Kashmir Solidarity Day Observed in Chicago . Eid Milad un Nabi Celebrations in Des Plaines . ICIRR Immigrant Integration Summit . Masjid al-Islam Inaugurated in Elgin
By Dr Mujahid Ghazi
Chicago: On February 5 th every year, Pakistanis all over the world observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day to re-affirm their passionate love and affiliation with the people of Indian-Administered Kashmir. The Day was observed in Chicago last week. It was organized by the Consul General of Pakistan in Chicago.
K. Rizwan Kadir, of the University of Chicago Kashmir Society, made an impassionate presentation about the human rights abuses in Kashmir. He pointed out that what started as a territorial and political issue developed into a human rights morass in the last 2 decades. According to statistics he presented, in 10 years, from 1989 to 2009 over 92,000 Kashmiris were killed, out of whom 7,000 were custodial killings. There were 115,000 arrests. 107,000 children were orphaned, 105,000 houses/shops were destroyed. 23,000 women were widowed and 10,000 rapes were reported which do not include sexual torture of men. He further explained that a lot of the human rights violence is the direct result of draconian laws, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958 and the Disturbed Areas Act of 1976, which grant the military and the police extraordinary powers to search and arrest and detain people without warrant and shoot to kill.
A long time Kashmiri activist Javed Rathore also asked the community to unite and devote time to create awareness about the Kashmir issue. Kainat Zaheer spoke about the Kashmir issue from a youth standpoint. She shed light on the history of the conflict and oppression of the Kashmiris by the Indian security forces. Dr. Murtaza Arain introduced Michael Wolfe’s book on Kashmir which was published after he made a sponsored visit of occupied Kashmir in 1998. Consul General Zaheer Pervez Khan read out the messages of the Prime Minister and President of Pakistan. He quoted the president’s message which inter alia stated, “While seeking a peaceful settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Pakistan will continue to express its complete solidarity with the Kashmiris and extend its fullest political, moral and diplomatic support to their just cause.”
He also thanked the audience for responding to his call. A large number of community members attended the event, including young members of Tehreek e Insaaf Chicago Chapter.
Eid Milad un Nabi Celebrations in Des Plaines
Des Plaines: Eid Milad un Nabi was celebrated in Des Plaines by a large number of local residents. After recitation of the Holy Qur’an, Hamds and Naats were recited by a Mohammad Aslam, Javed Bhatti and others. Peer e Tareeqat Allama Syed Shah Badruddin Quadri Al-Jilani spoke about the life of Prophet Muhammed (SAW).
The event was attended by a large number of the Muslim community. Azher and Aneeqa Hussain made sure that no one left without a Tabarruk. Food was also served at the event.
One Nation, One Dream: ICIRR Immigrant Integration Summit
Chicago: US Rep. Jan Schakowsky announced the administrative closing of cases against the Mujahid Jilani family at a largely attended meeting at the Molcolm X College. Addressing the 2 nd Annual Illinois Immigrant Integration Summit of Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), she commended the initiative taken by President Obama who recently asked the Department of Homeland Security to practice the rights given to them by ‘Morton’s Memo’. The memo gives authority to DHS to administratively close ongoing cases which besides other criteria have been in the immigrant courts for 10 years or more.
The family of Syed Mujahid Jilani suffered for years after they received a notice of voluntary deportation in 2002 while coming back from a failed entry into Canada. It was NSEERS, the infamous registration of citizens of 12 Muslim countries in the wake of 9/11, which made the Jilani family to suffer so long. They came to the US in 1999 to get treatment for their three-year daughter Tooba Jilani, a special child with mental and physical deficiencies. She was going through surgical correction at Shriner’s Hospital. During the 10-year ordeal volunteers from ICIRR Mehrdad Azemun and Ashley Moy-Wooten, Dr. Mujahid Ghazi from Asian Broadcasting Network, Sadruddin Noorani, a community activist who worked with Tahir Kameli, John Floss and other attorneys from Kameli Associates provided selfless pro bono help to the aggrieved family. It was not before US Rep. Jan Schakowsky met the family and the activists on 20 th of October, 2011 that things began to move. She wrote a letter to the Secretary of DHS Hon. Janet Napolitano asking her to exercise prosecutorial discretion and administratively closing the pending removal proceedings based on the criteria mentioned in John Morton’s memo of July 2011. Rep. Schakowsky asked other families like the Jilanis to come forward and take advantage of President Obama’s initiative to help immigrant communities.
The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, an umbrella of 130 member organizations, attracted 1500 attendees to workshops and the closing session which featured appearances by Senator Dick Durbin, US Rep. Luis Gutierrez, US Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, Cook County President Tony Preckwinkle, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and University of Illinois President Michael Hogan.
In his speech Governor Pat Quinn reiterated his intention of implementing the Illinois Dream Act, the 2011 law that created a privately funded scholarship program for undocumented students. He also announced a seven-member DREAM Fund commission of education, business, and immigrant leaders to raise money for scholarships. “We have a tough budget, but we don’t want to cut back on human services,” the Governor defended his budget.
Earlier Alie Kabba of United African Organization and ICIRR Board President welcomed the attendees and guests. Tuyet Le from Asian American Institute talked about the 2011 successes of ICIRR and introduced ‘One Nation, One Dream’ 2012 platform.
Incoming CEO of ICIRR Lawrence Benito, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab and other community activists also spoke at the event.
Out going CEO and incoming ICIRR Chief Strategy Executive Josh Hoyt and Congressman Gutierrez Recognized Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman and Emma Lozano by presenting a life size painting of them.
Masjid al-Islam Inaugurated in Elgin
Elgin: Decorated with beautiful blue tiles imported from Pakistan, the beautiful building of Masjid al-Islam was inauguratedin a unique way. After Bismillah of six-year-old Waliullah, young Muslim scholars and students recited the Holy Qur’an one by one.
In his speech Maulana Abdullah Saleem thanked the community for its efforts to make a dream come true: having a much needed Masjid within the IIE complex in Elgin. He prayed for all the people who contributed in the building process. More than 1500 people attended the inauguration of the Masjid. It will not only serve the students living in the hostel but will also attract the Muslim community living around it.