WBEZ | CIOGC http://www.wbez.org/tags/ciogc Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Imam sex abuse charges prompt calls for greater transparency http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated March 16, 2015 regarding the role of Abdul Malik Mujahid.</em></p><p dir="ltr">As the criminal trial gets underway for a prominent Islamic scholar charged with sexual assault, some Chicago-area Muslims are calling for an investigation into what community leaders may have known about prior allegations of misconduct.</p><p dir="ltr">Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, 75, has been criminally charged with assaulting a female employee at the Institute for Islamic Education, a religious school he founded in west suburban Elgin, Ill.</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, Saleem has also been accused in a civil lawsuit of assaulting three other females who were students at the school.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/the-culture-around-silence?in=wbez-worldview/sets/worldview-march-10-2015"><em>Worldview&#39;s</em>&nbsp;conversation on the culture of silence around abuse</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;A lot of people depended upon his advice,&rdquo; Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin said of Saleem. Kaiseruddin is chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the largest coalition of Muslim institutions in Illinois. &ldquo;So right now we are dealing with a dilemma that this person who is teaching the Quran to everybody was violating (the) Quran himself.&rdquo;</p><p>When the allegations first surfaced in early December, a number of people both inside and outside the leadership ranks, called on the Council to act. After much back and forth between members of its House of Representatives, a body made up of leaders of its member organizations and former Council chairmen, it issued a <a href="http://freepdfhosting.com/1394ef2106.pdf">statement</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;My thinking on this thing is that any sexual abuse, criminal abuse like this, cannot be kept secret, cannot be kept covered up,&rdquo; Kaiseruddin said. &ldquo;Justice has to be served.&rdquo;</p><p>But the statement prompted a furor of debate on social media. Critics said it wasn&rsquo;t strong enough in voicing unequivocal support for any victims of sexual violence. Others said it perhaps struck an overly-deferential tone toward Saleem. In the wake of that early statement, many have been heartened to see the Council adopt a firmer tone of support for <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/653-2-17-15-ciogc-chairman-applauds-the-courage-of-sexual-abuse-victims">victims</a> and <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/676-3-3-15-effective-steps-in-dealing-with-sexual-abuse">victims&rsquo; advocates</a>.</p><p>Yet some have accused the Council of sidestepping a potentially embarrassing and painful investigation of what its own leadership, and religious figures in the community, might have known about misconduct in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;The other component is to understand who within the community knew about this, and how we can address their understanding of what to do in these circumstances so we can prevent other victims from having to carry the burden into adulthood,&rdquo; said Humaira Basith, co-founder of the Mohammed Webb Foundation and a member of the CIOGC House of Representatives.</p><p>Basith pointed to the revelation that a member of the Council&#39;s House of Representatives, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, claimed to have heard about allegations against Saleem nearly ten years ago. In statements posted to Facebook and on the Council leadership listserv, Mujahid asserted that two religious leaders had quietly mediated a previous case involving a girl, that led to banning Saleem from offering Friday prayers at the mosque for two years. While Mujahid claimed to have heard this from one of those imams, he declined to identify them publicly.</p><p>&ldquo;And ultimately, that is really how the community came to know that this is a known issue with Abdullah Saleem,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. (AP)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IIE%20%28insert%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 444px; width: 300px;" title="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. " /></div><p>Mujahid, a former Council chairman, was unavailable for an interview. But in a written e-mail he stated:</p><p>&quot;I have championed the cause of opposing violence against women all my life. Many non-Muslim women have informed me of their ordeal. However, no Muslim victim has ever told me about a sexual crime nor have I been a part of any mediation.&nbsp;I have informed Elgin police about hearsay knowledge of a mediation dealing with Abdullah Salim. I believe, however, that only the victim or her chosen mediator can disclose it to (the) public. Filing a report with police is the best option in my view for any criminal activity rather than mediation.&quot;</p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s Note:&nbsp;We&#39;ve clarified Mujahid&#39;s role, the fact that he was unavailable for an interview and updated the paragraph above to include his full written statement.)</em></p><p>Basith said she has called on Council leadership to push harder to find out which imams may have known of cases of misconduct by Saleem. &ldquo;Those people need to be better trained in order to handle this so that the community has more transparency when these issues arise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s really the core of it, is that we have no transparency in order to rectify it for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>So far, other Council leaders have not taken up her call. &ldquo;Briefly, at this time the council does not feel the need to investigate and identify the imams,&rdquo; wrote Kaiseruddin in response to a query from WBEZ.</p><p>&ldquo;My guess is that these are answers they may not want to have,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><p>Still, Kaiseruddin, and many others, said the Council deserves credit for other steps it has taken. The Council is developing guidelines on sound bylaws for its member organizations, in order to avoid another situation where an administrator has unquestioned authority like Saleem did at IIE.