• Islamic Convention this Weekend in Detroit (November 26, 2016) Open or Close

    Publish Date: 2016/11/26 - 08:46

    Islamic convention this weekend in Detroit
    cobo frontThe Islamic Organization of North America is hosting its 12Th annual convention in Detroit, addressing serious challenges facing the Muslim community in America with a focus on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and rising Islamophobia.
    Hawzah News Agency-The Islamic Organization of North America is hosting its 12th annual convention in Detroit this weekend. It will take place at Cobo Hall for three days, starting yesterday.
    It is addressing serious challenges facing the Muslim community in America with a focus on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and rising Islamophobia, according to William Antoun, assistant outreach director of IONA.
    “The rhetoric is bordering on hate-mongering. It is breeding hate in a subtle way,” said Azer Colakovic, secretary general for the group. “People feel it. People are worried.”
    Addressing those concerns, and finding possible solutions, mark the nonprofit religious group’s “Living the Faith: The Struggle Continues — Confronting Challenges, Identifying Solutions,” which runs Friday through Sunday at Cobo Center.
    The convention, open to the public, features lectures and workshops headed by imams and educators as well as interfaith leaders tackling topics including Islamic family law, empowerment and youth advancement.
    As many as 1,000 guests are expected to attend the gathering for IONA, which is based in Warren and has chapters across the country and in Canada, Colakovic said.
    The event is designed to serve as a springboard for action in the community, Colakovic said. “Throughout the year we will be working on issues, identifying individuals who can work on specific challenges.”
    Discrimination and targeting of Muslims has been highlighted in recent weeks following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election. His positions on issues such as Muslim immigration prompted protests in Metro Detroit as well as nationwide.
    Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has noted a spike in incidents targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since Nov. 8, and Southern Poverty Law Center also found rising reports of harassment.
    http://en.hawzahnews.com/detail/News/347652

  • Islamic Convention in Detroit This Weekend (November 25, 2016) Open or Close

    Islamic Convention in Detroit This Weekend
    By Virginia Gordan, Nov 25, 2016
    cobo frontBrian Rawson-Ketchum / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS


    The Islamic Organization of North America is hosting its 12th annual convention in Detroit this weekend. It will take place at Cobo Hall for three days, starting Friday.
    It is addressing serious challenges facing the Muslim community in America with a focus on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and rising Islamophobia, according to William Antoun, assistant outreach director of IONA.
    Antoun said another big focus will be "the political fallout from this election and our community's response and obligations and challenges ahead."
    Antoun said an important topic will be integration and political and civic engagement.
    "Most Muslims in this country are citizens. They are Americans. And they see themselves as Americans," said Antoun. "So how do we change that stereotype or that myth that it's some sort of foreign element to our society - which it's not."
    The convention will bring in expert speakers and will feature small workshop opportunities to foster discussion and find solutions.
    Antoun said they are hoping to exceed last year's attendance of 2,000.

     

    http://michiganradio.org/post/islamic-convention-detroit-weekend

  • Islamic Convention this Weekend in Detroit (November 24, 2016) Open or Close

    Islamic Convention this Weekend in Detroit
    Mark Hicks , The Detroit News 11:53 p.m. EST November 24, 2016


    imam mustapha detroit newsDuring the Islamic Organization of North America’s annual convention last year, experts identified what they consider the most pressing challenges for the Muslim community in Metro Detroit and elsewhere.
    Among those ranking highest were drugs, mental health and atheism. But since then, another issue — Islamophobia — has become more problematic in the wake of an acrimonious presidential election and increasing alleged hate crimes against Muslims nationwide.
    The environment is now so tense, some attendees to IONA’s 12th gathering this weekend in downtown Detroit wonder whether their children should wear traditional garb for fear of attracting unwanted attention.
    “The rhetoric is bordering on hate-mongering. It is breeding hate in a subtle way,” said Azer Colakovic, secretary general for the group. “People feel it. People are worried.”
    Addressing those concerns, and finding possible solutions, mark the nonprofit religious group’s “Living the Faith: The Struggle Continues — Confronting Challenges, Identifying Solutions,” which runs Friday through Sunday at Cobo Center.
    The convention, open to the public, features lectures and workshops headed by imams and educators as well as interfaith leaders tackling topics including Islamic family law, empowerment and youth advancement.
    “We envision IONACON to be a living convention,” Imam and IONA President Steve Elturk said in a message to attendees. “Through the collective efforts of imams, experts, parents, educators, counselors, mentors among other professionals, we will, by the Grace of Allah (SWT), be able to help heal our community from its social ills.”
    As many as 1,000 guests are expected to attend the gathering for IONA, which is based in Warren and has chapters across the country and in Canada, Colakovic said.
    The event is designed to serve as a springboard for action in the community, Colakovic said. “Throughout the year we will be working on issues, identifying individuals who can work on specific challenges.”
    Among the timely highlights: “Post Election Session: In Solidarity for Safeguarding Our Constitutional Rights for All” led Saturday by attorney Shereef Akeel, Judge Adam Shakoor, activist Marifer Calleja and professor Paul Hammer. And on Sunday, a workshop called “Combating Islamophobia” is scheduled to include speakers such as Robert Bruttell, board chairman for the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, and Steve Spreitzer, president/CEO at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion.
    Discrimination and targeting of Muslims has been highlighted in recent weeks following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election. His positions on issues such as Muslim immigration prompted protests in Metro Detroit as well as nationwide.
    Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has noted a spike in incidents targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since Nov. 8, and Southern Poverty Law Center also found rising reports of harassment.
    Gathering with other Muslims at the convention can boost learning ways to combat hate, said Amanda Jaczkowski, 24, a nonprofit worker from Ferndale. “It really just helps ground you in basic knowledge that will make you more comfortable when people are trying to explain to you that your religion is wrong — just to be able to respond to that respectfully and based fundamentally in Islam instead of based on emotions,” she said.
    IONA convention

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/religion/2016/11/24/islamic-convention-weekend-detroit/94408228/

    For information about tickets and programs: www.ionaconvention.org

  • Metro Muslims address radicalization worries within (June 17, 2016) Open or Close

    636016777943294584 Imam Elturk 02 Dearborn Heights — One fearful thought gripped Bissan Harb when she learned about Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the worst in modern American history: “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.”

    Harb, 42, a business owner, mother of two boys and a Lebanese Muslim who has spent all but the first four years of her life in America, has seen how fear can spike after terrorist attacks, putting the Muslim community on the defensive and, in some cases, spurring a disaffected few to a radicalized response.

    The Canton Township woman doesn’t worry about the temperament of her two sons, one in college and the other in middle school, but she doesn’t want them to be looked at like they have a “flaw, as a hazard.”

    “I can teach my sons not to hate, but you don’t know what other parents are teaching,” Harb said during an interview at her insurance office one day after the Orlando shooting. The attack left 50 dead at a gay nightclub, including the 29-year-old shooter, Omar Mateen, a son of Afghan immigrants who grew up in Florida and professed loyalty to the Islamic State group.

    “You don’t know what the media is teaching and websites. The proper form of religion does not allow you to hate, does not allow you to use violence, does not allow you to discriminate against anybody.”

    In a region with one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East, Metro Detroit Muslims say they are sensitive to concerns their children, friends or relatives may become radicalized.

    It’s not a widespread fear, but they acknowledge a select few might get lured to it as some Americans stereotype and discriminate against them in the wake of the Orlando shootings or the terrorist attack late last year in San Bernardino, California, when a husband and wife who declared allegiance to the Islamic State killed 14 people.

    GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for temporarily banning Muslims from the United States until the country improves its screening process.

    Andy Arena, former FBI director of the Detroit office, said people who are most tempted to become radicalized are those who are “disenfranchised, kind of living on the edge, they don’t fit in society.”

    He said families have to pay attention to warning signs and report them to law enforcement. He added that radicalization isn’t coming from mosques but rather when people are alone and tuning into internet websites that spew hatred.

    “It’s almost impossible to find people who self-radicalize,” Arena said. “For the FBI or an intelligence agency to find this is a needle in a haystack. How do you stop that? The only way you do it is the people close to these individuals, they are going to see the change in behavior, they are going to hear certain things.”

    Arena said racial and religious prejudice against peaceful Muslims can have a negative influence, too, and that it “plays right into what these radical, fundamentalist groups are telling them.”

    Metro Detroit itself has not been untouched by terrorism.

    Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Muslim, got a life sentence after his failed Christmas 2009 attack aboard a Detroit-bound airliner as part of an al-Qaida plot.

    A 21-year-old Dearborn Heights man, Khalil Abu-Rayyan, has been in federal detention since Feb. 16 after a grand jury in Detroit indicted him on two gun-related felonies. While the grand jury did not indict Rayyan, a Muslim, on any terrorism charges, he had been under FBI surveillance since May 2015 for allegedly making threats about committing acts of terror and martyrdom in Metro Detroit.

    Local Muslims say the insults and looks they receive or prejudice they experience don’t shake their love for America, whether they were born here or immigrated. But they also know propaganda of hate from terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida, can also play on the fears of some Muslims who don’t have the support systems they enjoy. surveillance since May 2015 for allegedly making threats about committing acts of terror and martyrdom in Metro Detroit.

    Trump has suggested that Muslims need to report extremists within their community, saying “they know who they are.” But Metro Detroit Muslims say it’s difficult to know if someone has self-radicalized or taken on extreme views, particularly when they are loners communicating heavily through social media.

    Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, the leader of the Islamic Organization of North America mosque in Warren and a leader in the Muslim community in southeast Michigan, said the reality is “it’s not impossible” for a few sullen, lonely people to take on radical tendencies, “particularly for individuals who are lost in their identity.”

    “How do we know? We cannot get into the minds and hearts of people,” Elturk said after a late-night Ramadan prayer service this week. “They could be coming to the mosque, but in most cases, they don’t. They are in their basements or in their rooms surfing the internet, going to these websites and no one knows about them. But still, who can peek into the hearts of people and see what they are going to do? We don’t know.”

    Elturk questioned whether the attackers in Orlando and San Bernardino were real Muslims just as Christians, he said, may question the Christianity of Dylann Roof, who is white and is accused of shooting and killing nine black churchgoers, including a pastor, in a South Carolina church after praying with them in 2015.

    “I hope we don’t associate his actions with the faith he supposedly belongs to,” saying Elturk, adding his congregation does a thorough job of educating youth and others about Muslim discrimination and how to deal with it.

    But whether Muslims block out the prejudice aimed at them over these attacks, he added, “people are people. People are humans. People react based on their emotions and feelings. That is a fact. And the more you corner somebody, the bigger the chance is that they will react.”

    Some Muslims in Metro Detroit say they strive to deal with discrimination calmly to avoid playing into stereotypes.

    Hibah Ahmad, 22, attends the University of Michigan at Dearborn and wears a traditional head scarf that tends to bring her attention outside her native Dearborn. While boarding a plane in Florida last month, Ahmad said an older white woman refused to sit next to her.

    But Ahmad said she doesn’t harbor ill feelings from the incident and would never retaliate.

    “You don’t want to show them that they are getting to you,” said Ahmad, who is of Palestinian descent. “You kind of have to stay calm. You don’t want to show them the side that they think you are. They think that you’re violent so you kind of have to not be. She thinks that I’m this mean girl that’s going to blow up the plane.

    “But I’m just going to be the calm, 22-year-old girl that’s going to smile and look at her like you’re crazy for wanting to move away from me.”

    Neda Mohie El-Deen, 28, of Dearborn was stunned Monday afternoon when a middle-aged white man stopped her in the parking lot in the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills to verbally accost her.

    Invoking the name of Trump and subtly referencing the Orlando shooting, he shouted, “Hey, you, homophobe, you (expletive) terrorist, I can’t wait for Trump to come to power and deport you and your kind.” Her retort: “I looked at him and smiled and gave him a thumbs up and walked to my car. What are you going to say to someone like that?”

    El-Deen, who is from Iraq and wears a hijab, said she had never been talked to like that, even after 9/11. But she fears the more Americans attack Muslims, that maybe one person may have enough and turn violent. Her parents taught her to not respond to ignorance.

    636016772380142923 02 Mohannad Hakeem“But someone who is weak-minded can just wake up and be like, I’m going to be labeled as this anyway, they just could get weak at the moment and just go commit a violent act,” said El-Deen, a law student at Western Michigan University’s Auburn Hills campus.

    “So it’s possible that if this (prejudice) continues. But it could happen with any kind of discrimination. It could happen if you continue to kill black teenagers, it could happen if you continue to shout against the gays and be homophobic.”

    Mohannad Hakeem, a research engineer at Ford Motor Co. who teaches youth about the Quran at various mosques in the region, said Islamic teaching does not emphasize revenge against people and that “when wronged, don’t respond and try to get retribution.”

    “I would tell the parents to be smart and watch their kids’ behavior and not let anyone play them,” he said. “And make sure you learn Islam from a person in front of you, not from a blog, not from a website.”

     

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    (313) 222-2620

    Twitter@leonardnfleming

     

    Link to the original article: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2016/06/16/metro-muslims-address-radicalization-worries-within/86018938/

  • Local Muslim leaders condemn attacks on Paris, Beirut (November 18, 2015) Open or Close

    Local Muslim leaders condemn attacks on Paris BeirutImam Steve Elturk, second from left, co-chair of the Imam's Council of the MMCC, addresses the media as Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, third from left, spiritual leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom, and other Imams listen. (Photo: Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)

    Dearborn Heights — A group of Metro Detroit Muslim leaders on Wednesday condemned last week’s terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris.

    “The barbarian bloodshed in Beirut and Paris and daily terrorist attacks in other parts of the Middle East and Africa are all warnings for us to take terrorism very seriously,” said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Imams’ Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    “We must demonstrate better determination to stop this aggression and uproot it from its foundations.”

    Elahi made the remarks at a news conference held at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. He was joined by about 15 other Muslim and
    Christian leaders.

    The group also called on Gov. Rick Snyder to reconsider his decision made earlier this week to halt efforts to bring refugees from Syria to the state.

    Snyder earlier this week suspended the acceptance of Syrian refugees. The governors of at least 22 other states followed suit as President Barack Obama defended his policy of taking in 10,000 more Syrians next year.

    “We’re disappointed Gov. Snyder has pulled his support for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Michigan,” said Iman Abdulrazzaq, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    “Instead of giving into fear, this should be a time to increase our empathy for the victims of violence and extremism.”

    Three Dearborn residents, including a mother of four who had returned to her native Lebanon in a quest to bring her family to the U.S., were among dozens slain Thursday in twin terrorist bombings in Lebanon, a day before 129 people were killed in Paris.

    The press conference comes amid an investigation by Dearborn police, state and federal authorities amid concerns about recent threats in nearby Dearborn, according to the FBI.

    “In the immediate wake of the attacks in Paris, law enforcement at all levels has confronted a surge of misguided retaliatory threats toward others across the country,” the FBI said in a press release Tuesday. “In response to recent threats in Dearborn, the FBI Detroit Field Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Dearborn Police Department have collaborated to ensure law abiding citizens are protected, and to deter those who would threaten them.”

    The release did not say which threats were received involving Dearborn.

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    (313) 222-2058

     Source: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2015/11/18/local-muslim-leaders-condemn-attacks-paris-beirut/75992758/

     

  • “Enough is enough,” says Muslim leader about Trump’s remarks (December 8, 2015) Open or Close

    Imam Mustapha ElturkImam Mustapha ElturkBy Aftab Borka, The Oakland Press

    POSTED: 12/08/15, 10:53 AM EST

    The latest controversial remarks by the front-running GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” has sparked a wave of reactions from local leaders and readers.

    “The Muslim community has had enough of his rhetoric,” said Imam Mustapha El-Turk, Director of the Islamic Organization of North America.

    El-Turk, a Troy resident, said Trump is trying to score points in a political environment that is “very Islamophobic.”

    “We are just like other human beings in this country enjoying its freedoms and diversity,” said El-Turk.

    He said Trump is speaking to “individuals who want to hear this” and is not helping in the current political climate, as opposed to what he described as “logical” and “educated” remarks by President Obama recently on the issue.

    Mahir Osman, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Metro Detroit, called Trump’s comments “ridiculous.”

    “It is ridiculous to think that an entire religious group could be banned from the land of the free,” said Osman. “We are troubled by comments made by certain personalities, and encourage prayer and community service from our members in this tense time.”

    Osman, on behalf of his community, also addressed the Rochester Hills City Council recently to “reassure” the city that his community believes in an
    obligation to humanity.

    “It is incumbent upon us to be peaceful and law-abiding citizens,” said Osman, referring to the teachings of his religion.

    EMERGENCY MEETING

    The Royal Oak-based Michigan Muslim Community Council says it is going to have an emergency meeting convened in the coming days to put their heads
    together and come decide how to handle this situation for “everyone.”

    MMCC Chairman Muzammil Ahmed said the time to ignore Trump’s rhetoric is over.

    Ahmed said Trump’s statement is not just an attack on Muslims but on anyone who is not mainstream and wants to practice religion.

    Ahmed said the council also will have leaders from other religions in the emergency meeting to discuss their strategy. The last time the council had such a
    meeting was a few months back when armed groups planned protests in front of mosques across the country.

    EFFECT ON TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN

    Trump’s bold statements have also got political pundits thinking about the future of his campaign.

    Oakland University Associate Professor and Political Science Department Chair Dave Dulio predicts that Trump will eventually falter down in favor of a more
    traditional candidate because Republican voters will consider his electability.

    “At some point, Republican primary voters are going to ask themselves ‘Who can beat Hillary?’”said Dulio “And my guess is it won’t be Donald Trump.”

    Here are some reactions from The Oakland Press Facebook page:

    ●  Carrie Fountaine Hernandez: “What’s next? Round up all the Muslims in America and put them into camps like we did with the Japanese? Trump seems tobe following the Hitler playbook and it’s extremely sad to see so many are agreeing with him.”

    ●  Joshua Jordan: “What an idiot, does he think there is a worldwide Muslim registry or something? All a radical Muslim would have to say is I’m not Muslim, it’s not a freaking ethnicity genius, it’s a radical belief.”

    Timothy Cullen: “Let’s hear the Muslim leaders speak out against any Jihad and take back their religion. I don’t see Buddhists killing innocents. I don’t see Hindu terrorists attacking innocents around the world. I don’t see Taoists terrorists across the world killing innocents and their religious leaders praising them. No, we only see this reign of terrorism come from the Muslim religion.”

    ●  Joe Moore: “Then come out against the militants and stand with us. You all cower behind “Islam is a peaceful religion” and do nothing to stop the mad men.”

    ●  Amy DeLoye: “When it comes to Donald Trump, I don’t think anything at all.”

    ------------

    Link: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20151208/enough-is-enough-says-muslim-leader-about-trumps-remarks

  • Interfaith Center for Racial Justice to document Muslims challenges in Macomb County (May 22, 2015) Open or Close

    By Frank DeFrank, The Macomb Daily

    May 22, 2015

    The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice will study Muslims and their increasing numbers in Macomb County, thanks to a grant received from the Michigan Humanities Council.

    The center, which promotes tolerance and diversity amid the ever-changing demographics of the county, received a ,000 Heritage Grant, which will be used to “document the history of a growing, but under-reported Muslim community that has been living, working and going to school in Macomb County.”

    “The Heritage grant award to document and present the history of Muslims in Macomb County enhances our efforts to increase understanding of diverse cultures and faith traditions while also trying to reduce fear, ignorance, and discrimination of Muslims,” said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center.

    “Recording their story and sharing their contributions will, hopefully, expand appreciation and acceptance of Muslims here as we strive for unity in creating a welcoming and inclusive community that supports and enables the contributions and gifts of everyone.”

    The initial phase of the project, Curro said, will be to gather stories of individual members of the Muslim community about their experiences as residents of Macomb County.

    In conducting its project, the Interfaith Center will work with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services as well as the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA).

    IONA’s president and imam, Steve Elturk, is a member of the Interfaith Center’s board of directors.

    IONA encountered resistance in 2006 when the organization announced its plan to renovate a strip mall in Warren to open the city’s first mosque.

    Despite the opposition, and with the support of the Warren City Council, IONA eventually did open the facility.

    “This project will expand our continuing efforts to strengthen community and build bridges of understanding among people of diverse cultures and faith traditions in Macomb County,” Curro said.

    http://www.macombdaily.com/general-news/20150522/interfaith-center-for-racial-justice-to-document-muslims-challenges-in-macomb-county

  • Feds: Detroit area not more likely to feed ISIS ranks (March 4, 2015) Open or Close

    Feds: Detroit area not more likely to feed ISIS ranks

    Robert Snell and Oralandar Brand-Williams, The Detroit News

    March 4, 2015

    The FBI and federal prosecutors in Detroit say the risk of area residents joining the Islamic State militants is not amplified by the region’s large Muslim population, but they are concerned about recruitment efforts.

    Federal agents are actively monitoring the threat locally and have encouraged community, religious and civil rights leaders to help discourage people from traveling overseas to train with the Islamic State group and returning to wage terror in Metro Detroit.

    There has been only one Islamic State-related criminal case filed in Detroit. A man told federal agents last month that he was traveling overseas to join the militant group, according to federal court records.

    The extremist group’s threat is not more acute in Metro Detroit, which has about 250,000 Muslims, particularly in Dearborn, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told The Detroit News.

    “It’s not necessarily Arabs and Muslims that are answering the call. It’s converts,” McQuade said in an exclusive interview. “Every part of the country is concerned about this issue.”

    The Islamic State, also referred to by the acronym ISIS, is known for brutal tactics in the Middle East, including beheadings and mass shootings. The militants have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria and recruited thousands of foreign fighters, mostly from the Mideast and Europe. The U.S. has led airstrikes against the extremists.

    McQuade’s office has close ties to religious, school and civil rights leaders, including those in Arab and Muslim communities, and has asked them to help protect people from being wooed by the militant group.

    Paul Abbate, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Detroit, agreed that the threat of Islamic State is not unique to Metro Detroit and its large Muslim population.

    “It’s a national problem. It’s a national priority and we are working hard to be on top of it,” Abbate told The News.

    He would not disclose investigative techniques being used to track and thwart Islamic State recruitment efforts.

    “There’s a whole spectrum of investigative techniques that we have utilized within the legal standards and guidelines,” Abbate said. “We leverage anything and everything, legally, that we can to identify individuals.”

    Imam Steve Elturk, president of theIslamic Organization of North America mosque in Warren, believes the Islamic State’s influence is not being felt in local Islamic congregations.

    “We don’t have these issues here,” said Elturk.

    The threat of Islamic State recruiting in congregations nationwide is very small, Elturk believes.

    The main concern in the community is discrimination against Muslims, Elturk said.

    Last month, local religious leaders met to answer questions about terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida, and also how terrorists attacks carried out in the Middle East affect the perception of Muslims worldwide.

    For local Muslims, who are mostly members of the Shia denomination, there is “zero support” for the Islamic State, said University of Michigan-Dearborn professor Ronald Stockton.

    “You’re not going to have much sympathy when they are killing your relatives back home,” Stockton said, referring to Islamic State attacks in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. “ISIS is anti-Shia and two-thirds of Muslims in southeast Michigan are Shia.”

    Mass executions of Christians in the Mideast and the “barbarity” of other Islamic State attacks have horrified people, Stockton said.

    Even though there is hardly any support for the Islamic State locally, Stockton said there’s “no question” federal agents are “monitoring potentially dangerous individuals.”

    And there likely is little objection to the investigation within the local Muslim community, he added. “They don’t want someone to blow up something and discredit the whole Muslim community.”

    In a New York case last month that led to three arrests of people who allegedly conspired to join Islamic State and kill President Barack Obama, FBI agents relied on a paid informant and monitored Islamic State-related websites.

    Locally, on Feb. 18, an Iraqi refugee living in East Lansing was charged with allegedly lying to federal officials about returning to the Middle East to fight with Islamic extremists.

    Al-Hamzah Mohammad Jawad, 29, told agents at Detroit Metro Airport that he was traveling to “Iraq to conduct jihad,” according to federal court records.

    When pressed to support his account, Jawad said he invented it, the report said. He is being held without bond and on Feb. 24 was ordered to undergo a psychological exam.

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    (313) 222-2028

    Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed.

    Source: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2015/03/04/feds-focus-thwarting-isis-recruitment/24414433/

     

  • Imam Elturk speaks about rise in hate crimes, ISIS threat Open or Close

    (WXYZ) - The number of possible hate crimes is rising, along with the spike in terror attacks worldwide. Here in metro Detroit, Muslim community leader Imam Steve Elturk leads a coalition known as the Imam Council.

    They preach peace, understanding and education.Imam Elturk speaks about ISIS threat and islamophobia WXYZ 20150217Click to watch video

    "The Imams Council has 30 different imams from different organizations, across SE Michigan. We do talk about radicalization and extremism," says Imam Elturk.

    He also works with the interfaith community to keep young people on the right path--explaining what Islam is and isn't.

    Like many of us, he recognizes the dangers of young people being radicalized online.

    "Youth that do come to the mosque are perhaps more level-headed than others," says Imam Elturk.

    He is also no stranger to hate crimes, having recently been targeted. He says he heard "All kinds of slurs and hateful remarks and swear words about myself and my religion. Islamophobia is at an unprecedented height and we are working with our communities to address the issue of islamophobia."

    Imam Elturk also credits the FBI and White House for cracking down on hate crimes.

     

    Source: http://www2.wxyz.com/web/wxyz/news/local-imam-speaks-about-the-rise-in-hate-crimes-isis-threat

  • Metro area Muslims fear backlash over massacre (January 8, 2015) Open or Close

    Derek Draplin, The Detroit News

    Metro Detroit Muslim leaders condemned Thursday the terrorist attack on a French satirical publication that killed 12 people in Paris and worried about possible retribution against Muslims here and in other countries.

    “The event is disgusting. We send our condolences to our friends and those who lost loved ones,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We are concerned about backlash against Muslims in the west.”

    The attack, which is suspected to have been committed by two brothers with ties to a Yemeni terrorist network, occurred Wednesday at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The publication had been threatened for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, yet continued to publish its satire.

    Metro Detroit mosques aren’t taking any new security measures but remain on alert against possible threats, said Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, co-chairman of the Imams Council with the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, Muslims are “always vigilant, more vigilant than ever before,” Elturk said.

    He speculated that the lower socioeconomic status of the attackers in France “made them more vulnerable to Muslim extremists.”

    The Imams Council said it “deplored” the killings in a statement Thursday. “We ask all people of conscience to not paint the entire Muslim people with the same brush,” the statement said.

    Imad Hamad, executive director of the American Human Rights Committee in Dearborn, which promotes human rights advocated in a 1948 United Nations declaration, said the attack “violates basic human decency.”

    “It violates the fundamental principles of Islam and should not be attributed to Islam or Muslims under any circumstances,” Hamad said.

    Saeed A. Khan, a lecturer in Near East Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, said most Muslims in America are deeply disturbed by the Paris attack, yet remain vigilant for any blowback against the community.

    “It’s events like this that have the ability and potential for backlash,” Khan said.

    “This kind of brutality and violence is categorically condemned by Muslims all around,” he said, and doesn’t exist “in any (Islamic) religious scripture — either in the Quran or tradition of the prophet.”

    Others in the community were concerned that the attacks would overshadow recent contributions Muslims have made to Detroit, including a 0,000 donation given Wednesday by two Muslim groups to the Detroit Water Fund that helps city residents make overdue payments on their water bills.

    “Our community is engaged every day with free health clinics and other programs,” said Victor Ghalib Begg, a senior adviser to the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    “We’re doing all these good things every day, then a crazy guy did what he did in the name of religion,” Begg said.

    The attacks have stirred discussion of the relationship between free speech and the Muslim community. Khan said most Muslims embrace free expression and their faith without resorting to violence.

    “Muslims are very sensitive of depictions of the prophet. This is countered by the sacrality of freedom of expression,” Khan said. “It seems as though that’s where the debate is going now regarding this event.”

    Walid also cautioned people not to merely reduce the issue to free speech.

    “The publisher should not have been murdered, it’s a crime against humanity ... but I don’t think he’s some kind of martyr for free speech,” he said. “I would caution people not to simplify this just as a free speech issue.”

