Rule change will affect athlete’s religious freedom

  • Published in Sports

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE – The rule that forced Watkins Mill junior basketball player Je’Nan Hayes to sit out the Wolverines’ postseason game at Oxon Hill last month has been changed.

The 16-year-old Muslim wears a hijab because of her religion and had worn the garment all season long without opposition from game officials.

However, Hayes, a reserve who had already played in 24 games, could not participate in Watkins Mill’s regional championship contest against the Clippers on March 3 due to a rule that requires a state-approved waiver for religious garments.

“The rule is not clear as to what specific headgear should be worn or not be worn,” said Hayes.


Muslim doctor gives back to his community

  • Published in Local

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – For the past 10 years, Dr. Ashraf Meelu has paid out-of-pocket to offer basic health care in clinics open to the public.

The 64-year-old Muslim doctor from Lothian, Maryland, along with a few volunteers, spends Friday mornings providing flu shots, measuring blood pressure and offering other health treatments at a Guatemalan consulate in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Meet my friend Saj - a True American

Saj  Paul Schwartz

I am proud to call Dr. Sajjad H. Durrani my friend. While some of my friends, acquaintances and former co-workers for reasons I do not fully understand vote for candidates hell-bent on reducing retirement benefits of federal employees and retirees, Saj and I work feverishly on behalf of NARFE, National Active and Retired Federal Employees, to protect the earned benefits of federal employees and retirees and seniors in general!

Saj immigrated to the United States in 1959 and served in a multitude of impressive positions as an electrical engineer for such companies as General Electric, COMSAT Labs, RCA and Operations Research to name just a few.


Nothing to fear but . . . what?



When did we become so damn scared? When did fear overtake us? Was it on 9/11? Why is everyone so afraid of Donald Trump? Or, why is everyone so afraid of Hillary Clinton?
Fear is nothing I would use to describe either one of them.
It isn’t just the Presidential race which strikes fear in our hearts.


Welcome to The Jungle!

  • Published in Local



CALAIS, FRANCE - At first blush, 20-year-old Ali Hussein looks as if he just stepped out of the Montgomery Mall.

With his tan canvas shoes, tight-fitting jeans and a draw-string graphic shirt, he smiles as he speaks - a soft, easy cadence that puts listeners at ease.

He dreams of going to college to study computer science. He fusses over his hair, and he worries about his two brothers and his parents.
But he has one big problem most mall rats never consider.
“I live in the jungle. This is what the French call it.”
“The Jungle” is a notorious refugee camp outside of this famous French port city and is home to 6,000 to 9,000 people, depending on who does the counting. The French government claims the former while residents claim the latter.


The one-man Imam Islamic band in Germantown

  • Published in Local

Imam Chef 1Imam Ammar Naijar makes food for his flock.  PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

GERMANTOWN – Imam Ammar Najjar knows his way around the Islamic Society of Germantown.

The native of Jordan begins his day by arriving at the mosque on Blunt Road in time to unlock the doors and welcome anyone attending to the 5 a.m. prayer service.

He then proceeds to lead the service.

"I change hats," Najjar said.

As right hand man to Chairman Magdi Hassanien, Najjar oversees the office and maintenance work.

The 49-year-old also serves as the chef for Friday lunch, which means he spends part of Thursday at the grocery store and in the downstairs kitchen.


County officials reach out to members of local Muslim community

  • Published in Local


Ike Leggett Islamic event 7-7-16County Executive Ike Leggett, right, and Council President Nancy Floreen show support for local Muslims.  PHOTO BY JAKE BRODSKY  

GERMANTOWN – Montgomery County officials signed a solidarity proclamation to show its support for the county's Muslim population Thursday afternoon during a signing ceremony at the Islamic Society of Germantown.

"You are respected and in fact, you are valued," County Executive Ike Leggett said at the ceremony after the end of Ramadan.

Leggett and County Council President Nancy Floreen (D), stated in the proclamation, "We will not tolerate the acts of hatred against Muslims. We encourage all residents to join us in solidarity to proclaim that every ethnicity, race, and religion are valued and respected in Montgomery County."


Float like a butterfly

IMG 2030

The first major award Muhammad Ali received as a boxer was the “Paul Karem” memorial award when he won the local Golden Gloves championship in 1960.

Named after my great-uncle, it is symbolic to me of how Ali personally touched my own life.

I take issue with a recent article I read which said my hometown never really came to terms with Ali and some still called him “Cassius Clay”.

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I can assure you this Lebanese white boy born and bred in Louisville Kentucky not only accepted him for who he was, but what he stood for – honor, dignity, rebellion and respect.

I’ve traveled across the world and in most parts of the world I’ve been met with indifference when I talk of my birth city. Many simply have never heard of it – or don’t know where it is. But mention Muhammad Ali and everyone I’ve ever met recognizes his name.


Seeing and saying something

In the world of medicine and combating life threatening diseases there are two primary paths to follow. The path chosen is ordinarily dictated by whether the patient has been infected with a life threatening disease or has not. If the individual, for example let's say a cancer patient, is undergoing treatment that treatment would normally include some chemotherapy combined with radiation to attempt to destroy the malignancy that is rearing its ugly head in the patient. For all those who have not yet been infected by a life threatening disease, the focus is ordinarily on prevention, such as no smoking, proper diet and the like.

Contrary to the ego-driven rhetoric of some of the presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump to be more specific, the same paths are required when dealing with ISIS. Limiting their response to a military action against existing terrorists without addressing the ever growing recruitment problem only serves to demonstrate their complete misunderstanding of how to deal with this deadly threat not just in the immediate but for the long term.

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