Saturday, December 30, 2006

Concern over Eid (Opinion)

Dear friends,
Tomorrow, December 30, 2006 is the First day of the Eid ul-Adha for all Muslims around the world. On Eid days Muslims pray for peace and prosperity, but unfortunately the politicians never let Muslims have any moment of happiness. As most of you might already know, the execution of Saddam Hussein took place today. Allah knows how many innocent Muslims will die in the aftermath of the conflict between Shia and Sunny in Iraq following this execution. I am worried about the fact that politicians play with our destiny same as children play with toy. It is like chess; the politicians are the players; public are the instrument; the world is the chess board. Politicians have the right to think as long as they want; put the public in any position they want; and win their games in the way they want. We have to wake up. We have to feel a bit of responsibility towards ourselves, towards our children, and towards our religion. Isn’t it funny that Saddam Hussein’s trial took place right one day before the November election? I remember discussing it with some of my friends on campus. I told them that that specific day had been chosen from long time ago. I even told them to consider any upcoming important Islamic religious day. I remember telling them something is going to happen on Eid days too. The fact that I am writing this article is that I got a call from one of them saying that I was right. To be honest, I don’t care about Saddam Hussein. He was also a politician after all. I am worried about several other facts. The time of his execution had been chosen this day because of the fact that today is the Arafat, where millions of Muslims go to Arafat Mountain to perform their hajj—the fifth pillar of Islam. This was chosen to disrupt Muslims during their religious practices. Today was chosen to convert the happiness of Muslims to a tension. This was chosen to create bloodshed among Shea and Sunny in Iraq on the eve and days of Eid. I am worried about the future of the children of those Muslims who were killed in the day of the Eid of Ramadan this year in Iraq. I am worried about the children of those Muslims who will become orphans. The politicians think that we (public) are all fools. It is not true. We know every thing they do; we know what they have in their dirty minds. If so, then why aren't we reacting to their wrongdoings? Why are we watching them playing with our lives? Why aren’t we learning from their games? There is plenty of whys that are out there looking to be answered by the public. The reason we (public) are not reacting is because we are selfish, irresponsible, and arrogant. We don’t think those orphans are also humans. We don’t think those widows are part of us. We don’t think Iraqis and Afghans are humans like any other Arabs or Americans. I would like to remind you all that tolerating wrongdoing is a major sin in itself. We will be responsible for the death of all innocent Iraqis and Afghans, if we just keep quiet and mind our own businesses. Allah will punish us all on the Day of Judgment for this sin. Fear Allah and pray for his forgiveness. Do whatever in your power to bring this aimless war to an end. If you can’t do anything else, just pray for peace among Muslims around the world.

Wish you all a very peaceful Eid and prosperous New Year.

Written by: Noori

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fulbright scholarship for Afghan students

KABUL, Dec 22 (Pajhwok Afghan News): After the 9/11 attacks on Afghanistan, the U.S. focused on helping the educational system of the country by offering the Fulbright programme for the Afghan students for the first time in history of the war-wracked country.
The Fulbright programme not only covers full tuition and living expenses for the students, but also helps Afghan students in processing their visas for entry into the United States.
Afghanistans major issue throughout history had been the illiteracy of the majority of Afghan citizens. The highest degree a student can get in Afghanistan is a B.A. or B.S. or their equivalent.
It is hard for many Afghan students to study abroad. In addition to economical incapability, Afghan students face many political challenges that cause difficulties for them to study abroad.
The aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001 caused changes in the U.S. foreign policy toward Afghanistan, which resulted in the development of an educational relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Once the United States top rebel country, Afghanistan is now among the nations that receive U.S. military, financial, and educational support.
Afghan students wait years to become eligible for the Albright programme. One such student, Qais Faqiri, was in high school in 2004 when he heard from an American journalist that the first group of Afghan students made their way to the U.S.
Faqiri, who managed to seize the Fulbright opportunity this year, will come to the U.S. in 2007 as an undergraduate student. Faqiri said, I waited for three years before I became eligible for undergraduate. Faqiri is a sophomore in journalism at Balkh University, ranked second among five universities in Afghanistan. Faqiri sees the Fulbright as an opportunity that can change his life. Similar to many Afghan students, Faqiri has high expectations for this programme. He hasnt come to the U.S. yet, but he is already envisioning his bright future upon his return. As he said, When I get back, obviously, I will work in key position in my country, somewhere that I would be able to make a difference.
The Fulbright programme for Afghanistan is offered for different fields such as business, engineering, public health, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, environmental management, public administration, film, literature, journalism and communication. For Afghanistan, the programme is offered at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Mohammad Omar Sharifi, who is currently studying at Columbia University, will be the first Afghan with a Masters Degree in anthropology. Sharifi worked for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society (FCCS) in the capital city of Kabul in Afghanistan.
Sharifi was among some lucky Afghans who had access to the Internet in the office where he worked. He heard about the Fulbright programme from the U.S. embassy website.
Sharifi can see himself in two possible careers on his return to his countrya teacher in one of the universities in Afghanistan or a researcher in a cultural organization.
Sharifi waited for a year to get his visa to the United States after he completed the application for Fulbright. He said, You have to be patient because the process is very long and time consuming. Sharifi found the programme very diverse and completely different than what he was used to.
He said that in Afghanistan he was taught in a system where professors made students agree with what they thought. Sharifi said, [Here] they teach me not how to learn, but how to think and how to develop my own idea. . Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill to President Harry S. Truman in 1945, and the President signed it on August 1, 1946.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) oversees the Fulbright programme as an implementing partner for the U.S. Department of State, which funds the programme. IIEs Programme Officer for Afghanistan and South Asia, Jeremy Block, said that the number of grants Fulbright offers for each country depends on the amount of funds available for the programme. Block said, For 2007, we are expecting 30 grantees from Afghanistan. Students applying for the graduate programme must have completed a Bachelors degree programme at any accredited university and have some work experience. 470 score in TOFEL is requirement for the programme.