Partner of alleged Canadian terrorist grapples with competing realities

The Globe and Mail – February 7, 2012

Sayfildin (Sayf) Tahir Sharif, 39, is the contractor who Ms. Rain, a first nations woman, quickly fell in love with after they met in the summer of 2009. She converted to Islam to be with the man, an Iraqi Kurd who was granted Canadian citizenship in 2005. He became a father figure to her four children.

The picket-fence image is at odds with the portrait of Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a man the U.S. Department of Justice alleges is a terrorist. The Justice Department alleges that a few months before meeting Ms. Rain, Mr. Sharif helped co-ordinate a suicide bombing attack in Iraq that killed five American soldiers; that he pledged his support for a war on America “1,000,000 per cent;” that he sent terrorists money.

Mr. Sharif has sat in an Edmonton jail since his arrest a year ago as the United States attempts to have him extradited to face seven terrorism-related charges in New York state. On Jan. 30, his extradition hearing was delayed until May. If he’s indeed sent south, an overwhelming likelihood in such cases, he’ll spend his life in prison if found guilty – or, potentially, without a trial.Canada doesn’t extradite people if they’ll face the death penalty. Indefinite detention, however, is new ground.

Dutch Opposition Questions Degrees Granted by New Universities

Dutch opposition party SP has asked the government to prevent training institutions from implying that they grant university degrees. Seven institutions of the Hague have recently been registered by the Chamber of Commerce. At the Free University in the Hague all teaching is in Arabic, and students obtain training in various subjects including political science, philosophy and law. However the Netherlands does not recognize their diplomas as university degrees. Parliament has asked the government to make “university” a protected title to clarify the
granting of degrees. Minister Ronald Plasterk has promised to investigate.

Amsterdam Mosques silent about Gay Pride march decision, condemn violence

Ahmed Marcouch, mayor of the Slotervaart district of Amsterdam, decided that a local Gay Pride parade will pass by establishments in the town. According to the Union of Moroccan Mosques in Amsterdam, local mosques are not happy about the decision, but are not publicly opposing it either. “We have no opinion about it. It is a wish of a district mayor, we don’t need to talk about everything,” said Khalil Aitblal, a spokesperson for the organization.

Aitblal added that the topic of homosexuality is sometimes an issue in mosques “because it’s an issue which people have difficulty with” but stated that he has no desire to make a public case of such discussions. The El Tawheed mosque is also reserved, but for another reason – spokesperson Fahred Zaari said “If we give our religious arguments, it quickly leads to the conclusion that Islam fosters certain aggressive feelings, against gays or against people who think differently. That is quickly understood as a threat, that is difficult.”

The problem, according to Zaari, is violence against gays: “Practice shows that those who trouble gays, or attack, are almost never practicing Muslims. We have religious objections against the homosexual act, that gives no right to injure, threaten or beat anyone. We preach that too.”

Brussels’ neighborhood mosques

Every time the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer is raised in Molenbeek, the call echoes another twenty times. This is because the district is home to 21 mosques, earning the district the reputation of being the Islamic center of Brussels.

In the heart of Molenbeek is the Al-Khalil mosque, which is the largest in mosque in Belgium, and accommodates about one thousand worshippers every Friday for prayers, and also serves as a cultural and social center for the local Muslim community. The number and diversity of the mosques in Molenbeek points to the greater diversity and tolerance in Belgian society, says Abdel-Karim Al-Kebdani, the director of the Al-Khalil mosque.

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The National

Two MPs to represent four million immigrants

Two immigrants have been elected to the new Italian parliament – Souad Sbai and Jean Leonard Touadi. Selegalese born Touadi has been elected as an MP for the centre-left Italy of Values Party, and Sbai, the president of Italy’s Association of Moroccan women has been elected an MP for Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom Party. The head of Italy’s immigrant party pledged full support for the two, saying they will have the honour of representing 4 million new citizens living in our country. Two other immigrant parliamentary candidates – Frias Merceder Lourdes and Khalil Ali, failed to win seats in the elections on Sunday and Monday.

