Good Morning, Occupy Boston!

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, Boston

On December 8, Judge Frances McIntyre lifted the restraining order protecting Occupy Boston from being shut down. McIntyre said that while the protesters are exercising their rights to freedom of expression, the occupation of state land is neither speech “nor is it immune from criminal prosecution for trespass or other crimes.” This does not mean eviction is imminent, but the restraining order against the police no longer applies. Throughout the day, occupiers were handed a notice warning them that they would be subject to criminal trespass if they remained in the park. The ACLU of Massachusetts was actively involved in informing occupiers of their rights.

While some protesters packed up and went home on Thursday, others decided to stand their ground. A few even moved their tents to the middle of Atlantic Avenue just before 2am on Friday. Two protesters were arrested for blocking traffic, but there were no other police confrontations with the demonstrators who gathered at the site as the deadline loomed.

Expecting a possible police crackdown, thousands of supporters from nearby areas flooded into the campsite awaiting the midnight deadline, yet midnight came and went with no response from police officers, as they stood around the perimeter looking into the swelling crowd.

Occupy Boston’s newswire reports that the protesters “rallied at midnight, making circles two deep around tents, as the Veterans for Peace stood guard, white flags snapping in the wind.”

Police blocked off the streets surrounding Dewey Square just before 1am on Friday as hundreds of Occupiers and Occupy supporters packed the encampment. Boston Police Superintendent William Evans said that the police would not be moving in on Dewey Square early Friday morning. He stated that even though Mayor Thomas Menino set the deadline, he did not specify when the camp would be shut down.

As the news came in that no raid was coming, and no was eviction imminent, protesters danced in the streets to celebrate.

“I have no intention of leaving,” said 20-year-old Brandon Cloran of Lynn, Massachusetts, who has lived at the camp for the past six weeks.

FOX News reported that “the encampment site in Dewey Square in the city’s financial district looked noticeably smaller Friday than it had since the protesters first began occupying the site on Sept. 30. Only about 40 protesters and 35 tents remained, covering less than half the area the protest once did…

“Hours later, as dawn approached, the scene was markedly quieter, with only a handful of police officers keeping eye on the remaining protesters, a few of whom were still packing up tents and gathering belongings. One protester was raking part of the greenway that had been vacated by other members of the movement.”

While there is no obvious victory for the protesters as they continue their standoff with the City of Boston, it is clear that the voices of the many are influencing current events. Two weeks ago, a federal judge blocked a settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup, saying that he could not be sure that it was “fair, adequate, or in the public interest,” while last week, a District Attorney announced she was suing the banks for fraudulent foreclosure practices.

MoveOn reports: “Senate Democrats are proposing an extension of small but helpful tax cuts for the 99%—paid for by a surcharge on millionaires… With votes on unemployment benefits, Medicare payments, and a Wall Street tax likely before the end of the year, this final month of 2011 will force every member of Congress to show who they really represent.”

The very next day after their feared eviction, on December 9, Boston Occupiers amassed against the Department of Housing and Community Development to demonstrate against the lack of affordable housing and ongoing evictions of homeowners, connecting it with the plight of their tent city, citing such statistics:

Each year, 600,000 families with 1.35 million children experience homelessness in the United States, making up about 30% of the homeless population over the course of a year

In any given day, researchers estimate that more than 200,000 children have no place to live

A full time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one bedroom unit priced at Fair Market Rent anywhere in the United Stated.

Federal Support for low income housing has fallen by 40% from 1980-2003

15% of all American families and 32% of single parent families live below the poverty line

During a visit to the site 8am Friday, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis wouldn’t say what the city plans to do about the remaining protesters.

“We have learned over the past ten weeks just how powerful the people can be,” stated a spokesperson for Occupy Boston. “Unproductive wealth struggles to justify its inefficiency, and deceit grows helpless before a truth that has found its people.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. See karinfriedemann.blogspot.com

13-51

My Education Key Fundraiser at Tawheed Center in Farmington

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

PB190152Sohail Khan of MyEducationKey.com, with many prominent supporters, described his website and performed a fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.  About 200 people attended the fundraiser.  Sohail Khan described the MyEducationKey project, emphasizing its themes of being useful to people everywhere, empowering people world-wide with high quality education–for everyone, everywhere.  The website provides all levels of education through video-taped lectures.  Interactive education is available from kindergarten through graduate school, including ACT/SAT prep, and professional development.  Instruction is provided by excellent professors. 

Some of the universities that have already contributed lecture series are MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and more.

In the future, Mr. Khan explained to TMO, there may be degree programs available and possibly accounting, but for now students pursue their educations on the site on an ad hoc basis.

The site is perfect as a supplement for a separate educational system–high school students (including non-Muslims) through testimonials on the site have explained that they use Myeducationkey to cover holes in their understanding of what they have learned in their full time school.

Several of the evening’s speakers spoke of their deep happiness at being able to, in a sense, attend MIT for the purposes of learning a subject.  People in their sixties expressed the hope that in fact the site provided a way for them to continue to learn.

The site already has very impressive statistics.  13,500 video lessons have been uploaded to the site.  47,000 lectures have been watched.  The site has received 800,000 hits.  Students, (university and primary/secondary), in the US, Pakistan, India, and China, have sought knowledge through the site.

Future plans for the site include global outreach, courses of professional development, teachers being able to create their own courses, mobile apps, multiple languages, virtual classrooms, and much much more.

This is a project helpful to all of humanity that was started by Muslim insights and contributions, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Several educators including Dr. Mohammed Syed, Dr. Nasser Ahmed, and Mr. Saleem Khalid spoke of their admiration for the project.

If you are interested in donating, please visit myeducationkey.com.

