Friday, July 31, 2009

Gaza war victims testify before UN panel

A reminder that the devastation, physical and emotional, of Israel's attack on Gaza still haunts the people of Gaza...

Gaza kids eye kite-flying world record

Even in Gaza, a child can have a moment of joy...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

H1N1 flu impacts plans for Hajj

To limit the possible health impact on those making the Hajj, new restrictions on those who can make the pilgrimage will be added this year. Ironic that the swine flu will keep some Muslims from making Hajj...pigs are just bad news!\07\24\story_24-7-2009_pg7_38

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rabbi Levy Rosenbaum arrested for brokering black market organ sales

A sad story of exploitation that you just couldn't make up: a New York rabbi, Levy Rosenbaum, has allegedly been working as a black market organ broker for the last ten years, in a network that includes 5 rabbis and 3 New Jersey mayors and which appears to be centered in Israel.

This is the first documented case of human donor organ trafficking in the United States and it is getting very little media coverage. Here are some newspaper excerpts:

NY Daily News
Rosenbaum was a middleman in a “kidney mafia” that includes doctors in Israel, a worldwide network of organ hunters, and brokers who match patients and donors with doctors who do the transplants, said Nancy Schepper-Hughes, founder of Organ Watch, which investigates trafficking.
NJ Star Ledger
He planned to give the donor $10,000, federal authorities said, and charged his client a handsome fee: $160,000.

"I am what you call a matchmaker," the complaint quotes Rosenbaum as telling the undercover agent.

Had the transaction been real, federal authorities said, it would have been the most recent chapter in Rosenbaum's 10-year career as an illicit middleman. In each case, he would take a blood sample from a prospective recipient and give it to an associate at an insurance company who could analyze it at a lab without arousing suspicion. The sample would then be shipped to Israel and the necessary people paid off to find a match.

"He preyed on vulnerable people, " said assistant U.S. District Attorney Mark McCarron.

Rosenbaum would then arrange the donor's flight to New York, including obtaining a visa, authorities said. Once the donor arrived in the U.S., Rosenbaum would help fabricate a relationship between the donor and recipient -- a story both would repeat during interviews with medical professionals. The two might pretend to be business associates, for instance, or close friends from a religious congregation.
Daily Record
The alleged decade-long scheme, exposed this week by an FBI sting, rocked the nation's transplant industry. If true, it would be the first documented case of organ trafficking in the U.S., transplant experts said Friday.


Scheper-Hughes said her research has uncovered hundreds of cases of illegal organ transactions brokered by and for Israelis in Israel, South Africa, Turkey and other countries, with sellers recruited from poor communities in Moldova, Brazil and elsewhere.
The sale of human organs is something that many bioethicists and religious groups oppose. All living donors in the United States are supposed to declare that their donation is free of any financial interest.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes gave an interview on BBC in 2008 about why she feels the sale of human solid organs is wrong.

A study published in JAMA in 2002 showed that, in India, where there are no restrictions on the sale of organs, "selling a kidney does not lead to a long-term economic benefit and may be associated with a decline in health" thus refuting the notion that organ trafficking can improve economic conditions among the poor.

One could only imagine horrific situations in which an uninsured patient suffering a heart attack were told that his hospital bill could disappear if only he sold his perfectly normal kidney...

...I'm glad that the wheels of justice are beginning to turn in this case and hope such exploitation is shut down...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Uighurs: China's Muslim Minority Claims to be Marginalized in Its Ancestral Homeland

It is important to note that China's repression of religion is a major cause of the unrest and if it simply allowed its people the right to worship, a lot of this struggle would be moot. This piece opens with a nice poem.

New movie: Captain Abu Raed

New movie out called Captain Abu Raed, directed by Amin Matalqa, a Jordanian-American who studied at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. It earned 90% on rottentomatoes and won a prize at the Sundance festival.

Here is a link to the trailer, a review in the San Jose Mercury News, another one on 360east.

Seems like a great story, let me know if any of you have seen it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Muslims hope for new era of understanding

A nice piece on Muslim Americans and their involvement in civic life...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Muslim Headscarves to be allowed in Georgia courtrooms

I'm glad common sense has finally caught on in Georgia...if it's okay for a nun, why isn't it okay for a Muslim woman? If freedom means the right to dress provocatively, why not also modestly? It's nice to see that the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, also supported this decision.

Read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Islam in Xinjiang: an ancient rival for a young China

Interesting piece on the positive role of Islam in the social life of Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang and the Communist repression of its expression. Here is an excerpt:

Other popular Islamic Uighur rituals fill roles that the government cannot. One, called the mäshräp, brings men together to perform, to read and discuss the Qur'an, and to mete out punishments for immoral behaviour in the community. In the city of Ghulja in the mid-1990s, these organisations became very influential, as they were popularly recognised as a force for positive social change, especially in addressing alcoholism and drug abuse. The groups even began to establish football clubs. In February 1997, the authorities cracked down on the groups, calling them illegal separatist gatherings. The government used football pitches for tank exercises and then cracked down violently on the subsequent protests. The groups became victims of the state's imperative to control every aspect of public life.