Anam Miah: Second Time Around

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Anam_miahAnam Miah, Hamtramck City Council candidate, imagines the city of Hamtramck, Mich. as a place for leaders and community members to work together toward common goals by unifying through diversity and neighborly relations.

Miah, 35, said this is the right time for him to join in the leadership to help bring about a discussion between leaders and residents. “This community deserves to know what’s going on behind the doors in city hall.”

Miah received 345 votes in the August Primaries, making it to the top six. He ran in 2009, at a time when he had four union contracts as the President of the local USW 690 for steel workers (he was elected in April 2006), which took away time from door-to-door campaigning.

He has been employed at Flexible Products in Auburn Hills, Mich. for 15 years.

As a 25-year resident of Hamtramck, Miah remembers growing up in a time when people were proud home owners, and they took care of their neighborhoods. He said things have changed since, “Ethnic groups stick with their own.” 

“That’s not how a community works,” Miah said. “We need to all put our two cents in. I need to look at where I’m from and where you’re from to get a better sense of unity.” Miah was born in Bangladesh and moved to the United States with his family to pursue a better life.

One of the issues Miah hopes to tackle if elected is work to train Hamtramck police officers to better deal with the diverse community made up of predominant populations of Polish, Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Bosnian Americans. 

He said police are hard-wired to “follow the book” rather than explain offenses in a dignified manner to citizens who may “not fully understand the rules.” Another way to deal with this problem is by hiring people within the diverse communities to fill (when applicable) vacant spots in City Hall and the police and fire departments, he said.

Residents are left in the dark on how their tax money is used, he said. For example, Miah said leaders can help people find out about federally funded programs for low-income families such as the Michigan Weatherization Program, which helps people in the city without hurting the budget. “Vast amount of people are working class… more than well qualified don’t know or never have heard about these programs.” 

Miah was inspired to change his life after a trip to Memphis, Tenn., with USW, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The experience made him reflect and realize he could make a difference, “Instead of living my life working and paying bills.” 

This one man changed world history for minorities and people, he said. “If he can do it and he has done it I can try.”

Miah has been serving on the Hamtramck Zoning Board of Appeals since 2006.

He hopes to pursue an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice or political science at Oakland Community College. 

The father of two works from his home office with an average of 35 volunteers.

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Open House at Tawheed Center

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Farmington–June 10–For the first time in six years the Tawheed Center in Farmington welcomed local non-Muslim residents in a large coordinated open house and free health clinic this past Saturday.  About 200 non-Muslims visited to tour the mosque, enjoy Muslim food and culture (henna and calligraphy), and listen to presentations about Islam by mosque volunteers and professional Muslim speakers including Dawud Walid of CAIR-Michigan. 

The open house was also a chance to show the immense work that has gone into the mosque since the last open house in 2005.

The setup consisted of an opportunity for the visitors to watch perhaps 100 Muslims pray dhohr prayer in the mosque, a tour through the semi-divided banquet hall, where on one side about 20 volunteers stood with posters describing Islam, young volunteers who described various issues about Islam and welcomed questions; and on the other side of the banquet hall a question and answer presentation session tried to address the visitors’ concerns about Islam.

The volunteers were mostly high school students–one of them, Mehak Haq, said that she was emphasizing that there is no compulsion in religion–that Muslims are guided to allow non-Muslims to worship freely.  She said that “It is a good opportunity–very insightful questions… the people seemed respectful, very respectful.”

Volunteer Ayyub Khan said that what surprised him about the event was the diversity of the visitors.  Indeed, the visitors to the mosque showed an admirable range of ethnicities which is very gratifying in sometimes segregated Detroit.  The visitors seemed to represent all the major demographic groups in America by race and age, the only possibly underrepresented group being adolescents and children.

Tawheed Trustee Asim Khan  spoke very happily about the many visitors, estimating the number of visitors who had come so far, and also expressing his happiness with the volunteers:  “See how many young people are involved? We are trying to get them ready to run things later on.”

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“Stop Anti-Muslim Acts”

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim and TMO Stringer

P6050015Hamtramck–June 5–”People need to get more involved in their communities,” said leaders at an educational conference held by the Muslim Ummah of North America last Sunday in Hamtramck.

The national faith-based organization has four chapters in Michigan. About 600 guests attended from the north zone.

