WBEZ | Muslim http://www.wbez.org/tags/muslim Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en In Brooklyn, a big Muslim voice sounds out against terror http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-16/brooklyn-big-muslim-voice-sounds-out-against-terror-113798 <p><div>New York&#39;s diverse immigrant population gathered in small clusters around the boroughs Sunday night to speak out against terrorism in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and at home in a city where the wounds of 9/11 are not completely healed. Scores met for a vigil in the densely populated neighborhood of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/new-yorkers-gather-commemorate-terrorism-victims/" target="_blank">Jackson Heights</a>&nbsp;in Queens, hearing from leaders in the Pakistani community there.&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CarrollGardensCandle.jpg" title="Brooklyn leaders gathered in Carroll Park for a vigil that featured the flags of France, Kenya, Lebanon and the United States. (The World/Julia Barton)" /></div><div><div><p>And in&nbsp;Carroll Gardens, an upper-class Brooklyn neighborhood where many European immigrants live, faith leaders prayed for peace in English, Hebrew, Arabic&nbsp;and French. Public officials stood in front of the flags of Kenya, Lebanon, France and the United States; their calls&nbsp;for unity and tolerance are what&#39;s to be expected in a borough that houses some 49 different language groups.&nbsp;</p></div><p>Against that backdrop, it was a Muslim community leader,&nbsp;Mohammad Razvi, who sounded the hardest note against ISIS.</p><p>&quot;We pray to God for justice and for these individuals to be taken off this Earth,&quot; he told the crowd of about 100 gathered in a local park, referring to ISIS. &quot;If it&#39;s going to take&nbsp;our communities coming together and our governments to come together internationally, so be it. We look forward &mdash; because the red, white and blue are coming to get you!&quot;</p><p>Razvi, known around Brooklyn as &quot;Mo,&quot;&nbsp;speaks with a slight&nbsp;&quot;Vinnie&quot;-esque accent of a someone&nbsp;raised near Coney Island. His family moved to&nbsp;Brooklyn&#39;s&nbsp;Midwood neighborhood&nbsp;from Pakistan when he was 7. Razvi&nbsp;grew up to become a successful businessman in Midwood. But after 9/11, he saw his community devastated by detentions and harassment; his own daughter was pushed down the stairs at school after having her hijab ripped away.</p><p>After that experience, Razvi became a community advocate, eventually selling off his business empire to create&nbsp;<a href="http://www.copousa.org/history/" target="_blank">COPO</a>, the Council of People&#39;s Organizations, which coordinates 30 Muslim organizations in New York City. He&#39;s someone who can lead a prayer in Arabic and also talk with the FBI.</p><p>So when Razvi turned on his television on Friday&nbsp;to see news of attacks in Paris, his heart sank and his anger rose. &quot;When I was watching the TV, I was just grabbing my head going, &#39;God, we can&#39;t stop. We&#39;ve got to go after them,&#39;&quot; Razvi told PRI after the vigil. And he reiterated his call for military action. &quot;I really want to see the full coalition going after them before they hurt anybody else. Go after these guys &mdash; ISIS, Al Qaeda, whoever they are.&quot;</p><p>Razvi&#39;s demands were the boldest at the event, and perhaps surprising for a Muslim leader considered close to New York&#39;s establishment. But he says his views are&nbsp;based in his faith. &quot;[ISIS] have nothing to do with Islam,&quot; he insists, citing the Prophet Mohammed. &quot;If they hurt one human person, it&#39;s as if they are hurting all of humanity. If you help one human being, it&#39;s as if you&#39;re helping the whole humanity. It doesn&#39;t matter what culture or what religion they&#39;re from.&quot;</p><div><img alt="Mohammad Razvi and Letitia James" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/PostVigil_Interviews.jpg?itok=RCPajWXC" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="After an interfaith service in Brooklyn, TV news crews interview Mohammad Razvi (left back) and Letitia James (right front), who's Public Advocate for the City of New York. (The World/Julia Barton)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-16/brooklyn-big-muslim-voice-sounds-out-against-terror-113798 Dating app helps Muslim millennials find love, parents not included http://www.wbez.org/news/dating-app-helps-muslim-millennials-find-love-parents-not-included-113781 <p><div id="res454005967" previewtitle="Tariq and Ummehaany Azam dance to &quot;Fly Me to the Moon&quot; at their wedding reception."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Tariq and Ummehaany Azam dance to &quot;Fly Me to the Moon&quot; at their wedding reception." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/beautiful-dancers-15b631dbcb4c1443ff45387a00f62128ecad73d1-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Tariq and Ummehaany Azam dance to &quot;Fly Me to the Moon&quot; at their wedding reception. (Courtesy of Tariq Azam)" /></div><div><div><p>Finding someone to spend your life with can be hard under any circumstances, but young observant Muslims will tell you that here in the U.S., it&#39;s doubly so. They have to navigate strict Islamic dating rules while interacting with the opposite gender in a Westernized world.