Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

August 17, 2006

Muslim Boy Conquers Fear of Hate Crimes in Children's Book

"I Am an American, Too," a children's picture book geared toward ages six and up, has been released in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. The book offers lessons about racial profiling, as well as support of caring friends and neighbors. Author Zakia Hyder dedicates the book to victims of violence and to every American who builds bridges across cultures. Mason, OH (PRWEB) August 12, 2006 -- In an educational new book for children, "I Am an American, Too" (now available through AuthorHouse), Zakia Hyder teaches young readers about discrimination and friendship in a post-9/11 world through the eyes of a Muslim-American family. Released in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, "I Am an American, Too" is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that puts a human face on the hate crimes perpetrated against Muslim families after the attacks. It is the story of Ahmad, a young boy who works his way through the fear and confusion of hate crimes to focus on the good that surrounds him and his family. In the days after the attacks, vicious remarks and vandalism to his home stirs fear and anger, but good-natured, understanding neighbors help and support this family, that is unfairly labeled. In this sensitive and reassuring tale, Ahmad’s friends and neighbors bridge cultural differences by sharing their joys and sorrows. Although his family belongs to a specific ethnic group, he is as American as any other young boy. His story appeals to all children who must face the uncertainties of an adult world. “I thought of what Papa and Mama had said about all the good in this world, and all the bad, and how we should never lose sight of the good,” Ahmad says in the book. “I wondered about those men in New York. About that boy in the mall, and about the people who broke our mailbox. I felt sorry for all of them. Surely, they had lost sight of the good, I thought. I looked again toward my parents, remembering their tales of the American dream and how it brought them to this country. I promised myself I would go to bed that night and dream a similar dream. I’d think only of the good.” Hyder has edited award-winning articles for trade and business magazines. She is published in a poetry anthology and served as managing editor for professional journals. This is her first book for children (ages 6 and older). She dedicates it to all Americans who are making an effort to build bridges and fight violence of all kinds. The full-color illustrations were created by Steve Adams. More information is available at or by calling the author at (513) 328-4480. AuthorHouse is the premier publishing house for emerging authors and new voices in literature. EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact: Promotional Services Department Tel: 888-728-8467 Fax: 812-961-3133 Email: zakia @ or pressreleases @ (When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)

