Students with their plaques and certificates, guest Hakim AlMasmari, and Carla Powers on the right. Photo credit: Adil James
TMO Contributing Writer
The Muslim Observer Foundation held its 6th annual fundraising dinner last Friday at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI. Billed as “giving a voice to our youth,” the event drew about 250 attendees. TMO Vice President Dr. Abdulmajid Katranji was the MC for the evening.
“If we don’t tell our own stories others will tell them for us,” said Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, CEO of TMO. He emphasized the need for an organization like TMO that could help shape the broader discourse about Islam and Muslims. Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, President of TMO, emphasized the importance of telling our stories and outlined the next steps for TMO.
The two main speakers at the event were Hakim Almasmari, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Post and a reporter in Sanaa, Yemen, and Carla Powers, author of “If the Oceans were Ink” from London, UK.
Powers emphasized that the perception of Muslims was of two types. She told a story of how a Hindu man received a copy of the Qur’an from a Muslim. After reading it he asked his Muslim friend where was the Qur’an of those Muslims who he had heard so many negative things. “The mainstream media has done a very poor job in portraying Muslims,” said Powers, who added that Muslims have all sorts of interests in things that are not only unrelated to terrorism but interesting and a sign of a vibrant community.
Almasmari mentioned that the role of the media was very important in shaping perceptions of the Muslim community. He said that it was vital that The Muslim Observer keep growing as an organization and that there was plenty of room for improvement but that “it’s a matter of tweaking the formula.”
Students were invited to write on one of three topics: why Muslims should be journalists; how does the mainstream media discriminate against Muslims; and how should parents encourage their children to pursue their dreams. Tied for first place were Zehra and Batool Mehdi from the University of Ohio in Toledo. In third place was Lailah Ghatalah from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In fourth place was Mubarak Hasan, a student at Greenhill High School in Ann Arbor, MI. All the winners received plaques and cash prizes. Director Dr. Mohammed Saleem and TMO Managing Editor Aatif Ali Bokhari conducted the award ceremony.
TMO Secretary Dr. Muzammil Ahmed requested the audience to support our own media.