SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Searching for their identity, Latino Muslims in New York are struggling to form a Hispanic community in which they can weave their culture with the Islamic faith.
“They’re out there, but I just can’t find them,” Zaynab al-Samat, a native of the Dominican Republic, told Norwood News newspaper.
“I wish I could find out where they are.”
Al-Samat, the only Latino Muslims in Masjid Annasr, reverted to Islam in 2010 after a long period of exploration of the Islamic faith.
Getting deeply involved in the mosque activities, she hopes to eventually pray at a Latino mosque, a niche that doesn’t exist here in the Bronx.
Being the only Hispanic preacher in the mosque, she found a welcoming home at Masjid Annasr, one of several West African mosques in Morris Heights, a majority-Hispanic area increasingly dotted with Ghanaian groceries offering Halal cuts of goat meat.
Surrounded by West African girls at her mosque, al-Samat knows only one other Latino Muslim, a coworker at her job in Brooklyn.
The Latino Muslim convert dreams of a community in which she can weave together her Latino culture and a faith that some Hispanics “think is for Arabs only”.
She is not alone.
Ramon Ocasio, a stationmaster at Grand Central who converted to Islam in 1973 as a university student, is one of the few Latino Muslims taking resident in Bronx, New York.
Like al-Samat, he dreams of forming a Latino Muslim community in the metropolitan city.
“I hear exaggerated numbers of how many we are, but I just don’t buy it,” she said.
“I don’t see them anywhere.”
Dreams of the Past
A Latino Muslim community in New York was not a farfetched dream.
Back in 1985, a Hispanic Muslim organization was founded under the title of Alianza Islamica to build uniquely Latino identity within Islam.
Established by Puerto Rican converts, the group put on its own version of Muslim holiday festivities.
“We tried to express ourselves as Latinos and as Muslims at the same time,” Ocasio said.
“We had to learn to adapt Islam to our culture. And we were the first to do it. We didn’t learn it from our parents.”
But Alianza Islamica was shut down in 2003 after internal conflict amongst the leaders splinted its roughly 50 members.
Some converts are still attempting to once again cultivate a community out of a scattered population.
Aisha Ahmed Hernandez founded Latin American Muslim Women’s Association, a south Bronx-based organization established in 2007.
Hernandez also created a Facebook group, called “Muslims Who Speak Spanish,” that now counts almost 500 members.
Though there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.
According to the Pew Research Center, 6 percent of American Muslims are Hispanic.
Further, one of 10 American-born converts is Hispanic, and that figure is growing.
The American Muslim Council puts the number of Latino Muslims in the US at about 200,000 in 2006.
The largest communities of Latino Muslims exist in areas with the highest concentrations of Latinos, such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.
Yet, California is the state with the most Latino Muslims.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)– 's departing president, Hu Jintao, has warned that corruption threatens the ruling Communist party and the state, promising political reform as he formally opened a party congress that will usher in a once-in-a-decade leadership change.
More than 2,000 hand-picked delegates gathered at Beijing's Great Hall of the People for the start of the week-long session, held against a backdrop of growing social unrest, public anger at graft and a yawning gap between rich and poor.
"If we fail to handle this issue [corruption] well it could prove fatal to the party and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state," Hu warned in an opening speech.
"Reform of the political structure is an important part of China's overall reform. We must continue to make both active and prudent efforts to carry out the reform of the political structure and make people's democracy more extensive, fuller in scope and sounder in practice."
Nobody expects a move towards full democracy and party spokesman Cai Mingzhao made clear on Wednesday that one-party rule was inviolate.
The party has expelled senior regional leader Bo Xilai and accused him of abusing his office, taking huge bribes and other crimes in a dramatic fall from power that has shaken the leadership transition.
"We must never let words act in place of the law or [personal] power replace the law; nor will we allow the ignoring of the law for personal benefit," Hu said.
During the congress Hu will give up his role as party chief to his anointed successor – the vice-president, Xi Jinping. Xi is to take over state duties at the annual meeting of parliament in March.
A few weeks after anti-Japan riots swept city streets following a row over disputed islands, Hu said China should strengthen the armed forces, protect its maritime interests and be prepared for "local war" in the information age. "We should enhance our capacity for exploiting marine resources, resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests and build China into a maritime power," he said.
China is also locked in dispute with south-east Asian neighbours on disputed areas in the South China Sea. Relations with the United States have been bogged down by accusations of military assertiveness in the region from both sides.