</p><p>Now, a handful of young Muslims think that a new app called Ishqr provides a partial solution.</p></div></div></div><p>Humaira Mubeen is one of the many Muslim millennials who self-identifies as a &quot;Mipster,&quot; or Muslim hipster. &quot;I became part of this community called Mipsters. It was a bunch of proud Muslim Americans coming together talking about a lot of issues,&quot; says Mubeen. &quot;One of the topics of discussion was always trying to get married.&quot;</p><p>Apparently, it&#39;s hard to find someone who is not only compatible, but also shares a mix of Muslim and American values. Mubeen says, &quot;A year into being part of [the Mipster] community, I jokingly said, &#39;Why don&#39;t I make a website to connect all of you, because you all seem really cool?&#39; &quot;</p><p>Then the emails started pouring in with people asking where to sign up. Mubeen tried to explain that she had been joking, but eventually she felt compelled to build Ishqr, a website to help Muslims find each other. &quot;If Instagram and dating apps had a baby, it would be Ishqr,&quot; says Mubeen.</p><div id="res454245229"><aside aria-label="pullquote" role="complementary"><div><p>Finding someone to spend your life with can be hard under any circumstances, but young observant Muslims will tell you that here in the U.S., it&#39;s doubly so.</p></div></aside></div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Capture_5.JPG" style="height: 258px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="" /><em>Ishq&nbsp;</em>is an Arabic word for love, and the &quot;r&quot; was added at the end, Mubeen says, to make it sound more hip. More than 6,000 people have signed up on the Ishqr website since it went up just over a year ago. The app went live on iTunes in October.</p><p>Mubeen explains that when you sign up, Ishqr asks you for some basic information: a username, your religious preference (Shia, Sunni and &quot;Just Muslim, yo&quot; are all options) and why you&#39;ve decided to join. She says people sign up to make friends, test the waters and sometimes to get married.</p><p>Some users come in with the mentality that, &quot;If you don&#39;t want to get married in the next five months, let&#39;s not talk.&quot; Talking about marriage right up front might sound a little pushy, but it can work.</p><p>Tariq and Ummehaany Azam met on Ishqr. He&#39;s a medical resident, and she&#39;s a test development professional. Ummehaany described what led her to Ishqr: &quot;This is the first website for the Muslim community in which the person looking to meet someone is creating their own profile, and they are more involved in what goes into the profile and in talking about what they are looking for.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s important, because on many Muslim online matchmaking sites, parents play matchmaker, and young people don&#39;t have much of a say. Tariq was on one of those more traditional sites for a couple of weeks. &quot;I actually received a phone call from some girl&#39;s mother,&quot; he says, &quot;being like, &#39;We saw your profile, we really like you.&#39; And I was completely shocked. ... That was way too much.&quot; He deleted his profile the next day.</p><p>Besides keeping parents out of the picture, Ishqr is different from other dating sites in another way: Photos aren&#39;t posted. As cliche as it sounds, it really is about discovering someone&#39;s personality. When he joined Ishqr, Tariq found Ummehaany&#39;s profile and asked her to read his. Evidently she liked what she saw: The two married this past May.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/11/13/453988763/ishqr-helps-muslim-millenials-find-love-parents-not-included?ft=nprml&amp;f=453988763" target="_blank"><em> via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dating-app-helps-muslim-millennials-find-love-parents-not-included-113781 Meet Mozzified, a site for Ramadan recipes, Sharia memes and nosy-auntie jokes http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Zainab Khan.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446254259"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zainab-sweater-14a436f4f9de96a56d09df6909ee3e116fd48f4a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com (Courtesy of Zainab Khan)" /></div><div><div><p>A Muslim pop culture website: The idea seemed so obvious, Zainab Khan waited years for someone else to make one. A place for jokes about nosy aunties, sharing hijab hacks and Ramadan recipes, and advice on navigating Minder (yup, there&#39;s a Muslim Tinder).</p></div></div></div><p>But existing sites for young Muslims tended to focus on international news and politics.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/mozzified.com">Mozzified</a>, which Khan launched in January while attending journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, is geared toward what Khan and her friends call &quot;Mozzies,&quot; young, socially aware Muslims who might, say, &quot;binge-watch&nbsp;Friends&nbsp;on Netflix, play basketball after Friday prayers and buy eco-friendly products.