WBEZ | Muslim http://www.wbez.org/tags/muslim Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Imam sex abuse charges prompt calls for greater transparency http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated March 16, 2015 regarding the role of Abdul Malik Mujahid.</em></p><p dir="ltr">As the criminal trial gets underway for a prominent Islamic scholar charged with sexual assault, some Chicago-area Muslims are calling for an investigation into what community leaders may have known about prior allegations of misconduct.</p><p dir="ltr">Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, 75, has been criminally charged with assaulting a female employee at the Institute for Islamic Education, a religious school he founded in west suburban Elgin, Ill.</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, Saleem has also been accused in a civil lawsuit of assaulting three other females who were students at the school.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/the-culture-around-silence?in=wbez-worldview/sets/worldview-march-10-2015"><em>Worldview&#39;s</em>&nbsp;conversation on the culture of silence around abuse</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;A lot of people depended upon his advice,&rdquo; Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin said of Saleem. Kaiseruddin is chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the largest coalition of Muslim institutions in Illinois. &ldquo;So right now we are dealing with a dilemma that this person who is teaching the Quran to everybody was violating (the) Quran himself.&rdquo;</p><p>When the allegations first surfaced in early December, a number of people both inside and outside the leadership ranks, called on the Council to act. After much back and forth between members of its House of Representatives, a body made up of leaders of its member organizations and former Council chairmen, it issued a <a href="http://freepdfhosting.com/1394ef2106.pdf">statement</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;My thinking on this thing is that any sexual abuse, criminal abuse like this, cannot be kept secret, cannot be kept covered up,&rdquo; Kaiseruddin said. &ldquo;Justice has to be served.&rdquo;</p><p>But the statement prompted a furor of debate on social media. Critics said it wasn&rsquo;t strong enough in voicing unequivocal support for any victims of sexual violence. Others said it perhaps struck an overly-deferential tone toward Saleem. In the wake of that early statement, many have been heartened to see the Council adopt a firmer tone of support for <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/653-2-17-15-ciogc-chairman-applauds-the-courage-of-sexual-abuse-victims">victims</a> and <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/676-3-3-15-effective-steps-in-dealing-with-sexual-abuse">victims&rsquo; advocates</a>.</p><p>Yet some have accused the Council of sidestepping a potentially embarrassing and painful investigation of what its own leadership, and religious figures in the community, might have known about misconduct in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;The other component is to understand who within the community knew about this, and how we can address their understanding of what to do in these circumstances so we can prevent other victims from having to carry the burden into adulthood,&rdquo; said Humaira Basith, co-founder of the Mohammed Webb Foundation and a member of the CIOGC House of Representatives.</p><p>Basith pointed to the revelation that a member of the Council&#39;s House of Representatives, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, claimed to have heard about allegations against Saleem nearly ten years ago. In statements posted to Facebook and on the Council leadership listserv, Mujahid asserted that two religious leaders had quietly mediated a previous case involving a girl, that led to banning Saleem from offering Friday prayers at the mosque for two years. While Mujahid claimed to have heard this from one of those imams, he declined to identify them publicly.</p><p>&ldquo;And ultimately, that is really how the community came to know that this is a known issue with Abdullah Saleem,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. (AP)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IIE%20%28insert%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 444px; width: 300px;" title="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. " /></div><p>Mujahid, a former Council chairman, was unavailable for an interview. But in a written e-mail he stated:</p><p>&quot;I have championed the cause of opposing violence against women all my life. Many non-Muslim women have informed me of their ordeal. However, no Muslim victim has ever told me about a sexual crime nor have I been a part of any mediation.&nbsp;I have informed Elgin police about hearsay knowledge of a mediation dealing with Abdullah Salim. I believe, however, that only the victim or her chosen mediator can disclose it to (the) public. Filing a report with police is the best option in my view for any criminal activity rather than mediation.&quot;</p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s Note:&nbsp;We&#39;ve clarified Mujahid&#39;s role, the fact that he was unavailable for an interview and updated the paragraph above to include his full written statement.)</em></p><p>Basith said she has called on Council leadership to push harder to find out which imams may have known of cases of misconduct by Saleem. &ldquo;Those people need to be better trained in order to handle this so that the community has more transparency when these issues arise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s really the core of it, is that we have no transparency in order to rectify it for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>So far, other Council leaders have not taken up her call. &ldquo;Briefly, at this time the council does not feel the need to investigate and identify the imams,&rdquo; wrote Kaiseruddin in response to a query from WBEZ.