Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > Head of Arab American Association Linda Sarsour linked to Hamas - and Khalil Gibran principal designate Dhabah Almontaser
Head of Arab American Association Linda Sarsour linked to Hamas - and Khalil Gibran principal designate Dhabah Almontaser
July 13, 2007
MIM: Linda Sarsour is the director of the Arab American Association of New York. In 2005 she organised the Arab American Heritage festival together with her friend Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser, the principal designate of The Khalil Gibran International Academy. In a 2004 article Sarsour revealed that Arab men pictured in an Arab newspaper recruiting suicide bombers for martyrdom were relatives and friends - one of them was her brother in law who is serving a 12 year sentence for his involvement with Hamas. Sarsour's husband is facing deportation and she was "questioned by US authorities". One reason could be that her husband together with his brother and Sarsour's cousin, may have been involved in Hamas activities as well. He comes from El Bireh and his name was given as Maher Judh" in the article below. Note that Sarsour too "was questioned by US authorities".
According to the article
The paper carried fervent slogans calling on young people to become martyrs in the conflict with Israel.
Sarsour, a 24-year-old Palestinian-American, sighed. One of the men, she said, was a cousin who has been in Israeli jails for 25 years. The other man, she said, was a family friend serving a 99-year prison sentence in Israel.
Her brother-in-law, she said, is also serving a 12-year sentence, accused of being an activist in the Hamas, the religious militant group, though, she said, he was secular in his beliefs.
Despite those concerns, she said, she was more worried these days about her own future in America, She said she had been questioned by U.S. authorities, and her Palestinian husband, after seven years in America, faced deportation proceedings.
MIM: In a quote an article in 2006 Sarsour who is on the board of The Dialogue Project complained that:
"Israel is there, and it is going to be there whether we like it or not," a coordinator for the Arab-American Federation, Linda Sarsour, said. "We have to learn to deal with that." http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=25814
MIM The 2005 Arab Heritage festival was welcomed in a speech by Mayor Bloomberg. The festival is currently taking place from July 9th until July 15th at various locations in the city. The sponsors include the Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC] the main partnering organisation of KGIA and the AAANY. Alwan for the Arts [also a KGIA partner] published a program on their website which includes an act whose first name is given as "hijacker". (see text below).
Linda Sarsour has also attempted to shift attention away from her Hamas connections and construct a moderate facade by joining the board of the Dialogue Project an interfaith group which brings Israelis and "Palestinians" together to talk about peace and love. The organisation was started by her friend and colleague Dhabah Amontaser. KGIA advisory board member Khader El Yateem's vitriolic diatribe against Israel on a PBS program about Arabs in America so outraged Abraham Foxman of the ADL that he wrote to the chairman demanding that El Yateem's sequence be cut.
Foxman of the ADL objected to the documentary's profile of Pastor Khader El-Yatteem in a Sept. 4 letter to PBS's John Wilson, co-chief programmer. Foxman described the profile as a "nothing more than a diatribe against Israel" that was irrelevant to its stated objective of examining the impact of Sept. 11. He asked PBS not to broadcast it again. http://www.current.org/ptv/ptv0217crossfire.html
Excerpt from Abe Foxman's letter to PBS:
Indeed, the profile of Minister Khader El-Yateem, who considers his homeland Palestine, was nothing more than a diatribe against Israel and completely out of place in a program purporting to deal with the after effects of 9/11. As were the many viewers who communicated with us, we were shocked, outraged and felt misled by PBS.
Both Sarsour and El Yateem are quoted in the article below. Note that Sarsour is described as an "Palestinian American activist" and that her jailed cousin was "accused of being an activist in the Hamas".
Interfaith Events co-chair - Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian American activist, who with Eddy has created dialogue interfaith study sessions around ideas about forgiveness, justice and charity. A mother of three, Linda is the Muslim community outreach liaison for Lutheran Hospital Medical Center. Linda also serves on the Board of the Arab American Association and will work as an outreach coordinator for The Dialogue Project's new program SPEAKING ACROSS DIFFERENCES
Rev. Khader El Yateem is the Palestinian Christian Minister of the Salaam Arabic Church in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. He serves the Lutheran Church Council on special missions throughout the world and is particularly involved in poverty and hunger issues. Father El-Yateem participates in a Brooklyn Dialogue Circle, hosted by the Arabic Church. Rev El-Yateem grew up in Beit Jala, Palestine. http://thedialogueproject.org/Board/board.htm
As the presidential election grew near, Linda Sarsour sat in her small office at the Arab-American Association in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, looking at the photos of two thickly bearded young Arabs on the front page of an Arabic-language newspaper.
The paper carried fervent slogans calling on young people to become martyrs in the conflict with Israel.
Sarsour, a 24-year-old Palestinian-American, sighed. One of the men, she said, was a cousin who has been in Israeli jails for 25 years. The other man, she said, was a family friend serving a 99-year prison sentence in Israel.
Her brother-in-law, she said, is also serving a 12-year sentence, accused of being an activist in the Hamas, the religious militant group, though, she said, he was secular in his beliefs.