13-48

Muslim Founds Wonderful Education Tool

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Press release

Suhail Khan has founded MyEducationKey, a comprehensive education website available for free.

To achieve Academic Excellence for the learning community throughout the world, MyEducationKey has launched an educational web portal for K-12 Grade School and University/College students/teachers/schools, where they can learn at their own pace from all video-based course content available to all for FREE.

MyEducationKey.com is a virtual educational web portal for completely FREE, world-class Online courses for K-12 grade school and University education students, self-learners, and teachers.

The high-quality video educational and learning content at MyEducationKey is aimed to help improve the quality of K-12 and University education, teaching and student learning experience at schools/colleges/universities, helping educators and self-learners alike.

Teachers can use this site to stream world-class high-quality instructional content in their classrooms, and leave themselves with the all-important task of concepts enhancement through discussions, practice & projects.

Students can use this site to preview/review course lectures/content as many times as wished before and after the content has been covered in the classroom.

Home-schoolers, and Self-Learners can use this site to learn new concepts at their own pace.

We believe this site will advance useful human knowledge, creativity, lifelong learning, and social welfare of educators, students, and self-learners.

MyEducationKey is a non-profit initiative with the goal of providing FREE education to ALL throughout the World.

MyEducationKey is based in Canton, Michigan (USA).

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Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Banquet Fundraiser

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual “Healing Hands” banquet/fundraiser this past weekend at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, Ca. Internationally known and acclaimed Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diana Buttu, was the keynote speaker.

During her address Ms Buttu exposed the fallacy of the so-called Peace Process. The 1993 Oslo Peace accords were a ploy by Israel which gave the Palestinians nothing and permitted Israel to triple its illegal settlements in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.

While the Palestinians suffer under the continued yoke of occupation, Israel, using the illusion of a peace process, has tricked 34 other nations into establishing diplomatic and economic relations leading to considerable economic benefit to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to the pre-Oslo Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has become Israel’s surrogate, subcontracting for Israel in imposing the occupation and doing Israel’s all around dirty work. This has often been called “outsourcing the occupation.”

Ms Buttu said that there were advantages and disadvantages to submitting an application for statehood to the United Nations. For example, of course it would bring renewed attention on an international scale to the suffering of the Palestinian people. But she asked her audience to consider as a considerable disadvantage the wording of President Mahmoud Abbas’ application in which he used the tern “Jewish State”. Is this de facto recognition?

Ms Buttu suggested the following remedies: We need to demand better representation; we need to demand democratic representation so that our leaders are not tools of the occupation and represent the will of the people. Useless negotiations should be replaced with world wide boycott and divestment of Israel.

Ms Buttu is a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently resides in Palestine and served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. In 2004 she was part of a legal team that successfully challenged Israel’s Apartheid Wall before the International Court of Justice. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Queens University, Stanford University and Northwestern.

Ms Buttu has appeared on television news shows and is valued for her knowledge, experience and sense of fair play.

Nurse Asma Taha of Loma Linda University Hospital received the Huda Sosebee award for her humanitarian work. She has made numerous trips to the Middle East with the PCRF and has supported the PCRF in the United States.

Huda Sosebee, the late wife of PCRF CEO Steve Sosebee, was the lead social worker for the PCRF and one of its leading humanitarians during her all too brief life. She was known as the “heart” of the organization.

The Southern California chapter’s  leader, Lily Karam, spoke movingly of the children who have been helped and of the need to continue PCRF’s work.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is an internationally known and acclaimed children’s charity, specializing in the Middle East. PCRF is perhaps best known for its medical missions which send teams of doctors and associated medical personnel to countries in the Middle East to treat needy children there. The teams also train Middle Eastern doctors on site.

If a child cannot be adequately treated in his or her home site, the child is transported, at no cost to the parents, to a country where optimum medical care is available.

PCRF announced at last year’s banquet that it would enter the field of pediatric oncology. Plans are progressing in that arena.

PCRF also runs summer camps; has a Woman’s Empowerment Project; has distributed eyeglasses and wheelchairs to children, and does emergency relief.

The accomplishments and projects of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, of which the foregoing is but a brief part, can be found at their web site: <www.pcrf.net.>  The web site also has provisions for making donations.

13-40

Garden of Peace Flint Cemetery Update

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Flint–July 10–The Flint Islamic Center’s Garden of Peace cemetery is slowly and inexorably growing, as one might expect.

Last year I wrote an article about the opening of the first Muslim cemetery in Flint, Garden of Peace (http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=6191).  At the time the cemetery had only five people interred there–and at the time I wrote the article I had never visited the site.

Now I have visited the cemetery, and it has grown to about 29 people buried there. 

Most of the graves have stones lying horizontally on top, and stone markers saying the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased, however a few are only marked by dirt.

The cemetery itself is in very gently rolling hills–a very simple site has been prepared for use, of a few acres–of which only a small amount of space has been occupied.  The access is very adequate but very simple–perhaps the biggest investment other than buying the land was the fence and gate that enclose the cemetery–which is as advertised last year only a very short distance from the Flint Islamic Center mosque.  A simple asphalt driveway comes to a stop and cul-de-sac about a quarter mile from the gate, and from there the headstones are a short walk.

I looked at the headstones, and the graves are a testament to the unpredictability of death, with a few older people as one might expect, but also a few infants and some middle-aged people–a reminder to all of us that we cannot expect to stay on this earth for any guaranteed amount of time.

One WWII hero is buried at the cemetery, a Bronze Star recipient–and from this position of his grave it appears that he was one of the very first people interred–a convert to Islam.

