Archive for April, 2007
I personally can not imagine what the community is going through, what they are feeling, and how they are coping with all this; but my heart and prayers go out to all the families and anyone who has been effected by this tragedy.
Virginia Tech Struggles to Return to Normal
For one thing, only three-quarters of the student body had returned to classrooms. The others remained reluctant to come back or had taken advantage of the university’s offer to take the rest of the semester off. Many of those who returned refused to talk to the remaining reporters, hoping to give the university a chance to escape the echoes of the killings.
In addition, some departments simply could not open their doors and begin teaching again. Norris Hall, the engineering building that was the site of 30 of the 32 killings, has been taped off by the police, and Ishwar K. Puri, chairman of the department of engineering, science and mechanics, said he was trying to find out whether it would be demolished and what could be salvaged.
“In many cases, our faculty and students do not have access to their scientific data, their notes, their personal libraries, their experimental equipment or a lifetime worth of results,” Professor Puri said of Norris Hall, which holds the laboratories where many of his 80 doctoral students and 25 master’s students work. “Imagine going to work and finding no workplace and no records.”
The students whose teachers were among the five engineering and language faculty members killed were reassigned to other classes Monday.
Dr. Puri said that since his students were blocked from their research and lacked some of the professors they needed, some of them might have to delay finishing their dissertations. That, in turn, could mean an end to their grant money.
The police have pulled from the university’s servers all of the e-mail of the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, as well as that of Emily J. Hilscher, a police spokeswoman confirmed Monday. Ms. Hilscher was one of the first two students killed, in the West Ambler Johnston dormitory.
The spokeswoman, Corinne N. Geller, said the police were still analyzing that information as well as cellphone records and computers. “We have not been able to make a definite link between Cho and Ms. Hilscher,” Ms. Geller said, “but we are still processing all that information.”
Another law enforcement official said it appeared that Mr. Cho had not attended any classes in the month since his parents dropped him off on campus after Easter break. The official said Mr. Cho appeared to have used that time to buy supplies and make other preparations for the shootings.
The authorities also confirmed Monday that Mr. Cho had fired all the shots, officially ruling out the possibility of a second gunman.
The burden of finding alternative locations for the classes that had been held at Norris Hall fell largely on the registrar’s office, which tried to match students and classes with available space in other buildings.
“They had to pull up all the data,” said Mark Owczarski, the university’s director of news and information. “You’re dealing with several dozen faculty offices in Norris Hall and several hundred students. They identified all the affected individuals, contacted them all and found new locations for all the classes.”
Rooms in the more than 100 campus buildings appropriate for lectures were used for the relocated classes. In addition, Mr. Owczarski said, several classes were moved to a nearby corporate research park used by start-up companies.
During meetings last week, professors questioned whether a week was enough time to allow students to stay away. University officials decided that canceling the rest of the academic year was an extreme step and that many students might find returning to campus therapeutic. In the end, Virginia Tech officials asked professors to set aside time to discuss the violent events before moving on to regular course work.
In one freshman chemistry class, which had attendance above 80 percent, a university T-shirt and a bouquet of flowers were placed on a seat to signify a member of the class who had been killed, said Joe Merola, the chemistry department chairman.
“I lost it halfway through class,” Dr. Merola said. “I burst into tears and had to turn it over to the counselors.”
After a lengthy discussion of the shootings and the victims, and how to finish out the semester, the class was eventually able to move on to chemistry, he said.
The campus paused momentarily at 9:45 a.m. on the drillfield, the center of campus life, as a single bell tolled exactly a week after the shootings. A minute later, the bell rang 32 more times as a white balloon was released with each toll.
Some students carried bouquets to lay at the impromptu memorials scattered across campus. Three police officers stood, hands on their gun belts, in front of Norris Hall.
Akash Patel, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, who was back on campus after spending the weekend with friends in Northern Virginia, said the university had been very accommodating. “But I’m stuck here, actually,” he said.
Mr. Patel explained that he had decided to finish his classes largely because he had already bought a nonrefundable plane ticket back home to Fremont, Calif., in May.
Other students said they were still figuring out whether to stay.
Xiaomo Liu, a graduate student in computer science from China, said that since he was working with two other students on a research project, he would have to come to a shared decision about stopping the project now or forging ahead with the research.
