Veteran Vendor Lance Orton Is Times Square Hero

(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS) – “I’m not a celebrity, I’m just an average Joe,” Lance Orton told the New York Daily News Sunday night from his apartment in the Bronx. But this average Joe is being hailed as the savior of Times Square.

Orton is one of the street vendors who alerted police to the suspicious dark-colored SUV that contained a home-made bomb, reported The New York Times . Orton sells T-shirts near the area in which the car was parked.

He and Duane Jackson, a handbag vendor, were the first to notice that something was strange about the car. Jackson told MyFox NY’s ‘Good Day NY’ co-host Greg Kelly : “When the smoke started, I realized there might be more to this than meets the eye.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had dinner on Sunday night in Times Square with Jackson and NYPD Officer Wayne Rhatigan, who was alerted by the vendors and was the first to begin to clear the are around the SUV. Orton, though passed on dinner with the mayor, according to MSNBC.com .

According to Reuters , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Orton: “Lance Orton saw something and did something about it.”

Orton said in a TV interview after the incident that he’s been a street vendor for 22 years. Walking with a limp and wearing a Monster energy drink T-shirt, he said of his vending position: “I don’t have too much choice. Nobody’s giving me a job.”

Surrounded by reporters as he walked to a taxi on Sunday morning, Orton was a bit surly, claiming: “Part of my reason for having this attitude is I’ve given some of you interviews before and you wrote the opposite of what I said in the paper, so that’s my problem with you.”

When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: “Of course, man. I’m a veteran. What do you think?” As he got into the cab, the Vietnam vet said his advice to the city of New York was: “See something, say something.”

Now Orton is being mentioned in news articles around the world. His family members are also being sought out.

Miriam Citron, the mother of Orton’s son, told the New York Times that Orton would regularly alert police if something didn’t look right: “When he was in Vietnam, he said they had to make decisions and judgments from their gut, from their own feelings … His instinct was telling him something’s not right.”

Orton’s mother, Jean Jarrett, told the Daily News : “I’m sure he saved a lot of lives.”

Islamophobic attacks largely ignored in UK

According to editor of The Muslim News Ahmed Versi, Islamophobia in Britain is not given the necessary amount of attention. He claims that Islamophobic attacks in Britain will continue to rise until there is a wholesale change in attitudes, including new legislation against religious hatred.

“It will get worse unless something serious is done to curb this,” warned Versi, who has been reporting incidents of attacks and abuse against Muslims for more than 20 years and presented many papers at conferences on the issue. “Lack of legislation is the problem – we have only small number of cases of racism and anti-Semitism because they are protected by laws and are outlawed,” he said.

Recent incidents included arson attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions such as charities. Individuals have also been harassed or violated, students on campus for example, particularly veiled women, who had their head scarves or face veils removed by attackers. Verbal abuse labeled Muslims as “Osama bin Ladin” or “Terrorists” and extended to insults such as “You Paki go home”.

Despite the scale of attacks and abuse, there are very few reports on the issue by national media.

Why the burka is part of Britain: France and Britain compared

Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech before the Senate, in which he announced the ban of the burka in France, has stirred some emotion and discussion in Britain, where such law is far from being thought of. In her article Cassandra Jardine compares the two countries, pointing to the right to individual and religious expression in Britain.

Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, believes the way forward is through tolerance and understanding, not legislation — and is glad he lives in Britain for that reason. “Britain is the best country in Europe for Muslims. We complain, but we are freer here, and we have more dialogue with government. In France, Muslim organisations are not representative; here they are independent. In France, Muslims live in ghettos and have double the unemployment rate of the rest of the population. Many French women come to university in the UK because they want to study and wear the headscarf which in France they cannot.”

The article also quotes those who would welcome the burka-ban, not least some members of the Muslim community. “The French president should be applauded for initiating this debate,” Dr Taj Hargey of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford said. Dr Hargey describes the growing belief that Muslim women should cover their head, face and hands as “doctrinaire brain-washing”. Dr Usama Hasan, a reformist London Imam, also has “some sympathy” with Sarkozy: he too does not think it is necessary for women to wear the burka.

