for Samira for two years. Why would they not let them know where she was so she could be taken to an Islamic priest to treat her mental illness? Why would the county let Samira make decisions for herself when she wasn’t well?

The Imans are among 30,000 refugees from the civil war who have settled down in Minnesota. It wasn’t long after they came here that they realized that freedom from persecution comes with a price. Many have found that their culture and values don’t have a place in the United States. In Somalia, family takes care of family. Not being able to take care of them is considered shameful. Samira’s family is upset that for the past two years, they could not use traditional Islamic healing practices to help her.

“It’s a huge stigma when a family is unable to take care of one’s own,” said Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali community activist and former interpreter at Hennepin County Medical Center. “People in the community will feel that the family abandoned its own, and the family will feel it’s been robbed,” he said.

When Samira was in a county hospital in Willmar last fall, she was diagnosed with psychosis, and her doctor noted she was delusional. Psychosis is a broad diagnosis that could include anything from post-traumatic stress disorder to schizophrenia. In discharge papers obtained by New America Media, Dr. Richard Kokkila wrote about Samira’s violent outbursts at the facility, including throwing hot coffee at staff.

“She has been mocking staff, staring at staff, laughing hysterically at times,” his report stated. He also noted that “she doesn’t want anyone involved in her life,” including her social worker, group home providers or her family, who she believed tried to poison her food.

The emphasis on individual rights, including privacy, is a foreign concept for Somalis, said Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed, a Somali-born family doctor in Minneapolis, who treats mental illness. Somali culture is still communal, he said, and no one would decline help from family. “Her interest to be left alone doesn’t supersede the interest of the family’s need to help,” Mohamed said.

Health officials do not have statistics on the rate of mental illness in Minnesota’s Somali community, but a 2004 study of 1,134 Eritreans and Somalis in the state found that as many as 47 percent of Somali women and 25 percent of men had been tortured before they arrived in the United States. Many Somalis could therefore be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Few Somalis want to follow up with treatment because they are wary of authorities.

“You don’t share your problems with professionals,” said Dr. James Jaranson, a psychiatrist and author of the study. “You talk to family or religious leaders or traditional healers.”

Jaranson said if problems are severe enough, Somalis utilize both western and traditional medicine.

Since the 1990s, when Somalis started to arrive in Minneapolis, some mental health professionals have tailored treatment to fit with Somali culture, said therapist David McGraw Schuchman.

“What family means in the Somali community is different,” Schuchman said. “It is a source of identity, strength, comfort, and protection.”

Doctors and therapists describe patients are routinely accompanied by their family members — sometimes four or five of them.

Then there are other cultural beliefs in the community. About 90 percent of them believe spirit possession, or jinn, causes mental illness, according to Mohamed.
Mary Bradmiller, a psychologist who works with refugees at Hennepin County Medical Center, said being comfortable talking about religion is critical for health providers. She frequently hears about jinn possession, which her Somali patients insist can be treated by a priest.

“Reading the Koran might bring symptom reduction for a period of months,” Bradmiller said.

Samira’s family believes she is suffering from jinn possession. In the past, the family used a number of different priests to read the Koran over her. Samira would be fine for about six months after that, Yahya maintained.

Hassan Mohamud, head priest of the Dawa Center in St. Paul said jinn are invisible to humans. Some of them are neutral – they don’t mean any harm — but some of them are evil. Mohamud acknowledges that western medicine can help treat mental illness, but he believes Islamic traditional medicine should be tried first.

A priest’s exorcism of jinn involves reading certain prayers and verses from the Koran. “We ask the jinn: ‘Who are you? What’s your name? Where are you from? And, why are you harming this person?’” Mohamud said. That generally sends the jinn away.

The religious support may also encourage patients to take their medication.

When Samira joined her family in the United States in 2005, she refused to eat for nearly a month, her brother, Yahya, said. Sometimes Samira would get angry and have fainting spells, but her condition was remedied through prayer, her brother recalled.

