Successful Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

MPAC-initials-white-on-blkWith the phenomenon of Islamophobia on the rise and now the province of Presidential candidates, thoughtful Americans welcome organizations which confront this problem and work toward solutions. The United States cannot truly fulfill its democratic destiny until the issue of Islamophobia is consigned to the dustbin of history. In addition, many other problems – perhaps trumping Islamophobia in impact – call out for Islamic participation with the concurrent application of Islamic values. The Arab Spring and what America’s role should be, and the Islamic movements outside of the United States are but two. 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) successfully examined these issues during its 11th Annual Conference, rising once again to the challenge inherent in its founding principles. The Convention took place this past Saturday in Los Angeles and was titled: “Spring Forward: America’s Role in A Changing World”. The Convention consisted of two parts: three work sessions and an evening banquet with speakers.

During the welcome by MPAC President Salaam Al Marayati, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke about Islamophobia and praised the Los Angeles Muslim community in general and MPAC in particular for their cooperation with law enforcement. His presentation might well have been the prologue to the second workshop session. In a direct approach, Sheriff Baca reminded his audience that the United States Constitution grants religious liberty. There should be no interference in the construction of a church, synagogue or mosque. He said that he, like all law enforcement officers, took an oath to defend the Constitution. If there are officers who for reasons of deep seated bigotry are unable to reconcile their positions with their oath, they should leave the office. He received a standing ovation.

The first session,  Plenary I ,  featured Dr. Nayyer Ali, a member of the MPAC Board, as moderator and was titled: “US Foreign Policy: Potentials and Pitfalls”. A diverse panel considered the question of US foreign policy towards the nations of the Arab Spring. While there were answers as diverse as the participants, the results were a mixture of optimism, pessimism, and a wait and see attitude. There was consensus that an American Muslim role is imperative. D Ali gave a summary that perhaps best describes the work of the session.

He said that what we see in the Arab world is the end of the post colonial slumber period much like 1989 was for East Europe. Pay attention to the input of Islam, he continued. It will play a large role and will be integrated into democratic governments.The message of the Koran is a perfect guide as it calls for justice, religious and political freedom, and consensus. Injustice is un Islamic. While the Koran is not a political document, it lays the framework for a just society. The concept of Shura intrinsically prevents dictatorship. “The Arab spring will evolve into something we find admirable”. 
“I feel as if I have attended a graduate level political seminar” said one young woman.

A second session followed a luncheon break. This session was titled: “The Industry of Hate in the Public Square”. Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programing, was the moderator.  She described a whirlwind of activity with emphasis currently on Lowe’s stores withdrawal of sponsorship for the TLC show All American Muslim.

Before the session began, each attendee was given a publication by the Center for American Progress. The book is titled: “Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America”.
One of the authors, Wajahat Ali, was the first presenter. Mr. Ali is also a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist, and blogger. “Congratulations. The Muslim agenda is in place”. He cited, facetiously, a Muslim beauty queen and stealth halal turkeys. Mr. Ali spoke of the recent decision of Lowe’s stores to remove their sponsorship of the widely acclaimed television series, All American Muslim. He surprised his audience by telling them that the pressure on Lowe’s to withdraw its support was initiated by the work of one man. He identified this man as David Canton, virtually the lone member of the highly touted Florida Family Association, and a man with a history of bothering corporations. He continued by saying that even Mr. Canton’s web site was poorly done. Yet, like the effect of a megaphone,  the efforts of one man was presented as a large group effort.

“Its like watching a balloon deflate” whispered one audience member.

He cited bloggers Pamela Geller and David Horowitz for their role in taking this issue and publicizing it. He referenced the book he co authored and told his audience to read about the money trails, the donors and the amounts they have contributed, the beneficiaries with their organizations and/or web sites.  The book is truly encyclopedic and a valuable weapon in confronting and defeating Islamophobia.

Attendees were given an opportunity to fill out sign up sheets indicating their willingness to work with MPAC in this crucial venture.

Steven Rohde, a well known civil rights attorney and activist, spoke next. He recited a poem which he had written which paraphrased the famous work of the Reverend Martin Niemoller about the German intellectuals’ reluctance to speak up against injustice because they were not not initially targeted. In this version, the Muslims were the miner’s canary.

Mr. Rohde expressed his willingness to stand with Muslims and fight with them against any injustice turned their way. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Aziza Hasan was the last presenter. She is MPAC’s Director of Southern California Government Relations. She said that we are commanded by the Koran to stand up for truth and to speak up against injustice. She told her audience to anticipate and to build. We can reasonably expect that Islamophobia will get worse by the election of 2012. We can prepare for that battle. We will build alliances and work with those already in place.

The final session, Plenary II, was titled: “Islamic Movements: Help or Hindrance”.  Haris Tarin who is the Executive Director of MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office was the moderator. Will political movements, suppressed for decades, be able to lead the people in a government that is democratic and pluralistic?

Salaam Al Marayati introduced Haris Tarin and complimented him on bringing the MPAC Washington, D. C. office to new levels of influence. In the Arab world, he noted, Islamic groups were able to organize against the dictators in power.

The Muslim world entered modernity through colonialism and therefore entered it as subjects, said panelist Haroon Mogdul, an Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches, a Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly, and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Dr. Jasser Auda said that the landscape is complex. For example, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood is closer to liberal youth than to the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Auda is an Associate Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. He continued by saying that the Salafist youth are separate from their Imams. Youth are developing the idea of a civil state with an Islamic reference.

Invited guests for the evening banquet were Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of “Race Matters” and Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council has worked since 1988 to promote an American Muslim community which will enrich American society through the application of Islamic principles. These principles are Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom and Equality. MPAC has become the go to group for media and government officials. American Muslims have come to accept it as a spokesgroup on their behalf.

MPAC’s programs include: an Anti-terrorism campaign; a Hollywood Bureau; Government Relations; Countering Islamophobia; Young Leaders Development, and Interfaith Outreach.      

The foregoing is but a small portion of the work of MPAC. To learn more about the group, to contribute, and to volunteer, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org.

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Pakistan: Calligraphic Exhibition to Mark Islamic New Year

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sana Jamal, Pakistan Observer

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Title:  “Qui Sharif” by Abdul Rehman

Islamabad—To mark the arrival of the Islamic year 1433, an exuberant exhibition of Islamic calligraphy was arranged in Islamabad by Gallery Louvre.

The exhibition that opened is a group show showcasing different styles of calligraphic works by young and veteran artists of Pakistan. The calligraphy display features the masterworks of Ahmed Khan, Javaid Qamar, Rashid Ali, Bushra Zeeshan, M.A.Bukhari, Arif Khan, Shahid, Waqar, and Bashir.

Calligraphy, the art of turning plain writings into beautiful script by adding twists around words and the alphabets, has gained recognition in Pakistan lately. The splendid form of art inspired many in Pakistan during 70’s when the country produced some world renowned artists in this field namely, Sadequain and Gulgee.