    The Detroit News

  • IONA Community Service Awards (May 24, 2014) Open or Close

    AWARDEES  

    Terry Hamilton President, St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital,  for partnering with IONA’s annual  Free Medical Fair    

    Dr. Taufiq Ahmad Khan, for volunteering with IONA’s  annual  Free Medical Fair    

    Dr. Sirajul Haq,  for volunteering with IONA’s  annual  Free Medical Fair  and  bi-weekly Free Medical Clinic  

    Ann O’Brien/Dazzle Printing, for supporting IONA’s  printing needs  

    Jamshed Malik  for supporting IONA’s  IT needs

    IONAs-Community-Service-Award-Event-in-Warren-Magazine 2014IONA's Community Service Award Event | City of Warren Magazine - 2014

    May 24, 2014

  • Metro Detroit imams speak against ISIS at Dearborn Rally Open or Close

    ISIS-is-a-bunch-of-gangsters-says-imam-at-Dearborn-rally-webMetro Detroit imams speak against ISIS at Dearborn Rally

    By Aysha Jamali
    Press & Guide Newspapers

    Imam Mohammad Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, says ISIS does not represent Islam. Photo by Aysha Jamali (See more photos via the link in the article.)

    Muslim imams from across metro Detroit gathered on the steps of Dearborn City Hall Aug. 25 in a united voice to speak out against ISIS, the Islamic State militant group wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

    The Islamic House of Wisdom, a Dearborn Heights mosque, organized the unity prayer and candlelight vigil where imams from the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council spoke.

    Imam Mohammad Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom, said ISIS does not represent Islam and called the group “a bunch of gangsters.”

    Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the imams have always condemned terrorists, whether they be al-Qaeda, ISIS, or Boko Haram.

    “We’re here primarily to defend the true message of Islam,” he said.

    Imam Aly Lela, of Troy, said ISIS is killing in the name of religion but they are not that religion. They are evil, he said.

    “This is not the Islam that we know. This is not the Islam that we practice,” he said.

    The imams were also supported by those in the crowd who agree with their message.

    “We just believe in supporting the Muslims against the terrorists,” said Judy Satterthwaite, 75, of Rochester.

    She heard about the rally and came out with three friends, all in their 70s and 80s, from Rochester Hills.

    Speakers also talked about American journalist James Foley, who was abducted by ISIS in Syria and is shown in a recently released video being beheaded by the group. All observed a moment of silence and lit candles in his memory.

    “I am a journalist. He is a journalist,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News in Dearborn. “I stand with him and the rest of his family.”

    Imam Mustapha Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, sent his condolences to Foley’s family and other victims’ families.

    “The barbaric behavior of ISIS is abhorred and cannot be justified,” he said.

    http://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2014/08/26/news/doc53fcc93be0058560020911.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  • Metro Detroit Muslim leaders denounce ISIS as 'crazy criminals' Open or Close

    Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights speaks on the steps of Dearborn City Hall today to condemn militant group ISIS. / Niraj Warikoo/Detroit Free PressImam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights speaks on the steps of Dearborn City Hall today to condemn militant group ISIS. / Niraj Warikoo/Detroit Free Press

    By Niraj Warikoo

    Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

    Muslim leaders gathered Monday on the steps of Dearborn City Hall to strongly condemn ISIS, saying the militant group in Iraq and Syria doesn’t represent Islam or Muslims.

    ISIS members are “crazy criminals who are abusing our religion,” said Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. “You’re a bunch of gangsters ... you’re not Islamic.”

    Organized by imams with the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the speakers included both Shia and Sunni leaders of different ethnicities and races, all united in saying ISIS doesn’t speak for them.

    “The beheading of James Foley ... is a clear violation of the holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, who cochairs along with Elahi the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “ISIS neither represents Islam nor Muslims.”

    Monday’s event was the third anti-ISIS rally in Dearborn this summer that was organized by local Muslims. Two rallies organized by Shia leaders were held in Dearborn in June that condemned ISIS. Hundreds attended both rallies.

    About 50 attended Monday’s rally, which included remarks by local imams, Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab American News in Dearborn, Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Steve Spreitzer, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

    “They are the enemies of humanity,” Siblani said of ISIS.

    Siblani and Elahi asked the U.S. to stop supporting Syrian opposition groups such as ISIS. The U.S. has said it supports moderates in Syria’s opposition, not extremist groups like ISIS. Elahi also criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza.

    “ISIS is a terrorist group,” said Imam Ali Ali, religious leader of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs, a Canton mosque. “They don’t speak in the name of Islam, in the name of Muslims, in the name of humanity.”

    One cleric in Dearborn, Ahmad Jebril, has become the most popular religious leader online for ISIS fighters from the West, according to a British think-tank. But leaders at Monday’s rally were squarely united against ISIS.

    “They have an evil agenda not witnessed since Nazi Germany,” Ahmad Nasser of Livonia said of ISIS. “They are repulsive.”

    Imam Aly Lela of Troy said of ISIS: “This is not the Islam we practice.”

    http://www.freep.com/article/20140825/NEWS05/308250218/Muslim-Detroit-ISIS-criminals

  • Muslim scholars denounce Islamic State, Israel at press conference Open or Close

    MuslimscholarsdenounceISISMuslim scholars denounce Islamic State, Israel at press conferenceWARREN – At a press conference held on Wednesday, Aug. 13, The Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) condemned the continuing atrocities committed against religious minorities across Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State.
    The imams also denounced the Israeli assault on Gaza during the conference, which was held at the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.
    The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is a group of religious extremist militants that declared a caliphate in parts of northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
    The Imams Council, which includes both Sunni and Shi'a scholars, seeks to "promote unity and cooperation among the diverse Muslim communities, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and races by convening and mobilizing the Muslim community."
    It is co-chaired by imams Mohammad Elahi, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, and Mustapha Elturk, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Organization of North America.
    In a statement read by Elturk, the council stated that it rejects the caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State.
    Quoting several verses of the Qur'an, the statement said that Islam unequivocally bans murder and driving people out of their homes.
    "ISIS’ actions of mass executions, ethnic cleansing of the Christians and other religious minorities, desecration of shrines, mosques and churches are against the teachings of Islam," said Elturk. "The Imams Council equally condemns the carnage that has unfolded in Gaza, due to disproportionate attacks by the Israeli forces. Eighty percent killed were women and children— an intentional and systematic violence against the Palestinian people. This contradicts clear spiritual obligations in the Jewish faith."
    Elahi urged American Muslims to participate in events that denounce the Islamic State.
    "I invite Muslims to show solidarity with the Christian community suffering in Iraq and Syria at the hands of the evil criminals of ISIS," he told The Arab American News. "The entire Muslim community here is against ISIS. Muslims in general are for peace and justice. The immorality and barbarism of ISIS have no place in our faith."
    Elahi added that interfaith dialogue is a vital need at this point, noting that he and Elturk prayed at St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Livonia with the pastor, the Rev. George Shalhoud.
    Elahi compared the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by the Islamic state to the massacres committed by Israel in Gaza.
    "Whether murder is committed by the Islamic State or the Jewish State, it's a human tragedy. It has nothing to do with religion," he said.

    http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/news/id_9262/Muslim-scholars-denounce-Islamic-State,-Israel-at-press-conference.html

  • Detroit area Muslims seek peace amid Iraq conflict Open or Close

    Lauren Abdel-Razzaq

    The Detroit News
    An al-Qaida-inspired militant stands guard at a checkpoint captured from the Iraqi army outside Beiji refinery, some 155 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June 19, 2014. The fighting at Beiji comes as Iraq has asked the U.S. for airstrikes targeting the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (Associated Press)

    1 / 35
    Dearborn— As sectarian violence escalates in Iraq, religious leaders here have met to reaffirm a unity pact in an effort to ward off tension between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Metro Detroit.

    “The situation (in Iraq) is very volatile and it has exploded to the degree that we were afraid sectarianism may spill over to the communities here in the Detroit Metro area,” said Mustapha Elturk, co-chair of the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. “What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re all on board, regardless of what is going on overseas.

    “Sectarianism has no place in our communities here in southeast Michigan or in America in general.”

    The council of imams met Tuesday to show a united front and renew the Muslim Code of Honor they signed in 2007. They plan to meet again Tuesday, at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, to discuss the violence in Iraq and discuss how to present a unified voice.

    Elturk said the goal is to promote peaceful relations among all Muslims at the area’s more than 50 mosques.

    An estimated 81,500 people identify themselves as Muslims in the Metro Detroit area, according to a 2010 survey by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Of those, about 21,400 said they regularly attended religious services, making the region the eighth most populous for Muslims in the U.S.

    The unity pact was signed in 2007, amid concerns that vandals who shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses along Warren Avenue in Dearborn, the heart of the area’s Muslim community, may have reflected sectarian violence in Iraq.

    Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said there was never proof of motivation for the crimes. But it motivated 27 religious leaders to sign the Muslim Code of Honor, declaring, “as Muslim Americans who live and struggle for a dignified existence for Islam and Muslims in a spirit of peaceful coexistence and respect for all, we believe that the practical challenges of the future supersede the ideological differences of the past.”

    “It is a way of answering to not just the outrage shown abroad but to answer questions about Islam,” said Walid.

    Mohammad Khalil, director of Muslim Studies at Michigan State University, said there are rarely open conflicts between the sects in Metro Detroit.

    “There are, of course, some people who will use the events overseas as a pretext for some kind of hatred of the other,” he said. “But for the most part, I think locally there is more harmony than disharmony between the Shiite and Sunni communities.”

    Saeed Khan, a professor of Near East and Asian Studies at Wayne State University, says the Sunni and Shiite communities in Metro Detroit are mostly “separate entities that have little interaction. “... There is not any outward hostility,” said Khan. “Those who think these conflicts in the Middle East will spill over into the streets of Detroit are really misguided.”

    Fahmy Al-Masri, of Dearborn, was praying at the Islamic Center of Detroit Thursday afternoon. He said the conflict in Iraq doesn’t have an impact on the community locally.

    “I don’t believe in Sunni and Shiite,” he said. “I believe in Muslim: There is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet.”

    As for the violence in Iraq, he says it is more about power.

    “Sometimes they take religion as a way to do this.”

    Jawhar Altahesh is a social worker who assists refugees from the Middle East. He said that while local Muslims are aware of the events overseas, living here is different.

    “In America, we get along as long as things are equal: justice and liberty, that’s what we care about,” the Hamtramck resident said. “When you live here, you should follow the rules and regulations of this country, otherwise, you are not welcome.”

    Ultimately, what is important is recognizing what is at the center of the religion, whether Sunni or Shiite, said Hani Salem, director of the Islamic Center of Detroit.

    “The extremists don’t represent pure Islam,” he said.

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140620/METRO08/306200040#ixzz35ycuFlDZ

  • Detroit Imams push for peace as Iraq founders (August 26, 2014) Open or Close


    Detroit-Imams-push-for-peace-as-Iraq-founders 2Imam Mustapha Elturk, right, of Warren, representing Sunni Muslims, and Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, left, representing Shiite Muslims, sign the Muslim Code of Honor by Shia and Sunni Imams. Tuesday, Imams held a meeting at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News) Dearborn Heights — As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches and sectarian fighting continues in Iraq, c religious leaders are taking additional steps to prevent violence from breaking out at home.

    Following up on a gathering last week, imams and other community leaders met Tuesday at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to continue formulating a strategy to promote peace among both Sunni and Shiite sects and to present a united front while addressing worshippers during services marking the start of Ramadan.

    Imam Husham Al-Husainy, director of the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, said the task is like “trying to put a lid on a volcano.”

    “It’s a meeting to promote unity in the community,” he said. “We are sad about what’s going on. These are our children and our families.”

    A rash of violence has broken out in Iraq as a group of organized insurgents calling themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has seized border crossings and towns. Anger directed at the majority Shiite government is thought to have fueled the ongoing insurgency.

    Iraq’s population is about 60 percent Shiite Muslim. Leaders from that branch of Islam rose to power with U.S. help after the 2003 fall of former president Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime.

    The United Nations said Tuesday at least 1,075 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Iraq so far this month, the highest death toll since the U.S. military withdrew from the country in December 2011.

    The imams in Metro Detroit were clear that both sides have been involved in the killings and they denounced the violence in general.

    “We are against murder, we are against killing, especially innocent children and women and men,” said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, who co-chairs the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    Although The Detroit News was not allowed to sit in on the meeting of imams, some spoke afterward about the strategy.

    “We view this as a political issue, not a Sunni or Shiite issue,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, who also co-chairs the Imams Council. “We would like to protect our community from sectarian violence. It has no place in our community.”

    Insurgents in Iraq have been appealing to youth through advertisements and messages, particularly o

    Detroit-Imams-push-for-peace-as-Iraq-founders 1Local Muslim religious leaders from both Shiite and Sunni mosques gather ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)

    n the web, in an attempt to recruit fighters from the U.S. and other countries. Elahi said the imams want to warn families of these attempts “to brainwash our youth.”

    More than two dozen area imams affirmed the Muslim Code of Honor, a pact that was signed in 2007 amid concerns about vandals who shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses along Warren Avenue in Dearborn. The religious leaders are once again looking to the pact to promote unity and maintain dialogue.

    An estimated 81,500 people identify themselves as Muslims in Metro Detroit, according to a 2010 survey by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Of those, about 21,400 said they regularly attended religious services, making the region the eighth-most populous for Muslims in the U.S.

    On Friday, the day when most practicing Muslims attend services, the imams will spread the message. Because Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, charity and reflection, begins Saturday night, they are expecting large crowds to turn out. It will be the perfect platform for sharing the message, said Elahi, head of the Islamic House of Wisdom.

    “Our religion Islam is for peace and unity,” he said. “Anybody that is using religion to go against peace is against Islam.”

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    (313) 222-2127
    The Associated Press contributed.

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140624/METRO08/306240110#ixzz35yP9Kpxe

  • Protesters hope to draw attention to genocide Open or Close

    By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    This group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to call attention to what they claim is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against Muslims in Burma.

    View and purchase photosThis group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to call attention to what they claim is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against Muslims in Burma Claiming that there is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against a Muslim minority in Burma, this group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to help raise awareness about the issue.This group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to call attention to what they claim is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against Muslims in Burma

    Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protesters marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.

    "We are here protesting the media silence on the genocide taking place in Burma," said William Antoun of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

    According to Antoun, Rohingya Muslims are an ethnic minority in Burma and are considered by the United Nations to be "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world." The group faces religious and ethnic discrimination by the Myanmar military regime, which does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens.

    "They're being treated as foreigners, even though they're indigenous people," Antoun said.

    Groups like the Burma Task Force USA (www.Burma Muslims.org) allege that the Myanmar government has "put limits on the Rohingya's access to education, their ability to marry and have children, as well as their right to religious freedom." The group also claims that Rohingya women are routinely subjected to sexual assaults and the men are often sent to concentration camps.

    "This has been going on for a long time, but this latest explosion of violence is the worst yet," Antoun said. "There have been millions of people killed over the past several years. This is genocide."

    Protesters-hope-to-draw-attention-to-genocideSee video
    VIDEO CAPTION: Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protestors marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.

    Antoun said groups like the Michigan Muslim Community Council and Burma Task Force USA seek to educate people about the atrocities being committed in the region, and have organized similar protests at locations throughout the country in an effort to raise awareness.

    "We're going to bring the media's attention to it because there has been a virtual blackout in the U.S. media about this issue," he said.

    Antoun said he hopes that greater media attention on the issue will put pressure on state and federal officials, who will in turn put pressure on Myanmar officials to resolve the conflict.

    "That's why we're here," he said. "We need the media to put pressure on our state department to acknowledge what's happening, and put pressure on the leaders of Myanmar to stop and recognize human rights. We need to do something."

     

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    VIDEO CAPTION: Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protestors marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights. Continued... - See more at: http://www.sourcenewspapers.com/articles/2012/10/04/news/doc506b68150b21d477214981.txt#sthash.um9nUmIf.dpuf

     

     

     

  • IONA at the Sunni-Shia Forum in Michigan Open or Close

    Sunni Shia Forum in Michigan

    (July 1, 2013) On Saturday, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director of Interfaith & Community Alliances, joined the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) for a dialogue between Sunni and Shia leaders. Dr. Syeed spoke about recent events of the Arab spring as the basis for discussion and collaboration with the intent for reconciliation. 

    The forum began with this objective: "There are significant areas of shared beliefs and values held in common between our Shia’ and Sunni communities, organizations, and service institutions.  There is agreement among our imams that it will be beneficial and contribute to the further unification of our diverse communities and organizations to highlight and emphasize those commonly held areas through a process of mutual consultation.  These consultations are intended to help bring communities together in closer cooperation and concrete actions to resist and reject the influence and effects of sectarianism in our communities."

    Dr. Syeed addressed the gathering of Michigan Muslim leaders and imams at a time when the tension between Sunnis and Shias is at all time high in the Middle East. He thanked the MMCC for organizing the conference at this critical time in order to send a message of solidarity to the Muslim Ummah.  He continued: 

    "This year is a special one for people in Detroit because it is the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's visit to Detroit with his civil rights message and his march on Washington, DC.  It so happens that this is the same year that the Muslim community's development in America took a new direction. This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Society of North America.

    "Our greatest achievement has been the integration of Muslims of all races and of all schools of thought. This emergence of this American Muslim community is an experiment in the growth and development of a tolerant community that is respectful of diversity. We rejected an interpretation of Islam that would have set us against each other. We have had leaders presiding over this movement from both Sunni and Shia backgrounds. In 2006, ISNA was proud to invite former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to address the largest Muslim convention in the Western world because he was a champion of dialogue. Muslims of all persuasions felt proud and empowered by his presence.

    "When tensions rose in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2007, we brought together all major American Sunni and Shia leaders in Chicago and announced a Muslim Code of Honor that was committed to and signed in front of thousands of rejoicing Muslims. The impact of this Code of Honor has had an incredible international effect. It was translated in several different languages and we have heard reports that it inspired Sunnis and Shias in vulnerable places in Afghanistan and other countries.

    "This 50 year growth of harmony and understanding naturally prompts us to look to the current events in the Middle East and reject any instance where we see radicalization or sectarian polarization. We have prayed for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to gain freedom from tyrants like Muammar Ghaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and we are jointly celebrating the fulfillment of our du'a in terms of the Arab Spring. We continue to pray for the people of Syria to have a similar deliverance from tyranny and repression. Having prospered in America as a minority, we believe that Syria can also adopt a democratic constitution that will guarantee freedom and empowerment for all, both majority and minorities. We collectively support that kind of pluralist democratic society. We know that minority rule cannot continue anywhere and no minority can accept that arrangement. We have seen how the civil rights movement in this country paved the way for us as Muslims and for African American minorities. This is our vision of Islam for ourselves and for countries with Muslim majorities.

    "ISNA is proud to be a part of Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values, a campaign together with Jewish and Christian organizations that works to ensure that anti-Muslim sentiment never becomes mainstream in America. On multiple occasions, prominent national Jewish and Christian leaders came forward and fought for the rights of Muslims. They believe and we believe that bigotry against one religion is bigotry against them all. It is our duty to see that we generate this same spirit in the Muslim world, a spirit where majority religious groups come forward to protect minority groups. If Christians and Jews are standing up for Sunnis and Shias alike, there is a compelling moral duty for Sunnis and Shis to stand up for each other and jointly for people of other faiths."

    The participants identified tangible steps for relationship-building, along with follow-up action items such as the creation of a task force delegated with the responsibility of cultivating and nurturing the relationship-building process.          

    The Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the MMCC Imams Council joined sixty Muslim community leaders and area imams representing various mosques across the tri-county area, to pledge to keep the sectarian influences currently plaguing the Middle East out of American Muslim communities, reaffirming American and Islamic values of religious tolerance.

    Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, the Shia co-Chair, emphasized marching on the road of moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations. He stated “The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with true teachings of Islam, nor is terrorism and extremism.” He added “the factions are engaged in political domination.”

    The Imams’ Council of the MMCC and other Islamic leaders in Michigan continue to meet regularly to enhance communication within the diverse Muslim community as well as to reach out to the interfaith community, building relationships and alliance in pursuit of an inclusive community and peaceful neighborhoods.

  • 25-year-old American is Killed With Mentor Anwar al-Aulaqi in Drone Strike (September 30, 2011) Open or Close

    25-year-old American is killed with mentor Anwar al-Aulaqi in drone strike

    By Alice FordhamPublished: September 30

    The man killed alongside Anwar al-Aulaqi once ran radical Web sites from his parents’ North Carolina basement and broke his father’s heart when he fled to Yemen to seek jihad as a “proud traitor” to his American homeland.

    Samir Khan, 25, who perished with his mentor in the U.S. drone strike over northern Yemen on Friday, according to American and Yemeni officials, was a driving force behind the efforts of al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate to promote itself among English speakers.

    Khan helped edit and write its English-language magazine, Inspire, a mixture of ideology, first-person accounts of operations and do-it-yourself jihad advice. Copies have been found in the possession of several would-be attackers in the United States and Britain.

    “I am proud to be a traitor to America,” Khan wrote in an article in the second issue of the online magazine, published last fall. He described his life as working in the “jihadi media sector” in North Carolina before his beliefs turned him into a “rebel of Washington’s imperialism.”

    Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Khan grew up mostly in New York. Along with his devout father, mother and younger brother, he attended the Islamic Organization of North America religious center in the city, where the imam, Steve al-Turk, a family friend, remembers a “very kind, very sweet, very generous” young man growing up in the 1990s. 

    “He was struggling in his school from peer pressure in his teenage years, so he found coming to the mosque and being with Muslims something that was good for him,” Turk said. He said neither Khan nor his family held views that were violent or extreme.

    After the family moved to North Carolina in 2004, Khan became increasingly radical and ran jihad-focused blogs and online message boards from his parents’ home. His father was distressed by this and had him return to New York to visit Turk’s center in hopes of countering this new direction.

    “I met him in 2005 or 2006 to try to dissuade him, but by that time, he had made up his mind,” said Turk, who added that he had spoken with Khan’s father Friday morning to offer condolences on the death of his son. “I felt very bad for the parents. He wasted his life.”

    When Khan decided to travel to Yemen in October 2009, his father was devastated, Turk said.

    Khan traveled with little difficulty, which surprised him: “I mean, I was quiet [sic] open about my beliefs online and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out I was al-Qaeda to the core,” he wrote in Inspire’s fall 2010 issue.

    From Sanaa, he traveled to what he called a mujaheddin base in rural Yemen, where he trained and studied. He wrote, “It only brought me gleeful tears and great joy to hear that America labels me as a terrorist.”

    He wrote that he was being monitored by FBI officials in Yemen and the United States. Administration officials declined to confirm whether Khan was on the list of approved targets compiled by the CIA’s National Counterterrorism Center. But, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly, officials said that CIA operatives did not know that Khan was with Aulaqi when conducting the drone strike.

    Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) said authorities had tried to stop Khan while he lived in North Carolina. “We tried to shut him down through the FBI, but we couldn’t because he was not inciting violence, he was simply putting out information, and because he kept changing his server,” she said.

    Myrick described Khan as a loner whose departure for Yemen presented a “very clear red flag.”

    “He was one of the key people in recruiting and radicalizing Americans, and that is of great concern to me. But he was a misguided young person, and really no one celebrates this death,” Myrick said.

    Khan is thought to have edited seven issues of Inspire magazine while in Yemen, which devoted much space to the thoughts of Aulaqi.

    Jarret Brachman, a counterterrorism expert and government consultant who analyzed Khan’s writings, described Khan as a “partner in crime” to Aulaqi who was clearly “soaking in as much knowledge as possible” from the older man.

    Working together, the two had become effective as propagandists and recruiters, with Khan’s articles complementing Aulaqi’s Internet sermons and essays. For al-Qaeda, the loss of both men at once is a serious blow, he said.

    “If it’s true that both were killed, then al-Qaeda’s English-language outreach program is dead,” Brachman said.

    Staff writer Joby Warrick contributed to this report.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/second-american-is-killed-with-mentor-aulaqi-in-drone-strike/2011/09/30/gIQAW2gIBL_story.html

  • 2nd American in Strike Waged Qaeda Media War (September 30, 2011) Open or Close

    2nd American in Strike Waged Qaeda Media War

    By ROBBIE BROWN and KIM SEVERSON
    Published: September 30, 2011

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — From his parents’ basement in a part of town where homes have lots of bedrooms and most children go to college, Samir Khan blogged his way into the highest circles of Al Qaeda, waging a media war he believed was as important as the battles with guns on the ground.

    His parents — by all accounts a low-key, respected couple who had moved south from Queens in 2004 — were worried about the increasingly radical nature of their son’s philosophy and the increasing media reports that exposed it.

    They turned more than once to members of their religious communities to impress upon their college-aged son the perils of such thinking and behavior.

    It did not work. In 2009, he left his comfortable life in Charlotte for Yemen, started a slick magazine for jihadists called Inspire that featured political and how-to articles written in a comfortable American vernacular, and continued to digitally dodge government and civilian efforts to stop his self-described “media jihad.”

    His life ended in Yemen on Friday, when Mr. Khan, 25, was killed in a drone strike that also took the life of the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and two other men, according to both American and Yemeni officials.

    At a mosque run by the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, few of the several hundred Muslims gathered for Friday Prayer wanted to talk about Mr. Khan.

    “This is a very dangerous road when you go and kill someone like this,” said Ayeb Suleiman, 25, a medical resident. “He was just an editor. He was just writing.”

    Others felt grief for a family who had lost a son, no matter the nature of the son’s activities.

    Mr. Khan’s father, Zafar Khan, is an information technology executive and a respected, regular worshiper who bought his family a two-story brick house near a golf course. He often talked cricket with Yasin Raja, a fellow Pakistani-American.

    “If Samir got caught up with something, that was on his own,” Mr. Raja said.

    Steve Glocke, who lives across the street from the family, watched Mr. Khan grow from a cordial teenager who played basketball with his brother in the street into a quiet, but radical, young man. When Mr. Khan moved to Yemen, he said, “I would ask if he was O.K., and they would say they didn’t know.”

    His parents were worried even before the family moved from Queens. Mustapha Elturk, the imam and president of the Islamic Organization of North America, met the family in the mid-1990s during an educational program at a mosque in Flushing, Queens. Mr. Khan was interested in Islam as a way to “stay away from the peer pressure of his teenage days,” he said.

    But after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Khan’s attraction to militant sites on the Internet and his radical views grew to the point where his father intervened.

    “He tried his best to make his son meet all sorts of imams and scholars to dissuade him from those views,” said Mr. Elturk, who spoke with Mr. Khan’s father on Friday to offer condolences. “He would give you the impression that he would change.”

    Early intervention by members of the local community is key to preventing the radicalization of Islamic youth, said Sue Myrick, the member of Congress who represents the part of Charlotte where Mr. Khan lived.

    Mr. Khan’s last issue of Inspire came out this week. It was 20 pages, smaller than the rest, and dedicated largely to the Sept. 11 attacks. It has lost some of the cheekiness of early editions, which outlined what to expect on a jihad and had headlines like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

    In this edition, he made clear the role he believed he played in the war. “While America was focused on battling mujahedeen in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq,” he wrote, “the jihadi media and its supporters were in fifth gear.”

    Robbie Brown reported from Charlotte, and Kim Severson from Atlanta. Matt Flegenheimer contributed reporting from New York.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/world/middleeast/samir-khan-killed-by-drone-spun-out-of-the-american-middle-class.html?_r=2

  • 9/11: Macomb Marks 10 Years With Tears, Thanks, Lanterns (September 11, 2011) Open or Close

    9/11: Macomb marks 10 years with tears, thanks, lanterns
    Published: Sunday, September 11, 2011

    By Mitch Hotts
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    From sunrise until long after the full moon rose on Sunday, Macomb County residents observed the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with prayer, song, fellowship and even floating flaming lanterns at Metro Beach Metropark.

    A number of churches included a Sept. 11 theme in Sunday celebrations, while several public gatherings will held including in Clinton Township, Mount Clemens and Warren as area officials and residents mourned those killed in the attacks and paid tribute to their hometown first responders.

    “It really touches my heart because all of this comes from the heart,” said Evelyn Scafuri, a retired Detroit public schools teacher who attended an event at the D.S. Temrowski Funeral Home in Warren.

    Funeral home operator Dave Temrowski hosted a dedication of a new flagpole and unveiled a commemorative bronze plaque in honor of the “lost souls of 9/11.” The funeral home is widely known in the community for providing services for police and firefighters.

