MPAC Forum on Bullying

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

default-article-thumbnailOne of the primary social problems confronting the United States is the well organized and well financed industry of Islamophobia. At a time when the nation should be united, Islamophobia is the great divider. While many groups have been and are active in combating this pernicious industry, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) must be considered in the forefront. Islamophobia is hate, and hate acts like a malignancy.

MPAC was founded in 1988 as a 501 (c) (3) organization devoted to the establishment of a vibrant Muslim American community that would “enrich American Society through promoting the Islamic values of mercy, justice, peace, human dignity, freedom and equality for all”. MPAC is well equipped to deal with hate speech and hate acts and to enlighten the community.

MPAC has held many educational forums dealing with timely subjects. This past Saturday a forum entitled: Stand up Against Bullying was held in the Ehsan Center in Canoga Park, Ca. The forum was a training session for parents that began with the question: “What would you do if your child was being bullied?”

Ms Holly Priebe-Diaz an Intervention Coordinator representing the Human Relations, Diversity, and Equity Department of the Los Angeles Unified School District was the speaker.

Ms Priebe-Diaz gave an excellent presentation of bullying: its definition, its manifestations, the public school’s responsibilities to identify bullying and to counsel, and of course possible resolutions. Ms Priebe-Diaz is obviously well qualified to speak on the topic and her presentation was informal yet informative and thought provoking. The audience participated throughout the discussion.

Herewith some of her observations. Bullying, she said, can be a form of hate. “We have to educate law enforcement”. Ms Priebe-Diaz told her audience we have to educate more about hate. While it is understandably hard to prove an attitude, we can look at behavior. “When we find a child who is a bully, we re-educate him.”

The child says “My heart hurts”, and the adult replies “Let me help you.”

Not surprisingly, young boys who are school bullies also become adult offenders who are guilty of crimes of violence.

To combat this, the school gives a child a community project; the relevant school personnel dialogue about the situation, and different cultures are studied. “There is a lot of ignorance” Ms Priebe-Diaz told the attendants.

She continued by saying that 30% of hate crimes are committed by kids. Where, she asked rhetorically, do these children learn hate. The obvious answer is from home. The Internet has given the community a new word: cyberbullying as the bully – always present in society – has now moved into cyber space.

Ms Priebe-Diaz cited California law that makes certain classes of school children protected. They are protected against real or perceived acts of hostility. There are six protected categories: race, color, national origin, mental or physical disability, gender identification (how one perceives one’s self), and ethnicity.

While she cautioned parents to have rules – for example having a computer in a central room rather than in a child’s bedroom – she also acknowledged that for every restriction a child may find a way around it.

She made a clear distinction between tattling and helping the victim of a bully. The foundation of that distinction was the question “Is someone being hurt?”

No one can be a bystander in the matter of bullying. While urging parents to work through the school counseling office and not to take matters into their own hands, involvement is key.

Ms Priebe-Diaz gave suggestions for children who have been bullied such as “Don’t let the bully see you afraid” and “avoid areas where certain children congregate” to name but two.

The district uses progressive punishment with bullies beginning with (if the bullying continues) suspension, then expulsion, and last, arrest.

“I have learned so much about the subject” said one young mother at the conclusion of the forum.

Readers interested in learning more about MPAC and its work may contact MPAC at: www.mpac.org. Ms Priebe-Diaz may be contacted at: holly.priebe-diaz@lausd.net.

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KinderUSA Annual Banquet

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The sufferings of the world are too numerous to catalogue. Certainly the suffering of children is particularly poignant, and nowhere is this more evident than in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli occupation has rendered the people oppressed and poor with only a token future. If children have no future, then the world has no future. While many individuals and organizations have commendably worked to aid the children of Palestine, none has done more than KinderUSA (Kids in Need of Development, Education and Relief).

This past Saturday evening KinderUSA held its annual fundraising banquet event, a successful and educational presentation, in Universal City, Ca. The event was titled: “Supporting our Children: The Seeds of the Future”.

With the advent of Ramadan and its call for inner struggle and sacrifice, an event noted by each speaker, this event had a particular relevance for Muslims and non Muslims alike.

The keynote speakers were internationally acclaimed Islamic scholar, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, and Los Angeles’ own Dr. Maher Hathout. Professor Ramadan holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and a PhD in Arabic and Islamic studies. At present he is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University. He also teaches at the Faculty of Theology at Oxford.