The government has tightened security in the run-up to the congress, even banning the flying of pigeons in the capital, and has either locked up or expelled dozens of dissidents it fears could spoil the occasion.
Security was especially tight on Thursday around the Great Hall and Tiananmen Square next door, the scene of pro-democracy protests in 1989 that were crushed by the military. Police dragged away a screaming protester as the Chinese national flag was raised at dawn.
Hu said China's development should be "much more balanced, co-ordinated and sustainable", and it should double its 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020. But China experts say that unless the new leadership pushes through stalled reforms the nation risks economic malaise, deepening unrest and perhaps even a crisis that could shake the party's grip on power.
Chinese growth slowed for a seventh straight quarter in July-September, missing the government's target for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis, but other data points to a mild year-end rebound.
Amid the clampdown on dissenting voices for the congress, a Tibetan rights group reported that three teenage Tibetan monks and a woman set themselves on fire on Wednesday in protest against Chinese rule, bringing to almost 70 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans in 18 months.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast urges Myanmar government to safeguard basic rights of the country's Muslim community.
Mehmanparast on Saturday expressed concern over fresh clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.
Underlining the need for Myanmar to address the root causes of ethnic conflicts in the country, the Iranian official called on the Buddhist-majority government to solve problems of the Muslim community immediately and safeguard their basic rights.
He also expressed Iran’s readiness to offer assistance to Myanmar government in settling ethnic and religious conflicts.
Mehmanparast expressed hope that Myanmar would take action to restore lasting peace and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Buddhists in the country.
Violence re-emerged between extremist Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims on October 21. Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said on Friday that 112 people had been killed in the latest clashes.
On Saturday, Human Rights Watch called on Myanmar government to take immediate measures to stop violence against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, and ensure protection and aid to the community.
Deadly violence and related abuses by state security forces against Rohingya Muslims began in early June.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies them as illegal migrants. This comes as the Rohingya people are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — At 7 o'clock in the morning, I was already up, so excited was I by the idea of voting for the first time in my life. The joy felt at finally being a citizen was one shared by all Tunisians a year ago, on October 23, 2011. After the fall of the Ben Ali dictatorship, our hopes for Tunisia, as citizens, were great. We wanted a new constitution in which the principles of the Rule of Law, human rights and above all, the demands of the Tunisian Revolution, which began on December 17, 2010, for "Work, Freedom and Dignity" were inscribed in the very foundations of our new Republic. Those elected committed themselves to a year-long mandate, with the exception of CPR (Congress for the Republic - the centre-left party of President Moncef Marzouki) who thought it would take at least three years for the new constitutional laws to be fully completed.
Within the Constituent Assembly, the deputies have been working feverishly. Indeed, despite the evidence of short clips taken from plenary sessions in the ANC (National Constituent Assembly) that can be viewed online, it is important to recognise the tremendous amount of work being done by these people, with whom I have worked closely. Always on the move or in meetings and discussions, these deputies have been working more than eight hours a day, even during the month of Ramadan when they would go home late, barely an hour before breaking the fast after which they would go back to work until 3 o'clock in the morning. They have been forced to deal with the huge amount of work that they are expected to do as well as the wide-scale criticism to which they are subjected on the part of both the public and the media.
Nevertheless, one should also be very clear: the majority of the deputies are not qualified to write a constitution. We've effectively been asking a small car to run at 250-kph for a whole year. So far, more than 191 articles have been written. However, these will all have to be reviewed by a constitutional court, a body which needs to be established at the earliest to ensure the constitutionality of these laws and see to it that they fall in line with the principles of law.
Fragile national security
It was in the absence of such a body that we were treated to the quite laughable example of article 28 (which later became article 21) by which Ennahdha sought to assert the "complementarity" of women in relation to men, something which is in no way constitutional and will sooner or later need to be scratched. The same goes for the plan for an "Islamic Supreme Council" which was proposed by the Islamist party and which constitutes a blatant example of religious discrimination.
Currently, aside from the creation of a constitutional court, the plans and proposals for the laws governing the three bodies to be created - those pertaining to the media, the justice system and the forthcoming elections - are debated in separate committees by the deputies.
The three leaders of the Republic, the government and the ANC recently proposed the dates of June 23, 2013, for the legislative and presidential elections and July 7, 2013, for the second round of the presidential elections.