The corporate name for the cemetery is the “Flint Islamic Cemetery,” and it is administered by the Flint Islamic Center.  Its policies have matured somewhat since its inception a year ago.

The policies follow:

1.  24 Hours advance notice should be given to arrange preparations for burial.

2.  A completed application form (available at the FIC office) must be filled out and duly certified by the respective Islamic Center. The following items should be submitted before the burial is accepted:

•    Certified check or money order in the name of Flint Islamic Cemetery or cash for the applicable amount (no personal checks are accepted).
•    Hospital release / death certificate must accompany the application.
•    Interstate transportation certificate (if applicable).

3.  Ladies attending the funeral must observe proper Islamic attire while in the Islamic Center and/or cemetery.

Unfortunately cemetery officials were not available for comment before this article went to print.

The cemetery is at 1310 South Morrish Road, in Swartz Creek, Michigan.  For more information, you can call Hossam Shukairy, 810-691-7738, Abed Khirfan, 810-877-1415; or Muhammed Saleem, 810-730-1776.

13-29

The STAY HUMAN Flotilla to Gaza

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Freedom Flotilla II, named the Stay Human flotilla, will sail for the beleaguered Gaza Strip of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the latter part of June. The postponement from the originally scheduled March departure date is due to the complex logistics involved in campaigns to raise money for multiple sailing vessels and to outfit them properly and prepare them for their journey. Another factor is the political turmoil in the region, particularly what is happening in Libya and Syria.

The name Stay Human was chosen to honor the late Italian Palestinian activist Vittorio ‘Vik’ Arrigoni. His recent violent death, under circumstances still in question, left the Palestinian activist community stunned. Tributes poured in from all over the world, and people who knew him and worked with him and were touched by his charm and dedication could only work through their grief by rededicating themselves to his cause.

His favorite expression to his co workers was “Stay Human”, and thus the flotilla name.

“Our message of peace is a call to action, for ordinary people like ourselves, not to hand over our lives to whatever puppeteer is in charge this time round, but to take responsibility for the revolution. First, the inner revolution- to give love to give empathy; It is this that will change the world.”

Two activists who contributed to this article, veteran  human rights activist and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) member, Greta Berlin, and human rights activist, ISM co founder, and member of the Flotilla Steering Committee, Huwaida Arraf, were among the many who paid tribute to “Vik”.

Ms Arraf delivered a tribute at his funeral and Ms Berlin had the following to say: “Nothing that we can write can capture the man who was so full of the joy of life, a man with the pipe in his mouth and the captain’s hat always tilted at an angle on his head.The man with the big smile and gentle nature, someone who used his physical strength to hold small children in his arms, sometimes several at a time. His laughter and his last comments every time we saw him will ring in all of our ears as we board the boats to return to Gaza at the end of May.”

In the past the organizers of the vessels have worked with the government of Cyprus. This coming flotilla is and will be working with the Mediterranean governments of France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey.

Ms Berlin urges all our readers to advocate for the flotilla’s safe voyage. People should call their representative, send an email, call the White House, and the State Department and inform them that the American people expect all on board the vessels to be safe.

Most of the monies raised were raised by grass roots fundraising. The only boat scheduled to leave from the United States, named The Audacity of Hope”,  was funded in part by activists going into the streets of New York with buckets and asking for contributions. The organizing group bought a 100 foot boat that will support from 50-60 passengers. Most on board will be from civil society with a few notables.

The boat will not carry cargo but will carry messages and letters from the American people, said Jane Hirschmann of the US Boat to Gaza. The relevant web site is: www.ustogaza.org. Americans who want to send a personal message should access the web site to find out the protocol.

Present estimates give the number of ships in the flotilla as between ten and fifteen. A number of the ships represent joint ventures. The ships are nation oriented though they are networks of national organizations and do not represent a government or an NGO.

There will be high profile people aboard these ships including members of parliament. For security reasons many are not currently named. It is known that they will include Colonel Ann Wright, Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, and Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin as well as Rugby star Trevor Hogan. Mr. Hogan has written an opinion piece in The Irish Herald in which he announced that he will be a part of the flotilla and will be aboard the Irish ship to Gaza.

Foremost among the cargo will be construction supplies, equipment for hospitals, water purification systems, and generators. Organizers would also like to be able to bring solar paneling for Green energy so that Gaza might become more independent  of Israel for its energy needs. However the costs are prohibitive. Individuals who want to contribute but hold back because the amount they can contribute is small should consider that their donation, along with others, will purchase a part of an important commodity. Please access the following web site: www.freegaza.org/donate.  

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza is in need of volunteers, and some of the flotilla passengers may elect to remain in Gaza to work with them. Huwaida Arraf cautions those who wish to remain that pre arrangement must be made with an organization including the ISM. ISM works with fishermen who challenge the limitations that Israel places on their right to move their fishing vessels – and therefore their livelihood – more than a few miles from the Gaza coast. Farmers with ISM help challenge the buffer zones imposed by Israel which zones prevent them from reaching their land.

People who must leave Gaza may be on the departing vessels. Again Ms Arraf cautions that they must have the proper paperwork required by the nations where they hope to be taken as this is an immigration issue that the Free Gaza Movement has no control over. While previous vessels leaving Gaza have dealt with the issue, the permanent opening of the Rafah border renders the issue moot.

13-23

Islamic Burial at Sea?

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Criticism about bin Laden’s sea burial comes for various reasons: failure to comply with Islamic law, a lack of closure, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories.

By Ariel Zirulnick

Uss-Carl-Vinson-Osama-Bin-Ladenaposs-Burial-At-Sea
File:  the USS Carl Vinson, from which Osama Bin Laden is reported to have been buried at sea.

