Saturday, December 29, 2007

CAIR praises judge's decision to throw out political Boim case


(CHICAGO, IL, 12/28/07) The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today welcomed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to overturn a controversial award judgment against American Muslim charities in an Illinois civil suit.

SEE: $156M Damage Award Thrown Out (AP)

In 2004, attorneys for 17-year-old David Boim, who was murdered at a Tel Aviv bus stop, sued local Muslim charities based on a complicated guilt-by-association argument. After today’s ruling, the case will return to trial court for further action.

The Judgment read, in part:

“Belief, assumption, and speculation are no substitutes for evidence in a court of law…We must resist the temptation to gloss over error, admit spurious evidence, and assume facts not adequately proved simply to side with the face of innocence and against the face of terrorism. Our endeavor to adhere to the dictates of law that this great nation has embodied since its founding must persevere…”

In a statement, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said:

“Today, our nation’s great tradition of respect for the rule of law has been upheld. This landmark ruling is a strong rejection of the recent disturbing trend of political lawsuits against American Muslims who have committed no crime other than providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“Pro-Israel groups are engaged in a broad-based attack against domestic humanitarian efforts to aid Palestinians living in dire circumstances under the Israeli occupation. It is reprehensible that groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) would fund and encourage lawsuits that seek to repress First Amendment-protected activities by Palestinian Americans under the guise of fighting terrorism.

“The defendants in this case have endured a seven-year legal battle in which their reputations have been smeared and their assets confiscated. While the destruction of American Muslim groups who have committed no wrong-doing is irreparable, today’s decision, in which the rules of law were finally applied, helps restore the American people’s trust in the system.

“CAIR deplores the murder of David Boim and hopes that the actual wrong-doers are brought to justice.”

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 312-212-1520; 847-971-3963, E-Mail:; CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham, 312-212-1520, E-Mail:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Neiman Taylor Family Award for Fairness in newspapers

The Nieman Foundation would greatly appreciate it if you would encourage NAAJA members to apply for the 2008 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers. The award, which carries a $10,000 prize, was established through gifts for an endowment by members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999. For the first time, second and third place finalists will receive $1,000 each. The purpose of the award, which is administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, is to encourage fairness in news coverage by America’s daily newspapers.

Nominations may be a single story, a photograph, an editorial or a commentary; a series of stories, photographs, editorials or commentaries; or a body of work by an individual journalist. Entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, Jan. 18, 2008, for work published in a U.S. daily newspaper during the previous calendar year.

Anyone may submit a nomination by sending to the address below five copies of the work and a letter explaining why the entry is an exemplary example of fairness in newspapers. The letter should also describe how the work was developed, reported and presented to readers in the context of fairness. In evaluating work, submitters should consider all aspects of the journalistic process: reporting, writing, editing, headlines, photographs and illustrations, and presentation.

Taylor Family Award for Fairness
Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

For more information about the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers, visit:

Best regards,
Ellen Tuttle
Ellen Tuttle
Communications Officer
Nieman Foundation for Journalism
at Harvard University

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chicago CEO closes to go on Hajj

Chicago Based CEO Closes Down Company To Go To Hajj!

Fully adorned with his unstitched robe and sandals strapped to his feet Ahmed Abdelaziz is one of the more than 2 million who have entered Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year.

Hajj, which is the pilgrimage to Mecca is an obligation that must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who have the means to do so. It is the demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God. “This is the first time I am doing the Hajj. It is very important for me to fulfill this obligation early for I have learned that this life is not guaranteed and I want to be ready.” Ahmed Abdelaziz is a mere fifty years old, one of the youngest to go to Mecca.

This is a once in a lifetime experience that while very difficult and strenuous, many only dream of participating in. Some pilgrims are sleeping in tents while others are requiring only a space to lay down their mat. Physical conditions at Hajj are quite grueling with millions of people, the sun and the heat. This would be a great opportunity to discuss why Ahmed decided to close his business during one of the busiest times of the year to go to Hajj.

Please contact me to schedule an interview with Ahmed Abdelaziz.

Thank you,
Omarica Home Builders, Inc- Turning dreams into reality one renovation at a time, Omarica Home Builders is the place to go for upscale home renovation or building needs. From kitchen/bathroom installation to complete renovations of upscale hotels, no project is too big or too small for Omarica. CEO and founder, Ahmed Abdelaziz, is a self-made entrepreneur. His keen sense of design, architecture and elegance has led him to become a luxury real estate developer, general contractor, hotel renovator, and approved installer for Expo Design Center contracted with Home Depot USA. Ahmed also specializes in providing ease and luxury to relocating executives looking for a new home or those seeking to renovate in the greater Chicagoland area.

Friday, December 14, 2007

NAAJA announces 2008 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award, Excellence in Journalism Awards

NAAJA is proud to announce the 2008 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Contest and the Excellence in Journalism Contest for Middle East, Arab American and general writing for print, TV, radio and web blogs.

The contest is open to anyone.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1, 2008. Winners are announced in April 2008.

Get details at:

You can't win unless you enter.

Ray Hanania

Friday, November 30, 2007

Israeli-Palestinian Journalists address journalism issues Monday Dec. 3 in Jerusalem

Israeli and Palestinian Journalism Conference
Ambassador Hotel, Sheikh Jarrah, Off Nablus Road (at the
intersection for the police department)
It is a few blocks north of the American Colony Hotel ... the number there is

Journalists from the print media and Internet media address their experiences, your background, what you have learned about covering the Middle East, describe your beat, what you look for, what challenges you might face and how you deal with them ... any
examples of great stories, tough stories, stories you can't get to do because of barriers ... things you would like to see change, etc. (Humor is always good)

Our purpose is not to get into a political debate, but obviously, as we all know, politics is the world in the Middle East so it will surely inject itself into the discussion. But the purpose is to focus on professional journalism, and also introduce journalists together, Palestinians and Israelis.

------------------- Program ------------------
SPJ-Arab Journalists

Monday, Dec. 3, 2007
Ambassador Hotel, Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem
1st Floor Conference Room

Sponsored by NAAJA, SPJ-Arab Journalists

PANEL 1: Internet Media: Strategies and Challenges facing Internet News Web and
Blog sites
Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, 12-2:30

- Moderator, Charley Warady, co-host, Israelisms, an online weekly audio blog of
life in Israel (Confirmed)
- Alan Abbey, Former editor,, one of the most popular English
language news sites from Israel (Confirmed)
- Khaled Abou-Aker, Editor,, a center for Palestinian, Israeli and
Middle East opinion (Confirmed)
- Elizabeth Cohen, one of the highest ranked Middle East news
blogs on the Internet (Confirmed)
- Fadi Abu Sada, Director Palestine News Network, an online news agency
(Confirmed – or a representative if he is not allowed to cross from Bethlehem)
- Sherif Hedayat, standup comedian, online video producer

PANEL 2: Traditional Media: Strategies and Challenges facing coverage of the
Palestine-Israel Conflict
Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, 2:45-5:30

- Moderator: Ray Hanania, syndicated columnist, SPJ-Arab Journalists coordinator, and Arab Writers Group Syndicate manager.
- Steve Linde, managing editor, The Jerusalem Post, editor at Israel Radio.
Linde has worked at the Jerusalem Post for the past 10 years and 18 years at
Israel Radio. (Confirmed)
- Lisa Zilberpriver, reporter Haaretz Newspaper. (confirmed)
- Dion Nissenbaum, McClatchy Newspapers Jerusalem Bureau (Confirmed)
- Joel Greenberg, Middle East correspondent for the Chicago Tribune (Confirmed)
- Zaki Abu Al-Halaweh, correspondent for al-Quds Newspaper (Confirmed)
- Issa Sharbati, correspondent for al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper (Confirmed)

The event is open to the public. We encourage you to have lunch at the
Ambassador Hotel prior to the conference.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Common Ground News Service Original Articles on Iraq and cholera, Lebanon, Youth Views

Title: Bridging businesses, bridging worlds
Author: Hiam Nawas
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 27 November 2007 Word Count: 884

Title: Iraq in the time of cholera
Author: César Chelala
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 27 November 2007 Word Count: 801

Title: ~Youth Views~ Living in a bubble in Lebanon
Author: Raissa Batakji
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 27 November 2007 Word Count: 752

Each article is available in Arabic, French, English, Indonesian and Urdu; just ask and I'd be happy to send you any translation. Please feel free to republish the article(s) and, if possible, let me know by sending an email to:

With regards,
Andrew Kessinger
Common Ground News Service


Bridging businesses, bridging worlds
Hiam Nawas

Washington, DC - Business has often been a catalyst for cultural blending and has proven capable of having profound effects on culturally or religiously dissonant societies. Overall, interactions resulting from commercial contacts have yielded positive results in the long run, leading to better understanding and, at times, acceptance of foreign cultures, customs and traditions.

The success of joint ventures (JVs) in cementing US-West European relations during the 1950s and 1960s – such as KLM's partnership with Delta Air Lines – demonstrates their positive potential among like-minded nations. These types of JVs strengthened already existing ties between the United States and Western Europe, and also gave greater impetus to NATO, which contributed to the decline of domestic Communist threats in a number of Western European countries, including France and Italy. While NATO was primarily military and anti-Soviet, it has often been argued that it also reinforced shared values and cultural traditions between member countries as well as US ideological influence.

More recently and in a more antagonistic context, Chinese-American JVs have played a key role in moderating long-standing ideological differences between the two superpowers, promoting a renewed relationship based on common interests: free trade and the success of the global economy. For example, companies such as Wal-Mart have been at the forefront of this geopolitical trend, providing ready markets for Chinese goods while influencing China's trade posture. Not only has it helped China tap new overseas markets, but American consumers have benefited from lower-priced Chinese goods.

There is also an often-ignored impact of JVs – the influence they have had and continue to have on each other's societies. In essence, they are another vehicle for diplomacy and good relations. To be sure, JVs in and of themselves do not guarantee peace and stability, especially in situations where hostility runs high. They may, however, have the potential to humanise the "other" and contribute to bridging political differences when significant economic interests are at stake.

For example, while the underlying dynamics between countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the West (Western Europe and the US) have been very different from West European-US relations, JVs between Western and GCC countries have given them a stake in the welfare of US and European economies. This has mainly taken place through GCC direct and indirect investments in both economic powerhouses. Stability and economic prosperity in the West therefore equates with steady and healthy returns for GCC investments.

In more high-tech JVs, local capital is often combined with foreign technological know-how. One example of this is in the medical industry, where prominent centres such as the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and others have engaged in JVs with GCC countries and opened medical centres locally.

