June Vol. 1 2009
By Yasmin A. Atheem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The recent appointment of an Egyptian-American Muslim, Dalia Mogahed, to US President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, brought to the forefront a study created through a collaboration between the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and the Coexist Foundation. The partnership produced The Gallup Coexist Index 2009: A Global Study of Interfaith Relations, which found that, contrary to widespread assumptions, Muslims greatly value democracy, freedom of speech, technology and equal rights for women.
In the foreword of the study, Mogadeh, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, describes the purpose of the endeavor: “This study is part of the Center’s effort to provide non-partisan, data-driven research and advice on the diversity and complexity of Muslim views around the world.”
Collected through the Gallup World Poll, the study spans the world, over 140 countries, and represents the views of 95% of the world’s population. The researchers performed a more focused probe in three countries. Mogadeh explains why in the report: “Because the discussion about the relationship among faith groups is lively in Europe, especially with respect to religious and ethnic minorities, Gallup conducted deeper studies in three European nations — the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. This research helps inform the conversation on issues such as integration, identity, values, and radicalization.”
Some survey results for Muslim Americans were:
The majority, thirty-five percent, of Muslim Americans are African-American.
Forty percent of Muslim Americans have a college degree.
But when asked if they see themselves as “thriving”, only 40% of Muslim Americans replied in the affirmative. Jews (56% and Mormons 51% scored in the top two). (Gallup)
Muslim American men and women report surprisingly similar monthly household incomes, men only dominating when making over $5,000 a month.
Muslim Americans (at 80%) find religion to be an important part of their daily lives as compared to 65% of the general population. (Gallup)
Mogadeh tells BBC News, “This research shows that many of the assumptions about Muslims and integration are wide of the mark.” Revealing why this research is important, Mogadeh explains to AFP newswire, “A billion Muslims should be the ones that we look to, to understand what they believe, rather than a vocal minority.
June Vol. 1 2009
By Subhana B. Yahya Abdur Rahim
Islamic Post Staff Writer
United Muslim Christian Forum Attends Peace Conference at the United Nations
NEW YORK— (IP) Several members of the United Muslim Christian Forum —an auxiliary of the Muslims of the Americas, whose goal is to promote world peace and the end of human suffering through interfaith and interreligious efforts— attended a symposium at the United Nations earlier this month. The conference, cosponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, was entitled Creating a World of Peace: One Family at a Time and focused primarily on the traditional family unit being used as a springboard for dialogue between various religions and cultures. The UN conference also focused on the reestablishment of respect for women and their roles as mother, caregiver and, in many cases, breadwinner. Guest speakers included world renowned physician and author Dr. Deepak Chopra; Secretary General of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, Mr. Taj Hamad; ambassadors representing the Missions of Iraq, Qatar, Nigeria, Non-Governmental Organizations, Mr. Taj Hamad; ambassadors representing the Missions of Iraq, Qatar, Nigeria,
The United Nations established the International Day of Families over a decade ago with the intention of focusing on familial relationships in the quest for resolution of conflict and the abolition of war. This year’s theme highlighted the need for improved maternal health care —especially in underdeveloped countries, the prevention of violence against women and an increased need for secular education for women worldwide. A recent statement issued by UPF Secretary General, Dr. Thomas Walsh, laid the groundwork for the conference: “Mothers play a critical role in the family, which is a powerful force for social cohesion and integration.”
The orators of the event sent an emphatic call to action to the audience of over 400 to bring the purity of the family unit back to the international focal point. Chairperson H.E. Mrs. U. Joy Ogwu, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United Nations, eloquently stated that “the family is the fulcrum” for worldwide peace and that the family unit makes the community stronger by strengthening bonds. H.E. Ogwu’s overall message was that once we heal our families we can begin to heal the world.
The radical departure in the past half century from traditional values and a two parent family structure was also touted as a major reason for the collapse of so many family units. Chairwoman of Women for Peace, Mrs. Lynn Walsh of UPF, made the point that children who hail from two parent families are emotionally, physically and spiritually “better off” than children who come from broken homes. She also stated that cohabiting couples are twice as likely to dissolve their union than those families in which the couple share a marital bond.