    “You know who you are and you don’t ask for thanks or accolades,” Temrowski said of the public safety sector. “You just say ‘I am just doing my job,’ but today we as a community say thank you, thank you, thank you.”

    The plaque outside of the funeral home carries a message that reads “Dedicated to those we lost and those who carry on 9-11-2001.”

    John Wrobel, 64, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was among those who turned out for the ceremony.

    “I just wanted to be here,” Wrobel said. “It’s just a sad day, all those lives lost. It was just a real bad day for America.”

    At the Warren City Hall, the city and the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice told a crowd of about 1,000 that the country’s unity in the days following the attacks has largely dissipated into racial and religious name calling including “Islamophobia.”

    Iman Steve Elturk, a member of the ICRJ’s executive board, said Americans’ distrust of Muslims in the years after 9/11 continues to grow — and that’s wrong, considering a number of Muslims were among those trying to save victims of the World Trade Center incident.

    “It is absurd to accuse all Muslims of being terrorists,” Elturk said. “America is for whites and blacks and all colors in between ... it is this diversity that makes America so beautiful.”

    Warren Mayor James Fouts, who has pushed for racial and religious diversity in City Hall, vowed to keep public facilities open to all faiths and races as long as he’s the city’s top elected officials.

    “In my mind, any terrorist attack is one word: cowardly,” the mayor said. “And anyone hiding behind the Muslim religion is even more cowardly.”

    During the event, a female member of the Warren Mott High School Marching Band collapsed in the 80-degree heat. She was given water on the spot, and then treated by Warren paramedics in attendance.

    Meanwhile, Warren also honored its first responders as Police Commissioner Jere Green introduced the department’s two officers of the year, Sgt. Steve Mills and Detective Robert Eidt, for their investigation that led to an arrest in the stabbing death of Robert Miller at the Maple Lane Condominiums in 2010.

    Also, Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams announced the promotions of 17 firefighters in the department.

    First responders were also the focus of a candlelight vigil at the Macomb Heroes Memorial, which was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2010, on Main Street in front of the Macomb County Circuit Courthouse in Mount Clemens.

    The names of 30 Macomb police officers, firefighters and paramedics who died in the line of duty were read out aloud, with a bell ringing after each one.

    Among those in attendance were relatives of Omer “Jim” Reygaert, 34, a Romeo police officer who was killed by gunfire in 1969 as he and a partner tried to apprehend a shooting suspect.

    “I’m sure he would be glad to see this and to know all of them are remembered,” said his wife, Dorothy Reygaert, who attended with the couple’s daughter, Denise.

    The largest crowd of the day came Sunday night as an estimated 3,000 showed up at Metro Beach for an evening of music and written tributes.

    Under a moonlit sky, hundreds of participants ignited floating lanterns that gently sailed into the night as a tribute to those who died in 9/11.

    Dean Bartlett of Harrison Township brought along his daughter, Kaylie, and his girlfriend Angela Sopha to take part in the ceremony.

    “9/11 touched us a lot, hit home with my dad being in the service,” Bartlett said. “It was an event we have seen once in a lifetime and hope it never happens again.”

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/09/11/news/doc4e6d7fc04f54a710605859.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  • Muslims Hope to Use Tragedy to Educate Countrymen (September 10, 2011) Open or Close
    Muslims hope to use tragedy to educate countrymen
    Published: Saturday, September 10, 2011
     

    By Frank DeFrank
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    When the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Mohammed Kibriya’s heart sank with them.

    Then a 17-year-old high school student in Hamtramck, Kibriya worried that his Muslim faith would become a target of the rage and fear many Americans felt.

    “I didn’t feel threatened,” said Kibriya, now a Warren resident. “But I had a bit of an identity problem. (I thought), ‘I can’t call myself Muslim anymore.’”

    Melanie Elturk, 26, a practicing Muslim and daughter of an imam, a Muslim religious leader, was a high school student in Oakland County on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Like most Americans, Melanie Elturk was appalled at the carnage she witnessed on television. But unlike most Americans, she felt a lot of suspicion come her way in the aftermath of the attacks.

    “I definitely felt I was a second-class citizen in my own country,” said Melanie Elturk, who now resides in Chicago. “… I definitely felt I was on the defensive.”

    Mirza Ahmed, 71, of Warren, saw his relationship with his next-door neighbor “slowly turn worse” following the terrorist attacks. On one occasion, the neighbor, drunk and wearing no clothes, banged on Ahmed’s door in the middle of the night, waking his family.

    “He gave us a real bad time,” Ahmed said.

    The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and in a jetliner over Pennsylvania shocked and outraged the nation.

    For many American Muslims, the attacks were double-edged. They felt the same sorrow and anger for their country as their non-Muslim neighbors, but many also found themselves forced to defend their most deeply held religious beliefs.

    Mohamed Hassan, 67, of Clinton Township, worked as an engineer at the U.S. Army’s TACOM plant in Warren on Sept. 11, 2001. Concerned the attacks could drive a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim workers, Hassan’s supervisor gathered the entire staff together. Hassan soon found himself quoting the Quran to his co-workers.

    “I told them: ‘If you kill a person, it’s as if you killed the whole world,’” he recalled.

    Imam Stephen Elturk is president of the Islamic Organization of North America, the first mosque located in Warren. After the terrorists attacks, Elturk and other Muslim leaders faced a twofold challenge.

    “Leaders were educating Muslims to … hang onto their beliefs,” he said. “At the same time, community leaders were outside trying to teach the non-Muslim community that what occurred … really had nothing to do with our faith.”

    But despite the efforts, suspicions and fears of Muslims and Islam weren’t easily allayed.

    Melanie Elturk recalled when her entire family was detained at a U.S. border when returning from Canada. Weapons were trained on family members and several were questioned for hours.

    “It jaded me,” she said. “It made me feel like I don’t have any faith in the system. It was humiliating.”

    That experience and others strengthened Melanie Elturk’s resolve. She continued to wear a head scarf, even when others her age abandoned the attire. And she spoke out in defense of Islam whenever the opportunity presented itself.

    “I had the duty to step up and say more about my religion,” she said.

    The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice was long a champion of fostering tolerance of the increasingly diverse cultures that form the tapestry of Macomb County. For many years, the center offered programs and workshops on cultural diversity, with racism and black-and-white issues the primary focus.

    That changed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Interfaith Center helped organize an interfaith prayer service and later helped plan an event to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.

    The Rev. Michail Curro took over as executive director of the Interfaith Center in 2006, and Curro recognized immediately the need to expand the focus to include Muslims and Islam.

    In 2007, the center introduced its “Listen, Learn and Live” program, in which participants are exposed to different cultures and religions found in Macomb County.

    The very first course: Muslims and Islam.

    “There is no question the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, has meant a special focus by the (Interfaith Center) to introduce people to Muslims and offer opportunities to learn about Islam and Muslims,” Curro said.

    “And although there has been much progress in building relationships and bridges of understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims in Macomb County … it is unlikely that such efforts will slow down.”

    A decade after international terrorism came to America, divisions still exists between Muslims and non-Muslims. But many see progress in the relationships that were so severely tested in the wake of 9/11.

    The past 10 years have given Muslims the opportunity to show the community they’re no different from millions of other Americans “who are born here and raised here and work here and are doctors and lawyers and engineers who have contributed to this country just like anybody else,” said Imam Elturk.

    http://dailytribune.com/articles/2011/09/10/news/doc4e6bfc7241ca4989016346.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  • 9/11: Muslims forever changed (September 09, 2011) Open or Close

    9/11: Muslims forever changed
    Published: Friday, September 09, 2011 

    By Frank DeFrank
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    But they hope to use tragedy to educate fellow countrymen

    muslims-forever-changed-1When the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Mohammed Kibriya’s heart sank with them.

    Then a 17-year-old high school student in Hamtramck, Kibriya worried that his Muslim faith would become a target of the rage and fear many Americans felt.

    “I didn’t feel threatened,” said Kibriya, now a Warren resident. “But I had a bit of an identity problem. (I thought), ‘I can’t call myself Muslim anymore.’”

    Melanie Elturk, 26, a practicing Muslim and daughter of an imam, a Muslim religious leader, was a high school student in Oakland County on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Like most Americans, Melanie Elturk was appalled at the carnage she witnessed on television. But unlike most Americans, she felt a lot of suspicion come her way in the aftermath of the attacks.

    “I definitely felt I was a second-class citizen in my own country,” said Melanie Elturk, who now resides in Chicago. “… I muslims-forever-changed-2definitely felt I was on the defensive.”

    Mirza Ahmed, 71, of Warren, saw his relationship with his next-door neighbor “slowly turn worse” following the terrorist attacks. On one occasion, the neighbor, drunk and wearing no clothes, banged on Ahmed’s door in the middle of the night, waking his family.

    “He gave us a real bad time,” Ahmed said.

    The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and in a jetliner over Pennsylvania shocked and outraged the nation.

    For many American Muslims, the attacks were double-edged. They felt the same sorrow and anger for their country as their non-Muslim neighbors, but many also found themselves forced to defend their most deeply held religious beliefs.

    Mohamed Hassan, 67, of Clinton Township, worked as engineer at the U.S. Army’s TACOM plan in Warren on Sept. 11, 2001. Concerned the attacks could drive a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim workers, Hassan’s supervisor gathered the entire staff together. Hassan soon found himself quoting the Quran to his co-workers.

    muslims-forever-changed-3“I told them: ‘If you kill a person, it’s as if you killed the whole world,’” he recalled.

    Imam Stephen Elturk is president of the Islamic Organization of North America, the first mosque located in Warren. After the terrorists attacks, Elturk and other Muslim leaders faced a twofold challenge.

    “Leaders were educating Muslims to … hang onto their beliefs,” he said. “At the same time, community leaders were outside trying to teach the non-Muslim community that what occurred … really had nothing to do with our faith.”

    But despite the efforts, suspicions and fears of Muslims and Islam weren’t easily allayed.

    Melanie Elturk recalled when her entire family was detained at a U.S. border when returning from Canada. Weapons were trained on family members and several were questioned for hours.

    “It jaded me,” she said. “It made me feel like I don’t have any faith in the system. It was humiliating.”

    That experience and others strengthened Melanie Elturk’s resolve. She continued to wear a head scarf, even when others her age abandoned the attire. And she spoke out in defense of Islam whenever the opportunity presented itself.

    “I had the duty to step up and say more about my religion,” she said.

    The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice was long a champion of fostering tolerance of the increasingly diverse cultures that form the tapestry of Macomb County. For many years, the center offered programs and workshops on cultural diversity, with racism and black-and-white issues the primary focus.

    That changed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Interfaith Center helped organize an interfaith prayer service and later helped plan an event to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.

    The Rev. Michail Curro took over as executive director of the Interfaith Center in 2006, and Curro recognized immediately the need to expand the muslims-forever-changed-4
    focus to include Muslims and Islam.


    In 2007, the center introduced its “Listen, Learn and Live” program, in which participants are exposed to different cultures and religions found in
    Macomb County.


    The very first course: Muslims and Islam.

    “There is no question the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, has meant a special focus by the (Interfaith Center) to introduce people to Muslims and offer opportunities to learn about Islam and Muslims,” Curro said.

    “And although there has been much progress in building relationships and bridges of understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims in Macomb County … it is unlikely that such efforts will slow down.”

    A decade after international terrorism came to America, divisions still exists between Muslims and non-Muslims. But many see progress in the relationships that were so severely tested in the wake of 9/11.

    The past 10 years have given Muslims the opportunity to show the community they’re no different from millions of other Americans “who are born here and raised here and work here and are doctors and lawyers and engineers who have contributed to this country just like anybody else,” said Imam Elturk.

    His daughter agreed, to a point.

    “Ten years later, I’m surprised to turn on the TV and see people of other faiths defending me, which is extremely comforting,” she said.

    “At the same time, there is going to be the other extreme. That keeps us working and gives us that much more resolve to make sure we’re still getting our point across.

    “We still need to educate.” 

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/09/09/news/doc4e6abe182b233836989964.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  • Underwear Bomb Suspect Challenges His Detention (August 26, 2011) Open or Close

    Underwear bomb suspect challenges his detention
    Abdulmutallab says he should be judged by Islamic, not U.S., law

    Robert Snell and Oralandar Brand-Williams/ The Detroit News
    Last Updated: August 26. 2011 12:42PM

    Detroit— Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "underwear bomber" accused of trying to blow up an airliner over Metro Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, asked a judge Thursday to free him from prison, arguing he should be judged by the Quran, not U.S. laws.underwear-bomb-suspect-chal

    The handwritten request, in which Abdulmutallab claims he is being "unjustly detained," injected religion into arguably the most high-profile criminal terror case in the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Legal and cultural experts called Abdulmutallab's request fruitless, with one labeling it a "sideshow antic," though it served as the latest curveball by a Nigerian suspect whose own legal adviser questioned the man's ability to stand trial while serving as his own lawyer.

    "If he was in the land of Saudi Arabia or Iran and he attempted the same act, I don't think he would be making that request, because his punishment may be more strict," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. "He really needs to be quiet with these sideshow antics. He is going to get his wish by the Quran, by God, when he dies. He will be judged by the American court right now."

    'Excessive force' claimed

    The request came as Abdulmutallab, 24, claimed in a separate filing that he assaulted several prison guards Wednesday while observing the holy month of Ramadan. The guards responded by using excessive force to restrain him inside the federal prison in Milan, Abdulmutallab claimed.

    The filing doesn't make clear what prompted the alleged assault, but Abdulmutallab seems to make a connection to his observance of the Muslim holiday.

    Abdulmutallab, who fired his legal team last year and faces an Oct. 4 trial, asked U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to protect him from prison guards.

    His legal adviser, Detroit lawyer Anthony Chambers, sent lawyers to visit Abdulmutallab in prison Thursday following the incident.

    "He's doing OK," Chambers said. "Obviously, there are some issues going on. I don't know what triggered anything. It is Ramadan month. He is observing, but what happened, I do not know."

    A Bureau of Prisons spokesman was unaware of the incident.

    "In a situation where force is used, we only use the force that is necessary to control the situation," Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

    Abdulmutallab wrote that the incident happened between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    "Defendant Abdulmutallab, in defense of Muhammad (peace be upon him … the messenger of Allah to Mankind who is being defamed and abused by the United States of America) assaulted several officers from his cell," he wrote.

    "As a result, excessive force was used to restrain defendant Abdulmutallab who was already in a closed cell on his own."

    He asked Edmunds to order prison guards not to use excessive force while he is "justly defending Muhammad and his religion," according to the court filing.

    Request has 'zero' chance

    Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, requires Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk.

    Known as the "blessed month," it is marked by prayers, works of charity and abstinence from food, tobacco, sex and liquids during the day. The religious observance began Aug. 1 and ends Tuesday.

    In a filing Thursday, Abdulmutallab said he is being unjustly detained in the United States and "subjected to the Rule of Man."

    Abdulmutallab asked Edmunds to order his release and that he be judged and ruled "by the law of the Quran."

    Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, called Abdulmutallab "a fool."

    "If he wants to be judged by the Quran, he's going to be convicted," Elturk said. "The Quran condemns killing innocent people."

    Abdulmutallab's request for freedom has "zero" chance of being granted, said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and ex-federal prosecutor.

    "That argument has never worked in a U.S. court," Henning said.

    "You are judged, and international law recognizes, by the law of the nation where your crime took place."

    Victor Begg, a co-founder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, agreed.

    "Law of the land follows American criminal code," he said Thursday. "… No other law… can be applied in America."

    Abdulmutallab faces charges that could keep him in prison for life, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder inside an aircraft, taking a bomb onboard a plane and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

    He is accused of trying to kill nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Prosecutors contend he concealed explosive chemicals in his underwear and tried to detonate them as the flight from Amsterdam approached Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    (313) 222-2028

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110826/METRO/108260372/Underwear-bomb-suspect-challenges-his-detention#ixzz1WGPMQUpD

  • Dispelling Myths About Islamic Law: Shariah Explained (August 1, 2011) Open or Close

    Dispelling myths about Islamic law: Shariah explained

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    American political campaigns targeting Shariah are as red hot as Sunday’s front page in the New York Times. Unfortunately, these grassroots campaigns are aimed at scoring points with frightened voters—not at any real-world problem. No responsible Muslim leader in the United States is trying to substitute Shariah for secular American law. In fact, every major religious group around the world has some code of law for governing community life. Once upon a time in America, political parties targeted Catholics, claiming that they might try to impose Roman canon law in the U.S.—but that myth was dispelled more than half a century ago.

    ReadTheSpirit invited a Muslim expert to write a clear and concise summary of Shariah—to combat wildly inaccurate information floating around the Internet.  Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk is a Lebanese-American lecturer on the meaning of the Quran and president of the Islamic Organization of North America. Imam Elturk worked for many weeks on this summary, including input from other Muslim leaders.

    IF YOU APPRECIATE THIS SHARIAH STORY, please email the link to a friend (either copy the URL above or email from the link at the bottom of this story). Share this link on Facebook. Please, spread this accurate report as far and wide as the bogus information travels.

    Shariah

    BY IMAM STEVE MUSTAPHA ELTURK

    Shariah sometimes is portrayed as an antiquated Islamic system of law that is barbaric with no regard for values of democracy, human rights or women’s freedom. In fact, the opposite is true: Social welfare, freedom, human dignity and human relationships are among the higher objectives of Shariah.

    WHAT DOES SHARIAH MEAN?

    The word Shariah comes from the Arabic: sha-ra-‘a, which means a way or path and by 0801-shariah-canon-law-and-othersextension—the path to be followed. The term originally was used to describe “the path that leads to water,” since water is the source of all life. Hence, Shariah is the way to the source of life. Shariah in Islam refers to the law according to divine guidance leading to a good and happy life in this world and the next.

    The concept behind Shariah is not unique to Islam and is found in nearly all of the world’s great religions. Moses, peace be upon him, received the Torah incorporating the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments. Look at the sampling of religious codes, shown at right, for more examples. In Islam, we look primarily to the revelation that came when the Quran was revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, incorporating the final Shariah for the benefit of humankind. “For each of you We have appointed a law (Shariah) and a way of life. And had God so willed, He would surely have made you one single community; instead, (He gave each of you a law and a way of life) in order to test you by what He gave you.” (Quran 5:48)

    SOURCES OF SHARIAH

    There are basically two sources of Shariah—the Quran and the Sunnah (the divinely guided tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him). There is also what is called fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. There is a fundamental difference, however, between Shariah and fiqh. While Shariah is of divine origin, fiqh is the product of intellectual effort to deduce the rulings of Shariah through the jurist’s own intellectual exertion suitable for his specific time and place. Fiqh interprets and extends the application of Shariah to situations not directly addressed in the primary sources by taking recourse to secondary sources. Those secondary sources usually include a consensus of religious scholars called ijmaand analogical deductions from the Quran and the Sunnah called qiyas. While the Quran and the Sunnah are permanent and unchangeable, fiqh is variable and may change with time and place—but always within the spirit and parameters of these two main sources of Shariah: the Quran and Sunnah. 

    OBJECTIVES OF SHARIAH

    Shariah aims at the welfare of the people in this life and in the life hereafter. The sources of Shariah guide people to adopt a set of beliefs and practices that would help them ward off evil, injury, misery, sorrow, and distress. These beliefs and practices may result in benefit, happiness, pleasure, and contentment not only in this world, but also in the next. The Quran confirms, “Whoever follows My guidance, when it comes to you [people], will not go astray nor fall into misery, but whoever turns away from it will have a life of great hardship.” (Quran 20:123-124)

    It is an error to define Shariah as a “legal-political-military doctrine,” as some political activists claim. It also is wrong to associate and restrict Shariah only to the punitive laws of Islam. The fact is that Shariah is all-embracing and encompasses personal as well as collective spheres in daily living. Shariah includes the entire sweep of life: Prayers, charity, fasting, pilgrimage, morality, economic endeavors, political conduct and social behavior, including caring for one’s parents and neighbors, and maintaining kinship.

    Shariah’s goal is to protect and promote basic human rights, including faith, life, family, property and intellect. Islam has, in fact, adopted two courses for the preservation of these five indispensables: the first is through cultivating religious consciousness in the human soul and the awakening of human awareness through moral education; the second is by inflicting deterrent punishment, which is the basis of the Islamic criminal system. Other major bodies of religious law in the world, including the Canon Law used by the Catholic church, contain both legal outlines of responsibilities and codes for punishing misbehavior.

    SHARIAH 1: PROTECTION OF FAITH

    Faith is the essence and spirit of a meaningful life. Muslims profess their faith through a verbal testimony, bearing witness to the oneness and unity of God and to the finality of prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the seal of all of God’s prophets and messengers, a chain that started with Adam and includes Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all. Muslims also express their faith through devotional practices, most importantly the five daily prayers, an act of worship that keeps them connected with the Creator. Additional practices include fasting, obligatory charity and pilgrimage. Fasting during the month of Ramadan has been prescribed to Muslims so they may be mindful of God and learn self-restraint. Zakat, or a portion of our income to be given to the poor, is another duty regulated by God to ensure that basic needs are met for the less fortunate, poor and destitute. If they are able, Muslims are also required to perform Hajj—a pilgrimage to visit the sacred house (Ka’bah) that was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to seek forgiveness from their Lord and renew their covenant with Him.

    It is against Shariah to compel or force any person to convert to Islam. The Quran asserts, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (2:256) Shariah provides total freedom of religion. The Quran is quite clear on the point, “Say (O Muhammad), ‘Now the truth has come from your Lord: let those who wish to believe in it do so, and let those who wish to reject it do so’ ” (18:29) “Had God willed He would have guided all people” (13:31)

    Islam holds that people are endowed with our senses and our intellect so that we can choose what is best for us to follow. Shariah not only allows other faiths to co-exist but guarantees the protection of their houses of worship and properties. Shariah respects the worth of every human being in his or her own belief and endeavor in the pursuit of life and the truth.

    SHARIAH 2: PROTECTION OF LIFE

    Shariah recognizes the sanctity and sacredness of human life. One may not harm or kill. The Quran emphatically stresses this point, “And do not take any human being’s life—[the life] which God has willed to be sacred—otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice.” (17:33) Killing innocent people, even at times of war, is a grave sin and strongly condemned by Shariah: “if anyone kills a person—unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land—it is as if he kills all mankind; while if any saves a life, it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind.” (5:32)

    Unfortunately, as in all the world’s great faiths, Islam sometimes produces individuals who make distorted religious claims. News reports from around the world have shown us extremists from various religious traditions who claim that their faith compels them to commit acts that clearly are crimes to any sensible person. This recently happened in Norway, according to news reports. Similarly, some Muslims have issued extreme fatwas (judicial rulings) that may not be based on the Quran and the Sunnah at all. Another unfortunate example of this distortion is the lingering practice of honor killings in some parts of the world. Honor killing is an entrenched cultural issue in some areas, but clearly is in violation of Shariah as well as all globally recognized Christian codes of conduct. Nevertheless, honor killings still occur in some traditional Christian and Muslim cultures. These crimes need to be addressed worldwide by leaders of all faiths.

    Psychological harm or injury is also prohibited under Shariah. The Quran mandates, “O believers! Avoid making too many assumptions, for some assumptions are sinful; and do not spy on one another; or speak ill of people behind their backs: would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of God: God is ever relenting, most merciful.” (49:12)

    Shariah also demands total respect for all of creation. For example, a Muslim is prohibited to cut down trees or kill animals without a good reason. As part of Shariah, Muslims are required to protect the environment from pollution and harmful waste.

    SHARIAH 3: PROTECTION OF FAMILY

    Shariah regulates the life of a Muslim in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, parenting, upbringing of children, rights of orphans, ties of kith and kin, etc. The family is the nucleus of society. Hence, having a sound family structure builds a strong society. Islam encourages marriage as soon as a mature man is able to support his wife. Premarital or extramarital sex is strictly forbidden.

    Islam does allow men to have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four, provided that the husband treats them equitably. However, this represents a tiny minority in Muslim-majority countries, where polygamous marriage constitutes only 1-to-3 percent of all marriages. Islam encourages only one wife. The Quran in verse 4:129 affirms how difficult it is to be equitable in multiple marriage. Polygamy remains a challenging issue in many world faiths. International gatherings of Christian leaders in recent decades also have discussed compassionate responses to polygamy.

    Despite misconceptions, Shariah protects women’s rights if properly applied. For example, women are entitled to education, to keep their maiden names and to control their inheritance. They are entitled to a decent living, to own property or to own a business, if they wish.

    Islam teaches that family ties are to be maintained and parents are highly regarded. Shariah enjoins believers to honor parents and grandparents. In numerous places in the Quran, the rights of parents are mentioned immediately after the rights of God. The following verse illustrates the importance of this value: “Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them a word of contempt, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully, and lower your wing in humility towards them in kindness and say, ‘Lord, have mercy on them, just as they cared for me when I was little.’ ” (17:23-24)

    Neighbors are viewed as extended family in Islam. God instructs believers to take care of their neighbors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. “Be good to your parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to neighbors near (Muslims) and far (non-Muslims), to travelers in need.” (4:36)

    SHARIAH 4: PROTECTION OF PROPERTY

    Shariah stresses lawful earning for the maintenance of oneself and family—and rejects begging for a living. The objective of economic activities is to fulfill one’s basic needs and not to satisfy insatiable desires.

    Our rights to property are protected in Shariah, an ideal that naturally contributes to a sense of security in a community. Forms of economic exploitation are condemned. Islam prohibits interest and usury (Riba). The goal is to keep people from depleting their property and falling into poverty through excessive debt. Likewise, the positive Quranic attitude towards trade and commercial activities (al-bay’) encourages mutual help, fairness with employees and equitable transactions in business. The Islamic view of economic principles includes a requirement that a lender should participate in either the profit or the loss of a borrower. Shariah’s interest in a just and healthy community extends throughout our business transactions.

    SHARIAH 5: PROTECTION OF INTELLECT

    Among the most cherished gifts of God is the faculty of intellect, which differentiates us from animals. It is through this faculty one is able to reason and make sound judgments. Such a precious blessing needs protection. Anything that threatens the intellect is discouraged or completely prohibited by Shariah. Prohibitions on intoxication with alcohol or drugs are aimed at keeping the mind sound and healthy.

    Acknowledging that some may claim benefits of gambling and drinking, God informs that their harm is greater than their benefit. “They ask you [Prophet] about intoxicants and gambling: say, ‘There is great sin in both and some benefit for people: the sin is greater than the benefit.’ … In this way, God makes His messages clear to you, so that you may reflect.” (Quran 2:219)

    CONCLUSION

    Shariah abhors extremism and excessiveness. Excesses in spending, eating—even worship—are prohibited in Islam. Shariah promotes following the middle path. True Muslims are moderate in all of their endeavors—religious and secular. God described them in the Quran as “the Middle Nation.”

    Shariah aims at facilitating life and removing hardships. Shariah beautifies life and provides comfort. It approves of good and forbids evil. It is considerate in case of necessity and hardship.

    A general principle in Shariah holds that necessity makes the unlawful lawful. A Muslim is obliged to satisfy his hunger with lawful food and not to eat what has been declared forbidden. One may, however, in case of necessity—when permissible food is not available—eat unlawful foods such as pork to sustain life. Shariah comes from a kind and compassionate God.

    The Quran says: “God wants ease for you, not hardship”(2:185) “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear” (2:286) “It was only as a mercy that We sent you [Prophet] to all people.” (21:107)

    Ultimately, Shariah strives for justice, fairness, mercy and peace.

    http://www.readthespirit.com/explore/2011/8/1/dispelling-myths-about-islamic-law-shariah-explained.html

     

  • Macomb County reflects on bin Laden’s death (May 03, 2011) Open or Close

    Macomb County reflects on bin Laden’s death
    By Frank DeFrank
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer
    Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    The death of the world’s most-wanted terrorist resonated Monday from the halls of Congress to the households of Macomb County.

    Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, ran out of time and luck late Sunday night when an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs killed him in a compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot in the head during the raid.

    “The people of the world can feel relief and satisfaction that a monster has been brought to justice,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said in a statement released Monday. “Justice has a long memory and a long arm.”

    U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, called the successful operation “tremendous news for our nation and the world.”

    “Our terrorist enemies must understand that our great nation will never relent in our effort to bring to justice those who would perpetrate acts of murder against the innocent,” Miller said. “Let the death of this terrorist mass murderer stand as a symbol of our collective resolve.”

