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Saalakhan Rallies for Aafia in the United Kingdom PDF Print E-mail
Community News - Community News
Written by El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan, Muslim Link Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 09 July 2015 00:11

mauri-saalakhan-nizar-ahmed-web

I arrived in the UK on June 2, 2015, and had the pleasure of being met at the airport by my brother in Islam, Rashid Ali. From Heathrow Airport I was taken to the British Parliament for a meeting with one of the UK's respected political leaders, "Lord Ahmed of Rotherham," the first Muslim appointed to Britain's House of Lords. The British Parliament, like the U.S. Congress, is comprised of two chambers; the "House of Lords" (the upper house) and the

"House of Commons" (the lower legislative chamber).


Our meeting and discussion, over lunch, revolved around Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and some of the challenges confronting Muslims in the West. Lord Ahmed shared the outline of a debate that he was preparing to engage in later in the day (on the floor of the British Parliament) on the growing trend of Islamophobia in the UK. I was also gratified to learn that he has publicly raised his concerns regarding Aafia in the past, and assured me that he will continue to do so in the future.

The very next morning Lord Ahmed sent me the draft of a letter that he was planning to send to the newly installed attorney general of the United States, Ms. Loretta Lynch. (After reading the letter I thought to myself, 'If only Muslim elected and/or appointed officials in America had the courage and presence of mind to do likewise.')


From the Parliament Br. Rashid and I checked into our hotel, freshened up, and then headed out to the impressive studio offices of the UK's "Islam Channel." I was invited to participate in one of network's most popular talk show programs ("Living The Life"). Interaction with the high octane hosts of this informative program was a real pleasure.


The following day witnessed the most important initiative of my five day visit. It was this  initiative, spearheaded by a group of committed Muslim women, that brought me to the UK: The Walk For Freedom for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The initiative began with an assembly outside the Pakistani High Commission in London. It was accented by a meeting comprised of a representative delegation from our assembly, with one of the counselor officials, Zahid Ahmed Khan Jatoi (First Secretary of the political wing of the High Commission for Pakistan).


The meeting went well, and was followed by a briefing to those gathered outside (by Sr. Yvonne Ridley and this writer); then prayer, which was followed by a mile long walk through Hyde Park that ended with a rally at the U.S. Embassy - a large, gated, imposing looking compound, with heavily armed security personnel (located at 24 Grosvenor Square, London).


The rest of my UK itinerary consisted of a number of talks at different venues in Manchester and Bradford. Each presentation touched upon a different aspect of a central theme - i.e. The Challenges Confronting Muslims in the West. The itinerary included khutbahs at two different masajid (about a 30 minute drive apart) on Friday, June 5th; a presentation to a sisters group; and an interactive discussion with an assembly of youth (of different age groups) at a large Muslim weekend school. (This was my most challenging audience, by far, but it went well, Alhamdullilah!)


On the day before I flew out of the country, we had a press conference at the law office of Shazia Anjum (Director/Principle Solicitor of Premium Law Solicitors LTD), where to my surprise, on a Sunday, a number of other Muslim public officials and activists came to meet me, and to receive a detailed briefing on my visit. Among those present were Afzal Khan (Member of the European Parliament for the North West); Councillor Shaukat Ali (Manchester City Council); and Raja Najabat Hussain (Chairman, Jammu & Kashmir Self-Determination Movement).


The meeting/press conference, followed by lunch and off-camera discussion, went exceptionally well. Overall, I found the Muslims of the UK to be far more confident and assertive (generally speaking) than my Muslim brethren in the US.


Needless to say, my first ever trip to the UK was an amazing visit that received considerable international attention. The June 3rd Aafia mobilization that took place in London received coverage in Pakistan, and shortly after my return to the states, I received a request for an interview from the South African-based, Muslim operated communications network, CII.


The struggle continues...


El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan serves as Director of Operations for The Peace Thru Justice Foundation, and leads the U.S. branch of the international ìFree Aafiaî Movement. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Why Young Muslims Need to Vote PDF Print E-mail
Community News - Community News
Written by Naadira Aalim-Johnson, Muslim Link Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 09 July 2015 00:02

I can still remember the day my brother turned at 18 and was legally allowed to vote. My brother did not seem to care about his new found right to vote as much as my parents did. I remember the specific moment my parents tried to tell him how important it was that he use his right to vote after he did not vote for the next president.  He stated that he didn't care for either presidential candidate or their policies and decided not to vote for either.  At the time I wasn't sure why my parents were so fervently on his case about the topic. He had given a pretty good reason for why he had decided not to vote, it certainly seemed like a much better answer then the usual reply of "I didnít feel like it" that I had heard from a lot of other people his age. At the time the subject of voting just seemed like something my parents were stressing over unnecessarily. At age 16, the topic wasn't something I really cared to discuss. It wasn't something I needed to worry about for another 2 years.


