FL Attorney General Agrees to Muslim Advisory Group
TALLAHASSEE, FL–In a meeting last week with state and national Islamic leaders in Tallahassee, Florida, Attorney General Bill McCollum agreed to establish a Muslim community advisory group.
Todayâ€™s meeting came following a controversy in which McCollumâ€™s office reportedly directed staff throughout the state to view the controversial anti-Islam film â€œObsession: Radical Islamâ€™s War Against the West.â€ The film includes interviews with infamous Islamophobes like Nonie Darwish, Walid Shoebat, Daniel Pipes, and Steven Emerson.
During the meeting with representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the ACLU of Florida, and the Florida Muslim Bar Association, McCollum also agreed to offer educational programs on Islam and Muslims to his staff and to help build better relations between the Muslim community and law enforcement agencies.
â€œThe challenge for all state and federal law enforcement agencies is to treat Muslim Americans as partners in keeping our country safe,â€ said MPAC Executive Director Salam al-Marayati, who took part in todayâ€™s meeting. â€œReliance on propagandistic films like â€˜Obsessionâ€™ is an obstacle to that objective.â€
â€œWe commend Attorney General McCollum for taking the time to meet with us and to address our concerns by creating a Muslim advisory group,â€ said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ahmed Bedier, another meeting participant.
New York Muslims find compromise between burial rites and state rules
BRISTOL, NY–New York stateâ€™s Muslims are trying to adhere to health regulations while remaining faithful to Islamic burial traditions. We must respect the law of the land in which we live â€” thatâ€™s the essence of Islam,â€ said Muhammed Ali, the president of the Daar-ul-Ehsaan mosque in Bristol in an interview to the Courant.
But Ali believes Muslims can adhere to health regulations and remain faithful to Islamic burial traditions. They just need to ask for a loose interpretation of the law.
When members of the Daar-ul-Ehsaan mosque opened a cemetery last year behind the mosque, they were told by state health officials that the dead must be buried in concrete vaults because of the mosqueâ€™s proximity to a residential neighborhood. Most public cemeteries wonâ€™t bury a body without a vault or a burial liner, and state law requires the dead be interred in caskets or containers if a cemetery lies within 350 feet of a residential dwelling.
Aliâ€™s concern was that the heavy equipment needed to move the concrete vaults in the cemetery would disturb existing grave sites.
So, Ali searched the Internet for an alternative and found lightweight plastic vaults made from the same composite materials as the Boeing 787 that passed public health codes and can be easily moved.
â€œWe looked behind the spirit of the law and found a compromise,â€ Ali said.
New Jersey Muslims join hunger awareness program
SOUTH RIVER, NJâ€”Bridgewater-based Muslims Against Hunger Project is kicking off its nationwide Hunger Awareness Week school program Monday, throughFeb. 22 at Dar-ul-Arqam, a Muslim school, the Home News Tribune reported.
Students will collect clothing, pack utensils and bake cookies Monday to Wednesday for the Community Soup Kitchen in Morristown, said Zamir Hassan, national coordinator of Muslims Against Hunger.
Students also will serve in the soup kitchen with Muslim Against Hunger volunteers on Thursday and then write about their experience on Feb. 22, Hassan said.
Hunger Awareness Week is inspired by verses 76:8-9 in the Quran: â€œThe righteous are those who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying, â€œWe feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.â€™ â€œ
To find out more about the program, call (908) 364-4441 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Muslim roots in America branch out
TOLEDO, OH–A conference with the theme â€œThe Muslim American Legacy: Embracing the Past. Building the Futureâ€ was held at the University of Toledo where speakers outlined the Muslim history in America and called for positive change. The conference was organised by the Muslim American Societyâ€™s Toledo chapter and the Muslim American Society at the University of Toledo.
Prof.Sulayman Nyang said that Muslims owe a great debt to Mr. Ali because the boxer insisted on people referring to him by his Muslim name, instead of his given name, Cassius Clay. â€œHe made many Muslims and Arabs self-conscious about their Arab names,â€ he said.
When you consider the roots of black Muslims in America, you need to consider that the roots are branching out, Mr. Nyang said, through the introduction of Islamic concepts and Arabic terminologies into the English language, culture, and cuisine, similar to the Jewish influence in American culture and in the English language.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan who has been active in the Detroit area for many years, said the history lesson about how Islam spread among blacks is tied to the â€œslavery psyche.â€
Dehumanization and discrimination had a negative impact on the black psyche, he said. Some blacks joined the Muslim movement as a protest of white supremacy in America, Mr. Walid said, and some joined in an effort to carve new identities for themselves.
Imam Yahya Hendi to speak in Cumberland County
CUMBERLAND, MDâ€”Imam Yahya Hendi, a Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University and the Imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick, is scheduled to make his second appearance in Allegany County in five months.
