Zahid N Quraishi to be first ever Muslim federal judge in US history

News Network
March 31, 2021

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Washington, Mar 31: President Biden on Tuesday nominated Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, a move that would make the Army veteran the first-ever lifetime-appointed Muslim federal judge if confirmed. 

"This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession," the White House said in a statement Tuesday about a list that also included 10 other nominees. "Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong."

Quraishi was appointed in 2019 to be a magistrate judge in the District of New Jersey by the judges he now seeks to join on the bench. A magistrate judge is not technically considered a member of the federal bench the same way a district court or circuit judge is because the position is not outlined in the Constitution's Article III and magistrate judges are not appointed by the president. 

Magistrate judges are assigned by statute to oversee some matters and may also be delegated tasks by bona fide district judges.

Quraishi, who is of Pakistani descent, got his law degree from Rutgers Law School, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.

Quraishi was a military prosecutor with the JAG Corps during his time in the Army and did deployments in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, according to his Rutgers bio page. He later worked with the Department of Homeland Security then served as a federal prosecutor in the District of New Jersey.

The Biden nominee has also received several honors for his work, according to his Rutgers bio, including the 2019 New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association Trailblazer of the Year Award.

Just before his magistrate judge appointment, Quraishi worked in white collar private practice at the law firm Riker Danzig, according to Rutgers, where he was also the chief diversity officer.

"The first Muslim-American who was nominated to serve on the federal bench was denied that opportunity to serve and that was Abid Qureshi," said Lena Zwarensteyn, the fair courts campaign senior director at the liberal Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. Qureshi was nominated in late 2016, just months before former President Barack Obama left office. 

"It is certainly time that there is much more representation in terms of various faiths or even no faith on the bench," Zwarensteyn said. 

There are no hearings or votes scheduled for Quarishi or any of Biden's other nominees in the Senate, and it is not clear how fast the Senate Judiciary Committee will move forward with the nominations. 

"The Senate will work quickly to confirm President Biden’s superb and accomplished judicial picks," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Tuesday. "America is so much better when our rich diversity is reflected in every aspect of society, especially our justice system. We will have hearings and confirm judges to fill the growing number of vacancies on the federal bench and significantly mitigate the influence of Donald Trump’s unqualified, right-wing judges."

But Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, aimed to pump the brakes on speeding the nominees through committee -- while also leaving open the possibility that Republicans could back some Biden's judiciary picks. 

"The Judiciary Committee must evaluate each nominee on his or her merits and qualifications. The committee should give them a hard look to see if they have the experience, the temperament, and the commitment to the Constitution necessary to be a federal judge," Grassley said. "We should neither be a rubber stamp, nor should we oppose nominees as a matter of course, as many Democrats did during the Trump administration."

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News Network
January 30,2023

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Mangaluru, Jan 30: The police inaction against Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Sharan Pumpwell who delivered two communally provocative speeches in two days in two places of Karnataka and openly defended massacre of Muslims has sparked alarm in poll-bound Karnataka. 

In Tumakuru

Sharan Pumpwell, the Pranth Saha Karyadarshi of VHP attended the Shaurya Yathre event of Bajrang Dal held in Tumakuru Saturday, January 28, and defended the 2002 Gujarat carnage, saying: “We have killed 2,000 people as revenge for the murder of 59 kar sevaks.”

“…None of the Hindus sat at home with their hands tied. They all got down to the streets. They entered each house. 59 kar sevaks were killed but the count of the number of people who were killed as revenge is still not available. It is estimated that around 2,000 people were killed. This is the bravery of Hindus,” he added. 

Referring to the murder of one Mohammed Fazil, 23, near Surathkal in Mangaluru, Pumpwell said: “In order to respond to the murder of BJP leader Praveen Nettaru, youths in Surathkal killed him; not in an isolated place but in an open market. This is the power of Hindu youths.”

Responding to former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s statement that Dakshina Kannada was becoming a Hindutva factory, Pumpwell said: “Siddaramaiah says that Dakshina Kannada district is becoming a Hindutva factory. Not only Dakshina Kannada, but Tumakuru will also become a Hindutva factory. And in the coming days, all districts in Karnataka will turn into Hindutva factories.”