Despite those concerns, she said, she was more worried these days about her own future in America, She said she had been questioned by U.S. authorities, and her Palestinian husband, after seven years in America, faced deportation proceedings. So, like many Arab-Americans in the Bay Ridge area, she had hoped that Tuesday's election would end the presidency of Republican George Bush. With that goal in minx, she worked to turn out voters for Democratic challenger John Kerry as part of a broader effort led by the Arab-Muslim American Federation and the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, two major centers for Arab life in the neighborhood.
"I'll never lose this chance to vote Bush out," Sarsour said before the election. "Bush has long been backing Israel with cash and weapons against my own people."
Although the Arab population in New York is not as large as it is in other states in the country, the Arab-American vote was still regarded as significant.
Bush contended during the campaign that his war in Iraq and his widespread campaign against terrorism were spreading freedom and making the United States safer. He also argued that ultimately his strategy would bring greater stability to the Middle East.
However, Arab-Americans in Bay Ridge often saw his record differently.
"Bush is the source of our present troubles so I don't think any honest Arab will vote for him," said Abdel Kareem Al-Qawass, 48, a Jordanian calling cards vendor.
Many blamed Bush and his foreign policy for what they regarded as a growing feeling of insecurity around the globe.
"When Bush declared the war on terrorism, he, in fact, expanded the arena of threats all over the world," said Al-Qawass. "Now Italy is a target because it has illegal military presence in Iraq as well as Spain and many other countries."
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, many Arab-Americans also have complained about being unfairly treated by suspicious government officials.
"As Arabs, we've suffered a lot under Bush's rule," said Khader El-Yateem, 35, pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church. "Many Arabs were interrogated by the FBI and the police for no obvious reason just because they are Arabs." He said that while older Arab-American immigrants sometimes leaned toward the Republican Party, recent immigrants were "all Democrat."
Citing the Democratic Party's stances on the Iraq war and the Palestinian issue, El-Yateem echoed the view of many Bay Ridge Arabs that the Democratic Party had a better understanding of the thorniest problems the Arabs have with the West.
El-Yateem said that former Democratic President Bill Clinton met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and invited him several times to the White House to discuss the Palestinian issue whereas Bush has neglected the Palestinian problem.
"Bush is more concerned about Israel than the Arabs in Palestine," El-Yateem said.
Still, Kerry sometimes lacked personal appeal among Bay Ridge Arabs. Kerry was "another alternative, but not necessarily better," said Hussain Al-Massoudi, a 40-year-old Iraqi cab driver.
"Maybe Kerry and Bush are two faces for the same coin," he said. "The idea is we've tried Bush and we've seen what he did, so let's try someone else. He might be better."
MIM: The 2005 Arab Heritage Month was organised by Linda Sarsour and Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser. The Arab American Association of New Yorkrun by Sarsour is also involved in education and runs an after school program for grades K -12 for public school students. The courses have been held in radical mosques. http://www.volunteersolutions.org/uwnyc/org/3762217.html
NYC to Celebrate First Arab-American Heritage Week
What: Arab-American Heritage WeekWhen: Saturday July 9 through Saturday July 16, 2005 NEW YORK, July 11 -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg will officially declare Arab-American Heritage Week during festivities taking place between July 9 and 16.
New York City Arab-American organizations and museums will host events in order to introduce New Yorkers to the vast diversity of Arab people, their cultural traditions, customs, cuisine, art, music and dance.Arab Americans have resided in NY since the 1800's and have contributed to New York and the rest of the country in many ways. Today, over 200,000 Arab- Americans populate New York City. The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs has established Arab-American Heritage Week as an annual event in order to commemorate the community's presence and contributions over the years.
"As an educator, Heritage Week has been a long-time dream that Arab- Americans and I have wanted to share with fellow New Yorkers," said Debbie Almontaser, one of the event's principal organizers. "The week will give New Yorkers a chance to learn Arab cultural traditions - food, music, dance - the elements of life that exemplify how we are more alike than we are different as human beings."
This year, Heritage Week will kick-off on Saturday July 9th with the 3rd Annual Arab-American Cultural Street Festival and the 7th Annual North-African Cultural Street Festival, hosted jointly by the Network of Arab-American Professionals of New York (NAAP-NY) and the Algerian American Cultural Center (AACC).
Other events include a stand up comedy workshop lead by comedians Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid, presented by the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival (7/12) and Arab American Community Tours by Marry Ann DiNapoli in Brooklyn (7/9, 7/11). The films "Return to the Land of Wonders" and "The Thief of Baghdad" will be shown at the Two Boots Pioneer Theatre and the Museum of the Moving Image (7/13 and 7/16), and music lovers may catch an evening of Iraqi music featuring Amir Saffar, at Alwan for the Arts (7/15). Finally, the week will close with the Arab American Heritage Park Festival, sponsored by the Arab American Association of New York and the Arab American Family Support Center (7/16).