</p><p>&ldquo;My guess is that these are answers they may not want to have,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><p>Still, Kaiseruddin, and many others, said the Council deserves credit for other steps it has taken. The Council is developing guidelines on sound bylaws for its member organizations, in order to avoid another situation where an administrator has unquestioned authority like Saleem did at IIE.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also reviewing sexual abuse policies at Islamic schools throughout the area.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody came to the conclusion they need to upgrade their policies, and they wanted CIOGC to play a role,&rdquo; said Kaiseruddin.</p><p>Eman Aly said the Council&rsquo;s involvement has done a lot of good in cracking open the taboo topic of sexual violence in the Muslim community.</p><p>&ldquo;People are talking about it, and that&rsquo;s what we wanted,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Friends of mine who are parents have been asking, &lsquo;how do we talk to our kids about this?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Aly, a social worker, helped persuade the only victim to file criminal charges against Saleem. She said she believes the Council should investigate whether leaders in Chicago&rsquo;s religious community know about other cases of misconduct &mdash; so that if there are more victims, they get help.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 05:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 ISIS incites backlash against Muslims http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-16/isis-incites-backlash-against-muslims-110951 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP674952369871.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Muslim communities around the world have faced new Islamophobic legislation and discriminatory backlash following actions of the extremist group the Islamic State. A panel of experts tells their stories and discusses the kickback.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-isis-backlash-against-muslim-communities/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-isis-backlash-against-muslim-communities.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-isis-backlash-against-muslim-communities" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: ISIS incites backlash against Muslims" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-16/isis-incites-backlash-against-muslims-110951 Marvel Comic's new female Muslim superhero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marvel AP.jpg" style="height: 376px; width: 620px;" title="The image released by Marvel Comics shows character Kamala Khan, second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno, from the &quot;Ms. Marvel&quot; issue. (Marvel Comics/AP)" /></div></div><p>Marvel Comics&#39; newest superhero is more than just a symbol of diversity and a deviation from the white, male norm that Spiderman, Wolverine, Captain America, and countless other comic book heroes occupy.</p><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/showbiz/ms-marvel-muslim-superhero/" target="_blank">Kamala Khan</a>, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, also looks and sounds like a real person, albeit with extraordinary powers.</p><p>In a universe where most female superheroes are impossibly stacked and Barbie doll-proportioned (to draw ogling male eyes) Khan is a refreshing change of pace. She is pretty, yes, but rock-hard body &quot;hotness&quot; is not what defines her. &nbsp;</p><p>Writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam, says Khan was created as a true-to-life person teenagers could relate to.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who&#39;s ever looked at life on the fringe,&quot; Wilson said in a statement.</p><p>Khan, who will make her debut in January, is radically different from most of Marvel&#39;s most popular female superheroes, but also appealingly meta for a fanbase already attached to legacy characters. While she lives with conservative Pakistani parents, she fits the mold of an angsty teenager and an outsider in school.</p><p>She also is an avid reader of Marvel comic books.&nbsp;</p><p>So when she discovers her superhuman power as a polymorph &mdash; being able to lengthen her arms and legs and change shape &mdash; she takes on the name Ms. Marvel, a title which previously belonged to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Carol Danvers. Now, Khan&#39;s story will be the one to inspire a new generation of girls and boys.</p><p>Series editor Sana Amanat, who also worked on Ultimate Spiderman and Ultimate X-Men comic books for Marvel, told <a href="http://www.deccanchronicle.com/131110/news-current-affairs/article/pow-zap-marvel-comics-present-teenage-female-muslim-superhero" target="_blank">Reuters</a> that a reflection of the Muslim-American experience through the eyes of a teenage girl creates a font of endless possibilities.</p><p>&quot;We are always trying to upend expectations to an extent, but our point is to always reflect the world outside our window, and we are looking through a lot more windows right now,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, the idea for this new kind of superhero came from a conversation that Amanat had with her senior editor, Steve Wacker, about her own experiences growing up as a Muslim-American.</p><p>&quot;He was interested in the dilemma I faced as a young girl and the next day he came in and said, &#39;Wouldn&#39;t it be great to have a superhero that was for all the little girls that grew up just like you, and who are growing up just like you are today, and to create a character they can be inspired by?&#39;&quot; said Amanat.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, girls have been inspired by female superheroes from the moment Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941. But more than 70 years later, the endless parade of unbelievably bodacious babes in skin-tight bodysuits has begun to wear thin.