At the conclusion of the conference, many of the attendees expressed their appreciation for having been part of such an eye opening event. All were encouraged to put all their efforts towards peace under the banner of Almighty God and support of the family unit. When asked, Universal Peace Federation Representative, Gale Alves, expressed her gratitude by saying: “I was inspired to see such a diverse group of people at a high-level symposium, all expressing the theme of unity and oneness centered on God in common, and for uplifting the importance of the family unit, especially giving women the respect they deserve for the vital role they play in taking care of the family, as well as working outside the home.” United Muslim Christian Forum Board Member, Maryam Rahim, shared Ms. Alves’ sentiments: “This forum put a face on the issues of world peace and humanitarianism and gave an overall better understanding that the beginning of the resolution to the problems of the world is right at home. The way that we raise our families can surely have positive reverberating effects that can spread world wide, I agree, ‘one family at a time.’”
Members of the United Muslim Christian Forum found it vital to have attended the symposium, as the goals stated by the UN representatives reflect many of the same principles and ideals regarding world peace and the eradication of war that UMCF is striving for. Many of the programs that UMCF has sponsored in the past bring people from various faiths and cultures together with a common goal of peace. The most recent program was the Milad-un-Nabi Parade and Festival in Binghamton, NY, which took place in March of this year. This second annual event celebrated the glory and majesty of the Holy Messenger, Jesus, son of the Blessed and Chaste Mary, and the Divine Miracle of the Holy Messenger, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of the Almighty Creator be upon them). Please visit http://www.UnitedMuslimChristianForum.org for more details regarding events in which UMCF is actively participating, and/or sponsoring.
June Vol. 1 2009
By Abu Rashid Qadri
Islamic Post Staff Writer
On May 19, Mr. Atiq Shahid, Senior Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Islamic Post, visited the Pakistan Consulate on East 65th Street, in New York City, to apply for a Pakistan visa. Mr. Shahid was traveling on the May 28 PIA flight to Islamabad. What should have been an easy accomplishment became a complex affair when Mr. Shahid was faced with one obstacle after another.
Mr. Shahid is no stranger to Pakistan as over the last quarter century he has traveled there numerous times as a correspondent, on assignment and as a Good Will Ambassador, coordinating and participating in a number of humanitarian relief efforts, including assisting Kashmiri refugees. Most recently, Mr. Shahid managed and led the American Muslim Medical Relief Team (AMMRT), a contingent of medical professionals, to the quake-ravished region of Pakistan where they were stationed at the Ayyub Medical Center in Abbottabad.
When AMMRT arrived at the medical facility, they witnessed the substandard treatment of patients, dirty linen, drugs and medical supplies being stored in the basement, and other deplorable conditions. Patients did not even have clean bed sheets on which to be treated. The team worked 24/7 to improve conditions and extended their stay at great cost to themselves. AMMRT also sent for additional personnel, as well as medical and relief supplies. All these efforts were coordinated by Mr. Shahid, who greatly encouraged the team’s efforts.
“One thing for sure, we virtually killed ourselves working with only 2 or 3 hours rest a day for the months we were there,” recalled Mr. Shahid. “Even at the Kashmiri refugee camps, our ladies stayed there distributing food, clothes, medicines and other items that were needed. We suffered a lot and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars; no appreciation or thanks was ever extended by the Pakistan government.”
This team, without hesitation or fanfare, had answered the request of the Honorable President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, when he called for immediate assistance and help from all quarters. At great sacrifice to themselves and their families and without outside assistance they financed their own flights, raised monies for medical and relief supplies, and received absolutely no assistance or even a word of appreciation or encouragement from Pakistan government officials here or abroad.
Perhaps it was too much to believe that Mr. Shahid would be treated in some way other than the cold, callous and belligerent manner that American Muslims had grown accustomed to receiving in the past. Mr. Shahid was simply requesting a three month stay, multiple entrance, one year visa that would facilitate his reporting on current events, as well as revisiting the region stricken by the earthquake to re-evaluate the needs of those still suffering, and possibly interviewing the Honorable Secretary Minister of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Mian Iftikar Hussain.