Sponsoring organizations include: Arab American Association of New York, Arab American Institute, The Arab-American Family Support Center, Alwan for the Arts, Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, Mahrajan of Middle Eastern Churches, Yemeni American Association, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab Muslim American Federation, Salaam Club of New York, and the Network of Arab-American Professionals of New York.For a complete listing of events or for more information about Arab- American Heritage Week, please visit: http://www.arabamericanheritage.net Source: Network of Arab-American ProfessionalsCONTACT: Debbie Almontaser, +1-917-559-8480, or Linda Sarsour,+1-917-306-3323, both for Network of Arab-American Professionals http://aams.blogspot.com/2005/07/new-york-city-to-celebrate-arab.html
Institution: Arab American Association of New York Title: Acting Director The Arab American Association of New York is a non profit social service agency located in the heart of the newest and largest Arab and Arab American community, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York. At AAANY we provide basic case management, supportive counseling, domestic violence intervention and prevention, Immigration and legal assistance, access to healthcare for both documented and undocumented individuals, ESOL classes, after school tutoring program, teen leadership program, teen folklore dance group,and cultural events throughout the year. I originally began at the association as a volunteer and I currently serve as their Acting Director. My role is to ensure that social services reach the Arab immigrant community. I also do grantwriting, program development, and I represent the organization as well as the community in different arenas around the city. As a Palestinian Muslim woman my concentration lies in women's empowerment and immigrant's rights advocacy.
MIM: Sarsour boasts about her arranged marriage and the journalist depicts her fundamentalism as hip and trendy.
Muslim women face decisions on traditional, modern values
Balancing freedom, customs is difficult
By Tatsha Robertson, Globe Staff | June 6, 2005
NEW YORK -- Muna Irziqat, a recent immigrant from the West Bank, wired the computers in the entire social service organization in Brooklyn where she volunteers. By using the technical skills she learned in college in the Middle East, she said she proves that Muslim women can do whatever they put their minds to.
But when a male client recently asked to speak to her alone about a confidential matter, Irziqat, who wears the traditional head scarf, or hijab, panicked and stopped him from closing the door.
"I wasn't afraid of him, but he was an Egyptian Muslim and he knew the religion," Irziqat said afterward. "I felt guilty. In our culture, when a man and woman who are not married are in a room by themselves, it is said, there are three people present. The third is the devil."
Like Irziqat that day, many Muslim women from immigrant Arab families experience the push and pull between the traditional Islam of their homelands and the relative freedom enjoyed by women in the United States.
The tension is fiercer, observers said, for women who are new to the ways of this country, who take on leadership roles, or who are first-generation Americans still committed to traditional customs. When those women try to balance both worlds, they can have contradictory impulses because they respect their culture, but do not want to be held back by it.
"A lot of Muslim women who grew up in this country always had freedom of movement and speech, and so those are not real issues for them," said Tayyibah Taylor, editor of Azizah, an Atlanta-based magazine for Muslim women. "But when you are coming from a Muslim-majority country where women are not encouraged to be part of the public space, then women who come here have to go through [introspection] on how to negotiate public space or if to attempt to do it at all."
"Sometimes I feel like I am two people," said Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American and community activist. "To mainstream Americans, I am always talking about my culture and trying to show women are not oppressed, but to my people in the community, I am progressive."
Although Sarsour was born in Brooklyn, she made a conscious decision to follow the cultural norms of her parents' homeland. Irziqat was born into a conservative religious culture in Jordan. But both women say they struggle with guilt and frustration as they try to be independent Muslim women in America.
Their stories, said Taylor, are not unusual, but represent a chapter in the evolving saga of Muslim immigrants in this country.
The daughter of a banker and a homemaker, Irziqat, 22, said her large family in the Jordanian capital of Amman always followed tradition. Although she was engaged to her cousin for three years, she said he never saw a wisp of her hair or touched her hand until they wed. Yet, she said her husband, whom she married when she was 19, has always been supportive of her career. She received a degree in computer science from a West Bank college and worked as an administrative assistant and graphic artist for a publishing company.
"I know that not all Muslim men are like my husband," she said, struggling with her English. "Some can be jealous."
In February, Irziqat and her husband, who works as a salesman for a cellphone company, arrived from the Palestinian territory to start a life here. The center where she volunteers five times a week opened several weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in response to the needs of the Arab-American community in Bay Ridge, one of the largest in the nation.
The center's small paid staff and host of volunteers assist the community with many concerns, arranging healthcare for documented and undocumented workers, assisting with translations, and providing legal aid on immigration issues. Based in a small storefront, the center is funded by individuals in the community along with grants from organizations such as the Red Cross.
Back home, she said, educated Muslim women worked and they gathered at cafes, but she said New Yorkers, who see her walking down the street covered from head to toe, assume she is backward, subdued, and afraid.
"To be honest, when I first came to this country, I hated it. Not the people. But, in my home, I was working. I was very active," said Irziqat, who does not have children.
Still, she concedes that part of the frustration comes from her trying to hold onto tradition in a Western work setting: When the client tried to close the door earlier this month, she asked a staff member to keep an eye on the door for her. Every day at the center, she plays musical chairs to ensure she is not in a room alone with the only male staff member at the center. "He's like a brother, but he is not my brother, so we can never be alone," she said.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of "What's Right With Islam Is Right With America," said the Koran is silent on the issue of men and women being together, but he said conservative interpretations say unmarried, unrelated men and women should not be alone together.
Sarsour, an outspoken, spirited New Yorker, was raised to believe that was true. She said she comes from a traditional Muslim family whose conservative ways were less a result of religion, but more about maintaining a good standing in the community.
"My male friends from high school knew not to even raise their eyes my way if they saw me with my mother. They just acted like they didn't know me," recalled Sarsour, 25.