A growing number of disparate parties, from Islamic clerics to the families of 9/11 victims, are criticizing the US decision to bury Osama bin Laden at sea.

The Obama administration said that the US chose to bury bin Laden at sea to prevent his burial site from becoming a shrine and because an unnamed country that the US asked to take his body refused. Because Islamic law mandates burial within 24 hours of death, there was no time for the US to ask other countries, counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said, according to the New York Times.

At a press conference Monday, Mr. Brennan assured reporters that his burial had been conducted “in accordance with the Islamic requirements.”

But in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, the country’s highest Islamic body condemned the burial at sea, Agence France-Presse reports.

“A Muslim, whatever his profession, even a criminal, their rites must be respected. There must be a prayer and the body should be wrapped in white cloth before being buried in the earth, not at sea,” [Indonesia Ulema Council] chief Amidhan said. “Many others have condemned it, especially as it was done with extreme hatred against him.”

Ahmad al-Tayeb, the top cleric of Egypt’s prominent Al Azhar University, also slammed the decision, saying in a statement that it “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values, and humanitarian customs,” according to Iran’s PressTV. Any of the dead deserve full respect, he said, and a corpse will only be respected if it is buried in the ground.

The US defended its procedures, saying that bin Laden’s body was washed and wrapped in a white cloth and “eased” it into the sea.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina criticized the burial on entirely different grounds. To him, rushing to bury bin Laden in order to be in accordance with Islamic law, “may have been sensitivity taken too far,” Fox News reported.

“It would be in our national interests to make a case, [a] documented case, that this was Osama bin Laden. He is dead. I think that would be a smart thing to do, and have it rolled out in a sensitive way, but prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and some people still won’t believe it.” … “This idea of disposing the body within 24 hours because of tradition bothers me a bit because we will be under attack as to whether or not it really was him,” Graham said. “And I’m not so sure that was a wise move. I’d like to hear more about that.”

There are concerns that a burial at sea will spur on conspiracy theories that bin Laden isn’t actually dead, and that’s why the US has no body to show the public. Some of those theories have already begun to surface, particularly in the Arab world. Meanwhile, DNA testing has reportedly provided “99.9 percent certainty” that the person US forces killed was bin Laden, says the government. The US is still debating whether to release the photographs it took of bin Laden before his burial.

Rosaleen Tallon, the sister of a New York firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks, said that the burial at sea “denied people like her the guarantee of seeing a body and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that Bin Laden was dead,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

But despite vocal criticism, there are likely many people who, while curious about the decision to bury bin Laden at sea, are not critical of it – including in the US Muslim community.

Khalid Latif, New York University chaplain and executive director of the university’s Islamic Center, said in a column for CNN that sharia law also takes into consideration what is best for society – and when held up to that standard, bin Laden’s burial at sea does follow Islamic law.

Humanity on a whole has a right that needs to be considered in regard to bin Laden’s burial. Who would want this man buried next to their loved one? Is it appropriate, especially after he has caused such pain to so many, to put anyone in a situation where they might have to be buried near or next to him?

It also protects his body, Mr. Latif wrote. If bin Laden was buried on land and the location of his body was discovered, there would be the risk not only of the burial site offering an “opportunity for glorification of bin Laden” but also of it being targeted by people still angry over his actions in life.

Christian Science Monitor

13-19

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Event

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is at the forefront of concerned humanitarians throughout the world.  While may organizations attempt to address at least some of these needs, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund works with the most helpless victims of the turmoil there – the children.

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) will hold a dinner in Granada Hills, Ca on Sunday, May 15th at the St. Andrew and St. Charles Episcopal Church. The event will begin at 4:00pm.

There will be two featured speakers, Dr. Musa Nasir and Dr. Hugh Watts. Dr. Nasir is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the PCRF and was one of the founding members in 1991. Dr. Watts is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon affiliated with the Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles. He has travelled frequently to Palestine to provide his medical expertise to patients and to medical personnel who are being trained there.

In addition, there will be videos of two children brought to Los Angeles for treatment by the chapter. The touching story of their journey from seriously impacted health to a normal life has brought past audiences to their feet and has further inspired the chapter members.

The attendees will enjoy Middle Eastern music and arts and crafts.

The event is distinct from the gala held in the Fall by the PCRF chapter. It is largely informational, an effort to reach people in the San Fernando Valley and parts of Ventura County. Of course, donations to this worthy cause will be welcomed.

Tickets are $25 if purchased prior to the event and $35 at the door. For further information, please contact Lulu Emery at  (714) 960-1215 or Lily Karam at (562) 432-0005.The PCRF is a 501 (c) (3) non profit and non political organization.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund was formed in 1991 in response to the urgent medical needs of children in Palestine. Since its founding its scope has expanded to include the entire Middle East. Children are treated free of charge by medical teams sent to the Middle East if local treatment is an option. If not the children are transported at no charge to the United States or a small number of other nations where they can receive state of the art medical treatment. The medical teams that visit the Middle East also provide on site training to local doctors.

In recent months teams have included a pediatric urology team from the Bay area to Gaza; a Chilean surgery team to Nablus, and a pediatric surgery mission to Gaza and the West Bank.

During the October 2010 banquet/fundraiser the PCRF announced that it will now enter the field of pediatric oncology.

PCRF has received international acclaim from such famous figures as Bishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter.

Other projects include a Women’s Empowerment Project, summer camps, wheelchair distribution and Emergency Relief.

The foregoing is but a small example of the work of PCRF. Readers should access its web site: www.pcrf.net for a complete story of its work.

13-16

Finding Mates Made Easy for Muslims

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nuran Alteir, In Focus News

Finding a spouse that meets your religious needs has never been easier since Marry Me Muslim launched in Nov. 2009.