    Bin Laden had eluded capture for nearly a decade. He had orchestrated the attacks that saw hijacked passenger jets deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people died in the attacks.

    A fourth plane, believed headed for either the U.S. Capitol or White House, crashed in a Pennsylvania field when passengers thwarted the hijackers’ plans.

    Bin Laden’s death was confirmed when President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday shortly before midnight Detroit time. But many were unaware of the news until Monday morning.

    Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, learned of bin Laden’s death Monday morning when he arrived at a New York airport for his flight home to Detroit.

    “I was not shocked,” Elturk said. “I knew some day he would be caught.”

    In his role as a Detroit-area Muslim leader, Elturk has worked to convince non-Muslims that bin Laden and others like him have “hijacked” Islam, a religion that preaches peace and tolerance, not hatred and violence.

    “Extremism has no basis in our faith,” Elturk said. “… We suffered at the hands of extremists.”

    Recent political developments in Muslim nations in the Middle East serve as evidence that the anti-Western philosophy espoused by bin Laden is running out of steam.

    “Hopefully, with the figurehead gone, things will simmer down,” the religious leader said. “We have to be alert … (but) for the long run, I think his movement is dying.”


    As a man of faith, the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, is uncomfortable celebrating the death of a human being. But he left little doubt on his feelings about bin Laden.

    “I personally had hoped he would have rotted in a cell,” said Curro, who suggested bin Laden’s death affords Americans of all faiths and beliefs another chance to move forward and leave behind a hateful past.

    “There’s another opportunity for unity and level-headed people to speak out against extremism at every turn,” Curro said.

    Dr. Steven Karageanes, then a physician with Henry Ford Hospital, traveled to New York in 2001 to offer his services to injured firefighters, police officers and volunteers as they searched in vain for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Karageanes, too, is optimistic that bin Laden’s death could turn a page in America’s history books.

    “I guess I’m cautiously optimistic this may improve relations overall between the Muslim and non-Muslim world,” said Karageanes, now with the Detroit Medical Center. “I hope there is very little retaliation and we just move on.”

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/05/03/news/doc4dbf648f832f9947199685.txt
  • Local Imams are Worried About the Planned Visit by the Quran Burning Pastor from Florida (April 4, 2011) Open or Close

    Local Imams are worried about the planned visit by the Quran burning Pastor from Florida
    Posted: 04/04/2011

    WARREN, Mich (WXYZ) - Local Imams are worried about the planned visit by Terry Jones, the Quran burning Pastor from Florida.

    He is supposed to be in Dearborn on Good Friday, April 22nd. Imam Steve Elturk and other religious leaders are urging Jones not to come. If he does they are urging local Muslims and others not to go see him.

    The burning of the Islamic holy book sparked deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan and religious leaders are worried about trouble here.

    Meanwhile the Police Chief in Dearborn says Jones' visit is not a done deal because he has not worked out all the requirements of a permit.

    If he does, the chief says he will have the assistance of other police agencies, both state and federal, to hopefully keep things under control.

     http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/wayne_county/local-imams-are-worried-about-the-planned-visit-by-the-quran-burning-pastor-from-florida

     
  • Interfaith Clergy say They Cannot Ignore Visit by Controversial Pastor Terry Jones (March 28, 2011) Open or Close
    Interfaith clergy say they cannot ignore visit by controversial pastor Terry Jones
    Posted: 03/28/2011

    DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - An interfaith group of religious leaders is calling for a prayer vigil during a controversial pastor's planned visit to the area.

    The pastors and the imams represent 35 churches and mosques in metro Detroit. They are going to send a letter asking Reverend Terry Jones not to come to Dearborn. Known primarily for burning the Holy Quran, Jones plans to be in Dearborn on Good Friday, April 22. The Florida pastor has not threatened to burn a Quran or given details about his protest.

    The religious leaders had planned to ignore him, but say they can no longer do that. Standing together as interfaith clergy Monday, they spoke out on how they plan to deal with Jones' visit.

    "As a christian minister, silence for me would be consent. That's the reason why we are trying to be as vigilant and vocal on the issue as we possibly can," said Reverend Charles Williams II, from King Solomon Baptist Church.

    Imam Steve Elturk added "When he burns the Quran he also burns Jesus. Jesus is revered in Islam and is mentioned many times in the Quran... even more than Mohammed."

    The clergy members are calling for prayer vigils during the visit and urge their members and congregations not to be lured in to reacting to Reverend Jones.

    The imams and pastors want to stress that they are not asking anyone to take part in any sort of counter protest.

    They are getting together to decide how they will conduct the prayer vigils, at individual churches or mosques and whether they will be out of doors.

    http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/wayne_county/interfaith-clergy-say-they-cannot-ignore-visit-by-controversial-pastor-terry-jones

     
  • Brave Gesture by Commissioner Tainted by Longtime Political Activist's Rant (January 23, 2011) Open or Close

    Brave gesture by commissioner tainted by longtime political activist's rant
    Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011

    The Insider extends kudos to county Commissioner Toni Moceri for making the brave move to invite a Muslim imam to deliver the invocation at Thursday's Board of Commissioners meeting. But the Warren Democrat's decision was not without controversy.

    The choice of a religious leader to speak at the beginning of monthly full board sessions is rotated among the commissioners. In the past the invocation was delivered by local Christian ministers or priests.

    Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America's Warren mosque broke new ground.

    Minutes after he performed the duty, longtime political rabble rouser Don Lobsinger spoke during public participation, denouncing the Martin Luther King holiday, as he does every year, and claiming that King was a communist. Then he turned his sights on Elturk, essentially asserting that Muslim beliefs are a crime against God and the imam will be going to hell.

    So much for that civil tone in our politics that the president and Congress have been preaching.

    Precognitive AG?

    Gov. Rick Snyder's unorthodox decision to speak from notes — not a written speech — at his first State of the State Address on Wednesday certainly inconvenienced reporters and politicians alike.

    Reporters had to actually pay attention and take copious notes, rather than simply follow the script. Elected officials who often receive advanced copies of the speech's text weren't able to prepare remarks ahead of time for immediate release afterward.

    But that didn't stop new Attorney General Bill Schuette. A fellow Republican, he released a statement at 4:30 p.m., 2½ hours before Snyder's talk, praising the governor's speech. Schuette's comments were distributed to reporters with the caveat they couldn't be made public until 8 p.m., after the speech.

    Of course, it's pretty difficult to comment on an address that you haven't heard. But he did. 

    Schuette may be flying high these days as Michigan's top law enforcement officer. But even he can't avoid some turbulence. 

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/01/23/online/srv0000010713299.txt

  • Democratic Club Invites Imam to Speak on Islam (January 13, 2011) Open or Close

    Democratic Club Invites Imam to Speak on Islam

    Oak Park-Huntington Woods group invites the public to attend free Thursday evening event

    by Leslie Ellies
    Published January 13, 2011

    democratic-club-invites-imam-to-speak-on-islam

    Do you know anyone who is Muslim?

    That is the question Oak Park-Huntington Woods Democratic Club chair Marian McClellan has urged Imam Steve Elturk to ask the audience Thursday evening during his talk on Islam.
    "There is no opportunity for dialogue," when people don't know each other, McClellan said.
    The free event, which will be held at the Oak Park Public Library and is open to the public, aims to open up just such a dialogue. McClellan said she organized the talk to help people deal with their fears in the wake of 9/11 and the recent financial meltdown in the United States.
    "Everyone's of two minds," McClellan said. "There's Jewish members, whose group has been persecuted. And there are black members, who, obviously their group has been persecuted. We don't want to see that happen to Muslims."
    But, she said, people do have legitimate concerns about terrorism and she hopes Elturk can help them distinguish between radical Islam and peaceful Muslims.
    "The normal Muslims are just as concerned as we are," about terrorism, she said.
    Elturk is an imam – prayer leader – at the Islamic Organization of North America mosque and learning center in Warren, which he said serves about 1,000 people. IONA worshippers hail from places including the United States, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, Elturk said.
    The mosque, located in an unassuming strip mall building, is open every day so the faithful have a place to perform their five daily prayers, he said. The public is welcome – there are separate entrances for men and women – and the learning center holds classes for Muslims and non-Muslims, Elturk said.
    The community has come to accept the mosque, which did not at first receive a warm reception, the imam said.
    During a public hearing about the center, Warren residents called members of the IONA group names and accused them of being terrorists, Elturk said.
    "The feeling on that day – I will be frank with you – it was like having a mountain placed on your heart. I was heartbroken," he said. "It's beyond description the feeling one gets in one's heart."
    But, he said, the neighborhood has come around. One woman even came to a mosque open house and apologized for what happened at the hearing, said Elturk, who is now part of an interfaith group in Warren that includes the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice.
    "We have a good relationship with our neighbors and our city and our churches and we're grateful for that," he said.
    For those who have little knowledge of the faith, he laid out some of the core tenets:

    • Islam is a monotheistic faith.
    • "Our gratitude to God is shown through rituals," including five daily prayers, as well as fasting and abstaining from drinking and marital relations from sunrise until sunset each day during the holy month of Ramadan.
    • It is obligatory to be charitable, giving a percentage of your accumulated wealth to the poor – "kind of like the taxes you file."
    • Once in their lifetime, each Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
    • Muslims believe in angels and all of God's books, including the Torah, the New Testament, the Psalms of David and the Quran. They also believe in all of God's prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Ishmael and Muhammad, whom they believe was the final prophet.
    • Muslims believe there will be a Judgment Day, when God will judge one's deeds and faith.
    • The concepts of paradise and hell are also part of Islam.

    Elturk added that Muslims are required to spread the word of their faith, a struggle known as jihad (the Arabic word jihad means struggle, he said). Violent extremists have perverted the word's true meaning, he said.
    "Just like the evangelists who struggle to preach the faith, we are obligated to share the message of the Quran," Elturk said. "This holy war thing – there's no such thing in Islam."
    Once a nonbeliever has learned about Islam, it is up to him or her to decide what they think, he said: "We believe people's personal faith is personal between them and God."
    Regardless of differences in belief, he said, there are many common threads among all people.
    "There's a lot of social justice issues that people of all faiths – and even those who don't have faith – can come together to work on," he said, citing among them the elimination of hatred and prejudice, as well as health care, education and environmental issues. "All of these issues concern all of us."
    When asked what he'd like to say to the public, Elturk responded: "We can continue to live together if we are open and honest with each other."

    http://berkley.patch.com/articles/democratic-club-invites-imam-to-speak-on-islam

  • Macomb County Muslims Leaders Denounce Call for Jihad in Video (October 25, 2010) Open or Close

    Macomb County Muslim leaders denounce call for jihad in video
    Published: Monday, October 25, 2010

    By Frank DeFrank
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    ‘The Muslim-American community, as always, condemns all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity’

    Macomb County Muslim leaders have denounced a message by a U.S.-born al Qaida member calling for Muslims living in America and Europe to carry out attacks.

    Adam Gadahn made a plea for Muslims to “take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of jihad … by striking the Zio-Crusader interests.”

    Gadahn has been hunted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2004. He grew up in California and converted to Islam before moving to Pakistan in 1998, where he reportedly attended an al Qaidatraining camp.

    In response to the video, the Warren-based Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, released a statement condemning the message. The message cites passages from the Qur’an to illustrate calls for violence conflicts with Islamic teachings.

    “Muslims are urged to ignore statements from individuals calling for violence against innocent people in the name of their faith,” the statement reads. “The Muslim-American community, as always, condemns all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity.”

    In the video, Gadahn appealed to Muslims who live in what he called the “miserable suburbs” or Paris, London and Detroit. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, said Gadahn’s “desperate plea” will be ignored in the Detroit area.

    “If any Muslim community has grown in civic engagement and empowerment, it would be this community,” Walid said. “He invoked the wrong population to try to stir up.”

    The statement from the Warren council echoed Walid.

    “Extremism does not reflect the views of Muslims in Michigan who are an integral part of Michigan’s landscape, working hard to rebuild Michigan’s economy, contributing to the peaceful civil society and the mainstream values that make us proud Michiganders,” the statement reads.

    Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, said videos like the one in which Gadahn appeared, “makes us (Muslims) very uncomfortable.”

    “They undermine the efforts we exert to continue building bridges between our brothers and sisters or other faiths and cultures,” Elturk said.

    Elturk also said he fears incendiary videos and similar acts can produce a backlash against Muslims.

    “We are worried that acts like this may result in an increased racial profiling at border patrols and airports,” he said. “We are also concerned about ignorant people who may do something to harm either Muslims or mosques.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2010/10/25/news/doc4cc6474018874248513650.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  • Interfaith Center Marks 40 Years in Macomb, But 'Long Way to Go' (October 14, 2010) Open or Close

    Interfaith Center marks 40 years in Macomb, but 'long way to go'
    Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010
    By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    From the ashes of the 1967 Detroit riots grew an organization dedicated to working toward racial justice for all.interfaith-center-marks-40-years

    More than 40 years later, the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice continues that work because, despite evidence of progress, the quest for justice is never-ending.

    "We haven't even begun to grapple with the elephant in the room," said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the center. "We have a long way to go."

    The Interfaith Center began life as a church-driven organization assembled to combat 1960s issues like busing, white flightand the desire for more diversity in southeastern Michigan.

    By the time Cindy Melitz took over as center director in the early 1990s, many of those early issues were no longer hot button. But that didn't change the need for the organization, she said.

    "The mission has always been consistent with what the name represents — racial justice," she said. "How the center fulfilled that mission has been different over the years, given the circumstances of that decade."

    While overt racism is rare today, Melitz suggested, the goals of the center remain unchanged.

    "Embracing peaceful ways of helping people adapt and the need for diversity," she said.

    The center is probably best known for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration, which annually packs the Royalty House in Warren.

    But the organization also works to foster tolerance and promote diversity the remaining 364 days each year. In recent years, the ICRJ's "Listen, Learn and Live" initiative has introduced hundreds of residents to a tapestry of cultures and faiths that thrive in Macomb County. A session on Muslims and Islam, for example, has proven especially popular.

    Steve Elturk, imam of the Warren-based Islamic Organization of North America and president of the ICRJ Board of Directors, said those who attend the sessions become ambassadors for diversity, spreading the word to family and friends what the various cultures are all about.

    "There's a ripple effect," Elturk said. "What we need to do is do more (of those types of programs). You will reap the harvest you have sown."

    This year, the ICRJ celebrates its 40th anniversary in Macomb County. As part of that celebration, St. Blase Catholic Churchin Sterling Heights will host Sunday a "Praise Concert" featuring church choirs from around Macomb County.

    Among those choirs scheduled to participate include: A capella Men's Choir from North Broadway Church of Christ, Mount Clemens Gospel Choir, Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, New Haven Hand Bell Choir, Zion United Church of Christ, Mount Clemens, and the combined choirs of St. Blasée, the Hispanic Praise Band, St. Maximillian Kolbe Church,Ray Township, and the Warren Community Chorus.

    The concert will serve a dual purpose: to recognize the ICRJ's anniversary and to raise funds to help the organization continue its work.

    "It should be really fun," Curro said.

    The Praise Choir will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Blasée Catholic Church, 12151 15 Mile Road, Sterling Heights. Tickets are for individuals or per family. Tickets are available in advance at St. Blasée Catholic Church or at the door on the day of performance. For more information, call (586) 268-2244 or visit the church's Website at www.stblase.org.
    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2010/10/14/news/srv0000009660142.txt

  • Metro Detroit Muslims Work on Tolerance, Not Terror (September 2, 2010) Open or Close
    Last Updated: September 02. 2010 1:00AM
    Metro Detroit Muslims work on tolerance, not terror

    Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
    Detroit - Like many, Areej Kattan doesn't like how Muslims and her religion are portrayed. Unlike many, she's doing something about it.
    Upset by recent scrutiny of her religion and eager to put a positive face on her faith, she started a Facebook campaign to post positive news stories, interviews and other items about Islam. 
    "Within my circle of friends they're showing their frustration (but) they're trying to make a difference," said Kattan, a Wayne State University student and Dearborn resident. 
    That sort of activism has helped ease relations between Muslims and people of other faiths in Michigan when they've suffered nationwide, experts said. 
    While Kattan and others are worried about the view of their religion nationwide, they acknowledge tensions aren't as severe in Metro Detroit. 
    And experts say outreach efforts by mosques, community leaders and interfaith groups here have helped bridge the gap. 
    "There is tolerance here, but I don't know about going out of state," Kattan said. "I went to Indiana and two women pointed at me. I wear a veil and they said, 'What's happening in Indiana?' " 
    Some say Metro Detroit could offer lessons when fear and misunderstanding runs high -- especially as the anniversary nears of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and controversy lingers over the Islamic center in New York.

    Declining image of Islam
    Last week, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life issued a poll showing that 30 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Islam, down from 41 percent five years ago. The poll also showed 51 percent object to building the 0 million, 13-story community center and mosque near ground zero in New York City. 
    "Detroit and Michigan have a very different dynamic," said Ronald Stockton, a University of Michigan-Dearborn sociology professor who studied Detroit Arab-Americans and Chaldeans after the 2001 attacks. 
    He said of the protests over the Islamic center: "What happened in New York was political opportunism. That would not happen in Michigan. Politicians would know better than to do that here. The proportions of people who personally know a Muslim are greater in Michigan." 
    Many say they feel more comfortable in Michigan because the state is home to 350,000 Muslims. Some 200,000 live in Metro Detroit -- and the community has been described as having the largest concentration of those of Arab descent in North America. 
    "Michigan is a highly diversified state," said Mohammed Abuelroos of Sterling Heights, a retired chief engineer and member of the Islamic Organization of North America mosque on Ryan Road in Warren. 
    "There's a lot of tolerance in Michigan." 
    Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, who presides over the mosque, said Michigan is more tolerant, although it doesn't mean there aren't some incidents against Muslims or mosques. He also credits numerous interfaith efforts and the area's diverse population for making the difference. 
    "There have been a lot of interfaith activities, particularly after 9/11," Elturk said. "That's when the faith-based organizations really came together." 

    Problems persist
    Muslim leaders in Michigan have worked hard to ease suspicions, publicly distance themselves from terror suspects and reach out to other religions -- especially since the 2001 attacks. 
    On Wednesday, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced a national campaign of public service announcements on television about the anniversary, featuring Muslims who were first responders at the World Trade Center. 
    The campaign hopes to defuse anti-Muslim "hysteria" surrounding the Islamic center controversy, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the local CAIR group. 
    One of the public service announcements features Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders describing the "golden rule" as expressed by faiths to illustrate that faiths have more in common than differences. 
    Among the efforts Muslims and others have put together to help ease tensions is Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, consisting of law enforcement, community, advocacy and civil rights leaders and representatives. 
    Local Muslim leaders also have put out a call for volunteers for an interfaith initiative on the weekend of Sept. 11. It is part of the national "Muslim Serve" campaign for community service projects. 
    After the attacks, local Muslims hosted open houses and distributed pamphlets about their religion. 
    Stockton, the U-M Dearborn professor, said mosques in New York and elsewhere could learn from Detroit. 
    "They can start with young people," Stockton said. "Become proactive. Bring people into your mosque. Talk to them. Give them hummus. Neutralize the issues." 
    Even so, local Muslims say it's difficult to hear the national dialogue about Muslims -- especially as they observe Ramadan, the holiest month of Islam. 
    Walid said recent incidents across the country of "Islamophobia" are of concern for local Muslims. 
    He cited incidents such as one in Queens, N.Y., late last month, when a man entered a mosque, shouted anti-Muslim epithets, called worshippers inside "terrorists" and then urinated on a prayer rug. Also, a New York cab driver who is Bangladeshi and a Muslim was stabbed by a passenger. 
    "People are worried, disgusted and frustrated," Walid said. 
    "We're not totally vaccinated here, but we are better off than Tennessee or Kentucky." 

    Extremists are the problem
    The past year has been especially tough for mainstream Muslims, who say they feel they need to constantly defend their religion when Islamic extremists make headlines. 
    In November, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. Government officials say he was in contact with a cleric with ties to al-Qaida. 
    A month later, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged with attempting to blow up a plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit. 
    On May 1, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, allegedly tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square in New York. He told authorities he was a "Muslim soldier." 
    And just this week, two former Detroit men -- Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi -- were detained, but later released without being charged, in Amsterdam when authorities said suspicious items were found in one of the men's luggage. 
    "They judge us badly. They judge us with hearsay," said Abuelroos, the Sterling Heights engineer. "There are pockets out there that express resentment towards Muslims." 
    But Muslims, including Malik A. Shabazz, a retired city bus driver, refuse to deny their religion, despite looks or outright hostility. After the 2001 attacks, Shabazz said he deliberately started wearing a kufi, a Muslim prayer cap. 
    Shabazz, who is not related to the Detroit activist by the same name, said some of his riders treated him differently after they learned of his religion. 
    "Once people found out I was Muslim, they stopped talking to me," said Shabazz, 60. 
    "I once had a person ask me if I believed Jesus was the son of God, and when I answered she told me, 'You're a heathen and you're going to hell,' " Shabazz said. 
    But the Pew study also found encouraging signs. While opinion is divided about the mosque near ground zero, the study found 62 percent of those polled believe Muslims should have the same rights as other groups to build houses of worship. 
    "It's not entirely a bleak picture for Muslims," said Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum. "I do not want to diminish the attacks or discrimination some of them face, but I do not see real evidence that attitudes have significantly hardened or become less positive since 9/11." 
    Abuelroos said he hopes the controversy over the New York mosque begins a broad conversation on religion and Islam. 
    "I hope this issue becomes a national debate in a factual, accurate and non-biased way," he said. 
    "How are we going to get people to understand Islam?"
     

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (313) 222-2027
    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100902/LIFESTYLE04/9020339/#ixzz0yxD3Xd9c

  • Warren Muslims Shaken After Teen Throws Bottle During Prayers (August 26, 2010) Open or Close

    Warren Muslims shaken after teen throws bottle during prayers
    Last Updated: August 26. 2010 5:27PM

    Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News

    Warren -- An imam says he is beefing up security at his mosque after a teenager hurled a glass bottle into its parking lot during nightly Ramadan prayers Tuesday.

    Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk says the no one was hurt, but the incident has shaken the congregation of the Islamic Organization of North America on Ryan Road near 12 Mile. The mosque is considering contacting police or the FBI, but hasn't done so yet.

    "It could be kids' stuff," Elturk said. "But I just hope it's not related to the (New York) mosque (controversy.)"

    Plans for an Islamic cultural center and mosque known as Park 51 near the former site of the World Trade Center have sparked protests from New Yorkers and others around the country. Some contend the plans are insensitive since the 2001 hijackers were Islamic extremists, while others say the center could promote healing and argue not all Muslims should be judged by extremists.

    On Thursday, the Michigan office of the Muslim civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Michigan mosques to "step up security during nightly Ramadan programs and Friday sermons in the wake of a recent nationwide surge of Islamophobia."

    "We advise all Islamic centers in Michigan to increase security in parking lots and at mosque entrances," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid in a press statement.

    "We also call on Michigan politicians, civic leaders, and religious clergy of all faiths to respond to the growing anti-Muslim intolerance, which is sweeping America."

    Walid told The Detroit News "it's really getting scary out here."

    "We're just concerned," added Walid. "We're not forecasting something to happen here."

    Walid pointed out recent incidents of vandalism at mosques in California, New York and others parts of the country. He urged political and religious leaders to take a more vocal stand in denouncing the attacks.

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (313) 222-2027
    http://www.detnews.com/article/20100826/METRO/8260472/1361/Warren-Muslims-shaken-after-teen-throws-bottle-during-prayers

  • Summer Camp in Warren Focuses on Diversity (August 9, 2010) Open or Close

    Published: Monday, August 09, 2010

    Summer camp in Warren focuses on diversity

    By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer, Mocomb Daily Staff Writer

    Civic and religious leaders hope some of Macomb County's younger residents will provide a good example for all of us.

    The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice hopes to foster inter-cultural relationships and build unity with its inaugural 2010 Listen, Learn and Live Summer Camp for Teenagers.

    The program features 30 to 40 middle-school aged children from various ethnic groups who will meet through Friday at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Warren.

    "We hope the kids, when they get out on Friday will have … made friends, they will have learned about other cultures and that they would respect each other more and in a more peaceful way," said Steve Elturk, iman of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque.

    "(We hope) they will become peacemakers wherever they go … and try to bridge that gap of the various cultures in our community."

    Ethnic groups represented at the camp include: African American, Chaldean, European American, Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong, Indian and Muslim.

    The program is patterned after the Interfaith Center's similar effort for adults, also called Listen, Learn and Live. The idea is to introduce participants to the different cultures that increasingly make up the demographic picture of Macomb County and promote understanding of the various groups.

    "What we don't want to see is this is the Chaldean group in the high school, the black group and the white group," said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center.

    "Let's have a group of people that know about one another."

    The summer camp was inspired by the city of Warren, which recently adopted a formal resolution that re-affirms "American core values" of freedom, equality and justice.

    Warren Mayor James Fouts, a former teacher, served as keynote speaker at the first full day of the summer camp Monday.

    "Warren is changing demographically," the mayor told the students. "It's important to let everybody know who's moving in (to the city) that we're inclusive, not exclusive.

    "We want everybody to move into Warren. We welcome diversity."

    Although the camp is just two days old, Marianna Kattula, 12, a Flynn Middle School student, said she has enjoyed it so far.

    "I like how we are going to (study) different cultures," she said.

    Wolfe Middle School seventh-grader David Hopps Jr. agreed.

    "I hope to learn more about the different cultures we have here in southeastern Michigan, and I hope to make some new friends," he said.

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2010/08/09/news/doc4c6066b173948644331952.txt

  • Amid Heat, Ramadan Arrives (August 9, 2010) Open or Close

    Last Updated: August 09. 2010

    Amid heat, Ramadan arrives
    Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown

    Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News

    Detroit -- Over the next four weeks during Ramadan, Sabreen Hanifa will be restricted to eating and drinking early in the morning before dawn and after sundown.

    And this year, as with last year, an additional challenge will be the heat.

    Hanifa, a 28-year-old from Detroit, is a Muslim and will join others worldwide at sundown Tuesday during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, when the faithful embark on increased spiritual reflection and reach out to the poor through charitable giving, said Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.

    But the daily fast comes amid one of the hottest summers on record. Daytime highs in Detroit are expected to be near 90 degrees through Saturday, with overnight lows in the 70s, according to the National Weather Service.

    ""Water is the key," said Hanifa, who attends Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit. "You don't want to get dehydrated."

    The weather poses a concern among some local clerics, who fear it will prevent some people from attending nightly prayers or religious lectures, said Dawud Walid, the executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan and the assistant imam at the Masjid Wali Muhammad.

    "This year will definitely be the most challenging for fasting," said Walid.

    Young children, the elderly and people with medical conditions are exempt from fasting.

    In the last couple of years, Ramadan, for which the observance period fluctuates every year, has fallen on hot and humid months. The timing of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and occurs 10 days earlier every year. In the next few years, Ramadan will be observed during some very hot months.

    For Ramzi Thabath, the owner Takbeer Fashions on Warren in Dearborn, suffering through the heat is part of the religious sacrifice that Muslims make during Ramadan.

    Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to increase the awareness of God in their lives and for families to come closer when they gather for the nightly fast-breaking meal, or iftar, said Elturk.

    "Family ties become closer during Ramadan when people get together for the meal," said Elturk.

    Ramadan ends around Sept. 10 with a celebration called Eid-al-Fitr.

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20100809/LIFESTYLE04/8090325/1041/lifestyle04/Amid-heat--Ramadan-arrives

  • Warren Affirms American 'Core Values' (July 4, 2010) Open or Close

    Warren affirms American 'core values'
    Published: Sunday, July 04, 2010

    By Norb Franz, Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    Measure intended to improve city's reputation

    Warren officials and local religious leaders want the public to feel that the city is a good place to live and work and that everyone is welcome in Macomb County's most populated community.

    The Warren City City Council has adopted a resolution re-affirming the "American core values" of freedom, equality and justice. Copies of the document are expected to be posted soon at city-owned buildings including Warren City Hall.

    "Arguably Warren, the third largest city in the state of Michigan, has been the poster child for racial and ethnic segregation that hampers metropolitan Detroit and the division between the city and suburbs," the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, told The Macomb Daily.

    "Passing this resolution, therefore, marks a new day in the city of Warren and for the most segregated region in the United States."