Another prime example of successful JVs rests in academia, where Jordanian and GCC universities have entered into exchange agreements with US and European institutions of higher education.

American universities have invested heavily in JVs in the Middle East, creating not only business channels but also a common educational experience for Western and Middle Eastern academic communities. The partnership between the Qatar Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU) School of the Arts is a good example of how such a JV is offering students in the Gulf a rare opportunity to study Western approaches to design and fashion without having to leave their own countries.

VCU's JV with the Qatar Foundation, and other similar ventures with language centres around the Middle East, are creating fields of specialisation that would have otherwise been unavailable to local students, particularly in fields that are heavily populated with women, such as fine arts, theatre decor, fashion design, and nursing. These opportunities are especially important with regard to women's empowerment and the growth of a progressive and vibrant civil society, undoubtedly a couple of the major factors influencing the establishment of the democratic process.

While this cause-and-effect relationship might not be apparent nor provide for short-term gains, the long-term strategic value of JVs benefits both partner countries. JVs alone do not resolve complex political and strategic differences, but they do help enhance cooperation where the political will already exists.

An example of this has been the policies followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has worked hard to become an international financial hub while attempting to navigate a difficult regional environment. This focus on business and trade has paid dividends, evidenced by the Dubai phenomenon, and has resulted in an increase in foreign direct investment and the relocation of several Western companies and individuals to Dubai. These business relationships have created new links between the UAE and its Western partners, building good will and a forum for ongoing communication.

Even in the very troubled waters of US-Iranian relations, business ventures could have possibly provided a small window of opportunity – were it not for current US-imposed economic sanctions on Iran – by bridging political and ideological gaps and by engaging individuals from both countries. Business interactions provide an opportunity for human contact and economic collaboration, despite the current lack of political will to engage in a real dialogue between the two countries.

Although JVs are not a short-term fix or cure-all for complex political and social issues, they have been shown to open doors between cultures and create human partnerships that can have lasting, positive impacts on relations between countries, even those in conflict, over the long-term.


* Hiam Nawas, a Jordanian American, has lived and worked in various countries in the Middle East and specialises in Middle Eastern Affairs and Islamic law. This article is part of a series on joint Muslim-Western business ventures and is distributed by the Common Ground News Service.

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 27 November 2007, Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


Iraq in the time of cholera
César Chelala

New York - It is the kind of news that everybody had been dreading. An outbreak of cholera in Iraq, which started in two Northern provinces, has already reached Baghdad and has become Iraq's biggest cholera outbreak in recent memory. "This frightening and dangerous situation," as stated by Bahktiyar Ahmed, a UNICEF emergency health facilitator, serves to underscore the unrelenting threat to people already affected by a devastated health care system.

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that there have already been more than 3,300 cases of cholera in the country, and more than 33,000 cases of diarrhoea – which could be a milder form of the disease. The cholera epidemic aggravates what is, under any measure, a most serious humanitarian and public health emergency.

According to Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, "The terrible violence in Iraq has masked the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition amongst children has dramatically increased and basic services, ruined by years of wars and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty."

It is estimated that 28 percent of children are malnourished, compared with 19 percent before the 2003 invasion. In 2006, more than 11 percent of newborn babies were born underweight, compared with four percent in 2003. Malnutrition contributes to death from other conditions such as intestinal and respiratory infections, malaria and typhoid.

The lack of food is affecting not only children. It is estimated that four million Iraqis –15 percent of the total population – regularly cannot buy enough to eat, and are now dependent on food assistance.

Children's suffering doesn't end there. Last year, the Association of Psychologists of Iraq (API) released a report that states that the US-led invasion has greatly affected the psychological development of Iraqi children. The Association's spokesperson, Maruan Abdullah, stated, "It was incredible how strong the results were. The only things they [the children] have in their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the US occupation." What can one say to those that are responsible for the destruction of children's lives and hopes?

Those unable to resist the situation any longer have fled in terror to other parts of the country or to neighbouring countries, which have seen their health and social services totally overwhelmed by the sudden influx of millions of refugees.

Presently, 70 percent of the population in Iraq is without adequate water supplies and 80 percent lacks adequate sanitation. Dr. Abdul-Rahman Adil Ali of the Baghdad Health Directorate has warned about the serious consequences of a defective sewage system. "In some of Baghdad's poor neighbourhoods," he said, "people drink water which is mixed with sewage."

Hospitals are unable to respond to people's needs. 90 percent of hospitals lack essential resources such as basic medical and surgical supplies. Most international aid agencies have left the country, a situation compounded by the emigration of qualified personnel, particularly medical personnel. Of the 34,000 doctors living in the country in 2003, 12,000 have emigrated and over 2,000 have been murdered.

The war is not only affecting Iraqis. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a report to lawmakers stating that the war could ultimately cost the US government well over a trillion dollars – at least double what has already been spent. That will happen even under the best conditions – an immediate and substantial reduction of troops – and impact American taxpayers for at least the next ten years.

US soldiers have psychological wounds to last for a lifetime. A 2004 study of 1,300 Fort Bragg paratroopers who participated in the war showed that 17.4 percent had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In addition, many soldiers have suffered so many injuries that the term "polytrauma" is being increasingly used by military doctors.

To adequately respond to this emergency situation facing most of the country's population, it is crucial to improve the mechanism for distributing food and medicines, and to support the work of non-governmental agencies that continue to work in Iraq. The Association of Psychologists of Iraq has urged the international community to help establish centres specialised in child psychology and programs devoted to children's mental health, which is a most urgent need.

It is also imperative to lower the climate of hatred and distrust now reigning in Iraq. Improving Iraqis' health on all levels could indicate to them that they have not been forgotten and disregarded. Because of UNICEF and WHO's reputation for their devotion to improving people's health throughout the world, a task force should be constituted with both organisations' officials to address Iraqis' most pressing health needs and plan future actions. Improving people's health can be the key to breaking a vicious circle of negativity and distrust, thereby giving Iraqis a renewed sense of hope.


* César Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award for an article on human rights. He is the foreign correspondent for Middle East Times International (Australia). This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 27 November 2007, Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


~Youth Views~ Living in a bubble in Lebanon Raissa Batakji

Beirut - Fadi is a 23-year-old medical student living in a bubble. He walks around in it, goes out with a girl living in a similar bubble, and socializes with friends from his bubble community. Fadi and other fellow bubblers make up a vast number of the Lebanese people.

But if these religious, ethnic or cultural bubbles were ever to pop, would Fadi and his friends be able to breathe the different air? Listen to different voices? Speak a different language?

The Lebanese government today officially identifies eighteen different religious sects distributed over an area of 10,452 square kilometers. That makes Lebanon a country with many beliefs, but very little space. Lebanon's democracy is "governed" by a confessional system whereby quotas divide the country's major political posts among the various sects. For example, Lebanese law dictates that the president should be a Christian Maronite, the Speaker of Parliament a Shi'a Muslim, and the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim. Furthermore, a recurrent historical observation clearly shows that major sectarian problems arose particularly when political tensions came to a climax, and vice versa. Thus, politics and sectarianism in Lebanon have always been intertwined, with the major political blocks each associated with a certain religious sect.

The problem with Lebanese diversity does not merely lie in the fact that it is not being celebrated, but in that it poses a threat. Most, if not every one, of the many sects or political groups feel threatened by others. Therefore, people who are religiously or politically affiliated in Lebanon often find refuge in their own communities, which most of the time provide them with social services, security, job opportunities, and sometimes even schooling for their children.

As a result, many people end up spending most of their lives safely hidden in their own bubbles. You can easily find people who have never communicated with people from a different sect or political affiliation, even if they are geographically very close.

The bubble problem is most important when it comes to Lebanon's youth, since they represent a fresh hope to old problems. Most of the time, they fall victim to the existing segregated system and end up joining the same political party, adopting the same ideas, attending the same religious schools and raising the same flags as their parents.

In the last six years, as political events climaxed once more following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon has witnessed a rise in NGO activism. These NGOs are working to bring people together for the overall welfare of the country. Many of these NGOs are calling for anti-sectarianism, secularism, and even the formation of a shadow youth government. Despite the success of some of these projects, in general, they face many problems, especially in their approach and the sustainability of results.

We cannot simply settle for the adoption of Western methods and expect them to work perfectly in Lebanese society. A typical example of a Western approach to solve this kind of socio-political problem would be to launch awareness campaigns on the subject and call for short, one-time seminars and conferences that bring young people together. Unlike in the United States where college students are somewhat removed from their parents' opinions and lifestyles, most Lebanese youth live with their parents during and after college, and so students return to the same home, the same bubble, at the end of their day, mitigating the impact of these short experiences.

Young Lebanese need to see, taste, touch, and listen to the things that they have in common, regardless of other general differences. Youth need to leave their day-to-day routines and live with each other, without any intervention from their parents, neighbours, or political affiliates. Sending young people to an interfaith work-study camp, where they would have to work together and leverage everyone's skills - such as leadership, teamwork and constructive debating - in order to achieve shared goals. In the process, they are exposed to challenges that are representative of problems they might face in the real world. A successful simulation of a bubble-free world would helps demonstrate that a real version of such a world is in fact possible.

Today, Lebanon is experiencing the worst political climax in the modern history of the country, where we are left – for the very first time – with no elected president, due to a lack of dialogue at the level of the country's leaders and so-called diplomats. More urgently than ever, the youth of this country must choose a different future, and begin to see their role as active ingredients change.


* Raissa Batakji is in her junior year in communication arts and journalism at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 27 November 2007, Copyright permission has been obtained for publication


Immigrants coalition criticizes Lou Dobbs for continued racist talk

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

36 S. Wabash, suite 1425 · Chicago, IL 60603 · 312.332.7360 voice · 312.332.7044 fax ·

For Immediate Release: Press Advisory
November 27, 2007

For more information contact:
Ashley Moy-Wooten, 773.987.7767 (cell)
Catherine Salgado, 312.332.7360 ext 235

Anti-racism activists join immigrant advocates to protest fear mongering by anti-immigrant TV pundit Lou Dobb’s anti-immigrant messages fuel fear and rancor, provide no solutions

What: Immigrant advocates join activists to protest anti-immigrant pundit Lou Dobbs. Lou Dobbs is on tour promoting his latest book and will be at Barnes and Noble bookstore promoting his messages of hate and lies. David Leonhardt of the New York Times calls Dobbs “the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.”

Immigrant advocates will remind Lou Dobbs that this is a land of immigrants that have contributed with their work and culture. “We need to stop the fear mongering that he is promoting and stop the hate against the immigrant community,” said Tom Cordaro from Pax Christi.