“Islamic calligraphy is considered an essential part of a Muslim society where most of the houses have a wall adorned with Islamic calligraphies, that’s why we have arranged a calligraphic exhibition presenting the works of new artists as well as the masters like Ahmed Khan” stated Alina Saeed, the curator of the Gallery.

The inclusion of the artworks of Ahmed Khan, one of the eminent calligraphists of Pakistan, has added a special attraction for the art lovers. Ahmed Khan, also an educationist, is celebrated for the luminous paintings, in which a traditional interpretation of line and form are reassessed as calligraphic design. His work comprises of overlaid calligraphic designs based on silver foil pressed on canvas which with a sprinkle of chemicals turns them into vibrant colours.

Vibrant yet elegant artworks of the up-and-coming artist Bushra Zeeshan, are a beautiful addition to the art show, which show that there is an increased interest among youth for the art of calligraphy. Bushra’s work is a combination of square and angular lines as well as compact bold circular forms, presented in uniform script styled calligraphies, and the borders contain details with delicate patterns which provide a perfect balance to the strong fonts. She has explored the original type of Arabic script in her artworks called kufic.

M.A.Bukhari, using acrylic on canvas, has illustrated ninety nine names of Allah in different collages of colours in different sizes. The multi-coloured calligraphic work is a beautiful combination of modern art with cultural and religious values. The artists, known for his large canvases, broad strokes and vibrant lively colours, has applied the colours in thick layers which makes the art piece eye-catching and bewildering at the same time.

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Iqra Foundation Annual Dinner

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Staff Reporter

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Mary Ali gives her acceptance address for the IQRA Education Leadership Award
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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf receives for him and his wife Daisy Khan an award from Ali Yurtsever & Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

IQRA, the leaders in Islamic Education hosted their Annual Dinner on October 29th. IQRA’s community of advocates, educators and private Ansar (sponsors) gathered to celebrate the 28 years of the Foundation’s accomplishments.

The room was filled with more than 550 up beat supporters. The keynote speaker, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chief architect of the Cordoba Initiative discussed the importance of Muslim Americans taking an active role in society. Appreciating the pioneering work and leadership role that Drs. Abidullah and Tasneema Ghazi have played, American Muslims were urged to invest in organizations like IQRA to help realize the implementation of critical and pivotal work in promoting innovative Islamic education in USA and worldwide. Dinner guests were also honored to hear the inspirational speech of Sister Mary Ali, the recipient of the IQRA Education Leadership Award that the organization has instituted to honor the memory of Dr. MAW Fakhri, its founding chairman.

Dr. Shahid Siddiqi, a member of the board and chairman of reception committee, lauded the leadership of IQRA team and its innovative futuristic approach. Dr. Ghazi in his presidential address narrated IQRA’s past achievements and laid down its future vision which covered revision of the program, use of electronic media for publication, standardization of Islamic education, establishment of distance education on internet and producing new genre of literature appropriate for our age and the global village.

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More Art than Science

November 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Dr. Adil Akhtar’s Art

ScreenShot003Born and raised under adversarial political and economic conditions in his native Pakistan, Adil Akhtar knew early on that he would have to work very hard and study long hours through many years of schooling to help provide for his family’s well-being. Against all odds, Adil did just that, eventually earning his medical degree and relocating to the United States to pursue a medical practice in the mid-west. Recognized as a highly competent, knowledgeable, sensitive and caring physician in the fields of oncology, hospice care, palliative and internal medicine. Dr. Akhtar is the Chief of Clinical Operations at the Beaumont Health Care System Cancer Center. Dr. Adil Akhtar is a favorite among his patients and their families for his knowledge, expertise, dedication and compassion. Few who know him as a physician would realize there is another side to the good doctor in which he is equally passionate and prolific.

As the artist, Adil Akhtar is able to throw aside all conventions and allow his creative spirit to have free reign. Heavily influenced by the Abstract Expressionist movement, Akhtar enjoys immersing himself in his work, and is often found dancing on his canvases while painting, thus becoming an integral part of his work.

Still haunted by many of his childhood memories, as well as deeply affected by the current political scene, Akhtar believes art should be relevant, identifiable on a personal level and it should represent the era in which it has been created. Thus, his paintings reflect the mood of the times and capture what is happening around him, as well as reflecting issues he feels strongly about. For example, recent works reflect the 9/11 tragedy as well as subjects related to child labor, Pakistan, the universe and aquatics.

Adil Akhtar competed in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2010, where his piece, We Are Looking for a New World, was exhibited at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. His 2011 Exhibitions have included: ArtExpo New York; The American Airlines Admiral’s Club at LaGuardia Airport in NYC; Lake Placid Celebration of the Arts and Red Dot Miami.

Adil Akhtar’s “Artist’s Statement”

Art is an expression for which the canvas is only a medium

For Adil Akhtar, the medium is less important than the expression. Using acrylics on unprimed canvas, Akhtar spreads the raw canvas on the floor of his studio and then walks or dances on the canvas while painting, thus becoming a part of the whole painting. I become part of the whole scene.

Adil is an avid student of art history and a fan of Post Impressionist painters like Van Gogh and Picasso. Historically, art used to be important to us, but it has disengaged itself from our society. Adil would like for that to change.

Adil’s art includes paintings that reflect relevant subjects close to his heart: child labor, the universe, Pakistan, aquatics and politics. His work was exhibited at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in September 2010 as part of the ArtPrize Competition, as well as at ArtExpo New York in March 2011. Other recent exhibitions include: The American Airlines Admiral’s Club at LaGuardia Airport in NYC; Lake Placid Celebration of the Arts and Red Dot Miami 2011. He is represented by Jayson Samuel. ■

Mohammed Traore Excels in Academics & Athletics

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IOWA CITY, IA–Excellence in academics & athletics is quite a feat and Mohammed Traore, a City High School junior, is proving how to do it. With hard work and perseverance he is a rising star both on and off the field. A profile published in the Press-Citizen documents his success.

Traore is at the top of his class and is receiving high rankings on track and field and cross-country running. Traore is taking classes such as AP calculus, AP biology and honors-level chemistry, which he finds beneficial.

“I hope one day to go into the biomedical or biochemical field,” he told the Press-Citizen. He has received multiple admission offers from several universities. Life is on track for Mohammed Traore.

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Dr. Farah Abbasi Honored by City of Lansing

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ScreenShot006Psychologist Farah Abbasi was thanked publicly and presented a plaque on behalf of Mayor Virg Bernero of Lansing.  Mayor Bernero and the city of Lansing presented the award on the basis of her work towards the Ramadan dinner which occurred recently in Lansing, an annual event put on by Lansing and East Lansing mayors together.

Dr. Abbasi helped raise over $13,000 to present to Lansing area food banks, and helped to put on the Ramadan dinner itself as well.