Now you can look for potential spouses by answering simple questions, from personality to family life.

Founder Nabeel Khatri said he created the site because of his experiences when looking for a wife.

“In our culture, because we don’t date, we don’t really know much about the person we’re going to marry,” Khatri, a 33-year-old network engineer, said.

One of the things he learned from his first marriage was to ask more questions.

He is now married to his second wife after a divorce, which he said was because he didn’t ask enough questions. He met both his wife and his ex online, he said.
Mainly, the two groups of people who would join the site, and others like it, are those who are facing a divorce stigma and those who just can’t find someone they click with.

But Marry Me Muslim is open for all types of people looking for marriage.

One user, who wished to remain anonymous, said she heard about the site from Khatri’s wife and that her experience so far has been pleasant.

“I love how the site is set up,” she said. “It is different from some of the other matrimonial sites out there.”

She specifically liked how the answers matched users up. There are more than 100 questions that line users up with someone based on how many common answers two users have. When searching, users with the most in common with you will be at the top.

The user said she thinks matrimonial sites, in general, are great for people who don’t have a lot of “networking” in their community.

“Online, there are a lot of people you’re able to interact with, people you may not be able to find otherwise,” she said.

The site is devoted to single Muslims. Men who are already married are forewarned that if discovered, their account will be removed.

“As Muslims, we understand the nature of polygamy in Islam,” the page reads. “However, this site has been developed specifically for single Muslims interested in finding a marriage partner.”

Khatri said he heard of Muslim men looking for second wives on other matrimonial Web sites and didn’t want that kind of atmosphere on Marry Me Muslim.

Muslims, he said, should ask a lot of questions before saying “I do,” but what it comes down to is that they don’t.

12-17

Indispensable IslamOnline Must Not Fail

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ramzy Baroud, Countercurrents.org

A widely popular Islamic website has been, until very recently, an undisputed success story. IslamOnline arrived at a time that millions of Muslims needed a common platform and a unifying outlet. Here was a website that neither shunned nor alienated. Its influence was upbeat and positive, rather than destructive or divisive. While it wasn’t an apologetic outlet, it reached out to patiently and progressively present Islam and Muslim issues to the world. These were understood and communicated by hundreds of scholars and qualified journalists, who toiled day and night from their Cairo offices.

Then something happened to abruptly bring the noble mission to an end. The success story suddenly became a terrible nightmare for hundreds of IslamOnline’s principled employees. The website (IslamOnline.net) remained online, but it was barely updated. Instead, videos were circulated on youtube, showing tired-looking IslamOnline staff chanting in the lobby of their building in Cairo. They were demanding the return of their editorial freedom and rights. They were calling for justice. These bright journalists, some of the finest in the region, should have been sitting behind their computers screens writing, editing and managing ‘live dialogues’ between inquisitive readers and learned scholars. Instead they were seated on the floor with signs and banners, shouting in coarse voices.

Something had gone horribly wrong.

Hadeel al-Shalchi tried to explain in a recent Associated Press report: “The Qatari government has forced out the moderate leadership of a popular Islamic Web site and plans to reshape it into a more religiously conservative outlet, former employees of the site said.”

According to the AP report, “The site was thrown into turmoil…when the owners attempted to change its approach, prompting 350 of its workers in Cairo to go on strike. Management in Doha then cut off their access to the site and have been updating it with news articles but not the diverse content IslamOnline is known for, said the former employees.”

IslamOnline is funded by al-Balagh, a Doha-based company. Al-Balagh was headed by well-respected Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, a most sensible and judicious religious authority. He is known, and much liked, for his progressive views on Islam. Al-Qaradawi is also very popular among Muslims around the world, not least because of his daring political views, his strong anti-war, pro-resistance stances and moral clarity on many issues. In short, al-Qaradawi is the antithesis of religious clerics who would do as they are told.

A striking IslamOnline editor described to me how the crisis developed. It sounded something similar to a coup: the Sheik was removed from al-Balagh, the site’s directors were relegated, a new management was installed (in fact imposed), and even the website passwords were changed so that employees could no longer access it. Devastated and enraged by the unwarranted moves, about 350 employees went on strike – only to find themselves subject to legal investigation by some company lawyers for exercising what is universally accepted as a fundamental right. The editor tells me that they were harshly criticized in particular for their uncompromisingly courageous coverage on Palestine and Gaza. Indeed, IslamOnline had worked tirelessly to bring greater awareness of the struggle in Palestine, to Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike.

Following the tragic events of September 11, few websites have played the vital role that IslamOnline has. Its editors did not serve the cause of fanatics, with their dreadful interpretation of the world and themselves, and nor did they adopt the mouthpiece position in favor of Arab governments. Equally important, they did not try to falsify a ‘moderate’ position to please any government – Arab or any other. Instead, they truly reflected and genuinely expressed the views of mainstream Muslims from all walks of life, and from all over the world. It was truly an impressive feat to see such an independent editorial line emerging from one Arab capital and largely funded by another.

But it seemed too good to be true – thus the terrible, chaotic and devastating changes that brought this vital to a standstill. The very means of presenting an eloquent Muslim voice to the world has been threatened.

The story of IslamOnline is being presented as that between rival Arabs: governments, groups and individuals. Reductionist terminologies– such as conservatives vs. moderates – are once again permeating the often predictable Middle East discourse. Many questions still remain unanswered.