When: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 7:00 PM

Where: Corner of State St. and Jackson Blvd. outside Barnes and Noble bookstore

Chicago, IL
Who: Anti-racism activists, immigrant advocates, youth and community leaders from the Chicago area and suburbs
Visuals: Participants will carry signs and will be chanting.


Catherine Salgado

Communications Coordinator

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

55 E. Jackson Blvd. Suite 2075

Chicago, IL 60604

312.332.7360 ext. 235

312.332.7044 (fax)

Malta Conference brings Arabs and Israelis together on environmental issues

CHICAGO (Sept. 18, 2007) – Scientists from Israel and 13 other Middle Eastern countries will search for solutions to common environmental issues – particularly air and water quality – that defy geopolitical barriers when they join together in December for the third in a series of precedent-setting conferences.

The five-day conference will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on a date embargoed for security reasons. Titled “Frontiers of Chemical Sciences III: Research and Education in the Middle East – A Bridge to Peace,” it is expected to attract over 76 chemical scientists along with seven Nobel laureates. In a series of workshops intended to foster collaborative solutions, participants will work together to address such global environmental issues as greenhouse gases, global climate changes and water and air quality.

Nations represented include: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

“Despite our nations’ political differences, we are bound by our allegiance to science as holding the answers to many problems that transcend borders,” says Zafra M. Lerman, head of the Institute for Science Education and Science Communication at Columbia College Chicago, who conceived and organizes the conference. “The conference continues to grow in stature as a model of what the scientific community can achieve when we work together.”

The first two conferences were held in Malta in 2003 and 2005. Initiatives springing from recommendations made at them include:

• A collaborative research project on water quality led by Palestinian scientists from the University of Bethlehem, and Israeli scientists from Bar Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

• Exchanges between visiting Israeli and Palestinian professors through the Weizmann Institute of Science and Palestinian institutions, as well as new admissions of Palestinian students at Weizmann.

• A $134,000 grant presented by the National Science Foundation to Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman for three U.S.–Middle Eastern workshops for scientists under the age of 35.

• Malta III is sponsored by: UNESCO, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry - London, the German Chemical Society, and Columbia College Chicago.

For media inquiries, contact David Donze at Hodge Schindler Integrated Communications: or 312.666.6662. Other inquiries should be directed to Jeffrey Wade at Columbia College Chicago: or 312.344.7544

# # #

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Muslims under siege by radio talk show haters Savage, Boortz, Hannity

Al-Arabiya, 11/22/07

Major U.S. corporations and civil organizations are launching a campaign to boycott channels that broadcast shows of controversial radio anchor Michael Savage after his hateful remarks about Islam.

Giant companies like JCPenny department stores, Office Max stationary supplies and IT company Citrix Systems have pulled all their commercials from the show hosted by Savage, America in Arabic News Agency reported…

The show, called 'The Savage Nation,' airs on more than 350 radio stations across the U.S. to an estimated 8 million listeners a week, but now major advertisers are moving to distance themselves from the hate-filled host.

"We want to make clear that the opinions expressed on the Michael Savage program—or any other program we advertise in—do not in any way represent the views of Citrix Systems or Citrix Online," Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager of Citrix Systems said.

Using the slogan "Hate Hurts America," a coalition of religious and civic organizations has launched a campaign against Savage and other shows that promote hate, by putting pressure on advertisers to drop their spots.

The coalition includes the California Council of Churches, LA Jews for Peace, and The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Earlier this year, another U.S. radio host likened Muslims who fast during Ramadan to cockroaches.

"…Muslims don't eat during the day during Ramadan. They fast during the day and eat at night. Sort of like cockroaches," talk show radio host Neal Boortz said on his hit show of the same name.



IMMEDIATE ACTIONS REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE. Hostile comments can and will be used by Savage to further defame Islam and Muslims.)

1. CONTACT AT&T, today's featured "Savage Nation" advertiser. (Other advertisers will be featured in the future.)

As part of the ongoing campaign to ask companies that advertise on "The Savage Nation" to stop buying air time on that program, today's featured company is AT&T. Please contact company officials to express your concerns about their support of such a hate-filled program.


Randall L. Stephenson
Chairman of the Board, President, Chief Executive Officer, AT&T
175 E. Houston
San Antonio, TX 78205
Tel: (210) 821-4105
Fax: (210) 351-2071

E-Mail:,,,,,, mjthornburg@YELLOWPAGES.COM,,


2. Because "The Savage Nation" is a syndicated program, many of the advertisers vary from station to station. FIND OUT which station carries Michael Savage's program in your area, LISTEN to the program and write down the contact information for both local and national advertisers.

CONTACT those advertisers to POLITELY inform them that you and your friends and family will not purchase their products or services as long as they continue to subsidize a hate-filled program.

For a listing of radio stations that air Michael Savage's program, click here.

3. CONTACT Talk Radio Network, Michael Savage's syndicator, to express your concerns about his hate-filled attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Quran.

Mr. Mark Masters
Chief Executive Officer
Talk Radio Network
P.O. Box 3755
Central Point OR 97502
Phone: 541-664-8827 or 541-474-2297
Fax: 541-664-6250 or 866-876-5075


4. SEND COPIES of all correspondence to CAIR at: E-Mail or fax to 202-488-0833.

5. ORGANIZE local coalitions with friends of the Muslim community to challenge Savage's hate rhetoric.


News Hounds, 11/23/07

As has been noted in numerous News Hounds threads, Sean Hannity is very hostile to numerous groups and ideas prominent among them Islam and public education. In the November 18th edition of “Hannity’s America,” Hannity was able to bash both of the aforementioned categories. He was also able to work in the ever popular Fox “fear factor” as he introduced his piece by stating that a “radical Islamic agenda is infiltrating public schools all across the nation and targeting our kids.” He spoke in apocalyptic terms when he declared that “there is a battle reaching the boiling point in California. Parents are taking a stand and fighting back.” In an “us vs them” (very popular with the conservative right wing and Fox News) metaphor he asserted that it’s “smalltown USA vs. Islamic indoctrination.”

Hannity began by noting that Lodi, California is the “Zinfandel capitol of the world;” but “it’s not wine that is drawing attention to Lodi but radical Islam” (while showing photos of Muslim children playing in a school yard). He said that 2 years ago a pair of Muslim residents was charged with being part of a terror sleeper cell. (Comment: If Hannity were trying for accuracy he would have added that Hamid Hayat was sentenced to 24 years in jail; but the jury was deadlocked in the case of Hamid’s father, Umer Hayat.)

So now that the stage has been set by inferring that Lodi is a hotbed of radical Islam, Hannity moved to the main topic which was about a group of parents who are upset that the local school’s history text, “History Alive,” is being used to “teach Islam.” He interviewed local parents, Jim and Korina Self, who feel that the history of Islam, in this text, is given more attention than it warrants and that the information is inaccurate. The Selfs have petitioned the local school board to remove the text. (Comment: not mentioned by Hannity is the fact that the boy is now being homeschooled and that a school administrator “didn't know of any other parent who has contacted the district to complain about the textbook.” So much for this boiling point battle!) (MORE)


Saturday, November 17, 2007

CAIR Denounces Radio Talk Show Host Michael Savage

Contact: Ibrahim Hooper, +1-202-488-8787 or +1-202-744-7726,; Rabiah Ahmed, +1-202-488-8787 or +1-202-439-1441,; Amina Rubin, +1-202-488-8787 or +1-202-341-4171,, all of CAIR

Host does not 'represent the views of Citrix Systems or Citrix Online'

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today thanked Citrix Systems, Inc. for agreeing to drop its advertisements from Michael Savage's nationally-syndicated radio program because of the host's anti-Muslim views.

CAIR recently reported that Savage, whose "The Savage Nation" airs on more than 300 radio stations nationwide, screamed attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Quran, Islam's revealed text, during his October 29, 2007, program.

To listen to Savage's bigoted statements, go to:

SEE: National Radio Host Goes on Anti-Muslim Tirade

The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group called on radio listeners of all faiths to contact companies that advertise on Savage's program to express their concerns about the host's anti-Muslim bigotry. (He has since stepped up his attacks on Islam and Muslims in response to CAIR's advertiser campaign.)

In a letter to CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, a Citrix official wrote:

"Citrix Systems, Inc. and Citrix Online, LLC are in receipt of numerous communications from representatives, members and constituents of your organization.

"On behalf of Citrix Systems and Citrix Online, I want to share with you and your organization that free speech is a valued constitutional right that is respected by Citrix Systems and Citrix Online; however we want to make clear that the opinions expressed on the Michael Savage program -- or any other program we advertise in -- do not in any way represent the views of Citrix Systems or Citrix Online.

"Separately, please know that effective Monday, November 5, 2007, Citrix Online ended its advertising relationship with the Michael Savage program."

Citrix is a global leader in application delivery infrastructure, including,,,

"We appreciate Citrix's principled action to disassociate itself from Michael Savage's hate-filled rhetoric," said CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin. "We urge other local and national companies running ads on Savage's program to follow Citrix's example in support of religious tolerance."

Rubin added: "Free speech is a precious right that we fully support and strive to protect. We are not seeking to curb Mr. Savage's freedom of speech, but to demonstrate that Americans and American companies will not tolerate hatred and bigotry."

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations

Friday, November 16, 2007

New York State Department of Health blocks US-Egyptian study on Hepatitis

November 17, 2007

New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Stops a World First U.S. - Egyptian Collaborative Study on Hepatitis C and Blood Ozonation

Recently coming to light is the involvement of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in stopping a world-first U.S. - Egyptian collaborative study on hepatitis C in Egypt. According to one of its principals, Dr. Gérard Sunnen, the study, bringing together the Egyptian National Research Centre (NRC) and Medizone International, Inc., a US - based company, sought to evaluate new therapeutic options for stimulating natural immune factors in fighting the disease. “Blood ozonation is an innovative technique of interfacing blood with minuscule amounts of ozone/oxygen mixtures that enhance natural cytokine and interferon production for purposes of viral clearing. This process, if successful, could greatly reduce the cost of current treatments for hepatitis C,” states Dr. Sunnen. In 2002, the NYSDOH stopped the study. “It is a sad day for the some estimated 5 million Egyptian patients, and some 170 million patients worldwide,” he added.

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a chronic affliction caused by a lipid-enveloped virus with a high mutation rate. All pathogenic viruses with high mutation rates are major threats to humanity because they are more likely to behave as they never had before. HCV's wide genetic spectrum and mutational thrust are responsible for its expanding prevalence base and its growing worldwide distribution. By some estimates, hepatitis C world prevalence will reach a quarter billion in a few years.

