Community News (V9-I5)

Muslim fans seek space for prayer

EVANSTON,IL– Devout Muslim fans at Northwestern University are asking the authorities to set aside a secluded space for the prayers or to grant them permission to come and go from the arena before the buzzer. Currently, the students try to play below the bleachers even as the game continues.

School authorities say that while they value diversity, they are not yet ready to make an exception for the Muslim fans. The school’s athletic director will meet with Muslim student leaders to sort out the issue.

Ruediger Seesemann, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Northwestern, said academic institutions have a responsibility to encourage spiritual formation.

“These Muslim students want to integrate their Muslim identity with their identity as college students,” he said. “Why not let them bring their prayer rugs, let them pray and let them enjoy the basketball game?”

“I personally think it can be settled in a very easy and uncomplicated way,” Seesemann added. “The fact that it becomes a matter of debate is significant and points to the sensitivity of the issue.”

Taxi drivers to face crackdown in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS,MN– Muslim taxi drivers in Minnesota face a possible crackdown for refusing to take passengers carrying liquor or accompanied by dogs. The Metropolitan Airports Commission has authorized a public hearing next month on a staff proposal to increase penalties for refusing fares, an offical said.

A controversy has been brimming over several months after Muslim taxi drivers, mostly Somali immigrants, cited a fatwa claiming that they are religously barred from carrying passengers who have alcohol.

Under the proposal — which is also aimed at drivers who refuse to take short-haul passengers in favor of more lucrative long trips — a first offense would result in a 30-day cab license suspension and a second a two-year license revocation.

The public hearing, approved at a commission meeting , will be held February 27.

Zakieh Mohammed named finalist for Golden Apple Awards

CHICAGO,IL– Zakieh Mohammed, a teacher of English at Roberto Clemente High School, has been named as one of the 32 finalists for the 2007 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching in grades 9 through 12. A total of 941 teachers from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties were nominated for the award, which was first presented in 1986.

The finalists will be honored Saturday, February 17 at the Celebration of Excellence in Teaching from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago.

The Awards selection committee is comprised of Chicago-area educators. Two committee members will observe each of the 32 finalists in the classroom and interview their principal and selected colleagues, parents and students. The 10 Golden Apple Award winners will be announced in Mid-March. The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on May 12 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, which subsequently will be aired as a one-hour prime-time special on WTTW/Channel 11.

Each of the 10 Golden Apple Award winners will receive a tuition-free fall-term sabbatical at Northwestern University, a personal computer, $3,000, and membership in the Golden Apple Academy, which has inducted 210 expert teachers in the past 21 years to ensure that all children have the excellent teachers they deserve.

Muslim girl magazine launched

Chicago, IL–American teen Muslim girls are much like teen girls everywhere – so says a recent nationwide study of Muslim girls aged 14-18 years. The study was conducted on behalf of Muslim Girl Magazine , a new bi-monthly glossy magazine launched this month to give 400,000 American Muslim teen girls a lively and uniquely relevant perspective on contemporary living, according to a press release.

“Our study showed that these girls go to public school, watch a little too much television, read teen magazines, surf the Internet, use Google, enjoy YouTube, play video games, shop a lot, talk on the telephone and spend time just hanging out,” says Faye Kennedy, VP at execuGo Media, the publisher that commissioned the study. “In short, they are pretty much like most other American teenagers.” The study also highlighted some likely differences: for example, they get news at Al Jazeera, socialize at IslamiCity and count among their top hobbies, Qur’an study.

The research confirmed Kennedy’s hunch: teen Muslim girls in America would love a lifestyle magazine that does what no other teen girl magazine has done for them – give them a means of enjoying contemporary life within the values they love. Over 90% of the panel, when shown the initial concept, indicated that they liked it, thought it was what they need, would read it and would recommend it to their friends.

Ausma Khan, PhD, writer, human rights lawyer and activist, liked the concept so much that she left a teaching position at Northwestern University to become Editor in Chief. “Most representations of Muslims in the media are negative,” she says. “Muslim Girl Magazine challenges those perceptions by telling the stories of Muslim teens who are proud to be American and who contribute to American society in so many positive ways. This is a chance for their voices to be heard. Our editorial mandate is to ‘enlighten, celebrate and inspire’ them.”

Challenging stereotypes about Muslim girls in America, Muslim Girl Magazine re-defines the face of Muslim youth in America. Its innovative content showcases teen girls who are equally proud of their identity as Americans and Muslims, while not shying away from the conflict inherent in being both. It also shakes up the complacency of Muslims themselves by emphasizing the diversity of practice within American Muslim communities, typically a no-go area.

