Chicago Roundup
March For America-Rally in Washington DC

By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi


Glimpses of March For America-Rally in Washington, DC

Qirat competition at the Muslim Educational Center

Seminar at Dominican University on “Peace in Pakistan: Can Trade End Terrorism?”

Islamic Relief Fundraiser with Yunus Khan playing an important role to boost donations

Census 2010 Awareness Luncheon

It was a week before the rally, at the HR meeting of CIOGC, that Ahlam Jbara from Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights came to ask the council to support one of the largest rallies taking place the next weekend at Washington DC for immigration reform.

A bus had already been sponsored by the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. Dr. Zaher Sehloul didn’t waste a moment to sponsor another bus. This scribe requested that this bus should depart from Devon Avenue as the Muslim community living in Rogers Park had a significant number of undocumented population. The time was short but with the help of the community and mostly the affected families we were able to take 35 individuals. A few of them were Hispanic community members living in the North Side of Chicago.

There were men, women, the elderly and the children. Every one was full of energy and zest to participate in the history-making Rally. Ahlam Jbara was leading the group for Mosque Foundation.

Next morning Washington saw hundreds of buses arriving from all over the United States. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and people of every faith and following were there. The first meeting was at the Lafayette Park right in front of the White House. Rev. Jessie Jackson was the main speaker. He demanded an urgent action from the government to address the issue of immigration reform. He also talked about the health reform bill since it was the talk of the nation that weekend. This scribe represented CIOGC and reminded President Obama of the promises he had made before the election.

From there thousands of marchers walked on the streets of Washington to gather in front of the Memorial Monument at the National Mall. By 2 PM the count was estimated to be more than 250,000. Among the speakers was Chicago’s very own Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a strong proponent of the Immigration Reform.

He gave a brief overview of the present situation of the immigration problem and asked the government to address this issue on a priority basis. Jesse Jackson and Geraldo Rivera also spoke at this Rally. Most of the speakers who spoke were not happy about the attitude of the Government and GOP in dealing with the issue. They quoted current statistics and demanded that the inhumane and unsafe practices should be stopped.

 

“The present system is neither safe nor humane. Last year, more than 350,000 people went through for-profit privately run immigration prisons, where many endured terrible conditions, abuse, neglect and even death,” they said. They also mentioned that on an average, 32,000 immigrants were detained every day in the first year of the Obama administration, and more than 380,000 were deported, according to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. The national coalition of community groups also noted these numbers mark an increase of more than 60% over the Bush years.

People were raising slogans for reform and putting an end to deportations.

Tuyet Le, Executive Director of Asian American Institute and Joshua W. Hoyt, Executive Director ICIRR were also among the speakers. Actually, a major player in organizing the march was ICIRR. Merdad Azumen and Juan Salgado from ICIRR were the other two individuals who deserve commendation for the excellent work they did as national organizers. Mujeeb Osman, a community activist from the north of Chicago, was also seen among the marchers. People who helped this scribe in organizing the group from Devon area on such a short notice include Nazia Islam, Nadeem Sharafi, Maqsood, Mushtaque, Mujahid Jilani and Shahrukh Hasan. The women activists Farzana Hasan, Azizah, Iffat and Tamanna also deserve commendation. The refreshments for the trip were provided by King Sweets, Tahoora Sweets, Khan Brother’s Par Birdie Food, Hyderabad House Restaurant, Saleem of Gulshan e Devon, Zam Zam Restaurant, Nayab Mart and Awami Bazaar Grocery.

 

Captain of Dream Team Yunus Khan Raises Funds for Islamic Relief

 

A former captain of the Pakistan cricket team and the third Pakistani cricketer to score a triple century in first class cricket, Yunus Khan was in Chicago last weekend. He was helping Islamic Relief to raise funds for its projects in Pakistan.

The event was overshadowed by two major events in Chicago. One was a concert by Atif Aslam and the other the Pakistan Day celebrations at the Consulate. In spite of the two events the banquet hall at Ashyana was almost packed to capacity.

