The ‘Block’ That Wasn’t

September 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

 

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It has got to be the shortest decree in the history of Kuwait and, if not, it’s sure gotta be close. This past Tuesday news broke that the Ministry of Communication issued a memo to all ISP servers in the State of Kuwait to block the world famous YouTube social networking and video-sharing website. The reason being that several videos were uncovered recently that were derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and which made a mockery of the Holy Qur`an. However, less than 24 hours after the decree was made, it was rescinded. Most likely, the Minister noticed that he could ‘flag’ a video deemed to be inappropriate and YouTube would remove it. As expected, the videos in question have already been removed.

YouTube is huge in Kuwait, with more than 59,000 videos from both citizens and expatriates in the tiny Gulf nation being available on the site. Immediately after the news about the block hit, not surprisingly it was leaked from a worker at one of the primary ISP’s in Kuwait to a local blogger, a frenzy of blog activity followed suit. One blogger had this to say, “If they block YouTube they might as well just go all the way and block the Internet completely.”

Kuwait boasts one of the most open freedom-of-speech stances for local media in the entire Gulf region. However, the latest political elections saw more religious-minded MP’s maintain a firm grip on parliament. Censorship in Kuwait is set to push the boundaries of what residents have seen in the past with the primary TV stations coming under scrutiny recently for not showing enough Islamic programming and favoring a bonanza of Western comedies and dramas instead.

28541-skype_blocked This is not the first time that the government has censored the Internet. The popular website Skype is no longer accessible for residents of Kuwait. However, the reason for the block was not religious but rather economics. Skype users in Kuwait were able to make cheap International phone calls, which took a huge piece of the ‘pie’ away from the Ministry of Communications. However, while the Skype website is blocked the service is still operational. Computing wizards in Kuwait discovered early on that the Skype installation program could be emailed to them and then downloaded right to their PC. Completely blocking Skype is impossible given that it runs on encrypted tunnels.

Other countries in the Gulf have exercised their right to block Internet content that is questionable or forbidden in Islam. All the Gulf States block pornography in every way, shape or form. Some have even gone as far as to block both dating and matrimonial websites. However, some countries have blocked internet content for the sake of their own reputations. In 2006, the Dubai government blocked YouTube because two Armenians filmed a documentary about the human trafficking of Armenian women and girls to Dubai. The duo used hidden cameras to shed light on an underground prostitution ring that thrives in Dubai. Like Kuwait, Dubai eventually rescinded the ban and YouTube was once again available.

The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds with unprecedented amounts of information, whether good or bad, at the tips of most everyone’s fingertips. The challenge for governments to filter that information grows increasingly hard, as the internet has given anyone who wants their voices to be heard a boundless audience.

10-40

SE Michigan, Vol. 9 Iss. 4

January 18, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

‘Eidul Ghadeer at Islamic House of Wisdom

Reported by independent reporter Amanda Khalil

Dearborn Heights–January 13–The Islamic House of Wisdom held its annual celebration of Eid Al Ghadeer on Saturday. It was a sizeable community event commemorating Prophet’s (s) praising Sayyidina Ali (kw).

‘Eidul Ghadeer is an event celebrated by Shi’a in connection with the hajj. According to their tradition, upon the completion of the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) final hajj he stopped in Ghadeer Khum whereupon he announced some core principles of Shi’a belief. .

Upon entering the IHW, aromas of delicious foods and the echo of chatter filled the room. Guests of the dinner enjoyed a scrumptious array of foods, drinks, and desserts. A recitation of the Qur`an permeated the guests’ ears for all to savor. It was an event that kindled the warmth of family and community togetherness.

There were lectures in Arabic and English on the importance of the hajj and the wisdom behind it. Hajj represents prayer, charity, education; submission to God’s will, total connection, and is a purifying process. They said hajj should be a deep spiritual revolution in a person’s mind, heart, and soul. Imam Elahi said, “the lesson one learns on the spiritual journey of hajj should be taken back to every corner of the world as a light and purity to all the nations.”

Imam Jowad spoke of the symbolism of the hajj, “Imagine waking up and seeing such a large number of people rising in the morning, almost as if they were rising from the graves in a sort of metaphorical symbolism for the resurrection, and a humbling experience as one sheds the possessions and comfort of the worldly life for a deeper connection and understanding.” He urged Muslims as they come back from hajj to remember the comforts of this life that they lost on hajj, and carry that appreciation of what they have been blessed with in their hearts. When they see someone without a bed, remember when they didn’t have a bed and feel compassion for humanity.

