Nazanin Fatehi was sentenced to death a year ago, on 3 January 2006, after admitting having stabbed to death one of three men who tried to rape her and a 16-year-old relative. She was 17 at the time. . . . Under Iranian law, self-defence is a valid defence in a murder trial, but its application depends largely on the circumstances. Negar Azmudeh, a Canadian lawyer who has previously spoken out on Ms. Fatehi's case, said that the fact that she and her niece were in a park in the evening may have some bearing on whether the defence is considered valid.
*Disclaimer: Yes, this is a fabulous human rights victory! BUT read critically, and don't confuse Iranian law with Islamic law as the two aren't one in the same in all respects.*
Friday, January 26, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Think you're doing enough for Palestine?
I thought I had escaped the Blue Star PR folks when I left CSULB. But this afternoon while on the BART, I was reminded that we are definitely not doing enough for Palestine. Can you imagine, the dang Zionists got to the BART! I can't go to school without being assaulted by Zionist propaganda?
My jaw literally dropped when I saw it.
Alhamdulillah that I was only on the train until the next stop. Imagine, if I were riding it to the airport or the East Bay? I think I would have puked.
I live . . . I breathe . . . I work . . . but most importantly I pray for the day when I never have to come across one of those posters again. I look forward to when maybe I will come across one of these on the BART:
May Allah (swt) grant the Palestinians (and all other oppressed peoples) victory over their oppressors!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
House Votes to Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans in Half
WASHINGTON, DC -- More than 5 million students nationwide would each save thousands of dollars in college loan interest costs under legislation overwhelmingly approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), would cut interest rates in half on need-based federal college loans over the next five years. The House voted on the bill as part of the Democratic leadership's "Six for '06" package of policy initiatives for the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress.
Miller, the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said today that the 356-71 vote was an important first step towards making college more affordable for students and their families.
. . .
The legislation, the College Student Relief Act of 2007, H.R. 5, would cut interest rates on need-based federal loans for undergraduate students from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent in five steps: from 6.8 percent to 6.12 percent in 2007; 5.44 percent in 2008; 4.76 percent in 2009; 4.08 percent in 2010; and 3.40 percent in 2011. Once fully phased in, these cuts would save the typical borrower, with $13,800 in need-based federal student loan debt, $4,400 over the life of the loan.
The bill comes at a critical time for America's low- and middle-income families. Tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities have risen 41 percent -- after inflation -- since 2001. The typical student now graduates with $17,500 in total federal student loan debt. According to past estimates from the Department of Education, as many as 200,000 would-be students are forced to delay or forgo attending college altogether due to the cost.
Half of the student-loan borrowers who would benefit under this legislation have family incomes between $26,000 and $68,000, according to the Congressional Research Service; the median family income of borrowers was $45,000 in 2003-2004. This is well below the overall U.S. median family income of approximately $54,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Everytime I get something off my plate something else finds its way on there.
I cleared the MSA West Conference commitments/drama this past weekend.
And now thanks to some crazy friends (who I love for the sake of Allah (swt)?) it looks like I've got more stuff to worry about on my plate. Yup, thanks.
I can't help it.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
January 11th: the day after Bush announced his plan for a new surge of troops into Iraq.
Just another day, just another protest?
Except, I got quoted by an AP reporter AND it got picked up by 89 online news outlets. (See: http://news.google.com/news?sourceid=gmail&ie=UTF-8&amp;amp;amp;amp;oe=UTF-8&tab=wn&q=zahra+billoo&filter=0 )
The AlJazeera page with the AP story was the most circulated one of all, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/63C3F9E1-CD8B-472E-AE32-61BBE8FE1FD1.htm, at least based on how many people sent it to me.
(Stay tuned for more adventures!)
Friday, January 12, 2007
Ask Senator Boxer Not to Support Islamophobia
Muslim Student Association West (MSA West) is calling on all Muslim students and people of conscience to denounce Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) decision to rescind an award given to Basim Elkarra, former MSA West President and current Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Sacramento Valley chapter. Her decision was based on false allegations found on a well-known Islamophobic website alleging CAIR had links to terrorism. Boxer rescinded the award without any attempt to confirm such allegations or to meet with Elkarra or CAIR to discuss such allegations. This action is especially egregious as Senator Boxer is a representative of California, home to the largest Muslim population in the United States. CAIR is one of the most well-respected and one of the largest Muslim organizations in California, with four regional chapters in California.