Mr. Tanweer Khalique, the expressionless Consular Attaché in the New York Office, examined the application and a copy of the letter addressed to the Secretary Minister which was to be carried and delivered. These items detailed Mr. Shahid’s itinerary and request. Mr. Shahid briefed Mr. Khalique of his and his colleagues’ past efforts in helping the government and people of Pakistan; but without even a sigh or sign of gratitude, he denied Mr. Shahid his request for a visa to continue his medical and relief work by arranging another tour for AMMRT. Mr. Khalique remained adamant and would not budge from his frigid stance.
The Honorable Khalifa, M. Hussein Abu Bakr, reflected, “The repetitive ill treatment meted out to American Muslims by Pakistan’s government representatives here in America, makes us sure that Pakistan does not like American Muslims and intentionally treats us with disdain by making the most simplest of tasks difficult.”
“We have always helped in humanitarian efforts whether or not the victims were Muslim, Christian or any other group. We were there for the victims of 9/11, Katrina, Rita and the tsunami; we will never stop helping victims of tragedy,” he concluded.
June Vol. 1 2009
The United Muslim Christian Forum (UMCF), including its board members: Ambassador For Peace, Mr. Hussein Adams and Dr. Diane O’Heron, Board Advisor, urgently call upon the government of Pakistan to immediately lift the curfew in all areas of the northwest of the country, not just the town of Mingora. The lifting of the imposed curfew would alleviate the critical humanitarian emergency that threatens the millions of internal refugees forced to flee for their lives, due to the violence there, in recent weeks. The “shoot to kill” curfew has only served to further victimize civilian refugees who risk breaking it, in order to obtain any food and medical attention that they can find.
This is in keeping with the recent symposium at the United Nations — Creating a World of Peace: One Family at a Time. Several board members of the UMCF had just returned from that symposium at which crimes against humanity and human rights violations were specifically condemned, only to be informed of the recent developments, of the ongoing crisis, in Pakistan.
The United Muslim Christian Forum strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms, and particularly that form which cloaks itself in religion, to justify oppression and the harming of innocents.
However, the Pakistan Army must re-evaluate its role in the war torn region of the Northwest Frontier Province and make the immediate determination that the disastrous consequences of their actions to pursue 4,000 Taliban is at the risk of displacing over 4 million innocent civilians- a severe human rights violation. It should be emphasized that while military action is necessary in fulfilling the protective duties of the state, such an extreme operation resulting in the displacement of millions of civilians is well beyond the bounds of necessity. The operation is also unprecedented in Pakistan’s history.
The Taliban have their own agenda and only use Islam as a shield, while remaining firmly under the Wahhabi influence, which was vehemently rejected at its origin, by the authentic Muslim scholars and remains condemned by the scholars of Islam to this day. However, if left unchecked to continue its reckless extremist influence and actions, this movement could well lead to major global disorder.
The Ambassador For Peace further appeals to all people of faith and goodwill to come forward and lend whatever assistance they can, for the suffering people, in the Pakistan refugee camps. A relief fund has been established by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for the above purpose, and the UMCF encourages all to give generously – any donations are welcome, however small. All help is appreciated and desperately needed to relieve the close to four million internally displaced men, women, and children who are facing starvation and disease.
It is in times like these that we must all be reminded that the road to true and lasting peace in the world closely lies in the mutual understanding that can be cemented between Muslims and Christians everywhere. Security and prosperity lie in the Unity of Muslims and Christians, in the U.S. and around the world. This is the key to success. The concerted efforts of this alliance are now needed most in this latest humanitarian crisis in Swat Valley, Pakistan.
Once again, the innocent victims of this latest humanitarian crisis await the urgent response of the world community.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Lorna Swaine-Abdallah
& Muhammad Hasib A. Haqq
Islamic Post Staff Writers
The government of Pakistan should continue lifting the curfews imposed in the northwest of the country, in order to diminish the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe there. The military offensive has created millions of internal refugees who now face famine and disease. While the curfew was lifted in Mingora after recapturing the town held by the Taliban since May, the military curfew in general, far from its intended aim of ferreting out the Taliban insurgents in the area, has only served to target the civilian refugees and force them into dangerous situations in which they break the curfew to obtain food and medical assistance.