By age 17, she met her future husband when he paid her family a visit with his extended family in tow and a $10,000 dowry. The only thing she asked of him on the day the imam, a religious leader, met with them for premarriage counseling was to support her career ambitions and pursuit of a college degree. He agreed and asked only that she be a respectful wife and a good mother.
Now a mother of three, she is a graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in English. She works a second job as a family advocate at a city hospital and plans to run for City Council one day.
"I am 25 years old, married with three kids, and I was married in an arranged marriage, and that happened right here in Brooklyn," she said. "People always say, 'What! Most people don't get married until they are 30,' and I say 'not my people.' "
But, unlike Irziqat, who dresses in long coats even when it is warm, Sarsour tries to hold onto her Western ways by wearing hijabs that are colorful, short jackets, long jean skirts, and jazzy high-heeled boots. She spends $150 to streak her hair blond, though few will ever see it. Whereas Irziqat reads the Koran and prays five times a week, Sarsour goes to mosque twice a year.
Sarsour, program director for the Arab-American Association of New York where Irziqat volunteers, began covering her hair in 2000 as a testament to her faith and to follow tradition. Now that she does, she is often asked if she speaks English.
Sarsour admits, though, that sometimes it is her internal quest to prove she can be both progressive and traditional that causes her to feel duplicitous: The women at the center teach an "empowerment" seminar that encourages Muslim women to take more time out for themselves, but the classes are disguised as "social councils" so as not to offend the imams or men in the community.
"We don't want a backlash and for men to think we are telling them to leave their husbands," said Sarsour.
Recently the center helped sponsor a domestic abuse seminar, which 65 Muslim men attended. "But it would have to be an extreme case for us to call the police on a Muslim man," she admits, adding that domestic abuse issues are often worked out through counseling with the imam.
Even Sarsour, whose position demands she meet with men and women, constantly makes sure the door of her office is ajar when meeting alone with a man. Her husband, Maher Judh, 35, who grew up in El-bireh, a town in the West Bank, and works in a grocery store in Brooklyn, said he is proud of his busy wife.
"She shows Americans that Muslim women are not all down," he said, adding that he has no problem with her working with men. "But, if the door is shut, then that is not right."
The City of New York will officially celebrate Arab-American heritage with a week of festivities, kicking off on July 8th, through the 16th, marking July as the annual time to learn about and commemorate the contributions of Arab-Americans. Arab-American Heritage Week is an opportunity to reflect on the richness of Arab culture, which is now an integral part of New York City's social fabric. New Yorkers will have the opportunity to explore the diversity of the Arab people, where they come from, their cultural traditions, cuisine, art, religion, music and dance through events organized by local organizations and museums. New York City's unique culture is the product of its many social and ethnic groups, and Arab cultures have been permeating since the 1800's. Please go to the Events page for a full listing of events that will take place within the week of events starting July 8th through July 15th, 2007.
3rd Annual Arab American Heritage Park Festival Sunday, July 8th, 2007 2pm - 7pm Prospect Park, 15th Street and Prospect Park West, Brooklyn F train to 15th Street Fun for the whole family. The day will include Middle Eastern food, music, performances, henna art, rides for kids, Arab style ice cream, Â sheesha and great drinks. Sponsored by: Arab American Family Support Center, Yallah Youth for Arts, SABA, and Alwan for the Arts. Any questions please call (718) 643-8000 and speak to Nisrine.
Annual Arab-American and North African Cultural Street Festival Saturday, July 7th, 2007 Great Jones Street between Broadway and Lafayette, New York City Located on Great Jones St., between Broadway & Lafayette in the Village. Subway: 6 to Bleecker. Rain or Shine!
Come out to celebrate our rich and diverse cultural heritage! Come out for a fun-filled day, and sample some of our delicious food! Vendors will line the street offering a variety of products, exhibiting original crafts, displaying Arabic literature, and playing regional music.
In between all the shopping and the food, take a time out at the Arguileh cafe? and enjoy truly unique dance performances, from belly dancing and Debka, to traditional drumming and the whirling dervish! - Interested in getting a booth and promoting your products/services? Click here
Atlantic Avenue Tours w/ Historian Mary Ann Dipoli Monday, July 9th, 2007 10am-12pm Go on a historical journey of the Arab community. Learn about where they first settled and why they came here to the United States. Learn great facts about this interesting community. If you are interested please email Mary Ann Dipoli at email@example.com Special thanks to Mary Ann for making this possible
Brooklyn Arab Heritage Bazaar Sunday, July 15th, 2007 1pm-8pm 67th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, Leif Ericson Park, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Come spend the day in the newest and largest Arab community in New York City. Our street will be filled with yummy Middle Eastern food, arab sweets, hookah pipes, beautiful scarves, spices, CDs, henna art, Arab Fashion designs, Â face painting, music, performances and so much more. Bring your whole family and enjoy! Sponsored by: Arab American Association of New York www.ArabAmericanNY.org and the Arab Muslim American Federation
Salaam Club Of New York Cyclone Game Outing July 27th, 2007 6PM – 10PM Get ready because it's Baseball time again! And this year's Annual Salaam Club Baseball Outing will take place on Friday the 27th of JULY starting at 6 PM at KEYSPAN PARK in Majestic Coney Island when we attend the Brooklyn Cyclones as they host the Vermont Lake Monsters. This year we have a special treat in store for you: Salaam Club Members will have access to our own private Party Deck with its Special View of the playing field as well as the Atlantic Ocean and an "All You Can Eat" Buffet To top this all off, the end of the evening will consist of a spectacular FIREWORKS display!!! And the best part of all this is - TICKETS ARE ONLY $20 A PIECE – FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE!!! If you are interested in acquiring tickets, please call me (Ed Mafoud) at 917-709-7078 or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't imagine why anyone would pass up this opportunity to bond with your fellow Salaam Club Brothers while watching some ‘Class A' Baseball with an All You Can Eat Buffet, Fireworks, and Coney Island!!! Http://www.salaamclubny.org
MIM: Alwan for the Arts is partnering with KGIA and has a politicised agenda which includes hosting events for groups like Al Awda the "Right of Return Coalition".