“If it is anything like last week, we will not be able to focus,” he said. “We will meet and decide whether to take the grade or not. But I am not even sure if we will be able to do that. One group member went to New Hampshire.”
Karan Grewal, 21, a former suitemate of Mr. Cho, said he had decided to finish classes to avoid ending his college career on such a grim note. But Mr. Grewal said he still did not feel comfortable being near Norris Hall.
“It’s just too sad,” he said.
Nikolas Macko, who joined other students in barricading a door to prevent Mr. Cho from entering their Norris Hall classroom during his killing spree, said he was not apprehensive about returning to the building.
“It was a random event, and I’m hopeful that it was independent and isolated,” Mr. Macko said. “For me, that’s the only way we can move forward.”
Personally speaking I continue to get more and more disappointed in myself as I think about life, the actions that I am taking in life, what I should be doing with my life, what I am not, all of these things I find myself thinking about and trying to figure out how to improve myself. It makes me wonder, is it just human nature to try to brush it off and try to live by the “lets enjoy life” motto and just have a good time all the time and then have those sluggish moments in life when we sit and think about serious things because we are forced to because of the hurtful events that are taking place around us. Not that having a good time, or enjoying life is a bad thing, but too much of it doesn’t do us all any good does it? I mean when do we sit down and think “hm How is this going to benefit my Akhirah?” I mean if you do then SubhanAllah please teach me your ways and help me out. I mean personally I try to every now and then think about what I am doing to help my Akhirah, and then sometimes I try to forget about it.
But I guess since lately I’ve been trying to teach my self to try to control my emotions and I ahve been trying ot get in the habit of remember that everything that I do has an effect, good or bad, will impact my future, and remembering that everything really does happen for a reason. (Even though at times we may not know what that reason may be but we have to learn how to wait it out.) I think by keeping that little fact tucked away in the back of my head all the time helps me go on, helps prevent me from having those breakdowns, and with help from my parents and older brother giving me a slap on the face with the correct use of words-this all helps me get through each day. It was the other day that my brother told me that I shouldn’t get upset when things are going bad, or if it seems that “life is being unfair” because it seems that everything is going wrong; we should think about the Ambiya and what they have gone through and our Rabb puts the ones he loves through difficulty. After putting some thought into this statement, it really just put a smile on my face and a little tear in my eye because of how I was being so stupid and how much sense it made. I was sitting and getting upset over colleges and silly little things in life because they weren’t working out the way I wanted them to. I’ve learned that at times like these we must try to gain control of our emotions and look at how fortunate we are because no matter what there’s always someone who lacks something that you have and we all just have to learn how to be thankful for what has been placed before us and say Hamdulillah Of course, no one is perfect and we all have place for improvement, the important part is that we actually do take that chance and try to improve ourselves. I am trying to change myself for the better and make du’a that whatever changes I have made has beautified my characteristics in a way that resembles the characteristics that my Rabb would be happy with me.
Lately I’ve been doing nothing but studying for my exams and haven’t had a chance do do anything. Today I was looking at some blogs and I found a n interesting video posted by Travelers on the Path of Knowledge, I think its a pretty interesting video if you have a chance watch it:
At this point in the year, everyone’s stress levels are beginning to be maxed out, whether it be IB exams, AP exams, or finals for college students, it all adds up. So some laughs are always good, this clip always makes me laugh which I believe is a pretty good thing
P.S. good luck on whatever exams you all have and please keep me in your du’as for all the exams that I will be taking soon.
FOR Aysha Hussain, getting dressed each day is a fraught negotiation. Ms. Hussain, a 24-year-old magazine writer in New York, is devoted to her pipe-stem Levi’s and determined to incorporate their brash modernity into her wardrobe while adhering to the tenets of her Muslim faith. “It’s still a struggle,” Ms. Hussain, a Pakistani-American, confided. “But I don’t think it’s impossible.”
Ms. Hussain has worked out an artful compromise, concealing her curves under a mustard-tone cropped jacket and a tank top that is long enough to cover her hips.
Some of her Muslim sisters follow a more conservative path. Leena al-Arian, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, joined a women’s worship group last Saturday night. Her companions, who sat cross-legged on prayer mats in a cramped apartment in the Hyde Park neighborhood, were variously garbed in beaded tunics, harem-style trousers, gauzy veils and colorful pashminas. Ms. Arian herself wore a loose-fitting turquoise tunic over fluid jeans. She covered her hair, neck and shoulders with a brightly patterned hijab, the head scarf that is emblematic of the Islamic call to modesty.