Professor Ramadan was recently permitted into the United States to join the faculty of Notre Dame after having been denied entry for six years because of his political views and activities.

Dr. Maher Hathout was a founder of the Islamic Center of Southern California and of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). He is a sought after speaker, a prolific author, and a participant in interfaith events.

After introductory remarks by Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Jess Ghannam, Jinan Al Marayati, the young daughter of KinderUSA chair, Dr. Laila Al Marayati, read from the Koran and provided a translation.
Dr. Ghannam is a clinical professor and the Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Hathout said that speaking at this event was an honor. He read and translated a poem written in Arabic. Nations, he said, find a place in history because their children live to fulfil their maximum potential.The children of Palestine should have this opportunity for which they were created by God.

“Israel”, he continued, “resorts to piracy.” Israel confiscates food and medicines. Israel claims that the ships they intercepted may have carried weapons. Is there a better way to handle the situation so as not to deprive the intended recipients of food and medicine?

Israel says Gaza does not need these goods. Israel claims that it only objects to material that can have dual use – for example glass, concrete, fertilizer.

For any child to eat, more than bread is needed. “It is food with dignity that is needed.” Kids need a roof that does not leak and windows that are not shattered. What gives Israel the right to say “You need this, but you don’t need that?”

Dr. Hathout was interrupted continuously by cries of “How very true”; “absolutely right”, and “that is so true.”

The issue is not food, he continued. The issue is occupation. All decent people should work to take down the wall of occupation. Everything else is a band aid. Tonight, he claimed is a band aid. But band aids are necessary when you must take a child’s damaged hand and lead him into the future.

Dr. Hathout pointed out the situation in the Middle East and how six months ago it was so different and seemed without hope. We must not, he continued, take our mind of our ultimate target: occupation, occupation, occupation.

He ended by saying that Ramadan is a time to clear our vision. Certain things are incompatible with being a human being.

Professor Ramadan began his address by saying that it was always an honor to tell the truth. He began his speech by praising Dr. Maher Hathout and his late brother, Dr Hasan Hathout. Both were committed to justice for non Muslims as well as Muslims.

We must realize that whether one is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, there are voices that want to criminalize dissent, that want to render what we are doing illegal.

“We will always be on the side of the oppressed.” We are contributing to American society. We want freedom and democracy for us and for them. In this country we have much to do in the way of social justice and education.

He cautioned not to make the Palestinian cause a Muslim cause. Use the month of Ramadan as a solidarity month.

The audience had been interrupting Professor Ramadan with applause during his speech. He asked them to refrain and, if they found that he had made a particularly noteworthy point, that they concentrate on that point for ten seconds.

He then asked: “How do we come to a universalist attitude?” Our mission is to change the world for the better. He said he wanted to die having made himself a better person and the world a better place. He urged that we oppose any oppression.

He said to non Muslims that when you give your money, you purify it. Do not expect the recipient to thank you. Do it for the cause of justice.

We must follow events in the Middle East. We have inform ourselves of the situation and then inform others.

“There was no war in Gaza. It was an attack.” said Professor Ramadan. When you destroy schools as Israel did, you destroy the future.

We want to be an added value to the United States. We want to reconcile the United States to its own values. We are agents of reconciliation.

We must not accept the criminalization of support for the Palestinians. He said he was barred for six years from entry into this country because of his support. One of the groups he supported was on a black list, but it was not on the list at the time he gave the group money. He refused to apologize. None the less, the ban on his entry into this country stood until it was lifted by the current administration.

We practice a non violent resistance. We must persevere and be active. The more we are silent the more violent our enemies will become. “Who would have thought what would happen in Egypt? I am waiting for an Israeli spring.”

Muslims fast during Ramadan to purify themselves. They must act for humanity. We are a consumerist society. Ramadan makes this a better society through  fasting on the part of Muslims. The children of Palestine may be helping us. The poor whom we help may be our salvation; the oppressed whom we liberate may be our liberators.

The short and well received film, “Noor”,  written and directed by Mustafa Shakarchi, told the story of a ten year old girl who lived in a Lebanon Refugee Camp and wanted only to be a normal ten year old. Instead she was forced by her step mother to sell trinkets on the street. Her dream was to be able to read and write. The film was in Arabic with English sub titles. The child’s face and demeanor told the story, and the subtitles were in the end superfluous. When the film ended, not a few of the attendees had been moved to tears.