    The "living" document was requested in March by Curro, the Rev. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Church, Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America and Pastor Roger Facione of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. They first approached Mayor James Fouts, hoping it would guide future development of the city while committed to those values. Fouts forwarded it to the council, which sent it to city attorneys for review.

    City Attorney David Richards said he softened some of the wording to prevent misinterpretations, such as striking the term "social" from "justice."

    "In the '60s, the term 'law and order' may be perfectly fine and something everybody wants," said Richards, adding that some people might construe it to mean "heavy handed enforcement of the law."

    He also said Warren cannot guarantee that any person will not face discrimination in the community because of where they live or worship, but that the city is opposed to such harassment.

    Rev. Schulte said he and other religious leaders have spoken with people of various ethic and religious backgrounds who frequently inquired about life in Warren. As a resident of Warren for more than 20 years, he said the city has become a "cosmopolitan" community over the years.

    Over the years, city leaders have expressed pride in the number of immigrants from east Europe, including Germans, Poles and Italians. The city has a prominent Ukrainian population, and during the past decade witnessed a growing number of Asians, Indians, Pakistanis and Hmong in addition to people from the Middle East.

    Demographers said the city long held a reputation — deserved or not — as biased toward minorities.

    Schulte said Iraqis have needed reassurance that local police are not adversaries.

    "We hope we did the best we could" as religious leaders, said Schulte. "We haven't had a piece of paper to say, 'This is what the vision of what Warren is."

    Council members unanimously adopted the resolution and credited those who requested it. But some said another, centuries-old document serves the same purpose: the U.S. Constitution.

    "I'm not against this (resolution) at

    all, but we have documents that attest to what America is all about," Councilman Scott Stevens said.

    He and Councilwoman Kathy Vogt suggested the city's document would have carried more weight as a proclamation from the mayor.

    "What's the difference," said Fouts when reached for comment.

    "It says to any newcomer who comes to the city we are an inclusive city, not an exclusive city," the mayor said.

    He pointed out that he appointed Warren's first African-American fire commissioner, Wilburt McAdams, and three African-Americans to the Planning Commission and a man of Arabic descent to the zoning board.

    Last year, Fouts, Police Commissioner William Dwyer and Deputy Commissioner Jere Green held the first of occasional meetings with a group of local Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist and other religious leaders to establish dialogue with city officials.

    The mayor said there was apprehension in the community when a mosque opened on Ryan Road.

    "The imam (Steve Elturk) feels Arab Americans are treated much better. He said when he first came here, he didn't feel that way," Fouts said.

    In part, the resolution states that Warren "believes that all deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential and that all should have equal opportunity for access to education, health care, housing and employment."

    According to the resolution, Warren "is united in speaking out against any expression of prejudice, intimidation, hate or violence that is aimed at hurting or excluding an individual, a family or group of people because of who they are" and that the council "stands together in support of freedom, equality and justice, and to speak out against prejudice, discrimination and violence..."

    Several controversies that made headlines during the past four decades led to a reputation that the city was unfriendly to minorities.

    In 2007, then-mayor Mark Steenbergh said that a projected influx of more than 15,000 Iraqi refugees to Warren and Sterling Heights would put a "burden" on his city's resources."

    "This is not the time to add more peopel to a shrinking pool of employment," Steenbergh said at the time. His remarks angered the president of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, who called the comments bigotry and "very anti-Catholic."

    In 2002, a 16-year federal court battle involving the city and the U.S. Justice Department over job discrimination wound down. Warren was among 17 cities sued by the federal government in 1986 over alleged discriminatory hiring practices. Justice Department lawyers claimed that the city's former pre-hire residency requirement was unfair to minorities. Sixteen other cities reached out-of-court settlements, but Warren chose to fight while widening its advertising to reach more minorities. In 1992, a judge ruled the city was not guilty of discrimination or harassment in 1,400 individual hiring decisions during a 5-year period. U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan allowed the Justice Department to seek people who felt victimized by the former residency rule even if they never filled out an application for a city job.

    The advertising blitz drew 350 claims. Many were deemed frivolous. One man who insisted he would have applied to be a Warren firefighter was awarded 7,000. Eight other claims went before a mediator. Federal lawyers sought module.3 million but agreed to settle the case for 0,000. In the end, the city's fees for outside attorneys who handled the case totaled about million.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People urged Steenbergh in 1996 to temporarily step down while state police investigated allegations that he assaulted a 16-year-old black male. Steenbergh was charged and later acquitted by a Macomb County Circuit Court jury.

    In the late 1960s, Warren fought U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plans for low-income housing that city official labeled as forced integration of minorities. In a 1970 referendum, residents rejected urban renewal. The federal government sued the city four months later, but later dropped the case.

    During the 1970s, the city opposed cross-district busing to achieve racial integration. City officials spearheaded petition drives and rallies opposing a federal judge's ruling, although the issue involved many suburban communities.

    In a July 1990 cover story titled "The Tragedy of Detroit," the New York Times Magazine carried excerpts from the book, "Devil's Night: and Other True Tales of Detroit." Author Ze-ev Chafets said blacks can purchase a house in the suburbs — but not without difficulty.

    "Nowhere is this truer than in Warren..." Chafers wrote.

    The city's reputation have may changed a bit when several officials from Warren and Detroit were present in 1997 for the dedication of Greater Miller Memorial Church of God in Christ — the city's only predominantly black church at the time.Charles Busse, who was the Warren City Council president at the time, sang "Amazing Grace" at the church with anassistant pastor in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

    http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2010/07/04/online/srv0000008746314.txt

  • Warren Mosque Looking to Expand (May 17, 2010) Open or Close

    Warren mosque looking to expand

    Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010

    By Jameson Cook
    Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    warren-mosque-looking-to-expandA Warren mosque has been so successful and accepted in the community that it is looking to expand in a new location.

    Imam Steve Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America on Ryan Road near 12 Mile Road, said during the mosque’s second annual open house Saturday that its membership has quadrupled from 200 since opening four years ago.

    He called the success “a miracle” in light of some of the opposition to the mosque since it opened in 2006. A Warren man was arrested in January 2007 for shouting obscenities and epithets at Elturk outside the mosque.

    “That’s when people didn’t know much about us,” Elturk said during a tour of the facility. “We had to go through a lot of grief before” it was approved.

    Mayor James Fouts visited Elturk and the mosque Saturday afternoon. He said Warren residents have accepted it.

    Initial opposition occurred “because people didn’t understand Islam,” he said. “This is a friendly, peaceful place of worship. I don’t think people have any misgivings about it today.”

    The IONA is located in a mid-sized building in a strip mall, but needs more space, Elturk said. The group mulled expanding the building onto neighboring land, but the owners of the two properties want a combined 0,000 for the nearly three acres.

    “That’s way too much (money) in this economy,” Elturk said.

    So the IONA is starting to look at other potential locations. Elturk said he hopes the group can stay in Warren. The mosque pulls many of its members from Warren, Sterling Heights and south Oakland County. A majority of its members are of Southeast Asian descent — Pakistan, India and Bangladesh — while a minority hails from the Middle East.

    Fouts added he hopes the mosque stays in the city, noting it “has plenty of vacancies” due to the current economy.

    Elturk said he would like to build a mosque with a dome and minaret (call-for-prayer tower), but that isn’t mandatory. The current building was remodeled, and extra architectural features weren’t affordable, he said.

    The mosque is the only one in the county, and it draws many Muslims who work at places such as General Motors and Chrysler and need a place of worship on the day of worship, Fridays, Elturk said.

    Saturday’s open house turnout was modest, 30 to 40 non-Muslims, but Elturk remained encouraged because it was an increase from last year.

    “Hopefully people will go home and tell their families, and they’ll come next year,” he said.

    Visitors received a gift bag containing The Quran, an audio CD of, “Was Jesus a Muslim?” and literature.

    Maureen Kennedy and David Reed of Royal Oak were among those who viewed the displays and videos that explained history and details of the religion.

    “It was very pleasant, and I learned a lot,” Kennedy said, such as the fact that women can earn and keep their own money and have a right to their husband’s earnings, and that Muslims invented many things.

    She said the open house can help assure people American Muslims aren’t part of the radical Islam movement opposing the West.

    “They really need to do that,” she said.

    She said the Rev. Terri Bracy of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Warren, where she works as the choir director, announced the open house to the congregation.

    The Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Mount Clemens-based Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, showed up for the open house.

    “This is a great opportunity for people to learn about Islam and Muslims,” he said. “It breaks down stereotypes and fears.”

    Curro and Elturk, who is the council’s president, along with the Revs. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Catholic Church and Roger Facione of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, both in Warren, have asked the Warren City Council to pass a resolution to “reaffirm the core American values of freedom, equality and justice,” Curro said.

    Council members recently tabled the matter, which is supported by Fouts, apparently because it was the first they had heard about it. It is expected to be revived.

    Curro said the measure is in reaction to some of the original opposition to the mosque and a nod to the city’s increasing ethnic and religious diversity.

    “The religious community and the community of Warren need to speak out and denounce that,” Curro said. “This is a new day and new image for Warren. Warren has had an image of exclusivity when it should be an image of inclusion.”

    City Attorney Dave Richards also attended the open house with his adult son on Elturk’s invitation. Richards tweaked some of the resolution’s language before it was presented to the council.

    Richards said it was the first time he stepped foot in a mosque.

    “It’s not as religious-looking as I thought it would be; it looks more like meeting places,” he said.

    The open house came the same day a coalition of religious leaders — the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan — called on President Obama to start a civil rights investigation into the FBI’s role in the shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdulla in October in a Dearborn warehouse.

    Elturk, who supports the request, said, “There are so many questions” surrounding the shooting that remain unanswered.

    The open house also came a day before a Dearborn woman competes in the Miss USA beauty pageant, hoping to become the first Arabic-American to win. Rima Fakih, 24, who has Lebanon roots, is Muslim.

    Elturk said her participation violates Islamic principles. A woman can only expose her face and hands, and must wear loose-fitting clothing to hide “the figure of her body.”

    “Not everyone is practicing their religion, whether it’s a Christian, Jew or Muslim,” he said. “Yes, you can still be a Muslim, but not practicing.”

    The open house was one of about a dozen open houses in the Detroit area Saturday. Other sites included Rochester Hills, Hamtramck, Detroit and Bloomfield Hills.

  • Dr. Israr Ahmed Dies (April 15, 2010) Open or Close

    Dr. Israr Ahmed Dies
    April 15, 2010 by TMO

    dr.-israr-ahmed-diesDr. Israr Ahmed, (April 26, 1932 – April 14, 2010) died in Pakistan on April 14. He was a Pakistan-based Muslim religious scholar followed particularly in South Asia and also in the South Asian diaspora in the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. Born in Hissar, (today’s Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant, he is the founder of the Tanzeem-e-islami, an off-shoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He hosted a daily show on Peace TV, a 24 hours Islamic channel broadcast internationally, and until recently on ARY Qtv.

    His supporters describe himas having spent the “last forty years” actively engaged in “reviving the Qur’an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view” with “the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah.” Ahmed is skeptical of the efficacy of “parliamentary politics of give-and-take” in establishing an “Islamic politico-socio-economic system” as implementing this system is a “revolutionary process”.

    Dr. Israr Ahmad was born on April 26, 1932 in Hisar (a district of East Punjab, now a part of Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant. He graduated from King Edward Medical College (Lahore) in 1954 and later received his Master’s degree in Islamic Studies from the University of Karachi in 1965. He came under the influence of Abul Ala Maududi as a young student, worked briefly for Muslim Student’s Federation in the Independence Movement and, following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, for the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba and then for the Jamaat-e-Islami. Dr. Israr Ahmad resigned from the Jama`at in April 1957 because of its involvement in the electoral politics, which he believed was irreconcilable with the revolutionary methodology adopted by the Jama’at in the pre-1947 period.

    While still a student and an activist of the Islami Jami`yat-e-Talaba, Dr. Israr Ahmad became a Mudarris (or teacher) of the Qur’an. Even after resigning from the Jama`at, he continued to give Qur’anic lectures in different cities of Pakistan, and especially after 1965 spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. 
    In 1967 Dr. Israr Ahmadin wrote “Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead”, a tract explaining his basic belief. This was that a rebirth of Islam would be possible only by revitalizing iman (faith) among the Muslims – particularly educated Muslims – and the propagation of the Qur’anic teachings in contemporary idiom and at the highest level of scholarship is necessary to revitalize iman. This undertaking would remove the existing dichotomy between modern physical and social sciences on the one hand, and Islamic revealed knowledge on the other.

    In 1971 Ahmad gave up his medical practice to devote himself full time to the Islamic revival. In 1972 he established or helped establish the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an Lahore, Tanzeem-e-Islami was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan was launched in 1991.

    Dr. Israr Ahmad first appeared on Pakistan Television in 1978 in a program called Al-Kitab; this was followed by other programs, known as Alif Lam Meem, Rasool-e-Kamil, Umm-ul-Kitab and the most popular of all religious programs in the history of Pakistan Television, the Al-Huda, which made him a household name throughout the country.[citation needed] His television lectures generally focused on the revitalization of the Islamic faith through studies of the Quran. Dr. Israr Ahmad also criticized modern democracy and the electoral system and argued that the head of an Islamic state can reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly.[7] Although he did not like to receive it personally, Dr. Israr Ahmad was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has to his credit over 60 Urdu books on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, 9 of which have been translated into English and other languages.

    Dr. Israr Ahmed relinquished the leadership of Tanzeem-e-Islami in October, 2002 on grounds of bad health and Hafiz Aakif Saeed is the present Ameer of the Tanzeem to whom all rufaqaa of Tanzeem renewed their pledge of Baiyah.

    Supporters describe his vision of Islam as having been synthesized from the diverse sources. He has also acknowledged the “deep influence” of Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, the 18th century Indian Islamic leader, anti-colonial activist, jurist, and scholar.[3] Ahmad follows the thinking of Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, concerning what his followers believe is the “internal coherence of and the principles of deep reflection in the Qur’an”. He follows Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi in regards to what he believes is the “dynamic and revolutionary conception of Islam.”

    “In the context of Qur’anic exegesis and understanding, Dr. Israr Ahmad is a firm traditionalist of the genre of Maulana Mehmood Hassan Deobandi and Allama Shabeer Ahmad Usmani; yet he presents Qur’anic teachings in a scientific and enlightened way …”[2] Ahmed believes in what he calls “Islamic revolutionary thought,” which consists of the idea that Islam – the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah – must be implemented in the social, cultural, juristic, political, and the economic spheres of life. In this he is said to follow Mohammad Rafiuddin and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. The first attempt towards the actualization of this concept was reportedly made by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad through his short-lived party, the Hizbullah. Another attempt was made by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi through his Jamaat-e-Islami party. Although the Jamaat-e-Islami has reached some influence, Ahmad resigned from the party in 1956 when it entered the electoral process and believes this involvement has led to “degeneration from a pure Islamic revolutionary party to a mere political one”.

    The nucleus of Tanzeem-e-Islami, which Israr Ahmad founded, was created in 1956, following the resignation of Ahmad and some other individuals from Jamaat-e-Islami over its electoral activity and “significant policy matters. They came together and tried unsuccessfully to form an organized group … A resolution was passed which subsequently became the Mission Statement of Tanzeem-e-Islami.”

    Later, disappointed with what he saw as the “lack of effort to create an Islamic renaissance through the revolutionary process” he again attempted to create a “disciplined organization,” namely Tanzeem-e-Islami.

    Along with his work to revive “the Qur’an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view” Ahmed aims with his party to “reform the society in a practical way with the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah”.

    According to the Tanzeem-e-Islami website Ahmed and the party believe “the spiritual and intellectual center of the Muslim world has shifted from the Arab world to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent” and “conditions are much more congenial for the establishment of Khilafah in Pakistan” than in other Muslim countries.[citation needed]

    According to Tanzeem-e-Islami’s FAQ, while both Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tanzeem-e-Islami share belief in reviving the Caliphate as a means of implementing Islam in all spheres of life, Tanzeem-e-Islami does not believe in involvement in electoral politics, armed struggle, coup d’état to establish a caliphate, and has no set plan of detailed workings for the future Caliphate. Tanzeem-e-Islami emphasizes that iman (faith) among Muslims must be revived in “a significant portion of the Muslim society” before there can be an Islamic revival.

    While Ahmad “considers himself a product” of the teachings of “comprehensive and holistic concept of the Islamic obligations” of Abul Ala Maududi, he opposes Jamaat-e-Islami’s “plunge” into “the arena of power politics,” which he considers to have been “disastrous.”

    Nov 19, 2007 Ahmed warned that “the NATO forces are waiting on the western front to move into Pakistan and may deprive the country of its nuclear assets while on the eastern border India is ready to stage an action replay of 1971 events and has alerted its armed forces to intervene in to check threats to peace in the region.

    Ahmed has also been criticized as making anti-Semitic and Islamic supremacist statements.

    Canada’s National Post newspaper reported in 2006 that, according to Ahmad:

    “Islam’s renaissance will begin in Pakistan… because the Arab world is living under subjugation. Only the Pakistan region has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony.

    Asia Times reports that in September 1995 Israr Ahmed told the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America that:

    The process of the revival of Islam in different parts of the world is real. A final showdown between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world, which has been captured by the Jews, would soon take place. The Gulf War was just a rehearsal for the coming conflict.

    He appealed to the Muslims of the world, including those in the US, to prepare themselves for the coming conflict.”

    On July 27, 2007, VisionTV, a Canadian multi-faith religious television channel, aired an apology for broadcasting lectures by Mr. Ahmad. The channel had taken Ahmad off the air earlier that week for his derogatory comments about Jews. In reply, Ahmed “strongly refuted the impression that he hated the Jews or he held anti-Semitic views,” according to the National Post, but a “written statement, issued by his personal secretary in Lahore, went on to explain Mr. Ahmad’s belief that the Holocaust was `Divine punishment` and that Jews would one day be `exterminated.”

    The Post gave several quotes about Jews by Ahmed including

    “It is apparent to any careful observer that the Jews have continued to suffer the floggings of Divine punishment in the present century – the Holocaust during the Second World War being a case in point.

    [T]he conflict between the Jews and Muslims is going to result, ultimately, in the total extermination of the former, according to the Divine law of ‘annihilation of the worse.’”

    Miss Shagufta Ahmad has submitted her master thesis entitled, “Dr. Israr Ahmad’s Political Thoughts and Activities” to the McGill University, Canada in 1994. The thesis discussed in detail the intellectual development of Israr Ahmad and the influence of Allama Iqbal, Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Maududi’s political thought, especially his theory of revolution and the activities of his three organizations, Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an, Tanzeem-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Khilafat. Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an published the thesis in 1996.

    The veteran scholar died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Lahore on the morning of 14 of April 2010 between 3:00 and 3:30 AM. According to his son, his health detriorated at arround 1:30 in the morning with severe pain in the back, he was a long time heart patient.

    His funeral (Namaz-e-Janazah) is planned after Asr (afternoon) prayers at Model Town Park, Lah

  • Religious Groups at SJSU Unite for Change (March 22, 2010) Open or Close

    Religious groups at SJSU unite for change

    Donovan Farnham
    Issue Date: 3/22/10 

    Could Jesus Christ become a focal point for both the followers of Islam and Christianity to work toward social change? asked a Christian scholar Thursday night.

    An audience of 40 people, including a Christian scholar and the president of the Islamic Organization of North America, met to discuss how Christianity and Islam are working toward a common goal of improving social wrongs in society.

    Robert Shedinger, an associate professor of religion at Iowa's Luther College, said Christ could become common ground for the followers of the two religions to work toward social equality in the world.

    Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, said the two religions are similar and should work toward common goals.

    Elturk said the two belief systems are natural partners for doing good in the world and when they come together, along with other politically active and religious groups, strides social justice can be made for all people.

    "Social justice is work that involves everyone," he said. "Religion and what you believe in will be settled on the day of judgment. I should be open to work with anyone that shares the same concerns in the place where we live to come together to fight these injustices that go on everywhere."

    Shedinger said this is a point he focuses on in his book "Was Jesus A Muslim?"

    "If societal transformation towards greater levels of justice is inherent to what it means to be a Muslim and if societal transformation was inherent in the mission of Jesus, then guess what, Jesus was a Muslim," he said.

    Shedinger said this concept is difficult for Christians to accept because of their views on Christ as a religious figure and on Islam as a religion.

    He said this thinking isn't correct because Islam isn't so much of a religion as it is a way of life of working toward justice and that Christ was not only a religious figure but also a political activist.

    Karimah Al-Helew, a senior social work major, said she thought Shedinger's ideas on religion were interesting because they mirror how Muslims view Islam.

    "Hearing a Christian person speak about trying to take Christianity not just as a religion but rather as a way of life, which is how we view Islam," Al-Helew said. "As Muslims, that's how we view Islam. It's not just a religion, it's a way of life. Seeing that aspect presented from a person of the Christian faith was pretty cool. I like that."

    Lukogho Kasomo, a senior political science major, said she thought the lecture was interesting, but she never thought Jesus as a political reformer.

    "This was the first time that I've heard this concept of Jesus as a Muslim," Kasomo said. "Personally, I've, theologically I guess, seen Jesus as being radical in general. So, being for social justice in general."

    Al-Helew said political activism is something that's a daily reality in the United States for the Muslim community and that others will work toward the common goal of bettering society.

    "I hope that from this talk that people will see social justice and working for social change is a responsibility and not just an option," she said. "This is your responsibility, which is how I see it as a Muslim. Fighting for social justice, change and finding equal rights for people that's not something on the side, it's something I need to make time for every day."

     

    http://media.www.thespartandaily.com/media/storage/paper852/news/2010/03/22/News/Religious.Groups.At.Sjsu.Unite.For.Change-3892481-page2.shtml

  • Fr. Day Pledges Continued Interfaith Undertanding Effort (March 19, 2010) Open or Close

    Fr. Day pledges continued interfaith understanding effort

    by Robert Delaney of The Michigan Catholic
    Published March 19, 2010

    fr.-day-pledges-continued-interfaithDETROIT – Fr. Jeffrey Day assured area religious leaders on March 10 of his own and Archbishop Allen Vigneron's commitment to continue the work of fostering respect and cooperation between the Catholic Church and other faith communities.

    "Archbishop Vigneron wants to continue what Cardinal (Adam) Maida did, what the late Fr. John West and Msgr. (Patrick) Halfpenny did," Fr. Day said, referring to his predecessors as ecumenical/interfaith advisor for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

    Archbishop Vigneron named Fr. Day to the position in January, in addition to his continuing duties as pastor of St. SebastianParish in Dearborn. Fr. Day spoke of his long admiration for the ecumenical and interfaith work of Pope John Paul XXIII during his remarks at a get-acquainted reception at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

    "One of the things I admire about John XXIII is how he forged strong relationships with people of faith no matter where his assignments took him," he said, referring to the pontiff's career as a Vatican diplomat even before his election as pope.

    And referring to the generally good ecumenical and interfaith relations prevailing in metro Detroit, Fr. Day added, "While those of us gathered here have our theological differences, we can be grateful that we can come together in the spirit of mutual respect."

    And he expressed the desire that people of different faiths in this area would continue "to live together in peace." The reception was attended by about 20 local faith leaders, including representatives of other Christian faith communities and Muslims and Jews.

    Imam Stephen Elturk, one of the Muslim clerics at the reception, said, "Generally speaking, interfaith efforts have improved quite a bit over the years."

    Whereas the early years of interfaith dialogue tended to involve each participant primarily seeking to express what his own faith community believes, the imam said the dialogue is now more focused on "trying to solve issues in the community and what we can do together."

    "As Fr. Day said, regardless of our theological differences, we should put that aside and concentrate on ways we can work together," said Imam Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.

    Catholic-Jewish relations are going very well in the Detroit area, said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

    "In the five years I've worked here, I've been very impressed by the close and affectionate relations between the two communities," he said.

    As to ecumenical relations – that is, among Christians – there was also a positive assessment given by faith leaders at the reception.

    Metropolitan Nicholas, the local Greek Orthodox bishop, said Catholic-Orthodox relations locally have "always been very gracious" and characterized by a "mutual spirit of love and respect."

    The metropolitan said he had known Archbishop Vigneron from his earlier time in Detroit as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and attended his installation as archbishop. "I look on him as a brother," he said, adding that he intends to discuss possible joint projects with him."

    Episcopal Bishop Wendell Gibbs said relations between the local Episcopal diocese and the Archdiocese of Detroit have been good. "I look forward to getting to know the archbishop," he added.

    http://www.aodonline.org/AODOnline/News+++Publications+2203/Michigan+Catholic+News+12203/2010+17545/100319Day.htm

  • Recent Events Spur Interfaith Lectures (January 25, 2010) Open or Close

    Recent events spur interfaith lectures

    Published: Monday, January 25, 2010

    By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    A program that examines the different cultures represented in Macomb County and the religions that drive them returns in February with the first section, African Americans and the Black Church.

    Other sessions will follow on Jews and Judaism; Islam and Muslims; Hispanics and Roman Catholicism; and Chaldeans and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

    Prompted by changing demographics in Macomb County, the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice launched its Listen, Learn and Live program in 2007 to highlight the diverse cultures that now make up a significant portion of the county.

    The goal is better understanding of the diversity in the county, and, initially, progress toward that goal appeared steady, said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center.

    But recent world events, including the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by a Muslim man, have hindered progress, Curro conceded.

    "It's like we've taken a great step backward," he said.

    Each section, called "modules," consists of five weekly sessions of about 2-1/2 hours each. During each session, traditions, beliefs and other aspects of the different cultures are examined. Each module is highlighted by a visit to a worship service at a church, mosque or synagogue.

    "If you take the religion out of most of these cultures, you kind of miss the culture," Curro said.

    Since the program's inception, the study of Islam and Muslims has proven the most popular, so much so that organizers have scheduled two separate modules on Islam in April.

    Imam Steve Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, tapped recent headlines — the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet — to underscore what can be a lack of understanding of different cultures. Elturk participates in the Interfaith Center's Listen, Learn and Live program.

    The imam said Muslim-Americans are equally as upset as other Americans at such acts, but acknowledged they don't always express their outrage loudly enough.

    "The outrage is there, without a doubt," Elturk said. "Within the family, within the community, it's talked about … (but) perhaps not enough to make the population comfortable."

    On the other hand, Elturk continued, law-abiding Muslims shouldn't feel they must apologize for their faith every time an extremist commits a deplorable act.

    "They may use the religion as a slogan … (but) in reality, they have nothing to do with our faith," he said.

    The starting dates and locations for the Listen, Learn and Live modules for 2010 are:

    African Americans and the Black Church, Feb. 2, St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Parish, St. Clair Shores;

    Jews and Judaism, March 2, St. Michael Catholic Church, Sterling Heights;

    Islam and Muslims, April 14, Christ Lutheran Church, Sterling Heights;

    Islam and Muslims, April 15, Mount Clemens Public Library;

    Hispanics and Roman Catholicism, May 2, St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, Shelby Township;

    Chaldeans and the Chaldean Catholic Church, June 1, St. Mark Catholic Church, Warren.

    The cost for each Listen, Learn and Live module is or 5 for all five modules. For reservations or information, call (586) 463-3675 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Local Muslims, Nigerian Americans Gather to Denounce Terror Attack (January 8, 2010) Open or Close

    Local Muslims, Nigerian Americans gather to denounce terror attack
    Last Updated: January 08. 2010 7:52PM 
    Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News

    Detroit -- A large number of Muslims, Arab Americans and Nigerian Americans are standing together today outside a federal courthouse to condemn the alleged actions of a suspect accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day.local-muslims-denounce-terror-attacks

  • 1st Annual IONA Islam Conference (January 8, 2010) Open or Close

    1st Annual IONA Islam Conference

    January 8. 2010 
    By Adil James, MMNS

    Warren–January 2–IONA held its first annual Islam conference this past Saturday evening at IONA.

    Two speakers were invited to the event, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, and Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Muslim activist from Oakland California.

    They both spoke on secularism and American democracy, Dawud Walif focusing on how American democracy and history includes elements of Islam, and Ali focusing instead on distinctions and points of conflict between the Islamic and Western worlds and world views.

    Both focused on Islam as a non-religion, which may be a thesis that most people would disagree with.  The underlying argument is that Muslims must be involved in political life, because Islam is a “deen” which both speakers translated ast “way of life,” rather than as “religion.”