August 14, 2006

Rallying the Muslim Community to Eradicate Complacency

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR NOW POSTING INSTALLMENTS OF THE JILL CARROLL STORY ONLINE! READ MORE HERE! The story of Jill Carroll serves as a reminder that it's time for a wake-up call By Christine Amina Benlafquih and Aishah Schwartz Naseebvibes - April 19, 2006 The March 30, 2006 release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll from her Iraqi captors sparked an undertow of dialogue about why she was wearing an Islamic headscarf. Times have changed in areas like Rochester, NY, where in the 1970s and '80s Chris Turek remembers there being one Mexican boy and one African American girl in her parochial grammar school. It was big news when a black family moved across the street in the previously all-white neighborhood she grew up playing in. And in high school, Chris remembers a first encounter with the only Asian among 300+ students in her graduating class. Diversity remained elusive at the university in Pittsburgh that Chris attended after graduation, but by the time she migrated to the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. in 1990 to accept a position with an all-girls school, change was definitely in the air. Located in the Maryland suburb of Bethesda, the school attracted an incredibly diverse pool of students from the nation's mixing bowl capitol. Diversity had become a national goal, and its resounding anthem seemed to be generating global noise. Schools and universities participated in People of Color Conferences, job hunters and college applicants complained of reverse discrimination, and businesses and newspapers adopted language that demonstrated new sensitivity. But with the '90s behind us, and the introduction of Islam and its multi-faceted practices as a new stanza in diversity's song, it has become eminently clear that it's time for another wake-up call. With reports of rioting between Christians and Muslims in Egypt, the heinous torture and murder of a Moroccan Jew in France, the violent protests over slander of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the daily killing between Shi'a and Sunni in Iraq - obviously it's time for a world summit of religious leaders to convene with the explicit purpose of developing a unilateral policy of understanding, sensitivity and tolerance based on both ethnic and religious levels. Intolerance Raises its Ugly Head The March 30, 2006 release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll from her Iraqi captors sparked an undertow of dialogue about why she was wearing an Islamic headscarf. Broadcasters and journalists made note of it. Viewers and readers discussed it. And, of course, the Muslim community was curious about it. Interestingly, however, with all the observation and media coverage, only a handful presented public opinion that showed admiration for Jill Carroll's adopting the headscarf in the first place. Garnering far more attention was the prevailing opinion that she had worn the headscarf during her captivity merely out of fear, or as some suggested, due to the effects of Stockholm syndrome. Whatever the reason, it seemed abundantly clear that the majority of western observers and commentators wanted Jill Carroll to remove the allegedly oppressive and demeaning scarf from her head, post-haste. This is what Muslims need to take issue with. The Muslim community needs to rise to the occasion and help the world understand what they and Islam are all about. Despite headline making news of Afghani women throwing off their burqas, notwithstanding the stories of veiled Saudi women entering airplane bathrooms mid-flight and emerging in fashionable western attire - headscarves removed - the majority of Muslim women wearing hijab, and even the face veil, choose to do so of their own free will. A Call for Unification But wait - does the Muslim community have the attention of the naysayers? Is the ranting and raving in protest of the misrepresentations of Islam and its teachings falling on deaf ears? Could it be possible that Muslims need a wake-up call of their own? Heads shake on hearing repeated proclamations that hijab is misunderstood. Tongues get tied when Islam is presented in tandem with terrorism. And paralysis sets as television stations send reporters and camera crews to record for posterity the fact that Muslims seem to find it nearly impossible to maintain an organized demonstration without turning to violence - effectively erasing any progress made in asserting the message that Islam is peace. The time is long past due for Muslims on individual and united fronts to present and clarify the common misperceptions that exist about their religion. Members of the Muslim faith need clarity enough in their own minds to readily deflect negative attacks and offer responses to questions about Islam and its practices in a clear, comprehensive, and non-offensive manner. Crying foul every time western media depicts Islam and/or Muslims in a less than favorable light has become the proverbial band-aid for a wound gushing with internal complacency. Shame on the Muslim community for not stepping forward when opportunity presented itself as the hot-button issue of hijab resurfaced in news headlines through Jill Carroll's story. When Jill Carroll returned from Iraq, three months after her kidnapping, Muslim representatives and leaders should have taken time out from the media-weary coverage and relentless rehashing of the Danish cartoon controversy to snuff revived assertions that Muslim women are oppressed for freely choosing to wear a headscarf in compliance with the teachings of their religion. Regardless of whether or not mainstream media attempted to contact relevant representatives, the Muslim community has a core group of civil and legal rights organizations, leaders and activists that could have stepped forward when the opportunity