Hepatitis C preferentially invades the liver, but it can also affect other organ systems, including the bone marrow and the kidneys. Progressive liver destruction may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Indeed, after 20 years, about 25% of hepatitis C patients develop cirrhosis, and another 5% liver cancer. Up to 20% of patients, however, conquer the disease, presumably due to the adaptability and creativity of their immune systems.

The hepatitis C virus is spread by body fluid transmission. Like many other viruses, its life cycle shows fluctuations of relative dormancy alternating with viremic episodes when blood is virally flooded. It is estimated that in any one viremic hepatitis C episode, up to 10 billion viral particles may be generated daily. The immune system in hepatitis C is thus perennially challenged.

Clinically, in the first few years, hepatitis C is often manifested by vague symptoms of fatigue, headache, and gastrointestinal malaise. Later on, the extent of organ damage determines the severity of its symptom profile.

Medications for hepatitis C include interferons, which are natural cellular products that activate neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer (NK) cells, and drugs that inhibit enzymes responsible for viral replication (e.g., ribavirin). Success rate is variable and relapses are common. Frequently, these drug cocktails are poorly tolerated leading to discontinuation.

Blood ozonation may initially sound like a toxic process. It is not. Decades ago, German clinicians thought that ozonation could clear blood of pathogens, much as it does water. They devised methods of interfacing ozone with blood so that its cellular elements (e.g., red and white blood cells, platelets) retained their integrity. Immune models have surpassed this early notion of ozone's direct viral clearance. In the miniscule doses in which ozone is administered to blood, it is now firmly documented that blood ozonation stimulates immune system components to produce natural interferons and cytokines capable of initiating viral kill.

It may appear surprising--or even preposterous--to suggest that our own bodies utilize endogenously-generated reactive oxygen molecules, one of which is ozone, to destroy constantly invading microbes. A greatly underappreciated study from the Scripps Institute in California found that ozone is indeed created by our own white blood cells to function as a natural virucidal agent.

The prevalence of hepatitis C is variable in different regions of the world. In the U.S., about 1% of the population is affected, an estimated 4 million carriers. In Egypt, the prevalence rate is the highest in the world. Fully 20% of the population is or has been afflicted by hepatitis C.

In view of this hepatitis C emergency, the National Research Centre (NRC) in Cairo contacted Medizone International, a leader in ozone-based therapeutics. Egyptian health authorities were interested in new therapeutic approaches for hepatitis C, one being innovative technologies of oxygen/ozone administration.

With great enthusiasm, and hope, an NRC - Medizone investigative study was designed, and officially named "Safety and Efficacy of Ozone in the Treatment of Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C."

The study was to involve 66 patients. The main objectives of the study were to measure and evaluate, among other things, hepatitis C viral load reduction with blood ozonation, liver enzyme recovery, and clinical improvement, as measured by scales of health and well-being

Officially, the investigators for this study were:

Principal Investigator: Professor Dr. M.Y. Estefan, M.D., MRCP

Clinical Team:
Prof. Dr. Mouchira A-Salam, M.D.
Prof. Dr. Said Shalaby, M.D.
Dr. Hala Zaki Raslan, M.D.
Dr. Seif W. Morcos, MRCP
Dr. Ibrahim M. Kamal, M.S.
Dr. Yasser A. El-Houssary, M.S.

Laboratory Team:
Prof. Shadia A. Ragab, M.D.
Prof. Mostafa El-Awadi, Ph.D.
Dr. Azza A. Ali, M.D.
Dr. Hanaa R. Mohamed, M.D.

Chemical Engineering Team:
Prof. Gizeen El-Diwany, Ph.D.
Dr. Maaly Khedr, Ph.D.

Dr. Emad El Din Samala, M.D.

Research Designer:
Prof. Dr. Maher Y. Estefan, M.D., MRCP

Study Progress Monitor: The Egyptian and Foreign Committees

Patronage: Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population

The study was well under way as regard the selection of participating patients and the readying of NRC personnel and laboratory facilities where the study was to take place. In 2002, however, through various actions -- and for reasons that can, as of now, only be speculated -- the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) stopped this study. As a result, millions of patients lost a unique opportunity for better health care.

Furthermore, the fruits of this research would have extrapolated far beyond the treatment of hepatitis C. Immune function enhancement is a bonus for a host of diseases. In addition, it appears that those viruses that are lipid-enveloped have increased vulnerability to ozone exposure. Ozone-based therapeutics, administered via innovative technologies, could thus well complement current treatment options for viruses such as hepatitis B, HIV, and influenza, among others.

Promising future directions for ozone-based therapeutics also includes external ozone applications for the enhanced healing of diabetic skin ulcers, all types of poorly healing skin lesions, and war wounds.


Gérard Sunnen, MD
200 East 33 Street, Suite 26J
New York, NY 10016-4831 USA
Tel. 1-212-6790679
Fax 1-212-6798008

MidEast Reality Show pits 16 Business Entrepreneurs in new Abu Dhabi Reality TV Series

It's Showtime for The Hydra Executives

First International Reality TV Show Casting Call


Casting begins next month for New TV Series bringing two countries,
16 entrepreneurs and Abu Dhabi together for First International English Language Reality TV Show filmed in UAE
The launch of the first global entrepreneur reality TV Show In LA

CEO Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Hydra Properties LLC

Eric Preven, Showtime, U.S.A.

Executive Producer Ziad Batal

(United Arab Emirates Rep. in LA to intro Hydra-TBA)

When: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2007-10:00 AM (PST)

9:30 AM media-check-in Abu Dhabi Style Continental breakfast

Where: The Beverly Hilton

9876 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90210 Hotel Ph: Tel: +1-310-274-7777

(Media Directions: visit (

Hydra Properties LLC plan to announced the Launch and casting for the first International reality TV series "The Hydra Executives". Casting begins on December 15 in Hollywood and will feature a cast of budding American and British entrepreneurs to be filmed in Abu Dhabi, but broadcast entirely in English. The reality TV series is the brainchild of CEO Sulaiman Al-Fahim, Hydra Properties LLC, a leading Abu Dhabi-based international real estate company and the key backer of the show. Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Chamber of Commerce and Industry are also sponsoring the show. According to Fahim around $5 million would be spent on the first season. The executive boardroom-style program is currently being shopped for global distribution in March 2008. It is being produced in association with Showtime Arabia, which is partly owned by Viacom, and Dubai's Infinity TV.

"We are inviting 16 entrepreneurs, eight Americans and eight Brits, to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to compete against each other for 15 weeks," said Al-Fahim. "Contestants will fly to the capital city of Abu Dhabi where they will spend their first 2 weeks in boot camp to learn the art of the real estate deal and how to identify various playing fields. Following this they will be split into two mixed teams to compete in real estate business assignments for a three month period." At the end of the competition one winner will walk away with the grand prize worth $1 million to set up his or her own style real estate venture.

[Editors: Media please call for advanced interviews and to RSVP for event. For interviews call, George McQuade @ 818-340-5300 or 818-618-9229]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Arab History Conference Dec. 7-9, 2007

The Arab American Historical Foundation
cordially invites to its second annual
Arab American History Conference
hosted by
The University of Maryland
College Park., MD

December 7-9, 2007
Prof. Suheil Bushrui
conference chairman

For registration and to place ads in the conference program book, contact:

Conference committee
Arab American Historical Foundation
POBox 291159, Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 466-9800, (818) 507-0333,
fax: (818) 246-1936

Conference Speakers:

Among confirmed scholars to present papers at the Arab American History Conference are:

Dr. Anan Ameri
Director of the Arab American National Museum, author of
several books about Arab Americans, Detroit, Michigan.

Sami Asmar
Physicist at NASA’s Jet Prepulsion Laboratory(JPL) Pasadena,
California, manages a group investigating plenetary gravity via spacecraft radio
signals; will address the historic role of Arab American scientific contributions;
Advisory Board member of the Arab American Historical Foundation.

Prof. Miles L. Bradbury
Professor in the Department of History, University of
Maryland teaches courses on U.S. History and Early American History with
a special interest in Ameen Rihani and his times.

Prof. Suheil B. Bushrui
Director of the Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace Project at the
Center for Heritage Resource Studies, the University of Maryland.
The Chair is the first academic forum in the world devoted to the preservation of
Gibran’s legacy and the promotion of East-West intercultural relations. He is the foremost
authority on the works of Kahlil Gibran, and has done extensive work in Arabic and
English on Ameen Rihani and his intellectual legacy as a bridge-builder between the East and the West.

Dr. Sawsan El Hady
Egyptian scholar; one time Professor of Arabic at the
University of Beijing, China; the University of New Zealand; author and consultant.

Dr. Edmund Ghareeb
Is the first Mustafa Barzani Scholar of Global Kurdish
Studies at American University’s Center for Global Peace and Adjunct Professor
of Middle East History and Politics in the School of International Service;author.

Hon. Nick J. Rahall
Congressman, Fourth District, West Virginia, since 1977.
Became the youngest member of the 95th Congress at 27, Washington, DC.

Prof. Paul Shackel
Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Heritage Resource
Studies at the University of Maryland. His research interests include: historical
archaeology, industrial archaeology, complex societies, labor history, consumer
behavior and public history.

Richard Shadyac, Esq.
Attorney and former executive director of ALSAC/
St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital which recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Virginia.

Dr. Irfan Shahid
Professor of Arabic and Islamic Literature at Georgetown
University where he teaches courses on Classical Arabic Poetry and Prose, and
Arabic Literature and Culture. He has written on Gibran and Rihani, and has a
special interest in the literary tradition of Arab-American writers.
He is giving the keynote address at the Second Arab-American History Conference.

Prof. Michael Suleiman
Professor at the University of Kansas,
author of several books about Arab Americans, Kansas.

Poet Henri Zoghaib
Director, The Center for Lebanese Heritage,
Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.

The Arab American Historical Foundation:
The Arab-American Historical Foundation (AAHF) was established in Los Angeles, 1978,
by Joseph R. Haiek, publisher of The News Circle/Arab American Affairs magazine and
the Arab American Almanac series, to promote preservation and dissemination of Arab-American history.
It is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3). For more details, contact:

The Arab American Historical Foundation:
POBox 291159, Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 466-9800, (818) 507-0333,
fax: (818) 246-1936

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CAIR publishes free guide on media coverage of Islam and Muslims

Help Improve Coverage of Islam in the U.S. Media
Sponsor 'A Journalist's Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/13/2007) - CAIR today called on Muslims to support a major new initiative to help improve coverage of Islam in the American news media.

At a press conference in the nation's capital, CAIR said the centerpiece of its "Beyond Stereotypes" campaign will be distribution of the newly-published "American Muslims: A Journalist's Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims" to some 40,000 media professionals nationwide.