In fact, the story of IslamOnline pertains more to media freedom and editorial independence in Arab countries than much of the above. The struggle is between the self-serving politicking few, and hundreds of media professionals – brilliant and inspiring young women and men who made up the staff at IslamOnline. For them, IslamOnline was not just another job. It was a mission, a calling even, and millions of readers around the world appreciated their work, every word of it.
One can only hope that IslamOnline will find its way back, with its current employees and current editorial line intact. The success story must not be allowed to end. Individual ambitions cannot stand in the way of this rare generational mission that is now simply indispensable.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

Advertise Here on The Muslim Observer Website!

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

To begin advertising on our site just click here—you can do the whole process by yourself (of course we have to approve your ad before it appears on our site, which could take as long as two business days).

The Muslim Observer is an exciting newspaper with a vibrant website—every day on average about 1,200 of your potential customers peruse our website.  Why not reach them directly?  The TMO website is not only read by Muslims—many people from many walks of life and people from around the USA and around the world read this website for a different point of view.  American Muslims are typically doctors, engineers, professionals who are active and affluent—great customers!

Take a look at a slideshow of some of our recent statistics:

As you can see, our numbers by and large have continually improved over the last few years, to the point now where we have on some days 2,400 unique human visitors on our site, each one viewing at least one page on the site and potentially more, not to mention the advertising that appears before them.

To begin our automated process for advertising on our site just click here—you can do the whole process by yourself, any time of day or night, 24/7! Of course we have to approve your ad before it appears on our site, which could take as long as two business days.  Or call us at:  two-four-eight-426-7777.

Thank you!

Please have a look around our website while you’re here! 

Is Israel Controlling Phony Terror News?

March 4, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

By Gordon Duff and Brian Jobert, www.opinion-maker.org

 

Who says Al Qaeda takes credit for a bombing? Rita Katz. Who gets us bin Laden tapes? Rita Katz. Who gets us pretty much all information telling us Muslims are bad? Rita Katz? Rita Katz is the Director of Site Intelligence, primary source for intelligence used by news services, Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA. What is her qualification? She served in the Israeli Defense Force. She has a college degree and most investigative journalists believe the Mossad “helps” her with her information. We find no evidence of any qualification whatsoever of any kind. A bartender has more intelligence gathering experience.

Nobody verifies her claims. SITE says Al Qaeda did it, it hits the papers. SITE says Israel didn’t do it, that hits the papers too. What does SITE really do? They check the internet for “information,” almost invariably information that Israel wants reported and it is sold as news, seen on American TV, reported in our papers and passed around the internet almost as though it were actually true. Amazing.

Do we know if the information reported comes from a teenager in Seattle or a terror cell in Jakarta? No, of course not, we don’t have a clue. Can you imagine buying information on Islamic terrorism from an Israeli whose father was executed as a spy by Arabs?

It is quite likely that everything you think you know about terror attacks such as the one in Detroit or whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead comes from Rita Katz. Does she make it all up? We don’t know, nobody knows, nobody checks, they simply buy it, print it, say it comes from Site Intelligence and simply forget to tell us that this is, not only a highly biased organization but also an extremely amateur one also.

Is any of this her fault, Ritas? No. She is herself, selling her work. The blame is not Site Intelligence, it is the people who pass on the information under misleading circumstances.

Imagine if a paper carried a story like this:

Reports that Al Qaeda was responsible for bombing the mosque and train station were given to us by an Israeli woman who says she found it on the internet.

This is fair. Everyone should be able to earn a living and information that comes from Israel could be without bias but the chances aren’t very good. In fact, any news organization, and most use this service, that fails to indicate that the sources they use are “rumored” to be a foreign intelligence service with a long history of lying beyond human measure, is not to be taken seriously.

Can we prove that SITE Intelligence is the Mossad? No. Would a reasonable person assume it is? Yes.

Would a reasonable person believe anything from this source involving Islam or the Middle East? No, they would not.

SITE’s primary claim to fame other than bin Laden videos with odd technical faults is their close relationship with Blackwater. Blackwater has found site useful. Blackwater no longer exists as they had to change their name because of utter lack of credibility.

What can be learned by examining where our news comes from? Perhaps we could start being realistic and begin seeing much of our own news and the childish propaganda it really is.

Propaganda does two things:

1. It makes up phony reasons to justify acts of barbaric cruelty or insane greed.

2. It blames people for things they didn’t do because the people doing the blaming really did it themselves. We call these things “false flag/USS Liberty” incidents.

Next time you see dancing Palestinians and someone tells you they are celebrating a terror attack, it is more likely they are attending a birthday party. This is what we have learned, perhaps this is what we had best remember.

From an AFP article on Site Intelligence:

Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. are set to release yet another “aL-Qaeda” tape

WASHINGTON (AFP) The head of the Al-Qaeda network Osama bin Laden is expected to release a taped message on Iraq, a group monitoring extremist online forums said Thursday. The 56-minute tape by the hunted militant is addressed to Iraq and an extremist organization based there, the Islamic State of Iraq, said the US-based SITE monitoring institute, citing announcements on “jihadist forums.”

It said the release was “impending” but did not say whether the message was an audio or video tape. Despite a massive manhunt and a 25-million-dollar bounty on his head, he has evaded capture and has regularly taunted the United States and its allies through warnings issued on video and audio cassettes.

Source: ME Times

Yes, despite a massive manhunt by the world’s intelligence agencies, BL seems to evade their combined efforts, staying on the run. But he still has time to drop into his recording studio and cook up a fresh tape for the likes of Rita Katz and her outfit called S.I.T.E. SITE is staffed by TWO people, Katz and a Josh Devon.

Yet these two individuals manage to do what the ENTIRE combined assets of the world’s Western intelligence can’t:

Be the first to obtain fresh video and audio tapes from Al-Qaeda with Bin Laden making threats and issuing various other comments. If BL appears a bit “stiff” in the latest release, that’s because he is real stiff, as in dead.