</p><p>Female comic book fans need more than a strong, independent woman with superpowers and a slamming body to stay interested. We need diversity, in every sense of the word: racially, culturally, intellectually, and physically.</p><p>In my opinion, this is in part why so many comic book films and TV shows helmed by female superheroes (Elektra, Catwoman, and the Wonder Woman series that never made it to air) have fallen flat in recent years. The average woman or adolsecent girl has to fall in love with these characters too. If all she sees is plastic, how can she relate?</p><p>I&#39;m excited to see all of the new stories that the creators of Kamala Khan will bring to life, but I also long for more.</p><p>When will we see a mainstream superhero who is gender-queer or transgender? Why do the female characters continue to be drawn to serve the male gaze, with their supermodel sexiness and perfectly-chiseled abs? Isn&#39;t it about time we had a full-bodied female superhero, or at the very least, more&nbsp;<a href="http://geektyrant.com/news/2013/4/3/fully-clothed-female-superheroes-geek-art.html" target="_blank">fully-clothed</a>&nbsp;ones?&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the good news is that times are changing, and Kamala Khan has punched a hole through the glass ceiling with a resounding smash.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 This is what Islamophobia looks like http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/what-islamophobia-looks-106762 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.15; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/399572_10100381628800107_1331819420_n_0.jpg" title="(Twitter)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Even before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured last Friday, people have been quick to <a href="http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2013/04/16/worst-reactions-to-the-boston-explosions/" target="_blank">assign blame</a> for the explosions in Boston, assuaging their fears by holding someone responsible.</p><p dir="ltr">After rounding up the usual suspects, like Obama and the homosexuals, the sights were quickly pointed at Muslims. In response The Washington Post&rsquo;s Max Fisher&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/04/15/please-dont-be-a-muslim-boston-marathon-blasts-draw-condemnation-and-dread-in-muslim-world/" target="_blank">reported</a> that in the hours following the blasts, Muslims across the world quickly denounced the act, begging those responsible not to be Muslims. Fisher writes,</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Libyan families waved signs in Arabic and English reading &lsquo;Benghazi is against Terrorism,&rsquo; &lsquo;Thugs and killers don&rsquo;t represent Benghazi nor Islam,&rsquo; &lsquo;Chris Stevens was a Friend To all Libyans.&rsquo;...A similar demonstration soon gathered in Tripoli. The tone at both rallies was positive and pro-American, but there was a second, subtler message being sent to the United States: We&rsquo;re on your side, not theirs.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">The goal was to eschew radicalism by <a href="https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/399572_10100381628800107_1331819420_n.jpg" target="_blank">pointing out</a> that &ldquo;Muslims view &lsquo;Islamic extremists&rsquo; the same way most Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.&rdquo; However, Muslims abroad and at home were also worried that Islamic involvement would incite the waves of Islamophobic attacks we saw after Park51, the community center in Lower Manhattan, was announced.</p><p dir="ltr">They wouldn&#39;t have to wait long for an answer. The day after the attack professional Islamophobe Pamela Geller was already trying to pin Boston on Muslims,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2013/04/16/worst-reactions-to-the-boston-explosions/">labelling the act</a> one of violent &ldquo;jihad.&rdquo; When @EliClifton attempted to call her out for being a bigot, Geller tweeted back that the &ldquo;blood [is] on your hands.&rdquo; According to Geller, anyone who tries to defend Muslims is as responsible as they are.</p><p dir="ltr">Sadly, her logic reflected the harsh reality of police profiling after the Boston attacks. A New Yorker&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html" target="_blank">article</a> detailed the way one runner&rsquo;s apartment was torn apart by the FBI while his neighbors watched, helpless to stop it. The man&rsquo;s body was ripped to shreds by the explosion, a victim like many others that day.</p><p dir="ltr">What made him different from the others who were also treated in the hospital? What made him a suspect? He was Saudi.</p><p dir="ltr">However, Boston isn&rsquo;t alone in this. A Salon&nbsp;<a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/03/11/new_yorks_finest_islamophobes/" target="_blank">article</a> from March profiled the recent wave of Islamophobic surveillance in the NYPD police department. A report from the police force, called &quot;Mapping Muslims,&quot; indicated that the &ldquo;harassment and violations of civil liberties are constant facts of life for American Muslims today.&rdquo; Salon&#39;s Falguni A. Sheth calls the program &ldquo;dangerous, divisive, discriminatory, and deeply oppressive.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">This is the new culture of internment for Muslims. Despite being a citizen, Tsarnaev won&rsquo;t even be read his <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/04/what-happened-to-the-miranda-warning-in-boston.html" target="_blank">Miranda rights</a>, and some are using his citizenship to argue for stricter&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/04/19/tsarnayev_brothers_already_impacting_immigration_debate" target="_blank">immigration laws</a>. We are trying to systemically take away the few rights he has as a criminal, those allegedly offered to everyone guilty of a crime in the United States. You can tell a lot about a people by how they treat those they perceive as their enemies.