Muslims are being asked to sponsor copies of the guide for $20 or to order hard copies for distribution to local media outlets.

SEE: Beyond Stereotypes: A CAIR Initiative to Enhance Understanding of Islam in the Media

CAIR's new guide offers journalists the tools needed to gain a better understanding of Islam and to write accurate and balanced stories about Muslims. The guide also offers background information on issues related to Islam and Muslims, best practices for reporting on the American Muslim community and definitions of terminology often used in news stories or editorials.

In challenging common misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, the guide provides an Islamic perspective on hot-button issues such as Islam and democracy, freedom of religion, women's rights, and interfaith relations.

Media professionals may request a free copy of CAIR's journalist guide through the "Beyond Stereotypes" website. (Sample pages of the guide can be viewed on the website.)

Along with distribution of the guide to editors, reporters, producers, and other journalists, CAIR is offering media relations training to Muslim communities nationwide. The "Beyond Stereotypes" website also offers tips on pro-active educational activities such as hosting media events and meeting with newspaper editorial boards.

"Because we work with media professionals on a daily basis, we know the vast majority of journalists are doing the best job they can with the information resources they have available," said CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed. "It is our duty, and that of the Muslim community, to make sure every journalist who writes about Islam or Muslims has access to accurate information."

In a statement released at today's news conference, CAIR said: "We recognize that much of the negative perception of Islam and Muslims is the result of negative actions by a tiny minority of Muslims. That minority should not be allowed to overshadow the vast majority of Muslims in this country and worldwide who reject terrorism and religious extremism."


1. SPONSOR A JOURNALIST'S GUIDE. For only $20, you can help improve coverage of Islam and Muslims in the U.S. media. Click here to sponsor a journalist's guide.

2. ORDER HARD COPIES OF THE JOURNALIST'S GUIDE for distribution to local media outlets. Click here to order a guide.

3. REQUEST MEDIA RELATIONS TRAINING for your community. Either contact a local CAIR chapter, or click here to request training or learn about other actions you can take.


ADC expresses concerns on "Muslim Mapping" plan in LA

ADC Deeply Troubled by LAPD Plan to 'Map' LA-Area Muslims

Washington, DC | November 10, 2007 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply troubled by the Los Angeles Police Department's "community mapping" plan. The intelligence-guided mapping plan, which is to be carried out in conjunction with the University of Southern California's National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, would collect information about Muslim communities in the Los Angeles area in an effort to identify who the Muslims are and where the Muslims reside.

During his October 30, testimony before the before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Los Angeles Commander Michael P. Downing discussed this plan. The nature and scope of the plan is unclear from this testimony and numerous questions remained unanswered. What is clear, however, is that the plan singles out individuals for investigation, surveillance, and data collection based solely on religion, which is a form of religious profiling. In addition to obvious constitutional concerns that such a practice would violate equal protection and burden the free exercise of religion, religious profiling will engender fear and lack of trust in the community which will, in turn, hinder law enforcement efforts.

Once the Muslims in the Los Angeles area are identified, then the LAPD would then, according to Downing’s written testimony, "take a deeper look at their history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic background, socio-economic status, and social interactions." In an interview with the Congressional Quarterly (Nov 1), Downing said he hopes to complete the community mapping plan by this Spring and, "if its successful, he believes it could be transmittable, at least in part, to other major U.S. cities."

ADC Communications Director Laila Al-Qatami said, "ADC supports efforts to keep our country safe and to prevent violence, extremism, and terrorism, but is deeply concerned with the emerging details of this plan. In terms of potential risk factors, Downing’s testimony cites the use of non-mainstream media as a possible indicator of extremist ideology and inclination, ADC raises serious objections to that idea. Additionally the implications of how much data will be collected, and with whom it will be shared, raises obvious privacy concerns, particularly in these times of warrantless wiretapping and illegal surveillance."

ADC Announces National Civil and Human Rights Center in Michigan

ADC Announces First National Civil and Human Rights Center in Michigan

Officials, Community Members and Supporters Gather for Unveiling of ADC’s Future Landmark Civil Rights Center

Approximately 150 guests, including local, national and international officials, gathered on the ADC-owned property on Chase Road in Dearborn on September 12, 2007, to witness the unveiling of what will be the location of the first-ever American-Arab Center for Civil and Human Rights (ACCHR) in the United States- an ADC project.

The press conference, included remarks from ADC Michigan’s special guest Mr. Fahad Mohamad Kafoud, Deputy Chief of Mission of the State of Qatar, along with Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly, Arab American News Publisher Osama Siblani, ADC National President and Former Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar and ADC Senior National Advisor and Regional Director Imad Hamad. Speakers praised ADC Michigan for it’s commitment to enhancing the lives of Arabs in the United States and across the world and commended them on this initiative that will forever change the political landscape of America.

Additional officials included Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garret, Dearborn Police Chief Michael Celeski, Director of the Governor’s Office Kimberly Trent, Dearborn Heights Councilman Tom Berry, City of Dearborn Councilman George Derani, representatives from the congressional offices of John Conyers, John Dingell and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and representatives from the offices of US Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, along with numerous congressional liaisons and community leaders. In addition, a number of media outlets were also present to document this momentous occasion.

Mr. Kafoud was presented with a special acknowledgement from Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly and Congressman John Dingell, for Qatar’s efforts to enhance the lives and protect the civil liberties of Arab Americans in Michigan. ADC is expecting to break ground on the Center in the next couple months. For more information on this event and the ACCHR, please read the Detroit Free Press feature at:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

3rd Annual National Arab American Book Awards submission deadline Feb. 1, 2008

Dear Publishers and Writers:

The Arab American National Museum (AANM) is proud to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the

2007 Arab American National Museum
Book Award

Books submitted for consideration must be written or illustrated by an Arab American, or address the Arab-American experience. It must be an original work and published in English between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007. Submissions must be postmarked no later than February 1, 2008. An award will be given to an author or illustrator in each of the following three categories:
 Adult Non-Fiction in the areas of the Social Sciences and Humanities
 Adult Fiction, including Arts and Literature
 Children or Young Adult, Fiction or Non-Fiction
Submission forms are attached to this email and can also be found on the AANM website: For additional information regarding the Book Award please contact Dima Kanakri of the AANM Library & Resource Center at 313-624-0223 or
The Arab American National Museum Book Award was established in 2006 to encourage the publication and excellence of books that preserve and advance the understanding, knowledge, and resources of the Arab American community by celebrating the thoughts and lives of Arab Americans. The purpose of the Award is to inspire authors, educate readers and foster a respect and understanding of Arab American culture.

The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. We serve as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization.

Arab American National Museum 13624 Michigan Avenue Dearborn, MI 48126


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mehdi to participate in post 9/11 look at Muslims in America


(New York - 11/7/07) -- On Thursday, November 15, the Muslim Public Affairs Council's New York City chapter will host a panel discussion on "Media Coverage of Muslims Post-9/11" at Columbia University in Manhattan.

Moderated by Sheheryar Azhar, host of GEO TV's "The Forum", the panel discussion will feature Columbia University Journalism Professor Ari Goldman, award-winning journalist, filmmaker and Professor Anisa Mehdi, and MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic.

Co-sponsored by the Columbia University Muslim Students Association, panelists will draw on their decades of experience in the news media to provide a critical examination of news and entertainment media portrayals of Muslim Americans as a community as well as public discourse on the Islamic faith.

WHAT: The Coverage of Islam & Muslims in the American Mass Media Post-9/11

WHEN: Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Columbia University
James Room on the 4th Floor Bernard Hall
2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027-6902

WHO: Professor Ari Goldman, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
Anisa Mehdi, Journalist and Professor at Seton Hall University
Edina Lekovic, MPAC Communications Director
Shaheryar Azhar, host of "The Forum" on ARY

Goldman is the director of the Columbia's Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life. Goldman also co-directs the Universitys Religion-Journalism Dual M.A. Program. Previously, he spent 20 years at The New York Times, most of it as a religion writer. He is the author of three books, including "The Search for God at Harvard".

Mehdi is an Emmy award-winning journalist specializing in religion, the arts, and people. For over 20 years she has reported, written, directed and produced television news and documentary programs for major American media outlets, including National Geographic, PBS, ABC News, and CBS. Her commentaries are heard on NPRs award-winning newscast All Things Considered. She is also Adjunct Professor of Communication at Seton Hall University. She is producer/director of "Inside Mecca," the National Geographic Special that premiered on PBS in 2003. She was also executive producer with Alvin Perlmutter of the two-hour PBS FRONTLINE special "Muslims". Mehdi is a writer for the Arab Writers Group syndicate.

Call 213-383-3443 or email for more information.

Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.


IBDAA Student journalism awards deadline approaching

Ibdaa Media Awards 2007 Gathers Momentum As November 15 Deadline Appoaches
Application Forms Available at

Dubai, UAE - November 6, 2007: With the November 15 submission deadline for the coveted Ibda’a Media Student Awards 2007 fast approaching, the competition is receiving an unprecedented response from international and local media students vying for top honours in the region’s most recognised award for emerging industry talent.

Ibda’a Media Student Awards is organized on an annual basis by Dubai Media City, member of TECOM Investments, in association with the International Advertising Association (IAA). Designed on the concept of ‘Flammable Talent’, the Awards aim to recognize, nurture and promote young media talent.

The competition is open to all undergraduate and fresh graduates of the year 2006-2007. Entry forms are available on the dedicated website

Over the years, the Ibda'a Media Student Awards has attracted a multitude of entries from the Gulf region and around the globe. Its success is marked by the increasing number of entries, participating countries and the inclusion of additional categories to accommodate the diverse components of new age media. In 2006, the competition received more than 2,200 entries from 20 countries.

Mohamed Al Mulla, Director of Dubai Media City and Coordinator General of the Awards, said: “Ibda'a Media Student Awards 2007 will continue to discover outstanding creative talent from all over the world. Serving as a springboard for students, Ibda'a Awards spotlight young talent on the international media arena, and offer them an opportunity to showcase their work and realize their aspirations.”

Award finalists will be flown to Dubai for a gala celebration that will give away exciting prizes, as well as internship opportunities with leading media organisations including Arabian Radio Network (ARN), Xische, Team Y&R, Motivate Publishing, Nikon, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, CNBC Arabia, CNN and MBC.

Dubai Media City will host the Career Day on 26 December. On the sidelines of the awards, an exhibition of short-listed entries will be held from 25-29 December.

