Edin Dzeko Named English Footballer of the Month

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

9685373_95ior3Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has been rewarded for his sparkling start to the new football season by being named Barclays English Premier League Player of the Month for August. The 25-year-old Muslim from Bosnia and Herzegovina has scored six goals in City’s opening three matches, including goals against Tottenham in a 5-1 win on the road last weekend.

Dzeko started slowly with Manchester City after his £27million move from Wolfsburg in January. He arrived at Man City with a reputation as a prolific goalscorer, with 85 goals in 138 appearances for former German champions Wolfsburg. But it took him three months to score his first Premier League goal, and he finished the season with only six goals in 21 appearances, a goal total that he has already equaled in the new season in only three appearances.

In an interview with The Mirror this past summer, Dzeko admitted that he arrived at City in a troubled state of mind, his head scrambled by the protracted nature of his move. He also admitted to struggling initially to adapt to the pace and physical nature of the Premier League. “I was sick of all the talk about the transfer,” said Dzeko. “It had got to my head a little bit [by the time he arrived at City]. But still I think I had some good games and scored some important goals. I was new in the team and it was a hard season. It’s always difficult to come to a new club midway through a hard season like that. But I know what I have done in the last six months. Now it’s my second season and I want to do better. Manchester City didn’t pay money for me because they saw me once on YouTube or something like that. They saw me scoring good goals. I haven’t forgotten how to score goals and I will show that next season. Every player needs time to settle in and get used to things; from the league to other players – everything. But I’ve had a full pre-season with the team now, which I think is the most important thing for any player, and I’m working hard. We’ll see what happens. But I know this season will be much better.”

“The Premier League is different,” said Dzeko. “The players are much stronger and much faster. After a few games when I first came, I realised the referees don’t whistle for many things. It’s not like that in Germany – with every small contact there’s a foul. In England it’s different and you’ve got to get used to all those things. It’s now behind me.”

Now Dzeko looks to have constant competition for playing time on a high-profile team such as Manchester City, with this summer’s arrival of Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero, and the recent addition of fellow Muslim Samir Nasri. But Dzeko seems undaunted by the competition.

“There’s always competition in football,” said Dzeko.”I don’t think about that, though. I know what I can do. I do my best in training and I think I train very well…The manager is telling me all the time ‘I believe in you’ and ‘just work hard’, which is what I’m doing.”

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Muslim Baseball Fans Lose Jersey to Hall of Famer

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Roberto Alomar

Life-long Toronto Blue Jays fans Fiyaz Kanji and Owais Farooqui have moved away from Toronto, where they grew up, but they remain loyal. The pair even made the trip to Cooperstown from Boston over the weekend to see Roberto Alomar’s enshrinement as the team’s first Hall of Famer. But in an odd twist of fate, and clearly part of a misunderstanding, Alomar took a jersey from them during his parade procession and the pair have yet to retrieve it.

Kanji and his wife, Azra, now live in Boston. Farooqui, who lives in Los Angeles, had flown to Boston to see his friends after a stop in Seattle for work. The three of them left Boston at 6 a.m. Saturday to make the four-hour-plus drive to Cooperstown. Once they arrived, they wanted to get an Alomar T-shirt, but on this day, anyway, they were tough to find in the right size. “It was a shirt that everyone was buying,” Farooqui told Deadspin.com. “All day I was looking for that shirt.”

Farooqui finally bought a shirt to his liking for around $50. The group then lined up for the parade, which was held the day before Sunday’s induction ceremony. Farooqui held the shirt and waved it, hoping to get Alomar’s attention, while Kanji took video footage that has been placed on YouTube and has gone viral.

“He called me over,” said Farooqui. “I thought he was just going to shake my hand or give me a high-five. He took the shirt and waved it a little. I thought maybe he would autograph it or something. He just turned and kept going.”

After realizing they probably weren’t getting the shirt back, Farooqui and the Kanjis raced to the end of the parade route, hoping maybe to get Alomar’s attention. But Alomar ducked into the Hall before they could get to him.

“We were excited he took it at first,” Kanji told Deadspin. “Then we realized we weren’t going to get it back. I want the damn shirt back.” The latest word has the Toronto Blue Jays making contact with the two men, with the possibility of compensation in the form of other gifts. But there is no word yet as to whether the jersey in question makes it back into the hands of its rightful owners.

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Taking the Wheel

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehanm, TMO

car-steering-wheel-lgMost women in America don’t think twice about hopping in their cars and hitting the open road to run errands, pick the kids up from school or simply enjoy a long leisurely drive. However, in Saudi Arabia, women are still banned from driving despite several high profile incidents over the years that has thrust the global media’s attention on the issue. This past week the issue was once again brought into the limelight as a female Saudi Arabian citizen took to the wheel and later posted the video on the popular social-networking site YouTube.

