Family Separation Policy: Taking an Egg from a Small Bird

Family Separation Policy: Taking an Egg from a Small Bird

Imagine being a young Latino child traveling with your mother who is seeking asylum in a foreign land. Your journey has been long and gruesome. You don’t sleep well and are constantly being startled awake by the blare or a car horn, a woman wailing, or a baby crying out of hunger. Your mother hardly eats or drinks anything at all, but she never fails to give you, your baby sister and older brother the small rations of food that are available.

You’re constantly afraid too. You’ve seen people traveling with your group die from hunger & dehydration or even worse – acts of violence. But you try to block it out. You try to block out seeing gang members rob, stab and shoot the people traveling in your group for mere pesos (Mexican coins).

You try to forget the face of the man who almost succeeded in sexually assaulting and raping your mother on this trip from hell. The trip that your mother promised would reap the benefits of freedom, monetary prosperity and reunification with an aunt you have never met, who lives on the other side of the wall. She is now an Americana, a citizen of the greatest country on earth and according to mamá, she can help your family achieve the American dream. Of course, you have your doubts.

Freedom is so close, yet so far away. You don’t understand why you aren’t all running towards the wall, this is what you were traveling for after all, isn’t it? You tug on your mother’s blouse and ask if the journey is over yet. Mamá hushes you quiet; ‘¡Callate!’ she snaps. She is busy securing a plan with the other adults on how the group will all cross over the wall without getting caught.

At night, you are frantically shaken awake by your mother who seems anxious. Maybe even a little afraid? And mamá is never afraid. This is when you know it’s serious. She gives you and your older brother strict instructions to remain as quiet as possible until you’re told otherwise.

You are not to speak or ask questions. She makes it clear that crying isn’t an option either. Mamásays it will bring too much attention to the group and will only bring about getting caught by theAmericanos and being sent back to the economically poor, war-torn, and dangerous country you left behind.

When asked if you understood her instructions, you and your brother nod your heads in the affirmative, but you don’t understand the severity of her words – not yet.

The next thing you know, the Americanos in uniforms that blend into the desert terrain, wearing shiny badges, big boots and night-goggles point their big guns at your family, yelling at you in English. Although you don’t speak the language, the message is clear – get down on the ground.

German-Shepard dogs surround you, barking fiercely, snarling, baring their pointy teeth and salivating in rage. As if they were eagerly waiting for the command from their master to go ahead and attack.

The Americanos are multiplying and more and more begin swooping in and waving their flashlights in your faces in order to confuse, scare and intimidate the group – it works.

You and your family are all placed in handcuffs. All of you. Even the children. The next thing you know, you’re thrown in the back of a truck and the door slams shut. You begin to cry even thoughMamá told you not to. Her eyes swell with tears and she looks at you so tenderly in an attempt to comfort you because her hands are restrained in shiny metal handcuffs and she cannot wrap her arms around you.

The sight of your mother begins to be blurred and her image begins to shake as your eyes swell with tears. You blink them away, only to have your vision blurred once again by the tears yourMamá told you not to cry.  



Family Separation Policy: Taking an Egg from a Small Bird

Islam in the Hub of FIFA 2018 World Cup


Islam in the Hub of FIFA 2018 World Cup
Russia began to know Islam by the mid of the 10th century when Muslim Bulgars and Tatars introduced Islam to Slavic princes.

MOSCOW – It was in 2010 when Russia got the nod from  the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)  to host the current 21st World Cup, the globe’s most prestigious football tournament

The competition is slated to run between June 14 and July 15, and it  features seven Muslim nations out of the 32 contestants; they are: Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, there are   Muslim players in the squads of other non-Muslim countries also in action in the ongoing tournament, like France, Russia, Australia, Serbia, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

These players originally hail from Muslim countries, namely, Mali, Guinea, Algeria, Mauritania, Tatarstan, Turkey, Bosnia, Tanzania, and Albania This means there is an immense gathering of Muslim athletes in this major football festivity.

So, let’s shed some light on the relation between Islam and Russia.

See-saw Relation

Russia began to know Islam by the mid of the 10th century when Muslim Bulgars and Tatars from the Muslim states of Volga Bulgaria in far easternmost Europe and the Umayyad Caliphate introduced Islam to Slavic princes.

The Slavic rulers rejected the notion of giving up their pagan traditions which contradict with Islam like drinking wine which the Slavic literature describe as the “very joy of their lives”. Remarkably in 988 AD, Slavs including Russians began to adopt Christianity.

The 15th century marked the beginning of countless military invasions between Russia and the neighboring Muslim emirates and khanates which ended up by occupying the Muslim populations of a sum of 17 Muslim countries.

Fortunately, the 20th century brought at its end the independence of six of these 17 Muslim countries which are: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The remaining eleven Muslim countries which are still searching for the same fate are: Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Sibir, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Crimea, and Circassia (Adygea, Karachay Cherkessia and Kabardino Balkaria).

The Russian law officially recognizes Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and paganism. In fact, the Russian Orthodox Church acts as the de facto if not de jure privileged religion of the state; claiming the right to decide which other religions are eligible for registration.


Societal Weights

Moscow Cathedral Mosque

Moscow Cathedral Mosque

Surveys conducted between 2010 and 2016 estimate Christians between 47.1% and 79.4%. This makes Christianity the largest religion in Russia.

The surveys also found that 36 million people, making 25%, declared to “believe in God but without professing any religion”.

Furthermore, about 18,600,000 people, representing between 7% to 13%, were atheists, while 7,900,000 or 5.5% didn’t state any religion. These findings make atheism the second largest group after Christianity in Russia.

