German Muslims empty pockets for Pakistan flood victims

18 August 2010
As flooding in Pakistan continues to displace millions of people, Muslim groups in Germany are mobilizing to raise money and support aid programs to help those in need. A week into the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan, Muslim groups in Germany have asked their community to dig deep for victims in flood-ravaged Pakistan, where an estimated 20 million people are suffering due to high waters.
Ayyub Axel Koehler, who chairs the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), says the country’s Muslim community is shocked and dismayed at the recent devastating floods that have killed around 2,000 people in Pakistan. He says this is why a special slogan has been devised for this year’s Ramadan: “Fast, pray, donate.”
The Germany branch of aid and development organization Islamic Relief is one such group that has rallied in support of flood victims. Islamic Relief Germany spokesperson Nuri Koeseli says that 100,000 euros ($129,000) was donated in the first week of flooding in northern Pakistan. German Muslim aid group Muslime Helfen is also involved in the aid drive for Pakistan, throwing its support behind emergency accommodation for 2,000 flood victims.

Prince Charles praises British Muslims for their “selflessness”

The Prince of Wales has praised the “energy, dynamism and selflessness” of British Muslims. He attended the 25th anniversary dinner of the charity Islamic Relief, in the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London, which he acknowledged helped to bring together people of different faiths.

The Prince said: “We hear rather too much misleading information about a small minority of your community and not nearly enough about the vastly more numerous acts of compassion and commitment which characterize the work of Islamic Relief and its supporters.”

Arson attack on Islamic charity shop in Glasgow

The Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief has been badly damaged by a fire which police say was started deliberately. Owners of the Islamic Relief store said the incident followed threatening phone calls made during its Gaza emergency appeal in January. Politicians and leading Islamic figures condemned the attack as “despicable” and said it was lucky no-one was injured as there are flats above. Around £80,000 worth of damage were caused in the suspected racist attack.

Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief’s humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia”. Two men, aged 26 and 34, have now appeared in court charged in connection with the fire.

Islamic Relief responds to Italian earthquake

Islamic Relief Italy has established operation for a camp for displaced people in the village of Onna, which was completely destroyed by the April 6th earthquake in L’Aquila. “The earthquake destroyed everything; universities, schools, hospitals and clinics which is affecting the provision of essential services. People have lost their homes and are living in tents and they desperately need more help,” said Paulo Gonzaga, Director of Islamic Relief Italy. Islamic Relief Italy began to help with distributions two days following the earthquake, providing 800 people in Montecchio with food, clothing, blankets, and hygiene kids, along with a further 1,000 in Abagno and L’Aquila. Islamic Relief is presently working with the Catholic association La Misericordie, and intends to provide further support to children affected by the natural disaster.

Unite for children around the world

International aid agency Islamic Relief is holding the _Evening of Inspiration’ show during the forthcoming Easter weekend, inviting leading entertainers and performers from around the world and guest speakers to take part in a unique event for all communities to enjoy. The show is part of a campaign to raise funds for needy children around the world including those recently caught up in the troubles in Gaza. The Evening of Inspiration, in its fifth year is a benefit concert for children around the world. Last year’s stunning tour raised _700,000. The concert will be held in at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London. Salah Aboulgasem, Event Manager, said: “This tour will enable Islamic Relief to help a lot more needy children around the world through the funds we raise. We also want through the concerts to say a big thank you to all our supporters across the UK whose generosity and hard work ensures that we can get the help to where it’s needed most.” Islamic Relief has also invited for the first time Kareem Salama from the US, and brings back Danish mainstream sensation, Outlandish, who are winners of the Danish MTV award.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=413062931084A3D0C4914201&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

American Muslims May Exceed U.S. Pledge For Pakistan

News Report, Jehangir Khattak NEW YORK – The American Muslim community is expected to raise more funds for the victims of earthquake that struck Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan on Oct. 8, than the $50 million dollars in aid pledged so far by the United States government. More than a dozen national Muslim organizations and groups have already raised $20 million in relief aid for the earthquake victims in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. During interviews with the Muslims Weekly, managers of these Islamic and Pakistani relief groups and community organizations sounded upbeat while claiming an overwhelming response to the huge disaster of unimaginable proportions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir that has killed 54,197 people as of Oct. 26. As the donations of money, food, medical supplies and other needed goods continue to be made by individuals and mosques around the country, the long-term contribution from this minority group is expected to climb beyond the initial $50 million aid package offered by the U.S. government. Some Muslims are fearful of donating money to Islamic organizations which the U.S. government could investigate for terrorist connections so have contributed large sums to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mercy international and many American and United Kingdom groups. If those sums are included in the total donations, then the Muslims community’s pledges might already exceed the government’s aid package. After 9/11 American Muslims and Muslim charity organizations in the U.S. came under extreme government scrutiny and a number of leading charity organizations were closed. Such actions spurred fear among American Muslims that the government may charge unknowing donors for “funding terrorism,” according to the Council on American Islamic Relations in a research titled, “American Muslims: One Year after 9-11.” Some non-Muslim aid organizations have complained in recent days that donations for the earthquake disaster have been lower than expected, blaming the low charity in the U.S. on “donor fatigue” following relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami last year. But reports from Muslim organizations do not express concern. “We have received a very positive and encouraging response from the Pakistani community and the larger Muslim and non-Muslim community,” Salar Rizivi of the Islamic Relief, which has pledged $10 million dollars aid for the quake victims, told Muslims Weekly over telephone from Burbank, California. He said the Islamic Relief had so far allocated a total of $4 million for the relief effort. “We are receiving constant feedback from our field offices in Pakistan and are sending the relief items accordingly,” Rizvi said. Islamic Relief sent a plain load of tents, blankets, hygiene and first aid kits to Pakistan from Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 17. It intends to send more relief goods in the coming days. Last year Islamic Relief-USA raised around $14 million from predominantly Muslim donors for projects in South America, Iraq, Palestinian refugee camps, Egypt, Chechnya, Pakistan and China, etc. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief that had initially pledged a million dollar relief effort has now revised its pledge. “ICNA Relief is planning to raise $10 million for short and long-term Adopt the Village Rehabilitation Works,” the organization said in a statement. ICNA Relief is sending medicines worth $1.2 million (one of the most expensive consignments to leave for Relief from USA) to the region. “Besides this consignment, we have so far dispatched medicines worth $200,000 to the disaster hit regions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir,” said Irfan Khursheed, Director ICNA Relief. The Pakistani community organizations, Islamic Centers and mosques across the country are also receiving overwhelming response from the community. The holy month of Ramadan is one reason for the surge in donations during which Muslims give Zakat (alm) to the poor and the needy. The over a dozen Muslim organizations that have announced the $20 million donation have joined hands under the umbrella of a permanent body called the American Muslim Taskforce for Disaster Relief (AMTFDR). It sent a letter to President George W. Bush, calling for forming an ad-hoc committee to offer coordinated relief to the quake victims, according to the U.S. Department of State’s information bureau. “The AMTFDR pledge effort is a cooperative attempt by the American Muslim community to provide relief in the most efficient and most abundant manner possible for the brothers and sisters of humanity that have suffered as the result of the significant earthquake in South Asia,” Ahmed Younis, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told a press conference while announcing the donation in Washington.