To be presented on 27 December in Dubai, the Ibda’a Media Student Awards cover 10 main categories, including journalism, radio, animation, graphic design, analogue photography, digital photography, print advertising, TV advertising, TV documentary and film/TV feature.

Dubai-based Ziad Galadari Group is the title sponsor of the event this year, while Emirates Bank, Arabian Automobiles, OMD and Carassi are the co-sponsors. Media partners include Motivate Publishing, Zee Arabia, Showtime, Xische, 7 Star Events, Arabian Radio Network, Al Emarat Al Youm and Emirates Today, CNBC Arabia and DMI.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Israeli occupation fueling dwindling Christian Arab population, ATFP report shows

Press Release
Capitol Hill Briefing Attributes Dwindling Palestinian Christian Population To The Effects Of The Israeli Occupation
Contact: Rafi Dajani
Phone: 202-669-5888

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2007 – The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) and The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) held a Capitol Hill briefing this week featuring four Christian mayors of Palestinian towns in the West Bank. The panel focused on the causes for the population decrease of the Palestinian Christians to below 2 percent of the population, attributing it mainly to the economic stresses resulting from Israeli occupation measures such as checkpoints and the route of the separation barrier, a vast majority of which is built on occupied Palestinian land.

The mayor of Bethlehem, Dr. Victor Hanan Jubrail Batarseh, referred to the wall as ‘a snake’, saying, it has ‘strangled the community; economically, psychologically, and educationally’ causing the Palestinian Christians to emigrate.

The economic strangulation has led to nearly 70% of the West Bank population living under the poverty line, said the mayor of Birzeit, Mr. Yousef Nasser. He continued saying, “Unemployment has risen 200% due to the check points,” which not only inhibit the movement of people but also shipments of produce. Mr. Nasser stressed the need for the removal of the checkpoints in order for the economy to improve. Without an improved economy, the Christian population will continue to decrease. This is why Dr. Batarseh stressed the need for peace , asking for a ‘bridge of love,’ to be built, not a ‘wall of separation.’

“Historically, it has been easier for the Palestinian Christian population to emigrate due mainly to family ties in the West, although Palestinian Muslims are emigrating in significant numbers too if they are able,” said ATFP executive director Rafi Dajani who moderated the panel. “Emigration of either community has nothing to do with religious tensions between the two communities and attempts to portray it as such are meant to deflect blame away from the main reason, the Israeli occupation.”


Society of Professional Journalists National Arab American Journalists Association join forces

Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007
Clint Brewer, President. (615) 301-9229,
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211,
For Immediate Release:
Society of Professional Journalists,
National Arab American Journalists Association join forces

INDIANAPOLIS – One of the nation’s oldest journalism-advocacy organizations and the country’s largest professional association for Arab-American journalists have joined to form a special membership group within the Society of Professional Journalists.

By providing tips, resources, training, mentoring and related discussion, SPJ and the National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) will work together to develop a dialogue that is sure to encourage newsroom diversity, crossover memberships and a greater understanding of cultures within the profession.

“This is the first step in a renewed effort by SPJ to reach out to all journalists across different cultures and media,” SPJ National President Clint Brewer said. “SPJ wants to foster and atmosphere in the organization where all journalists are welcomed and find value in being a member.”

The concept of membership sections was introduced in 2006 by the Society’s national Board of Directors as a way of furthering member benefits in SPJ. With these special sections, members would be able to connect and interact regularly at professional levels, regardless of the medium in which they work. In early 2007, Ray Hanania, president of NAAJA, submitted a proposal for consideration to form the first membership section with the Society that would attract Arab Americans who work in journalism or who are journalism students. In May, the board voted to create the Arab American membership section within the Society. The blog "Al-Sahafiyeen," meaning “the journalists” was launched Oct. 15 on

“Our goal in pursuing this is to provide a professional resource where Arab Americans can find guidance as they pursue careers in journalism,” Hanania said. “And when it comes to professional journalism, no other organization offers more resources and support than the SPJ. We also hope the new SPJ-Arab Journalism Section will serve as a resource for all journalists on issues related to Arab Americans and the Middle East.”

Membership into the Arab-American section is open to any SPJ member who pays an additional $10 per year to their national dues. The money raised will go toward grants for programs related to Arab-American journalism issues.

The NAAJA was launched in 1999 to help professional Arab-Americans journalists network. It has hosted four journalism conferences and has more than 150 members nationally.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit .


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arab American National Museum and ACCESS win $150,000 McGregor Award

Kim Silarski


Dearborn, MI (October 25, 2007) – The Arab Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has accepted a $150,000 grant from the McGregor Fund, a Detroit-based philanthropic organization. The money is designated for implementation of a comprehensive community relations and marketing campaign for the Arab American National Museum (AANM), a project of ACCESS.

“These funds represent vital resources to spread the word about the existence of the Arab American National Museum, which has been open for less than three years,” says Museum Director Dr. Anan Ameri. “As a new institution with a national focus, we hope to reach all Americans with our messages – that Arab Americans have long been part of the fabric of this country, making significant contributions; and that the Arab American experience is the same as the experience of all the various ethnic groups who immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life.”

The McGregor Fund is a private foundation established in 1925 by gifts from Katherine and Tracy McGregor “to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind.” The foundation awards grants to organizations in the following areas: human services, education, health care, arts and culture, and public benefit. The area of principal interest of the foundation is the city of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The McGregor Fund has granted nearly $180 million since its founding and had assets of $197 million as of June 30, 2007. Visit for additional information.

The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. We serve as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at and

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313-582-2266 for further information.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arab-Muslim American Journalism adds new voice to mainstream American media

Press Release

Contact: Ahmed Soliman
Oct. 24, 2007 732-715-9775

New Voice Emerges in American Media
Arab & Muslim-American Journalists Offer Essential Perspective

(Maple Shade, NJ, Oct. 21st, 2007) — Arab and Muslim-American journalist Ahmed Soliman believes his new book, “Born in the USA: Reflections of an Arab and Muslim-American Journalist,” will give mainstream Americans a fresh perspective into the Islamic and Arab Worlds that is unique and rare.

Soliman argues that despite the events of Sept. 11th, 2001, Americans still do not understand the Arab and Muslim Worlds. By sharing his many interviews with Arab and Muslim leaders in the post-Sept. 11th World he believes he can not only change that but also improve the American journalism profession.

“There have been many post 9/11 books written with the Muslim-American perspective and some written by journalists who have covered such stories as the war on terror, domestic surveillance and the conflict between Israel and Palestinians,” explains Soliman who has been a journalist for more than seven years.

“But I think I bring a special knowledge as a professional journalist who has covered international issues for the past two years and who is both Arab and Muslim. I believe I bring a fresh and more objective perspective to the international discussion on these and other important issues. It’s a freshness that contrasts the sometimes cynical views often reflected in the writings of longtime, veteran journalists, many of whom are neither Arab nor Muslim and who have witnessed the often tragic events of the Middle East repeat themselves over and over again.”

The book features many voices and opinions not often heard, based on firsthand interviews Soliman conducted as a reporter for broadcast and print Arab, Muslim and mainstream American newspapers.

“It's not often that Americans really get to hear the perspective of the Pakistani foreign minister on such issues as the war on terror, and whether or not the US government is correct in saying that they're not doing enough. Understanding the people on the other side of the ocean is crucial to resolving our contemporary challenges,” he says.

And, Soliman believes the book might help initiate “a broader discussion about the role of our own American media, whether that is opening some eyes among editors and news directors about the importance of integrating more diverse voices in their newsrooms, specifically regarding Arab American journalists, or also aspiring Arab American journalists who could benefit from the experiences I share in the book.”

Like many Arab and Muslim Americans, Soliman had planned on entering a professional career in medicine or engineering. But it was when he wrote an essay that received immediate notice and was recognized with a prestigious journalism award that he decided to pursue journalism, instead.

“Prior to the 9/11 attack, the vast majority of Muslim-Americans entered the engineering and medical fields, the result of the influence they received from their immigrant parents,” explains Soliman, who worked for two years as senior anchor and producer for the nationally televised Daily World news on Bridges TV.

“The result was that Muslim-Americans, now numbering over 7 million according to the Zogby poll, never had much influence on public opinion or policy. Now, after the 9/11 attack, the few of us who did enter the journalism field are trying to keep the dialogue and coverage in the media more balanced and insightful.”

Soliman’s story is a poignant, eye-opening portrayal of the challenges facing media coverage of the Arab and Muslims, and on international issues including the war on terror, and racism.

“No reasonably minded person would disagree with anything [Soliman] has said in this book,” said Ambassador Richard Parker, former U.S. representative in the Middle East.

Prior to working at Bridges TV, Soliman produced and directed a post-911 documentary for a PBS affiliate titled Born in the USA: Muslim Americans. The film followed a Muslim American doctor and teacher in the months following the September 11th Attack, and received positive reviews and press from WCBS – TV in New York, The Star Ledger Newspaper in New Jersey, and The Home News Tribune. Soliman started his career as the Managing Editor of the Gazette-Leader, a weekly newspaper for the towns of Elizabeth and Hillside in New Jersey, where he covered crime, education, and government related stories. He also interned for WNBC-TV in New York.

“It’s not always easy being an Arab and Muslim-American journalist. A lot of people in our profession throw obstacles in our way,” Soliman argues.

“But I believe that when your argument is for more objective and balanced coverage, by way of including more diverse voices in the perspectives offered in the media, eventually people will realize that it can only be a good thing. Writing Born in the USA was just the next domino in the set that will be falling on this issue.”

Soliman is a columnist with the Arab Writers Syndicate ( and a member of the Steering Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists-Arab American Journalists group. He is also a member of the Arab professional journalism associations NAAJA ( and AMEJA.

The book is available from most major bookstores, and online from Barnes & Noble and It is published by iUniverse Inc., in New York.


New original columns from Common Ground News Service

Title: The right to change one's religion
Author: Shaykh Abdallah Adhami
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 23 October 2007
Word Count: 888

Title: Groundbreaking event in Muslim-Christian solidarity
Author: Claude Salhani
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 23 October 2007
Word Count: 874

Title: Re-narration of Muslim-Western experiences
Author: Audifax
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 23 October 2007
Word Count: 821

Title: Indonesia: Is secularism a choice?
Author: Ali Noer Zaman
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 23 October 2007
Word Count: 824

Title: ~Youth Views~ Comics bridge cultural gaps
Author: Michael Chou and Youssef Morshedy
Source: The Common Ground News Service, 23 October 2007
Word Count: 738

We also include articles sourced from other publications that have granted us permission to distribute, which you may also find of interest:

Each article is available in Arabic, French, English, Indonesian and Urdu; just ask and I'd be happy to send you any translation. Please feel free to republish the article(s) and, if possible, let me know by sending an email to:

With regards,
Andrew Kessinger
Common Ground News Service


The right to change one's religion
Shaykh Abdallah Adhami

New York, New York - From the Code of Hammurabi to the Code of Maimonides, most major systems of law have affirmed that apostasy must be punished.