One of the announced headliners for the ongoing Arab American Heritage festival is pointedly referred to as "Hijacker" Lina Makboul. (see text below).
. Both the director and performers have found that 9/11 has benefitted the Arab and Muslim community by enabling them to attract more attention. This attitude is in sharp contradiction to their complaints of imagined bias and discrimination which they claim is the reason that their organisations are needed.
There was a silver lining to Sept. 11th," Bakalian [the Alwan director] said. "In as much as there has been stereotyping and persecution and negative pressure on the Arab and Middle Eastern community, there has also been a generosity of spirit and an openness on the part of Americans to understand fellow Americans." .... A recent performance art piece about the Middle East's portrayal in the media included an oud player, a poet and a percussionist. An art installation last month by an Algerian-born painter looked at the African independence struggle. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, who promotes Palestinian democracy and civil society, recently spoke.
SUNDAY JULY 8, 2007 2-7 PM The 3rd Annual ARAB-AMERICAN HERITAGE PARK FESTIVAL 15th STREET ENTRANCE TO PROSPECT PARK, BROOKLYN (Please note this is a different location than last year's fair) Musicians and Performers: Tareq Abboushi- buzuq Sami Abu Shumays- violin, vocals Amir ElSaffar- Santoor, vocals Johnny Farraj- percussion, vocals Gaida- vocals Dimitri Mikelis- oud Hector Morales- drums, percussion Danny Zanker- bass Zafer Tawil- percussion Dancers: Dameshe and Yowalka Join us for a day of celebrating Arab-American culture at the 3rd annual Arab-American Heritage Park Festival in Brooklyn's Prospect Park . --Enjoy a shisha in our outdoor cafe and sample some traditonal Arabic icecream --Professional henna artists will be on hand to decorate your bodies with traditional designs --Kids will delight in our face painter, a bouncy house and traditional arts and crafts activities --PLUS, enter in the raffle to win lots of great prizes, including a brand new XBOX 360! (Please note this is a different location than last year's fair) Sponsors: The Arab-American Family Support Center Yallah Youth of Arts Saba: The Association of Yemeni Americans Wellcare Health Plans, Inc. Directions: By Public Transportation: F Train to 15th Street / Prospect Park Station B-68, B-69 or B-75 Buses to Prospect Park West and Ninth Street, walk down to 15th Street From the BQE: Use the 38th Street Exit, turn left onto 4th Avenue then right on 15th Street to Prospect Park West. By Car:From Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges : Take Flatbush Avenue to Grand Army Plaza , exit at Prospect Park West to 15th Street .
For more information, contact Nisrine Shehadeh at (718) 643-8000 ext. 39 or email@example.com
Alwan for the Arts serves the Arab community and educates the broader public by showcasing a range cultural events; thereby enriching the cross-cultural and artistic encounter. Since 1998, Alwan for the Arts has played a leading role in promoting the diverse cultures of the Arab countries in New York City. It organized film festivals and screenings, book/poetry readings and signings, lectures and conferences, art exhibits, musical and theatrical performances, and language and literature classes. In 2003, Alwan established a center in lower Manhattan which provides a physical base for its diverse cultural activities.
Anny Bakalian Amer Bisat Ahmed Issawi Abdeen Jabara Annemarie Jacir Mona Khalidi Jamal Rayyis Christa Salamandra Hosny Selim
Music Programing Curator: Taoufiq Ben Amor
MIM: The Arab and Muslim organisations in New York duplicate each other with individuals appearing on the board of several different groups at the same time. All the groups are aimed at obtaining federal and state funding for Islamist and Arab centric activities. One example is that of Anny Bakalian who is the director an organisation called "Tamkeen" whose mission statement is similiar to that of Alwan for th Arts and claims it it fostering "Muslim and Arab empowerment" a code word for infiltration of public and political life by Islamist and arab individuals and groups. Note the contradition between the Tamkeen mission statement which aims to "Arab Americans take their place in society" while a book written by Bakalian book appears to encourage self imposed ethnic separation titled "Armenian Americans-From Being to Feeling Armenian". Tamkeen partners with the Arab American Association of New York headed by Linda Sarsour and the Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC] which is the main affiliate of KGIA.
Board of Directors [Tamkeen]
Anny Bakalian, Board Chair, is Associate Director of the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She received her undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut and her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is the author of numerous publications including, Armenian Americans: From Being to Feeling Armenian (Transaction Press, 1993) and Backlash 9/11: Mobilizing Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans (forthcoming).