Liberal Oxford imam counters the “Muslim McCarthyists”

Dr. Taj Hargey, “a clean-shaven imam from Oxford”, who describes himself as a “thorn in the side of the Muslim hierarchy”, has won a libel claim against a conservative Muslim newspaper. The Muslim News published an article that claimed he belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect which many in his faith believe is heretical.

Dr. Hargey has made many enemies because of his liberal brand of Islam, which he preaches from a small assembly hall. Unlike most British imams who insist on segregation during Friday prayers, Dr. Hargey allows men and women to pray in the same room. He believes Muslims should not feel compelled to grow beards or wear a veil and last November his mosque became the first in Britain to allow female Islamic scholar Amina Wadud to lead Friday prayers.

After winning the lawsuit Dr. Hargey said: “This is a watershed moment in the struggle between liberal Muslims in the UK and the extremist views … [of] a foreign-educated clergy. Progressives like me are described as heretics in order to ruin our credibility. It’s a form of Muslim McCarthyism that is used to root out anyone who dares question these unenlightened, tribal and foreign forms of Islam.”

Moroccan-born politician becomes first-ever Muslim mayor in Holland

Social Affairs State Secretary Ahmed Aboutaleb will succeed Ivo Opstelten as the mayor of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Aboutaleb is a member of the Labour party, and has been nominated by the local council to seat the position. He has both Moroccan and Dutch nationality, and is known for combining his Muslim faith with a political style that is characteristically Dutch. The appointment, of the first Muslim nominated for a mayoral position, still needs to be formally confirmed by the home affairs ministry.

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NIS News

Muslim News

Radio Netherlands

Radio Netherlands

Twenty two Muslims honoured in Queen’s honour list

Twenty two members of the Muslim community were named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their contribution to society: two CBEs, seven OBEs, 11 MBEs and two overseas & military MBEs. Amongst the four women and 18 men are an artist, barrister, doctor, professor and translator. The number of Muslims awarded for their work is considerably higher than last year when only seven were honoured. Other members minority faith groups have also been included, with 14 members of the Hindu and Sikh faiths (2 OBEs, 11 MBEs, 1 Diplomatic Overseas List MBE) and 22 members of the British Jewish community being awarded two knighthoods, seven CBEs, seven OBEs and six MBEs. Chair of the British Muslim Forum, Dr Khurshid Ahmed, is to be made a CBE for his services to community relations in Birmingham and the Black Country. Dr Ahmed served as Chair of the audit committee, CRE envoy to the Muslim community and as Assistant Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council from 1984 to 1999. He is currently the Chair of the Dudley Community Partnership. He told The Muslim News he felt humbled by the award…it is for the hard work and dedication of all my staff. Mohammed Afzal Khan is to be a CBE for his service to Manchester’s community and interfaith relations. He told The Muslim News, I enjoy serving the public and look forward to carry on serving the public for many years to come. Khan worked as a youth worker before serving as a police constable with Greater Manchester Police. He began his legal career as a solicitor and is now a senior partner at a law firm. Khan has acted as lead member for Race Equality and has been involved in interfaith work for 20 years. Elham Asaad Buaras reports.

Dialogue Between British Muslims and Politicians

This month, The Muslim News successfully launched the first ever series of dialogues between British political leaders and British Muslims. The first meeting, organized jointly with Sadiq Khan, MP, Minister in HM Government Whips Department, was held in the House of Commons on October 18. Ahmed J Versi

First Lib Dem Muslim In Parliament

Liberal Democrats will have for the first time a Muslim, and that a woman, in the Parliament, reports The Muslim News. Mrs Kishwer Falkner, 49, was selected among 46 new working peers appointed today to the House of Lords. The list, approved by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, included no Muslims selected for peerages by either the Labour Party or the Conservatives. None of the seven new independents are Muslim. Falkner said that she was “honoured and delighted to take up this new role”. “I see this as a recognition of the contribution that so many immigrants make to life in Britain. I look forward to be a voice for diversity in the House of Lords,” she told The Muslim News.