    As a first such event from IONA, it was interesting that the underlying message echoed the previous speech at the center by a non-Muslim proponent of the thesis that Islam is not a religion, rather a kind of political awakening movement, Prof. Robert Shedinger (who spoke there on October 24th of 2009, reported on in TMO V11-I45).  Shedinger argues that Jesus was Muslim, as a corollary to his argument that Islam is not a religion.

    Shedinger’s companion argument is that the effort to define Islam as a religion rather than a way of life was imposed by non-Muslims in an effort to stem the efforts of Muslims to be politically involved, for example in combating colonialism.

    It is surprising that the radical idea of Islam’s being just another worldly movement is gaining among Muslims, but apparently the IONA conference documents the spread of this idea.

  • Christmas Terror Suspect in Court in Detroit (February 4, 2010) Open or Close

    News

    Christmas terror suspect in court in Detroit

    Muslims protest against terrorism outside

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    By David Runk and Ed White, Associated Press Writers 

    DETROIT — A young Nigerian man, wearing a white T-shirt and tennis shoes, did not speak much Friday during his first public court hearing to face charges of trying to ignite a chemical-laden explosive on a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

    Meanwhile, Muslim leaders and other followers of Islam showed up outside the courtroom to denounce terrorism and violence and demand extremists stop "hijacking" their religion.

    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab gave a one word answer — "yes" — when asked whether he understood the charges against him. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Randon entered a not guilty plea for the 23-year-old, who could face up to life in prison on the most serious charge — attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

    Authorities say the young Nigerian with al-Qaida links was traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit when he tried to destroy the Northwest Airlines plane carrying nearly 300 people by injecting chemicals into a package of explosives concealed in his underwear. The failed attack caused popping sounds and flames that passengers and crew rushed to extinguish.

    During his arraignment Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Abdulmutallab stood at the podium along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel and defense attorney Miriam Siefer and answered a few questions in English from the judge.

    The longest answer came when the judge asked if he had taken any drugs or alcohol in past 24 hours. Abdulmutallab answered: "some pain pills." Siefer then said he was competent to understand the proceedings. Abdulmutallab, who is being held at a fede

    ral prison in Milan, had been treated at a hospital for burns after the attack.

    His attorneys then waived the reading of the indictment, and Randon entered the not guilty plea. It is routine practice in federal court for the defendant to allow the judge to enter a plea on his behalf rather than say anything himself.

    President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, has said Abdulmutallab would be offered a plea deal in exchange for valuable information about his contacts in Yemen and elsewhere.

    After the hearing, one of Abdulmutallab's attorneys, Leroy Soles, declined to talk about the case.

    "It's just too soon in the process to make any comment," Soles said.

    Maryam Uwais, a lawyer in Nigeria, and Mahmud Kazaure, a lawyer from Maryland, told The Associated Press before Friday's arraignment that they were sent by Abdulmutallab's family to observe the hearing. Neither have a role in the case, but both spoke briefly with the suspect's legal team. They declined to further comment.

    At least one passenger from Flight 253 attended Friday's hearing. Hebba Aref, a Detroit area native now working as a corporate lawyer in Kuwait, said she sat six rows in front of Abdulmutallab on the plane.

    Aref, who drew international attention last year after being refused a seat directly behind then-Presidential candidate Obama at a Detroit rally because she was wearing a headscarf, said she came Friday because Abdulmutallab "changed my life."

    "I just wanted to see him again," the 27-year-old told reporters outside the courtroom following the hearing. "It's a historic moment, and I want to be part of it."

    Outside the courtroom, several dozen protesters showed up, some carrying signs. One sign carried the message: "Not in the name of Islam."

    Majed Moughni organized a Facebook group called Dearborn Area Community Members.

    Moughni said Abdulmutallab's alleged actions do not represent Islam, and protesters intend to send a message to terrorists that "we're going to take our religion back."

    About 50 men and women identifying themselves as Detroit-area Muslims chanted "We are Americans" as they marched behind metal barricades outside the courthouse to denounce terrorism. About a dozen of them carried U.S. flags or pro-U.S. signs.

    Earlier in the day, 10 imams (clergy) representing Southeastern Michigan Muslims held a news conference to make a similar point.

    Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, was among the news conference organizers. Elturk said Muslims are always outraged over terrorist attacks, but because Abdulmutallab's actions took place "in our own back yard," the imams felt it important to go public with their anger.

    "We felt we had to go out and really express our outrage," Elturk said. "You're not going to hijack our faith and our religion."

    Elturk predicted other Muslims — like those grassroots protesters outside the courthouse — will speak out even more loudly because they're tired of Islam being painted as a violent religion.

    "It will spread," he said. "It may not be noticeable to the media. But my sermon (Friday) was solely on that subject."

    Elturk also said Muslims don't feel they should have to apologize for their faith anytime an extremist commits a heinous act, and he hopes non-Muslims take the time to understand Islam is a religion of peace.

    "They need to stop listening to the propaganda," Elturk said. "People of other faiths need to objectively study our faith and hear it from the horse's mouth — like from the imams.

    Four Muslims who were part of the protest performed Friday prayers in the court's small museum located on the first floor. Protest organizer Majed Moughni said it was important to take time for Islam's most important prayer even with the events of the day.

    "We have prayer rugs outside in the car. We could have done a show for the media," protest organizer Majed Moughni said. "We're doing this for God."

    Obama considers the Christmas attack an attempted strike against the United States by an affiliate of al-Qaida. But he also has said the government had information that could have stopped Abdulmutallab, but intelligence agencies failed to connect the dots.

    U.S. investigators have said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. His father warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son had drifted into extremism in Yemen, but that threat was never fully digested by the U.S. security apparatus.

    Macomb Daily Staff Writer Frank DeFrank contributed to this report.

  • Fort Hood Attack Unrelated to Islam, Local Muslim Leaders Say (November 13, 2009) Open or Close

    Fort Hood attack unrelated to Islam, local Muslim leaders say

    November 13. 2009 
    By Jennifer Chambers, The Detroit News

    Southfield -- Leaders of Metro Detroit's Muslim community gathered this morning to urge all Americans to view the Fort Hood shooting as a criminal act and unrelated to the faith of Islam.

    "Islam opposes such actions as committed by Maj. (Nidal Malik) Hasan. The Qur'an considers human life sacred," Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Association of North America said Friday morning at a press conference called by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.

    Army officials have said they believe Hasan acted alone when he jumped on a table with two handguns, shouted, "Allahu akbar," a common Arabic expression meaning "God is the greatest," and opened fire inside a building at Fort Hood, Texas.

    The 13 people killed included a pregnant soldier and at least three other mental health professionals. On Thursday, Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.

    "We called this meeting to discuss the heartbreaking event of a sick doctor who took innocent lives with his treacherous act. We are shocked, saddened and disturbed by these events," said Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman of the Michigan council.

    Begg said Muslims find themselves in a defensive position whenever a person related to the Muslim faith commits an act of violence.

    "These sick people go out and shoot people down. When it happens and a Muslim is involved, the focus is on Islam. We have to defend our faith. Wouldn't you?" Begg said. "It sounds like we are tried and convicted when people say Muslims don't denounce terrorism and we are called terrorism sympathizers. We are pushed into a corner."

    Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Fort Hood shooting has been the most traumatic event for Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "Many of us are on edge," Walid, a U.S. Navy veteran, said. "We get hate e-mails every day at our organization, and we've gotten more the last couple of days."

    The group said the thousands of Muslim men and women who wear the U.S. military uniform must not be tarnished due to the act of one.

    "We don't know why Maj. Hasan did what he did," Elturk said. "We don't know all the answers yet."

  • Visitors Throng to Southeast Michigan Mosques (October 22, 2009) Open or Close

    Visitors Throng to Southeast Michigan Mosques
    October 22, 2009 by TMO 
    By Adil James, MMNS


    Warren–October 17–Seven local mosques opened their doors to welcome non-Muslim community members and TMO was present at one of the mosques, IONA on Ryan in Warren.

    visitorsThe mosque was incredibly beautiful, looking like a museum.  There were hand written copies of Qur`an, calligraphy, Islam-related videos playing, many items with Qur`an  engraved in them.

    Perhaps 1000 square feet were cleared and in that space were tastefully separated displays, with enough space to walk between them and enough displays to take a visitor perhaps 45 minutes to take in everything  if they read everything.

    There were several floor-stands chock full of calligraphy and explanations of Islam for the visitors, as well of course as tea and other refreshments.

    “Many of the people asked us what Islam says about Jesus,” explained Waheed Rashid, one of the IONA volunteers/officials at the event.  They were very surprised, he said, to learn there is a chapter of Qur`an named after Sayyida Maryam.

    The visitors included one sociology teacher and two local pastors.

    “If just one person had come, it would have been worth it,” said Amin Varis, IONA’s outreach director.

    An interesting idea was IONA’s giving of Sunnah-related foods on its table, with explanations of each of the ahadith about the items.  There was honey, black seed, and dates, as well of course as Middle Eastern refreshments like baklava, other sweets, and tea.visitors-2

    “Eat olive oil and anoint yourself with it since it is from a blessed tree.”  
    “Honey is a remedy for every physical illness and Qur`an is a remedy for every spiritual illness.  Therefore I recommend to you both as remedies–Qur`an and honey.”

    “Feed your pregnant wife with dates, she will surely give birth to a baby who is patient, well-behaved, and intelligent.”

    “Use this black seed regularly, because it is a shifa for every disease except death.”
    About 35 local people visited IONA during the course of the day, leaving behind their signatures in the welcome book.

    Amin Varis explained that the mosque had arranged for recent converts to welcome each of the visitors and guide them around, explaining the displays.  “People more like Americans, converts…  understand” the visitors better.

    “We were really surprised,” he said, “some people were here for an hour–they showed lots of sincerity.”


    Other mosques were also very successful in the outreach effort, with Canton’s MCWS mosque receiving over 100 visitors.

  • 1st Annual IONA Street Fair (September 1, 2009) Open or Close

    1st Annual IONA Street Fair

    August 20, 2009 by TMO

    By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

    Warren
    –August 15–Many local mosques have made an effort to reach out to their local communities, and just such an effort was this past weekend’s street fair at the IONA mosque in Warren.

    The mosque blocked off its large parking lot and hosted vendors of food and clothing, and provided health screenings to fair attendees.
    Dr. Naseer Ahmad, who provided glucose diabetes screenings, explained that as of early in the afternoon he had screened 51 people for diabetes.
    first-annual-street-fair-2In part the purpose of this street fair was to break any ice remaining with local neighbors of the mosque, some of whom vociferously opposed the mosque.  The fair bore fruit, as the Warren mayor and several city councilmen attended early on Saturday.  
    The mosque’s imam, Mustapha El-Tourk, explained that several other local non-Muslims had attended as well.
    “This is our first year–we hope to continue the tradition,” he explained.  “We want to draw the non-Muslim community so they will know who we are–we don’t discriminate against other cultures and religions.”

    “This is a changing community,” he went on to say, pointing out that just a few years ago Warren was overwhelmingly white and Christian, while now there are many different ethnicities and religious communities who have made the Detroit suburb their home, including a Buddhist community, people from the Hmong community, and of course many Muslims from the subcontinentfirst-annual-street-fair and from the Arab world.  As evidence of this and of the mutual goodwill in the area, Reverend Curro (Exec. Director of the ICRJ) and also two Buddhist monks in saffron robes were at the fair.
    Imam El-Tourk is very involved in local Muslim organizations and interfaith groups, including the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) which has its office in the IONA buildiing, and he has just been nominated president of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice (ICRJ), of which Rev. Curro is the executive director.
    The imam explained IONA would follow the FCNA pronouncement regarding Ramadan and ‘Eid, therefore tarawih will begin Friday night insha`Allah, and fasting Saturday.  
    Speaking on the FCNA/ISNA pronouncement regarding moonsighting, Imam El-Tourk explained that “there is enough evidence for both sides, and Prophet (s) used to take the easiest way, as long as there was no sin in it.  Let’s be merciful in our communities–one ‘eid and one Ramadan.”
    Imam El-Tourk said ‘isha prayers would begin at 9:45pm, followed by tarawih prayers, and he explained that each tarawih session would begin with a ten minute description of the Qur`anic passages to be covered in that session.


    http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=4470

  • Faith - Even Different Ones - Can Bond People (June 5, 2008) Open or Close

    Faith -- even different ones -- can bond people
    PUBLISHED: Thursday, May 15, 2008

    By REV. Lawrence Ventline

    Special to The Oakland Press

    One people, same needs.

     
     

     A band of 12 people from the four winds of the metropolitan Detroit area gathered last winter in the Islamic Organization of North America of Warren.

    They aimed to build bridges among all religious traditions and foster recognition and esteem for all God's inhabitants on earth.

    On May 4 an interfaith event reached out with the initial group to help with the all-too-common personal crises of home foreclosures, depression and drug dependency, stress among children and family as well as marital difficulties amid a very flat economy.

    Like the ever-so-slow birth of a baby in a mother's womb, this first-of-its-kind All Faiths Festival in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville built rapport and trust among representatives of the world religions.

    Rabbi Marc Waldman's horn and cap, Imam Steve Elturk's long, white robe, and Rev. David Kasbow's way of building bridges as co-chair of the American Clergy Leadership Conference based in Warren, attracted curiosity and conversation as we came to know each others faith, tradition, policies, scriptures and Koran.

    With support from the other students in that Saturday morning class in the Warren mosque last winter, this historic story further unfolded May 4 with song and breakout sessions to serve hope and help for persons at risk in a shaky economy.

    With help and hope the original group of Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Totty, Lauren Sackey, Marge Hallman, Olga Dudun, Mary Ann Reaume, Rev. Donald LaLonde, Janet Seefeld, and Carol Sharber, the 12 have swelled with Margaret Demery and Dee McCardle.

    A neighbor recently told of her disappointment over the indifference she experienced from those who knew she was experiencing a mortage foreclosure on her home.

    "They acted like I didn't exist," she cried. "All I would have appreciated was a word of support but got nothing."

    Multiply that example these days. Add the frustration felt by children in the stresses that come with recession. A dose of hope will do a world of good, for sure.

    From Windsor, East Pointe, Berkely, Clinton Township, Redford, Livonia and more, this venture has been more than a class. Along with Edna Jackson of Detroit's Focus: HOPE, for whom the program is dedicated on its 40th anniversary of re-training, providing food, senior citizen and child help since 1968, folk singer David Reske and 88-year-old Father William McGoldrick on harmonica, along with a Japanese and Gospel Choir inspired the unusual mix and harmony of a diverse and colorful assembly.

    The late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, with others, founded the civil and human rights organization in response to a racially-divided and hostile metropolitan Detroit.

    Through history, faith traditions have founded hospitals with nuns, nurses and nations throughout the world to heal wounds. Schools have been raised through various faiths.

    Some will say religions have done harm. The great good in serving humanity looms large across the globe, however. Where ever people are, there will be some bad apples, as we know. The good reign.

    Bands and bonds of interfaith solidarity are unbreakable. The May 4 union of all faiths is an unstoppable wind for positive action. This band came together when we all need some hope and help.

    Thanks be to God, Allah, Yahweh! We hope those who govern will hear us.

    The Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline is a licensed mental health counselor, a Catholic priest and the author of seven books on human development, as well as a certified health fitness instructor. He has offices in Roseville and Royal Oak. Reach him at sacred This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.www.careofthesoul.org or (586) 777-9116.

    http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/051508/opi_20080514323.shtml

  • All Faiths Festival Set to Help People in Need (May 3, 2008) Open or Close

    All Faiths Festival set to help people in need

    Sunday event in Roseville will include free counseling

    BY CHRISTY ARBOSCELLOFREE PRESS STAFF WRITERMay 1, 2008

    One people, same needs.

    That's the message metro Detroit religious figures of different faiths are delivering to people who need help with a variety of issues.

    In the first-of-its-kind All Faiths Festival at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Roseville, Christian, Muslim and Jewish representatives are rallying together to reach out to area residents seeking spiritual guidance during tough economic times. They will provide free counseling to individuals and families who have experienced hardships ranging from unemployment, depression, substance abuse and mortgage foreclosures.

    By addressing issues that extend beyond religious boundaries, the organizers hope to foster understanding among the various spiritual beliefs.

    "Our objective is also to bring the faiths closer in terms of building bridges and helping one another," said Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren. "Basically, the message that we'd like to get across to them is that we're here to help."

    The idea for the festival came about earlier this year when a group of religious men gathered to discuss concerns that have been brought to their attention in recent years. Among the group: the Rev. Lawrence Ventline on behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Elturk, David Kasbow from the American Clergy Leadership of Warren and Rabbi Mordehi Waldman of Mt. Clemens.

    The group decided the event, which includes a panel discussion on faith and breakout sessions on various topics from financial problems to one that Ventline will lead for children coping with emotions in stressed families, could serve as a starting point.

    The group is exploring the possibility of hosting a similar festival in the fall in another metro Detroit city.

    As director of a program called Care of the Soul, Ventline counsels Catholics on their religion as well as mental and physical health. He said the event comes at a good time because he's noticed some alarming trends tied in with the depressed economy.

    He has seen about a 50% rise in prescription drug and alcohol abuse along with people contemplating suicide in the past couple of years. While some people are referred to a psychiatrist, Ventline generally encourages them to take care of their bodies with healthy diets and exercise while turning to God.

    "It's like a counter stool people sit on -- three legs: physical, emotional and spiritual," he said.

    The free festival can accommodate up to 500 guests.
    Contact CHRISTY OYAMA-ARBOSCELLO at 586-826-7263 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080501/NEWS04/805010369

  • Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm Meets Mosque Leaders (November 8, 2007) Open or Close
    Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm Meets Mosque Leaders

    By TMO | November 8, 2007 
    By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS                                                  

    Detroit, MI–One of the great benefits of Muslims uniting and working with each other is the respect we garner from non-Muslims, particularly from the religious and politicalmichigan-gover-jennifer-meets-mosque-leaders communities. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) has been successful in bringing together representatives from most ethnic and cultural groups; and especially Shia and Sunni groups. In Detroit, Michigan, 16 Imams from varying communities joined Mr. Greg Roberts, liaison to the Governor in religious affairs, and Gov. Granholm to discuss 3 concerns of the Muslim community and the economic condition of Michigan.

    Imam Mustafa Elturk, spokesman for the group, began with reading a statement relating to Islamophobia, then addressed the Governor regarding the need for better enforcement of Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation Statute, the need for a statewide bill banning racial profiling similar to a bill already approved by the City of Detroit's, and desire to work with the State to increase services for convicts, who are attempting to be productive citizens upon the release from prison.

    The Governor showed interests in sitting with the Muslim community to devise a plan to proactively fight Islamophobia. Mr. Roberts stated that he would help coordinate the effort with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan State Police in regards to the better policing and enforcement of Ethnic Intimidation as well as coordinate a meeting with one of the mosques in regards to the Muslim community working with the State regarding Housing & Land Development.

    Dawud Walid, of CAIR-Michigan, mentioned to the Governor that the problem wasn't enforcement of the Ethnic Intimidation Statute but that it was weak, and gave an example of how this charge was dropped in a case were a Muslim was beaten because the prosecutor felt that Ethnic Intimidation Statute was useless. Imams Hassan Qazwini and Ali Elahi gave very personal examples of Ethnic Intimidation recounting experiences they had at airports in this country.

    Imam Achmat Salie also presented an idea that the Gov. liked regarding having leaders throughout the State (the Upper Peninsula especially) come to masajid to speak with leaders in a way similar to the way that the US State Department brings in people from other countries to come to masajid to learn about the community.

    http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=1465
  • FBI Meets With Local Area Muslims (November 1, 2007) Open or Close

    FBI Meets with Local Area Muslims

    By The Muslim Observer (TMO) | November 1, 2007
    By Sadaf Ali, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

    Warren-October 30—"Muslims did not attack the World Trade Center, extremists did," said Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

    Approximately 50 people gathered at the Islamic organization of North America (IONA) for a Town Hall meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to discuss the concerns and fears of the Muslim community in Michigan.

    "It's very important for us to hear the Muslim community," said Arena, "Hopefully we can learn about one another."

    Six years after September 11th, many American Muslims believe that they remain under siege with profiling, discrimination, raids on Muslim charities and the defaming of local area mosques.

    For example, in early March worshippers at a mosque in Hamtramck were attacked with shoes while praying, with two members being physically attacked outside.

    The Islamic House of Wisdom, in Dearborn, was also vandalized in September. Many believe the rising tide of Islamophobia has been intensified by the war in Iraq and U.S. government measures at home. However, Arena says many of the problems are fueled by the mainstream media.

    "An FBI agent helping a person is usually not considered a good story," he said, "It's the perception and what is put out by the media."

    However, a major hot-button issue at the meeting was airport security at Detroit Metro.

    Dr. Farah Iftikar, a Southfield resident, attended the meeting and voiced concerns about the way her thirteen-year-old son was treated by airport security.

    With a tear-laden voice she talked about how her then ten-year old, was flagged by security on a trip to Hawaii.

    "I have concerns for my son. He's an American citizen and it's torture for him. He was going on a school trip to Florida and he was singled out by security. All of his classmates had their boarding passes and he was standing and waiting," she said.

    Iftikar says that despite repeated attempts there has been no resolution to the situation.

    Arena said that although he did not know why Iftikar's son was flagged, he did say that the FBI does have individuals of interest and airport security helps keep track of those people.

    "We are not investigating Muslims. We are investigating crooks who mean to do harm to American's like you," he said.

    Another issue presented was the use of wiretaps in mosques. "Under the United States Constitution we do not have the authority to bug places, especially a religious institution," said Arena.

    Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Kowalski says it's a money issue, as well as, "The FBI does not have the resources to wiretap every other person," he said, "If we did that, the Michigan FBI would have to shut down."

    Kowalski also says that a mosque would not likely be used for recruitment. "Someone who is an extremist does not usually come to a facility like this. Their usually recruiting in someone's garage or basement," he said.

    Besides a physical location, IONA Ameer Mustapha Elturk says the Internet is also posing a huge problem for Muslim youth. Elturk says terrorist organizations are now using the World Wide Web as a tool to propagate their "holy war."

    "Many youth are influenced by these websites calling for jihad, especially when they see their parents' homelands being shattered," said Elturk.

    Although it is useful, if usage is not controlled, Arena says the Internet can be a dangerous place.

    "They see what is happening in their homelands and they're interested. So it's easy for them to get sucked in," he said, "Watch what your kids are doing and keep the computer in a public space in the house, because once they're caught it's tough to get them out."

    Arena says the FBI is continuing its efforts to improve understanding within their own organization.

    "I won't tell you we don't have ignorance on our side. It's an
    education process."

    http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=1447


  • Detroit's FBI Chief: Violence, Extremism Cuts Across Religions (October 31, 2007) Open or Close
    Detroit's FBI chief: Violence extremism cuts across religions
    October 31, 2007

    BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    Speaking inside a Warren mosque, the head of the FBI Detroit office said that violent extremism is not only a problem among some Muslims.

    "There are plenty of people out there in my faith, the Christian faith, who use these extremist views to support their thoughts on racial superiority, be it the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, Aryan Nation, all these people, these groups...they're all based on a religious view," Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena said Tuesday night to an audience of Muslims.

    Citing examples of Christian extremism, Arena mentioned David Koresh, Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, and men who kill abortion doctors. "This stuff was all based on...fueled by the Bible," Arena said.

    Arena and Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Kowalksi spoke to about 50 Muslims inside the Islamic Organization of North America, or Tanzeem Islami, a Sunni mosque with a primarily Pakistani congregation. The meeting was part of an effort by the FBI to reach out to Muslims and other communities.

    Arena said after the meeting that in "every religion, you have individuals who try to hijack the faith...the Muslim faith, the Jewish faith, the Christian faith."

    Some Muslims at the meeting complained about being profiled at airports. Arena said he sympathized with them and said his office has tried to help Imam Mohammad Elahi, of Dearborn Heights, stop getting pulled over at airports.

    The problem could be that some innocent people may be getting pulled over because of "sound alike, look alike, spell alike names," he said.


    Contact Niraj Warikoo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200771031026
  • Effort of Many Faiths Gets Mosque Opened in Warren Michigan (May 24, 2007) Open or Close
    Effort of Many Faiths Gets Mosque Opened in Warren Michigan
    24 May 2007

    By dint of persistence by Muslims, activists and clergy of other faiths, the city of Warren's first mosque opens Friday after years of fits and starts.


    A strong push by local religious leaders, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Bahais, Hindis, Sikhs and others, helped win the day against local resistance to the mosque.

    Leaders for the Islamic Organization of America faced a no vote at their first hearing last year before the Planning Commission. They were asked to prove that they did not have ties to terrorist organizations. Some intolerant words were uttered, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to send representatives to the next meeting.

    Months later, a drunk accosted the leader of the mosque in the parking lot. Then someone splashed paint on the back wall, in one of a series of recent incidents of vandalism at local mosques.

    But as local Muslims busy themselves preparing for the opening, they and others say more Warren residents seem to be coming to an understanding of the Islam in their midst.

    "I think that people have a tendency to be somewhat anxious about what they don't know," said Joseph Munem, communications director for the city. "And, actually, we have had an ongoing dialogue about the mosque. Imam Steve Elturk is committed to the notion of educating non-Muslims about Islam.

    "I think that with the incessant media attention to terrorism that people tend to use terrorism and Islam rather interchangeably, and I think that is creating some of the misunderstanding here," Munem said. "We support Mr. Elturk's efforts to disabuse people of that notion."

    The first prayers are said in the new mosque on Friday, May 25 at 1:10 p.m. There will be an open house for the community at 3:30 p.m. Thereafter, Mayor Mark Steenbergh and other dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, or members of her staff, and local residents will attend a grand opening at 5 p.m.


    Sources:


    Gregg Krupa, "Joint resolve gets mosque open" The Detroit News May 24, 2007
    Dan Cortez, "Warren's first mosque to open May 25" Detroit Free Press May 9, 2007
    http://www.islamtoday.net/english/showme2.cfm?cat_id=38&sub_cat_id=1140
  • Mosque Doors Open to All (May 26, 2007) Open or Close

    Mosque doors open to all

    Warren facility aims to educate
    May 26, 2007

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER


    mosque-doors-open-to-allThrough 15 months of ethnic intimidation, Steve Elturk maintained that the good would outweigh the bad when he could finally open Warren's first mosque.

    On Friday, as he watched worshipers and visitors filter into the mosque's open house along Ryan Road, his wish may have come true: A Warren resident apologized for Elturk's difficulties.

    “I know you've had a hard time," the unidentified woman said as she began to cry. "I'm sorry."

    The Islamic Organization of North America opened its headquarters to a crowd of about 200 Muslims and others who didn't know much about Islam at all.

    "I always thought we would live to see this day through the grace of God," Elturk said. "Hopefully, with the education we are going to give to the community, everything will be OK."

    To that end, at the open house, Elturk said he tried to create an environment where everybody was welcome to pick up literature about Islam and ask questions about the faith. Additionally, several local political leaders made remarks during an opening ceremony about unity and tolerance.

    The event was the culmination of the efforts of Elturk, a Troy resident who's battled naysayers since hemosque-doors-open-to-all-2 announced plans to open the mosque.

    He first ran into roadblocks when residents were concerned that the call to prayer would be announced over a loudspeaker. Elturk assured them there would not be a speaker.

    Then, several instances of vandalism followed, including paint splattered on the back of the building.

    mosque-doors-open-to-all-3Frank Zak, 80, who lives a mile from the mosque, said he knew the building had been the target of vandalism, but personally had nothing against it opening.

    "I don't see anything wrong with this place," said Zak, who attended Friday's event. "They're human, just like everybody else."

    While Elturk, a native of Lebanon, was encouraged by people's reaction to Friday's event, he said there's more teaching to do, particularly in Warren. His organization plans eventually to offer semester-long classes about Islam.

    But in some ways, the teaching has already begun. On Friday afternoon, a mother and her son attending the mosque's event converted to Islam.

    "We've made quite a bit of progress, but we've got a long way to go," Elturk said.
     

    Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy63388 + '\'>'+addy_text63388+'<\/a>'; //--> .
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070526/NEWS04/705260357/1006

     

  • New Mosque Opens in Warren (May 26, 2007) Open or Close

    New mosque opens in Warren

    By: Khalil AlHajal / The Arab American News
    2007-05-26


    WARREN — The first mosque in the city of Warren was opened on Friday nearly two years after the Islamic Organization of North America acquired the building and began struggling to gain acceptance in the community.