was ripe - but as it happened, the activism boat left the dock with no passengers on board. Educating and Supporting the Masses Is it so difficult to see that the Muslim community is in need of a wake-up call? Until the distribution of knowledge and rhetoric needed to equip Imams, congregations, representatives and activists with a standard position on sensitive issues can be unilaterally agreed upon, mandated, and taught, Muslims and their religion will continue to be targets of negativity and intolerance. The risk of drowning in pools of multi-cultural chaos is eminent unless solid leadership can be established. When asked 12-years ago by a close non-Muslim friend why she had started to wear hijab after embracing Islam, Donna Catz of Detroit, Michigan, recalls her frustration in being unable to succinctly respond to her friend's pointed questions. "Why," Donna's friend asserted, "would a woman choose to wear a head scarf, and resign herself to being restrained from embracing her God-given sexuality?" Donna, too new in her Muslim shoes to defend a decision made in faith, was unable to satisfy her friend's thirst for a reasonable explanation addressing a mandate that was rendered through the revelation of the Qur'an over 1400 years ago. While Donna's friend relished the male attention she attracted in her fashionable wardrobe, neatly styled hair, and immaculately applied make-up, the opportunity was missed to convey that the headscarf is a part of a dress code mandated by modesty. It is what separates and liberates a woman from being seen as a mere sexual object, thereby rendering unto her the respect she not only deserves but is also entitled to under the directives of Islamic teachings. Hijab accentuates a woman's honor and self-worth by enabling those she encounters to value her as a person of intelligence and viability vs. merely formulating an opinion based on her sexuality. The modesty prescribed by the Islamic dress code as a whole also helps to preserve a moral society by nipping in the bud what is usually regarded as the first step in any illicit relationship - the look that attracts. Suppression of that first look should not be mistaken as something oppressive. It is important for Muslims to be able to convey that the hijab and overall general modest attire are not meant to repress a woman's sexuality, but are intended to elevate and sanctify it. The teaching that a Muslim woman's beauty and sexual allure are not for public viewing is mandated merely because it is believed that she should be treasured and protected. What can be seen in the home should not be seen in the streets. It takes dignity and self-confidence for a Muslim woman to don her hijab in societies that mock and misunderstand its merits. Reinforcing the teachings of the Islamic religion, and learning how to accept cultural differences within the Muslim community itself, from the level of those just entering the faith to those who are in leadership positions, serving as role models, media representatives, and activists, can help reverse the epidemic of negativity that misinformation, miscommunication and intolerance have propagated due to the unfortunate events of 9/11. It's time to make a difference on individual levels through the support, education and training of the Donna Catzs of the Muslim community and the re-education of its general members - those born and raised in Muslim families, including those that have migrated to the United States and bring with them crippling intolerance for one another's cultural differences, which becomes even more exacerbated as they form their own "cliques" in an attempt to survive in a new environment. Revitalizing the Muslim Community A Washington Post/ABC poll released in March 2006 recorded that nearly half of Americans admitted that they have a negative view of Islam. In another poll conducted for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, most people also said that they would feel better about Muslims and Islam if they felt women received better treatment. In many Muslim communities complacency has in essence granted its members an unspoken permission to sit back and wait for someone else to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. This is a dangerous misrepresentation that must be eradicated before Muslims can expect the rest of the world to see Islam in its true beauty. As ignorance and intolerance of the Islamic faith is replaced with understanding and acceptance, maybe incidents like the song and dance over whether Jill Carroll was forced to wear a headscarf during her captivity and whether she felt pressure to wear it afterwards will become synonymous with the past. Rather than sitting idly by while trying to conceptualize why it was that Jill Carroll wore a headscarf at one press conference and not at another, the Muslim community should commend her for respecting the religion and culture of the country in which she had spent the three years prior to her kidnapping striving to support and understand through her reporting. "Covering the war gives journalists an opportunity to recall the noblest tenets of their profession and fulfill the public service role of journalism," Jill Carroll stated when asked why she was willing to put her life on the line in Iraq. Imagine globally unified Muslim organizations, representatives, and individuals bridging cultural divides and dedicating themselves to standing up for the noblest tenets of their faith and to fulfill the public service role in propagating the true message of Islam. Jill Carroll's compassion and open-mindedness for a way of life other than her own is an example that should be exemplified and emulated. Let us all wake up and see what we can do to help make that happen. On the Net Muslimah Writers Alliance Naseebvibes Articles by Aishah Schwartz at Naseebvibes • LA Muslim Woman Murder Case Al-Jamarat: The Rest of the Story

