$100 Million Mosque To Be Built Near Ground Zero

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“$100 million project will create a venue for mainstream Islam and a counterbalance to radicalism”

By Cristian Salazar, Associated Press

ground-zero NEW YORK In a building damaged by debris from the Sept. 11 airliners that brought down the World Trade Center and soon to become a 13-story mosque, some see the bridging of a cultural divide and an opportunity to serve a burgeoning, peaceful religious population. Others see a painful reminder of the religious extremism that killed their loved ones.

Two Muslim organizations have partnered to open the mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan, saying the $100 million project will create a venue for mainstream Islam and a counterbalance to radicalism. It earned a key endorsement this week from influential community leaders.

But some 9/11 victims’ families said they were angered that it would be built so close to where their relatives died.

“I don’t like it,” said Evelyn Pettigano, who lost a sister in the attacks, during a phone interview on Thursday. “I’m not prejudiced. … It’s too close to the area where our family members were murdered.”

But the growing number of congregants at the only other nearby mosque, open only one day a week, created a need for an additional space for Muslim prayer in the neighborhood, said Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and a board member of the Cordoba Initiative, the two organizations sponsoring the project.

The history associated with the building, a former Burlington Coat Factory store that closed after being damaged on 9/11, was a reason to pick it for the project, she said.

“We want to create a platform by which the voices of the mainstream and silent majority of Muslims will be amplified. A center of this scale and magnitude will do that,” Khan said. “We feel it’s an obligation as Muslims and Americans to be part of the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan.”

The organizations publicly unveiled the preliminary plan for the project, known as the Cordoba House, on Wednesday at a meeting of the finance committee of the local community board, which is composed of influential stakeholders in lower Manhattan. While the agency has no authority over what can be developed at the site, their support is viewed as key to gaining acceptance from residents.

Edward “Ro” Sheffe, the chairman of the financial district committee for Community Board 1, said the 15 members passed a resolution of support for the project, though he emphasized that the board had no authority to approve or disapprove of a house of worship, per se. Indeed, he said the developers could do whatever they wanted with the building, which they own.

“They came to tell us what they had in mind and see what we felt about it,” he said. “The understanding we came away with was that this was an ongoing dialogue.”

The members’ only concerns had to do with the aesthetics of the building, and whether it would fit with the surrounding architecture, he said. The overall feeling was one of goodwill because the financial district, a fast-growing residential area, lacks for amenities such as community centers.

“We very much need residential amenities for the people who live here,” he said.

But the simple idea of a mosque so near ground zero angered those whose family members were killed by adherents to radical Islam.

“I think it’s despicable, and I think it’s atrocious that anyone would even consider allowing them to build a mosque near the World Trade Center,” said Rosemary Cain, whose son, George Cain, a firefighter, died on Sept. 11.

Anita LaFond Korsonsky, a Livingston, N.J., woman who lost her sister, also said she had misgivings.

“I presume that these people aren’t going to be gathering there to plan another attack,” she said.

The Muslim organizations plan to announce the groundbreaking later this year, possibly to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Khan said. It could take up to three years to build the Cordoba House; the groups currently have no funds for the project but plan to start raising money, she said.

A Friday prayer service has been held since September at the building, she said.

Marvin Bethea, a paramedic who survived the toxic collapse of the twin towers and suffers from a range of afflictions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and asthma, said he supports the mosque.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists,” Bethea said. “Muslims died on 9/11, as well. This is a tremendous gesture to show that we’re not all full of hatred and bigotry.”

[Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.]

12-20

Community News (V11-I50)

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Dr. Omar Ali develops cancer vaccine

CAMBRIDGE, MA–A team Harvard bioengineers and biologists have developed a cancer vaccine that eradicates melanoma tumors in mice and slows their reoccurrence. The study which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, used a plastic disk implant carrying the vaccine to recognize and eliminate tumor cells, the Harvard Crimson reported.

The new vaccine specifically attacks cancerous cells, avoiding the collateral damage on healthy cells that other cancer treatments often cause. This approach may also build long-term resistance within the immune system, the researchers said.

Dr. Omar  A. Ali, a researcher at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is the co-author of this study.

He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard University (2008). His research focuses on developing cell-instructive materials to study immune processes. His research has resulted in publications, patents and the foundation of a start-up company, InCytu, which aims to develop regenerative methods for vascular disease and vaccine delivery systems.

He has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States published by the Greenwood Press.

Saving by cutting back on Halal food ?

DEARBORN, MI–The Dearborn school district has one of the largest concentration of Muslim students. The students have been offered the option of eating halal hot dogs and chicken nuggets for a number of years. But if the teacher’s union have their say the choice will no longer be made available.

The union had listed halal foods among the list it presented to the district which it said could lead to potential savings.

While most of the other items on the list had a value attached the union did not provide any such details for eliminating Halal foods from the lunch program.
However, better sense prevailed and the school district did not even consider the option. While this a relief it also brings into question the real intentions of the teacher’s union.

Hertz sued for accommodating Muslim employees

ATLANTA, A–Hertz Global Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. rental car company, was sued by former employees who say its policy of allowing Muslims to take daily prayer breaks discriminates against non-Muslim workers, according to press reports.