</p><p dir="ltr">What does <a href="http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/04/the_post-boston_islamophobic_hate_crimes_have_begun.html" target="_blank">Islamophobia</a> say about us? On Tuesday, a plane departing from Logan Airport in Boston was delayed after two of the passengers began to speak Arabic to each other. The following day, still two days prior to Tsarnaev&rsquo;s capture, a Bangladeshi man was jumped outside of an Applebee&rsquo;s and a Palestinian woman was assaulted in Medford, Mass.</p><p dir="ltr">While she was walking down the street with her friend, a white man came up to Hema Abolaban, a local physician, and started harassing her. He shouted, &ldquo;F*** you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions!&rdquo; He then punched Abolaban and kept insulting her as he walked away.</p><p dir="ltr">Abolaban claims that she didn&rsquo;t say anything back to him, which is understandable. What do you say to someone who believes that you&rsquo;re capable of unimaginable crimes, including the death of an 8-year-old child, because of the simple fact of your religion? All Americans were Bostonians last week. Why couldn&rsquo;t that include Muslims?</p><p dir="ltr">Every year, as many people are killed by their <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/americans-are-as-likely-to-be-killed-by-their-own-furniture-as-by-terrorism/258156/" target="_blank">household furniture</a> as they are by&nbsp;<a href="http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/04/16/why-we-fear-terrorism/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+andrewsullivan%2FrApM+The+Dish" target="_blank">terrorism</a>, but we are not as concerned with the private, death by ottoman. We fear public terror, as fueled by footage of Newtown, Aurora, Hurricane Sandy and the threat of North Korea. In <em>Mao II</em>, Don DeLillo wrote that popular images of terror provide us with &ldquo;an unremitting mood of catastrophe. This is where we find emotional experience not available elsewhere...We don&rsquo;t even need catastrophes, necessarily. We only need the reports and predictions and warnings.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In an essay for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/04/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-is-found.html" target="_blank">echoed</a> DeLillo&rsquo;s discourse of fear:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The toxic combination of round-the-clock cable television&mdash;does anyone now recall the killer of Gianni Versace, who claimed exactly the same kind of attention then as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did today?&mdash;and an already exaggerated sense of the risk of terrorism turned a horrible story of maiming and death and cruelty into a national epic of fear. What terrorists want is to terrify people; Americans always oblige.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">If the Tzarnaev brothers wanted to scare us, they hit us at the right time, when Americans are particularly vulnerable. We look at Congress&rsquo; inability to pass wildly popular gun control laws and feel powerless, the product of a broken system that no longer protects us. Every Boston is an affirmation of cultural pessimism, an empire in slow decline. Terrorists become ciphers for phantom neuroses we dare not name, and due to the role of Islamic extremism in 9/11, Islamophobia acts as the easy emotional shortcut for our feelings of loss.</p><p dir="ltr">As a culture, we often focus on the extremists who are destroying the world, rather than the everyday people who are working to make it better &mdash; like the countless millions whose thoughts were with the victims in Boston or <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl6k-qBlnG0" target="_blank">Kevin James</a>, the Muslim firefighter who was a first responder at Ground Zero. In a tragedy, Mr. Rogers famously advised, &ldquo;Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Patton Oswalt&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/patton-oswalt-on-the-boston-marathon-bombing/275015/" target="_blank">echoed</a> Rogers&rsquo; sentiments. Oswalt&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patton-oswalt/patton-oswalt_b_3088337.html" target="_blank">wrote</a>, &ldquo;You watch the videos of the carnage, and there are people running towards the destruction to help out.&rdquo; For Oswalt, it&rsquo;s a reminder to &ldquo;look [evil] in the eye and think, &lsquo;The good outnumber you, and we always will.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">This is how the world begins again &mdash; when we remember we aren&#39;t alone in it.</p><p dir="ltr">Take Marie Roberts. After her husband&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/14/AR2006101400510.html" target="_blank">gunned down</a> five children in an Amish school in 2006, Roberts went to the victims&rsquo; families to seek forgiveness and grace. In doing so, Roberts found strangers she learned to call neighbors, families she learned to call friends and a community she could call home again. There was no going back, but in building a bridge over the destruction, their families figured out a way to move forward.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead of continuing to hold Muslims responsible, we should ask what what we do if the culprits were &quot;one of us.&quot; How would we help? Would we reach out as Muslims have? Would we shut down a city to hold a candlelight vigil, as Tehran did to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=44b_1359356589&amp;comments=1" target="_blank">support Americans</a> after 9/11? Instead of forcing a nation of Muslims to be accountable for two radicals, we must all take responsibility for Boston. Each of us must clean up the mess by working together as a force for good, building a more peaceful, loving world.