American Muslims Call For Swift Action Against Domestic Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 18, 2009
Media contact: Wajahat Ali, 510-909-7506, wajahatmali@hotmail.com

American Muslims Call for Swift Action Against Domestic Violence

Murder of Buffalo resident Aasiya Zubair spurs American Muslims to forcefully address domestic abuse and violence against women; call on imams to address DV in Friday sermons

SAN FRANCISCO – A coalition of Muslim organizations, journalists, community leaders, imams, and other concerned citizens are calling for immediate action by American Muslim leaders and religious figures to address domestic abuse and violence in America, including that found in the American Muslim community, on Friday, February 20, 2009.

In response to the collective concern of the American Muslim community, imams and religious leaders across America have been asked to speak out against domestic violence to their congregations. They are asked to remind congregants of the Prophet Muhammad’s abhorrence of harshness, abuse and violence, and emphasize solutions that strengthen families and ensure all members are treated with fairness and respect, free of fear of abuse or violence.

Members of the coalition are contacting imams and religious leaders in major Islamic centers and mosques. They are encouraging sermons addressing domestic violence and are offering resources available through the Peaceful Families Project, a Muslim-run domestic violence prevention organization founded in 2000, to help educate the American Muslim community. This education addresses the extent to which domestic violence exists and strategies to stop it.

Several prominent imams have heeded the call to action by concerned American Muslims including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, Ca. and Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose, Ca. These imams have committed their Friday sermons to addressing domestic violence and preaching that in the Islamic tradition and by the example of the Prophet Muhammad, family harmony can never be achieved by force and that emotional and physical abuse is never acceptable.

This call is being broadcast through various channels, including blogs, Facebook groups, personal contacts, and news media. “The outcry among Muslim Americans against this type of violence is a heartfelt one,” said Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com. “It is essential that we address the problem and take steps to ensure that no one else faces the same tragic fate as Ms. Zubair.”

Specific calls to action for imams and religious leaders include:

1. Unequivocally denounce domestic violence and any attitudes that enable or excuse it
2. Remind Muslims that the Prophet Muhammad condemned with unequivocal language all forms of spousal abuse.
3. Immediately create community social service committees made up of qualified social service providers to supply educational resources and staff institutional programs that support abused and battered women.
4. Promote educational and awareness programs that outline abusive and violent behaviors.
5. Allow community members ways of pointing out and preventing the emergence or escalation of possibly abusive relationships and environments

Individuals and organizations helping to organize this call (partial list, titles for identification purposes only):

* Salma Abugideri, Peaceful Families Project
* Wajahat Ali, Playwright, Attorney and Journalist, domesticcrusaders.com
* Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com
* Zeba Iqbal, Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals
* Ruby Khan, Director, Hamdard Center for Health and Human Services
* Dr. Aminah McCloud, Professor of Islamic Studies, DePaul University
* Hussein Rashid, Visiting Professor, Hofstra University, husseinrashid.com

Mosques, imams, and organizations confirmed to have joined this effort (partial list):

* Arab American Association of New York (New York, NY)
* Arab Muslim American Federation (New York, New York)
* Council of the Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago – Imam Abdul Malik Muhajid
* Islamic Society of San Francisco – Imam Khalid Siddiqui
* Islamic House of Wisdom (Dearborn, MI) – Imam Mohammad Elahi
* Islamic Center of Greater Lansing (Detroit, MI) – Imam Dawud Walid
* South Bay Islamic Association (San Jose, CA) – Imam Tahir Anwar
* The Islamic Center at New York University – Haroon Moghul
* Zaytuna Institute (Berkeley, CA) – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Resources for the media regarding Muslim efforts to confront domestic violence:

* ACCESS (Michigan): http://www.accesscommunity.org
* Apna Ghar (Chicago): http://www.apnaghar.org
* Central Texas Muslimaat (Austin, Texas): http://www.ctmaustin.org
* Domestic Violence Resources for Muslims: http://www.crescentlife.com/psychissues/domestic_violence.htm
* Facebook Call to Action: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=54807221754
* Hamdard Center for Health and Human Services (Chicago): http://www.hamdardcenter.org
* Manavi (New York, NY): http://www.manavi.org
* Muslims For Progressive Values (Los Angeles): http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/mpv-dv
* Narika (San Francisco): http://www.narika.org
* North American Islamic Shelter for the Abused (San Francisco): http://www.ask-nisa.org
* Peaceful Families Project: http://www.peacefulfamilies.org
* Sakhi (New York, NY): http://www.sakhi.org
* SEMAH (San Francisco): http://www.semah.org
* Tahirih Justice Center (Falls Church, Va..): http://www.tahirih.org
* Turning Point for Women and Families (New York, NY): http://www.turningpoint-ny.org