Hamtramck, home to four large Muslim community groups, namely Bosnian, Bangladeshi, African American and Yemeni, was the venue for the educational conference this past weekend.

MUNA (muslimummah.net) is a large organization which has a Michigan Chapter (headed by Toyab Al-Bari) and a North Zone.  The National President of MUNA is Dr. Sayeed Choudhury.

The North Zone organized this educational conference, and also produces a publication called Flash Point.

Invited speakers included: Congressman John Conyers Jr., A.S. Nakadar, publisher of The Muslim Observer, Dawud Walid from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter, Sheikh Ali Suleiman president of the Islamic Center of North Detroit and Syed Choudhury, MUNA’s president. Hamtramck council members Kazi Miah and Mohammed Hassan were present.

Congressman Conyers said of the event “Congratulations, you have outgrown this banquet hall.”  He jokingly invited the MUNA organizers to use Cobo hall in Detroit next year or a venue in Dearborn.

Congressman Conyers recently co-signed a call by members of Congress to “Respond to Anti-Muslim Sentiment,” on May 26.  Cosponsors included 24 congressmen, notably including Keith Ellison, Andre Carson, and Charlie Rangel.  Notably the signatories did not include former speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The congressional statement called “for the federal government to take the necessary steps to counter anti-Muslim sentiment.”

MUNA representatives spoke on the activities of MUNA, which have included successful boys and girls “brothers” and “sisters” programs respectively–to involve Muslim young people in fun associations, and they spoke also of the outreach they had done to Muslim youth who are not so active in the community.

Dr. Nakadar in his remarks noted the great accomplishment of Hamtramck in its disproportionately successful Muslim representation in the City Council.

Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan, also spoke.  He spoke of the importance of youth involvement in the Muslim community, and of the importance of providing a good example for young Muslims.

The MUNA conference was very well attended and in fact the banquet hall was filled to capacity.

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Fire started at the Houston Masjid Targeted by Arsonists

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

According to Houston Fire Department, the iconic community Masjid (mosque) Madrasae Islamiah located in the 6600 block of Bintliff Drive in southwest Houston was targeted by masked arsonists. Madrasae Islamiah was established in 1989 and seniors at the Masjid have informed that they cannot recall if anything similar had ever happened.

Madrasae Islamiah Room Roof And Lights Have Black Dust From the FireSpeakers Got Black Dust Due to Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles And Floor Charred by the Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles Burnt by the Arson Fire at Madrasae IslamiahWater Sink is Charred at Madrasae IslamiahAccording to the footage from the surveillance video show two masked men sneaked from the backside of the property adjacent to CarMax. According to one member of the Masjid, who heard the fire alarm to reach the scene of the incident, the two arsonists had smashed in a window, and then doused a room with gasoline into the side prayer hall, before setting the fire. Many of the carpets on the floor got on fire, but the person was able to control much of the fire before it could have gone into the main prayer hall. Also many of the wrapped carpets did not catch the fire; otherwise the catastrophe could have been much more horrific. On Monday when our reporter visited the site, there was evidence of the smoke and flames in the atmosphere throughout the Masjid.

Surveillance video shows men creeping onto the property around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. The video shows them covering their faces, which suggests that they had either known or feared of cameras on the premises. Few minutes later, they are seen getting into a white or silver four-door car driven by another person.

Talking to local mainstream American media outlets, Zaid Abdul-Aziz, a visitor and former Houston Rocket player, who played under the name Don Smith, said the crime was troubling. “It makes me really worried because Islam respects all religions,” he said.

The alarm sounded when glass was broken, but there was also someone staying inside the mosque who called 9-1-1. The crime, however, have not stopped the regular five times prayers at this populace Masjid.

Talking to various media outlets including Brad Woodard of KHOU 11 News, Atif Fattah, a member of the Masjid and radio programmer himself, said: “They came through here, sprayed gasoline all over the carpet and just torched it. There wasn’t significant damage. It was the act itself that’s scary.”

Mustafa Carroll, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Houston) said: “It sounded very nefarious, so I called the FBI and asked them to investigate this as a hate crime. We at CAIR have seen a spike in vandalism against Muslims nationwide since the death of Osama bin Laden. You have a small minority of people promoting this kind of thinking and causing people to distrust. When there’s distrust, hate is never far behind,” said Mr. Carroll.