The purpose of the Ramadan dinner is to promote greater harmony between Michigan’s diverse communities.

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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.

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Muslim Scientists and Thinkers–Obaid Siddiqui

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

obaid_siddiqiObaid Siddiqui was born in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, India.  He completed his Master in Biology from Aligarh Muslim University in 1953.  After teaching at Aligarh for a while he came to England and finished his PhD. from the University of Glasgow in in the year 1961 where he worked in the Department of Genetics.

Obaid Siddiqui was offered a post-doctoral position at the MIT to work with , Dr. Alan Garen, a well known man in genetics. He came to MIT worked there for a while and then they moved to the University of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the suppressors of “nonsense” mutations that led to the discovery of “nonsense” codons, the stop signals in the genetic code. In early seventies he moved to California to  work with Dr. Seymour Benzer of the California Institute of Technology. Their work led to  identification of several genes that control nerve conduction and synaptic transmission. Obaid and his associates’ pioneering work on neurogenetics of fruit fly, Drosophila, has opened up the prospects of an integrated genetic and neurobiological investigation of chemosensory perception.

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, invited him to start a molecular biology group at the institute . Obaid recruited top-class scientists and put the Institutes’s molecular biology group on world map of genetics. Later, with the support of government of India, he founded  National Center for Biological Sciences at Bangalore. The  aim  of this Center is basic research in the frontier areas of biology and currently it has many distinguished scientists working in various fields  with state-of-the-art facilities.

Prof. Siddiqi’s contributions have been widely recognized. He has been elected to several academies including all the National Academies in India, the Royal Society, London, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy, Trieste. He is a former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Prof. Siddiqi has held visiting professorships at Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caltech and Cambridge University. He was twice Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech and is a life member of the Clare Hall, Cambridge. The Aligarh Muslim University, the Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Hamdard, Kalyani University and IIT Kanpur have conferred upon him honorary degrees of D.Sc. He has received many prizes and awards, including the civil honors Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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Khosrow Semnani, Businessmen Turned Philanthropist

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

semnaniSalt Lake City, UT–Khosrow Semnani’s story is a classic example of hard work and dedication and the realization of the American Dream. An Iranian immigrant who came to Utah in 1969 with $47 in his pocket, Semnani  helped pay his way through Westminster College with a part-time job as a janitor. Eventually he founded Envirocare (now EnergySolutions) in 1988 and shortly thereafter the company began accepting low-level radioactive waste for treatment and disposal in above ground, reinforced buildings with three-foot-thick concrete walls.The company, now sold,  reportedly has annual revenues of more than $100 million.

Semnani now devotes more of his time on a wide range of philanthropic activities. He founded and funds Maliheh Free Clinic, which provides free medical services to poor and uninsured patients in South Salt Lake.He has also partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to send aid abroad to natural-disaster victims.Hi foundation donated $125,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for famine relief in Somalia and Somali refugee camps. Additionally, last year the Semnani Family Foundation donated $20,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for earthquake relief in Haiti.
He also actively participates in bridging the gaps of understanding between various faith groups. Most recently he presented a paper at Brigham Young University on his experience of being a Muslim in America.

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Hologram

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail holoHOLOGRAPHY is the process of recording a three-dimensional image of an object using the special properties of light from a LASER. Unlike photography, which only records the brightness and contrast of an object, a HOLOGRAM records brightness, contrast and DIMENSION. This allows holography to display the final image in true 3D.

You do not need any special glasses to view a hologram. Although the hologram is most famous for 3D images, holograms can also be of a 2D image as well. What both share in common is that they were created through the use of a LASER.

The first hologram was conceived of, and produced in 1948 by Dr. Dennis Gabor, a researcher at the Imperial College of London. For his theories and work, he received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1971. Gabor’s early holograms were created without the use of a laser, since the laser wasn’t invented until 1960. Therefore his holograms were only capable of showing the slightest amount of depth (about the thickness of a postage stamp). His light-producing instrument was a mercury-vapor lamp.

With the invention of the laser in 1960, researchers had the proper type of light to begin recording an object dimensionally. Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks in the United States (University of Michigan), along with Yuri Denisyuk in the former Soviet Union, all familiar with the work of Gabor, applied this special new light of the laser to produce the first practical holograms.

These early holograms required a laser to both record and view the image. It wasn’t long however, before new techniques allowed the hologram, although still requiring a laser to record, to be viewed with ordinary light (such as a light bulb). Also, many different types of holograms were developed, each with their own technique used to produce them.

The excitement of viewing a hologram is only exceeded by the thrill of actually making one. Today, in 2011, it is fairly easy to make small holograms using inexpensive and easy-to-find equipment. Students from elementary school to high school are making holograms. The expensive lasers of the past have been replaced by the inexpensive laser pointers of today.

Holograms are made in laser laboratories, but they are also made in homes and schools every day. There are a few important things that need to be done before you can make a hologram, but none of those things are very hard to do. To give one example, a hologram must be made in a very quiet and darkened room. That’s not too difficult, right? We can’t give the full directions to make a hologram here, but we can say that simple holograms are made using a laser, a lens, and a recording medium, such as a light-sensitive film or glass plate.

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The Father of Invention

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mohannad Al-Haj Ali

APPLE/

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds an iPad in this January 27, 2010 file photo. Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, the company announced August 24, 2011.    

REUTERS/Kimberly White

Steve Jobs is routinely voted one of the most influential and powerful people in the world.WHEN the world awoke to the iPod revolution and the innovations that followed such as the iPhone and the iPad, it turned its attention to the creative mind behind them, the founder and chief executive of Apple, Steve Jobs, and his life story as the adopted child of a modest American family.

The Observer newspaper in Britain, Fortune magazine in the US, and other media outlets published lengthy articles on his life in which his biological father of Syrian origin, Abdul Fattah “John” Jandali, emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s to pursue his university studies.

The western media did not give great mention to Jandali other than to say he was an outstanding professor of political science, that he married his girlfriend (Steve’s mother) and by whom he also had a daughter, and that he slipped from view following his separation from his wife.

An American historian, however, has now stirred controversy over the role of genes and their superiority over nurture in the case of Steve Jobs, by describing Jandali in a detailed critical article published briefly on the Internet before it was suddenly removed, as “the father of invention”, given that Jandali’s daughter Mona (Simpson) – Steve’s sister – is also one of the most famous contemporary American novelists and a professor at the renowned University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

The 79-year-old Jandali has deliberately kept his distance from the media.What is known about him lacks detail, and is both one-sided and a source of curiosity at the same time. Here is his story as Jandali himself told it to Al-Hayat.

Jandali in Syria

Abdul Fattah Jandali was born in 1931 to a traditional family in Homs, Syria. His father did not reach university, but was a self-made millionaire who owned “several entire villages”, according to his son. His father held complete authority over his children, authority not shared by his traditional and “obedient” wife.

