Chicago Yemeni Families Fear for Relatives Abandoned By U.S. Government

Other countries are rescuing their people from Yemen. Why does the State Dept. believe Yemeni Americans do not deserve the same rights and considerations as other Americans? More »

The Strange Case of Two Chicago Area Men Trying to Join ISIS

What’s so unusual about two men from Aurora, Illinois who have been indicted for trying to join ISIS? They don’t fit the usual FBI profile for suspected terrorists. More »

Immigrant Rights Groups Fight Rauners Ideological Funding Cuts

Last Friday, Governor Rauner began a campaign of cutting social services funds for some of Illinois most vulnerable residents. Immigration services have been defunded immediately. More »

Grading for a Just Illinois State Budget: Governor Rauner’s Doesn’t Pass

With the cuts in higher education, state worker pension benefits, and Medicare, Governor Bruce Rauners budget is neither just nor responsible. More »


Chicago Family’s Ordeal to Escape Being #StuckInYemen


By Bill Chambers

This is the story of the Yemeni American Nasser family from Chicago who tried to follow the State Department’s advice and head for the Indian ship that would be sure to rescue them from Yemen. But after hours of working their way to the port of Aden, avoiding snipers and bombings, paying the captain of a small fishing boat to take them to the Indian ship, the ship’s captain informed them only Indian citizens would be taken on board.

Demystifying the Rise of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria

Dr. Ibrahim Hassan is Associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Jos, Nigeria.

By Bill Chambers

Dr. Ibrahim Hassan, an Associate Professor at the University of Jos in Nigeria, and a Fulbright scholar at Northwestern University spoke at the American Islamic College on the “Rise and Development of Violent Islamic Insurgency (Boko Haram) in Northern Nigeria” Students, faculty, scholars, and members of the larger Chicago community were in attendance. The Chicago Monitor also had the opportunity to interview Dr. Hassan to expand on some of the points during his presentation. Much of his presentation was focused on correcting the misconceptions about their historical development and the level of support they have within northern Nigeria. 

The Strange Case of Two Chicago Area Men Trying to Join ISIS


By Bayan Takrouri

On March 26, two men from Aurora, Illinois were charged with conspiring to join ISIS and attack a Joliet military facility. Hasan Edmonds was arrested at Chicago’s Midway International Airport as he was about to board a plane to Cairo. An undercover FBI agent sent Hasan a friend request on Facebook over a year ago and the two started exchanging messages. Hasan expressed plans of wanting to help ISIS with his cousin Jonas. Little did he know that U.S. law enforcement were awaiting him at the airport.  On April 3, a federal grand jury indicted them on charges of conspiring with a terrorist organization.

Textbooks in a Democracy: Reflecting Cultural Bias or Reason?


By Zareen Abbasi

Strong Democracies don’t feed off faith, they feed off reason.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, be a fly on the wall, and observe all the teachers I ever had teaching me ideas about the world and about people.

My sister is a sophomore at the University of Illinois. The other day she shared a passage from her geography course textbook about exploring “Gendered Architecture.” The passage was amidst a unit highlighting Islam and gender politics. Pictured was the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, India, a palace studded with several small windows. The photo caption suggested the small windows were a way the women of the court were oppressed.

The reality is, the windows of the Hawa Mahal are constructed in that fashion for ventilation purposes. Sure, many 16th and 17th century palaces had quarters with tiny windows to keep women confined, but this was an outlying case. The author’s deceptive, blanket assumption reinforced a stigma of Islam: that it is a faith that seeks to oppress women.

Open Letter to Mayor Emanuel: Stand Up for Chicago Yemeni Americans

By Renner Larson

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago
121 N LaSalle Street |Chicago City Hall 4th Floor | Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Emanuel,

Congratulations on your recent re-election. Under your leadership the City of Chicago will continue to prove itself on the world stage. We are, more than ever, a global city, but that status comes with global responsibilities.

As our mayor you represent Chicagoans both in national and international spheres, and we trust in you to advocate for us. At this moment, dozens of Chicagoans fear for their lives as US government fails to evacuate citizens stranded in Yemen. Already American blood has been spilled as violence in Yemen escalates into civil war, yet the State Department refuses to act.

Chicago Yemeni Families Fear for Relatives Abandoned By U.S. Government


By Bill Chambers

There are thousands of U.S. citizens trapped in Yemen who have pleaded with the U.S. government for rescue to no avail. Many of these people are relatives of Chicago Yemeni families who have been seeking ways to bring their relatives home to Chicago. When people from multiple other countries including Russia, China,  and India have already been rescued, it is difficult to believe the U.S. State Department’s excuses for not saving our own citizens. If this was not Yemen and these were not U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent, there would be a line of U.S. warships lined up at the Aden harbor.

Immigrant Rights Groups Fight Rauner’s Ideological Funding Cuts


By Bill Chambers

During last Friday’s start of a holiday weekend, Governor Rauner cut off funding for all immigrant services in Illinois effective immediately. As a result, immigrants across the state lose access to assistance regarding US citizenship, health care, nutrition, and other critical services. Immigrant rights groups are organizing to fight this attack. It was not hard to see this coming. From the introduction of his budget to executive actions like this, Governor Rauner continues to take actions based more on his conservative ideology than fiscal responsibility.

Muslim & Japanese American Youth Engage History of Japanese Internment


By Renner Larson

In the spring of 1942 thousands of Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated from their homes along the west coast of the United States to internment camps across the country. It is a page so often forgotten in one of the most glorified chapters of American history, but it is one that we as Americans must never forget.

Faith and Trauma: Abrahamic Religions as Victims and Perpetrators

Photo by Bill Chambers

By Bill Chambers

Last week the Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University held a panel discussion titled “Faith and Trauma: Abrahamic Perspectives” at the American Islamic College in Chicago. The overall theme of the event was the perspective of each Abrahamic religion – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – toward personal and communal trauma – both as a source of healing and of trauma itself. Often inter-faith dialogues on controversial topics fail to address the elephant in the room. But in this case, the panelists took aim at how each religion has been both a victim and perpetrator of trauma.

Palestine Advocacy Group Billboards Remind Americans Taxes Fund Occupation


By Bill Chambers

Three weeks before the April 15 deadline to file federal tax returns, the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a national education and advocacy organization based in Palos Hills, IL, has placed electronic billboards asking the question: “Have you declared Israel a dependent on your tax returns?” The ad, which ran last year in Washington DC, says Americans are “sweating April 15 so Israelis don’t have to,” and calls for an end to U.S. aid to the Israeli occupation. In Chicago, the ads can be seen on digital billboards at I-294 and 95th Street and I-294 and Southwest Highway through April 19.