When she was gone, contact with her was sporadic. In the fall of 2008 her younger sister, Bisharo Iman, said she met with Samira at a motel where she was staying temporarily. At that time, her sister didn’t want to come home to the family and declined their offer to rent an apartment for her.

For the Iman family, language and cultural barriers made it even more difficult in dealing with the bureaucratic challenges many families face in caring for a loved one with mental illness.

About a month before Samira returned home, Yahya spent the day trying to find his sister at her last known address: a church-run shelter. A worker there told him Samira’s social worker placed her in a group home for the mentally ill. He went downtown to find her. But like other trips to Stearns County Human Services, he came up empty. He said that he was told by Stearns County Human Services officials that privacy laws prevented them from discussing her case with the family. His mother had been there the day before and was told the same thing.

Sue Abderholden, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota, said releasing some information against the client’s wishes is not against the law. She said many counties believe it is, but even so, they could still help the family. But on the other hand, if someone has dementia, the hospital will make efforts to contact the family.

It is unclear what steps the county took over the past two years to put Samira in touch with her family. When asked about this, Stearns County Human Services Community Support Division Director Janet Reigstad said she was “unable to give any information on this case due to restrictions of government data privacy act.”

After Samira returned home, her mother, Mano Dhuhul, began the process of getting legal guardianship of her. That would give her a say in her daughter’s life when dealing with social workers and health providers. Dhuhul speaks a little English, but relies on her kids to interpret for her. She sometimes regrets coming to the United States. “Back home, we had the power to do something,” Dhuhul said.

Dhuhul knows her daughter is not well. She paces around and around and laughs inappropriately. She doesn’t eat “normally,” the family says. In some ways, her condition seems worse than before she went missing, Dhuhul said. Despite all this, Dhuhul is hopeful that she will recover and be able to work again.

Yahya visits his sister regularly. The family hasn’t taken her to a priest yet, but everyday Samira listens to a CD of an priest reading the Koran.

“I feel good now, she’s safe in our hands,” he said.

11-27

Czech Muslims!

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By  Marie Aubrechtova, Islam Online

PRAGUE — Not so long ago the words Czech and Muslim were two polar opposites and it would be almost unthinkable to use them together. But now, two decades after the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, Muslims are increasing in numbers, becoming more active and founding new organizations to represent them.

“About 300 come to the main mosque and at least 200 come to the prayer hall in the centre,” Vladimir (Umar) Sanka, one of the managers of the main mosque and prayer hall in Prague, told IslamOnline.net.

He said the numbers of Muslims are slowly but surely growing in the Czech Republic.

“The prayer hall is so overcrowded every Friday that we have been forced to have two Friday prayers and lectures so that all the Muslims can even fit.”

The mosque had to hire a sports hall for `Eid Al-Adha, one of the two main religious festivals on the Islamic calendar which was celebrated in December, to accommodate the record-breaking number of 1,500 Muslims who showed up.

The increase of Muslims is linked to the growing number of Czechs embracing the Muslim faith.

“In our mosque in Prague we are honoured and happy to witness a new conversion almost every week,” says Sanka.

The last recorded number of Muslims was around 12,000 in 2007, but the latest estimate is around 20,000, including 400 converts.

The first official Muslim organization, the Islamic Foundation, was established in 1991.

In 1998 it opened its first mosque in Brno and then one year later in Prague.

There were also attempts to build mosques in smaller cities, mainly Spa towns which are popular with Arab clients, but these plans were met with resistance from both the public and churches.

Islam itself was not legally accepted as a religion by the Czech state until 2004.

New Representatives

“We want to hold more lectures and generally host events which portray Islam in a positive light to the public,” Jitka told IOL.

Until recently, the mosques in the cities of Brno and Prague were the only official bodies representing Muslims in the Czech Republic.

But now new organizations are appearing to meet the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse Muslim community.

Mohamed Abbas is a well-known media figure and publisher of Islamic literature, including the Qur’an and a translation of Riyad us Saaliheen, the only book of hadith so far published in the Czech language.

Abbas is now also one of the founders of a new organization called the Islamic Community, whose aim is to provide more activities for Muslims.