Before the formal part of the program, a reception was held in the lobby. A continuously running film that showed the plight of Palestinian children was on display. Dr. Laila Al Marayati, the Chairwoman of KinderUSA, and Dr. Basil Abdelkarim, a KinderUSA Board Member, presided over the collection of donations. Dr. Al Marayati showed and narrated a short film on the work of KinderUSA.
Many non Muslims were in attendance. Dr. Ghannam introduced some from the podium including Mormon Bishop and Mrs Steve Gilliland; Rabbi and Mrs Leonard Beerman, and two Roman Catholic nuns from the Los Angeles area. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and the Palestine American Women’s Association were also represented.

KinderUSA was founded in 2002 to help Palestinian children in need. The mission soon spread to other parts of the Middle East. To accomplish its work KinderUSA relies on partners throughout the world. KinderUSA has been recognized as one of the foremost children charities. It also seeks to provide services to help women who are the heads of households so that they might become independent. It is a 501(c)3 charity. The foregoing is only a very small part of KinderUSA in its entirety.

For more information on the far reaching work of KinderUSA, please access their web site at: www.kinderusa.org.

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An Historic Achievement by MPAC

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

With the proliferation of Islamophobia in the United States and the spike in hate crimes directed at the Muslim community, organizations to counter these phenomena and to project the truth while at the same time working within the Muslim community for empowerment, are essential if we are to survive as a democracy.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has stepped up to the bat in these arenas. Last week well deserved formal recognition took place in the form of a telephone call from President Barrack Obama to Haris Tarin. Mr. Tarin directs MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office.

During the course of the conversation the President recognized Mr. Tarin’s work with the Muslim community and through that community to the United States. Specifically, he praised Mr. Tarin’s work with Muslim youth, with interfaith clergy and lay persons, and for empowering the contributions of Muslims through civic engagement.

Mr. Tarin replied by telling the President that MPAC has a deep commitment to this nation and to Islam as do other Muslim institutions.

The telephone call is a testament to the success of MPAC in countering Islamophobia and in working within the Muslim community and reaching outward to other communities to establish roots that make Islam an integral part of the American fabric.

Mr. Tarin was raised and educated in Southern California. He is pursing an advanced degree at Georgetown University where he is studying at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Mr. Tarin, in his capacity as Executive Director, intersects with many government agencies and has addressed numerous conferences and symposia. He is a “go to” person for media outlets.

MPAC was established in 1986. Its vision was and continues to be to establish a vibrant Muslim community and to enrich with Islamic virtues the American society it is a part of. MPAC promotes the leadership of young Muslims, and it is a resource and partner to various government agencies.

Its awards and the programs it has formulated are many. Herewith a few: In partnership with the Progressive Jewish Alliance, MPAC formed New Ground, a group dedicated to Muslim-Jewish understanding; MPAC became a consultant to a television series “Aliens in America”; MPAC Senior Advisor, Dr Maher Hathout, received the John Allen Bugs Award from the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, and MPAC, after a decade  of work, persuaded the Bush administration to desist from use of the term “jihad” in its official communications.

To find out more about the Muslim Public Affairs Council, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org. Mr. Tarin’s work may also be accessed at that web site.

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“Lawfare” is the Latest Form of Israeli-AIPAC Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ann Wright

Israel is hard at work to stop international citizen activists groups from 22 countries that form the Gaza Freedom Flotilla from sailing in less than 3 weeks to bring international attention to Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza. As a part of Israeli government propaganda, the civil society to civil society project is purposefully and wrongly portrayed by the Israeli government  as sending weapons and “material support” to Gaza’s democratically elected government headed by Hamas, a group Israel and the United States have designated as a terrorist organization.

Extensive investigations by the United Nations, Turkey and even the Israeli government concluded there were no weapons on any of the 6 ships of the 2010 flotilla and that the cargo was consigned to non-governmental organizations in Gaza.  But, the Israeli government never lets truth get in the way of its propaganda machine!

Israel’s massive diplomatic offensive on European countries, Turkey, Canada and the United States that strongly demands that countries not allow ships and passengers to sail has been followed by a new type of warfare called  “lawfare.”