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead of searching for enemies in the wreckage, we need to start creating allies. All around the world, Muslims are standing with us. It&rsquo;s time to stand with them.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Twitter</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com/">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 04:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/what-islamophobia-looks-106762 Usman Ally on identity politics in ATC's 'Disgraced' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-08/usman-ally-identity-politics-atcs-disgraced-96199 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-08/disgraced_ATC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-08/usman ally.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 275px;" title="">“Being Muslim these days is like being public enemy number one,” says actor Usman Ally. “Our voices are not being heard.”</p><p>“In a way, it’s a dangerous play,” he says of Ayad Akhtar’s <a href="http://www.atcweb.org/"><em>Disgraced</em>, which had its world premiere at American Theater Company</a> last month. At a dinner party, every imaginable prejudice gets laid on the table by corporate lawyer Amir (played by Ally), his blond American wife, a Jewish gallery owner, and his African-American wife, also a lawyer. But that danger, Ally says, “has brought us as a cast together.”</p><p>An ATC ensemble member, Ally has experienced some irrational reactions to earlier performances as a Muslim. He played an Indian-American character, VP, in <a href="http://www.victorygardens.org/onstage/chad-deity-reviews.php">Victory Gardens’ <em>The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity</em></a>—another “incendiary” show, he says, that toured to New York and L.A.</p><p>“Audience members would come up to me afterwards and call me a terrorist—even though I was playing a spoof of a terrorist! Because my character was multilingual, they’d tell me, ‘I think everyone in this country should be speaking English.’ They directed their political outrage at me.”</p><p>Muslims’ reactions after seeing <em>Disgraced</em>, Ally says, have varied a lot. “Some were like, ‘This is so important that this play is being done, because Muslims need to think about this sort of stuff, too.’ Others were just outraged because they thought it would fuel more of the negative stereotyping of Muslims in this country.”</p><p>A violent scene between Amir and his wife sparked a lot of conversation among the cast, playwright Akhtar, and director Kimberly Senior--Ally says it went through 17 iterations. Though originally scripted to take place onstage, it’s now a noisy offstage altercation, a decision Ally approves of partly because it’s “more gut-wrenching to imagine what’s going on.”&nbsp;</p><p>“My biggest fear, to be honest,” he says, “was that if the audience sees a large, dark-skinned man beating a small white woman, they will turn on him.” Everyone involved in <em>Disgraced</em> has had to tread a fine line between acknowledging the validity of ethnic stereotypes—and reinforcing them.&nbsp;</p><p>“There is anti-Semitism in the Muslim community,” says Ally. “Everything that Amir says—whether it’s about his mother, who tells him he’ll end up with a Jewish girl ‘over my dead body,’ or whether he’s saying white women are whores—those ideas are not pervasive, but it’s there. I heard it growing up, not from my parents but from people in the community. [Playwright] Ayad heard it as well.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-08/disgraced%20Ally%2C%20Arenas%2C%20Stark%2C%20Foster%20-%20V.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 432px;" title="A scene from American Theater Company's 'Disgraced.' (Courtesy of ATC)"></p><p>Ally, 29, was raised in a Muslim family originally from Pakistan, where he lived for about a year when he was 10. But he was born in Swaziland and grew up in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. After living in Africa for 18 years, Ally moved to the States to attend college, then got an MFA in theater. “Especially in our culture and community,” he says, “it was like, ‘You’re going all the way to America so you can sing and dance?’”</p><p>Ally says his parents come from “a very, very humble background.” His mother’s family “had to leave everything behind when they were forced from their homes” after the India/Pakistan partition. His father was raised in a small, impoverished village outside Islamabad but eventually got a master’s degree in economics and became, Ally says, “involved in trade between African countries—textiles and things of that sort.”</p><p>Like his character, Ally is married to a white American. “It was neither of our intentions to fall in love,” he says. “But we did. And people will project certain ideas onto us—we have to battle that quite a bit.”</p><p>“I always identified as a Muslim as a child and as a young adult. But practicing the dogma of religion was never something that my parents enforced on us. They said, ‘You are Muslim—that means that you should be good to people.’” He learned Arabic well enough to read the Koran but never understood what he was saying. During Ramadan, he’d sometimes fast, sometimes not.</p><p>Also like his character, Ally has clearly learned to negotiate cultures of all kinds. “I believe that my identity is porous,” he says. “I should be willing to allow my identity to shift and change based on what I experience in my life. But it’s all rooted in who I was. I start off from where I was, and I work from there.”</p><p>“But Amir has literally divorced himself from who he was, and it’s all brand-new. It’s based in nothing. He’s not rooted in anything. He has to whitewash himself in a way. Ayad very succinctly says that the play is about a man identifying with a false sense of self.”</p><p>“Identity is a very American issue—understanding who you are and where you fit in this massive jigsaw puzzle.”