In Dakshina Kannada

The very next day, i.e. on Sunday, January 29, Sharan Pumpwell addressed the Shourya Yatre, organised by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal at Ullal in Dakshina Kannada district and reiterated that Hindutva activists murdered Mohammed Fazil to avenge Praveen Nettaru’s murder in Sullia.

“Hindus showed their power in Gujarat and it is not a massacre. Bajrang Dal is ready to fight if needed. When Praveen Nettaru was murdered, the entire Hindu community wept.

We wept for the sacrifice of a good karyakartha. But our karyakartas did not keep quiet. We killed Fazil in public view in Surathkal. You must have seen the video, of how brutally he was murdered. That is our power,” Sharan said.

He further said there is a need for a Hindu MLA at Ullal. “There may be many terrorists in Ullal. If NIA conducts searches, they need to be traced. Though PFI is banned, their workers are plotting to murder our activists,” he said.

Demand for arrest

Meanwhile, condemning Mr. Pumpwell’s statement State president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) Muneer Katipalla said in a statement in Mangaluru that he should be arrested for making, what the DYFI said, provocative statement.

“Mr. Pumpwell’s speech prompted genocide,” Mr. Katipalla said.

The DYFI said that the VHP leader in his speech has threatened about making more such attacks by the Sangh Parivar. He had even justified Gujarat riots.

“This is a matter of grave concern. His speech has created fear psychosis in the minds of people and has aimed at polarising the society ahead of State Assembly elections. There should be a re-investigation into the murder of Fazil. As the VHP leader has openly justified the Surathkal murder, the role of Mr. Pumpwell and other Sangh Parivar leaders should be probed,” Mr. Katipalla said.

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News Network
February 7,2023

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Istanbul, Feb 7: Rescuers struggled to save people trapped under the rubble as the death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria reached almost 5,000, according to reports. 

Since the first 7.8 magnitude quake, the region has seen five major temblors that have toppled entire apartment blocks, wrecking hospitals, and leaving thousands more people injured or homeless.

As rescue operations continued, freezing winter weather hampered search efforts for survivors through the night. Temperatures fell close to freezing overnight, worsening conditions for people trapped under rubble or left homeless, news agency Reuters reported. 

The earthquake on Monday in Turkey and Syria was the biggest recorded worldwide by the US Geological Survey since a tremor in the remote South Atlantic in August 2021.

Through the night, survivors used their bare hands to pick over the twisted ruins of multi-storey apartment blocks -- trying to save family, friends and anyone else sleeping inside when the first massive 7.8-magnitude quake struck early Monday.

"Where is my mum?" asked a distraught seven-year-old girl who was pulled -- her face, hair and pyjamas covered in dust -- from a collapsed building in Hatay, on the Turkish side of the border.

The sense of disbelief was widespread, as residents struggled to comprehend the scale of the disaster.

"We thought it was the apocalypse," said Melisa Salman, a 23-year-old reporter in the southeastern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.

Some of the heaviest devastation occurred near the quake's epicentre between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, a city of two million where entire blocks now lie in ruins under gathering snow.

As residents tried to clear a mountain of masonry, plasterboard and furniture that had been a multi-story building, another collapsed nearby -- sending crowds screaming and clamouring for safety.

With aftershocks continuously rattling the area, many terrified and exhausted survivors spent the night outdoors, too afraid to go home.

Some huddled under bus shelters, some wrapped themselves in plastic to repel the freezing rain and others burned debris to keep warm.

Mustafa Koyuncu packed his wife and their five children into their parked car.

"We can't go home," the 55-year-old told AFP. "Everyone is afraid."

Turkey's relief agency AFAD put the latest death toll at 3,381 in that country alone -- bringing the confirmed tally in both Turkey and Syria to 4,890.

There are fears that the toll will rise inexorably, with World Health Organization officials estimating up to 20,000 may have died.

"There is a family I know under the rubble," said 20-year-old student Omer El Cuneyd in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa.

"Until 11:00 am or noon, my friend was still answering the phone. But she no longer answers. She is down there."

Overwhelmed medics struggled to treat the estimated 20,000 injured.

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- All and any -

The US Geological Survey said Monday's first earthquake struck at 4:17 am (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 18 kilometres (11 miles).

The initial earthquake was so powerful it was felt as far away as Greenland and was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude tremor that struck in the middle of search and rescue work on Monday.