Instead of direct military “warfare,” the Israeli government and its front organizations AIPAC and the Shurat HaDin Law Center are using lawsuits filed against insurance and satellite telephone companies that may sell equipment to the flotilla organizers and against citizen activist groups that have raised funds to purchase ships as strategies to attempt to stop the flotilla.

AIPAC joins Israeli government attack on the Gaza flotilla

On June 2, New York City corporate attorney Neal Sher, the former executive director of the most powerful lobby in the United States, the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), filed a lawsuit in Toronto, Canada against the organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza for “raising funds and providing material support to Hamas.”

The lawsuit was on behalf of a Canadian-Israeli citizen and asks for an interim and permanent injunction to stop the Canadian Boat to Gaza initiative “from continuing to raise funds, purchasing equipment or supplies, and purchasing or renting a vessel for the purpose of delivering goods or funds to the Gaza Strip.”  The lawsuit also wants to block the Canadian grassroots group “from sending goods, funds or any other material support, directly or indirectly, to Hamas or any of its representatives, and/or from aiding and abetting Hamas by assisting in bringing imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip.”

In addition, the Canadian-Israeli citizen, 68-year old Cherna Rosenberg, wants  $1 million in damages “for trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of the defendants’ conspiracy” from the time she lived in the Israeli town of Sderot, where she “endured the constant and relentless mortar attacks emanating from Gaza.”

The lawsuit’s aim is to continue the Israeli government’s six decade control over the economic future of Gaza by refusing to allow the export and import of goods by sea and the free movement of Palestinian people without the approval of either the Israeli or Egyptian government.

One would hope that a counter-suit by a citizen of Gaza would be brought asking for millions of dollars in damages for the daily attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces “for trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of Israel’s aggression on civilians” in all parts of Gaza where “they endured constant and relentless attacks by F-16s, Apache gunships, naval bombardment, drones, white phosphorus, dense inert metal explosive bombs and countless other weapons.”

Lawsuits in the US against companies offering services to participating ships A second lawsuit attempts to prevent the flotilla from sailing by bringing lawsuits in the United States against companies that provide services to ships in the flotilla.

Shurat HaDin Law Center, reportedly an independent non-profit organization but certainly supporting and working for the policies of the State of Israel, sent letters to worldwide maritime insurance firms and satellite communications companies, warning that companies that provide services that assist in the breach of the Israeli blockade on Gaza will be sued in the United States for aiding the Hamas terrorist organization.)

Shurat HaDin’s Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner demanded that mobile satellite services company Inmarsat, one of companies that provides communications and navigations services to ships that sail in the region,  refuse to provide their equipment and services to ships participating in the flotilla.  Darshan-Leitner said, “We informed them that if they do so, they will be in violation of the American Neutrality Act, which prohibits aiding a group in their struggle against the military of an ally country.  Since Imarsat has offices in the US, the law binds them.”
Shurat HaDin has also sent letters to 30 of the top maritime insurance companies in the world announcing the law center’s intent to sue if the companies provide insurance to ships participating in the flotilla.

Relentless campaign of false information used against the flotilla

In a relentless campaign of using the false information about the flotilla, including that there were weapons on ships of the 2010 Gaza flotilla, Darshan-Leitner said “…Maritime insurance companies insuring the boats utilized by the Gaza Flotilla surely have no idea that the passenger boats that they are indemnifying are being used by the organizers to run the coastal blockade, violently challenge the IDF and smuggle weapons into Gaza. No legitimate insurance company nor its shareholders would reasonably agree to insure an expedition like that.  We have begun to send letters placing the maritime insurance companies on notice concerning the Gaza Flotilla, and warning them that if they provide insurance (a necessary component in the effort to smuggle contraband to the terrorists) that they themselves will be legally liable for any future terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas.”

Lloyd’s, the world’s largest maritime insurance company, reportedly said that they would not insure ships participating in the flotilla.

Lloyd’s Senior Manager of International Regulatory Affairs, Andy Wragg  responded to Shurat HaDin’s letter, “As you correctly point out in your letter, Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist-financing sanctions. As such, any vessel identified as being owned or controlled by that organization would not be permitted to be insured by underwriters at Lloyd’s, or any other EU insurer. The Lloyd’s Market has robust systems in place to ensure international sanctions are followed, and therefore any underwriter identifying an insured or prospective insured acting on behalf of, or for the benefit of Hamas, would not insure such a risk.”