TAMKEEN – empowerment in Arabic – enables Arab Americans to expand their choices, claim their voices, and take their place in American society. In particular, TAMKEEN is devoted to the empowerment of women based on evidence that when women are healthy, educated, socially integrated and civically engaged, they raise healthy children, nurture families, and strengthen communities.
As a historically underserved community, Arab immigrant populations have numerous social, economic and legal needs. Since 9/11 these needs are increasingly being recognized by private and public funders. However, each new incident involving Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East tends to reverberate in renewed backlash and exacerbates the challenges affecting this diverse community. TAMKEEN provides linguistically and culturally appropriate health and family violence programming for Arab immigrants to facilitate their integration into the mainstream of American society. TAMKEEN's partnership with the New York City Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence offers a unique opportunity to empower Arab immigrant women suffering from domestic violence. Housed at the Family Justice Center in Brooklyn, TAMKEEN facilitates access to a full range of counseling, referral and case management services and resources for these women.
Furthermore, TAMKEEN brings added value through community-level advocacy and educational outreach, a vital gap in the Arab immigrant community. Acting as a community liaison with other Arab American groups, mainstream providers and city agencies, TAMKEEN works collaboratively with resourced organizations to empower the community. In this regard, TAMKEEN is leading the first city-wide "STOP FAMILY VIOLENCE" campaign in the Arabic-speaking communities.
Established in November 2004, TAMKEEN is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 community development and advocacy organization committed to social change in the Arab American community. Believing strongly that empowerment is the key to integration and success in America, TAMKEEN was founded by a group of professionals in mental health, social development, philanthropy, education and research.
TAMKEEN has enjoyed the generous support of the Van Ameringen Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the New York Immigration Coalition, the New York Women's Foundation, and the NYU Center for Immigrant Health, and Community Resource Exchange. In November 2005, TAMKEEN was a recipient of the Union Square Awards.
MIM: The Arab American Family Support Services the KGIA's main partner has a webpage about the school.
AAFSC is the first and largest Arabic-speaking social service agency in New York. AAFSC's goal is to help new immigrants and their families become acclimated to life in the US, enabling them to fully participate in US society.
AAFSC plays an important role in the school. Their On-Site Coordinator ensures that all students and their families have access to a wide range of services, Adult English language instruction (ESL) parenting classes, Arabic language instruction for the first year, counseling and access to healthcare.
Our Collaborating Partners:
Alwan for the Arts
The Brooklyn Museum
Lutheran Medical Center
Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility
MSI Net. Inc
Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious
Teacher's College – Columbia University
And many more!
MIM: Almontaser is a board member of the Muslim Consultative Network whose director Adem Carrol plays a leading role in the Islamic Circle of North America and the Young Muslims group. ICNA has ties to Jamaat Al Islami and Al Qaeda. Almontaser and Carroll recently participated in an "interfaith faith peace walk" which was held as part of the Arab American Heritage Festival week. (see below). Note that the MCN lists among it's affiliates CAIR and the Majlis Al Shura. The Maljis Al Shura is the religious body which makes legal decisions based on Islamic (shari'a) law. The head of the Majlis Al Shura is Imam Al Hajj Abdur Rashid Talib who is also on the advisory board of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Recently Almontaser was asked about shari'a at an event which co sponsored by MCN and Adem Carroll. She responded that "she didnt know what shari'a was" yet she is on the board of the MCN which includes the "Majlis Al Shura the largest network or local Imams".
MCN's ongoing work is to build a stronger NY Muslim community by increasing sharing of information and resources, and promoting collaboration between and across communities. MCN has supported inclusion, diversity and community development through community dialogue and training. The group first came together to respond to the sense of crisis in the New York Muslim community in early 2003 and has been maintaining monthly meetings since that time.
Members include; Council of American Islamic Relations, New York chapter of the pre-eminent Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization; Muslims Women's Institute for Research and Development, active in interfaith and member of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD); Islamic Circle of North America, active in providing local social services, 9/11 response and disaster relief and member of VOAD; the Social Justice Committee of the Islamic Leadership Council, or Majlis Ash Shura, the largest network of local imams, as well as a range of active and well-connected community advocates, educators, student leaders and lawyers.
Our past activities have included: Promoting dialogue between diverse Muslim groups and building bridges between Muslims. MCN itself has participants from ethnically diverse Muslim communities of New York. MCN members met with the Progressive Muslim Union in 2004 to discuss common concerns.
Advocating for and supporting Sunni-Shia dialogue. In 2005, members of MCN helped draft and signed onto a statement denouncing sectarian violence [Link to statement]. In 2006, MCN co-sponsored Independent Viewpoints' program," Dialogue on Shias, Sunnis & Politics in Iraq [http://www.independentviewpoints.org/events.html] .
Encouraging Muslim awareness of and collaboration regarding the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. In the summer of 2004, MCN members met to discuss the crisis in Darfur and possible responses. Members wrote articles for Muslim news venues. Women In Islam, Inc. independently organized an educational forum on human rights and humanitarian needs in Darfur and an interfaith fundraiser. MCN continues to encourage and facilitate collaboration on Darfur, through outreach to national and local groups. MCN continues to reach out to other Muslim organizations to deepen engagement on the crisis in Darfur.
