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Jews donate money for imam

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    Provisions help feed his family Jewish charity bolsters Boston-area imam By Kristin Erekson Tuesday April 10 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2007
      Provisions help feed his family


      Jewish charity bolsters Boston-area imam
      By Kristin Erekson
      Tuesday April 10 2007
      http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/news/?content_id=2859


      Religious leaders on the South Shore are helping to ease the financial
      burden of an imam who was arrested last year as part of an ongoing
      investigation into a visa fraud scheme. Rabbi Barry Starr of Temple
      Israel in Sharon, the Rev. Deborah Cayer of the Unitarian Church of
      Sharon and Janet Penn, executive director of Interfaith Action Inc.,
      teamed up three weeks ago to form a campaign to raise money for
      humanitarian assistance for Imam Muhammad Masood.

      Masood, the former spiritual director at the Islamic Center of New
      England in Sharon, and his son, Hassan, were detained by U.S.
      Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on Nov. 15. The
      Pakistan natives were two out of 33 individuals who were questioned
      about the immigration ploy, which allegedly helped large numbers of
      illegal aliens fraudulently obtain religious worker visas to enter or
      remain in the states, according to a statement released by ICE.
      "We have known [Masood] to be a very good man who cares about the
      community and his family," said Starr, who would not reveal how much
      money has been raised so far for the imam. "It became clear that he
      was not going to be able to work and earn money, and that was an
      issue. This is the kind of thing we would do for any clergy person."

      Starr and Cayer distributed information throughout their congregations
      in late March, asking individuals to make tax-deductible contributions
      to the rabbi's discretionary fund at Temple Israel. The religious
      leaders said they are not making a statement about Masood's legal
      case, but rather they are raising money to be used to cover basic
      provisions for the imam and his family.

      "I've known the imam for almost 10 years and I think he's just a
      wonderful human being," Cayer added. "I am very concerned about him
      and his family and the spiritual community. I am also concerned about
      what is going on with civil and human rights not only in our country
      but also throughout the world."

      Waiting for his preliminary hearing at the John F. Kennedy Federal
      Office Building on April 10, Masood told the Advocate that times are
      tough for his wife and eight children. His inability to lead spiritual
      services, Masood said, is "killing" him and his community. But, he
      added, the support from the public has been a much-needed boost to his
      morale. He noted that he recently used the donations to buy groceries
      and clothing for his children - three of which are American citizens.

      "It is very touching that people are offering to help me," said
      Masood, 49. "It is a positive example of promoting interfaith
      cooperation and understanding and a peaceful existence. I really value
      this so much."

      William Joyce of the Boston law firm Joyce & Associates, the attorney
      for the Masoods, said the imam and members of his family are facing
      possible deportation. The hearing next week, he added, is a
      preliminary proceeding that will determine what avenues of relief are
      available. The case will review the denial of the imam's 2001
      application for a religious-worker visa, Joyce said, and his alleged
      failure to return to Pakistan in 1991 - a stipulation by a student
      visa he used to enroll at Boston University in 1998.

      While some within the community have been rallying around the imam,
      two local bloggers are looking at the case through a more critical
      eye. Martin "Sol" Solomon, well known for his [psycho Zionist]
      political blog, Solomonia.com, and "Miss Kelly," who asked to only be
      identified by her online moniker, created a petition in November
      applauding the ICE's efforts.

      "People are coming here illegally and circumventing the system," "Miss
      Kelly" previously told the Advocate. "Who cares how nice they are? Why
      should they get blanket support?"

      Yet, Janet Penn, who has organized many interfaith initiatives in
      Sharon, said it's important to create a culture of pluralism within
      the community.

      Added Penn: "[Masood] is a man that I know to be a kind human being
      and - as a Jewish person, I feel it's important to help someone in need."

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