“My father was a self-made millionaire who owned extensive areas of land which included entire villages,” Jandali said. “He had a strong personality and, in contrast to other parents in our country, my father did not reveal his feelings towards us, but I knew that he loved me because he loved his children and wanted them to get the best university education possible to live a life of better opportunities than he had, because he didn’t have an education. My mother was a traditional Muslim woman who took care of the house and me and my four sisters, but she was conservative, obedient, and a housewife. She didn’t have as important a part in our upbringing and education as my father. Women from my generation had a secondary role in the family structure, and the male was in control.”

The American University

Jandali did not stay long in Syria. “I left for Beirut when I was 18 to study at the American University, and I spent the best years of my life there,” he said.

He was a pan-Arabism activist, and his star soon began to shine. He headed an intellectual and literary society which had a nationalist bent and counted among its members symbols of the Arab nationalists’ movements such as George Habash, Constantine Zareeq, Shafiq Al-Hout and others.

“I was an activist in the student nationalist movement at that time,” he said. “We demonstrated for the independence of Algeria and spent three days in prison. I wasn’t a member of any particular party but I was a supporter of Arab unity and Arab independence. The three and a half years I spent at the American University in Beirut were the best days of my life. The university campus was fantastic and I made lots of friends, some of whom I am still in contact with. I had excellent professors, and it’s where I first got interested in law and political science.”

The university’s Campus Gate magazine published in its 2007 spring issue an article by Tousef Shabal in which he says: “The Al-Urwa Al-Wuthqa Association was founded in 1918 and dedicated to cultural and political activities. Between 1951 and 1954 the society was headed by Abdul Fattah Jandali, the now deceased Eli Bouri, Thabit Mahayni and Maurice Tabari. The decision to disband the society was taken after the events of March 1954…” a reference to the violent demonstrations that took place on the university campus against the Baghdad Pact.

According to Shabal, the society consisted of “diverse political groups such as Arab nationalists and communists, and competition for the managing positions was red hot, but in the end went in favor of the Arab nationalists.”

When Jandali graduated from the American University in Beirut, Syria was going through troubled political and economic times, according to Jandali, and although he wanted to study law at Damascus University and become a lawyer, his father did not agree, saying that there were “too many lawyers in Syria”.

He continued: “Then I decided to continue my higher studies in economy and political sciences at the United States where a relative of mine, Najm Al-Deen Al-Rifa’i, was working as a delegate of Syria to the United Nations in New York. I studied for a year at Columbia University and then went to Wisconsin University where I obtained grants that enabled me to earn my master’s and doctorate. I was interested in studying the philosophy of law and analysis of law and political sciences, and I focused in my studies at the American University on international law and the economy.”

The birth of Steve and Mona

While studying in Wisconsin, Jandali met Joanne Carole Sciebele by whom he had a boy while they were both still students, but Sciebele’s father was conservative and wouldn’t agree to them getting married, so she gave her baby boy – Steve Jobs – up for adoption.

Initially, a lawyer and his wife approached, but did not proceed with adoption when they found out the child was a boy and not a girl as they wanted. Another couple came forward, neither of whom had gone through university education, and adopted the newborn baby after agreeing to the mother’s condition that the child be given a university education later in life.

Abdul Fattah (who added “John” to his name) returned and married Sciebele, and they had a daughter and named her Mona, but he then traveled to Syria – part of the United Arab Republic at the time – intending to enter the diplomatic corps.

The United Arab Republic

“I had two basic paths open to me after graduating,” Jandali said. “Either go back to my home country and work with the Syrian government, or stay in the United States and in university education, and that is what I did for a while. I went back to Syria when I got my doctorate, and I thought I’d be able to find work in the government, but that didn’t happen. I worked as a manager at a refinery plant in my hometown of Homs for a year, during which Syria was part of the United Arab Republic and run by the Egyptians. Egyptian engineers, for example, ran the Ministry of Energy in Syria, and the situation wasn’t right for me, so I went back to the United States to rejoin education there.”

According to Jandali, his wife decided to break up with him while he was away in Syria, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his academic work.

“I enjoyed university education very much, it was a rewarding profession, but unfortunately during the sixties and seventies in the United States the pay was very poor for academics, and in general they did not enjoy great respect due to the prevailing belief that professors only taught because they couldn’t do anything else. That is stupid and wrong, of course. I was an assistant professor at Michigan University then at Nevada University. I purchased a restaurant and became interested in making money, and I gave up academic work to run the business. After the restaurant I was a manager at companies and organizations in Las Vegas, and then I opened two restaurants in Reno and joined the organization that I manage today.”

Jandali describes himself as an “idealist”. “Any job I want to do, I try my utmost to see it through completely or not do it at all. Academically, I was very successful. In business management, after a couple of difficult years, I improved. For example, now I run the organization I work in. Success in the world of business requires you to be interested in your assistants and staff and to have a clear vision.”

80 years: No to retirement

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In the tumult following Steve Jobs’ resignation, the media have been digging up interviews with Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is a Syrian-born vice president of a casino in Reno.

Jandali is that rare case of a person continuing work beyond the age of retirement, and it is something he is proud of.

“Next March I’ll be in my eighties, but to look at me you’d think I was only in my sixties because I’ve taken care of myself, looked after my health, and I love work. I think retirement is the worst of western societies’ institutions. When people retire they become detached, grow old and stop looking after themselves. Enthusiasm for life dies out and energy levels drop, and they effectively kill themselves, even though they’re still alive. I’m not planning to retire even if I leave my position here after a year or two. I’ll dedicate myself to writing, I might write a book or two. My daughter is a very successful novelist with five books, and I plan to move on from my work, and I’m thinking of writing about the Arab World, perhaps a historical narrative with analysis for the future.”

But even so, Jandali has not been to Syria for over 35 years. “Not because I don’t want to, but because of the worry which affects an emigrant when he wants to go back to his home country after so many years, and over what might await him there. I’m thinking of visiting Lebanon and Abu Dhabi next summer to see relatives,” he said.

He doesn’t hide his nostalgia. “I miss my family in Syria. When I left, my closest relatives were still alive. I miss my culture and society and the tight social bonds between relatives as well as the standard of living. Here in the United States there is technological advancement and abundant opportunities for growth and work, but it’s not life itself, and while one appreciates the individual freedoms in western societies, there are times when you really feel that you are alone, that you don’t have the moral family support that you have in the east. I’m not talking about one’s mother or father, but the wider family, relatives, that entity that makes you feel you are part of it, that’s what I miss most about my home country. Of course I miss the social life and wonderful food, but the most important thing is the outstanding cultural attributes which in general you don’t find in the West.

“If I had the chance to go back in time, I wouldn’t leave Syria or Lebanon at all. I would stay in my home country my whole life. I don’t say that out of emotion but out of common sense. I think I’ve wasted my energies and talents in the wrong place and in the wrong society. But that’s just theoretical talk, and what’s happened has happened.” So what remains of his Syrian identity and Arabic culture after nearly 60 years in America?