Supporting Muslim giving through fundraising for tsunami relief at a time when charitable giving has been affected by government closures of charities. MCN co-sponsored an interfaith fundraiser held on February 13, 2005, for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, held at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. Funds raised were shared by ICNA Relief, Islamic Relief, Muslim Foundation of America and UNICEF.
Challenging portrayals of Muslims in media, such as through writing letters and meeting with media. In January 2005, MCN members met with Dan Okrent, the Public Editor of the New York Times to discuss limitations of terminology, the inclusion of diverse Muslim communities in reporting, and better representation of Muslims among journalists. We advocated that the NYT stop using "Islamic" as a modifying adjective for terms such as "fundamentalist," "militant," "Jihadist," etc., and were encouraged to hear that there would be a shift in the coverage. Some of this discussion, particularly the discussion of the limits of terms such as pro-Palestinian, pro-Israeli was captured in a Public Editor column. Recently, New Yorker Magazine also published Br. Adem Carroll's letter to the editor.
Drawing community attention to disaster preparedness. To enhance communication within and between diverse and at risk communities MCN participates in the NY Disaster Interfaith Services. It helps design disaster preparedness plans, related trainings and other initiatives.
Responding to backlash through public advocacy, such as through endorsing the NYC Backlash Mitigation Bill and Uniform Anti-Discrimination Act; see http://www.sikhcoalition.org/NewYorkCity_Bills.asp and http://www.sikhcoalition.org/NewYorkCity_Letter.asp#cosponsors. The Backlash Mitigation Bill offers protection to vulnerable communities such as Sikhs and Muslims; the Uniform Anti-Discrimination Act supports the fair-treatment of public employees who wear religious gear at work. MCN members participated in press conferences and the November 2005 City Council hearing.
Providing information to help community members access city services, as well as provide information for city services to better serve our communities. Together with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, members of MCN recently co-sponsored a series of town hall meetings focusing on access to city services, held in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. These events reached approximately 350 persons in total. In 2006, MCN co-sponsored Turning Point's forum for ACS providers to help develop culturally sensitive services for Muslim New Yorkers.
Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid is the religious and spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, New York City. He has been a Sunni Muslim since 1971, a member of the mosque since that time, and its imam since 1989.
Imam Talib 'Abdur-Rashid is also the Amir (leader) of the Harlem Shura, a coalition of seven Harlem mosques. He has been the chairman of the Justice Committee of the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York, and Deputy Amir of The Muslim Alliance in North America. In Early 2006 he was appointed Deputy Amir of the Majlis Ash Shura.
Partnerships, Talks and Training
Imam Talib also serves on or advises several interfaith bodies located in New York City. They include Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, A Partnership of Faith in New York City, The Temple of Understanding, The Interfaith Center of New York, The N.Y.C. Dept. of Education Chancellor's Interfaith Advisory Committee to the NYC Dept. of Education, and the Bertram Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty. He has given sermons and lectures in Mosques, Churches and Synagogues throughout New York City and beyond.
Further, he was a presenter at the Parliament of World Religions in both Chicago (1993) and Capetown, South Africa (1999). He was also the key American Muslim speaker at the International Conference on Religious Pluralism in Democratic Societies, in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia in 2002. One of the original Muslim participants in the Harlem Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, the Imam has served as a counselor to and advocate for Muslims living with AIDS, and their families, since 1990.
He is the co-founder of the African-African American Commission on HIV/AIDS , Prevention and African Orphans. Imam 'Abdur-Rashid has also has served the city and state prisoners of New York as a Muslim Chaplain, since 1977. He worked in that capacity at the Sing-Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York for 11 years, and is currently a part-time employee for the New York City Department of Corrections. As a religious activist for human rights, social justice, and the liberation of his people, Imam Talib is a member of the National Committee to Free Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former H. "Rap" Brown).
The Imam's work has been the object of several featured articles in the New York Times , and is featured in the books American Islam, by Richard Wormser, Working on God, by Winifred Gallagher, Restoring Faith: America's Religious Leaders Answer Terror with Hope edited by Forrest Church. He is the author of the forthcoming books, Social Justice According to the Prophetic Paradigm, and Reclaimed Legacy: Muslim Indigenous and Immigrant Peoples and The History of Al-Islam in America . He is also the host of a monthly Harlem-based radio show, entitled "Prophetic Echoes".
MIM:Imam Al Hajj is on the advisory board of the KGIA. According to him Achmadinejab's wish to destroy Israel is "legitimate".
"...he said Mr. Ahmadinejad's call for Israel's destruction reflects a "sentiment born of the legitimate anger, frustration, and bitterness that is felt in many parts of the Muslim world." Mr. Abdur Rashid said hostility toward Israel in the Muslim world is due in part to Israel's "ongoing injustice toward the Palestinian people." http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=25814
P. Adem Carroll
MCN Board Chair
From 2001-2006, Adem Carroll served as 911 Relief Programs Coordinator for Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Relief USA). Through the 911 Detainees Program, he has directly provided emergency legal and financial help to over 800 detainees and their families since 9/11. This program was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the United Methodists (UMCOR) 9/11 program; as well assisted by donations from the Muslim community.