The best thing was a healthy competition between the NED Alumni and the Pakistan Physician Society which made IR collect $ 80,000 by the end of the event. Famous cricketer and coach Harris Khan was also among the celebrity supporters who came to Chicago. After the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, Ahmed Shehata, Midwest regional manager of IR, welcomed the guests. Shaista Khan, Pakistan Development Coordinator, briefly highlighted the purpose of the fundraiser and shed light on some of the projects Islamic Relief is involved in Pakistan. She also recognized corporate partners who are helping IR to meet their goal.

Samreen Khan Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Pat Quinn and Liaison for Muslim and Asian communities read the message of the Governor who commended the efforts of Islamic Relief with special mention of their work during Katrina and Haiti earthquake. Anwer Khan, Vice President Fund Division, gave a detailed account of the projects undertaken by IR in 35 countries of the world. He effectively motivated the audience by showing photographs of the needy communities and the welfare work done by IR. This scribe, apart from emceeing the event, was asked to auction small cricket bats with Yunus Khan’s signatures and a signed jersey with his name and number. One of the bats was bought by Dr. Sajid Mehmood and the jersey by Dr. Amin Nadeem, both members of PPS. Dr. Javed Imam, President of PPS, and Anis Paya, ex-president of NED Alumni, also took active part in the fundraising and auction.

Famous Pakistani singer Alamgir sang but in a somber mood. He started with a naat and then sang a couple of national songs and concluded his performance with due in Arabic. In spite of his kidney ailment and having had dialysis in the morning he appeared quite enthusiastic and emotional about the Islamic Relief cause.

Sabrina Qureshi, Asma Hashmi and Taufiq Farraj from CAMP were also among the volunteers. Ahmed Khan and Ali Quadri who promoted this event and worked behind the curtain couldn’t make it due to some prior commitments but it is they and the other young men and women who made it so successful.

 

“Peace in Pakistan: Can Trade End Terrorism?” Seminar at Brennan School of Business, Dominican University

 

The Center for Global Peace through Commerce at the Brennan School of Business in the Dominican University held a seminar on the above mentioned topic. The guest speakers were Asad Hayauddin, Consul for Trade and Commerce at the Consulate of Pakistan in Chicago and Syed Jafer Hasnain, Trustee, Human Development Foundation of North America.

It was an educational seminar with students, faculty and few interested Pakistani Americans. Dr. Kathleen Houlihan, Director of Brennan School, welcomed the guests and gave their brief introduction. Prior to his current assignment, Dr. Asad Hyauddin had served as Deputy Secretaryin the Ministry of Commerce in Islamabad and has been in the Government service for the last 21 years. He has also served in various capacities, including Press Attaché at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington. He has done his PhD in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

He spoke about various trade treaties that Pakistan has signed and suggested what precisely the West and the United States should do to make it a strong stable country, financially and economically. He said an unstable Pakistan would be an easy target for the forces of terrorism and extremism. He argued the tariff Pakistan is getting is hardly justified.

Syed Jafer Hasnain who is a well-known financial consultant, co-founder of Lifeline, and a trustee of HDFNA, gave a brief history of HDF. He said if an individual is financially and socially strong it is less likely that he would be influenced by terrorism or extremism. He added it is not prosperity alone that is used to combat extremism or terrorism but it involves the basic level of economic empowerment so that people become self-sustaining; on a broader canvas the Gini Coefficient, which is disparity within a country, has to be low. The worst Gini coefficient is in the Middle East and Latin America. It creates resentment in people. He said the third thing is upward visibility. He said Pakistan is one of the countries where we don’t see this vertical visibility or betterment in the standard of life. He said all these things contribute to human development and for this we need economic and social stability. He said the idea of using trade to combat terrorism should be the mainstay of the efforts in the war against terrorism.

Their presentation was followed by Q and A. Anis Paya and Saeed Khan were also present at this event.

 

Census 2010 Community Awareness Luncheon

 

A community luncheon was organized by Cook County Complete Count Committee. Members of South Asian, Hispanic, Arab and Turkish communities attended this event which was organized under the direct supervision of Cook County President Todd Stroger. His finance director Faisal Abbasi worked diligently to gather a wide array of community groups. He welcomed the guests and strongly asked them to spread the message they get from this meeting to members of their community group.