“I’m a non-practicing Muslim and I haven’t been on the Haj, but I believe in Islam in doctrine and culture, and I believe in the family. I have never experienced any problem or discrimination in the United States because of my religion or race. Other than my accent which might sometimes suggest that I’m from another country, I have completely integrated in society here. I advise young Arabs coming here, however, to get a university degree and not prolong their stay, as there are lots of opportunities in the Arab World today, particularly in the Gulf. The good minds of the Arab world must stay there, as they might be able to help their countries there more than they can here.

Father of invention

Responding to his being called the “father of invention”, Jandali says: “My daughter Mona is a famous writer, and my biological son is Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple. The reason he was put up for adoption was because my girlfriend’s father was extremely conservative and wouldn’t let her marry me, and she decided to give him up for adoption. Steve is my biological son, but I didn’t bring him up, and he has a family that adopted him. So if it’s said that I’m the ‘father of invention’, then that’s because my biological son is a genius and my daughter a brilliant writer. I thank God for my success in life, but I’m no inventor.

“I think that if my son Steve had been brought up with a Syrian name he would have achieved the same success. He has a brilliant mind. And he didn’t finish his university studies. That’s why I think he would have succeeded whatever his background. I don’t have a close relationship with him. I send him a message on his birthday, but neither of us has made overtures to come closer to the other. I tend to think that if he wants to spend time with me he knows where I am and how to get hold of me.

“I also bear the responsibility for being away from my daughter when she was four years old, as her mother divorced me when I went to Syria, but we got back in touch after 10 years. We lost touch again when her mother moved and I didn’t know where she was, but since 10 years ago we’ve been in constant contact and I see her three times a year. I organized a trip for her last year to visit Syria and Lebanon and she went with a relative from Florida. I always take the side of the mother because the son will always be happiest with his mother.

I’m proud of my son and his accomplishments, and of my work. Of course I made mistakes, and if I could go back in time I would have put some things right. I would have been closer to my son, but all’s well that ends well. Steve Jobs is one of the most successful people in America, and Mona is a successful academic and novelist.”

On the likelihood of Steve Jobs being regarded as an “American-Arab”, Jandali says: “I don’t think he pays much attention to these gene-related things. People know that he has Syrian origins and that his father is Syrian, that’s all well-known. But he doesn’t pay attention to these things. He has his own distinctive personality and he’s highly-strung. People who are geniuses can do what they want.”

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Two Americas

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Azher Quader

Executive Director, Community Builders Chicago www.mycommunitybuilders.com azherquader@yahoo.com

The preamble to the US Constitution reads:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,  promote the general  Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Some 223 years later America is still searching for that perfect union as it struggles to find unity within its ever expanding diversity.

Senator John Edwards during his presidential campaign of 2004 alluded to this growing division in these words:

Today there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life.

One America — middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a President.

We see the two faces of America frowning at each other more and more these days. Be it the fight to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, or to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act enacted recently, or to change the immigration law to accommodate the undocumented. The divide in the country is sadly much deeper than what might appear to be on the basis of partisan politics.

What started as a friendly encounter between the pilgrims and the natives when they first landed at Plymouth ended up a few years later in the horrific tragedy that came to be recorded in American history as the trail of tears. When slave owners in the south refused to give up their white privilege, we fought a bloody civil war that pitted family against family and neighbor against neighbor. Subsequently laws were passed against slavery. Civil rights for Afro Americans were later restored. Yet years later the racial divide still continues to haunt us. When nineteen terrorists brought down the twin towers in Manhattan killing over three thousand innocent Americans we went to war again, this time against terror. Although Muslim Americans had nothing to do with the attacks, a decade later over half the nation eyes them with suspicion, doubting their loyalty.

This goal for a more perfect union is obviously not so easy to reach.

In over two hundred years we have not learnt to let go our prejudices, overcome our phobias, and subdue our bigotry.

We clearly live in two Americas.

In one the Muslims are respected, in the other they are hated.

In one live the rich and powerful steeped in privilege. In the other are the poor and powerless living from paycheck to paycheck.

In one are the hardworking. In the other those that hardly work.

In one are the passionate whose passion is big business. In the other are the committed, whose commitment is big government.

In one are those who believe in the power of self. In the other are those who believe in the strength of the state.

In one are those who believe in the compassion of owners. In the other are those who believe in the bargaining rights of the workers.

In one are those who believe charity corrupts the soul, stunts its growth. In the other are those who believe charity elevates the spirit and renews hope.

In one live those who understand the power of Wall Street. In the other are those only familiar with the ways of Main Street.

One America believes in marriage. The other America believes in civil union.

One asks for condoms in schools. The other says let there be abstinence.

One wants abortion on demand. The other says stop the killings.

One wants drugs legalized. The other wants drugs outlawed.

One claims health care is a right. The other says no it is a privilege.

One believes Medicare is a mistake and needs to be ended. The other knows it is a blessing, needs preserved.

One seeks solutions for the 12 million undocumented. The other says no deal, deport all.

One asks for gun laws that save lives and curbs violence. The other quotes the constitution and refuses to budge.

One seeks energy options that are cleaner and greener for the future.

The other refuses to let go the polluting ways of the past.

How then can we bridge these many divides?  Whence will come about that more perfect union?

Perhaps our scriptures hold the secret. Where reason fails to show the way, why not give revelation a chance.

Revelation tells us to be humble not arrogant, to provide for the welfare of others, not remaining absorbed with the concerns of our self interests, that people are to be judged by the nobility of their deeds, that compassion freedom and justice are to be practiced as a lifestyle,  not transcribed on paper and  hung on a wall, that anger, hate and fear can be overcome by the power of belief, that compromise is not a sign of weakness or failure but a means to heal many a wounds of dissent and mistrust.

Our constitution bars the state from imposing any one religion on the people, but does not deny us the right to practice the guidance of our revealed truths. If our understanding of worship ever travels beyond the narrow confines of the rituals that bind it, then some day we can yet rise as a people of faith to bridge our divides. That more perfect union which eludes us can perhaps come within our grasp only through a life of faith. Not faith defined by dogmas and traditions, but faith inspired by reason and revelations anchored in universal principles that transcend our ideological divides.

For Muslim Americans in the midst of yet another blessed month of Ramadan, what better time than this, to go beyond the punishing schedule of praying and fasting each day, to practice their faith as it is meant to be. Letting go of arrogance to embrace humility, embracing love in place of hate, promoting justice in place of prejudice, showing courage in place of fear, adopting patience in times of adversity, demonstrating integrity in the face of temptations.