Currently the Islamic Community is in the process of securing 300 signatures needed to become officially recognised, which will make it the second Muslim body in the Czech Republic eligible for state funding.

“At the moment organizations here represent only a marginal number of Muslims in the country and do not include everybody,” Abbas told IOL.

“We want to change this and create an organization for all, and one that is truly democratic and transparent.”

Abbas is optimistic about garnering the needed 300 signatures.

“The number of Muslims here is definitely increasing, especially after Czech Republic joined the EU, and they are interested in seeing an active organization serving them.”

State registration will give the organization a wider scope.

It will be able to rent, build and manage Islamic centers, establish Islamic schools and after 10 years it can ask for other special rights like taking care of the spiritual needs of Muslims in the army and jails as well as support of state for Islamic marriages in mosques.

Another completely new organization, which is quite different from the ones already being set-up, is a new Facebook Group called Muslims from Czech Republic, created by 21-year-old fresh convert Jitka Cervinkova.

When Jitka first embraced Islam in September of last year she searched Facebook for a group of Muslims in her country.

When she didn’t find any, she decided to create one.

Since its creation in November 2008, the group has grown rapidly and now has over 300 members.

“I think Facebook is great for meeting other Muslims as I don’t really go to the mosque here in Prague because it is too far for me and it seems that women there are mainly mums with children,” she told IOL.

“I didn’t meet any young girls of my age when I visited.”

Now Jitka, along with other administrators of the group, are faced with the great responsibility of becoming leaders of the fastest growing, and perhaps most influential, Muslim group in the country.

“I feel the Muslim community in the Czech Republic is growing at great speed, although I don’t know any statistics I feel I meet more and more young Muslims here every day.”

The Facebook group has attracted mainly a young generation of people and consists of both Czech converts and Muslims from other countries, such as the Arab world or Bosnia, who are living or studying in the Czech Republic as well as non-Muslims who are interested in Islam.

Jitka, who is usually busy studying for a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic, now also finds time to organise events and post topics to the group.
So far the group has hosted social events for its members and has also organised a film viewing for the general public.

Volunteers from the group translated a film about Islam from English and answered questions about Islam to the non-Muslim audience.

“We have ideas for many projects and events,” said Jitka, citing the need for funding and sponsors who could be able to help.

“We are hoping to organise an exhibition about Islam, as well as set up information stalls with leaflets and information,” she said enthusiastically.

“We want to hold more lectures and generally host events which portray Islam in a positive light to the public.”

11-26

KinderUSA Event

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
The tragedy of Gaza is known throughout the world. Humanitarian groups such as KinderUSA focus on the smallest and most helpless victims – the children. Given the disproportionate number of young children in Gaza, their work takes on heroic proportions. 

KinderUSA, an advocacy group for children, held its annual banquet/fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Garden Grove, Ca. The event was titled: “Planting Seeds Today for Ramadan Tomorrow”. KinderUSA, which stands for Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief, was founded in 2002 by a group of dedicated physicians and humanitarian workers. In promoting the well being of children, KinderUSA is dedicated to the principle that children have a right to survival and that right has as a corollary a right to health,education and shelter.

The event featured as speakers Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, the Chairperson of KinderUSA and Dr. Mads Gilbert of the Norwegian Aid Committee University Hospital Norway.

Both physicians told of their experiences in Gaza, experiences which limned the cruelty of the Israeli Occupation. Dr. Al-Marayati also outlined and explained the work that KinderUSA has done in the region.

After an introduction by Dr. Basil Abelkarim and his reading with translation from the holy Koran, Dr. Al-Marayati took to the podium.

KinderUSA now has permanent non profit status. The group seeks transparency in all its operations. In describing some of their work in Gaza, Dr. Al-Marayati said that KinderUSA gives out food coupons which coupons are then used by the recipients to purchase food. The food is grown and prepared locally, and it is KinderUSA which provides the seeds for agricultural products. KinderUSA also supports a bakery in Gaza which provides nutritious goods throughout the oPt.

