Pirouz Sedaghaty, co-founder of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was just released from the Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon. He is awaiting trial on federal tax and conspiracy charges. In 2004, a federal grand jury indicted him and the Oregon chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation on charges of smuggling $150,000 to Muslim fighters in Chechnya. William Call reports.
By Farah A. Chowdhury NEW YORK – Although the federal government has always been a major source of money for charities, it has become more easier for religiously affiliated charity groups to get a piece of the tax-payer pie since President George Bush introduced his Faith Based and Community Initiative in 2001. For fiscal year 2005, more than $2.1 billion in competitive social service grants were awarded to faith-based organizations. The majority of recipients of federal funding appear to be predominately of the Christian faith. According to an article in the Boston Globe, Christian faith-based organizations with operations overseas received 98.3% of all federal grants or contracts between fiscal year 2001 to 2005. In 2003, only two Islamic organizations received any type of federal funding.
A Muslim umbrella group formed in Germany last week aims to make Islam a “recognized” religion under federal law. That could mean Islamic instruction in public schools — or even fundraising through the tax system. The German-Islamic umbrella group launched last week called the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM) would like “a binding road map to put Islam on an equal footing” with Christian religions in Germany, said Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims, one of the groups represented in the new organization. “Equal footing” could lead to Islamic instruction in German public schools, or even tithing of Muslims through the German tax office — a feature of federal law that provides Christian churches in Germany an income stream. Germany’s Jews have received federal funding since 2003. Mazyek said he was looking forward to an Islamic conference in May with German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch_uble, where he hoped to hammer out a set of guidelines for official recognition of Islam “as quickly as possible.” The demand is far from uncontroversial, however (…) Article continues [here->http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,477438,00.html].
It was like being a kid again, I was waiting for the bending of time and space so Tuesday would come instantly. All day at work I kept looking at the clock waiting and waiting for the seconds to become minutes and the minutes to become hours, all in anticipation of Tuesday’s election results. I did not care if the Republicans lost the House. I did not care if the Republicans lost the Senate. My only concern, desire and hope was for God to intervene in the course of history and produce a victory for James Webb and a defeat for George “I made up the word Maccaca” Allen. More on the historic Webb win later. I had the chance to attend the last debate between Allen and Webb (incidentally I was one of the only attendees not affiliated with either campaign.) Webb’s demeanor was not congruent with that of a former Marine and Vietnam veteran. He was soft spoken and gentle but had a commanding presence and booming voice. Contrast that with a former football jock, Allen, who passed himself off as a Virginia bred, cowboy boot wearing Southerner. Since the tightening of the race Allen let go of his attachment to the Confederate flag and the noose (the noose that he had hanging in his law office next to his Confederate flag for years.) Allen reminded me of the all those pompous, jack ass white boy athletes with whom I went to school. In my case the great equalizer was that I could lay them out on the football field so the left me alone. Allen’s true background is of a Jewish ancestry and roots in California. Webb’s narrow victory is historic not only in sending a message that Virginia is no longer the lackey of the Conservative Right, it is historic in that it signifies the importance of the Muslim vote in Virginia — by Muslim I am referring to immigrant Muslim, indigenous Muslims and second/third Generation Muslims. For those of you that are repelled by the word Muslim, it also includes Iranians (secular or not). Unfortunately, because the immigrant Muslim community (including Iranians) are highly educated and professionals they have historically voted Republican, not to mention that the thought of sitting next to a heshe at a Democratic event does not sit well with our socially conservative norms. The only reason that a minority should vote for a Republican is if he or she belongs in the Republican tax bracket and can benefit from the tax cuts that the rich so often are afforded. To such fools I say keep voting Republican to save on your taxes; however, no amount of money can save you from being charged as an enemy combatant or help you from getting out of Gitmo. The other historic message that it sends is to the spineless Democrats that had been paralyzed for five years into grabbing their ankles by the word “terrorism.” Had they stood up from the beginning then perhaps the Constitution would not have been shredder. One could put forth a convincing argument that the last five years were merely part of the Democrats agenda; let the situation get so bad that the populous has no choice but to elect them into power. At least now the Bush Administration won’t continue to receive a blank check all under the fa_ade of the war on terror. At least one would hope this to be the case. If it is not, then what choice do we have left? Nader’s Green Party? Two other defeats of magnanimous importance (in lieu of the Iranian nuclear issue) are that of the former Senator Rick Santorum and former Representative Curt Weldon. Apparently regurgitating a story about WMDs in Iraq, that was nearly three years old, was not enough to secure a victory for Santorum. Weldon, you may remember, wrote a book about the impending danger that Iran posed and that the FBI and CIA were sitting on information that Iran and/or Muslim terrorists were going to attack the US with some type of radio active material or an attack on a nuclear facility or _________ (just fill in the blank.) Weldon’s source was former Iran-Contra figure Manuchehr Ghorbanifar and his buddy “Ali” who is a Shah Loyalist currently residing in Paris. Santorum and Weldon were relying heavily on “Iranian Exiles” when they passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005. Given the power shift in Congress the “Iranian Exiles” need to start puckering up and kissing some new American koon in their hopes of restoring the Monarchy.