    The city's Planning Commission voted down the organization's initial proposal to establish the mosque, and residents have expressed intolerant sentiments and suspicions since the beginning of the process.

    Head of the organization, Imam Steve Elturk, said the U.S. Justice Department became involved in the case to protect the civil rights of Elturk and the group. He said they even promised a federal lawsuit if the city continued to illegally reject the center.

    In April, 2006 the commission approved the plan 5-3, but bigoted remarks, demands and accusations continued.

    Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dawud Walid, at the time compared the atmosphere to the "Jim Crow South of the 1950s and 1960s."

    More recently, the mosque has been vandalized on several occasions (as have several in the Detroit-area in the past months), and a drunk man, later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, threatened and cursed at Elturk outside the building, using racial epithets.

    Elturk, who has also repeatedly been the victim of apparent ethnic profiling, having been detained by authorities at the Canadian border on four occasions and twice at the airport, said that Warren residents have expressed "strange, bazaar accusations" and worries about what would go on at the center "like harboring terrorism and performing animal sacrifices."

    He said that the Justice Department told him they got involved after reading about the city's negative response in the news media.

    Describing himself as an optimist, Elturk persevered and, with the help of interfaith groups and initiatives, was finally able to open the center on Friday.

    He and Walid met with local FBI officials on Wednesday to discuss remaining concerns about vandalism and discrimination, and for the Friday grand opening, the center held an open house, inviting the community and people of different faiths to tour the building and learn about Islam.

    Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh and Senator Debbie Stabenow and other officials were expected to attend.

    Elturk said he wants the community to understand the organization's simple intentions to "serve God, and serve the community."

  • Joint Resolve Gets Mosque Open (May 24, 2007) Open or Close

    Joint resolve gets mosque open
    Multifaith effort pushed project past obstacles

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

    joint-resolve-gets-mosque-openWARREN -- By dint of persistence by Muslims, activists and clergy of other faiths, the city's first mosque opens Friday after years of fits and starts.

    Leaders for the Islamic Organization of America faced a no vote at their first hearing last year before the Planning Commission. Some intolerant words were uttered, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to send representatives to the next meeting.

    Months later, a drunk accosted the leader of the mosque in the parking lot. Then someone splashed paint on the back wall, in one of a series of recent incidents of vandalism at local mosques.

    But as local Muslims busy themselves preparing for the opening, they and others say more Warren residents seem to be coming to an understanding of the Islam in their midst.

    "I think that people have a tendency to be somewhat anxious about what they don't know," said Joseph Munem, communications director for the city. "And, actually, we have had an ongoing dialogue about the mosque. Imam Steve Elturk is committed to the notion of educating non-Muslims about Islam.

    "I think that with the incessant media attention to terrorism that people tend to use terrorism and Islam rather interchangeably, and I think that is creating some of the misunderstanding here," Munem said. "We support Mr. Elturk's efforts to disabuse people of that notion."

    After the first prayers are said in the new mosque on Ryan on Friday -- beginning with the call to prayer at 1:10 p.m. and an open house for the community at 3:30 p.m. -- Mayor Mark Steenbergh and other dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, or members of her staff, and local residents will attend a grand opening at 5 p.m.

    "It's a mosque, and it's in Warren," Art Trinova, a delivery truck driver and former resident of the city, said as he unloaded fresh loaves of bread at a nearby market one recent morning. "I guess that concerned some people.

    "But something tells me it's going to be professional people, you now? Some engineers from the (GM) TechCenter and probably a few doctors and pharmacists from around Macomb County, you know?" Trinova said. "What's the big deal?"

    It almost did not happen. But a strong push by local religious leaders, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Bahia's, Hindis, Sikhs and others, helped win the day.joint-resolve-gets-mosque-open-2

    "Although we had some mishaps along the way, I am an optimist," said Elturk, who is originally from Lebanon, although the largest segment of his congregation is of Pakistani descent. "I normally tend to kind of put these kinds of things behind me and concentrate on more positive things.

    "We are closing an old chapter and, with the grand opening, we are opening a brand-new chapter and hopefully the relationship between us and the community will build understanding and trying to learn from one anther rather than having bigotry and hatred," Elturk said.

    There are an estimated 125,000 to 250,000 Muslims in Metro Detroit, according to a 2003 study of mosques in the area. Elturk expects to have about 30 to 40 families in his new congregation, for starters.

    For some of the pious of other faiths, the establishment of Islam in America is all a bit inspiring.

    "I think it is certainly a challenge, because it reflects how America is changing," said Steve Spreitzer, the interfaith coordinator for the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion.

    "We in the interfaith movement see Islam as a gift as a blessing and a religion that has a lot to offer, and it is most profoundly experienced by meeting Muslims."

     

    You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070524/LIFESTYLE04/705240342/1041

     

      
  • Macomb County - Warren: Mosque to Open Soon (May 24, 2007) Open or Close

    County news

    MACOMB COUNTY -- WARREN: Mosque to open soon
    May 24, 2007


    Imam Steve Elturk, the head of the Islamic Organization of North America, met with local FBI officials Wednesday, two days before the organization opens Warren's first mosque.

    Elturk and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, met with FBI officials so both groups could get to know each other.

     

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070524/NEWS05/705240393/1001

      
  • Islamic Leaders to Meet With FBI Before Mosque's Debut (May 23, 2007) Open or Close

    Islamic leaders to meet with FBI before mosque's debut

    May 23, 2007

    By DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    The head of the Islamic Organization of North America is scheduled to meet with local FBI officials this afternoon, two days before the organization opens its mosque in Warren.

    Imam Steve Elturk, head of the organization, and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, were set to meet with the FBI. Walid said the meeting served as a way for both groups to get to know each other and talk about what the Islamic organization has planned for the mosque.

    “We want to have good relationships with law enforcement,” Walid said.

    Elturk has spent the past year remodeling a building on Ryan Road, just south of 12 Mile, and plans an open house Friday that will allow residents to learn about Islam and tour the mosque. 

    The mosque has had to deal with several incidents of vandalism since its plans were announced. Elturk was confronted by a man earlier this year who was shouting ethnic slurs.
     

    Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." href="http://www.ionaonline.org/cgi-bin/compose?mailto=1&msg=B40829E7-654F-42EB-A829-5D606340A6C2&start=0&len=19205&src=&type=x&to=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.&cc=&bcc=&subject=&body=&curmbox=9BBCC102-B84E-4262-BCF0-1AE51C098A84&a=81400f74a5edf35bf7a94da3bd1f2600491fadbd3cc62987df375d6dbe61a200">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070523/NEWS04/70523036

     

  • Warren Mosque Target of Vandalism (May 15, 2007) Open or Close

    Warren Mosque Target Of Vandalism
     

    POSTED: 10:10 am EDT May 15, 2007

    WARREN, Mich. -- A local mosque was a target vandalism on Monday.

    Someone smeared white paint over walls of a mosque in Warren.

    In the past, the electricity meter has been shattered, security lights have been stomped, and the mosque spokesperson, Steve El Turk, said he was threatened outside of the building.

    "I was personally threatened by a man who came to us, and I called Warren police," said El Turk.

    Police said this isn't the first time a religious building has been vandalized.

    St. Mary's Assyrian Church in Warren was also on the list, with graffiti spray-painted on the building.

    Police arrested the suspects who they said are responsible for the destruction at St. Mary's Assyrian Church and will focus on locating the person or people responsible for damaging the mosque.

    "Our faith teaches us to turn the other cheek," said El Turk.

    El Turk told Local 4 News that they will heighten security around the building.

    An investigation is under way.

    http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/13321928/detail.html

     

  • Macomb County News Briefs (May 10, 2007) Open or Close

    Macomb County news briefs

    May 10, 2007

    WARREN: Blight cases back to district court

    The City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to override a mayoral veto and return oversight of blight court cases back to the 37th District Court.

    The mayor and council have spent months quarreling over the blight court and whether it was effective in cleaning up the city. The council dismantled the court and its two departments -- the Administrative Hearings Bureau and the Department of Property Maintenance Inspection -- in February after seven months.

    The council rejected an additional 5,000 requested by the departments to keep the court running.

    Several council members have said that blight violations should be handled by the district court.

    But Mayor Mark Steenbergh, who said the blight court was a success, issued a veto last month to keep oversight in the hearings bureau.

    He also has organized a petition drive that is trying to get the issue onto the November ballot. If enough signatures are gathered, voters would decide whether to amend the city charter to mandate that the city have a blight court.

    Renovated mosque plans open house May 25

    The city's first mosque will hold an open house May 25.

    The renovated Islamic Organization of North America will open its doors on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be information about Islam as well as opportunities to walk through the building.

    Imam Steve Elturk, a native of Lebanon who lives in Troy, is the president of the Islamic organization and will be on hand. Members of other religious organizations will also be at the opening.

    Elturk has faced opposition to the mosque project.

    At a city Planning Commission meeting last year, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations.

    He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.

    The U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials in April 2006, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.

    CLINTON TOWNSHIP: Hackel to honor deputies and others at ceremony

    Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel will honor deputies, corrections officers and civilians at the annual Awards Day.

    The ceremony is at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Macomb Intermediate School District, 44001 Garfield.

    Compiled by Christy Arboscello and Dan Cortez.
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007705100383

     

  • Warren's First Mosque to Open May 25 (May 9, 2007) Open or Close

    Warren's first mosque to open May 25

    May 9, 2007

    By DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    The first mosque in Warren will hold a free Open House for the public on May 25.

    The Islamic Organization of North America will open its doors on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile, from 3:30 – 8:30 p.m. There will be information about Islam, as well as opportunities to walk through the building that has undergone nearly a year of renovations.

    Imam Steve Elturk, a native of Lebanon who lives in Troy, is the president of the Islamic organization and will be on hand.

    Elturk has faced plenty of opposition to the mosque project.

    At a planning commission meeting last year, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations. He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer. 

    The Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials last April, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.

    Members of several different religious organizations also will be at the opening.

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070509/NEWS04/70509056/0/SPORTS18

     

  • Feds Fail to Clean Up Faulty Terror List (April 20, 2007) Open or Close

    Feds fail to clean up faulty terror list

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

    Some people of Arab descent and Muslims say they are repeatedly detained for hours as they cross the border from Canada to Michigan because a terrorist watch list is not accurate.

    Homeland Security officials say they are aware that innocent travelers are often detained, but that little can be done in the short term to clean up the lists -- and there is no official appeals process for those who feel wronged.

    "You have to prepare yourself and go through all sort of psychological work to think: OK, what am I going to say when they handcuff me?" said Imam Steve Elturk, the leader of the Islamic Organization of North America, a mosque in Warren. He has crossed the border a few times in the past two years and was stopped all but once.

    U.S. immigration and customs officials say they use watch lists to help them identify potential terrorists. They won't reveal the names on their lists, but more than a dozen people interviewed by The Detroit News say they were told at the border their names are the same or similar to those on the list used at the border in Detroit and Port Huron.

    They say they are stopped repeatedly, usually handcuffed -- often in front of their anxious families -- and detained for up to five hours, without explanation.

    When they are freed, although it has been established they are not suspected terrorists, they are informed that they are likely to be detained again. They say they are also told they can obtain no record of their detention, or information about why they were held.

    Detentions likely to continue

    Ibrahim Dabdoub, a plant manager for an auto supplier, was held so often he became acquainted with the border guards -- but the familiarity bred no resolution.

    "I even called ahead once to let them know I was coming," said Dabdoub, who used to live in Metro Detroit and now resides in Ohio. Dabdoub, who has Canadian and American citizenship, frequently crosses the border at Detroit, returning from visiting his family in Ontario. He says he has been detained 15 times, for up to two-and-a-half hours.

    "It did not matter that I called," Dabdoub said. "When I got there, the border guy said, 'You're the guy who called, right? Sorry, you'll have to come " with me, again.'

    Federal officials say 3,700 people have complained about the detentions since February. Groups like the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, the Arab American Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union say the problem is growing.

    Federal officials say that while they are aware of the problem, the detentions are likely to continue, even if it means innocent people are sometimes held. Unlike the Transportation Security Administration, which uses a similar list to secure airports, there is no appeals process for those stopped at border crossings.

    "We want to see the system work efficiently and effectively," said Daniel Sutherland, director of the office of civil rights and civil liberties for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "But this issue encapsulizes the complexity of the world in which we operate."

    Sutherland said it has been difficult for customs and immigration officials to set up an appeals procedure like the Transportation Security Administration because information gathered about air travelers is already in place when they arrive at airports, while border officials begin the process when they first see travelers face-to-face.

    The General Accountability Office reported last year that various watch lists promulgated by the FBI for several government agencies are filled with the names of people who are not terror suspects.

    Bringing back bad memories

    Civil rights advocates have been seeking a remedy for so long, they say they doubt federal officials will move anytime soon.

    People want to be cooperative during border stops, said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "However, we need to make sure when people are facing these frequent stops, there must be something to bring that issue to a close."

    Sharif Gindy, an engineer who lives in Macomb Township, has stopped trying to cross the border to do business in Canada with an automobile manufacturer because of an incident in June in which he was rousted from his automobile, frisked and handcuffed, whisked off by border guards and detained for five hours -- while his wife remained at the crossing, wondering about his fate.

    The detentions are especially ironic, Gindy says, because some of the high technology equipment for which he has obtained patents is used by the federal government on military aircraft and by NASA on the space shuttle.

    Gindy, 60, says that as an American, he understands the need for security. But as an immigrant from Egypt, his treatment at the border conjures bad memories.

    "I was taken out of the car, frisked, and then when he is frisking me, he is not asking me to put my hands on the car, he is kicking your feet apart and treating you like you have already committed a crime," Gindy said.

    "Egypt is a great country, but the system of government started to choke liberties and that is the reason for young engineers, doctors or whatever to leave," he said. "To tell you the truth, I now feel like I have gone back 50 years. This reminds me of the martial laws in Egypt, when such rules are applicable to free citizens, good and bad alike, and there is secret evidence."
     

    You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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  • Mosque Expects Worship, Peace (April 13, 2007) Open or Close

    WARREN

    Mosque expects worship, peace
    Organizer has worked to allay neighbors' perceptions

    April 13, 2007

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    All signs of intimidation toward the Islamic Organization of North America and its president, Imam Steve Elturk, have stopped.

    mosque-expects-worship-peaceNo more broken lightbulbs on the back of the Warren mosque. No more drunkards showing up at night to confront Elturk. And no more residents demanding he prove that he isn't a terrorist.

    "We had to go through a lot, and we're still not there yet," Elturk, a Lebanon native, said Wednesday.

    A year after Elturk's plans to open Warren's first mosque drew outrage from some residents who didn't want it in their neighborhood, the Troy resident is preparing to open next month to 200 Muslim families.

    To counter any lingering negative feelings, Elturk plans an education campaign for the mosque's neighbors that will include an open house and pamphlets about the mosque.

    Barbara Sollose, who lives near the mosque, said neighbors are accustomed to the idea of having a new house of worship nearby. But, she said, neighbors will feel better after looking inside.

    "I think that they would like to go in and see what is going on," said Sollose, who heads the Central Homeowners of Warren. "I think, now that the shock is over, everything is going to be fine."

    Misconceptions

    Elturk has spent the last year fighting opposition.

    Some residents feared a loudspeaker attached to the building would blare calls to prayer. To quell those concerns, Elturk signed documents saying he'll never have a loudspeaker.

    Last June, several glass bottles were broken in the mosque's parking lot, and a floodlight and electric meter were shattered.

    And in January, Elturk was at the mosque when a man started shouting racial epithets at him. The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 days in jail.

    Although Elturk has had fewer problems in the last couple of months, he had a harsh reminder this month of how intolerant some people can be. The Assyrian Church of the East, a Catholic church, was vandalized with anti-Arab graffiti. Two men were charged Tuesday with the vandalism.

    "It tells me that there's still racism, and it is not just against Muslims but against Arabs, too," Elturk said.

    Michail Curro, director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice who recently led a five-week session in Warren to educate about 50 residents about Islam, said the ignorance is hard to break through. Some people, he said, will want to lump all Muslims with a small number identified as terrorists.

    "There's an unfortunate lack of knowledge about the diversity within Islam," said Curro, who previously headed a Christian church in Mt. Clemens. "You could never pinpoint Christians as one person acting out. People tend to want to do that when they think about another religion."

    Steve Spreitzer, director of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, agrees, saying that many non-Muslims have limited knowledge of the religion, which can lead to assumptions that might not be accurate.

    "There is a good deal of ignorance because of isolation," Spreitzer said. "The days we're most segregated is when we worship. Get to know the members of that mosque. A lot of the fear and anxiety will yield."

    Elturk said a learning center in the mosque will help answer people's questions about the religion.

    "We're here to make things better," he said.
     

     

    Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy63866 + '\'>'+addy_text63866+'<\/a>'; //--> .
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  • Police to Patrol Warren Churches After Vandalism (April 3, 2007) Open or Close

    Police to patrol Warren churches after vandalism

    April 3, 2007

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    Warren police plan to increase patrols near houses of worship after a church on the city’s north side was spray painted with ethnic slurs on Monday.

    St. Mary’s Church, 4320 Fourteen Mile, was vandalized sometime Monday. The church is not scheduled to open until May. City spokesman Joe Munem said the vandalism was derisive toward Arabs and non-Christians.

    What the vandals didn’t realize is that the church is expected to serve predominantly Christian of Assyrian descent. The church sits along the northern border of the city. 

    Chief Jere Green said neighboring police departments, including Sterling Heights, are helping with the investigation.

    Monday was not the first time that a house of worship intended for people of Middle Eastern descent has dealt with vandalism. Steve Elturk, whose Islamic Organization of North America is opening the city’s first mosque, was confronted in January by a Warren man shouting racial epithets. The man, 37-year-old Terry E. Brown, was charged with disorderly conduct.

    Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh was outraged at the incident. 

    “This kind of vandalism sickens me,” he said. 

    Anyone who has information about the vandalism at St. Mary’s should contact Warren Police Detective John Barnes at 586-574-4776.

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070403/NEWS04/70403016/1053/SPORTS

     

     

  • Christians, Jews Join Muslims (January 26, 2007) Open or Close

    Religions stand united

    Christians, Jews join Muslims
    Metro religious leaders decry mosque vandalism, attacks

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

     

    DETROIT -- In a striking display of determination to stand against hatred and bigotry, about 30 leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in Metro Detroit gathered Thursday to say that vandalism and other incidents at four mosques in the past month are attacks not only against Islam, but against all faiths.

    christian-jews-join-muslimsReligious, civic and law enforcement officials met at a former mosque, the old Islamic Center of America, on Joy at Greenfield, to decry the vandalism that occurred there sometime Sunday night, and at least four other incidents in Dearborn, Detroit and Warren since late December.

    "We stand together with our Muslim sisters and brothers and point to the antidote to this bigotry and vandalism: Our relationships and learning to care about each other," said Steve Spreitzer, director of the interfaith division of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, which helped to organize the event.

    The religious leaders said they are concerned that the incidents may be a sign that hatred directed at Muslims, especially since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may be taking a new, nasty turn in Metro Detroit. The region, home to about 125,000 to 200,000 Muslims of mostly Arab and South Asian descent, has been largely immune from the vandalism against mosques that has plagued other areas of the country, particularly in the two years after the attacks, civil rights leaders and observers have said.

    "I think it's important for all of us people of faith to stand together in solidarity when we're attacked in physical ways like this," said Michael Hovey, assistant adviser in the Department of Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "We had to stand together as friends and allies to say that this is unacceptable to treat people of faith in this way."

    There was an arrest in the incident last week in Warren, at the Islamic Organization of North America, in which a man took a fallen tree limb to a sign at the mosque and later brandished it against a Muslim leader. But other recent incidents in Dearborn and Detroit, at the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center and the former Islamic Center of America, remain unsolved.

    christian-jews-join-muslims-2

    It was the second time in recent weeks that Muslims and Jews, in particular, joined to protest religious bigotry. Earlier this month, Muslim leaders traveled to the

     Holocaust Memorial Center in West Bloomfield to criticize an international conference on the Holocaust, called by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,

    "This is an act that anyone of good faith has to condemn, no matter which group it is," said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Council, an umbrella group of about 200 Jewish organizations in Metro Detroit. Gail Katz, a vice president of the council, Rabbi Josh Bennett of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, and David Henig of the Michigan Board of Rabbis also attended the session.

    Police in Detroit and Dearborn said Thursday that they continue to investigate the series of incidents.

    "The Muslim community is grateful," said Victor Ghalib Begg of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. "You are giving a clear message that defacing or destroying a facility where the name of God is recited inside will not be tolerated."

     

    You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Elturk Said a Ban on Racial Profiling Would be a Welcome Development for Him (January 24, 2007) Open or Close

     

    elturk-said-a-ban-on-racial-profiling-would-be-welcome

    Elturk said a ban on racial profiling would be a welcome development for him

    AP


    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.


     

  • Muslim Man Harassed Over Mosque in Warren (January 19, 2007) Open or Close

    Muslim man harassed over mosque in Warren

    January 19, 2007

    BY DAN CORTEZ

    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER 

    Steve Elturk knows there could be some backlash when he opens Warren's first mosque later this year. He learned Wednesday he may not have to wait that long.

    Elturk was at the mosque -- the Islamic Organization of North America, on Ryan south of 12 Mile -- about 8:15 p.m. when a man started shouting racial epithets at him.

    "He was standing by the sign, and he said he was going to desecrate the sign," Elturk of Troy said Thursday. "He said, 'I hate you. I hate Muslims.' "

    Elturk said the man took off a jacket and moved toward him in a "threatening way."

    The man, Terry E. Brown, 37, of Warren, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 21 days in the Macomb County Jail, Warren police said.

    Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he will ask the county Prosecutor's Office to file an ethnic intimidation charge.

    "In light of the circumstances ... we're going to ask that the man be charged with a hate crime," Walid said.

    Jim Langtry, the prosecutor's chief of operations, said the office doesn't condone Brown's behavior -- "It was deplorable," he said. But, he added, Brown was too drunk to form a specific intent to intimidate Elturk.

    Elturk, a native of Lebanon, has faced plenty of opposition to the mosque project. At a planning commission meeting in May, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations. He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.

    The Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials last April, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.

    Elturk, who was working inside the building when Brown arrived, hopes to open the mosque next month. He said he's planning an open house for nearby residents when the building is complete.
     
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  • Man Gets Jail Time For Drunken Tirade at Warren Mosque (January 18, 2007) Open or Close

    Man gets jail time for drunken tirade at Warren mosque 

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

    WARREN -- After shouting epithets and obscenities at the leader of a mosque established on Ryan Road amid some controversy last year, a local man admitted today that he engaged in disorderly conduct and he was sentenced to 21 days in jail.

    Police say Terry Brown, 37, was drunk and disorderly when they responded to a call Wednesday at about 5:30 p.m., at the Islamic Organization of North America.

    Imam Steve Mustafa al-Turk called police and said a man was beating a sign at the mosque with the branch of a tree, police said. Al-Turk said that when he approached Brown, Brown moved toward him with the tree limb, uttering slurs and obscenities, and saying that he intended to desecrate the mosque, police said.

    When police arrived, according to Detective Sgt. Michael Torey, Brown was in the parking lot at the mosque, clearly drunk, and shouting at al-Turk and another man.

    "The officers could hear profanities directed at the individuals," Torey said.

    Police held Brown overnight, considering charges of both disorderly conduct and ethnic intimidation. After consulting with the office of the Macomb County prosecutor, Torey said, police were told the evidence did not support a charge of ethnic intimidation.

    Officials in the prosecutor's office were not immediately available to comment.

    Some Muslim leaders questioned why Brown was not charged with ethnic intimidation.

     You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or gkrupa@ detnews.com.

     

  • A Terror Suspect's Mentor (September 7, 2006) Open or Close

    Part 4: A terror suspect's mentor

    Stewart Bell, National Post

    Published: Thursday, September 07, 2006


    Three months after the RCMP began arresting 18 suspects accused of plotting terror attacks in Canada, an investigation by the National Post has uncovered a web of links to Pakistan. Today, in the last of four parts, a Toronto terror suspect's ties to a hardline Pakistani Muslim group.

    LAHORE, Pakistan - An elderly man with a snowy beard, a black Jinnah cap and a well-honed gift for oratory, Dr. Israr Ahmad is one of Pakistan's best-known Islamic revivalists.
    With the help of a weekly television show, a Web site and a seminary in Lahore's Model Town neighbourhood, the 74-year-old exhorts Muslims to strive for the "global domination of Islam."
    In his books and recorded lectures, sold online and at his small shop in Lahore, he spells out his views about "conspiring" Jews and the need to treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens.
    "Under the existing state of affairs, which is both distressing and disheartening, we must keep reminding ourselves that the ascendancy of Islam over the entire globe is bound to come," he writes.

    Dr. Ahmad does not advocate violence; his message is that change will only come once Muslims individually adhere to the principles of their faith. But one of his disciples may have gone too far.

    Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the eldest of the 18 terror suspects arrested in the Toronto area this summer, was a student of Dr. Ahmad's and a member of the "revolutionary" organization he founded, Tanzeem-e-Islami.

    In an indication of his reverence for Dr. Ahmad, days after he was arrested by the RCMP on June 2, Mr. Jamal sent a message to his wife, Cheryfa, asking her to get in contact with his "old mentor and teacher."

    "All my husband had wanted from me was to get this simple message to his old friend: 'I need your [prayers],' " Mrs. Jamal says on her Internet blog, adding, "Dr. Ahmad asked me to fax my request as it was difficult for him to hear me on the phone."
    According to Tanzeem officials, the mosque where Mr. Jamal preached, the Ar-Rahman Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ont., was once affiliated with the Pakistan-based organization but was expelled three years ago.

    In 2003, the Tanzeem-e-Islami branch in North America broke away from its parent organization in Pakistan, partly due to ideological differences with Dr. Ahmad. Mosques in Canada and the U.S. were required to pledge their loyalty to a new North American leader, rather than to Dr. Ahmad. The Ar-Rahman centre did not do so and its membership was therefore revoked.
    "He is not considered a member and thus his membership is nullified and he is no longer a member of our organization," said Steve Elturk, president of the U.S. Tanzeem affiliate, now called the Islamic Organization of North America.

    He added that Dr. Ahmad "never advocated terrorism, never advocated any violence, as a matter of fact his movement is a peaceful, non-violent movement."
    The terrorist plot that Mr. Jamal stands accused helping foment in Ontario has been widely described as a "homegrown" Canadian conspiracy, but there are also a web of ties to Pakistan, and Mr. Jamal is among them.
    Some of those associated with the Toronto cell allegedly traveled to Pakistan for terrorist training; some are accused of links to a Pakistani militant group called Lashkar-e-Tayyiba; and some are of Pakistani heritage.

    Five years after 9/11, the suspected connections between Pakistan and what could have been Canada's worst act of domestic terror is seen by some as an indication that while terrorism has changed dramatically since 2001, Pakistan's role as a hub of global terror remains unresolved.
    At the Society of the Servants of the Koran, Dr. Ahmad's seminary near Punjab University, a sticker on the window reads: "Destiny of Pakistan: Caliphate," the term for the Islamic nation imagined by some Muslims.

    "Yes, I heard about him," one of Mr. Ahmad's friendly aides, Sardar Awan, said of Mr. Jamal in an interview with the National Post. "Our party is Tanzeem-e-Islami. He was in that," he said.
    "Recently when he was arrested one of our previous members of Tanzeem-e-Islami informed us. And his wife ... she is alone there so we contacted the emir [the Tanzeem leader] in America to help."

    Dr. Ahmad could be called Mr. Jamal's teacher "in the sense that Dr. Israr taught [the] Koran to people and gave [the] message of [the] Koran to [the] people of Pakistan, in the sense that he learned Islam and Koran from Dr. Israr," he said.

    He said he read about the Toronto terror plot in the newspaper, but added he has his own views about who is and is not a terrorist. "As far as I understand, I don't think any organizations are terrorist organizations, are really terrorist, even in Afghanistan or in Iraq.
    "They are poor people. I don't think they are terrorists."