The Houston Fire Department said there’s no question this was a case of arson. Whether it was an actual hate crime has yet to be determined. The FBI and ATF are following the investigation, but at the time of filing of this report, they were not actively involved.

If you know anything about the case, call police or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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Every 15 minutes, a Muslim Couple Gets Divorced in Malaysia

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Joseph Kaos Jr

KUALA LUMPUR: An otherwise mundane Dewan Negara question and answer session was lightened up during a query on divorce cases among Malaysian Muslims.

Datuk Fatimah Hamat was the first to raise eyebrows across the senate hall when revealing that in every 15 minutes a Muslim couple gets divorced in the country.

“These statistics are shocking,” said Fatimah.

“How effective are our premarriage courses in tackling the rise of divorce cases in the country? Perhaps, we could also organise marriage courses for couples married for 10 and 20 years to avoid divorces.”

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim, however, begged to differ, claiming divorce cases were “not a bad thing”.

“We should not be shocked by the statistics. It is not a bad thing, it is halal,” said Mashitah, whose ministry portfolio is Islamic affairs.

“Divorce is actually the solution to a troubled marriage. It happens to all groups people, be it the educated, the uneducated and even professionals.”

She added as the duration of compulsory marriage courses were only two days, therefore the onus was left on the couples themselves to be responsible for their marriage life.

“Couples can equip themselves with so much knowledge, but it is still up to them how they use it,” said Mashitah.

In a supplementary question, Ahmad Hussin brought grins to senators in the hall when he said Facebook was a cause for the rising number of divorce cases.

“A man falls in love, marries, and has children. And then he logs onto Facebook and sees someone even prettier!” said Ahmad.

“This is a gross abuse of the Internet. The government needs to look seriously into this.

“Again, there is the matter of men divorcing via SMS, which I find harsh and feel sympathy for the woman,” said Ahmad.

Mashitah, however, said there were many causes of marriage break-ups and the issue of new media such as Facebook constitutes only a small number.

“Our studies show there are many causes, which include monetary problems, deteriorating sex life, bad tempered partner, irresponsibility and many more,” said Mashitah.

On divorce through SMS, Mashitah said a Fatwa had already been issued and divorce via SMS could only materialise if it satisfied the courts.

Earlier, Mashitah said Selangor recorded the highest number of divorces among all States in 2009, with 4,614 cases.

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Law School Study Finds Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo In 2006

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Scott Horton

On the night of June 9-10 in 2006, three prisoners held at the Guantánamo prison’s Camp Delta died under mysterious circumstances. Military authorities responded by quickly ordering media representatives off the island and blocking lawyers from meeting with their clients. The first official military statements declared the deaths not just suicides–but actually went so far as to describe them as acts of “asymmetrical warfare” against the United States.

Now a 58-page study prepared by law faculty and students at Seton Hall University in New Jersey starkly challenges the Pentagon’s claims. It notes serious and unresolved contradictions within a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) report — which was publicly released only in fragmentary form, two years after the fact — and declares the military’s internal investigation an obvious cover-up. The only question is: of what?

Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, who directed the study, said in an interview that “there are two possibilities here. Either the investigation is a cover-up of gross dereliction of duty, or it is a cover-up of something far more chilling. More than three years later we do not know what really happened.” (Read a Q&A with
Denbeaux: “`The Most Innocent Explanation Is That This Is Gitmo Meets Lord Of The Flies’”.)

The new study exposes how the NCIS report purports that all three prisoners on the prison’s Alpha Block did the following to commit suicide:

• Braided a noose by tearing up their sheets and/or clothing.
• Made mannequins of themselves so it would appear to the guards they were asleep in their cells.
• Hung sheets to block the view into the cells.
• Stuffed rags down their own throats well past a point which would have induced involuntary gagging.
• Tied their own feet together.
• Tied their own hands together.
• Hung the noose from the metal mesh of the cell wall and/or ceiling.
• Climbed up on to the sink, put the noose around their necks and release their weight, resulting in death by strangulation.

The study also notes that there has never been any explanation of how the three bodies could have hung in the cells, undiscovered, for at least two hours, when the cells were supposed to be under constant supervision by roving guards and video cameras.