Read it all at:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/read-this/

Muslim congressman to view war torn Gaza strip

Joint Press Statement:

Congressman Keith Ellison

Congressman Brian Baird

For Immediate Release

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Contact: (Ellison) Rick Jauert (Baird) Lisa Austin 202.225.4755 202.225.3536 Rick.Jauert@mail.house.gov Lisa.Austin@mail.house.gov

Congressmen View Destruction in Gaza

Call for Immediate Relief and Change in Policy

Gaza, Palestinian Territories — Two Members of Congress, Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and Brian Baird (D-Washington) visited Gaza on Thursday to view first-hand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks, and to meet with international and local relief agencies.

The visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the United States government has entered into Gaza in more than three years.

Prior to entering Gaza, the Congressmen met with the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, and traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Dr. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

On Friday, Ellison and Baird will tour the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been the targets of numerous rocket attacks, repeatedly launched from within the Gaza strip, and which Israel has said are one of the root causes for their recent actions into Gaza.

“Staff from the U.S. State Department advised us of security concerns for our own safety, and we are well aware of the sensitive political issues involved in this visit,” said both Congressmen in an official release. “But we believe it is important to be here to see what happened for ourselves; to meet directly with people who have been affected by the destruction, and to express our concern and support,” said Congressman Baird.

“We also want to better understand what can and must be done to recover from the devastation, address the underlying issues, and work toward a lasting, just and peaceful resolution,” said Congressman Ellison.

After spending the day visiting various locations within Gaza, and meeting with civilians and relief workers, Ellison and Baird were deeply affected by what they had seen and heard.

“The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”

“The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental needs such as water, sewer, and electricity facilities have been hit and immobilized. Relief agencies, themselves, have been heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools; of entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching. What went on here? And what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.” the Washington state Congressman said.

Inquiring about the status of relief efforts, the Congressmen learned that some aid material has been allowed in since the intensity of the attacks lessened a month ago, but much is still being blocked by the Israeli defense forces. An example of aid that has been banned by the Israeli Government includes lentils, macaroni, tomato paste, and other common food products. Basic building materials, generator fuel and parts to repair damaged water treatment equipment have also been kept out.

“If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance. We are glad that President Obama acted quickly to send much needed humanitarian funding to Gaza for this effort. However, the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food, and repair and reconstruction materials are unacceptable and indefensible. People; innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in” said Ellison.

The Congressmen’s concerns about treatment of Palestinians were not limited to Gaza. They also visited Palestinian hospitals that treat patients from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There they met with doctors, nurses and hospital directors who described how official Israeli policies restrict border checkpoints which make it exceedingly difficult and expensive for patients, nurses, medical technicians, and other essential personnel to reach the hospital to receive or provide care.

“It’s hard for anyone in our country to imagine how it must feel to have a sick child who needs urgent care or is receiving chemotherapy or dialysis, then to be forced to take a needlessly lengthy route, walk rather than drive, and wait in lines as long as two hours simply to get to the hospital. As a health care professional myself, I found this profoundly troubling – no, actually it’s beyond that, it is outrageous.” said Baird.

Responding to this and other issues the Congressmen emphasized that fundamental changes and solutions are needed beyond the immediate challenges in Gaza.

“The first and most urgent priority must be to help the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing. The entire region and the international community must recommit itself to making the difficult but necessary changes to bring about lasting and just peace, and security for the region. President Obama has made important and encouraging initiatives. United States Special Envoy, George Mitchell, will undoubtedly listen long to the aggrieved parties and then give advice accordingly. For now it is up to leaders and citizens here in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel to move forward toward that shared goal,” Ellison and Baird concluded.

###

Walid encourages speakers to discuss domestic violence this Friday

Al-Marhumah Aasiya Zubair (Hassan)

Al-Marhumah Aasiya Zubair (Hassan)

I’ve spoken to Imams in various cities requesting them to speak about the issue of domestic violence at this Friday’s sermons. I plan to discuss this subject on Friday as well, G’d willing.

Please encourage your Imam to discuss this topic this week or the following week.

Like other demographics, we Muslims have our share of abusers. We can’t ignore this situation especially in the wake of the tragic situation that just took place in Buffalo, New York to Ms. Aasiya Zubair (May G’d have mercy upon her soul).