</p></p> Wed, 08 Feb 2012 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-08/usman-ally-identity-politics-atcs-disgraced-96199 One year later, Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who stoked revolution in Egypt, tells his story http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-25/one-year-later-wael-ghonim-google-executive-stoked-revolution-egypt-tell <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-25/AP110208039658.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Wael Ghonim, center, a Google marketing manager who was a key protest organizer." class="caption" height="489" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-25/egypt.jpg" title="Wael Ghonim, center, a Google marketing manager who was a key protest organizer. (AP)" width="630"></p><p>In an interview with <em>Worldview’s</em> Jerome McDonnell, Ghonim lifted the veil behind Egypt’s historic year of change. He said that the revolution would have happened without his actions, and also defended the slow pace of progress on the country’s new path toward democracy.</p><p>Last year, Egyptians began filing into Tahrir (or liberation), Square, first by the thousands— and then by the hundreds of thousands.</p><p>Ghonim’s activism — both online and on the streets — was critical in stoking the fire that toppled President Hosni Mubarek.</p><p><strong>Ghonim: The revolution had to be leaderless</strong></p><p>Ghonim discussed the anarchic nature of the protests, which he helped organize anonymously through a Facebook page. Named for an Egyptian beaten to death by local police in broad daylight, the “We Are All Khaled Said” page became the driving force behind the protests. “I was very surprised to see a lot of people going to the street – thousands doing it – without knowing who’s behind the invitation,” he says. “People believed in the cause and did not really care about the person [organizing].” He insists the revolution would not have unfolded to the same extent any other way.</p><p><strong>Ghonim defends slow progress on democracy-front</strong></p><p>Ghonim also defends the pace of progress in Egypt, where Islamists now hold a majority of seats in Parliament. “People revolted so that Egyptians can be empowered to make their own choices about whom they want to be representing them,” he says, reminding listeners that ‘“Egypt is recovering from about 30 years of corruption and more than 60 years of military rulers.”</p><p>The 31-year-old also revisits the uprising itself, in which an increasingly emboldened citizenry used social media to amplify the impact of street protests. He says what happened in Egypt reflects a new world order. “In the past, the people in power used to make all the decisions,” he said. “We’re seeing all of these movements around the world trying to do the same activities. World leaders need to start realizing that there need to be more grassroots activities, more bottom-up rather than top-down approaches in dealing with the people’s problems.”</p><p><a href="http://www.ahmedrehab.com/" target="_blank">Ahmed Rehab</a>, the Egyptian American director of <a href="http://www.cairchicago.org/" target="_blank">Chicago’s Council on Islamic Relations</a>, also takes part in this conversation. Wael’s new book is <em>Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power</em>.</p></p> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 16:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-25/one-year-later-wael-ghonim-google-executive-stoked-revolution-egypt-tell Northwest Indiana professor under fire for alleged anti-Muslim comments http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-09/northwest-indiana-professor-under-fire-alleged-anti-muslim-comments-9475 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-09/Eisenstein 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some students at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana were outraged by one of their professors, Maurice Eisenstein, who teaches political science at the Northwest Indiana university.</p><p>He came under fire for comments made in lectures and online which many considered anti-Muslim.</p><p>Eisenstein was also alleged to have made questionable comments about other groups, including blacks and Hispanics.</p><p>Some students claimed Professor Eisenstein’s comments have intimidated Muslim students. The professor denied he was anti-Muslim or intimidating.</p><p>But WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana reporter, Michael Puente, said the professor was known for his provocative views on local politics.</p><p>Puente has been following the controversy and joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to share the latest on the controversy.</p><p>And to learn more about academic freedom and its limits, <em>Eight Foryy-Eight</em> was joined by joined by <a href="http://historyarthistory.gmu.edu/people/bkreiser" target="_blank">Robert Kreiser</a>, an adjunct professor at George Mason University and the associate secretary of the American Association of University Professors.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Dec 2011 14:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-09/northwest-indiana-professor-under-fire-alleged-anti-muslim-comments-9475 ‘Who’s Osama bin Laden?’: Teaching 9/11 to Muslim youth http://www.wbez.org/content/%E2%80%98who%E2%80%99s-osama-bin-laden%E2%80%99-teaching-911-muslim-youth <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-09/muslim-kids-3_WBEZ_Odette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the ten years since Sept. 11, many Muslim Americans feel they’ve had to deal with rising discrimination. Those who remember 9/11 at least understand how this started. But there’s a new generation of Muslim Americans who don’t. They were too young in 2001, or they weren’t yet born. But these children aren’t too young to perceive discrimination. At least one local Islamic school is still working through how, exactly, to teach its young students about 9/11.