Imam Mohammed Elahi discussed the importance of togetherness and unity amongst all Muslims on the Hajj, “During the pilgrimage peoples of diverse nations and languages unite together in prayer, love, and brotherhood, which we should take an example from, lighting the way to unify the Sunni and Shi’a schools of thought in order to work together in peace and harmony for a common goal of understanding and communication.”

Carly Chirifi, a Muslim convert who attended the lectures commented on the evening saying, “It was a really welcoming atmosphere. It gave me a sense of togetherness, and the lectures really opened my mind about hajj on a spiritual level. It improved my faith, and I’d recommend all people regardless of their faith to attend events such as these to open one’s mind; and elevate their understanding of the humanity and unity we all share.“

Local ladies go formal

By Beena Inam Shamsi

Southfield–January 14–Muslim Women Up! has found a unique way of helping today’s young women. Sometimes you just need to get dressed to the nines.

Recently, MWU celebrated its second annual “all sisters ball” at Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Southfield, Mich. Women of all ages came, dressed in their evening gowns. There were no men allowed.

“It gives the young girls the opportunity to dress up and meet with other Muslim girls,” said Mimo Debryn, a guest attending the ball and an advisor of the Youth of America of the Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills.

MWU is a non-profit social- and community-based organization. Its purpose is to welcome all Muslim women regardless of race, class, or culture. It is working hard to bridge community gaps and form a community of true sisterhood.

The event started at around 6 p.m. with Qur`an recitation and a speech on strengthening the `ummah, followed by games, dinner,, a fashion show and dancing. It was a picture-perfect evening.

The chairman of MWU and a mother, Khadijah Abdullah, said, “I have found huge segregation in the Muslim community. Girls don’t know other girls. We are losing a lot of girls because of it. Lack of knowledge is causing this segregation. Looking at my own daughter, I don’t want to see her lost.” She said she wants the girls to realize they are not alone and Islam is a way to help everyone.

Initiating Muslim events has increased Islamic knowledge and promoted personal religious growth.

“There is still culture segregation, where Indian goes to the Indian events, Pakistanis goes to their Pakistani events and Arabs goes to theirs. When you grow up here, you are growing within diversity. Muslim Women Up! is a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together,” Debryn said.

The chair of the youth council, Yasmeen Thomas was the inspiration behind the organization. She was confused between her Muslim and non-Muslim relatives. She couldn’t decide which path to choose and then she thought about organizing a platform for young women to come forward and have fun within the Islamic norms. “I thought I was the only one with the problems but there were other girls as well. It is a place to reach out to young sisters,” she said.

Abdullah said a cohesive community could be built by introducing girls to other girls. MWU has brought a positive change for the young girls. “Last year there were three races; 90 percent African American, 3 percent European and 7 percent Arabic. This time we have seven races,” Abdullah said.

MWU also offers a monthly spa day to bring together the sisters of all communities for a day of pampering said the publicity chair, Raina Thomas.

Every month, teens from ages 14-19, get together for a sleepover where they are provided with Muslimah counselors to create a safe place where they can talk out their issues and begin on a road to better communication, self-awareness, self-esteem and family relationships.

MWU’s meetings take place in once a month. Meeting are the last Saturday of the month from 3-5 pm starting February 24, 2007.

For more info or to join MWU call Khadijah at 313 205 8764.

CIOM meeting to discuss recent acts of vandalism

Dearborn–A meeting of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) was held last week, comprising about 25 local community leaders from the Sunni and Shi’a communities. The meeting was held in the wake of some very unfortunate acts of vandalism earlier, apparently by radical Sunnis against Shi’a two mosques and several other businesses. Prominent local imams including Imam Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam El-Amin of the Detroit Unity Center, and Imam Mohammad Moosa of the Bloomfield Unity Center, among other prominent guests, were present.

The focus of the discussion was on promoting congenial relations between all of the different leaders, to maintain a good and friendly basis and not to be at odds with one another, so that cooperation and communication are facilitated at times of crisis when it is important for all communities to work together.

Another meeting is scheduled on February 5th at the Islamic American University.

Free Fibromyalgia Workshop

Press Release: Livonia–a local authority will be appearing at the Carl Sandburg Library for a free workshop on Wed., January 31, 2007 at 7 pm to “reveal the shocking truth behind what can be causing Fibromyalgia. This event is sponsored by the National Wellness Foundation, a non-profit organization.

To register fro the free workshop, call 248-426-0201 and leave a message.

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