The surveys reported the existence of minority religious group like 4% Muslims (excluding the populations of the above-mentioned  eleven Muslim countries).

Moreover, there are 1.2% Pagans numbering 1,700,000 individuals, in addition to 700,000 Buddhists constituting 0.5%, 140,000 (0.1%) Hindus, and 140,000 Jews.

According to the 2010 Russian census, Moscow officially has less than 300,000 Muslims. Some estimates suggest that they number around one million Muslim residents and up to 1.5 million Muslim migrant workers.

Marks of Community

Moscow, the capital city, has four mosques, the largest of which is Moscow Cathedral Mosque with a capacity of ten thousand worshippers.

It was first built in 1904 and then rebuilt after demolition in 2015. It’s sometimes called “Tatar Mosque” because its congregation consisted mainly of Tatars who constitute the majority of Muslims in Moscow.

The Old Mosque of Moscow was built in 1823 to replace an earlier private mosque that had been destroyed by the 1812 fire. It lies at Bolshaya Tatarskaya Street in Zamoskvorechye, a neighborhood formerly settled by Tatars.

The land’s owner was a Tatar merchant, Nasarbai Hashalov. The Tsarist authorities permitted the construction of a “Muslim house of prayer” on condition that it wouldn’t be called a mosque and that its facade wouldn’t differ significantly from neighboring houses.

However, the dedicated efforts of Tatars concluded fruitfully by adding the cupola and minaret in 1880. Afterwards in 1915, the Muslims added a madrasa to the mosque’s building.

Even though, the Soviets shut down the mosque in 1939 and they demolished its minaret, and purged its last imam. Worship in the mosque didn’t resume until 1993 and the minaret was rebuilt.

In 1991, the Muslim community built the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia in Moscow where it contains a madrassa (religious school).

Significance  of Second Capital

Saint Petersburg Mosque

Saint Petersburg Mosque

Another notable Russian mosque is Saint Petersburg Mosque. It was the largest mosque in Europe outside Istanbul, Turkey at the time of its inauguration in 1913.

Nevertheless, the Russian closed the mosque several times. In 1956, at the request of Sukarno, the first Indonesian President, the mosque was returned to the Muslim community.

Its minarets are 49 meters tall while the dome is 39 meters high. It can accommodate up to five thousand worshippers. By that time, the Muslim community of the Russian then-capital exceeded 8,000 people.

Currently, Saint Petersburg has a total population of five million people, 2.2% of whom are Muslims according to the 2012 survey. The majority of the city’s Muslim community are immigrants from Tatarstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.


Islam in the Hub of FIFA 2018 World Cup

New York Schools Start Offering Halal Meals

New York City schools to provide kosher food as part of new pilot program

Congresswoman Grace Meng has long called for kosher and halal meals to be made available to students who attend the largest public-school system in the world.
P.S. 132, the Juan Pablo Duarte School, located at 185 Wadsworth Avenue between West 182nd and 183rd Streets in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

P.S. 132, the Juan Pablo Duarte School, located at 185 Wadsworth Avenue between West 182nd and 183rd Streets in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A $1 million pilot program has been included in New York City’s new budget to provide kosher and halal lunches in public schools for the upcoming academic year.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens, N.Y.) hailed the decision, saying, “I have long called for halal and kosher meals to be made available in New York City schools, and I’ve made similar calls on the federal level as well. … I’m pleased that Jewish and Muslim students will finally have lunch options that adhere to their dietary restrictions.”

The New York City public-school system is the largest in the world. More than 1.1 million students are taught in more than 1,700 public schools with a budget of nearly $25 billion. The public-school system is managed by the New York City Department of Education.

A significant number of Jewish children in New York’s five boroughs, however, attend day schools or yeshivahs. According to data by the New York State Department of Education, in 2016, the number of students attending kindergarten through 12th grade in Jewish day schools andyeshivahs exceeded 100,000 enrollees for the first time.

Still, the new program will benefit families whose children attend public schools and observe kashrut.

Earlier this month, Meng sent a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, asking him to provide these dietary-specific meals to students as part of the city’s school-lunch program.

Thanks to his efforts, she said, students will finally have access to these meals.

“This pilot program is the right step forward in creating a more inclusive approach to school lunches in our city,” said Meng. “Students should feel welcomed at their schools, and including different dietary options is a critical element to ensuring that no one goes hungry.”

Libya: Over 650 migrants rescued off Libya coast in 2 days

Libya: Over 650 migrants rescued off Libya coast in 2 days

TRIPOLI, Libya, (AA): A total of 657 undocumented migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coasts in two days, the Libyan navy affiliated to the National Reconciliation government agency said on Sunday.

The navy in a statement said that on Monday they had rescued 167 migrants including four children and 24 women.

On Sunday, 490 were rescued after their boat was submerged because of a heavy storm, the statement added.

However, another report from Libya said they had rescued 948 migrants in three separate operations on Sunday according to Navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem.

In all a total of 2,000 migrants were either intercepted or assisted by the Libyan navy in the Mediterranean since Wednesday.

Meanwhile,  a Danish container ship was still stranded off the coast of Pozzallo, Italy, on June 25, after it picked up 113 migrants from a boat June 22.

In addition, Spanish authorities on June 23 said that they had rescued 569 migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Spain by boat.

Last month, the UN migration agency said that so far 655 migrants and refugees, who were trying to reach Europe, had died in the Mediterranean this year.


Libya: Over 650 migrants rescued off Libya coast in 2 days