Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Peace Group Burns Almanacs to Protest "Ridiculous Government Policy!"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Peace Group Burns Almanacs to Protest "Ridiculous Government Policy!"

Article excerpt

"We're sending a message to John Ashcroft that Novato is terrorist free," quipped Don Foster, as he tossed an almanac onto a bonfire in front of the small town's City Hall, still festively decorated with Christmas lights. Some 20 members of Peace-Novato-an ad hoc group whose members also belong to the Marin Peace & Justice Coalition which was formed immediately after Sept. 11, 2001-participated in the Jan. 2 event as a spoof to protest a new FBI directive. On Dec. 24 an FBI intelligence bulletin sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide warned that terrorists might be using almanacs-reference books that provide statistical information on cities, states and national monuments-to plan new attacks. "This is a protest against a ridiculous government policy," Foster added. "What's next-telephone books?"

While some protesters tossed the encyclopedic books into the flames rising from a Weber barbeque, others carried signs reading, "Protest Civil Rights, Oppose the PATRIOT Act," "Almanac Amnesty Here," and "FBI Warning: Almanacs may be used by Terrorists." The group can be reached at .

Bam Earthquake Victims Remembered

On Jan. 3, some 200 people attended an interfaith memorial service hosted by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) in Oakland to remember the more than 35,000 people killed in the Dec. 26 earthquake in Bam, Iran. Prior to the earthquake, 80,000 people lived in this ancient Silk Road town, located 640 miles southeast of Tehran, the country's capital.

Sharing his thoughts with the Washington Report shortly before the evening service, ICCNC religious director Imam Hamid Mavani praised the community's generosity. "People are overwhelmingly kind," he said. "It's the way of the American people. The politics, bickering, discord and dissent is temporarily kept in abeyance, and the main issue is how to relieve human pain and suffering."

Along with Imam Mavani, Rabbi Samuel Broude of Temple Sinai and Rev. Jim Hopkins of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church offered prayers and reflection. ICCNC members Jafar Shenasa, Kazem Jabbari, Somayeh Bolourchi and Payma Amiri also participated in the service.

During the week following the quake-which measured 6.5 in magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey-the center raised $85,000 in donations, in addition to medical supplies, to help the survivors of the natural disaster.

The ICCNC has been a mainstay in the Bay Area Shi'i Muslim community since it opened its doors on Jan. 6, 1996 at its 38,000 square foot center in downtown Oakland, across from the city's main library. The center's exquisite main auditorium with a half-domeshaped ceiling seats 800 people. Beautiful handmade carpets cover the floor of the prayer hall, which accommodates 300 worshippers. In addition, a kitchen, large dining hall and five conference rooms make the center a desirable venue for holding conferences or seminars. The ICCNC has a membership of 1,800 households.

Contributions to the earthquake relief effort may be sent to the ICCNC, 1433 Madison St., Oakland, CA 94612. For more information, call (510) 832-7600.

Rally for Imprisoned Activist Kate Raphael

Supporters of human rights worker Kate Raphael gathered in front of the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco's financial district on Jan. 6 to protest the arrest, imprisonment and possible deportation of the Bay Area activist. Raphael, a member of the International Women's Peace Service, was arrested in Israel on Dec. …

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