Not too long ago my parents took me to see the movie 'Selma', a historical film that depicts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s efforts in Selma, Alabama during a time where racism and segregation were rampant and African Americans were struggling for the right to vote. By the end of the film African Americans were given their right to vote and racist sheriffs and governors were voted out of their positions; positions that gave them broad authority to oppress African Americans.  The movie, though heartbreaking, forced me to realize, now at the legal age to vote, why voting is so important.  Voting has the ability to make change.


In the aftermath of the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri's on August, 9th 2014, the police force in Ferguson was investigated by the Department of Justice. It was revealed that police officers had "routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city's residents." They were applying racial stereotypes and discriminating against African Americans. It was also revealed that though 70% of Fergusons population is African American, 80% of the police force was white. As surprising as this sounds there was a clear reason why:  out of the 70% of African Americans living in Ferguson, only 6% were voting.


When you don't exercise your right to vote, a right that was fought and died for and is still being fought for in other countries, you are giving your power away to those who may be corrupt or indifferent to the needs of the people.  To most young adults it may not seem that we have a voice; but we do have a voice, a powerful one that deserves to be heard. Your vote decides who is patrolling the streets to keep you safe. Your vote decides how are tax dollars are spent and with whom. Your vote decides who serves in Congress and the state and local governments.  The laws they pass can help you or hurt you. Your vote will decide who will be our next president. I cannot stress enough how important your vote is to keep us from having another president like George Bush. We do not need another president like Bush.

If you are of the legal age to vote, get registered and vote in the next election - not just in the presidential election but the local elections, too. Use your new found right to make a difference that could not only affect you but your legacy. We are the future and we owe it to ourselves to vote for people who will help better our future.


Naadira is a former student of Al Huda School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School.  She is entering her second year in college.

 
Get Out and Vote!! PGCMC’s Ramadan and Beyond Call to Civic Duty PDF Print E-mail
Community News - Community News
Written by Jamil White, Muslim Link Contributing Writer   
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 23:55

The Prince George's County Muslim Council (PGCMC) is a local non-profit grass roots organization whose mission is to promote the involvement of Muslim residents in the civic and political affairs of the County.  There is no greater civic duty than participating in the election process, and the only way to participate in the election process is to make your voice heard through the act of voting.

Many Muslims are apprehensive about voting, and often have concerns that government officials may not always have the best interest of the Muslims at heart.  These concerns are real, but are not unique to Muslims, rather these are concerns felt by most ethnic and religious minority groups here in the United States.  However, in a democratic country such as the United States, we can turn the tide and bring attention to the social and political issues that matter to us by electing officials that will sponsor and support legislation that supports our way of life. Muslims have several issues of concern for which they must have a voice if they expect elected officials to be responsive. Issues include but are not limited to:  closing of the public schools on Eid holidays, the rights of Muslim students to practice their faith in the public schools, the opportunity for Muslim government workers to invest their retirement funds in halal instruments, local ordinances that affect our religious institutions, police/community relations, immigration policy, and civil rights policies amongst other issues.


Please remember every vote counts.  In 2014 primary voting, current District 2 County Councilman, Deni Taveras, defeated Doyle Niemann by a mere six (6) votes out of 4,840 votes cast.  New State Delegate Erek Barron who was supported by the Muslim community won his seat over the next closest competitor by 221 votes out of nearly 36,000 votes cast. The first Muslim elected to a city council in Prince George's County was Brother Fazlul Kabir of College Park, MD.  He won his first election by TWO votes.

Knowing how close elections can be we should aim as a community to establish a voting bloc, which will make candidates and elected officials more responsive to our concerns.   We do not have to wait very long to make an impact!  Major November elections for 2016 in the State of Maryland include the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Barbara Mikulski, the 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Donna Edwards who is running for U.S. Senate and from a national perspective of course the office of the President of the United States.  2018 will be even more significant locally as the Offices of the Governor, State legislature, County Executive, County Council and the School Board.


PGCMC would like to take the lead in registering Prince George's County Muslims.  During Ramadan and the Third Annual Cookout we will be pushing for new voter registrations and information from existing voters.  PGCMC will be posting fliers and providing information on voting in various Prince George's County masjids.  For those interested in registering to vote at PGCMC's Third Annual Cookout, it will be held at Watkins Park (301 Watkins Park Drive Upper Marlboro, MD 20774) on August 9, 2015 at noon.


For more information visit our website at www.pgcmc.org or send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


The writer is the treasurer of the Prince George's County Muslim Council (PGCMC)

 
MoCo Middle Schooler Honored for Eid Equality Push PDF Print E-mail
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Community News - Community News
Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter   
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 23:27

“Kids like big ideas, we like fairness, respect, we like equality,” said Eleanor Clemans-Cope.

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