With her brother in the passenger seat, 32-year-old Manal al-Sharif, took a short spin that landed her in the slammer. The drive was deliberate as al-Sharif herself revealed in a recent interview in which she lamented her frustration for not being able to find a taxi one night, “I had to walk on the street for half an hour looking for a cab. I was harassed by every single car because it was late at night and I was walking alone. I kept calling my brother to pick me up, but his phone wasn’t answering. I was crying in the street. A 32-year-old grown woman, a mother, crying like a kid because I couldn’t find anyone to bring me home.” Al-Sharif learned to drive in the United States and holds a driver’s license from America. However, in her homeland, only men are issued driver’s licenses.

According to Saudi Arabian authorities, al- Sharif broke several laws after she got behind the wheel including, “bypassing rules and regulations, driving a car within the city, enabling a journalist to interview her while driving a car, deliberately disseminating the incident to the media, incitement of Saudi women to drive cars, and turning public opinion against the regulations.” Scores of Saudi citizens have rallied behind al-Sharif and begun to question the veracity of the driving ban on women especially when there is nothing on the books that legally bars a woman from driving.

Soon after her incarceration, a Facebook page was erected entitled ‘We are all Manal al-Sharif: a call for solidarity with Saudi women’s rights’ The page has already garnered 19,000 likes. Another fan page related to the women’s driving ban in Saudi Arabia is also getting a lot of support, to the tune of 6,000 likes so far, albeit for all of the wrong reasons. The page encourages Saudi Arabian men to beat their female relatives with a heavy brocaded rope known as the “Iqal”, which adorns the Saudi Arabian men’s headdress, should any of the women demand driving rights.

Al-Sharif remains in prison and her fate is yet to be determined. Some analysts have predicted she will stay in prison for five days, however it remains to be seen if she will face further penalties for deliberately flaunting the driving ban. Meanwhile, another Saudi Arabian woman copied al-Sharif’s drive this week and was swiftly arrested at a local supermarket. However, she was only held for a few hours and released.

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“Where’s My Vote?”

June 18, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

“The tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

–Thomas Jefferson

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An Iranian demonstrator shows a placard against Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Kuala Lumpur June 15, 2009. Malaysian police used teargas to break up a crowd of around 500 Iranians demonstrating outside the United Nations mission against Iran’s contested presidential election, a Reuters photographer said.

REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

United by the common rallying cry composed of a mere three words,  “Where’s my vote?”, enraged Iranian protestors hit the streets this past Saturday in a show of defiance against the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  They numbered in the millions as they filled the streets to march against perceived election fraud.  The popular candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was seemingly robbed of certain victory as he received overwhelming support during his candidacy.  Over the course of less than a week protestors have clashed with security personnel and pro-Ahmadinejad supporters on a daily basis.  The result has been several horrendous and often vicious encounters that have played out on live TV and social networking sites on the Internet.  Many protestors have been beaten to a bloody pulp and some have lost their lives in this unwinnable battle of hearts and minds. Iranian security forces show no mercy as they beat anyone, including women, with their batons. There have also been several recent reports of protestors being shot at with live ammunition, with at least seven protestors having been shot to death.

One would expect the commander in chief of any nation to calm the storm until cooler heads prevailed. Not Ahmadinejad, who is relentlessly holding on to his stifling reign of dictatorship. Instead of rising above the controversy, he is stirring the pot to keep the tensions at a fever pitch. Perhaps his strategy is to keep his detractors busy so that no one can challenge his win or recount the ballots.  Why else would he clamp down so hard on media reports in Iran? Some journalists have been arrested while others have been forbidden from filming the bloody protests, Iranian reformists have been detained and telecommunications have been blocked.

But somehow, some way, the information keeps flowing.  The battle has moved into cyberspace where it began and has taken on a life of its own to tell the world about the injustice being meted out to an innocent populous. Once again social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been fundamental in uniting pro-Mousavi Iranians into a central force as well as harnessing global condemnation regarding the brutality in which demonstrators have been dealt with.  Not since President Obama’s candidacy for the White House has there been such a political revolution been played out in cyberspace.  In this case, American-operated websites have been vital in keeping the stream of information running. Twitter cancelled a scheduled site maintenance and rescheduled it to coincide with the Iranian time zone, which came at the request of no other than President Obama. YouTube has also been a willingly ally and has kept video footage of demonstrations up on its website. Normally, YouTube’s policy is to remove violent videos, but plans to leave the Iranian protest videos up for their “documentary” value.

As of press time, it seems that a minuscule wind of hope is beginning to blow into the Iranian capital of Tehran. The Ayatollah Khameni has promised a partial recount of the votes in question under the auspices of representatives of both parties. Meanwhile, the fight goes on in the Iranian streets with both sides refusing to coalesce. Rallies for both sides were held on Tuesday. Touting a ban on public gatherings, opposition leaders have scheduled even more rallies in the coming days.

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The ‘Block’ That Wasn’t

September 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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