It is therefore clear that the deadline of October 23, by which the work of the ANC was to be completed, is not going to be met. This failure then risks giving opposition leaders, who are after seats in power, a convenient pretext to dissolve the government.
Recently, the rise of the new party, Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia) headed by ex-minister Beji Caid Essebsi, from the Destour Party (under Bourguiba) and later a member of the RCD (Constitutional Democratic Rally) party under Ben Ali, has split the political scene in two. One half continues to support the Troika (the three parties currently governing Tunisia: Ennahdha, CPR and Ettaktol) and the other half supports Nidaa Tounes. However, a third grouping is beginning to emerge; a coalition of leftist parties known as the Popular Front. On October 7, a large meeting incorporating all 12 parties which make up this coalition was organised in Tunis.
Thousands of Tunisians attended the meeting at which chants were heard calling for democracy, equality, citizenship and all the other universally recognised republican values. One hitch in all this is that the Popular Front also contains some Stalinists and supporters of Bashar al-Assad (from the Tunisian Baath Party).
As such, as far as politics is concerned, this turbulent year risks ending in a set of disparate results at the elections in which many will be forced to make a choice between the lesser of two evils. The fragile national security context, in which violent clashes between citizens have become the norm across Tunisian towns and villages, and religious extremists known as Salafists continue to sew disorder, has heightened the sense of insecurity for the average citizen. And yet, particularly among the younger generation, a revolutionary spirit, a spirit of defiance, still exists.
There now exists in Tunisia an active civil society with press conferences, assemblies, meetings, discussions and different forms of citizen action being organised every day. Looking in from the outside, one would think the country on the verge of descending into chaos, however, on the ground, one realises that even if the old structures of the dictatorship have not been completely wiped away, the people now have the required weaponry - the pen and freedom of speech - to bring them down.
Beyond this, the unconditional support lent by the European Union and the West in general to help the democratic transition in Tunisia to succeed can be seen in the various agreements which have been reached with the Tunisian government. Recently, the European Commission adopted a new programme worth 25 million euros which aims to bolster the Rule of Law and support the democratic transition by lending assistance to the process of penal and justice reform in line with European and international standards. Faced with the rise of religious extremist groups and in order to ensure its own security, the EU has an interest in supporting Tunisia which has come to be regarded as the cradle of revolution.
Yet the original causes for which this large-scale movement broke out in 2011 have not been remedied. Indeed, in Tunisia we have seen a huge expansion in informal work and the provision of work schemes for young people, who represent a large percentage of the population, is still not seen as a priority for the Jebali government.
By way of conclusion, we might say that the date of October 23, 2012, the anniversary of the first real example of democracy in action in Tunisia, will not be greeted with joy, particularly after the release of an audio recording of a private conversation between the head of the government Hamadi Jebali (Ennahdha) and former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi in which neither of the two seem to envisage any sort of real reform in Tunisia.
It is true that there is a lack of political will, but more importantly, the will for change among impoverished people who have nothing more to lose does point to the possibility of a second revolution.
We have learnt that rights and freedoms do not fall from the sky but that to exercise one's rights as a citizen means to grab them. There are, in my humble opinion, three main priorities in the building of a new Tunisia.
Firstly, an independent justice system with executive powers, secondly, fundamental reform of the education sector and thirdly, proper regulation of the informal labour market.
As the 13th century Tunisian scholar Ibn Khaldoun said in his famous Muqadddimah (Prolegomenon): "Community is based on justice". His words remain pertinent even seven centuries later. If the politicians continue on the road of limited reform and decisions motivated by their own personal interests rather than the common good, they will soon find themselves once again faced by cries of "Dégage"!
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Muslims in Newark and at Rutgers University have been afraid to pray, meet in faith-based groups, and even eat at Muslim hangouts since reports of spying in those places by the New York Police Department became public, the city’s mayor and the university’s president said.
The reluctance by Muslims to publicly express their faith or to assemble follows a series of reports that the NYPD spied on and collected information about mosques, restaurants and worshipers in Newark, and also targeted the mosque Masjid Omar in Paterson for surveillance. The NYPD also kept track of Muslim students and professors at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers.
“Right now in Newark, New Jersey, my Muslim community is living in a state of fear, anguish and frustration,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Tuesday. “I’ve had imams tell me that people are afraid to go to houses of worship for fear of guilt by association.”