Katie Barkley and Shirley Harris, who worked as part-time drivers moving Hertz cars from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to other locations, claim Muslim employees were given as many as three paid, 15-minute prayer breaks each shift while non-Muslim employees were denied equal time off, according to the suit filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Atlanta.

Barkley and Harris lost their jobs in February when Hertz fired all 120 drivers at Hartsfield and replaced them with contract drivers, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status as well as back pay and other damages.

A similar suit filed in 2007 is pending before the same court. In August, Hertz said in court documents filed in that case that it allows Muslim employees at the Atlanta airport to take prayer breaks and that they aren’t required to clock out. A non-Muslim worker “has no need for such an accommodation,” Park Ridge, N.J.-based Hertz said in the court documents.

Slaughterhouse proposal rejected

ALMA,TX–Ellis County commissioners last week rejected a proposal to build a halal slaughterhouse on a 200 acre property. The property is owned Shamsul Ahmed who runs a grazing ranch and wanted to build a 4,000 square-foot slaughterhouse for specialty processing.

The halal facility would have hired 20 people. Ahmed said it would be run according to the state and federal rules, as well as the Halal requirements, which adds up to cleanliness first. An estimated 25-30 steers or heifers a well, and up to 400 goats a week were to be slaughtered there.

The country commissioners rejected the plan by saying it wouldn’t fit into the growing residential area in southern Ellis County. Despite the refusal Ahmed is not giving up. He is hoping to locate his plant near    Interstate 45 since his primary customers will be businesses in North Dallas.

Texas has a growing Muslim population of more than 400,000 and their needs are not met by the current businesses which cater to them.

11-50

Community News (V11-I35)

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Obituary:  Ali Safaeinili, NASA Engineer

Dr. Ali Safaeinili, a long-time and respected member of the Radar Science and Engineering team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), passed away on Wednesday, July 29, from complications due to cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer. Safaeinili was 45 years old. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lisa; two daughters, Nadia, 17, and Roya, 10; his parents, siblings, and many, many friends and colleagues.

Born in Sari, Iran, Safaeinili always wanted to pursue his higher education in science and engineering in the United States and enrolled at Iowa State University in 1985 to study electrical engineering and computer science. He completed his undergraduate studies in two-and-a-half years by testing out of all the required math classes and finished his post-doctorate work in 1995. At JPL for more than a decade, Safaeinili pursued radar as a means to study ice on Earth and the planets. An energetic and innovative scientist, he participated in the design, development, testing, and operation of the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) still operating on Mars Express.

He also participated in the design and operation of the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) currently orbiting Mars on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Active in the analysis of radar data, Safaeinili served as the Investigation Scientist for the radar investigations on both projects. In addition to earlier work on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), he led and contributed to efforts to develop new VHF and HF radars for Earth observations and potential applications to Europa and other icy bodies.

Safaeinili often expressed his gratitude for being given the opportunity to do what he loved most in his work at JPL. He also enjoyed giving back to the community, and volunteered with the Westminster Free Clinic, which provides medical care to the uninsured. He was appreciated by all for his warmth, good sense of humor, and generous spirit, and he will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.

Portland mosque agreement reached

PORTLAND, OR–The City of Portland has reached an agreement with the Portland Masjid and Islamic center that will allow the latter to use a building as a mosque.

Earlier the Maine Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mosque alleging the city’s zoining ordinances violate religious freedom.

Under the interim agreement, the Islamic Center can use the former TV repair shop on Washington Avenue for religious purposes while the MCLU’s lawsuit moves forward.

A spokesperson says the city hopes to continue to talk with the group, and to consider amendments to zoning ordinances.

Meatpacking plans taking steps to prevent prayer disputes

LINCOLN, NB–Officials at a Grand Island meatpacking plant said they are taking steps to prevent a repeat of last year’s Muslim Prayer disputes.

It led to disruption at JBS Swift and company, also mass firings.

The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan begins Saturday.

Swift officials, along with Muslim Somali advocates and Union representatives said they are trying to accommodate workers who want to pray at sunset.
Last September, hundreds were involved in protests and counter protests at the plant during Ramadan.

New Jersey ‘Halal’  firm recalls beef products

VINELAND, August 18, 2009 (News Agencies)– Pasha Halal Poultry, doing business as Marcacci Meatsin Vineland, New Jersey, is recalling approximately 128 pounds of ground beef contiminated with ecoli.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced the products subject to this recall include:

* Various sizes of plastic-wrapped packages of “MARCACCI MEATS, GROUND BEEF.”

* 10-pound boxes of “MARCACCI MEATS, GROUND BEEF.”

The ground beef products were packed in foam containers and bear a package code of “8.12.09” as well as the establishment number “EST. 5913” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

These ground beef products were produced on Aug. 12, 2009, and were distributed to a consumer at the wholesale level in the Atlantic City, N.J., area, and packaged for sale to consumers at the retail level in Vineland, N.J.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact company Owner Mehmet Silpagar at (856) 691-4848.

11-35