Senator Boxer has fallen prey to the growing Islamophobic trend in the United States; she has relied on a smear campaign by Joe Kaufman, an anti-Muslim extremist in Florida. Kaufman himself has been affiliated with the Jewish Defense League, a noted terrorist organization found guilty of planning to bomb a Culver City Mosque and the office of an Arab American member of Congress from Southern California. A recent Los Angeles Times story quoted Kaufman claiming that there are no moderate Muslim organizations in America. His website promotes hateful books such as: "The Truth About Muhammad, Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion." Kaufman’s criticism of CAIR seems to follow that anyone who criticizes Israel is a supporter of terrorism.
It is disrespectful to California’s large Muslim population that Senator Boxer uses Islamophobes like Kaufman to judge the Muslim community in California. Senator Boxer owes Basim Elkarra, CAIR, and the entire Muslim community an apology. Senator Boxer must commit herself to the diverse communities of California, and as a representative, must build bridges with California’s Muslim population and must recognize its growing political influence. Unfortunately, her withdrawal of an award to a well-respected community leader and her falling prey to Islamophobia, if uncorrected, will only further alienate her from the Muslim community.
Senator Boxer's decision to rescind Basim Elkarra's award appears to have also been influenced by strong support she received from the pro-Israeli Lobby. Elkarra and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are being targeted for their vocal criticism of Israeli policies although they both have strongly spoken against all forms of terrorism. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reports that, over the years, Senator Barbara Boxer's campaign has received a minimum of $223,794 from Israel Lobby PACs. (See http://www.wrmea.com/archives/July_Aug_2004/0407027.html)
"It's extremely important for Senator Boxer to remember that she represents her constituents and not the Israeli Lobby or the State of Israel,” said Amir Mertaban, MSA West President. "For us to boast about our freedom and democracy while elected officials like Senator Boxer fall victim to extremists, like Kaufman and seemingly punish Muslims for criticizing Israel and its policies is unacceptable. Senator Boxer needs to represent all Californians, not just those who blindly support Israel or Islamophobia."
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:
Please contact Senator Boxer to respectfully express your concerns about her decision to rescind the award to Basim Elkarra based on information supplied by Islamophobes and without any attempts to confirm such allegations or to meet with Elkarra or CAIR. Personal letters sent by fax are best, followed by calls and e-mails, in that order. Make sure to include your name and full address and to ask for a written response.
- I strongly support the important work of Muslim organizations including CAIR. CAIR and Elkarra have worked to benefit all of California through their work promoting religious freedom and civil liberties. CAIR is one of the largest, most active, and most well-respected Muslim organizations in California, that does tremendous outreach work to the larger community and has four regional offices in California.
- Senator Boxer has fallen prey to Islamophobia, by using unconfirmed allegations by a known Islamophobe, Kaufman, to base her decision to rescind the award. It is troubling that the representative of the largest Muslim population in California has fallen prey to racist attitudes linking every active Muslim organization and all Muslim activists, especially those critical of Israel, to terrorism.
- Senator Boxer should build bridges with the Muslim community, not burn them. Senator Boxer should apologize to Elkarra, CAIR, and the Muslim community in California. Senator Boxer should meet with Muslim community leaders, including Elkarra and other CAIR members, to develop relationships and to also express any concerns she might have in an open manner.
- Senator Boxer should not equate criticism of Israel to terrorism nor fall prey to the racism of those who paint any individual or organization who criticizes Israel as un-American or a supporter of terrorism. Senator Boxer should support the rights of all Californians to free expression and free criticism of US foreign policies.
Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St., #240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fax: (415) 956-6701
San Francisco: (415) 403-0100
Sacramento: (916) 448-2787
Los Angeles: (213) 894-5000
San Diego: (619) 239-3884
Copy correspondence to MSA West via email at email@example.com.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2007
Media Contact: Jeremy Mills
Mobile Phone: (760) 880-4397
Schwarzennegger Turns His Back on Students and Families
Proposed Fee Increase is a Education Tax on the Middle Class
"I'm deeply disappointed that the governor has turned his back on students and their families," said Nadir Vissanjy, Chair of the California State Student Association (CSSA) and a senior at Sonoma State University, in response to the Governor's Budget Proposal for 2007-2008. State support for higher education has slipped from 17% of the state general fund in 1976 to 10.4% in the proposed 2007.