Disturbingly, these facts were collected within the NCIS report — but without discussion or any effort to make conclusions based on them. Was that because the facts did not fit the conclusions that military leaders had already offered the public and that the investigators were therefore struggling to support — namely that the prisoners committed suicide? It is not even clear that it would be physically possible for the prisoners to commit suicide consistent with these facts.

One of the Seton Hall study’s authors, law student and former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division Paul W. Taylor, stated: “We have three bodies and no explanation. How is it possible that all three detainees had shoved rags so far down their own throats that medical personnel could not remove them? One of the dead detainees was scheduled for release from Guantanamo Bay in 19 days. Instead he died in custody.”

The Seton Hall study concludes that the NCIS investigators made conclusions completely unsupported by facts. For instance, they concluded that the three prisoners committed suicide as part of a “conspiracy.” But, according to the study: “The investigations… fail to present any evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, all other evidence is inconsistent with the conclusion that the detainees conspired.”

The Seton Hall study also faults the manner in which military investigators proceeded. “There is reason to suspect that the [NCIS] interviewers designed questions to obtain particular results. The interviewers failed to frame their inquiries neutrally.” Moreover, by June 14, 2006, military investigators had informed all four guards assigned to Alpha Block that night, the Alpha Block noncommissioned officer, and the Alpha Block platoon leader that they were suspected of making false official statements and/or failing to obey direct orders. This suggests that NCIS investigators believed they were being consciously misled on key issues. But amazingly, when the final report issued, no disciplinary measures of any sort were recommended.

There was also a large amount of evidence which should have been assembled as a matter of routine, but which is missing from the NCIS report, the new study explains.. Most disturbing is the absence of sworn statements, which should have been prepared immediately after the events in question and then been turned over to investigators. In this case, however, it appears that affected personnel were actually ordered not to prepare such statements. Instead, the Seton Hall study notes that “the Commander assembled three or four of the Alpha guards aside to put together `the series of events,’ and he spoke with each of them for approximately four or five minutes.” Amazingly, the military investigation makes no effort to ascertain what was said or done during this meeting at which an effort was evidently made to coordinate accounts.

A videotape of the hallway and common area existed, but is not taken into account in the report. Similarly, no effort appears to have been made to examine radio and telephone communications. Other critical records, including the missing Duty Roster, Detainee Transfer Book and Pass-On Book also do not appear in the report.

When the NCIS report was finally released, it was redacted so heavily as to make it almost incomprehensible. More than a third of the pages were fully redacted, and very few pages were released without some redaction. The NCIS report itself is highly disorganized, without an index or even a chronological progression in its recounting of events. All this appears intended to make review and criticism of the report much more difficult. While the redaction of names of service personnel is appropriate, it is difficult to understand why many other redactions were undertaken.

Human Rights Watch is calling for the release of the unredacted NCIS report. HRW’s Joanne Mariner stated, in response to a request for comment, that “the heavy-handed nature of the redactions to the publicly-released reports of the investigations makes it impossible to get a clear picture of the events of that night. We think that the heavy redactions currently found in the documents — by which names, dates, and other key facts are completely obscured on many pages — raise concerns about whether the military is trying to hide embarrassing facts.”

The Seton Hall study also points to a large number of violations of Guantánamo’s standard operating procedures that appear in the investigation, many of which are linked directly to the deaths. Although the NCIS investigation flags many of these violations, no disciplinary action of any sort was taken. The Seton Hall study sees evidence of a “camp in disarray.” Professor Denbeaux notes “guards not on duty, detainees hanging dead in their cells for hours and guards leaving their posts to eat the detainees’ leftover food.” He sees the failure to take disciplinary measures as further evidence of a cover-up. Denbeaux stresses that his review not only leaves serious doubt as to the military’s conclusions that the deaths were suicides, it also exposes gross misconduct by camp guards and others that went undisciplined.

The study is the eleventh in a series of reports by the Seton Hall Law School examining issues related to the detention regime at Guantanamo and establishing that a number of Pentagon claims about Guantanamo and the prisoners held there are pure myths. One earlier report established that over 80% of the prisoners were captured not by Americans on the battlefield but by Pakistanis and Afghans, often in exchange for bounty payments. Another demonstrated that the Guantanamo Combat Status Review Tribunals consistently failed to follow their own rules and were frequently convened for purposes of overturning determinations made by earlier tribunals that prisoners were not enemy combatants. Another debunked Bush Administration claims denying the existence of tapes of prisoner interrogations, and demonstrated that 24,000 such tapes were made, together with extensive notes based on them.