The beautiful Swat Valley lies in utter ruin. After being subject to arbitrary beheadings and suicide bombing at the hands of the local Taliban, the region is now thoroughly desolate. Close to four million have been internally displaced with a good majority being sent to Peshawar, to already overburdened refugee camps there. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, has set up a fund to assist the refugees. However, outside of this undertaking, Mr. Gilani has not been able to exercise any real control of the situation, despite his sincere efforts.
In the meantime, the local Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, has called upon his followers to stop fighting so that the displaced residents can be encouraged to return to their homes. The Pakistani army is reported to view this move as a mere ruse to elude capture. In fact, the Taliban have not said that they are leaving the area, but rather that they will continue to fight to establish “sharia law” to the last drop of their blood, and with their last breath.
What the world media is failing to report is that this so-called effort to establish “sharia law” is rather a fraudulent doctrine masquerading as religion, for the purposes of grabbing power. The Taliban organization is actually the latest cover used by this unscrupulous gang of Wahhabi thugs in their most recent efforts to destabilize Pakistan, along with the rest of the region. The public is now becoming fully aware that the Taliban was originally founded by the CIA, and presently has the full support of India. They have their own agenda. Unfortunately, the ripple effect of their insidious beliefs is not confined to Pakistan, but is affecting the whole world.
One impostor, Sufi Muhammad, the main culprit instigating the bloodbath in Swat, uses this traditional name and claims to favor enforcing Shariah Law when in fact, he himself has little understanding of Islam. This is one of many men causing destruction due to their ignorance. Islam is a religion of peace, and we condemn suicide bombers. This is against our teachings as Islam forbids suicide and the innocent killing of men, women, and children.
This menace to humanity, Sufi Muhammad, is a member of the deviate Wahhabi sect. For those still uninformed about Wahhabism, a reading of Confessions of a British Spy by Hempher will provide ample background information on this subject, to place the matter into the proper perspective. I.Q.O.U. is striving to expose these deviants, as well as to assist America on focusing its actions on locating and exposing Wahhabi influence in our midst before their inhumane, completely unislamic agenda reaches this soil in the form of horrific acts against us, our neighbors and brethren, thereby confusing such actions as admissible in Islam.
These despicable conspirators need no particular target. They are the enemies of all humanity and peoples of true faith throughout the world; they must be stopped at all cost.
One can go far as to say that Sufi Muhammad is not a Muslim but rather a pagan; although his beard (hence outward appearance) is widely recognised as a symbol of one practising Islam, any Muslim who rejects the tenets of Islam for any reason, is no longer within the fold of Islam.
He does not just pose a threat to Pakistan, but with monies collected from numerous sources, has accumulated enough capital to have developed into a real threat to America and England as well.
On May 28, Mr. Atiq Shahid, Senior Foreign Correspondent for the Islamic Post embarked on assignment via a Pakistan International Airline flight to Islamabad. His assignment calls for him to report from the frontline of Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where reports estimate that somewhere around 4,000 Taliban have infiltrated the valley and the bloody unrest has claimed the lives of numerous innocent men, women, and children, and caused over 4 million to flee their homes. These numbers should be enough for the Pakistan Army to re-evaluate its role in the war torn region, and determine if their pursuit of the Taliban has been worth the consequences. While Islam openly forbids acts of injustice against innocent people, both the Taliban and the Pakistani Army are guilty of either suicide attacks or the slaughter of innocent people.
The residents of Swat should now be encouraged to return to their homes and take a stand against the Taliban, in defense of their patrimony. It is precisely at this juncture that the world community should lend its assistance to the displaced residents of the valley.
Muslims, Christians and Jews, indeed all people of good conscience should join hands, and put forth a concerted effort to end the misery caused by these ruthless gangsters.
Filed under: Front Page News, International, May Volume I - 2009, World | Tags: Human Rights Council
(IP) –“The US is seeking election to the [United Nations Human Rights] Council because we believe that, working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights,” said US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, in a recent statement. “We hope to work in partnership with many countries to achieve a more effective Council,” Ms Rice concluded.
