Category Archives: Chicago
Mohammad Assaf became the first Palestinian to win Arab Idol last summer, making him a potential spokesperson for national unity. While his musical talent has launched him into the spotlight, the 23-year-old sensation refuses to be politicized.
After winning the second season of the American Idol spin-off, massive celebrations erupted in the streets throughout his homeland, including Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Ramallah. The participants exclaimed their adorations for Assaf’s smooth voice and charming smile, but they also embody a war-torn population in need of a peaceful representative for the Palestinian cause, allowing them “to feel as one people, forgetting at least for a while their political and geographical split”.
Chicago Monitor contributor Milos Markicevic interviewed Toufic El-Rassi about his 2008 graphic novel “Arab in America.” The semi-autobiographical book chronicles El-Rassi’s experiences in America as an Arab immigrant and an American Muslim after 9/11.
On October 7, 2013, I participated in a panel discussion regarding a report recently issued by the ACLU of Southern California, which uncovers the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (“CARRP”) implemented by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The panel was hosted by Mayer Brown LLP, and included presentations from Bardis Vakili, Staff Attorney at ACLU of Southern California; Hamsa Murthy, Associate at Mayer Brown’s Palo Alto office; Jay Readley, Executive Director, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Chuck Roth, Director of Litigation, National Immigrant Justice Center.
Diana Cruz’s mother is Catholic, her father is Mormon, and she is Muslim.
Hearing her speak about the diversity of religious identities within her Puerto Rican and Mexican family makes it clear why she became the Director of Latino Outreach at the Institute of Islamic Information and Education (IIIE). Her story of being brought up within mixed identities harkens to the founding of IIIE in 1985 by the parents of Omar Ali who currently maintains the organization – his father Indian and his mother German and Swedish.
When entering Timeline, patrons instantly feel immersed in a world of history and theatricality. In their current production, Blood and Gifts, the audience must climb through metal scaffolding to reach their seats. The walls are adorned with maps of Afghanistan, biographies and portraits of figures like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and William Casey, and historical synopses of the Cold War. Furthermore, the performance transpires on the floor, encircled by the audience, enabling viewers to feel like a fly on the wall, a historical witness, rather than confined to the traditional distinction between stage and spectator.
For 15 years, Timeline has provided Chicago theatregoers with “Stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues.” Although TimeLine’s mission is commendable, its current production of Blood and Gifts serves as an unsettling reminder that history is oft-written from a very particular perspective- a perspective that reflects the mythologies produced by those in power.
By Sony Kassam
I was recently out with my mom on a breezy Saturday afternoon. You could hear the hidden birds cheerfully chirping as the sun’s warmth was at its peak in the sky. It was just another summer day – or so I thought.
We were patiently standing and waiting on the southbound Red Line platform at the Howard station after searching at Marshall’s for an outfit that I could wear to Sunday’s community picnic.
By Sony Kassam
Ainee Fatima, a 22-year-old Muslim poet and rising senior studying Islamic World Studies and International Relations at DePaul University, became the first hijabi featured in Seventeen magazine when the May issue hit the stands in the past month.
This event was not only a milestone in Fatima’s line of achievements (she was a 2009 Louder Than A Bomb finalist and winner for her poem, Ramadan Reflections, as well as a 2010 Duo Slam champion, and was recognized by Hilary Clinton in 2011 at a State Department dinner), but it also marked a historic moment for other young Muslim women and girls in America.
On Monday, June 17, children and teens, along with their summer camp counselors from the Muslim American Society (MAS), rallied in Millennium Park to raise awareness about the current situation in Syria. The youth walked through the park chanting, “Freedom for Syria now!”, and “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we will see Assad fall!” With their posters, banners, and Syrian flags, this new generation of Syrian activists made it clear: the Syrian civil war needs to end now.
By Amy Zaiter
Going out to eat, ordering in, and even grocery shopping for a home cooked meal are all things easily taken for granted by those without dietary restrictions. With so many different dietary restrictions today, it is unrealistic to expect restaurants and grocers to cater to everyone. It is, however, notably more difficult for many American Muslims to find halal meat options.
Chicago’s East-West Rogers Park is home to Devon Avenue, a unique stretch of street dominated by Desi (generally anyone from the Indian subcontinent) shops, stores, places of worship, and restaurants. Indo-Pak culture, in all its vibrant and vivid brightness, shines here in a blend of Americana that gives the atmosphere a distinctiveness hard to match anywhere else in the city.