How is it that a Jewish owned group like S.I.T.E. can outperform the world’s best and brightest in the intelligence field and be the first to know that a group like al-Qaeda is getting ready to release another tape?

How is it possible that Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. can work this magic? Maybe looking at Katz’s background will help:

Rita Katz is Director and co-founder of the SITE Institute. Born in Iraq, her father was tried and executed as an Israeli spy, whereupon her family moved to Israel [the move has been described as both an escape and an emigration in different sources]. She received a degree from the Middle Eastern Studies program at Tel Aviv University, and is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. She emigrated to the US in 1997.

Katz was called as a witness in the trial, but the government didn’t claim she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in America in 1997.

She also admitted to receiving more than $130,000 for her work as an FBI consultant on the case.

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Community News (V11-I51)

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Madison mosque plan to be discussed

RIDGE LAND,MS–Consideration of a site plan for a proposed mosque north of Madison is on the agenda of the Madison County Planning and Zoning Commission this Thursday.

The Mississippi Muslim Association is seeking approval of the site plan for the mosque on a 5-acre site west of U.S. 51. A site plan depicts the architectural design of a building along with landscaping.

The Board of Supervisors in August approved a special zoning exemption for the mosque.The land was zoned R-1 residential so a special exception was necessary to build a place of worship.

The proposed mosque has met resistance from some residents. At the time the exception was granted, John R. Reeves, an attorney representing some of the residents, argued that the Muslim Association had yet to show adequate provisions for utilities and had not provided any kind of drawing or site plan to show that the proposed building is compatible with the surrounding area.

Citibank asked to apologize

CHICAGO,IL–The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today called on Citibank to apologize to a Muslim woman who was allegedly verbally abused by a security guard at a Gresham, Ill., branch because she wears a religious head scarf, or hijab.

According to the Muslim woman, the guard said it was against Citibank’s policy for customers to transact business wearing head coverings. While another Citibank employee did allow the woman to complete her business, that employee insisted on personally escorting her to the counter and watched over her shoulder as she conducted her transactions.

The guard also reportedly objected to the woman receiving service because it would encourage more of “them” to come into the bank. Throughout the process, which the Muslim customer described as “humiliating,” the guard allegedly made anti-Muslim remarks.

CAIR-Chicago is calling for the apology, a review of Citibank policies related to religious head coverings and for diversity training of bank staff.

“Denying someone the right to enjoy equal treatment in places of public accommodation is illegal and violates our most deeply held values of fairness and respect for others,” said Kevin Vodak, staff attorney at CAIR-Chicago.

“It appears that this security guard was purposefully trying to deter Muslims from patronizing the bank by harassing them. If this is the case, the bank needs to make sure this kind of discriminatory behavior is addressed,” said Christina Abraham, civil rights director at CAIR-Chicago. “It’s illegal and it’s bad business.”

Edmonton Muslims host Eid dinner

EDMONTON–Edmonton Muslims last Sunday hosted an Eid dinner for the needy irrespective of their faith at the Boyle Street Community Services Center.

Aziz Khan, president of the Islamic Family and Social Services Association said, “We hold this dinner closer to Christmas than the end of Ramadan, so it’s really a mixture of two great festivals,” he said.

“It’s part of the Islamic community connecting with the rest of the city, and you see the need with all the people we have here today.”

They prepare enough food for 1,000, and hungry people were lined up into the street.

Sofia Yaqub, an director of the association who’s involved with a variety of multicultural groups, said it’s sad to see the dinner numbers growing each year. “You wonder how all these people fell into this situation.”

Yaqub said the Muslim community encourages younger people to volunteer at the dinner. “We always get a big response, and it’s an excellent experience for them to see how fortunate they are.”

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Tricky PETA’s “Muslim” Website

November 1, 2009 by · 6 Comments 

By Adil James, MMNS

Editor’s Note:  PETA has addressed all of the most pressing concerns that TMO had about its website, and that is a credit to its founder, Ingrid Newkirk, and also to Kathy Nizzari and Hanif Akhtar, who all took the time to respectfully address our concerns.  The main concern was that the site should say it is sponsored by PETA, which it now does, “Sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” at the bottom of the page, a little hard to read but it is there.  The second major concern was the “empty ritual” language referred to below.  Actually PETA has been quite sensitive and responsive in addressing TMO’s major concerns, compared to which all our other concerns are minimal.  We may disagree about the substantive issues relating to animal treatment, but we no longer have ethical concerns about their website.

 

Farmington–October 28–If you had asked me October 19th about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) I might have said, “aren’t they the people who protect animals?”

IslamicConcerns I would not have gone into the issue of their calling fish “sea kittens,” or their spraying fake blood to ruin the furs that people wear, or their doing demonstrations around the world wearing minimal clothing.  These things I found out about in the course of my writing this article. PETA after all wasn’t really on my plate–not really on an agenda related to Islam. 

But now things have changed.  PETA launched a website called Islamic Concerns (www.islamicconcerns.com) early last week, and we at TMO received a press release rather proudly proclaiming that fact.  I immediately went to the website and searched in vain for the notice that PETA is behind the website.  No “about” page saying “PETA proudly produced this website.” No acknowledgment that the website islamicconcerns.com was commissioned by non-Muslims with a non-Muslim agenda (as per editor’s note above this has now changed).

At a glance the website appears fine.  In large letters it says Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.  The website is very attractive, at least until you start reading it or trying to see who is behind it.