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also reviewing sexual abuse policies at Islamic schools throughout the area.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody came to the conclusion they need to upgrade their policies, and they wanted CIOGC to play a role,&rdquo; said Kaiseruddin.</p><p>Eman Aly said the Council&rsquo;s involvement has done a lot of good in cracking open the taboo topic of sexual violence in the Muslim community.</p><p>&ldquo;People are talking about it, and that&rsquo;s what we wanted,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Friends of mine who are parents have been asking, &lsquo;how do we talk to our kids about this?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Aly, a social worker, helped persuade the only victim to file criminal charges against Saleem. She said she believes the Council should investigate whether leaders in Chicago&rsquo;s religious community know about other cases of misconduct &mdash; so that if there are more victims, they get help.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 05:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 Muslim group objects to DuPage zoning rules http://www.wbez.org/story/muslim-group-objects-dupage-zoning-rules-90626 <p><div style="background-color: transparent;"><p>A group of Muslim organizations in the Chicago area is calling on DuPage County's Board to review its zoning policies, saying they may violate a federal law that protects religious institutions. The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago is particularly concerned about the case of the Pin Oak Mosque, which was denied permission to build a dome in excess of the county’s 36-foot height restriction last week. The mosque’s leaders want to build the house of worship in unincorporated residential DuPage County, near west suburban Lombard.</p><p>Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul, head of the CIOGC, said he’s troubled by this because this is the second mosque that has recently run into trouble with the county’s height variations. Another, the Muslim Educational and Cultural Center of America, was denied permission to build a minaret, though the rest of the project was approved. Speaking of the Pin Oak project, Sahloul said he hopes the recent dome denial won’t kill the rest of the project. “I hope it's only (a) technical issue that can be dealt with,” said Sahloul. “Hopefully the permit can happen, and it's not a pattern of rejection of houses of worship in DuPage County.”</p><p>Sahloul said domes and minarets are just as symbolically important to Muslim houses of worship as spires and bell towers are to churches. But some county board members say the burden lies with zoning applicants to prove that without an exemption to county rules, they would experience hardship. The application for the height exemption was separate from the county’s consideration of the rest of the mosque development. The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to vote on the rest of the proposal at its August 23rd meeting.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div></p> Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/muslim-group-objects-dupage-zoning-rules-90626 Egypt news excites Chicago Muslims http://www.wbez.org/story/ciogc/egypt-news-excites-chicago-muslims <p><p>News of the resignation of Egypt&rsquo;s thirty-year ruler Hosni Mubarak sent waves of excitement through the Chicago area&rsquo;s Muslim community as they went to afternoon prayer services Friday. Egyptian-American worshipers at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois, cried with relief as they called the change a &ldquo;watershed moment&rdquo; in the history of Egypt and the Middle East. &ldquo;We are so proud,&rdquo; said Raba Gomaa during a press conference arranged by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.</p> <div>Though the change in Egypt&rsquo;s regime was announced just hours before the service began, it was the topic of Sheikh Jamal Said&rsquo;s sermon. &ldquo;We would like to congratulate our brothers and sisters in Egypt,&rdquo; said Said. &ldquo;The tyrant is gone, <span>Elhamdulillah. The tyrant is gone.&rdquo; In the women&rsquo;s worship space below, female congregants jubilantly greeted each other with the Arabic phrase that has become a refrain during the weeks of protest: &ldquo;Tahya Masr!&rdquo; (&ldquo;Long Live Egypt&rdquo;).</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The high emotions followed a period of deep despondency that set in with many Thursday, when Mubarak indicated in a speech that he had no intention of stepping down.&nbsp;But Karima Mohamed, who left Egypt roughly 20 years ago, said when she heard that speech she knew Mubarak&rsquo;s time was coming to an end. &ldquo;After two minutes we know something (was going to) happen,&rdquo; said Mohamed. &ldquo;The people (would) not accept it because he tried to play a game on the people, but the people over there, they're more smarter than what he did.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Others at the service said they believe the change in Egypt will ripple through the rest of the Middle East. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s 22 Arabic-speaking countries,&rdquo; said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, president of the CIOGC. &ldquo;Two of them are right now free: Tunisia and Egypt. Twenty are left.&rdquo;&nbsp;Oussama Jamal, Vice President of the Mosque Foundation, expressed similar hopes that the developments in Egypt won&rsquo;t stop at that country&rsquo;s borders. &ldquo;We hope it is a cold, and everybody will catch it soon,&rdquo; he said.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Many of the Egyptian-Americans said they are confident that their countrymen will successfully steer through the transition period to a peaceful and fair democracy, and they&rsquo;re looking forward to helping in any way they can. &ldquo;In ten years you can see you can see Egypt not less than Europe or America,&rdquo; said Mohamed. &ldquo;It will be in the top again, insh&rsquo;Allah.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 23:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ciogc/egypt-news-excites-chicago-muslims