Answer Man

This group exists to help Muslims living peacefully in the U.S.

Q: My Muslim friends are becoming concerned about their basic civil rights. Many of them are turning to the Council on American Islamic Relations. I’ve seen CAIR on Public Television. Is there a chapter near here? What are its goals?

Cathy Stoltz, of Belleville

A: Established in 1994, CAIR has worked for two decades to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America.

Through government relations, education and advocacy, the organization offers an Islamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, encourage dialogue and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. You’ll find its 10 core principles on its website, www.cair.org, including “CAIR condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state” and “CAIR advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America and worldwide.”

And you’re invited to join in during its first Muslim Community Town Hall at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at Des Peres Lodge, 1050 Des Peres Road in St. Louis. Those attending will discuss the results of the recent election and their effect on Muslims and develop action committees in such areas as civil rights, education and fundraising.

For more information or questions, contact Faizan Syed, the local group’s executive director at faizan@cair-stl.org. CAIR Missouri (www.cair-mo.org) is at 13408 Clayton Road, St. Louis 63131 or 636-207-8882.

Today’s trivia

If O is the chemical symbol for oxygen and N stands for nitrogen, why in the world is Pb the chemical symbol for lead?

Answer to Friday’s trivia: Lizzie Borden wasn’t the only person to gain eternal infamy for an ax murder. On March 29, 1889, William Kemmler, known for his drinking binges, picked up a hatchet and killed his common-law wife, Matilda “Tillie” Ziegler. Justice was superswift. On May 10 — just six weeks later —the 30-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., man was convicted of murder. Three days after that, he became the first person in history to be put to death in an electric chair during an execution that would have death-penalty opponents screaming today. After he reportedly said, “Take it easy and do it properly, I’m in no hurry,” he was given 1,000 volts for 17 seconds and declared dead. But when someone noticed he was still breathing, they shocked him with 2,000 volts until, as the New York Times reported, the hair around the electrodes singed. “The stench was unbearable,” the Times said after the eight-minute execution. “They would have done better using an axe,” said George Westinghouse, whose company supplied the generator.

Answer to Nov. 30 trivia: (This was inadvertently omitted from my column last Friday.) What famous lawman once published a newspaper in Dodge City, Kan.? Before he went on to write columns in the New York Morning Telegraph for the final 20 years of his life, gunfighter-lawman Bat Masterson published the Vox Populi in Dodge City, Kan., in 1884. Its first issue received a favorable review from another Dodge City paper, but Masterson folded his publication before he printed his second issue.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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