At a closer look the website is problematic.  It stated until last Thursday that the slaughter of animals after hajj is “an empty ritual.”  (After TMO raised this issue with PETA they removed that language from their site although the site still argues against sacrificing animals in a more oblique way).  The site quotes a “scholar” who argues that all of the ahadith relating to dogs are incorrect.  The site fails to advertise that the entire website is commissioned by non-Muslims with a secular agenda.  It argues that the prescribed method for slaughtering animals in Islamic and Jewish law is too painful and should be amended to include stunning prior to slaughter.  The “fatwas” on the website are a smorgasbord of bizarre material, whatever fatwas suited the fancies of the non-Muslims who built the site.  The Muslims involved in the site care deeply about animals but do not appear to care very deeply about practicing Islam.  The website states conclusory fatwas unsupported by Islamic scholars, for instance that eating meat from animals who have themselves eaten pork is haram–this may or may not be true, but if it is it should come from a real scholar.

The website advocates extreme and unnecessary solutions to legitimate problems.  Admittedly factory farms likely feed chemicals and reprocessed animals to their livestock, and engage in other unsavory practices, and perhaps there is unnecessary mistreatment of such animals precedent to slaughter.  But if you sincerely want to help Muslims eat halal and wholesome meat, then the response to this problem is to support small farms, not to go vegan.

Also granted, animal testing is sometimes cruel.  But the solution to this is not to throw blood on people or to protest or yell and scream.  The solution is to live a simple lifestyle in which as much as possible we use the materials that don’t need animal testing–the same materials we use in following the sunnah of Prophet (s).

Immediately after learning of the site and seeing it I called PETA’s designated spokesperson on the issue, Kathy Nizzari, and in answer to my first question, “Did any Muslims contribute” to the site, Ms. Nizzari proclaimed that the “very devout Muslim” Hanif Akhtar had been involved. Nizzari, the primary spokesperson for PETA’s Islamic Concerns website, asked that I speak with Akhtar rather than her about the site.

I interviewed Mr. Akhtar three days later, last Thursday, and I say with sincerity that I respect Mr. Akhtar for his honesty and his taking the time to talk with me. 

Mr. Akhtar is not “devout,” any more than I am devout. He does not pray more than other Muslims, nor does he have a great deal of knowledge of Islam.  He is a practicing vegan (no meat no dairy) (originally from Pakistan), as are his entire family–he does not eat meat and will state with conviction that there is a branch of Muslims who believe that ahadith should not be followed.  In speaking about dogs he quoted from the surah called “Ashabul Kahf” (actually al-Kahf), speaking of the dog who was mentioned in that surah.

Still, he respects Prophet (s) and will not go as far as to state that he puts his vegan beliefs above the teachings of Prophet (s).  Confronted with the problematic issues on the website listed above, he sounded legitimately surprised and promised to speak with other PETA people about what is on the site, for example he said he “took exception with the website” in calling the slaughter of animals after hajj “an empty ritual.”   He promised to address this issue with others at PETA, and in fact a week later we no longer see that language on the site.  He said he did not know about the (still) missing “about” page. Again, he seems sincere to me, even if perhaps not religious, and certainly not “devout.”

While he admits he uses leather he says no one else in his family does.  An apparently sincere and honest man, but this is not a person who can be relied on as an expert in Islam or Islamic law. Likely PETA has never employed any such person.

Mr. Akhtar works on a purely voluntary basis for PETA, and provided some guidance in a review capacity on the website–if he saw a problem, he explained, he mentioned it to the PETA staff which corrected it–”just minor spelling mistakes,” he said. But in a cursory review of the website I was able to find the several significant problems listed above that he said he was unfamiliar with.

The Muslims who worked on the site always appear to be at the periphery.  When i mentioned Muslims to Nizzari, she pointed at Akhtar.  When I mentioned Muslims to Akhtar, he pointed at Nizzari.  One does not appear to be Muslim at all, and the other, for all his sincerity, is by his own admission not religious. 

Although the website supposedly provides Islamic law on subjects related to Islamic diet, there is no consistent school of thought referred to.  Mr. Akhtar mentioned a person named Ali–whose last name he would not share with me–who contributed to the website but was currently “in Iran,” therefore I assume he is Shi’a which is I guess a starting point although there is no attempt to clarify that perhaps the Islamic Concern website is built on Shi’a law.  There are different schools of thought, Ja’fari, Hanbali, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki. 

Non-Muslims may believe that a handful of fatwas plucked from around the Muslim world form a convincing argument, any Muslim knows there is discipline involved.

So far we addressed the ethical issues of the website.  On a practical level, this website is a rather large block of uncertainty cast apparently by an extreme minority secular organization–so this is not likely to work. 

Moderate Muslims will be incensed that PETA is trying to trick them.  Shi’a are never going to accept this website when their religious authorities are marja’iyya.  Practising Sunnis are not going to take Islamic advice from shadowy online “Islamic” sites, especially insofar as they contravene the Sunnah of the Prophet (s).  Maybe some young impressionable Muslims will be swayed by the site, but the backlash against the site will likely outweigh any gains PETA might make.

How can it be Islamic to become a vegan animal worshipper who calls fish kittens, when the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s) is to eat meat, and to wear leather–just the leather socks alone that Prophet (s) wore are proof of this.  What about other sunnahs involving leather? Muslims care about animal welfare, but it is not Islam to unbalance the world to the extent that the central concern of life is that no animal be harmed in any way.

So my advice to PETA, make a website, it’s okay.  But admit who you are and do not try to trick us.  And do not expect to change the world too much with this latest attempt to subvert Islam in the interests of promoting a secular and crafty agenda. One piece of advice from Qur`an–enter houses by their front doors.

It is no virtue if ye enter your houses from the back: It is virtue if ye fear Allah. Enter houses through the proper doors: And fear Allah. That ye may prosper.

Baqara:189 (Y. Ali)

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