As a community of faith, maybe we can do our part in bringing the two Americas together. To do that would mean not only working on our inner dimension, but also on our outer. Our spiritual journey cannot take us to a mountain top where we find peace and tranquility away from the turmoil in the valley. Our faith is incomplete without engagement in the problems of the world we live in. It is not enough to write a check and go to sleep when we can do much more. For from those who are given much, much is expected. Our busy social calendars cannot excuse us from the demands of political engagement Our alluring love for travel to distant exotic destinations cannot exempt us from serving the needy within our backyards. There is much for us to do. The two Americas we live in are waiting for our involvement.

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Mostafa El-Sayed

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

el-sayedMostafa  El-Sayed was born in the year 1933  at Zifta, Egypt. He graduated  with bachelor of  science degree from  Ein Shams University, Cairo,  and completed PhD. in chemistry at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida in1958. He held Research Associate  positions at Harvard, Yale and the California Institute of Technology. He was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Los Angeles,  where he worked till 1994.  At present he is the Julius Brown Chair and Regents Professor and Director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Mostafa El-Sayed  have contributed to many areas of physical and materials chemistry research, including the development of new techniques such as magnetophoto selection, picosecond Raman spectroscopy and phosphorescence microwave double resonance spectroscopy. Using spectroscopic techniques, they have been able to answer fundamental questions regarding ultrafast dynamical processes involving molecules, solids and photobiological systems. His work earned him a 2007 US. National Medal of Science award in Chemistry for his seminal and creative contributions to our understanding of the electronic and optical properties of nano-materials and to their applications in nano-catalysis and nano-medicine. His work has opened a brand new method to understand nanoparticles which can be used in nano-technology. 

Dr. Mostafa El-Sayed’s group were the first to synthesize metallic nanoparticles of different shape. It would be quite profitable if one can determine the type of reactions each shape would catalyze. Selectivity in catalysis saves a great deal of energy and money in reducing the need for exhaustive and expensive separation costs. Different nanocrystal shapes have different facets and so it can be used for different  catalytic functions. The El-Sayed’s group is also studying different techniques to stabilize the nanocrystal shapes, which can be used for a particular catalytic effect.  

Mostafa  El-Sayed is an internationally renowned nanoscience researcher whose work in the synthesis and study of the properties of nanomaterials of different shape may have applications in the treatment of cancer. He has a spectroscopy rule named after him, the El-Sayed rule. He has over 300 publications in the areas of spectroscopy and molecular dynamics. He uses short pulsed lasers to understand relaxation, transport and conversion of energy in molecules, in solids and in photosynthetic systems. He supervised the research of 50 PhD. students, 30 postdoctoral fellows and 15 visiting professors. Among his other many honors are the 2009 Ahmed Zewail Prize in Molecular Science.

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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A Successful Fundraiser for Carlos Montes

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The fight for justice never stops nor does it seem to ever be able to rest. Human rights activists are under siege for their work, and funds for defense and publicity for their cause are a constant need.

A successful fundraiser was held this past Sunday in Los Angeles to raise money for the defense of human rights activist and Palestinian supporter, Carlos Montes. The Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression was the sponsor. Beautiful artwork was sold as part of the plan to raise funds.

Mr. Montes was arrested in his home on May 17th by agents of the FBI and a Los Angeles SWAT team. The use of trumped up fire arms charges – the pretext for the arrest – was not merely an excuse to arrest Mr. Montes; it was an attempt to harass and intimidate anti war and Palestinian activists across the nation. Mr. Montes was simply the target in Los Angeles.

In a Muslim Observer article posted March 10 of this year, Mr. Montes and Chicago Palestinian activist, Hatem Abudayyeh, detailed the plight of 23 activists in the mid west who were at the time under subpoena for their work against the wars and for Palestinian independence. Mr. Abudayyeh was on tour in Southern California to present the case to the media and concerned organizations.

In response to this miscarriage of justice, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed, and local committees have grown out of it. Mr. Montes is active in the Los Angeles branch.

Mr. Montes is the Los Angeles target for his outspoken and dedicated work not only against the wars and against the repression of Palestinians, but also for his work with the Immigrant Solidarity Network. He has also spoken out against the policy of the United States vis a vis Columbia.

The Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression has made three demands: 1) Drop the trumped up charges against Mr. Montes; 2) return all confiscated material obtained during his arrest; 3) Stop the FBI harassment of antiwar and human rights activists throughout the country.

Mr. Montes’ next court date is August 12.

For more information about Mr. Montes and the work of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, please access: www.fightbacknews.org.

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Annual Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Gala

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) will hold its annual banquet/fundraiser September 24 at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel in Anaheim, Ca.

Titled” “Healing Hands”, the event will feature prominent Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diane Buttu as the keynote speaker.

In addition to Ms Buttu, there will be a video presentation about the children of Palestine; an address by Dr. Alexander Zorous, Associate Professor of Pediatric Neurology at Loma Linda University who has been on numerous PCRF missions, most recently this past July; the presentation of the Huda Sosebee Humanitarian award to Nurse Asma Taha, and Middle Eastern entertainment.

The PCRF was founded in 1991 by concerned humanitarians to meet the medical needs of children in Palestine. Eventually the purview of PCRF’s administration expanded. The organization sends medical teams to: perform surgeries, including plastic surgery; treat congenital ailments; treat heart ailments; provide dental care, eyeglasses, and custom build wheel chairs. The medical teams teach as well as treat, seeking to make the area self sufficient. There is a women’s empowerment project, summer camp facilities for disabled children, and emergency disaster relief. Last year at PCRF’s gala the organization announced the entry of PCRF into the field of pediatric oncology. This is only a partial list of the outstanding work of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

If the patient is deemed to need medical treatment that cannot be provided locally, he or she is transported free of charge by PCRF to a hospital in the West or the Middle East where appropriate care is available. This care, including follow up visits, is provided free of charge while the patient and perhaps an accompanying relative stay with a local host family.

The late Huda Sosebee, wife of Founder Steve Sosebee, was the heart of the PCRF. A dedicated social worker and advocate for the children of Palestine, Ms Sosebee worked tirelessly and dreamed in the last year of her life of extending the work of PCRF to include pediatric oncology. Last year the dream was realized and is now in its early stages at Hussein Hospital in Beit Jalla.

The keynote speaker, Diane Buttu, is an internationally known and respected attorney. She was a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization and was cited for her work as a legal advisor and negotiator on peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. She has appeared on numerous occasions on TV news broadcasts.

The event will begin at 6:00pm. Tickets are $100 per person with table sponsorship available. It is suggested that tickets be purchased in advance of the event.

To reserve a ticket or to make a donation, please call: (562) 432-0005 or fax: (562) 684-0828.

To learn more about the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, please access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.

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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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Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus Chairman Attends White House Reception for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Chairman of the Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus, Nazmul Hassan Shahin, was invited to the White House for a reception to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on June 22.
The social event was held for networking opportunities for 200 U.S. political representatives in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Hassan said President Obama greeted the crowd with a speech and shook hands with those in the front row and with others who were close enough to reach him. 