August 13, 2006

MAS Mobilizes Over 30,000 Muslims for March on Washington

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful Demonstrators Surround White House as U.N. Resolution for Ceasefire Develops C-Span Re-Cast Set for Sun. 8/13 at 2:46PM By Aishah Schwartz WASHINGTON, DC - Aug. 13, 2006 (MASNET) Saturday's National Emergency March on Washington, in defense of Lebanon and Palestine, bringing over 30,000 Muslims from across the nation, was a huge success. The event, sponsored by the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom), the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, and the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), was broadcast live on C-Span and throughout the Arab world by Al-Jazeera. (Event slideshow here.) Organizers of the event were pleased to see the massive turnout exceeding expectations as busses rolled into Washington, D.C. throughout the morning. MAS chapters provided transportation and buses for this historical event from Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Maryland, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, Iowa, Raleigh, Charlotte, Richmond and Tampa, producing the largest mobilization of the Muslim community since the Bosnian rally and the 2002 rally for Palestine. Throughout the early afternoon Muslims, Christians, Jews, and people of conscience made their voices heard in opposition to the Israeli induced atrocities committed in Lebanon and Gaza funded by U.S. tax dollars. Speakers included, Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General; Dr. Clovis Maksoud, Former Ambassador from the Arab League to the U. N, Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC); Dr. Esam Omesh, President, Muslim American Society; Ibrahim Ramey, Muslim Peace Fellowship; Brian Becker, National Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice; Mahdi Bray, Executive Director, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; member of A.N.S.W.E.R. delegation to Louisiana and Texas; Ben Dupuy, Former Ambassador At Large for the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1993); Secretary General of the National Popular Party; Co-Director of Haiti Progress; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair National Council of Arab Americans; Peta Lindsay, National Youth and Student Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Howard University student; Carl Messineo, attorney and co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice; Eugene Puryear, Co-Coordinator, Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R.; Howard University student; Osama Siblani, Publisher, Arab American news; Rev. Graylan Hagler, Sr. Pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church. President, Ministers for Social and Economic Justice; Magdy Mansur, Muslim Student Association; Dr. Imam AbdurRahman Al-Khalidy, Witness to the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, Vice President of Board of Trustees, Islamic Center, Albany NY; Dr. Ashraf El Bayoumi, Egyptian Committee Against Imperialism and Zionism; Lamis Deek, Al Awda; Hyuk Kyo Suh, Korean Americans against War and Liberalization; Asma Hanif, Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations; Amen Al-Baba, Muslim youth; and Yenica Cortes, Party for Socialism and Liberation. The crowd was deeply moved by the story told by 15-year old Amen Al-Baba, an American Muslim of Lebanese descent, who was actually trapped in and witnessed the devastation and violence of the Israeli military bombings. MAS Freedom also co-sponsored rallies in Seattle, San Francisco, L.A. and Kansas City as well as various other cities across the nation, bringing together countless thousands of supporters unable to make the long trip to Washington, but nonetheless just as enthusiastic to be a part of the historic event. "I really believe that the local rallies sponsored by MAS Freedom chapters in over 26 cities really contributed to the massive participation of the Muslim community. Certainly this is a demonstration of the fact that when properly educated and motivated, Muslims are willing to come out under the banner of 'Faith Over Fear and Justice for All', stated MAS Freedom Foundation Executive Director, Mahdi Bray. "I am especially proud of our youth who came out in droves to volunteer in supplying logistical and promotional support for this important event. We wanted to make it clear to the world that American Muslims will not be silent in the face of injustice, be it abroad or at home. However, as I have always said, when the rally ends, the real work begins. MAS Freedom will maintain a proactive campaign in support of justice for those in the Middle East and our community at home," Bray concluded. Despite the Israeli Cabinet approval of U.N. Resolution 1701, as reported live on CNN Sunday morning, MAS Freedom will forge ahead in the outreach component of its Middle East campaign through teach-ins at masjids, churches, schools and various other public venues, because at best, the road to peace and justice will be long, and it remains to be seen if the announced ceasefire will be effective. The stated goal of the U.N. Resolution is to 'change the rules of the game' in order to achieve its objectives by other than military means. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni added, however, that Israel would not relinquish its demand for the return of allegedly kidnapped soldiers. U.N. Resolution 1701 also calls for a ceasefire effective at 8:00 a.m. Beirut time or 1:00 a.m. Eastern time Monday, however, with the Israeli military's recent assault plan now being cut by 7 days, the attacks on southern Lebanon reached a 33-day pinnacle in severity with 28 reported casualties overnight. MAS Freedom wishes to thank its supporters. The campaign seeking justice for the people of Lebanon and Palestine needs your continued support in order to address these issues proactively. If your organization would like to sponsor a speak-in please contact MAS Freedom. Guest speaker information is available on the Muslim American Society's website. If you wish to donate, volunteer or join MAS please contact us at (202) 496-1288. Published by Daily Muslims, IBN News and The Muslim Link. ------------------------------------------------------------- The Freedom Foundation is the public affairs arm of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a national grassroots religious, social, and educational organization. MAS is America's largest grassroots Muslim organization with over 50 chapters nationwide. Learn more at Support our work at MAS Freedom Foundation by mailing a check or money order payable to "MAS Freedom Foundation" at the address below. ------------------------------------------------------------ MAS Freedom Foundation 1050 17th Street NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036 Tel: (202) 496-1288 Fax: (202) 463-0686 URL: http://www.masnet.ort/index_publicaffairs.asp Email:

August 04, 2006

Join the National Emergency March on Washington

"What is morally wrong can never be advantageous,
even when it enables you to make some gain
that you believe to be to your advantage.
Believing that a wrongful course of action
constitutes an advantage is pernicious."
~Marcus Tullius Cicero
Join the
National Emergency March on Washington
August 12, 2006 - 12 Noon
Lafayette Park Across from the White House
Washington, D.C.