The audience was visibly moved when Dr. Al-Marayati described the courage shown by KinderUSA workers in going into the streets of Gaza during the Israeli assault. They put their lives at risk to insure that no hungry family was left unfed.

Dr. Al-Marayati also addressed the total and wanton destruction that the Israeli assault imposed on Gaza. She showed pictures of devastated buildings that could not conceivably be considered military targets and therefore should not have been targets of primary intent. One such building was a mosque and another was the American International School.

Dr. Mads Gilbert said that he could not call Israeli recent action in Gaza a war. Wars have rules. This was a vicious assault. “The Palestinian people may well be the strongest and most innovative people on earth” he said. Israel launched an assault, an action that violated basic human rights.

Dr. Gilbert referenced the recent issue of the prestigious medical journal, Lancet, that showed a scientific correlation between the Israeli Occupation and the tragic health conditions in Gaza. There can be no improvement until the Occupation ends.

Gaza, he continued, is a prison camp. Given the average age of Gazans – which is in the teens – it is truly a prison camp for children.

The pictures that were shown in the front of the room told a story of suffering in themselves. The doctors presentations brought the suffering alive.

“It is hard to believe how terrible things are” said one young woman “But it is true.”

For readers who wish to know more of the work of KinderUSA or who wish to contribute to their excellent work, please access their web site at: www.kinderusa.org.

11-26

The “Stockholm Syndrome” and American Muslims

August 16, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

By Shahid Athar

In the aftermath of September 11th, American Muslims are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome without even knowing what it is. This is a term in Psychiatry in which the disease manifests when the victim, for example a captive sympathizes with his captors and takes up the cause of the captors or oppressors as his own cause in order to get special privileges. The syndrome was first described after World War II during the trial of war criminals in which captives of war criminals identified themselves and sympathized with their captors and even cooperated with them during concentration camps. Thus, they themselves became the tools of the oppressors, acting on their behalf in order to gain their sympathy and be in their “good book.” In more recent days, the syndrome was best manifested by the behavior of Patty Hearst who was kidnapped by SLA and then participated in the theft and violence by SLA while being their captive.

The response of most of the American Muslims to the tragedy of September 11th is in two extremes, both suffering from the same syndrome. At one extreme is the group most visible on the Internet, still working on the conspiracy theory, that is this evil act was done by the work of Mossad, the CIA, the Pentagon, the Militia or the remote control devices blowing up the World Trade Center, completely denying the possibility that it could have been the evil act and plot by Muslim Terrorists. This group did not say enough to the fellow Americans that this act was an attack on humanity and not just on America, an attack on innocent civilians and even on the peaceful religion of Islam.

Thus, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, this group became a manifestation of the disease, identifying themselves with those terrorists who might have done it and even justifying their actions.

On the other extreme is the group of Muslim intelligentsia, who after recovering from the shock of September 11th, suffered from unwarranted guilt complex and became apologetic. After visits by the FBI, they realized that they must make a politically correct statement now in order to save American Islam and their own leadership. Otherwise, they may not get invited again to the White House or State Department Iftaar parties. For them, to be in good books of homeland Security was more important than their dignity as Muslims. Some of them had to change their external outlook, tone of speech and writing, and even retracted and regretted their statements given before September 11th against the “super power.” Now, some of them are telling the same American Muslim audience, whom they incited before against America that “If you do not like the West, go back to your own country.”

Another prominent writer wrote, “the Muslims are hypocrites of grand scale, in opposing the oppression by Israel, Serbia and Hindu but when the same acts are done by Al Qaeeda and other Muslim terrorist groups they look the other way.” True, but apples and oranges cannot be compared. Two wrongs do not make one right and there is no trade off, i.e., we must choose between two types of terrorists, two groups of oppressors and accept state terrorism over the group or individual terrorists. Another group of Muslim intellectuals find someone else to blame rather than accept responsibility. Not too long ago, I was on a public forum at a Town Hall meeting. My other counterpart speaker was an Afghan origin Professor who put all the blame of the recent trouble with the Taliban on Pakistan in creating, training and sponsoring Taliban terrorism. Those who are true students of Taliban history know this is not all of the fact. Talibans were created and strengthened with the help of CIA and the American government. This Afghan Professor never acknowledged the help given to mujahideens by Pakistan in fighting Russian aggression on Afghanistan. He did not realize that if there was no Pakistan, Russians would have won their “great game” in very little time and conquered Afghanistan. It was Pakistan who gave sanctuary to mujahideens and helped them with everything that they had to re-arm and regroup themselves to go back to Afghanistan and fight. Again, the psychology of this Professor’s mind is nothing but Stockholm Syndrome in order for him to say something to please his captors.