However, none of the ships of either the 2010 or 2011 flotilla have any connection with Hamas and no amount of false Israeli propaganda can change the truth.  Although the truth is not what much of the commercial media is concerned with.

Force is not the Best Way to Stop the Flotilla

Darshan-Leitner commented, “We ..think that the war on the flotilla should not be left for the Special Forces to fight alone. There is no need for Israeli soldiers to repel down ropes in order to stop the next flotilla – all that’s needed is some courage and original thinking.  There are various ways to prevent, postpone, limit and avert the danger – and force isn’t always the best way.”
We Agree-Force is not the Way to Stop the Flotilla-Ending the Naval Blockade is!

On this, we agree with Darshan-Leitner.

Force is not the way to stop worldwide condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.  The way to stop the flotilla is to end the naval blockade of Gaza!
Until the blockade ends, the flotillas filled with citizens from around the world will continue to challenge Israeli’s brutal policies and United States complicity in them.

Ann Wright

Ann Wright is a 29-year, US Army/Army Reserves veteran, who retired as a colonel and a former US diplomat. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was a member of the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” www.voicesofconscience.com

Michael Moore’s Blog

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Community Town Hall at Islamic Center

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) hosted a community town hall meeting this past Sunday. The event featured representatives of law enforcement agencies on the local, state and national levels. 

The ICSC was filled to capacity as the attendees listened to each representative discuss the role of his or her agency and what sort of services that agency provides. A question and answer session followed the brief presentations, and the speakers stayed beyond the scheduled meeting for discussions.

The agencies represented were: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Muslim Community Affairs Unit), the presenting agency; Los Angeles Police Department; City of Los Angeles; State of California (Emergency Management Agency); State of California Office of the Attorney General; U. S. Department of Justice  (FBI); U.  S. Department of Justice (Offices of the US Attorneys), and the Department of Homeland Security (Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties).

Saadia Khan of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) was the Master of Ceremonies.

The representative of the FBI said that her organization has a valued Multicultural Advisory Committee. She further said that her organization worked with all of the agencies represented in the auditorium. In addition the FBI Field Office in Los Angeles has a Citizens Academy where selected members of the community spend an evening each week for eight weeks learning about the inner workings of the FBI.

Nadia Bacha, a Senior Policy Advisor for the Department of Homeland Security, said that her office is a watch dog. “We push for civil rights protection, and we have to work with our partners.”  She cited the recently discontinued NSEERS program (National Security Entry/Exit Registration) as an example of what citizen activism can accomplish. This program mandated an alien to reregister after 30 day and one year of continuous residence in the United States. NSEERS was unpopular with civil liberties advocates, and, according to Ms Bacha, was discontinued after continuous pressure by concerned citizens on the government.

Members of the audience were warned to be careful when consulting attorneys who advertised themselves as immigration attorneys. It is best to inquire about the bona fides of these people before engaging them.

A representative of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was asked to address the audience. She said that in October of the past year, MPAC trained 2200 TSA officers in cultural sensitivity.
“I have learned a great deal by coming here” said one young man in the audience.

The first question was from a woman who wanted to know how best to raise her children with respect to civic participation. All of the speakers answered, and their advice was remarkably similar. Participate in civil matters yourself and get your children involved at an early age so that civic participation becomes a duty.

For further information regarding the Muslim Community Affairs Unit within the office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, please contact Deputy Sheriff Sherif Morsi at: ssmorsi@lasd.org.

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US Muslims Condemn Times Square Attack

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By KWTX

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2010)–In separate statements, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, pledged their loyal citizenship and support for law enforcement and condemned the botched attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square.

CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad said, “In no way, shape or form does this attack represent the American Muslim community and what we stand for as a faith community.”

Authorities in New York have brought terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges against Faisal Shahzad, who’s a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan.

A criminal complaint says Shahzad confessed to buying an SUV, rigging it with a homemade bomb and driving it Saturday night into Times Square, where he tried to detonate it.