In the renowned code of the Roman emperor Justinian (483-565 CE), corpus juris civilis — the basis of all Roman canon law and of modern civil law — apostasy was "to be punished by death" and there was "no toleration of dissent".

The Biblical codes stipulate that the "one who doubts or ridicules one word of the Torah — or of the rabbinical authors — is a 'heretic' in the fullest sense, an infidel ... and there is no hope for him." The laws concerning such an unbeliever are very strict: "he may be killed directly". Or as Maimonides, the 13th century Andalucian rabbi and philosopher, advised regarding the abeyance of apostasy law in his era, "his death may be caused indirectly."

Islamic law, (shari'a), likewise stipulated killing in cases of established public apostasy. Though there is little literature on the emergence and application of apostasy law in the early periods of Muslim history, its actual application usually depended upon whether its declaration was public or private. Within the Islamic state, what minorities — religious and otherwise — did in their private lives was left to their own discretion, even if it may have been technically termed "deviant" or against Islamic teaching.

Shari'a, like all religious law, governs rites of worship and codes of individual and communal conduct and ethics. Contrary to stereotypical notions of religion, the earthly realm within shari'a is in fact pragmatically understood to be essentially secular.

From the point of view of religion, the fundamental nature of the human being is to yearn to worship God unencumbered. The private realm of apostasy had thus always reflected more complex dimensions that make ultimate human judgment impossible. The mysteries of the heart and mind are as beyond theology as they are barely fathomable to neuroscience.

It is our creative encounter with earthly, secular life that reveals our capacity for usefulness to others, and it is the premier instrument by which our own spiritual station is elevated. Authentic, sincere worship ultimately becomes the daily barometer of our spiritual state.

Free, rational debate had always been accommodated within the religious context of shari'a. This was a uniquely Islamic phenomenon, as true in European Cordoba as it was in Arabian Baghdad. Neither the theological abstraction of the Mu'tazilites, a 9th century group of philosophers, nor the unmitigated foreign dialectics by the secretive 10th century group, Brethren of Purity, for example, was ever grounds for removing one from the fold of Islam.

The most salient evidence for not punishing "private" apostasy in Islam is the perennial existence of the so-called hypocrites amidst Medinan society despite grave Qur'anic passages against them. Moreover, private "heretical" thought was neither censured nor censored; as long is it was not publicly preached, it was not condemned as such, nor were there articulations of a need to suppress it.

Outward or visible stability in the earthly domain is what allows the institutions of civil society to continue.

The non-violent resistance of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and his diplomacy during the Treaty of Hudaybiyah taught his companions a similar lesson. Under this Treaty, the Prophet allowed people to emigrate without any reprisal, despite the fact that they were abandoning Islam in the process (some having only adopted the new religion for reasons of self-interest).

No prophet was ever given the license to pass judgment over the faith of a human being — as the Qur'an repeatedly reiterates, judgment is ultimately with God alone. Hence, constructive service of our sacred traditions lies in showing their relevance as a vehicle of infinite creativity, not in demoting them to preoccupation with judgment of contemporary culture.

We need to acknowledge and affirm that diversity and difference are part of the divine intent for creation — that we were made as nations and tribes so that we may "learn about and be enriched by the ways of each other" (Qur'an, 49:13). Provincialism and relativism will always challenge diversity — especially when the latter is disguised as tolerance; and not because people are inherently incapable of living together, either.

We need a renewed devotion to the truth, and to seeking it freely through our established non-sectarian, scholarly institutions. Thomas Jefferson exhorted: "Truth is ... the proper and sufficient antagonist to error." It is only through respectful free argument and debate that ideologies can be judged and challenged on their own merits.

The reformation that is direly needed — across the entire globe — is the honest reassessment of the original sources of all our oppressive cultural myths and tyrannical modes of thinking.

As Muslims, we need to establish a higher barometer for what constitutes competence in the service of the scholarly disciplines of shari'a. This would equip us with greater clarity and confidence and prevent us from thoughtlessly demonstrating in passionate protest every time a passing wind seems to challenge our faith.

As religious leaders of all faiths, we need to acknowledge our responsibility for much alienation and estrangement among the faithful around the world. This would begin to re-establish the credibility of our institutions, which would eventually re-ignite the religious imagination of the masses.

Lastly, we need a renewed commitment to focus on an ethos of compassionate, selfless service as a public trust; and this is certainly more becoming of the example of the Blessed Messengers that we claim loyalty to.


* Shaykh Abdallah Adhami is an Arab-American imam and a leading scholar of Islam. He is currently working on an exploration of the linguistic implications of apparently problematic verses in the Qur'an. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


Groundbreaking event in Muslim-Christian solidarity
Claude Salhani

Washington, DC - "The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians." An open letter carrying this message was sent by 138 of the world's most senior Muslim leaders to the heads of all Christian churches — including Pope Benedict XVI, addressing Christians around the world on the eve of Eid ul Fitr, the Muslim holy day marking the end of Ramadan.

This letter, a welcome high-profile olive branch extended to all Christians, is described as a truly historic event and was even more significant in that among the signatories of the document, one could find the names of several prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Everybody thinks this is a historic event," said John L. Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding: "…if you look at the history of Islam and the Muslim world, this is really the first time that we have an initiative where Muslims have collectively come together and agreed to what binds them to Christians," said Esposito.

Indeed, this initiative by Muslim leaders from around the world to reach out to all Christians is a first, and it comes not a minute too late as relations between the two communities are particularly strained.

The tensions came to a boil beginning with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, in which close to 3,000 people were killed. These terrorist attacks by self-declared Muslims were followed by a series of similarly murderous ones on Western targets such as London, Madrid and other cities. The controversy over the offensive caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, which resulted in anti-Western riots from London to Islamabad, added fuel to the fire only to be followed by reportedly damaging statements from the Pope about Islam and violence not long afterward.

The schism between the West and Muslims only seemed to be widening.

The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan — two Muslim countries — spearheaded by the United States and mostly Western coalition forces have done nothing to abate that tension. The situation was aggravated when President George W. Bush spoke of a "crusade" at the outset of the Iraq war, which is how many Muslims perceive the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Emerging as it does from the turmoil and tension between the West and Islam, this document is truly "a dramatic and groundbreaking display of international solidarity," as the letter was described in a communiqué issued on behalf of Muslim leaders.

Esposito, an expert on Islam, emphasised that Muslims and Christians share the same principles of love of one God and love of the neighbour. The Georgetown scholar pointed to a number of similarities between the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Bible.

Despite language differences between the Hebrew Old Testament, the original word of Jesus Christ in Aramaic, and the actual transmitted Greek of the New Testament, the three versions have the same command: to love God fully with one's heart and soul and to be fully devoted to Him. The Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, carries the same message.

"Everyone is interested in political and economic contentions, difficulties, struggles, wars," said Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, during a press conference in Washington marking the event.

The differences between Christians and Muslims, say the theological experts, is a difference of theology rather than of politics.

"Without a theological solution, without a certain sense of accepting the other…all other solutions are expediency and sooner or later they wither away," said Nasr.

"Post 9/11, a common question is: where are the moderate Muslim voices?" said Esposito. "This historic document is a crystal clear message of peace and tolerance from 138 Muslim leaders from across the Islamic world," said Esposito.

The authors of the letter believe that with over half of the world's population consisting of Muslims and Christians, meaningful world peace can only come from peace and justice between those two faiths.

The signatories of the document, who include some of the world's most influential Islamic leaders and thinkers, are calling for tolerance, understanding and moderation. The uniqueness of this approach lies not only in the fact that Muslims have extended and opened their arms to Christians, but it also marks "an historic achievement in terms of Islamic unity," according to Esposito.

What is significant in this case is that this initiative groups Muslims from right across the spectrum, uniting Sunnis and Shiites and individuals ascribing to different schools of thought within those two branches of Islam.

The driving force behind this letter, and a previous one to the Pope by a smaller group of 38 scholars a year ago, has been the Royal Academy of Jordan, an international and non-governmental Islamic institute headquartered in Amman.

While the 138 signatures on this historic document are those of recognised Muslim leaders, for this initiative to succeed it needs the support of the masses. This letter is undoubtedly an encouraging step, but as one cynical commentator put it, prominent as they may be, these are still only 138 names out of 1.6 billion.

Indeed, the task facing mainstream Muslim leaders — of reclaiming Muslim and Western attention away from the radical minority — is as monumental as the difference between 138 and 1.6 billion. But as the saying goes, faith can move mountains.


* Claude Salhani is editor of the Middle East Times. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


Re-narration of Muslim-Western experiences

Surabaya, East Java – A lack of trust exists between the Muslim world and the West despite various attempts to bridge these two civilisations. Since the tragedy of 9/11, each side has become even more suspicious of the other. Consider the demonstrations and violence that occurred in response to the Pope's speech in September 2006, or the banning of the hijab (headscarf) in France. It seems that this kind of sensitivity will exist as long as the roots of the problem are not addressed, and the potential for disharmony will continue despite the various attempts to build bridges between the Muslim world and the West.

One root of the Muslim-Western polemic may lie in the collective subconscious. There is something that lies latent but has the power to dominate our conscious behaviour. Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, explained that the "shadow" is the deepest layer of our personality and contains personal and collective psychological qualities that we are ashamed of. These relatively autonomous elements become a part of our psychological makeup and are capable of influencing actual behaviour.

This shadow, on a global level, clouds the relationship between the Muslim world and the West. Elements of the shadow are created from past events and leave scars on both sides. The Crusades, for example, occurred long ago in the Middle Ages, but they left an indelible scar in the collective subconscious of both Muslims and the West. The events of 9/11 also have the potential to leave scars. Such scars are "remembered" in both Muslim and Western socio-cultural institutions, persisting in the collective memory.

The persistence of these scars reinforces certain stereotypes, causing some Westerners to say, "Muslims are hostile toward democracy, women, homosexuals and other religions", while some Muslims will say, "The West wants only to dominate us and demonise Islam".

Perceptions such as these create barriers between individuals and groups and reduce the likelihood that one will engage with the other.

As a result, even though peace accords are signed and public statements of good will and collaboration are made, genuine contact between Muslims and those in the West must also occur. However, lasting scars create the fiction that the stranger is threatening and frightening, and as a result, some people are deceived by the shadow that lies in the collective subconscious telling them that Westerners are infidels or that Muslims spread their doctrine by the sword. These stereotypes induce fear and reduce the opportunity for harmonious relations.