</p><p>The tenth anniversary of 9/11 wasn’t issue number one for students at MCC Full Time Islamic School in Morton Grove this week. Instead, the first day of school was. That was Tuesday. Habeeb Quadri is the principal.</p><p>"It’s exciting, I can’t believe it, we’re back," he said to his students. "Hopefully, insha’allah, you all had a good summer, and a good Ramadan. Yes?"</p><p>About 400 kids attend grades K-8 here. So, we’re mostly talking about kids between 4 and 13 years old. You do the math: That means in 2001, the oldest kids were maybe 3 years old when the planes crashed into the twin towers. So, there’s a line that divides kids old enough to remember 9/11 from the kids that aren’t.</p><div class="inset"><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><em><span style="color:#ff0000;">"You know, we talk about the wars that are happening," she said. "Our students might say, 'Why are we still fighting in Iraq, or why are we still fighting in Afghanistan?' And that opens up the entire context of 9/11, then we do go into it."</span></em></span></p></div><p>That distinction kind of crept up on Sadiya Barkat. She teaches Social Studies and Islamic History to middle schoolers. Back in 2003 she gave students a writing assignment about 9/11. "Where were you, what were you doing, and include all the aspects of a primary source," she explained. "And so they did, and they did a great job."</p><p>It went so well that she kept assigning it every year.</p><p>"And when I continued the assignment, every year it would become more and more vague," she said. "Until the 5th or 6th year, and the kids were like well, we don’t really remember 9/11, or we’re too young to remember 9/11. And that’s when I realized this is becoming history now."</p><p>Barkat doesn’t give that assignment anymore. She realized that 9/11 is now something that has to be taught. It keeps coming up in class in other ways -- just not directly.</p><p>"You know, we talk about the wars that are happening," she said. "Our students might say, 'Why are we still fighting in Iraq, or why are we still fighting in Afghanistan?' And that opens up the entire context of 9/11, then we do go into it."</p><p>And for the most part, that’s how the MCC handles 9/11. It comes up in impromptu discussions in social studies class. Since 9/11 this Islamic school has also started explicitly teaching that extremism is wrong in religion classes.&nbsp;</p><p>But at least one parent thinks the school should do more. That’s Khawaja Rizwan Kadir.</p><p>"My concern were manifold. First, when you don’t have facts about a major event like this, I’m afraid that conspiracy theories or hearsay sets in," Kadir explained. "The other concern was if that is the case, then these kids are going to grow up in this society feeling alienated, not fully engaged."</p><p>Kadir says the whole point of Islamic schools is to give Muslim youth in America a strong sense of identity. He says they should feel confident, so they can face discrimination, and won’t be tempted by extremist ideology.</p><p>Kadir thinks Islamic schools in the U.S. are doing a pretty good job, but he worries the kids are not prepared for mainstream society when some don’t even know who Osama bin Laden is.</p><p>Kadir decided to address this issue himself. This spring he gave a presentation to MCC students. It covered a modern history of the Islamic world. It was a history, civics, and religion lesson, all rolled into 45 minutes.</p><p>At the end he took questions. A 12-year-old student made it clear just how much more work there was to do.</p><p>"He raised his hand," Kadir explained. "He said, 'How is it possible that Osama bin Laden flew those planes into the World Trade Center, got out of those burning planes, got out of the burning building in the midst of the policemen and everything, went back to Afghanistan, and then was captured and killed 10 years later?'"</p><p>Kadir says he doesn’t want to be harsh. He says after 9/11, Muslim-Americans were so busy trying to explain themselves to non-Muslims that they didn’t realize that, some day, they'd have to explain 9/11 to their own.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/%E2%80%98who%E2%80%99s-osama-bin-laden%E2%80%99-teaching-911-muslim-youth Chicago area Muslims push for a 'green' Ramadan http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-area-muslims-push-green-ramadan-89968 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-02/AP03110604059.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-area Muslims say they've got an&nbsp;additional focus during the holy month of Ramadan - the&nbsp;environment.</p><p>Officials with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater&nbsp;Chicago launched several green initiatives Monday, the first day of&nbsp;the Islamic month marked by fasting and prayer.</p><p>The efforts follow a resolution adopted by Illinois legislators&nbsp;a few weeks ago designating Ramadan as a "Green Month."&nbsp;</p><p>Council spokeswoman Alexandra Maragha says Muslims already spend&nbsp;a lot of time reflecting during Ramadan and it seems like a natural&nbsp;extension to focus on the environment.</p><p>The council represents dozens of Muslim organizations, which are&nbsp;being asked to focus more on recycling and looking at solar energy.&nbsp;</p><p>Representatives from the council say they've also been working&nbsp;the Field Museum on an environmental study.</p></p> Tue, 02 Aug 2011 14:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-area-muslims-push-green-ramadan-89968 When it’s not Islamophobia; Muslims self-examine http://www.wbez.org/story/when-it%E2%80%99s-not-islamophobia-muslims-self-examine-86425 <p><p>Suburban Chicago’s Muslim population’s growing and, in many ways, integrating into existing communities. &nbsp;</p><div style="background-color: transparent;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Their children play on the same soccer teams as non-Muslims... parents are friendly and may even be Facebook friends.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But Chicago area Muslims are having a hard time integrating their houses of worship and their schools into the suburban landscape.