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Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Convention

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

With the twin scourges of Islamophobia and racism prevalent in the United States and with the media acting as an echo chamber, a great burden is placed on individuals and groups who seek to speak the truth about Islam and the nature of the crises that effect us domestically and internationally.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), created in 1988, is one such organization. MPAC was formed to work for the civil rights of Muslim Americans and to facilitate their entry into American pluralism. MPAC works at the national as well as the grassroots level and has won the trust and respect of the Muslim and non Muslim community. MPAC has become an information source for those seeking to understand Islam and seeking also to put current events in their proper perspective.

MPAC held its ninth annual convention in Long Beach, Ca. this past Saturday. The event brought a capacity audience to attend workshops and listen to speakers, expert in their fields, and who provided insight and education into topics taken from today’s headlines. The title of the convention was: “With Change come Challenges.”

After thought provoking and informative workshops, the event ended with a banquet featuring Congressman Andre Carson (D,IN), awards, and entertainment.

Among the presenters (but not limited to) were Dr. Maher Hathout, a retired physician celebrated in the Muslim and non Muslim community for his dedication to peace and human rights and for his interfaith work. Dr. Hathout is the MPAC Senior Advisor, an author, and a sought after speaker.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the Editor-in Chief of The Muslim Observer, a weekly English language Muslim newspaper. He was recently elected vice president of the Muslim Council of America, a new organization which serves Muslims in the arena of policy and political affairs. Dr. Abdullah is active in Islamic affairs in Nevada which activity also includes being secretary of the Interfaith Council of Nevada.

Dr. Laila Al Marayati is a physician and the Chairperson of KinderUSA, an organization dedicated to the well being of children, focusing in particular on the children of Palestine. Dr. Al Marayati is also the spokesperson for the Muslim Women’s League, a Los Angeles group which seeks to strengthen the role of Muslim women.

Haris Tarin of MPAC is that group’s Community Development Director. Mr Tarin has traveled extensively and has spoken at various symposia on the topic of Islam and the Muslim community.

“Fort Hood: A Defining Moment” was the topic of an afternoon panel. Most of the audience spoke among themselves before the event began and indicated thoughtful interest in how the matter would be handled.

“I am so glad this is being discussed” said one young man to his companion.

“I know there is more than what the media say” said his companion.

When asked by panel moderator, Salaam Al Marayati, MPAC’s Executive Director, whether Muslims should respond to this event, Dr. Maher Hathout declared that Muslims should not be apologetic because of the deranged acts of one man who happened to be Muslim. He reminded his audience that Major Nidal Hasan shouted  “Allahu Akbar” before he began his killing spree.  He said that if he used those two words now, every non Muslim would run out of the room.Yet Muslims use the same two words forty two times a day during their prayers. It is wrong to tar Muslims with a broad brush as the media have been wont to do. Non Muslims, most of whom do not understand the phrase, and its meaning, “God is Greater”, automatically fear it. Muslims are an essential part of the solution to the problem of Muslim extremists. They are essential to the education of non Muslims about Islam and the only ones truly qualified to ascertain when there is extremism and to propose effective solutions.

Dr. Connie Rice, an attorney and activist and a second panel member, said that this incident indicates more than ever the essential role that MPAC and other moderate Muslim groups must play in partnering with law enforcement. This places a terrible burden on MPAC, she said,  but one which they will willingly and efficiently carry out. She seconded the presentation of Dr. Hathout in presenting the necessity for groups such as MPAC to educate the community about Islam and to partner with law enforcement.

After the panel MPAC received an award from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Maher Hathout accepted the award.

During a particularly timely panel on “”Rebuilding US-Muslim World Relations”, a State Department official, Jonathan Morgenstein of the Department of Defense, commented that in Iraq and Afghanistan American soldiers were interacting with the local population. Dr. Laila Al Marayati commented that it would be so much better if these men and women were doing so in the capacity of peace corps volunteers and not as occupiers.

A bazaar was held in the main room and featured booths representing different Islamic groups. These booths include (the list is incomplete): CAIR; Islamic Relief; the Muslim Women’s League; ACCESS; American Medical Overseas Relief (AMOR); the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) Youth Programs, and Al-Madinah School. AMOR is dedicated to helping the medically needy in the Middle East with emphasis on children in Afghanistan. It may be accessed at: <www.AMORelief.org>.  The Al-Madinah school in Los Angeles is currently engaged in building projects that will be in the heart of urban Los Angeles.

Those wishing to learn more about MPAC and/or to make a contribution may access it at: www.mpac.org.

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