Re-narration, a psychoanalytical technique for dealing with past experiences, attempts to deal with the trauma of historical scars, deconstructing those narratives that promote mistrust and prejudice.

Re-narration causes people to transform the way they see traumatic events from threatening and personal, to neutral and objective. When traumatic events are looked at through this lens, the sadness, wounds, scars and tears become superficial, neutralising the hurt.

Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott's 2005 epic movie, is an example of the re-narration of stubborn scars related to Muslim-Western relations. Loosely based on the life of Balian of Ibelin, an important nobleman in the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century, the movie demonstrates that Christians, Muslims and Jews can live together in harmony — so long as fanaticism is kept at bay. It encourages audiences to look beyond "who is wrong and who is right".

This is demonstrated by Balian's words: "The wall? The Mosque? The Sepulchre? Who has claim? No one has claim. All have claim! We defend this city not to protect these stones, but the people living within these walls." The dialogue portrays the war, not as one of religious identity, but as an artistic work. Kingdom of Heaven transforms the scars, allowing the shadow to leave the subconscious, tearing down the walls that prevent honest engagement with others.

The Hijabi Monologues is another example of re-narration. The performance by two University of Chicago graduate students creates a space where Muslim American women can tell their personal stories in their own words. Through the power of re-narration, claims are challenged and generalisations confronted. Listeners gain access to shared human experiences and an enriched understanding of the lives of these women, which transcend superficial judgments based on their appearance.

Through re-narration, traumatic past experiences are more readily accepted. Individuals do not need to mourn at every memorial along their path. This willingness to accept the past does not necessarily mean completely forgetting traumatic events, instead it is an openness, an acceptance of an incident that has occurred in the past. And in this openness there is unconditional forgiveness for the other that does not demand compensation, because it is does not involve financial or physical exchange.

Re-narration can take place through many mediums: photography, art, theatre, dance, literature, sitcom, even news. Only with true storytelling, listening and understanding can the shadow that is locked in the subconscious of both Muslims and Westerners — including Muslim Westerners — be released. Only then can bridging and reconciliation attempts yield successful results.


* Audifax is a psychologist and author of "The Myth of Harry Potter" (2005) and "Imagining Lara Croft" (2006). This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


Indonesia: Is secularism a choice?
Ali Noer Zaman

Jakarta - During his one-month visit to Indonesia between July and August 2007, Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, a Sudanese Muslim intellectual who now teaches at Emory School of Law in the United States, campaigned for Muslim countries to adopt a secular system of governance. In this system, the state is not based on specific religious teachings, whose interpretations, he argues, are monopolised by the authority. The state would also not intervene in the religious beliefs and practices of its subjects, with the possible exception of donating aid to religious institutions.

An-Na'im disagrees with the efforts of those political and social organisations that champion for the adoption of shari'a, a political system based on Islamic principles. He believes that shari'a is based on time-bound religious interpretations from scholars of previous eras. These antiquated interpretations have many shortcomings, such as the relegation of women and non-Muslims to the role of second-class citizens in society.

Indeed, the debate over secular versus Islamic states in the Muslim world is not a new one, and has raged on since the abolishment of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. In Egypt, the Islamic scholar Ali Abdul al-Raziq provoked controversy with his book Islam wa Ushul al Hukm (Islam and the Fundamentals of Government), in which he stated that the main message of the Prophet Muhammad has to do only with religious matters, while mundane affairs are relegated to the ummah (Muslim community). He rejected the unification of religious and administrative affairs under the control of a caliph who serves as a successor to the Prophet.

It is likely not by chance that An-Naim chose to make this speech in Indonesia, a country with a long history of secular nationalism that still struggles with calls for the implementation of a state governed by religious laws.

Sukarno (1901-1970), the first president of the Republic of Indonesia and a secular nationalist, was the first Indonesian Muslim leader who triggered the discourse on the separation of religion from politics, rejecting Islam as political ideology, and preferring secular democracy as a foundation for the country's government. For him, Islam within a secular state would not be marginalised, but would instead function as the moral force of the Muslim community.

In response, Muhammad Natsir (1908-1993), an Indonesian scholar known for his Islamist orientation, believed that Islam and the state are inextricably linked; the first being an ideology of the second. In practice, the state has to be controlled by the Muslim authority because it is a medium through which to implement Islamic orders, such as those regulating zakat (alms), religious marriage and the banning of alcohol and adultery.

As Suharto's New Order administration (1967-1998) reinforced modernisation, the Muslim community in general suspected it as having a hidden agenda to mitigate the role of Islam in socio-political life. To get out of the deadlock, the young thinker Nurcholish Madjid (1939-2005) made a breakthrough by proposing the idea that Islamic values could be realised through spiritual and cultural development. Categorising Islam as a political ideology would only trap the religion in political interest conflicts. In his words: Islam, yes; Islamic political parties, no.

Indonesia in the post-Suharto era has maintained the Pancasila, a political ideology comprised of the belief in one God, humanity, the unity of Indonesia, democracy and social justice. However, demands for the implementation of shari'a remain audible as many Muslim social organisations seek to integrate facets of shari'a by hiding them within an amendment to chapter 29 of the 1945 constitution, which says that the Muslim community should practice its religion fully and through local regulations.

In a 2002 national survey conducted by the Centre for Research of Islam and Community at Syarif Hidayatullah State University, Indonesia's Muslim community also demonstrated growing interest in an Islamic state. In this study, for example, 71% of respondents supported the implementation of shari'a in Indonesia. However, it is worth noting that only 33% agreed with cutting off a thief's hand as punishment for stealing, which some would argue is a quintessential example of shari'a at work. These findings indicate that though the majority of respondents diverge in their understanding of what shari'a, would look like.

In addition, the result of the democratic elections of 1999 and 2004 suggest that the majority of Indonesians are still loyal to nationalist secular parties such as the Golkar Party, also known as the Party of the Functional Groups, and the Indonesian Democratic Party of the Struggle, instead of Islamic-based parties such as the United Development Party and the Prosperous Justice Party.

Also, a national poll conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute earlier in October revealed decreased support for Islamic radical organisations such as the Jamaat Islamiah, Defenders Front for Islam, Indonesian Hizbut Tahrir and the Indonesian Martyrs Council for a variety of reasons, including the lack of financial resources and the incapability to translate Islamic values into socio-political movements.

If these polling results are any indication, Indonesia is unlikely to become an Islamic state anytime in the near future.


*Ali Noer Zaman is a writer on socio-religious issues. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.


~Youth Views~ Comics bridge cultural gaps
Michael Chou and Youssef Morshedy

Washington, DC/ Maadi, Egypt - One way of looking at the tensions between the Muslim world and the West is as a "war of ideas", with each side attempting to influence the other's "hearts and minds". This paradigm suggests that at the heart of this tension lies misunderstandings and stereotypes when it comes to the other's culture, values and ideology. Arguably, then, innovative public diplomacy initiatives that address these root causes may be effective means of improving in Muslim-Western relations.

To this end, governments and other organisations are devoting more attention to the cultural aspects of their diplomacy efforts through initiatives such as international film festivals and book fairs that introduce foreign populations to different cultures and values.

Of course, any good relationship must be a two-way street. A bridging of the tensions between cultures requires both sides be receptive to learning about the other. More importantly, both sides must take an initiative in communicating their values to enhance intercultural understanding.

Surprisingly, effective communication and exchange of Muslim and Western ideas, values and perspectives can take place through the world of comics and animation.

Over the past decade, the comic-publishing and animation industries have developed into a multi-billion dollar market, seemingly dominated by Japanese firms. The ascension of the Japanese comics and animation industry is a recent phenomenon though. In the last 20 years, Japanese comics and animation series have gained immense popularity around the globe. By surreptitiously serving as Japanese cultural products, it seems reasonable to speculate that as the current generation of children matures, anti-Japanese sentiments that persist from World War II in countries such as China may be tempered by these new interactions with Japanese culture.

From this perspective, comics and animation appear to be innocuous vehicles through which societal values can be communicated to children. Indeed, children seem particularly receptive to the creative mix of visuals and sounds in animation, which arguably enhances the quality of communication as well. By targeting children — the future leaders of the planet, the seeds for intercultural understanding are sown.

For adults, too, it seems that the cultural and counter-cultural elements in comics and animation have resulted in the mobilisation of global communities through their appeal to transnational audiences. In 2006, the world witnessed the mobilisation of Muslim communities following the publication of cartoon panels depicting the Prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper. During the same year, the Asia-Europe Foundation brought together Asian and European comic artists in Singapore to develop a common publication. These collective reactions are examples of the extraordinary power of comics and animation.

From this perspective, it would be foolish for governments and private organisations interested in arts and cultural policy not to utilise the potential of published and animated comics as a conduit for cultural transmission.

Muslim comic books such as The 99 by Teshkeel Comics have already made a promising start. Taking place during the fall of Baghdad in 1258, and the fall of Granada in 1492, The 99 revolves around 99 heroes from 99 different countries, each possessing a "Noor Stone" which bestows special powers to the 99 different characters.

According to Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, founder and CEO of the Teshkeel Media Group, "The 99 meshes history with fiction and teaches global human values implicit in the 99 attributes of God — values like generosity, strength, wisdom, foresight and dozens of others that unfortunately are not used to describe Islam in the media today. So not only are 99 values being communicated, but 99 different ways of conflict resolution to boot."

In fact, the key to the success of The 99, and in turn its effectiveness as a medium of cross cultural exchange, seems to be its infusion of these Islamic values with a predominantly Western style of comic drawing and presentation. Muslim audiences are exposed to Western aesthetics while Western audiences are provided with an informal but interesting guide to certain Islamic values.

Comics and animation may also be used in creative public diplomacy initiatives on a more formal intergovernmental level. Public diplomacy initiatives may aim at facilitating cooperation amongst interested representatives from Islamic and Western governments for a co-produced series of structured comics and animation through which cultural values may be communicated.

Global peace and stability requires, first and foremost, an understanding and respect for different cultures and perspectives. Comics and animation, as mediums for the exchange of cultural ideas and norms that facilitate understanding, seem to be fitting formats for innovative public diplomacy initiatives with this aim.


*Michael Chou and Youssef Morshedy both appreciate and enjoy comics and animation. Michael is completing a combined medicine and arts degree at the University of Melbourne. Youssef is studying journalism, mass communication and business administration at the American University in Cairo. They co-wrote this article as part of Soliya's intercultural dialogue program. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007,
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.