In Newark, officers photographed mosques and Muslim-owned businesses and provided basic information about location, ethnic makeup of mosque worshipers and other information in a 60-page report from 2007. The revelations have left a “gaping wound” in the Muslim community and a desire for justice, Booker said.
Booker, who said he was unaware of the surveillance until news reports, said Muslims have told him they don’t want to pray or go to their favorite restaurant for fear of being watched and for fear of any resulting implications.
“I don’t know about legal lines that have been crossed,” Booker said at a meeting with The Record editorial board Tuesday. “But there is some line that has been crossed that has now left a very deleterious effect on my community.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
"And We have not sent you [O Mohammad] but as a mercy to the worlds." - Holy Qur’an (21:107)
We as American Muslims and non-Muslims, unite together to express our firm position of condemning the offensive film entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, his progeny, and companions) in a very disrespectful and degenerate manner. This film contains grave insults to the greatest Islamic personality of all time and leader of one of the world's major religions.
We also strongly condemn the violent reaction of some Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, and the destruction of public and private properties, as well as the consequent deaths of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
The United States is a nation which guarantees Freedom of Expression to its people. However, freedom of expression does not include allowing messages of malice and ridicule towards others to be propagated, especially in regards to the beliefs and sacred icons of communities.
We therefore call upon our government officials, both federal and local, to exercise their efforts to prevent the propagation of such disrespectful forms of media, which only incite hatred and animosity between people, in turn endangering the security and stability of the international community.
We also call upon all media outlets, YouTube in particular, to exercise their ethical and professional responsibilities of not allowing their mediums to be grounds for inciting disrespect, hatred, and violence. We ask that all media outlets remove this film and anything related to it from their websites and other outlets immediately.
We, as a nation, have the responsibility to be agents of peace, tolerance, and respect for one another. We must be able to show true justice by not allowing such disrespectful media to be propagated, and to call individuals and communities to engage with one another in a respectful and balanced way.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Shaan Mobin Khan can be any parents’ dream child, particularly if he is of the Islamic heritage.
In the blissful weather of summer, when most of the teenagers take pleasure in jolly rides with their parents and indulge in sightseeing , while Shaan studied Principles and Techniques of Molecular Biology and Principles of Biochemistry, a six-hour undergraduate credit course, at Harvard University’s Summer School Program of 2012.
In the past few months of his school days as a Junior at Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Shaan was busy in preparing and appearing for four Advanced Placement courses and maintaining his membership in the National Honor Society, whose students recently elected Shaan as the school’s president, first for a Muslim student in the school’s history.
In his 5th grade, Shaan was elected president of his school’s student council.
However, Shaan’s best avocation is his being the president of the school’s Muslim Students Association. Brimmed with enthusiasm for the Muslim youth, Shaan was groomed for the MSA presidency by his seniors, right the day he got admitted at the school in his freshman year. A humble person to say the least, Shaan loves to volunteer for the MSA events. Another equally passionate duty for Shaan is to be a teaching assistant at the Sunday School of the Islamic Foundation, Villa Park, Illinois. As soon as he graduated from the Sunday School, he was asked to be a TA in the eleventh grade, taught by none other than Mr. Faisal Hamouda, who is known in the Muslim community of Illinois as one of the most articulate and compassionate teachers for the Muslim teenagers.
Winner of several prestigious essay contests, a creative writer of English, an avid learner of French, and a fluent speaker of Urdu, Shaan tutors Tajweed to his 7th grade students in the Arabic class at the Islamic Foundation’s Sunday School.
After school hours, Shaan plays for his school’s tennis team. Recently, he was selected for All Conference Academic Honors in Tennis by his school. However, Shaan loves basketball and his favorite team is Da Bulls.
On community outreach front, Shaan took initiative in requesting and lobbying the Village of Lombard to name a street in honor of Daniel Tani, an American Astronaut, a former student of Shaan’s high school district 87, a former resident of Shaan’s home town – Lombard, and an Asian American hero.
In addition, Shaan has taken some interest in local politics too. With his father, who is aggressively involved in the DuPage County Republican Party, Shaan has volunteered in various political campaigns and participated in several area parades.
If his stand-up comedy performances are itemized here, the list of his volunteerism will become terribly long. He had the honor of performing with famous Muslim stand-up artist Azhar Usman, whose works Shaan impersonates and he is Shaan’s mentor in this genre.