Hassan took the 10-15 seconds he had with the president to thank him for his work (the healthcare, Wallstreet and housing reforms). He said, “Change is not easy Mr. President. You are doing a fantastic job. Under your leadership America got back its respect in [the] outside world,” he said partly referring to an ongoing relationship with Bangladesh with the appointment of a new ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, in May.

He also handed Obama a thank-you letter on behalf of the BADC and an organizational newsletter, which the president accepted and said, “Keep doing the great work.”

It was a great once-in-a lifetime experience, said Hassan, from visiting the White House to shaking hands with the president. It was a, “Great honor as a Bangladeshi American to represent everyone [in] BADC,” he said.

BADC is an affiliate of the Michigan Democratic Caucus with 71 members in a “four-tier” organization. The executive council is comprised of members from the three entities: a task force committee; a congressional district committee with members who work closely with congress members and elected officials in those districts on issues relating to Bangladeshi Americans; and a standing committee with various branches including women, fundraising and student groups. An advisory council works with the organization.

Hassan describes the grass root organization as, “The voice of Bangladeshi Americans in mainstream politics working on issues important in our community.” The organization worked with democratic leaders in the past local state and presidential elections, fundraising and helping political candidates interact with the Bangladeshi Americans (a growing population in Michigan), such as Congressman Hansen Clarke.

States such as California, Delaware, Minnesota, and Texas, with Bangladeshi American populations are interested in replicating the organization, said Hassan. The organization may create a national board to work with all states.

Hassan has been working with BADC since 2009. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award at the Annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in April 16, 2011 by the Michigan Democratic Caucus for “an individual who works promoting the equality and inclusion of the people for every race, color, creed and gender in the Democratic Party,” said the website www.michbd.com, which reports on Bangladeshi news in Michigan.

BADC leaders and supporters motivate and energize me to do my job, said Hassan. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Michigan Democratic Party is a symbol of acknowledgement of our hard work.”

Hassan said he hopes more youth will get politically involved and help bring about a change in government by building the organization and leadership to, “Carry out the momentum and take it farther than we have created.”

Upon request of Hassan, Congressman John Conyers Jr. offered internships to youth during a Muslim Ummah of North America north zone conference on June 5. Hassan encourages people to apply. He said Bangladeshi American youth have potential to rise up and become political leaders. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

Elections for BADC will be held in November.

For more information visit www.mibadc.org, or to get involved contact Executive Vice Chair Ripa Haq at 248-520-1921.

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The Unanswered Question in Afghanistan: Why?

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jim Hightower

America’s long, long war in Afghanistan has drained more than 1,500 precious lives and a trillion dollars from our country. But, finally, this enormous outlay paid off this year with the capture and killing of that al-Qaida demon, Osama bin Laden, who attacked America and was the reason our military went into Afghanistan.

Oh, wait — Osama wasn’t in Afghanistan, was he? He was comfortably ensconced in an urban compound in Pakistan, whose leaders are supposedly our allies in the bloody Afghan War. And it wasn’t the war effort that got bin Laden, it was old-time spy work, culminating in a raid involving a small team of Navy Seals, a dog and two helicopters.

So why have two presidents and a decade of Congress dumped so many lives and so much money into a country that poses no threat to us? Afghanistan is an impoverished, anarchic, largely illiterate land that’s split into ancient tribal factions and innumerable fiefdoms controlled by rival warlords. They have no desire or ability to attack us, some 8,000 miles away.

The only reason we’re given for being in Afghanistan is that we must keep the al-Qaida terrorists network from establishing bases there. But — like bin Laden — al-Qaida left this country years ago and now operates transnationally in Pakistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, including England and Germany.

Yet, we’re told we must continue to pour American lives, dollars and reputation into Afghanistan. But … why? To create a central, democratically elected government with a 300,000-member army and police force, we’re told. But why? To stabilize the country, they say. But, why? To keep al-Qaida out, they repeat, closing the endless loop on a Kafkaesque rational.

Yes, President Obama has finally started a slow withdrawal of U.S. troops, but that’ll take at least three years, more than $300 billion and untold numbers of shattered lives. The questions remains: Why?

At least one person was giddy with excitement upon hearing President Obama’s announcement on June 22 that all of America’s combat troops would depart from Afghanistan by 2014: Hamid Karzai.

“A moment of happiness for Afghanistan,” exulted the incurably corrupt, inept, weak and pompous Afghan president. Our leaders put this ingrate in power, and both the lives of our soldiers and billions of our tax dollars have been spent to prop up his sorry excuse for a government — yet he’s the one saying “good riddance.” It puts the dumb in dumbfounding.

The dumbest and most shameful aspect of America’s 10-year Afghan War is the pretension that Karzai represents an exercise in democracy-building. Installed in the presidency by dictate of the Bush-Cheney regime in 2002, he is widely despised and ridiculed by the people and has clung to power only through flagrant electoral fraud, not only in his two presidential “elections,” but also in last year’s parliamentary contest.

Karzai was PO’d that 62 candidates he favored lost or were disqualified by the country’s independent election commission because of fraud. So, Hamid haughtily set up his own special court to review those results, while also bringing criminal charges against several of the independent election commissioners.

Last week, only one day after Obama’s withdrawal announcement, Karzai’s kangaroo court disqualified the 62 parliamentary winners, replacing them with his chosen ones. Of course, the 62 winners are refusing to budge from their seats. This has created a governmental stalemate, but that suits Karzai perfectly, for it allows him the defacto power to rule without parliament. As a top opposition leader puts it: “Karzai does not believe in the rule of law; he thinks democracy doesn’t work in his favor.”

It’s both insane and immoral for our leaders to cause even one more American to die for Karzai. Tell Obama to bring all of our troops home, pronto. The White House comment line is (202) 456-1111, or www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

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Saudi Bans Domestic Workers from Indonesia, Philippines

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday it would stop granting work permits to domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, following hiring conditions imposed by the Asian countries.

The ministry of labour said it would “stop issuing work visas to bring domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, effective from Saturday” due to “the terms of recruitment announced by the two countries,” according to a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

“The ministry’s decision coincides with its great efforts to open new channels to bring domestic workers from other sources,” said the statement in English quoting the ministry’s spokesman Hattab bin Saleh al-Anzi.

Last week Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced the beheading in Saudi Arabia of an Indonesian maid and accused Riyadh of breaking the “norms and manners” of international relations.

His comments signaled Indonesia’s growing anger over the treatment of its manual laborers in the Gulf countries, after a spate of cases of abuse and killings.

Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was beheaded on June 18 after she was convicted of killing her Saudi employer, prompting Indonesia to recall its ambassador in Saudi Arabia for “consultations.”

Indonesia also announced a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of Indonesians toil as maids and laborers.