Addressing the audience Angela Maclin explained the importance of participation in the census process. She said if people are undercounted, it affects the allocation of funds from the government for a community. She also explained the process of filling forms. Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, Director of curriculum at IQRA’ International Educational Foundation and in her analytical style stressed the importance of participating in the Census 2010. She said it is very important for the community to use their rights and it is their responsibility as citizens of this great country to actively participate in the census process. She said it is very important to be counted as a citizen of the country, State, County, City and community as this count affects our lives at every level of our civic existence. She said it is very necessary to volunteer for national and local projects and also get educated and then educate our community.

Dr. Sevil, President of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce, congratulated the Cook County government and especially President Stroger for getting together the leaders of diverse community for this event. She shed light on the importance of Census 2010. She said it is very important that as a Cook County resident we should be counted as the stakes are very high. If we are not counted then we can lose money for hospitals, transport and other facilities. She informed political empowerment comes with the power of counting. She said to get fair share of jobs and other quotas as ethnic minority it is necessary that every one is counted.

Honorable Todd H. Stroger, President, Cook County, thanked every one for his/her participation. He said 400 billion dollars are allocated for various governments by the Federal government and this amount is based on the accuracy of the Census process. He said key Federal agencies depend in part on the census for allocating the money like Departments of Education, Justice, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Transportation and Energy. He said funding provided by these agencies is a vital life line for our community. He added these funds which our own tax payers give should be returned to us in accurate manner and this is only possible when we get ourselves counted. He said the Sate of Illinois receives more than 14 billion dollars each year in federal funds. This is allocated on the basis of the last census a decade ago.

Cook County lost 193 million dollars due to undercount in the last 2000 Census. For every person not counted in the 2010 Census, the estimated cost is $1200/year which is $ 12000 for the next 10 years before the next Census in 2020. He asked the audience to go to their community and actively make efforts to ensure that people get this message. He said the ethnic media can play an important role in spreading the message and asking people to get counted.

Angela Maclin in her closing remarks thanked every one and asked once again for the cooperation of the community organizations.

Habib Abbasi played an important role in the organization of this meeting.

 

Qir'at Competition at the Muslim Educational Center attracts students from Islamic Schools in record number

 

A Qir'at competition at the MCC full time school in Morton Grove showed demonstration of unprecedented interest in the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by the young Muslim segment of the population. The venue was packed to capacity with participants and their parents.

It started early Sunday morning and couldn’t be wrapped up until the later part of the day. More than hundred participants from 1 st to 10 th grade took part in the competition. The program started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Dr. Qari Khaja Khaleel Ahmad. Dr. Sarwar Nasir welcomed the participants and the guests and commended the efforts of the organizing committee. He praised the young Muslim participants. Syema Shiekh and Anum Mustafa were the emcees of the first session of the competition among the students from 1 st to 4 th grade. Judges for this session included Fakhra Ihsan, Tayyaba Ahmad, Afan Tariq and Abdul Hannan Malik. Principal of full time School Habeeb Qadri was the guest speaker. He stressed the importance of discipline and respect during the recitation of the Qur’an. He also told the children how much reward they will get by reciting and listening Qur’an.

The second session was devoted to a competition among students of 5 th to 7 th grade. Tayyaba Ahmad and Naveed Mustafa were the emcees and Zaineb Musleh, Sarah Baksh, Tasneem Quraishi and Ishrath Ali were the judges. The last session after lunch saw the competition between the students belonging to the grades 8 th to 10 th. Shaikh Abdulfatah Muniruzzaman, Hafiz Hamid Sibghatullah, Hafiz Qari Yaqoob Mohyuddin and Dr. Qari Khaja Khaleel Ahmad were the judges.

Awards and certificates of appreciation were distributed simultaneously after each session. The Principal of the Sunday School Sr. Silvat Sheikh thanked the audience and gave a gift to Sister Aziz to accord recognition to her efforts in organizing the event.

She also thanked Faisal Abbasi for his help and efforts in organizing the event and his donation of gifts. Earlier, PTA president Sr. Rukhsana Mustafa, thanked all the parents who donated their time and services.

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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