The American media and some of the columnists, never a fan of Muslim intelligentsia in the past, are now out to discredit them even more, saying something like his to the State Department Policy makers and American people. “ Do not believe these American Muslim leaders. Look at what they wrote in the past and said in the National convention of Muslims 2 years ago. Look at what they have actually done themselves to fight terrorism. Do not listen to what they are saying now under the pressure, against Bin Laden or AL-Qaeeda.”

Thus, while our leadership is in disarray suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the average middle class, mosque going Muslims who run grocery stores, are office workers or students, are totally confused at what they should do or say.

Should they side with the Muslim terrorists Or with the super power who is bombing the innocent civilians in order to free the whole world of these terrorists. How can we present Islam to those who stereotype, profile and even attack us? On record are close to 1,000 cases of such hate crimes since September 11th. Is the FBI our friend or our foe? Will our children ever get admission to schools of flight training, biomedical research and nuclear physics or will we ever feel comfortable flying as a passenger in an airplane?

Will women in hijab be able to go shopping without fear? The joy of being a Muslim in America is gone, at least for now. All the progress we have made in the last 30 years is being reversed. We have to start all over again.

How can we live our faith while we work with those who defame it? We American Muslims are going through the most difficult time in our history in this country. These are difficult questions and I have no simple solution to offer. My advise is to the mainstream ordinary American Muslims and not to the intelligentsia and leadership. I hope and pray the latter get healed from Stockholm Syndrome and instill in us our stolen and bruised self esteem. Even if they heal, I’m not sure if they will not relapse again. Many of these leaders, especially those from overseas, tend to live in the past and not in the present. While their bodies are here, their hearts and minds were left behind somewhere else.

The sad plight of American Muslim organizations is no different from that of Arab league, OIC and Rabita. They are just bodies to meet and pass resolutions without any actions. They will pass resolution to condemn acts of terrorism (which they should) and thank FBI when it catches a terrorist. These organizations are like the poor peasant when beaten up by the emperor bragged to his people “Today I was honored by the emperor who beat me with his golden shoes”

The need of time for American Muslims is to have a civil rights organization of their own consisting of American Muslim lawyers and journalists as well as Muslim elected officials who will be able to speak for them as one voice whose sole job is not to please agencies and bureaucrats in DC but defend the rights of all Americans but especially the most oppressed right now that is American Muslims.

I suggest to myself and all ordinary American Muslims to wake up and take charge of our religion as we have to take charge of our families, our health and our lives. We should learn Islam for ourselves as a religion of love, peace and tolerance and prove it by our individual actions. If we want to be counted as American Muslims, we must take all the concerns of Americans, whether terrorism, Anthrax, drugs, violence or even pollution as our own concerns.

We must show Islam by their actions, not by speeches, video tapes and pamphlets. We must denounce all those who use religion for their political gain and denounce political powers who wish to abase religion of Islam.

Thus, we as ambassadors of Islam, must be careful in what we say and to whom we lend our ears and even our money.

We must reclaim our faith from the terrorists who hijacked it and also from the leadership who apologize for them.

We did not do anything wrong so we should not have low esteem. Allah has chosen Islam for us and we are thankful for it. As for the question being asked “are you with us or with the terrorists?”, we say “we are neither with the terrorists nor with those intent to terrorize us.

We are here to stay, vote and participate in the American process and we are neither going back no can we be interned. Make no mistake!”

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