Saudi Arabia and the Philippines have also clashed over the working conditions of Filipina domestic workers in the oil-rich kingdom.

Earlier this year the Philippines asked Saudi Arabia to guarantee higher pay for Filipina housemaids but the request was turned down.

The Philippines demanded $400 in monthly wages for for housemaids but Saudi authorities offered a base monthly salary of $210, Filipino labor official Carlos Cao had told AFP in Manila in May.

Manila had also demanded proof that that Saudi households employing Filipina housemaids would pay and provide humane working conditions.

Rights groups say millions of mostly Asian domestic workers are regularly exposed to physical and financial abuse in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states due to poor or absent labor laws.

13-27

CIOM Meeting with Gregg Krupa

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Speech by Gregg Krupa, Introduction by TMO Stringer

About 60 selected people were invited to a CIOM meeting this past weekend at the Westin Hotel, Southfield Michigan.  Fatima Salman presented CIOM’s recent activities.  Kassem Allie detailed CIOM’s and Islamic Center of America’s opposition to the recent unpatriotic activities of Terry Jones. Nauman Syed and Muzzamil Ahmed spoke of the importance of youth involvement and political education, Ghalib Begg gave an overview of CIOM’s activities.  Robert Bruttell spoke on community involvement, and about the importance of visibility, participation, organizationm, and social engagement.  Mr. Gregg Krupa, Detroit News Reporter and Michigan interfaith activist, was the main speaker; his speech follows this paragraph.

Gregg Krupa Speech:

To say we need each other now, more than ever, we people of faith, who know that our God requires us to accept all creation as sacred, including every being, regardless of differences or even trespasses, may simply be a matter of too much self-involvement.

Perhaps it is merely the task of every generation to welcome the other, and to follow the truth of each faith, regardless of where it leads, despite those who insist that only their way, their version of events, their human explanation of god, is correct. But, nonetheless, as these issues roil in our time, the difficulties are plain to see.

A good person is a bad person’s teacher. A bad person is a good person’s job.

This is true, today, whether one stands in Southfield, in Bahrain, in Pakistan, in Jerusalem, in Somalia, indeed, anywhere on the globe.

Those who work to increase understanding, to build community, to nurture cooperation, to make the peace, are called, in every epoch. But, clearly, we feel the need now.
It is what brings us, here, today. And it is the reason that the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan IS INTEGRAL to the development of the greater community in the state of Michigan.
Oh, mankind! I have created you of a male and female, and then rendered you nations and tribes so that you might know one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you is the one in the sight of Allah who is the most pious. Allah is Knower. Aware.

Will you do the work?

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan makes it easier. An active advocate, a trusted adviser, a vehicle for making straight the crooked path, the council’s work is of intrinsic value to those who seek understanding, inclusion, peace.

Gandhi said you really can not have a community without a journal of some kind, and in an era of disestablishment in the mass media, it is becoming harder to achieve.

I speak of intimate knowledge when I assure you that the Council positively impacts the media image of Muslims and of Islam in Metro Detroit. I have experienced it.

And that role is more important, day by day, as newspapers contract, as media become more diffuse and as the issues that divide us grow ever more exaggerated.

This spring, men and women of the books gathered at the Islamic Center of America to say no to evil. The assemblage said more about our faiths than that devil ever can. The council helped organize that awesome expression of one God.

A few weeks later, one of our local newspapers ran a letter to the editor in praise of Mr. Jones, that blasphemer, that bigot, that self-professed minister.

Would such a letter praising a sinner who advocated the burning of the Torah or the Bible ever have appeared in a journal of this community?

If it had, organizations representing Judaism and Christianity would have descended like a summer storm.

In crises, when a single message explaining the facts is essential to understanding, organizations like the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan perform an essential role. In every day life, when misunderstandings as common as the birds of the air threaten the community we seek to create for ourselves, our children and their descendants in our troubled state, organizations of truth and justice must step forth.

IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN IT IS OUR GOD’S WORK.

The council has done this and more. Its work must continue.

The attention of media waxes and wanes. Have you noticed? Sometimes the focus on a particular topic is so intense as to raise concerns about judgment. Sometime is so weak as to confirm the same concerns.

Sometimes, unless a person of integrity and curiosity about the other steps forward, a media outlet can not overcome institutional prejudices that have haunted it for decades.

That is why organizations like the Council are essential.

I know from 33 years of experience that no media outlet can be trusted to do the right thing without advocates representing diverse groups encouraging it, advocating it and sometimes demanding it. Sometimes it is a matter of a press release from a familiar organization bearing an announcement. Sometime it is an explanation.

Occasionally, it is a succinct suggestion that all children of God be respected.

As a reporter, if you were to seek to ask questions about Israel, or sometime even Judaism, of a Jew in Metro Detroit, one is often told, “You need to talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council.” Sometimes, someone will saiy “If you talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council, first, then I will talk to you.”

Helen Thomas calls it control. Robert Cohen calls it advocacy. I call it a firm intention to explain with one voice, and to marshal the power of a community when the voice is misrepresented or unheard.
When Irish and Italians Catholics moved to the United States and sought acceptance, freedom and justice, their advocates included the Knights of Columbus. My fractious Polish ancestors organized the Polish National Alliance and similar groups.

Who advocates for you? Who explains your truth? Who works toward your justice? Who creates your peace? Who tells your story?

Do you intend to proceed alone in this well-intentioned nation with its long record of falling short of its best intentions and its tendency to let the bad men act and speak for all?

I would advise against it.

It often takes a group to make a point. In fact, let us be honest, unfortunately, in our nation, it occasionally takes a riot.

But, as people of God, I would advise that we stick to the group.

When Victor Ghalib Begg calls The Detroit News and says, “I need to speak to Jon Wolman, the publisher and editor,” or, even asks, as I hope he does with great frequency and determination, “May I speak to Nolan Finley, or to the person who was in charge of the letters to the editor yesterday,” or “I would like to discuss with someone what Frank Beckman wrote today,” he is known, as is the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, as someone, and as a group of importance to metropolitan area and to the state, at large.

This organization is a balancer of opinion, an explainer of truth, a maker of peace an instrument of justice and a representative of my God, second-generation Polish American Catholic though I may be.
But these, the best of intentions, the most vigorous of efforts, must not be allowed to wither on the vine. They must be nurtured. We must give them sustenance.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan must, in due time, make the transition from the best of intentions and an honest effort to an institution.

It, or something very much like it must take the place along side all of the easily recognized, traditional institutions of religious representation, explanation and advocacy of Christianity, or Judaism and of other faiths which inform our American culture and which correct our ways.

Without an organization like this in Metro Detroit and the State of Michigan, the explanation of our common humanity will be far less thorough, far less informed, far more wanting, far more open to the suggestion of bad people, far less inclusive of the divine instruction to all of us, that we become known to one another.

A salaam aleikum.

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