Hendi is to speak at the Church of St. Patrick, 201 N. Centre St., Cumberland, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 24 about peace-building between Americans and the Islamic community around the world. The public is invited to attend.
The focus of Hendiâ€™s discussion will be â€œSpiritual Voices of Reconciliation: Marching to the Promised Land away from Faro.â€
Hendi is the guest of Monsignor Thomas Bevan, St. Patrickâ€™s pastor, and the Rev. Chuck Erzkus of Christ Lutheran Church. In October last year, Hendi spoke at Frostburg State University about confliction and cooperation between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
For more information, contact Bevan at (301) 724-0288 or visit www.imamyahyahendi.com.
CCR Challenges Racial Profiling
NEW YORK–The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) challenged the post-9/11 racial profiling, illegal detention and abuse of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorneys called again for high-ranking officials to be held accountable for the round-ups and subsequent abuse that occurred while plaintiffs were detained, and argued that the men were deprived of their constitutional rights.
â€œImmigration law cannot be used as a short-cut around the Fourth Amendment,â€ said CCR lead attorney Rachel Meeropol. â€œJust because the executive wants to investigate a non-citizen, doesnâ€™t mean high-level officials can ignore the law. This should be made even more clear by the abuse our clients suffered while they were deprived of access to friends, family or counsel.â€
Supporters filled the Ceremonial Courtroom as the three-judge panel asked challenging questions of all parties; the arguments, which the judges allowed to go beyond their allotted time, lasted for an hour and forty-five minutes.
CCRâ€™s class action, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, was filed in September 2002 to challenge the arbitrary detention and mistreatment of immigration detainees by prison guards and high level Bush administration officials in the wake of 9/11. With no evidence of any connection to terrorism, hundreds of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men were rounded up on the basis of racial and religious profiling and subject to unlawful detention and abuse at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, NY.
All of the men were eventually deported, though several of the plaintiffs returned to New York under strict conditions to participate in depositions for their case against the government in early 2006.
CCR attorneys say that the government deliberately avoided the requirements of the Fourth Amendment and tried to avoid judicial oversight by placing the men in immigration rather than criminal detention when the sole purpose of the round-ups was to investigate so-called terrorist threats and should have proceeded under criminal law.
â€œJohn Ashcroft and other high-level officials have been trying to avoid accountability for the mass and indiscriminate round-up of innocent men after 9/11 for too long. As the architects of a plan to deprive these individuals of their rights, the blame for what happened to these men is squarely on their shoulders,â€ said co-counsel Michael Winger of the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP.
TN Mosque leader thankful for quick arson arrests
COLUMBIA, TN–Daoud Abudiab, leader of the Islamic Center of Columbia, is thankful that the three men blamed for destroying the mosque were behind bars.
â€œThey have proven that they are a danger to our community,â€ he said. â€œThey do not need to be roaming the streets.â€
Jonathan Stone, 19, Michael Golden, 23, and Eric Baker, 32, were arraigned Monday in connection with the fire that broke out at the mosque early Saturday morning.
Mike Bottoms, district attorney general for Maury County, said that the three face state arson charges and that other charges are likely to be brought.
â€œItâ€™s an enhanced arson because it was a house of worship,â€ he said. â€œWe anticipate there will be additional charges.â€
Bottoms praised â€œa terrific effort by local, state and federal authoritiesâ€ for the rapid arrests.
Seventy investigators from the Columbia Police Department, fire department, and fire marshalâ€™s office worked with Tennessee State Bomb and Arson Section, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives on the case.
An attack on a house of worship, Bottoms said, â€œis something we cannot tolerate.â€
Muslim women complete lifeguard program
MISSISSAUGA, CANADA–The City of Mississauga recently concluded a unique program that gave Muslim women a chance to test the waters â€” literally.
Eleven Muslim women celebrated their accomplishments last Saturday at Mississauga Valley Community Centre, where they were recognized for completing lifeguard training.
The one-year program was funded by the City and the Lifesaving Society of Ontario after officials determined that the diversity of Mississauga needed to be represented at City swimming pools as well, said Juanita Bueschleb, the Cityâ€™s aquatics supervisor.
â€œWe have a large Muslim population in Mississauga and we have opportunities for swimming, but we had very few opportunities for gender-specific recreational swimming or leadership training,â€ said Bueschleb, who also sits on the Lifesaving Societyâ€™s board of directors. â€œSo we decided to start with a pilot project because our traditional product line just didnâ€™t fit.â€
She said Mississauga is the first municipality in North America to introduce such a project.
â€œI do know that there was a Muslim Lifeguard program in Australia, but thatâ€™s the only other one I have heard of,â€ Bueschleb said.