    But he said his organization would not condone bombings in Canada. "We don't encourage that. We try to make our country according to the system of Islam."
    Asked if he was concerned that one of the Tanzeem's followers might have taken things too far, he said: "Yes, we will try to clarify our position more frequently and we will tell people that this is not what we are aiming [for].

    "This is not at all our mission, our struggle."
    The "message of [the] Koran and Sunna and our organization is not that complicated. Maybe he misapplied that message or he could not judge that this message is not applicable to where he is staying."

    In an e-mail sent to the Post, Dr. Ahmad said he was out of touch with the Tanzeem, having relinquished his leadership of the party in 2002 due to health problems.
    "Since I am not in touch with the Tanzeem members for last many years, it would be difficult for me to offer any thoughtful comment about the arrest of a former Tanzeem member, Qayyum Jamal, in Canada whom I do not remember at the moment," he said.

    "We do believe in a struggle as a Tanzeem for the establishment of a system of social justice of Islam in a country of our origin, rather than in a host country and that too collectively under the leadership of Tanzeem in an organized manner.
    "If the man has indeed engaged in the terrorist activities in Canada as the police have alleged, there must be some misunderstanding."

    How Mr. Jamal came to embrace what Canadian authorities have described as the ideology of al-Qaeda is an open question that may not be answered even at his trial. But his involvement in Tanzeem-e-Islami and study of Dr. Ahmad's teachings may provide a glimpse of his worldview.
    In Pakistan, Dr. Ahmad's conservative brand of religion and his opinions about Jews and the West are everyday fare. But his ideas would likely be troubling to many Canadians.
    He writes that it is the duty of all Muslims to strive for "the ascendancy of Islam over all other systems of life," and that the dominance of Islam will come in three stages: passive resistance, active resistance and armed conflict.

    Islam's renaissance will begin in Pakistan, he writes, because the Arab world is living under subjugation. Only the Pakistan region "has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony," he writes.
    The Tanzeem-e-Islami, which he formed in 1975, is an "Islamic revolutionary party whose goal is to establish the system of social justice of the Caliphate [Islamic state] firstly in Pakistan and then in the whole world."

    In his booklet Khalifah in Pakistan: What, Why and How?, he outlined the three principles of his ideal state: "(1) Sovereignty belongs to Almighty Allah alone; (2) No legislation can be done at any level that is totally or partially repugnant to Koran and Sunnah, and; (3) Full citizenship of the state is for the Muslims only."
    Another of his books repeats the Jewish conspiracy theories popular among neo-Nazis, claiming that Jews have "a deeply ingrained tendency to conspire and to maneuver things surreptitiously for their own gain."

    The Jews exert a "wicked web of control and exploitation" through their ownership of banks, insurance companies and stock exchanges, he claims.
    He compares Jews to parasites, calls the Holocaust "Divine punishment" and foresees the "total extermination" of Jews at the hands of Muslims.
    "Let us say some young, impressionable extremists in Canada were to read that," said Bernie Farber, executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress and a court-recognized expert on hate literature.
    "Who am I or you to say that they're not going to take the actions suggested in these writings? It's pernicious and it's potentially very dangerous."

    Read passages of Dr. Ahmad's writings, Mr. Farber called it "anti-Semitic garbage" that he said "adds to the concerns that we've been expressing for years, that anti-Semitism that is injected into the minds of young people here in Canada can potentially have very dangerous effects."
    A 43-year-old school bus driver known for his fiery sermons, Mr. Jamal had been under scrutiny by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for the past two years, his wife said in a posting on her blog.

    "We knew they were asking our friends and their parents about us, even telling them that Abdul Qayyum was recruiting teens for jihad, but everyone knew this was untrue," she said.
    "We knew they were tapping our phones and watching our every move."
    Liberal MP Wajid Khan has said he once heard Mr. Jamal claim that Canadian troops were only in Afghanistan "to rape Muslim women."

    Mr. Jamal's exact role in the group accused of plotting to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto and behead hostages on Parliament Hill until Canada withdrew from Afghanistan and released Muslim prisoners has not yet been disclosed.
    But he has been charged with three counts under the Anti-terrorism Act: participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorism and intent to cause an explosion.
    His bail hearing is scheduled to resume this month.


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  • Warren Mosque Seeks Acceptance (August 18, 2006) Open or Close

    Warren mosque seeks acceptance
    Leader works on minds as building is under way

    August 18, 2006

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    leader-works-on-minds-as-buildingSteve Elturk strokes his salt-and-pepper beard as he recalls the incident a few weeks ago that reminded him the task of opening the first mosque in Warren is just beginning.

    Elturk was headed to his mosque, the Islamic Organization of North America Masjid & Learning Center, on Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile. While in traffic on Ryan, he looked over and was greeted by a scowl from a man who seemed to disapprove of Elturk's presence in Warren.

    "You can tell he's full of rage," Elturk of Troy said Thursday. "I wasn't surprised. You're going to encounter people who don't know and are ignorant of the situation. That has been very stressful."

    Stress is something Elturk, 51, got used to last spring, when he fought disapproving residents and city officials who made wild accusations about the group, including suspicions it might be tied to terrorism. After securing permits, construction on the mosque began earlier this month. Elturk wants to open the building in late November.

    Donations from members are covering the estimated 0,000 in construction costs.

    There are still signs that trouble could be lurking. In June several glass bottles were broken in the parking lot, a floodlight was broken and an electric meter was shattered. Elturk initially blamed the incident on teenagers with nothing better to do, but then he reconsidered.

    "Maybe I do want to believe it was just kids," Elturk said with a cautious smile. "I am anticipating something worse."

    The recent crisis in the Middle East has left Elturk wondering whether uninformed residents might blame him for the situation. And Elturk still has family -- his mother and a brother and sister -- living in Lebanon.

    To try to combat the negative vibes, Elturk has met regularly over the past several months with other church leaders in Warren.

    "We're trying to bring together the hearts of all the churches in Warren," Elturk said.

    leader-works-on-minds-as-building-2The Rev. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Church in Warren met with Elturk for lunch Thursday. Schulte said any fear in the Warren community comes from misinformation about Muslims. Pamphlets explaining the Muslim faith that Elturk gave to Schulte were quickly snatched up at St. Sylvester.

    "People want to know what it's all about," said Schulte, who wants to organize some community roundtables to discuss Islam. "People don't understand it. I think people in Warren make that mistake."

    Zahid Sheikh, 46, of Sterling Heights said the Muslim community in Macomb County is looking forward to a second mosque in the area. Sheikh, a doctor, said he regularly worships in Detroit and Rochester Hills. Sheikh said he'll attend the new mosque because he works at 15 Mile and Ryan.

    Sheikh said Warren has not always been accepting of minorities, but that has to change due to the shifting demographics.

    "It's an uphill struggle. ... Now you have a lot of people from the Middle East and it's going to be more diversified," Sheikh said. "It has to change."
     

     Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy69138 + '\'>'+addy_text69138+'<\/a>'; //--> .
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  • Mosque Raises Interfaith Issues (June 8, 2006) Open or Close

    Mosque raises interfaith issues 'Meet Your Neighbors' symposium aims to calm fears about new house of worship in Warren.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

    WARREN
    -- Some people believe Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God. And some make it their business to spread the word.

    Muslims and city officials in Warren have cleared the way for the first mosque in the city, on Ryan near 12 Mile. The process is smoother now than it was a few months ago, when the Muslims who are establishing the mosque were confronted by intolerance at a municipal meeting and elsewhere.

    Much of the improvement is due to a dedicated interfaith group of activists who helped to assuage fears about the mosque and Islam. Today, those activists are asking residents to "Meet Your Neighbors," at a symposium on the shared heritage of faith.

    The event is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Warren Community Center Auditorium, 5460 Arden.

    "Unfortunately, many Christians are having trouble with this issue of the mosque," said Steve Spreitzer, the director of Interfaith Partners for the National Conference of Community and Justice, who helped organize both the symposium and the months-long interfaith support for the Islamic Organization of North America Mosque of Warren. "One guy always tells me, 'Every time I see a " Muslim, I think they are here to take over the country.'

    The Rev. Sharon Buttry will moderate the symposium. Guest speakers include the Rev. Gary Schulte, of St. Sylvester Church in Warren; Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Michigan; Barbara Sollose, president of the Central Home Owners of Warren; and Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America.

    "I think the way people get over that is to engage in personal contact," said Buttry, a Baptist minister and director of Reaching for Excellence and Community Hope (REACH) at the Acts 29 Fellowship in Hamtramck.

    "Once you are face to face with someone, it is hard to have some hate or fear for them."

    "To see our brothers and sisters from different denominations come forward and support us was astonishing in some ways but no surprise, in others," Elturk said. "I came across a verse in the Quran that explains: 'If it had not been for God repelling some people by means of others, we would have seen monasteries, " churches, synagogues and mosques destroyed.'

     

    You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy62222 + '\'>'+addy_text62222+'<\/a>'; //--> .
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  • Warren - Mosque to Educate Public About Muslims (June 5, 2006) Open or Close

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Detroit News

    Macomb Briefs

    Warren - Mosque to educate public about Muslims

    An informational meeting to educate residents about Islam and Muslims is being offered this week in the wake of controversy over a new mosque in Warren.

    The "Meet Your Neighbors" symposium will be held from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden. Religious leaders with the city's newly established mosque, the Islamic    Organization of North America, hope to clear up misunderstandings about their religion. The symposium is also sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

     

    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060605/METRO03/606050353/1014/rss03

     

  • Muslim Leader Embraces Challenge Warren Presents (May 9, 2006) Open or Close

    Metro Detroit

    Muslim leader embraces challenge Warren presents

    May 9, 2006

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    muslim-leader-embraces-challenge-warren-presentsAs some of his future neighbors flung hate-filled comments about Islam and cursed Muslims last month at a Warren Planning Commission meeting, Steve Elturk listened quietly.

    The rude welcome showed him that getting formal approval from the commission that night to open Warren's first mosque was probably the easy part. Winning acceptance from skeptical neighbors in a city known for its resistance to change is the bigger challenge.

    Elturk hopes to ease the lingering tensions with an open symposium intended to correct misperceptions about Islam and the Islamic Organization of North America. Elturk, from Troy, is president of the nonprofit organization, which wants to open the mosque and learning center in an existing building his group bought on Ryan south of 12 Mile.

    "We seem to have the support of the majority of the residents," Elturk said. "There are a few individuals who are still uncomfortable with us. We have to deal with that."

    Elturk met last Tuesday with representatives of civil rights groups to organize the meeting, planned for early next month. He hopes it will include officials from several religious and civil rights groups. The city has offered to host the symposium at the Warren Community Center.

    "I think if we all talk, it will go well," Elturk said.

    Elturk has played the parts of  peacemaker and teacher since getting approval for the mosque last month.

    He asked Harry Bissell, a Royal Oak resident who converted to Islam 13 years ago, to speak to concerned residents on his behalf a couple of days after the Planning Commission met. Bissell spent two hours answering questions from members of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren, whose homes surround the site of the proposed mosque.

    It was a dramatic change from the Planning Commission meeting, where some residents asked if Elturk's organization had ties to terrorist groups and a commissioner asked if Elturk planned to offer sacrifices at the mosque. Some exchanges became vulgar.

    Barbara Sollose, president of the homeowners association, said 80 residents attended Bissell's forum, and 79 had positive impressions from it.

    "I think they feel better about it," Sollose said. "I think they were happy with what happened."

    Bissell said last week: "I was expecting that there might be a lot of hostility there. But the association was very receptive and more than anything else, curious. They weren't against it, they just didn't really understand it."

    The rough welcome raised eyebrows throughout the city. Stan Newman, 75, who lives a few miles from where the mosque will be built, said he heard of residents who grumbled about increased traffic and parking problems.

    "My concern was they were using parking as an excuse," he said. "I'm concerned with what the fuss was. Muslims deserve a place to worship."

    Elturk said no people have threatened him or told him that they oppose the mosque since he received approval for it, but he knows some still will not welcome it. A U.S. Department of Justice official told him not to lose her number, just in case.

    Planning Commissioner Alan Casmere, 54, has lived in the area surrounding the planned mosque for 38 years. He voted against Elturk's plan in March, but voted in favor of it in April. From the outset, he said, the opposition was largely a result of concerns that the mosque might use a loudspeaker to announce calls to prayer.

    muslim-leader-embraces-challenge-warren-presents-2"I know the neighbors," Casmere said Tuesday. "They weren't against the mosque, they were against the loudspeaker."

    Late last month, Elturk and Sollose signed an agreement that ensures an external speaker will not announce calls to prayer. Elturk has said he never had any plans to use such a speaker, but decided to offer the pact as a sign of good faith. Sollose will talk about the agreement at an association meeting Wednesday.

    "I think they put the first step forward and I admire them for doing that," Casmere said.

    Elturk said he has heard from Muslims in Warren who are eager to begin worshiping at a mosque in their own city. He plans to get permits by the end of May and begin construction soon thereafter.

    "I would love to have it by September," he said, when Ramadan begins. "That would be a real gift for the Muslim community."

     

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  • Mosque Plan Spurs Effort to Reach Out (April 25, 2006) Open or Close

    Mosque plan spurs effort to reach out

    Warren project sparks worry, underscores need for dialogue about faith, Muslim leader says.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

     Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News

     WARREN -- Steve Elturk says he was shocked at the reaction he received over his request to establish the first mosque in Warren.

    The controversial project approved by the Warren Planning Commission ignited concerns from residents and commission members over traffic, ties to terrorists and religious sacrifices.

    The mosque would be at Ryan Road south of 12 Mile.

    "It's horrifying," said Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America. "Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between understanding other faiths and other cultures among the people in Warren.

    "It is our challenge now to make sure that the residents, No. 1, are comfortable with us."

    Education efforts have already begun by Elturk and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The chapter, based in Lathrup Village, is planning to organize a symposium this summer with religious groups in Warren to discuss intolerance.

    "We believe that through discussion and respectful dialogue, this will turn people who have bad feelings about others into possible friends," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the local chapter. "People are the enemies of that which they do not know."

    mosque-plan-spur-effort-to-reach-out

    Meanwhile, Elturk said he's planning an open house for the community once building renovations are completed.

    The five daily calls to prayer will not be broadcast over a loudspeaker because Warren's Muslim families are scattered in the community, he said. Also, an organizationrepresentative met with a group of about 90 residents to answer questions about the project and religion.

    "(The residents) were able to ask everything they've ever heard, seen or thought of about the religion," said Barbara Sollose, president of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren. "Everybody felt better."

    Planning Commission member Phillip Camarda still has his doubts. Although Camarda said he's not prejudiced against the religion, but he does think a mosque would be better suited to a neighborhood that had a larger concentration of Muslims.

    "If you have a Christian community, you would be a church," he said. "I don't think Christians would build in a place where they weren't wanted."

    Also, Camarda said he doesn't believe it's the best location for a religious facility.

    "It's a strip mall," he said. "I wouldn't let a Catholic Church move into a strip mall."

    Elturk said there are about 200 Muslim families in Warren. He expects only about 20 of those families, which include Mirza Ahmed, to attend worship at the mosque.

    "It's great news," said Ahmed, who's lived in Warren for 26 years. "We are really pleased to have, at last, a place for our own worship. We've been wishing for that all this time."

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  • Warren Should Welcome New Mosque (April 17, 2006) Open or Close

    OPINION: Apr/17/2006

    Warren should welcome new mosque

    By Alexandra CervenakAssistant Opinions Editor

     I had a touch of déjà vu today when I heard that the city of Warren had just approved a plan that would allow for the opening of the city’s first mosque. My déjà vu was not necessarily related to the opening of a new mosque, but to the comments of some Warren residents I read in both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News—which I have to say appalled me. 

    I have heard disparaging remarks like this before; I hail from Hamtramck where there has been an ongoing debate for nearly two years about the right of mosques to play a call to prayer. 

    I remember when the issue came to a head in Hamtramck—whether several of the city’s mosques were within their legal right to play the five-times-daily Islamic call to prayer over a loudspeaker. I remember Hamtramck’s newspaper was deluged with letter after letter from residents either for or against the measure, some more informed than others. Hamtramck finally permitted the call to prayer to be played, but that hasn’t stopped residents from still debating whether or not it really should be allowed. Personally, I was one of the people who saw no reason why the mosques should not be allowed to play the call to prayer. 

    I was always glad that I grew up in Hamtramck, because it meant that I was a Polish girl who attended traditional Catholic school, but went to the parties that my Filipino neighbors threw, and yes, was used to the fact that there was a mosque down the street. I only thought that being able to hear the call to prayer would add to Hamtramck’s mix of cultures and people that I found so appealing. 

    After the call to prayer had been approved, I remember standing on the steps of one of Hamtramck’s old Polish Catholic churches during an early morning Mass, when on the wind came musical strands of the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. Some people thought it interrupted the Mass, but I thought it was beautiful. It was one of those rare moments where for a second I regained the long-lost hope that maybe, just maybe, there might be a time when we really could all just get along.

    Perhaps this is why I was so shocked when I heard about the situation in Warren—the planning commission wasn’t debating about anything like a call to prayer that might be disruptive, but simply on whether or not a mosque could be built. I was even more shocked to learn that this would be Warren’s first mosque, so perhaps I should pay more attention when I go out into the suburbs. 

    But as I said before, the most disturbing aspect of this is the comments made by several Warren residents at the planning commission’s meeting, as Dan Cortez of the Free Press said, there was “a series of ill-informed, fear-tinged and derogatory comments from residents and city planning commissioners.” For instance, the Free Press asserts as well that there was applause when a resident demanded proof that the Islamic Organization of North America, which plans to open the mosque, didn’t have connections to terrorists. And in the Detroit News, Warren resident Olga Soroka, who is concerned that the new mosque may cause noise problems if it ever broadcasts a call to prayer, is quoted as saying of her and her husband: "We don't feel too good. We're probably going to sell our house."

    So, to all the residents of Warren who are wary of the new mosque for whatever reason, whether it be noise or traffic worries or terrorism concerns, I have seen people with your fears before. And I have seen people with your fears live through them. I applaud the Warren Planning Commission for approving the plan for the new mosque even if many residents were opposed to the idea. Even in Hamtramck, where there have been mosques for many years and a call to prayer for about two years, some residents still share your fears. I am in no way any sort of expert on Islam, but I do know that my city wasn’t worse off for allowing a call to prayer. So residents of Warren, welcome this new mosque into your neighborhood, and you might just see that you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

     

    http://www.southend.wayne.edu/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2521

     

  • Warren Approves Plan for City's First Mosque (April 12, 2006) Open or Close

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Warren approves plan for the city's first mosque
    Some neighbors are concerned calls to prayer five times a day will disrupt neighborhood.

    Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News

    WARREN -- John and Olga Soroka have enjoyed living in their quiet Warren neighborhood for about 26 years.

    But the couple is afraid that noise will become a problem now that the city's Planning Commission has approved a plan by the Islamic Organization of North America to build the first mosque in the city at Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile -- just down the street from their home.

    The organization promised to not broadcast the five daily calls to prayer over a loudspeaker, but Olga Soroka is not convinced. She's afraid that the noise will become a problem in the next year or so.

    "We don't feel too good," she said. "We're probably going to sell our house." 

    warren-approves-plan-for-city-mosqueThe city cannot legally tell the organization to not use a loudspeaker for calls to prayer "just like we can't tell (churches) to stop church bells," said Joe Munem, spokesman for Mayor Mark Steenbergh.

    Initially, the Planning Commission voted 4-4 Monday on the issue, but after a short recess, they approved the religious facility 5-3, he said. Planning Commission members Maurice Daniels, Philip Camarda and Daria Brown voted against the measure.

    The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the matter to ensure the civil rights of the organization and its president, Steve Elturk, are not violated, Munem said.

    Elturk did not return repeated calls by The Detroit News.

    The organization purchased the building at 28630 Ryan Road -- which is zoned for commercial use -- in August to be used as a mosque and religious education center.

    The Planning Commission denied the proposal last month because of concerns over traffic and the external loudspeaker.

    However, Elturk resubmitted his plan after addressing the board's concerns, Munem said.

    "They met all the legal terms to go into this place," Munem said.

    "As long as their complying with our laws, we're not in the position to discriminate against them.

    "The administration will not do that."

     

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  • Mosque Exposes Fears in Warren (April 12, 2006) Open or Close

    Macomb County

    Mosque exposes fears in Warren

    Plans OK'd over residents' worries
    April 12, 2006

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

         The plans for Warren's first mosque were approved, but a series of ill-informed, fear-tinged and derogatory comments from residents and city planning commissioners Monday night still echoed a day later.

         "It's reminiscent of the Jim Crow South of the 1950s and 1960s," said Dawud Walid, executive director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who attended the meeting Monday night.
         "There were blatant Islam-ophobic comments made by two members on this board," he said, adding that he is happy the plan was approved. "But we're also very discouraged by some of the comments from both the residents and the commissioners."
         During the two-hour session, one Warren resident was loudly applauded for demanding that the developer prove the Islamic Organization of North America won't have ties to terrorists. Planning commissioner Maurice Daniels asked if sacrifices would be made. The planning commission rejected the plan a month ago, and nearly tabled it Monday before giving it the OK. Steve Elturk, the 50-year-old Troy man who proposed the project, did not return messages Tuesday to comment about the meeting, but he is going ahead with the project.
         Crews already have started renovating the old office and retail building on Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile, and Walid said Elturk plans to host an open house at the new mosque in order to promote a better understanding of Islam.
         "What I saw were not only anti-Islamic sentiment, but anti-minority sentiment," Walid said. "We are hopeful that there are no types of retaliatory actions taken against the mosque. One positive is that there are people in the academic and religious communities in Warren that spoke out in favor of the mosque."
         Walid said he wants to hold symposiums on race relations in Macomb County in response to Monday's raucous meeting.
         Similar wild insinuations from residents and commissioners when Elturk originally was denied approval drew the attention from the U.S. Department of Justice. Stephen Thom, spokesman for the Justice Department, said Tuesday that a federal mediator was following the situation to ensure Elturk's civil rights are not violated.
         Walid said he was told the Justice Department will review tapes from Monday's meeting.
         Warren spokesman Joe Munem said Elturk worked hard to accommodate the requests of the planning department. City planning director Ed Bayer told the commission that Elturk met all of the city's requirements. He added that the administration was appalled at the comments of Daniels and some residents.
         "We welcome any house of worship that complies with our codes and ordinances," Munem said Tuesday.
         Barbara Sollose, 68, is president of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren, which has 80 members living near the mosque site. She said they still are concerned that traffic will become an issue.
    "It's not a religious thing, not with our group. It's not," Sollose said. "It's that the place is so small."

     

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  • Warren Board Approves Mosque Plan (April 11, 2006) Open or Close

    Macomb County

    Warren board approves mosque plan

    It would be first in city's history
    April 11, 2006

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
     

    THE WARREN PLANNING COMMISSION VOTED 5-3 MONDAY NIGHT TO APPROVE THE ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION OF NORTH AMERICA'S PLAN TO BUILD THE FIRST MOSQUE IN THE CITY.

    The vote came minutes after an initial 4-4 vote that would have led to an automatic tabling for two weeks until the next commission meeting. The matter is being monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure the civil rights of the organization and its president, Steve Elturk, are not violated.

    Nearly two hours of discussion from residents and commission members preceded the votes. One resident wanted a guarantee from the organization that it wouldn't have ties to terrorists.

    The Islamic Organization of North America bought the building in August, and received a variance on Jan. 25 from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to open the center in a commercially zoned area. That variance also said the center could not place a loudspeaker on the building to broadcast the five daily calls to prayer.

    Despite the written agreement, at the March 13 planning commission meeting, several residents and commissioners cited the external loudspeaker, parking and traffic concerns. It rejected the proposal, 6-3. Elturk addressed some of the concerns and presented his plans to the board again.

    City spokesman Joe Munem said Monday that the Justice Department sent a letter to the city, informing it that the situation was being monitored. Elturk said two members of the department called him after his first proposal was rejected.

    Commission members voting against the mosque said there was no discrimination, but that they were worried about traffic issues. The site is on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile.

     

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  • Trying Again for Warren Mosque (April 10, 2006) Open or Close

    Macomb County

    Trying again for Warren mosque

    Group to ask city panel tonight to approve its plan
    April 10, 2006

     

    BY DAN CORTEZ

    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

     An Islamic organization is set to ask Warren officials again for a chance to build the city's first mosque.

    Steve Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, said Wednesday that he plans to go before the Planning Commission tonight to seek approval to build a mosque and the organization's headquarters on Ryan Road, just south of 12 Mile. The commission voted 6-3 against the proposal on March 16.

    The commissioners who voted against the proposal said their concerns included traffic, parking spaces and the possibility that the mosque would broadcast calls to prayer that might disrupt the neighborhood. Elturk said he had no intentions of using a loudspeaker to announce the calls to prayer. He said the commission was discriminating against him and the organization.

    Elturk declined to comment further until after the meeting.

    He previously said he was considering filing suit against the city on grounds that the commission violated his civil rights. No suit has been filed. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is aware of the situation.

    Planning Commissioner Alan Casmere said last week that was surprised by the accusations of discrimination from Elturk.

    Last year, Elturk wanted to build the mosque in Hazel Park, but city officials would not rezone a piece of property to accommodate him.

    Elturk and the organization bought the former strip mall on Ryan in August, and had already agreed in writing to not broadcast the five daily calls to prayer outside.

    The meeting is to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden Road. The public is welcome.


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  • Warren Rejects Mosque Proposal (March 16, 2006) Open or Close

    Metro Detroit
    Warren rejects mosque proposal
    Planner says he may take city to court
    March 16, 2006

    BY DAN CORTEZ
    FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

    warren-rejects-mosqueWarren's planning commission said it doesn't care what will go on inside a building that could become the city's first mosque -- it won't let the project move ahead because of what most of its members believe would happen outside it.But Steve Elturk -- whose proposal to build the mosque and Islamic learning center at an office and retail building on Ryan was shot down in a 6-3 vote Monday -- said commissioners' concerns about parking and the prospect of a loudspeaker announcing the Muslim call to prayer had already been addressed by another city body.

    Elturk said he may head to court to see if he can open the mosque, alleging that city officials' rejection of the project had more to do with religion than with parking spaces.

    "One of the things I learned is the City of Warren is notorious for these attitudes," said Elturk, who added that the building cost close to module million. "I think the next step is going to be litigation, lawsuits. We need to work together to bring tolerance. I'm ready to fight this."

    Commission member Alan Casmere, who voted against the project, said the commission had no racial motives in making its ruling. 

    "We weren't racist at all toward this gentleman," Casmere said. "I know the commission feels strongly about that. We're not objecting to them locating in the City of Warren." 

    Last year, Elturk tried to put the mosque in Hazel Park, but city officials would not rezone a property to accommodate him.

    Elturk and the Islamic Organization of North America bought the building in August, and had already agreed in writing to not broadcast the five daily calls to prayer outside. But commissioners said Monday they were still concerned about the possibility of the call disrupting the neighborhood.

    Several residents at the commission meeting raised concerns about the external loudspeaker. Commission members had the same worry, but Elturk said it was unfounded. On Jan. 25, Elturk received a variance from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to open the center in a commercially zoned area. That variance included notice that the center could not place a loudspeaker on the building.

    "It's already in writing," said Elturk, who was born in Lebanon and moved to Detroit in 1976. "It's a condition, and we all understand if we violate the condition we can lose the building."

    "The sentiments were not only racial and discriminatory but the decision was premeditated," Elturk added. "We feel we have been discriminated against."
    Elturk, 50, spent Tuesday and Wednesday mulling his options and has begun to talk with lawyers.

    Dawud Walid, executive director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was aware Elturk was trying to locate his headquarters in Warren. He said he wasn't surprised Elturk was turned down.

    "We are aware that in the past with the City of Warren, there has been racial tension there," Walid said. "We're not going to jump to any conclusions that there was some type of blatant Islam-o-phobia."

    Denny Strecker, who works as chief instructor at Karate and Fitness Center just north of Elturk's building, said Wednesday he wouldn't have a problem with the proposed mosque. He said he thought it would bring more people near his business.

    "Any type of walking traffic is a benefit," Strecker said.

    Casmere also said he felt the site's 87 parking spaces weren't enough to accommodate the traffic the worship center would attract.

    "We're saying that's the wrong location," Casmere said. "We were concerned that he would outgrow his facility in a matter of months."

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