&quot;</p><p>Khan and a team of four classmates have put out dozens&nbsp;of articles on everything from Muslim street artists to the whereabouts of a post-One Direction Zayn Malik. The site thrives on inside jokes, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://mozzified.com/2015/02/26/thoughts-every-muslim-has-while-making-wudu-in-a-public-restroom/">12 thoughts every Muslim has while prayer cleansing in a public restroom</a>.</p><p>What you won&#39;t find? Apologies. Khan looks for content that she thinks will appeal to other young Muslims, and says she refuses to pander to fear-mongers or Islamophobes.</p><p>Khan expected the site to be popular with people like her &mdash; high school and college students who grew up with Muslim and American identities. She says she&#39;s been surprised at how many young Muslims from Australia, the U.K., Pakistan and India have been checking the site out, too.</p><p>Given that her target audience is one of the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/">fastest-growing&nbsp;</a>demographic groups &mdash; Pew estimates there will be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-main-factors/#age">540 million Muslim youth worldwide</a>&nbsp;by 2030 &mdash; Khan says Mozzified is just getting started. I had a few questions for her:</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>So, what does </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong> mean?</strong></p><p>Mozzify is a made-up word. At Wesleyan, we had a small but active Muslim Students Association, this really cool community of international students and people from across the country who all had shared experiences, and we started calling each other &quot;Mozzies.&quot; The idea was this intersectional identity of being everything else&nbsp;and being Muslim.</p><div id="res446105150"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/mozzified-website-751d6905118ded8701230137d6b31a3c07dc06d6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>To &quot;mozzify&quot; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&quot; Being a Mozzie, I&#39;m filtering the information that I&#39;m seeing. I think a lot of people do this, and it&#39;s really, really powerful for us to be able to give voice to that community.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><p><em>To &#39;</em><em>mozzify</em><em>&#39; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like &#39;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&#39; - Zainab Khan, founder of&nbsp;</em><em>Mozzified</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>Why did you start this website?</strong></p><p>I wanted to do something for people like me, in college or in high school, who are maybe the only Muslim students in their entire school, or just one of a few. They have these experiences that are very similar, but they don&#39;t know that there are massive groups of people throughout the world who are experiencing the same thing.</p><p>I grew up in a traditional Pakistani Muslim household, but being at Wesleyan University was the first time that I saw people perform both their American and Muslim identities comfortably. That was something that was really foreign to me, because growing up in my household, to be Muslim meant to be Pakistani, but here I was, a kid who was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I didn&#39;t feel very culturally Pakistani. But at Wesleyan, I noticed this unique culture of Muslims owning all of our identities.</p><p>I had a Muslim chaplain who was Egyptian and American Muslim, and the first time I saw her, she was wearing a Gap hoodie, a long denim skirt and a hijab. I thought that kind of epitomized this Muslim American identity, and that was really cool. As a kid, I was agnostic in high school, I wasn&#39;t practicing, and then I get to one of the most liberal colleges in this country and I saw that it was possible to perform all of my identities and to do it well.</p><p>How does your site address Muslim identity differently from spaces that already exist on the Web?</p><p>There&#39;s two ways to form an identity. One is by deciding who you are not, and in my opinion that&#39;s a very dangerous way to form an identity, because you&#39;re building yourself based on reactions rather than affirmations. So I wanted to create something that was based on an &quot;I am&quot; sort of identity formation.</p><p>But there&#39;s a vast breadth of knowledge on Islam and Muslims on the Web already, and I don&#39;t feel the need to re-explain. Instead, I get to have my contributors and myself and this large, large, large group of people share their stories as they want to, and as they see them. I think post 9/11, a lot of Muslims and a lot of Muslim organizations have gotten into this trap of being apologetic, and always responding. It&#39;s much more powerful to tell your own story on your own terms. I think it&#39;s really healthy for us as Muslims, as communities, to start understanding ourselves from inside out rather than outside in.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s next for </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong>?