Like many of her contemporaries who come from diverse social and cultural backgrounds and nations, Ms. Arian has devised a strategy to reconcile her faith with the dictates of fashion — a challenge by turns stimulating and frustrating and, for some of her peers, a constant point of tension.
Injecting fashion into a traditional Muslim wardrobe is “walking a fine line,” said Dilshad D. Ali, the Islam editor of Beliefnet.com, a Web site for spiritual seekers. A flash point for controversy is the hijab, which is viewed by some as a politically charged symbol of radical Islam and of female subjugation that invites reactions from curiosity to outright hostility.
In purely aesthetic terms, the devout must work to evolve a style that is attractive but not provocative, demure but not dour — friendly to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“Some young women follow the letter of the rule,” Ms. Ali observed. Others are more flexible. “Maybe their shirts are tight. Maybe the scarf is not really covering their chest, and older Muslim women’s tongues will wag.”
The search for balance makes getting dressed “a really intentional, mindful event in our lives every day,” said Asra Nomani, the outspoken author of “Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam” (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). Clothing is all the more significant, Ms. Nomani said, because what a Muslim woman chooses to wear “is a critical part of her identity.”
Many younger women seek proactively to shape that identity, adopting the hijab without pressure from family or friends, or from the Koran, which does not mandate covering the head.
“Family pressure is the exception, not the rule,” said Ausma Khan, the editor of Muslim Girl, a new magazine aimed at young women who, when it come to dress, “make their own personal choice.”
The decision can be difficult. Today few retailers cater to a growing American Muslim population that is variously estimated to be in the range of three to seven million. “Looking for clothes that are covering can be a real challenge when you go to a typical store,” Ms. Khan said.
Only a couple of years ago, Nordstrom conducted a fashion seminar at the Tysons Corner Center mall in McLean, Va., a magnet for affluent Muslim women in suburban Washington. The store sought to entice them with a profusion of head scarves, patterned blouses and subdued tailored pieces, but for the most part missed the nuances, said shoppers who attended the event. They were shown calf-length skirts and short-sleeve jackets of a type prohibited for the orthodox, who cover their legs and arms entirely.
“For me the biggest struggle is to find clothes in the department stores,” said Ms. Arian, who has worn the hijab since she was 13. She scours the Web and stores like Bebe, Zara, Express and H & M for skirts long enough to meet her standards. The majority, gathered through the hips, are “not very flattering on women with curves,” she said, chuckling ruefully, “and a lot of Middle Eastern women have curves.”
Maryah Qureshi, a graduate student in Chicago, has a similarly tricky time navigating conventional stores. “When we do find a sister-friendly item,” she said, “we tend to buy it in every color.”
Tam Naveed, a young freelance writer in New York, has devised an urbane uniform, tweed pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a snugly fastened scarf that dramatically sets off her features.
Ms. Nomani, the author, improvises her own head covering by wearing a hoodie or a baseball cap to mosque. “I call it ghetto hijab,” she said tartly. For everyday, she buys shirtdresses at the Gap. “They cover your backside, but they’re still the Gap. That kind of gives you a visa between the two worlds.”
In its fashion pages, Muslim Girl addresses concerns about fashion by encouraging young readers to mix and match current designs from a variety of sources, and reinforces the message that religion and fashion need not be mutually exclusive.
“We are trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what women want,” Ms. Khan said. Fashion pages, shown alongside columns offering romantic advice and articles on saving the environment, are among the more popular for the magazine’s teenage readers, she said, adding that the magazine’s circulation of 50,000 is expected to double next year.
Aspiring style-setters also find inspiration on retail Web sites like Artizara.com, which offers a high-neck white lace shirtdress and a sleeveless wrap jumper; and thehijabshop.com, with its elasticized hijabs, which can be slipped over the head.
Some women seek out fashions from a handful of designers who cater to them. “I think people like me are starting to see that Muslim women make up a significant market and are expressing their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Brooke Samad, a 28-year-old Muslim woman who designs kimono-sleeve wrap coats and floor-length interpretations of the pencil skirt out of a guest room in her home in Highland Hills, N.J.