Shaan’s dominating philosophy in life is – Either you can take pain in delineating the sharpness and prickliness of the thorns of a rose plant or you can rejoice the ethereal beauty of a rose flower and admire its eagerness to co-exist with the contrasting conditions.
This kind of stoic yet epicurean pronouncement is aptly the mellifluous music to the ears of Shaan’s mother – Shanu Khan, and father – Moin Moon Khan.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Muslim Media Network
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Everyday, there are news concerning Muslims and Shia Muslims in particular, that are not spread in the media and few people are aware of. Therefore, SHAFAQNA is seeking your cooperation to obtain your local news and grow to another level of serving the Shia Muslims worldwide. You can send us written or audiovisual reports and stories. The topics are wide and anything can be relevant for people to know about. Here are some examples of reports you can send us:
1- Video, audio or pictures of events or important news.
2- Written news reports.
3- Diaries or personal experiences (written, pictures, video or audio)
4- Web blog article (along with the introduction of your web blog on SHAFAQNA)
5- Introduction of scholars, academics and distinguished people of your community.
6- Mobile journalism activities.
7- Rare pictures of distinguished people or unseen places around the world.
8- Introduction and interviews of unknown servants of Islam and Shia Islam in particular.
9- Introduction of scientific works, researches or reports.
10- Ideas related to religion and the development of the Shia communities.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A political analyst says by imposing sanctions against Iran to appease the pro-Israel lobbies, the US has ignored the well-being of Americans and the security of the global community.
“In this election year, as in the past, appeasement of the pro-Israel lobbies takes precedent to humanity, to the well-being of Americans, and to the security of the global community,” Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich wrote in an article published on Press TV.
Citing a 2005 report by economists Dean DeRosa and Gary Hufbauer, Sepahpour-Ulrich added that lifting sanctions against Iran would lead to a 10 percent drop in oil prices which in turn would translate into an “annual savings of $38-76 billion for the United States alone.”
The political analyst said Iran is not the only victim of sanctions as other nations, “blackmailed by the US to be its accomplice,” suffer from the economic consequences of these measures.
Describing the US as a “a morally bankrupt nation,” Sepahpour-Ulrich wrote that Washington resorts to sanctions to “eliminate resistance, to attack women and children, the weak and the old, to being about regime change, without fear of retaliation or censure by the ‘peace-loving’ community.”
Sepahpour-Ulrich said although the international community falsely believes that “sanctions are a tool of diplomacy and preferable to war,” they are deadlier than weapons of mass destruction.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: WR NEWZ
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Today, we highlight the work of Muslim Heroes, an organization that highlights ordinary Muslims all over the world who are making a positive difference in their communities.
Saud Inam, founder and executive director started Muslim Heroes as a blog on the heels of the Park51 controversy in New York City. Inam was frustrated by rising Islamophobia in the United States, victimized mentality among Muslims in the post-9/11 world and the Muslim-American community’s response to attacks on Islam and Muslims. Unsatisfied by defensive responses and explanations of who Muslims were not, Inam sought to define who Muslims were. However, he found there was no clear answer.
Muslim Heroes started as a response to the question, “If Muslims are not terrorists, who are they?” Saud Inam told The Huffington Post. Inam started by putting a spotlight on the inspirational work and contributions of ordinary Muslims from diverse backgrounds.
At the heart of the project was a belief that the average person can make a great difference in the community. So who are the Muslim Heroes? A quick glance at Muslim Heroes shows that they range from Zahra Lari, a figure skater from the UAE who competed internationally wearing a headscarf, to Maria Ebrahimji, a journalist at CNN based in Atlanta, GA., to Sulaiman Al Rajhi, a rags-to-riches billionaire and philanthropist from Saudi Arabia.
Muslim Heroes has grown tremendously in the last two years. What started as a blog is now well on its way to becoming an organization. What motivates Saud Inam to continue working on this project? “There is too much despair in the world today. I want to inspire and empower people,” Saud Inam told The Huffington Post.
Speaking about his aspirations for Muslim Heroes, Inam said he hoped that it would inspire people to serve others and break away from selfishness. Matthew Brooks, the Creative Director of Muslim Heroes voiced similar hope. "I believe this list can inspire people of all generations," said Brooks.
HuffPost Religion applauds the good work of Muslim Heroes. You can follow their blog here, like them on Facebook here and follow their tweets here.— www.shafaqna.com/english