The impact was devastating and sparked a global response, with dozens of nations from Ukraine to New Zealand vowing to send help.

But a winter blizzard has covered major roads into the area in ice and snow and officials said three major airports have been rendered inoperable, complicating deliveries of vital aid.

Much of the quake-hit area of northern Syria has already been decimated by years of war and aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russia forces that destroyed homes, hospitals and clinics.

The conflict is already shaping the emergency response, with Syria's envoy to the United Nations Bassam Sabbagh seemingly ruling out reopening border crossings that would allow aid to reach areas controlled by rebel groups.

The Syrian health ministry reported damage across the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus, where Russia is leasing a naval facility.

Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo -- Syria's pre-war commercial hub -- often collapsed due to the dilapidated infrastructure.

Officials cut off natural gas and power supplies across the region as a precaution, and also closed schools for two weeks.

The UN cultural agency UNESCO expressed fears over heavy damage in two cities on its heritage list -- Aleppo in Syria and Diyarbakir in Turkey.

At a jail holding mostly Islamic State group members in northwestern Syria, prisoners mutinied after the quakes, with at least 20 escaping, a source at the facility told AFP.

The United States, the European Union and Russia all immediately sent condolences and offers of help.

President Joe Biden promised his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the United States will send "any and all" aid needed to help recover from a devastating earthquake.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also offered to provide "the necessary assistance" to Turkey, whose combat drones are helping Kyiv fight the Russian invasion.

Chinese state media said on Tuesday that Beijing was sending rescuers, medical teams and other supplies.

Turkey is in one of the world's most active earthquake zones.

The country's last 7.8-magnitude tremor was in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern Erzincan province.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, when more than 17,000 people died.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.

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- Election test for Erdogan -

The quake struck at 04:17 am (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometres (11 miles) near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is home to around two million people, the US Geological Survey said.

Turkey's AFAD emergencies service centre put the quake's magnitude at 7.7, updating an initial estimate of 7.4.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be under intense pressure to oversee an effective response to the disaster heading to a tightly-contested May 14 election, conveyed his sympathies and urged national unity.

"We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage," the Turkish leader tweeted.

Washington, the European Union, and Russian all immediately sent condolences and offers of help.

Turkey also received a message of support from its historic rival Greece, whose relations with Ankara have suffered from a spate of border and cultural disputes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered to provide "the necessary assistance" to Turkey, whose combat drones are helping Kyiv fight the Russian invasion.

And Iran, which together with Russia is trying to help Ankara restore its relations with Damascus following its efforts to help oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sent separate messages of condolence to both sides.

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- 'People under rubble' -

Images on Turkish television showed rescuers digging through rubble across city centres and residential neighbourhoods of almost all the big cities running along the border with Syria.

Some of the heaviest devastation occurred near the quake's epicentre between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, where entire city blocks lay in ruins under the gathering snow.

Kahramanmaras Governor Omer Faruk Coskun said it was too early to estimate the death count because so many buildings were destroyed.

"It is not possible to give the number of dead and injured at the moment because so many buildings have been destroyed," Coskun said. "The damage is serious."

A famous mosque dating back to the 13th century partially collapsed in the province of Maltaya, where a 14-story building with 28 apartments housed 92 people also collapsed.

In other cities, social media posts showed a 2,200-year-old hilltop castle built by Roman armies in Gaziantep lying in ruins, its walls partially turned to rubble.

"We hear voices here -- and over there, too," one rescuer was overheard as saying on NTV television in front of a flattened building in the city of Diyarbakir.

"There may be 200 people under the rubble."

"This makes search and rescue efforts dangerous."

Turkey is in one of the world's most active earthquake zones.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, when more than 17,000 people died --including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.

The last 7.8-magnitude tremor shook Turkey in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern Erzincan province

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January 27,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 27: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai appeared to have lost his cool as he snatched a microphone from the hands of a seer seated beside him during a public event on Thursday in Bengaluru's Mahadevapura to respond to criticism.

During the event, seer Eshwaranandapuri Swami raised the issue of flooding and poor infrastructure in the constituency and blamed politicians for the trouble.

Bommai responded saying that he is not someone who only gives assurances but someone gets work done. He added that he has released funds to find a solution to these problems.

A few months back, the residents of Mahadevapura were ravaged by floods following heavy rainfall affecting normal life. 

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