</strong></p><p>There&#39;s a whole bunch coming. We&#39;re going to do a &quot;dirty laundry&quot; column, a platform to talk about the issues that we as a community want to ignore. The idea is that I want Mozzified to be an inclusive space for all kinds of Muslims. I don&#39;t really turn anyone away.</p><div id="res446351016"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/mozz-final-picture-bottom-ef22142cea0c46e089d778655f1788e5ab9f95c6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture. (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>One of my really good friends wants to write a piece called &quot;The F-word.&quot; And it&#39;s not the F-word that you would imagine; it&#39;s &quot;feminism.&quot; Why does that cause such a reaction in the community? Really exploring things that need to be aired out, airing out our dirty laundry. That&#39;s something I&#39;m really excited about.</p></div></div></div><p>Articles you&#39;ve written in the past that have gotten large reactions, both positive and negative: What were some of those reactions, and how have those experiences affected the way you pick what goes on Mozzified?</p><p>I&#39;m so happy the community called me out for this: I wrote a piece for the&nbsp;<em>Islamic Monthly</em>&nbsp;called &quot;<a href="http://theislamicmonthly.com/deconstructing-the-hijabi-bride-even-islam-in-america-is-hegemonic/">Deconstructing the Hijabi Bride</a>.&quot; When I talked about American Islam, I didn&#39;t even know that I was doing it, but I was promoting second-generation, educated Arabs and Pakistanis and South Asians as the communities that represent American Islam. People were really quick to call out the fact that I had completely disregarded black American Muslims, African-American Muslims and West African Muslims. I&#39;m thinking about model minorities, and within the American Muslim communities, who interacts with whom, whose narratives we are trying to erase, whose narratives we are not giving prominence. I think putting that piece out there was great in making me more self-aware.</p><p>I&#39;ve written pieces that end up on all these sub-Reddits where people just hate me, they hate my face, hate everything that I have to say. At first it&#39;s alarming, but I learned fairly quickly what it takes to do this kind of stuff. It&#39;s prepared me for the Internet and reactions in general.</p><p>My first major decision with Mozzified was that I don&#39;t want our posts to be reactionary. That&#39;s my philosophy when it comes to building an American Muslim voice, or a Muslim voice, or identity formation, whatever it may be. I wanted to do things on our own terms. Obviously, there&#39;s gonna be some news that really calls for our reaction, but for the most part, I still have the philosophy of, just put it out there and see what happens. I don&#39;t think it&#39;s smart to hold back.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/meet-mozzified-a-site-for-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes"><em>via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 Trump does nothing as questioner says Obama is Muslim http://www.wbez.org/news/trump-does-nothing-questioner-says-obama-muslim-112993 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-488803934_wide-48cc2e0256f44650e44b860c49bb24e94d9942c0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during a town hall event Thursday at Rochester Recreational Arena in Rochester, N.H. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)" /></div><p>The fallacy that President Obama is a Muslim has tripped up many a politician, and on Thursday night, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump was its latest victim.</p><p>At a town hall in New Hampshire, a man stood up and asked the billionaire businessman this question:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;We have a problem in this country. It&#39;s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he&#39;s not even an American. We have training camps growing when they want to kill us. My question: When can we get rid of them?&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>Trump, who had even interrupted the man to say, &quot;We need this question,&quot; didn&#39;t knock down the premise of his question at the end. Here&#39;s how he responded:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;We are going to be looking at a lot of different things. And a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We are going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>Trump&#39;s campaign says he was talking about the possibility of there being terrorist training camps in the U.S. (something not proven), not Muslims themselves. And his campaign blamed the media for making it much ado about nothing.</p><p>&quot;Mr. Trump was asked about training camps. Mr. Trump answered the question and said, &#39;If there are any, we will fix it.&#39; He said, &#39;I will look into it.&#39; The question was specifically about training camps,&quot; Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/09/17/trump-doesnt-correct-rally-attendee-who-says-obama-is-muslim-and-not-even-an-american/?postshare=5281442543328329">Washington Post</a>. &quot;The media wants to make this issue about Obama. The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians in this country. They need support, and their religious liberty is at stake.