This latest study comes shortly after the resignation of the Obama Administration’s two top officials responsible for detainee issues: White House counsel Greg Craig and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Phil Carter.

A senior Pentagon official, asked about the report on Sunday, did not have an immediate response, but said one might be forthcoming. This post will be updated if and when the Pentagon has a statement.

READ the report below: Death in Camp Delta –
Evidence Of Cover-Up After Three Alleged Suicides At Guantanamo Bay
http://freedetainees.org/7590?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+freedetainees%2FZCdR+%28freedetainees.org%29

Scott Horton is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, where he writes on law and national security issues, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches international private law and the law of armed conflict, and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union. He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, where he currently serves as a trustee.

Scott recently led a number of studies of issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror, including the introduction of highly coercive interrogation techniques and the program of extraordinary renditions for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also an associate of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, Center on Law and Security of NYU Law School, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He co-authored a recent study on legal accountability for private military contractors, Private Security Contractors at War. He appeared at an expert witness for the House Judiciary Committee three times in the past two years testifying on the legal status of private military contractors and the program of extraordinary renditions and also testified as an expert on renditions issue before an investigatory commission of the European Parliament.

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House of Mirrors

October 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent

plant For many people a broken mirror is steeped in the superstitious belief that the injurious deed will be followed by seven years of bad luck. However, for Lidia Al-Qattan, a renowned Italian artist in Kuwait, a broken mirror would be the inspiration to set her upon the journey of a lifetime. As the wife of the famous Kuwaiti artist Khalifa Al-Qatten, Lidia was often inspired to create her own works of art to impress her husband after he returned from trips exhibiting his artwork in various locations around on the world.

On one such occasion back in the Sixties, Lidia’s husband was away in the USA as part of a collective art exhibition in Washington, D.C. Prior to his departure her husband had completed a wooden cabinet that he created with his own hands. All that was left to be done was a couple of coats of paint. However, after Lidia was unable to procure some paint she came up with a brilliant idea to really make the cabinet shine. “I then remembered I had some pieces of a large mirror somewhere in the house where my three year old daughter, Jalila, had broken sometime ago which I decided to keep.” Lidia set to work affixing the broken shards of mirror to the cabinet with some heated wood glue. However, the edges of the glass were still very sharp and dangerous with a child in the home. After completing her design, Lidia mixed together some plaster cement and water to fill in the gaps and make the edges of the jagged mirror smooth. Once dry, Lidia further filed down any remaining rough edges. The result was very pleasing to her eyes. However, the real judge would be her husband as he was set to return home.

house Fortunately, Lidia’s husband was very impressed with her work. And so began her transformation as she evolved into an artist into her own right and used her very own home as her canvas. Over the course of several years Lidia has painstakingly ‘bedazzled’ every inch of her home with broken mirror pieces in every shade of the rainbow. Today it is a popular tourist destination and museum with visitors taking guided tours every day.

The tour begins in the kitchen, which is called ‘My World Hall’ and features designs relevant to the mystery of science followed by a walk through ‘Planet Earth Hall’, or the living room, which is designed along the lines of our Earth and nature. Next, visitors are led to ‘Zodiac Hall’, which is Lidia’s now grown daughter Jalila’s bedroom, and it is covered with sparkling galaxies, planets and all the signs of the Zodiac. Visitors walk through a hallway with a dual theme. Known as both ‘Shark Hall’ and ‘Corridor of Nations’, the journey of shimmering reflected light goes on to enthrall guests with sharks and other wonders of our world. The tour climaxes with breathtaking designs featured in ‘Sea World Hall’, ‘Universe Hall’ and ‘Knowledge Hall’, which also serve as a bathroom, bedroom and library.

The tour begins to wind down once guests reach the ‘Stairs to Inspiration’. The staircase, which features gilded birds in flight, leads to the first floor that houses separate art galleries for both Lidia’s and her late husband Khalifa’s work. Many people in Kuwait call her home the ‘House of Mirrors’ But for Lidia her home holds greater meaning, “I call it the fulfillment of a dream.”

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