Sheikh Saad Nomani – Darul Ishaat Now the Sole UK Distributor of All the Albums

Darul Ishaat is proud to announce they have been selected to be the sole distributor of Sheikh Saad Nonami’s Albums in the UK. Darul Ishaat who are the worlds leading publishers of Islamic books in English have published hundreds of titles in various aspects of Islam. London, United Kingdom (PRWEB) March 10, 2008 — About Sheikh Saad Nomani: Saad Nomani, also known as Sheikh Muhammad Saad Nomani Madani son Shahid Khalil Nomani, is a reciter of the Qur’an who is known for his imitations of various reciters, or qaris, of the world. A qari is one who recites verses or chapters from the Qur’an in a rhythmic manner under strict rules of articulation and recitation. Nomani has the ability to imitate more than 83 qaris and imams including the imams of the two Holy Mosques of the Muslim world in Makkah and Madinah. He is also a host of many Islamic programmes on QTV (ARY) and the Geo TV of Pakistan. Among his tutors are Sheikh Shafiq, Sheikh Muhammad Ayub (ex-guest Imam of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi),Sheikh Ali Al Huzaifi ( Imam of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi), Sheikh Bilal Ahmad and Sheikh Muhammad Khalil (Imam of Masjid-e-Quba) Madinah Munawwarah.

Fewer than expected immigrants make it to electoral lists

Fewer than expected immigrants have made it onto the electoral lists for political parties in the Italian parliament and senate; there are a total of three foreign-born candidates for the parliament and senate. Among them include Souad Sbai, the head of Italy’s Association of Moroccan women, who has been recruited by former prime minister Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom Party, and Khalil Ali running as a senator for the northern Piedmont region from the left wing Rainbow alliance. Several candidates of foreign origin are up for election in Rome’s municipal elections during the same weekend of April 13-14th. The best known of these include Egyptian born Fouad Bishay, on the Democratic Party’s list. About 400,000 foreigners who are residents in Rome are eligible to vote in the municipal elections.

NYC’s Schools, a Year Full of Change

As more than a million New York City public school students returned to class yesterday, Maria A. Aviles, the principal of Junior High School 45 in East Harlem, greeted children and reassured parents – a familiar opening-day ritual for a year that promises broad changes for the nation’s largest school system and its principals. (…) At Khalil Gibran, where the founding principal resigned before school began after trying to defend the word intifada on a T-shirt, the school’s supporters held a banner reading New Yorkers Support the Khalil Gibran School, and set up a table loaded with hummus, pitas and apple juice. The school is a vision of tolerance, said Rabbi Michael Feinberg of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition. After dismissal, Adnane Rhoulam, 12, said he and other students had learned to count to three in Arabic and to say hello three different ways. Adnane, whose mother is from Morocco, said he hoped to understand more about what my mom’s talking about.

Head of City’s Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure

The principal of New York City’s first public school dedicated to the study of Arabic language and culture resigned under pressure yesterday, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word intifada as a T-shirt slogan. Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, stepped down as the principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that is to open this fall in Brooklyn. This morning I tendered my resignation to Chancellor Klein, which he accepted, she said in a statement, referring to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. I became convinced yesterday that this week’s headlines were endangering the viability of Khalil Gibran International Academy, even though I apologized. Those headlines had become impossible for Ms. Almontaser and the Department of Education to ignore. On Wednesday, a headline in The New York Post called Ms. Almontaser the Intifada Principal. Yesterday, an editorial in the paper had the headline, What’s Arabic for _Shut It Down’?

Plan for Arabic School in Brooklyn Spurs Protests

The Khalil Gibran International Academy was conceived as a public embrace of New York City’s growing Arab population and of internationalism, the first public school dedicated to the study of the Arabic language and culture and open to students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. But nearly three months after plans for the middle school were first announced, a beleaguered Department of Education is fending off attacks from two angry camps: parents from Public School 282, the elementary school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that was assigned to share building space with the Khalil Gibran school, and a handful of columnists who have called the proposed academy a madrassa, which teaches the Koran. Now the chancellor of schools, Joel I. Klein, is considering other locations for the school, or even postponing the opening for a year, according to several people involved in the discussions, and the whole endeavor has been turned into a test of tolerance – and its limits – in post-9/11, multiethnic New York.