“We follow trends, but we do keep to our guidelines,” said Ms. Samad, whose label is called Marabo. “And we’re careful with the fabrics to make sure they aren’t too clingy.”
Today fashion itself is more in tune with the values of Islam, revealing styles having given way to a relatively modest layered look. Elena Kovyrzina, the creative director of Muslim Girl, pointed to of-the-moment runway designs, any one of which might be appropriate for the magazine’s fashion pages: a voluminous Ungaro blouse with a high neck and full, flowing sleeves; a billowing Marni coat discreetly belted at the waist; and a Prada satin turban. Among the more free-spirited looks Ms. Kovyrzina singled out was a DKNY long-sleeve shirt and man-tailored trousers, topped with a hair-concealing baseball cap.
There are Muslim women who choose to cover as part of a journey of self-discovery. In “Infidel” (Free Press, 2007), her memoir of rebellion, Ayaan Hirsi Ali recalls as a girl wearing a concealing long black robe. “It had a thrill to it,” Ms. Hirsi Ali writes, “a sensuous feeling. It made me feel powerful: underneath this screen lay a previously unsuspected but potentially lethal femininity. I was unique.”
But adopting the hijab also invites adversity. A survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations last year found that nearly half of Americans believe that Islam encourages the oppression of women. Referring to that survey, Ms. Hussain, the New York journalist, observed, “Many of these people think, ‘Oh, if a woman is covered, she must be oppressed.’ ”
Still, after 9/11, Ms. Hussain made a point of wearing the hijab. “Politically,” she said, “it lets people know you’re not trying to hide from them.”
Among the young, Ms. Nomani said, “there is a pressure to show your colors.”
“Young people aren’t empowered enough to change foreign policy,” she said, so they adopt a hybrid of modern and Muslim garb, which is “their way to say, ‘I’m Muslim and I’m proud.’ ”
Such bravado has its perils. Jenan Mohajir, a member of the prayer group near the University of Chicago, spoke with some bitterness about being waylaid as she traveled. Ms. Mohajir, who works with the Interfaith Youth Core, which promotes cooperation among religions, recalled an official at airport security telling her: “You might as well step aside. You have too many clothes on.”
What was she wearing? “Jeans, a tunic, sandals and a scarf.”
Ms. Hussain no longer covers her head but has adopted a look meant to play down misconceptions without compromising her piety. “Living in New York,” she said, “has made me want to experiment more with colors and in general to be more bold. I don’t want to scare people. I want them to say, ‘Wow!’ ”
She has noticed a like-minded tendency among her peers. “In the way that we present ourselves to the rest of the world, we are definitely lightening up.”
Source: The New York Times
Ugandan army ‘kills 66 children’
Sixty-six children were killed in eastern Uganda during an army operation against suspected cattle rustlers, UK charity Save the Children says.
They were shot by soldiers, run over by armoured vehicles or crushed by stampeding animals last month.
The aid group said it had not found physical evidence of the alleged deaths in Karamoja, but had consistent reports after interviewing some 200 people.
The army denied the allegations, saying only adults were killed in the raids.
The BBC’s Sarah Grainger in Uganda says there has been an increase in violence in Karamoja since the army began its disarmament programme in May last year.
“I saw many children killed, including my own son,” one woman in Kaputh village near Kothido town told the BBC.
“He was with the livestock, trying to untie them so they could escape the firing. But he got crushed by the animals as they tried to run away.” Other villagers said the raid began at 0800 on 12 February.
A village elder greeted the army forces thinking they were carrying out a disarmament exercise, but was shot dead.
“I ran away like many people and when I came back both of my young sons were missing. Up till now I cannot find them so I think they were killed,” another man said.
Army spokesman in Karamoja Lieutenant Henry Obbo said a five-day disarmament exercise had begun in the area on 10 February.
But when some warriors resisted the operation they opened fire on the army.
He said 52 warriors and four soldiers were killed in the incident, but no children were involved.
Save the Children has called for an independent investigation into the events at Kaputh.
“Reports of children being killed in indiscriminate, illegal and inhumane ways is absolutely devastating. Such allegations must be fully investigated and those involved brought to account,” Save the Children’s Valter Tinderholt said, Reuters news agency reports.
Source: BBC News