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Some blame Islamophobia.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But one Chicago-area Muslim is asking his community... maybe it’s not them... maybe it’s </span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: italic; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">us.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: Al Hamidullah... (prayer in Arabic) (fade under)</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Attorney Faiyaz Hussain gathered dozens of men and women in the basement of the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, about 30 minutes west of Chicago.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&lt;sound up on prayer&gt;</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hussain is with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, or CIOGC.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">He’s convened what he’s calling a “Not in my Back Yard” zoning summit to talk about a trend:</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A Muslim group wants to build or expand a mosque or a school. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The local government denies the petition on a zoning technicality.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Some Muslims feel like their community is under attack.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But Hussain wants them to consider something new: maybe they’re partly to blame.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: If there’s Islamophobia, we will certainly fight it. Similarly, I think that we then also need to take a step back and not... we shouldn’t go down the path of Islamophobia too quickly, because there may be some very well-intentioned, well-meaning &nbsp;public officials who are simply trying to do their job.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hussain remembers what got him to first consider the hard questions... </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">He was on his morning commute to Chicago, chatting with older ladies on the train. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: One of them, a lady that’s known me for two or three years, was sort of one day talking about this project that was going on. She’s like, ‘Oh Faiyaz’ -- and I’ve known her, I’ve talked about her kids, her grandkids, I know the whole story. And she tells me, ‘Faiyaz, you don’t know these people who are moving in, they’re trying to put in this temple, and I don’t know what’s going on, I’m afraid they may have bombs,’ </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It turned out she was talking about MECCA, the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America... a project proposed in DuPage County.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">HUSSAIN: I looked at myself thinking I’ve been riding the train with her for three or four years, I probably haven’t done a good job explaining who we are as Muslims, and here she was thinking MECCA... And I was just shaking my head thinking, ‘wow.’</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MECCA recently won approval to build a school, worship space, and recreational center.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It was a long fight... but one that Hussain hopes others will learn from.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MECCA members put lots of time into meeting one-on-one with county officials.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tony Michaelassi is a county board member... he says putting that personal face on a petition helps push it through the process:</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MICHAELASSI: when it comes to DuPage County, we like to hear from the community itself, we like to hear testimony from the members of the organization that’s petitioning us.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Michaelassi says small groups often make the mistake of taking a purely legalistic approach. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They rely on expensive lawyers to present their case... when it’s just as important for the petitioners themselves to show up, network, and make themselves known. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">One group that’s learned this lesson is the Muslim Community Center School in north suburban Morton Grove.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">School Chairman Rizwan Kadir says when the group sought zoning approval in the late 80s, it hit a wall of opposition from neighbors.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">KADIR: If they knew us at a personal level, things would have been a lot different.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir says school administrators and parents have worked hard since then to let the neighbors know them.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They have open houses. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They let neighborhood kids play in school fields. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">And the school’s a polling place during elections. </span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir hopes all that will help him fix what he considers a major compromise that the school had to make.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">KADIR: We could not have a high school right now. So we are strategizing our plan in how to approach the village in getting rid of some of these restrictions.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Kadir feels confident that by now, the school’s relationship with its neighbors is good enough to make this an easy win.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But he won’t know for sure until he submits his requests...sometime this summer.</span></div></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/when-it%E2%80%99s-not-islamophobia-muslims-self-examine-86425