The premiere issue of the magazine features girls who have joined the Peace Corps and volunteered in Indonesia. Advice columns tackle everything from boyfriends to divorced parents to anti-Muslim discrimination. Regular departments range from Qur’an Notes to Hot List reviews of TV shows like The CW Television Network’s ‘Gilmore Girls.’ And a special feature on the hit show ‘24’ directly confronts the biggest elephant in the room—the association of Muslims with terrorism.

Khan says, “We’re showing hijab-wearing basketball players alongside contemporary fashion designers and artists. We want to dispel the notion that Muslim teens conform to one particular model. Veiled or unveiled, Muslim girls participate fearlessly in sports, the arts, international travel and their local mosques.”

Muslim Girl Magazine launched with a planned circulation of 50,000 copies per issue in the first year and expects to grow to 100,000 within two years. Dianna Hightower, Publisher and Director of Business Development and Advertising, expects advertising to grow quickly. “Today the Muslim market is where the Hispanic market was five years ago — on the verge of a major breakout. Households of Muslim girls comprise a valuable commercial profile with higher than average scores on income, education, occupation and size. Having Fox Broadcasting and Oxford University Press advertise in our first issue is evidence that prestigious and smart advertisers see strong potential.”

Muslim Girl Magazine is published by award-winning execuGo Media of Toronto, Canada and distributed worldwide by RCS of Los Angeles, California. The cover price is $4.95 US ($5.95 CDN). The annual subscription rate is $19.99 at

Religious leaders call for interfaith room on college campus

OREM,UT– Local religious have called on the authorities to set aside space for an interfaith worship center at the Utah Valley State College. The need for an inclusive religious center takes precedence as the Legislature considers granting the college university status, said Linda Walton, a member of the Utah Valley Ministerial Association, which met with UVSC President William Sederburg to discuss interfaith relations, according to the Deseret News.

The center would provide a space for meditation and prayer, particularly for students who are not affiliated with the LDS Institute. Of the college’s some 20,000 students, Walton said, between 8,000 and 10,000 do not participate in Institute. Students of different faiths often struggle in the predominantly LDS community, Walton told those at the meeting.

“For instance, it came to my attention that there are several Muslim students on campus that have had to do their daily prayers in the rest room,” she said. “That really irritates me.”

As a public institution, Walton said the school needs to focus on meeting the spiritual needs of all students, not just those of the LDS faith. Most people who live in Utah County belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the majority of UVSC students hail from Utah County.

Moroccan-American group formed in Boston area

Note: Correction: The original version of this article claimed that Siham Byah was the founder of the Moroccan American Civic and Cultural Association. Mohamed Brahimi, the founder and president, informed us that Ms. Byah was not one of the founders, and falsely stated that she had founded the organization, when in fact she was only peripherally associated with the group. We apologize for any inconvenience to MACCA.

BOSTON,MA– Moroccan-American residents of Boston area have formed an organization to help newcomers adjust in the US. Siham Byah, who was temporarily involved as a volunteer with the Moroccan American Civic and Cultural Association or MACCA, says that the group aims to serve Malden, Medford, Revere, Everett, Saugus and Winthrop, and hopes to eventually open a branch of the organization in New York City.

The MACCA has only been established for two months, but has already received donations of five working laptops and several monetary gifts from area Moroccan-American residents. The group hopes to eventually establish an organization that will provide support for the community on every level, from offering education and computer literacy classes for immigrants to working at food banks and homeless shelters, adopting parks and donating time and money to the Big Brother and Big Sisters of America.

They are also planning on aiding Muslim-Americans with tax preparation, resume writing and even real estate.

Although it is still in the very early stages of development, the MACCA has already started making a difference in the lives of area Muslims, Byah said.

Byah said the association has begun offering English literature classes for Muslims and career counseling opportunities, which have already started to show a return.


Stephane Dion tours Muslim school targeted by vandals

MONTREAL-Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion says Canada should follow the lead of the United States and France in protecting minority communities against hate crimes.

Dion and Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis were in Saint Laurent Friday touring a Muslim school that was hit earlier in the week by vandals.

Dion says more needs to be done to help communities that are at risk.

He called on governments to increase funding so local groups can spend the money they already have on helping children.

The school (L’Ecole des Jeunes Musulmans Canadiens) has reopened although some students say they are scared other incidents may occur.