The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was created in 2006, but Bush Administration officials chose to steer wide of involvement with the body. In another break from past legacies, prior to Ambassador Rice’s announcement, the Obama Administration sent a message to Pentagon senior staff to cease using the terms “Long War or Global War On Terror” in keeping with the more diplomatic overtures coming out of Washington since the January inauguration. The Defense Department email was obtained by the Washington Post.
Furthermore, in a formal filing with the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew the term “enemy combatant” and submitted a new standard for holding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. The DOJ insisted the current definition does not rely on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief independent of Congress’s specific authorization but “draws on the international laws of war.”
Furthermore, the filing submits that “individuals who supported al Qaeda or the Taliban are detainable only if the support was substantial.”
The brief was filed in habeas litigation brought by numerous detainees at Guantanamo who are challenging their detention under the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Boumediene v. Bush.
The Department of Justice also submitted a declaration by Attorney General, Eric Holder stating that, under executive orders issued by President Obama, the government is undertaking an interagency review of detention policy for individuals captured in armed conflicts or counterterrorism operations as well as a review of the status of each detainee held at Guantanamo. The outcome of those reviews may lead to further refinements of the government’s position as it develops a comprehensive policy.
“As we work towards developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by law,” said Attorney General Holder. “The change we’ve made today meets each of those standards and will make our nation stronger.”
Shortly after the DOJ filing, UN human rights investigators announced the launching of a year-long global investigation into secret places of detention. They note the use of such facilities has increased since the Global War on Terror was declared after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. The investigators say their probe will look at so-called rendition flights used by the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, in the United States to secretly transfer suspects to third world countries for interrogation. The UN probe also will examine the policies of secret detention as practiced by other nations around the world.
The probe comes on the heels of a February report on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism, Martin Scheinin, whose investigation was perceived as broadly critical of rendition activities. Speaking to reporters after presenting the report, Mr Scheinin said that UN human rights investigators will be looking into possible human rights violations committed by the US during the “War on Terror” and that the investigation will not be relaxed because of a change in administrations, as reported by Reuters.
Mr Scheinin said regarding the investigation: “The increased powers of intelligence services to conduct measures that seriously interfere with individuals’ rights, as well as the increasing relevance of intelligence for legal and administrative actions, make it essential that adequate accountability mechanisms are put in place to prevent human rights abuses. Under international human rights law, states are under a positive legal obligation to conduct independent investigations into alleged violations of the right to life, freedom from torture or other inhumane treatment, enforced disappearances or arbitrary detention, to bring to justice those responsible for such acts, and to provide reparations where they have participated in such violations. States retain this positive obligation to protect human rights where they grant privileges within their national territory to another State, including to intelligence services.”
Last year, the Jurist news agency reported Mr Scheinin to have urged the UN to restructure or eliminate the existing terrorist “blacklisting” system. The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill to address these issues as well.
“With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system to advance the vision of the UN Declaration on Human Rights,” Secretary Hillary Rodham-Clinton related in a statement regarding the upcoming vote for the UNHRC seat. The Declaration states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security and that all –regardless of race, gender, colour, sex, language, religion or political opinion –are equal before the law. Renewed commitment of the United States to the Declaration and the UNHRC has been welcomed worldwide. Members are currently elected to a three-year term, but the Council is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011 “which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform” noted the State Department in a press release.
President Barack Hussein Obama signed the landmark Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act at a Washington DC elementary school, joined by Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, Members of Congress, former President Clinton, former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, and an audience of nonprofit leaders and national service volunteers.
“The broad bipartisan support for this legislation, and its remarkably swift journey through Congress, reflect the growing national consensus that service is a powerful response to the economic and social challenges facing America today,” said Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Board Chair, Alan Solomont.
The Serve America Act reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the CNCS, a federal agency created in 1993. The Corporation engages four million Americans in result-driven service each year, including 75,000 AmeriCorps members, which the new bill plans to increase to 250,000 positions over the next eight years.
The legislation comes at a time of growing social need caused by the economic downturn and a corresponding “compassion surge” of Americans wanting to help those left vulnerable by its impact. The Corporation reported that AmeriCorps received 17,038 online applications this spring, nearly triple the 6,770 received last year this time. In the past five months, the agency received 48,520 online applications. Many volunteer centers and nonprofit groups are also reporting a recent increase in volunteers.