While state funding has decreased overtime, fees are set to rise next year. "The governor says he opposes tax increases, but this proposed fee increase is nothing more then a $97.8 million regressive education tax on middle class students and families," concluded Vissanjy, "By taxing the California Dream, the governor is putting educational opportunity further out of reach."
Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger stopped fee increases at both the California State University and the University of California. State University Fees will have increased by over 90% in the last five years, far out pacing increases in per capita personal income growth in California. At that time, the governor recognized that student fees squeezed middle class families that didn't qualify for aid, but could not afford to pay for college outright. This year the governor turned his back on students and families by raising fees to free up general fund money for other priorities.
"Students like me are paying a greater share of college costs and going into greater debt to do it," said Jeremy Mills, Chair of the CSSA Legislative Affairs Committee and a senior at CSU San Marcos. CSU students often balance work and family obligations. In fact, 30% of CSU students work 30 hours a week or more, and 25% have dependents that rely on them. As fees go up, so does borrowing, especially amongst the middle class students.
The state legislature could vote this spring to 'buy out' the student fee increase. "This is only the beginning," continues Mills, "In the coming months CSSA will be working with student leaders on each CSU campus to educate them about the proposed budget, and empower them to hold elected officials accountable for keeping the promise of the Master Plan for Education."
Saturday, January 06, 2007
When Mr. Mohsin applied for his retired father's old government job, not only was he rejected, but his father's pension was cut. Banks have repeatedly denied him loans for his plan to buy and reopen a derelict factory.
This, he says, is the life of a Muslim in India, And perhaps for the first time, this Hindu nation is beginning to believe him. For the past 60 years, Indian Muslims have more often been the subjects of blame - for terrorism and the 1947 partition with Pakistan - than sympathy.
Yet in November, a government-appointed panel suggested that ignorance and prejudice have now made Muslims an underclass on par with the lowest Hindu castes. Now, politicians who have long avoided the subject are openly talking of helping Muslims - potentially even setting aside quotas for Muslim admission into schools and political institutions. . . .
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Top Saudi Cleric Issues Religious Edict Declaring Shiites to be Infidels
The Associated Press
Friday, December 29, 2006
CAIRO, Egypt A top Saudi Arabian Sunni cleric on Friday declared Shiites around the world to be infidels who should be considered worse than Jews or Christians, the latest sign of increasing sectarianism in the Middle East.
Abdul Rahman al-Barak, one of the top several Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia and considered close to the Kingdom's royal family, also urged Sunnis worldwide to oppose reconciliation with Shiites. The Wahhabi stream of Sunni Islam that is followed in Saudi Arabia is conservative and views Shiites as heretics.
"By and large, rejectionists (Shiites) are the most evil sect of the nation and they have all the ingredients of the infidels," Abdul Rahman wrote in a fatwa, or religious edict, that was posted on his web site Friday.
"The general ruling is that they are infidels, apostates and hypocrites," he wrote. "They are more dangerous than Jews and Christians," he wrote in the edict, which Abdul Rahman said was in response to a question from a follower.
Like most hardline Sunnis, Abdul Rahman employed the word "rejectionists," used as a derogatory term to describe Shiites because they opted out of the Sunni school of Islamic theology. He also said the sect was the work of a Jewish conspiracy.
Abdul Rahman's remarks comes amid concern by many Sunni Arabs about what they perceive as a Shiite revival following the 2003 war that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq. They include Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Earlier this month, Nawaf Obeid, an adviser to the Saudi embassy in Washington, spoke of "massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis" if the United States withdraws from the country. Saudi citizens are also reportedly raising funds for Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
Earlier this month, about 30 prominent Saudi Wahhabi clerics called on Sunni Muslims around the Middle East to support their brethren in Iraq against Shiites and praised the anti-American insurgency.
Thousands of Iraqis have been killed this year in sectarian bloodshed between the majority Shiites and the Sunni Arab minority, who lost their dominance after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Saudi Arabia, like most Arab countries, is predominantly Sunni but has a significant Shiite minority.