Islamic Center of Tucson board nominee profile: Kamel Didan

Editor’s Note: NOT an endorsement. The only purpose is for people to better understand a candidate that’s seeking their vote.


Chatter: Impression of the Nominees

Maqsood Ahmad (top left) Kamel Didan (top right) and Fayez Swailem (hand over mouth) are some of the nominees in the Islamic Center of Tucson’s upcoming board elections.

The second and final event to meet the people vying for a spot on the Islamic Center of Tucson’s board just ended. Which nominee did the best? Worst?

Board meeting canceled, might be sign of bigger problems

BOT Chairman Maqsood Ahmad, pictured, refused to say why yesterday’s General Assembly meeting was canceled. (Amer Taleb)

By Amer Taleb

     The refusal of the Islamic Center of Tucson’s Chairman to explain why yesterday’s board meeting was canceled could be a sign of deeper problems within his administration.

     Two ICT administrators said the abrupt cancelation was one of many indicators that the Board of Trustees, or BOT, is not functioning as one unit or within the bounds of the ICT Constitution.

     “In the BOT, there’s a lack of transparency, but there is iron fisted control,” said BOT member Houssam Eljerdi.

     Eljerdi said other BOT members frequently disregard procedures and that he was not told why yesterday’s meeting was canceled or what it would be about.

     As the ICT’s highest administrative authority, BOT powers include setting the ICT’s polices and budget, according to the ICT Constitution. It’s unclear how many BOT members there are because of removals and resignations, but the number is likely between five and seven.

     BOT Chairman Maqsood Ahmad refused repeatedly to say why the meeting was canceled or to respond to comments criticizing him.  The cancelation was announced at the ICT after Friday Prayers around 1 P.M. The meeting was scheduled for 7:30 that night. Nearly 100 people were expected to attend, according to Eljerdi.

     Public relations coordinator Ali Rustempasic made the verbal announcement and provided the Tucson Minaret with a written copy as well. It reads:

“BOT meeting has been postponed to 2/17 after isha (prayer) inshaAllah (God willing). This will allow us to present the feedback from the following committees;

a. Constitution Review committee

b. New Development committee

c. New membership committee”

 ** (prayer) and (God willing) added

     ICT Weekend School director Kamel Didan said he was very bothered by the Chairman’s refusal to explain the cancelation, especially since ICT administrative elections are roughly a month away and many people had questions about membership and voting.

     Didan said he’s received all the BOT meeting minutes since last year indirectly from BOT members. He’s been on the ICT’s election committee, board of education and served on a committee that examined community composition, income and interest in support of Al-Huda Islamic School, which the ICT runs.

     “We don’t truly have a BOT,” Didan said. “It’s nothing but him (Chairman) running the show and keeping everybody else in the dark. What’s the difference between running a community like this and in the Middle East, third world style? It’s nothing but a farce.”

     The meetings, called General Assemblies, are meant to inform the community on BOT achievements and future plans. Didan has been to every General Assembly meeting since 2000 and said nearly all of them have been about buildings and construction.

     “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it becomes a pompous display,” Didan said. “Family issues, poverty, education … none of it figures into what they share with us and it’s very disappointing.”

     Didan said the meeting might have been canceled because the BOT had nothing to present. Eljerdi said he never saw a BOT agenda or preparation for the meeting.

     BOT member Jawad Khawaja declined an interview. BOT members AbdulMonem Fellah, Fayez Swailem and Wali Yudeen could not be reached by press time. 

     Didan said he was unsure if certain BOT actions were illegal under Arizona law, but they are certainly against the ICT Constitution.

     “You live in a country that cherishes differences of opinion, the value of argument and counterargument and doing things transparently, yet we’re in a place were you have people running things with complete impunity,” Didan said. “It’s very sad.”