&quot;</p><p>But does Trump &mdash; who led the birther crusade questioning whether Obama was really born in the U.S. by demanding his birth certificate &mdash; believe Obama is a Muslim?</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t speak for Mr. Trump,&quot; Lewandowski said.</p><p>Trump would have been peppered with questions about those comments and his response Friday night at Heritage Action&#39;s presidential forum in Greenville, S.C. But Friday afternoon Trump announced he was backing out of his anticipated speech because of &quot;a significant business transaction that was expected to close Thursday.&quot;</p><p>Questions about Obama&#39;s faith and birthplace have persisted from some on the right throughout his tenure. And the question has become a sticky one for Republicans. Some of their base remains skeptical about Obama&#39;s origins and beliefs &mdash; something Trump did nothing to smack down.</p><p>A CNN/ORC&nbsp;<a href="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/09/12/iranpoll.pdf">poll</a>&nbsp;out this week showed 29 percent of Americans believe incorrectly that Obama is Muslim. Of that, 43 percent of&nbsp;Republicans&nbsp;believe that to be true &mdash; even though it is false. And that number rises to a whopping 54 percent &mdash; a majority &mdash; among those who say they are Trump supporters.</p><p>Trump is not the first candidate this cycle not to set the record straight. Earlier this year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/walker-says-he-is-unaware-whether-obama-is-a-christian/2015/02/21/6fde0bd0-ba17-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_story.html">said</a>, &quot;I don&#39;t know&quot; when asked if he believed if Obama is a Christian. His campaign later said he did, but didn&#39;t want to play &quot;gotcha&quot; games. But he seemed to double down on that last month,&nbsp;<a href="http://time.com/3981324/scott-walker-barack-obama-christian/">saying</a>&nbsp;he still wasn&#39;t sure but, &quot;I presume he is.&quot;</p><p>John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, handled a confrontation similar to Trump&#39;s differently. He was famously asked about Obama, his opponent then, being an &quot;Arab&quot;; the Arizona senator took the microphone away from the questioner and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2008/10/mccain-obama-not-an-arab-crowd-boos-014479#ixzz3m6VpSoUX">shot back</a>. &quot;I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don&#39;t have to be scared of as president of the United States.&quot;</p><p>His response was met with boos. His running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has often invoked Obama&#39;s middle name of &quot;Hussein.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s not just presidential politics when this issue has come up. Then-Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.startribune.com/bachmann-alleges-ellison-has-ties-to-muslim-brotherhood/163137126/">alleged&nbsp;</a>that her fellow congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is Muslim, had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p>After Trump&#39;s comments &mdash; or lack thereof &mdash; came out, some of his rivals denounced them. Democrats were quick to bash his response.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS &amp; hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, &amp; just plain wrong. Cut it out. -H</p>&mdash; Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) <a href="https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/644710016633712640">September 18, 2015</a></blockquote><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump must apologize to the president and American people for continuing the lie that the president is not an American and not a Christian.</p>&mdash; Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) <a href="https://twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/644865939725504512">September 18, 2015</a></blockquote><div id="res441458875">New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said on NBC Friday morning that he would have stopped the town hall questioner in his tracks.</div><p>&quot;I wouldn&#39;t have permitted that,&quot; Christie said on&nbsp;Today.&nbsp;&quot;I would correct him. I&#39;d say that the president&#39;s a Christian and he was born in this country. Those two things are self-evident.&quot;</p><p>Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is close with McCain, said on MSNBC on Friday that Trump is &quot;playing into this hateful narrative&quot; about Obama. He said Trump should apologize and acknowledge he didn&#39;t handle the situation correctly.</p><p>&quot;Here&#39;s the good news,&quot; Graham said, &quot;most of us on the Republican side don&#39;t tolerate this.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/09/18/441458050/trump-does-nothing-as-questioner-alleges-obama-is-muslim?ft=nprml&amp;f=441458050"> via NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics</a></em></p></p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 16:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/trump-does-nothing-questioner-says-obama-muslim-112993 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