This program also expanded partnership with civil liberties and human rights groups and advocated in media for justice and basic decency in the face of widespread anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant backlash after 9/11. Adem also worked to expand interfaith dialogue and dialogue with law enforcement, civic participation, and to promote intra community dialogue.
Adem also has been responsible for the 9/11 Case Management program called Muslims ACT (Access Through Training), working to provide direct assistance, counseling and referrals and to encourage social services capacity building in an underserved community, outreach to mosques and community education. This program continues post 9/11 recovery case management originally funded by the September 11 Fund to provide Case Management to Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and many other underserved communities impacted by the disaster. (See www.reliefonline.org)
Adem received a Masters degree in Near Eastern Studies at NYU, after completing Peace Corps service in Morocco. He then worked in a number of human rights and a variety of community based non-profits as well as teaching positions in Istanbul and in New York. After several years of Brooklyn based AmeriCorps program work, he joined ICNA Relief.
Adem is also member of the board of New York Disaster Interfaith Services, Turning Point for Women and Families and has been active with other coalitions as well. He writes a weekly column in The Mirror, for other publications such as the Message, and co-hosts a monthly program on WBAI called "War On Immigrants Report." See ( www.wbai.org)
Sr. Debbie Almontaser is currently Coordinator of External Programs for Brooklyn public schools. As a multicultural specialist and diversity consultant, Ms. Almontaser facilitates teacher and public workshops on Arab culture, Islam, conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed around the city, and at local and national conferences.
Ms. Almontaser also serves as a consultant to Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. Muslim American Series Project, Independent Production Fund's Islam Project, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Interfaith Center of NYC, and the Church Avenue Merchants Block Association's (CAMBA, Inc.) Diversity Project.
She sits on the board of The Dialogue Project, Women In Islam Inc., among other organizations. She is also a co-founder of Brooklyn Bridges, The September 11th Curriculum Project, Justice for Detainees, and the We Are All Brooklyn Coalition. Ms. Almontaser co-designed and developed a curriculum for the Muslim Communities Project at Columbia University and for Educators for Social Responsibility/Metro. Sister Debbie has a B.A. from St. Francis College and an M.S. in multicultural education and reading from Adelphi University. She also holds an M.S. from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs through their Aspiring Leaders Program.
During her Revson year, she took courses from the International Center for Cooperation & Conflict Resolution (ICCCR) at Teachers College and received a Certificate in Conflict Resolution in the field of conflict resolution exploring local and global conflicts as well as the various mediation models.
MIM: On July 12th Adem Carroll of the MCN and ICNA held a "peace walk" together with the Yemeni Association with is one of Dhabah Almontaser's many organisational affiliations. Almontaser is not the only MCN board member to who has been active on behalf of Muslim students. In 2005 Carroll became the family spokesperson and legal aid fundraiser for two illegal immigrant girls wh o had been arrested on charges of planning suicide bombings. See: "Muslim teen girls in NY accused of planning suicide bombings now being held as illegals:Family spokesman from Al Qaeda linked group" http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/534
For more in Adem Carroll and MCN see:
Khalil Gibran "Jihad School" plan "postponed" DOE head Klein "If the school becomes... a religious school... I will shut it down"
MIM: The announcement for the Children of Abraham peace walk sponsored led by Adem Carroll of the terror linked Islamic Circle of North America. Note the irony with which the recent Al Qaeda attack on Spanish tourists in Yemen is dismissed as the work of "extremists" when the MCN and Carroll are part of ICNA which has ties toJamaat Al Islaami and Al Qaeda the perpetrator of the attack .The ICNA headquarters is in Jamaica Queens. In the 1990's it was headed by Ashrafuzzman Khan who was accused of being a death squad leader who shot 8 teachers at Dhaka University in 1971. Dhabah Almontaser of KGIA appeared on stage with Khan and 64 other Islamists at the Muslim Unity event held at Madison Square Garden in 2003.
WHAT: Children of Abraham Peace Walk Sponsored by: Children of Abraham WHEN: 7/12/07 6:00pm WHERE: SABA Yemini Association (3rd Ave and 9th St) Park Slope, Brookly, NY DETAILS: Children of Abraham Peace Walk HOLD THE DATE THURSDAY JULY 12 2007 6 pm Assemble; 6:30 The Walk Begins *** You are invited to join this year's Children of Abraham Peace Walk from SABA Yemeni Association of New York, meeting at 6 pm. SABA is the name of Sheba, known to other faith groups for the wise and famous Queen that King Solomon spiritually courted. In Arabic her name is Malika Bilquis. We are sorry to note that at the end of June 2007 the temple of Sheba was bombed by extremists while Spanish tourists visited, killing several. But instead of reacting and creating more conflict, let us journey towards together in the spirit of repair and healing. Our route will take us up the hill to Park Slope, visiting our Jewish and Christian friends as well as all neighbors of good heart and good will. Come meet your neighbors: American, Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, African American, Pakistani, Yemenite, Lebanese, Latino, and many others. This is a walk, not a march; all political commitments and orientations are welcome. Some of us note the lack of opportunities for contact and dialogue. But here is a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate, visibly & publicly, our shared commitment to peace and relationships with our neighbors. Abraham's prophetic message links many of us in close spiritual relationship let's get a taste of that difficult sweetness! Light exotic Refreshments at SABA and again in Park Slope: brief prayers by Jewish, Christian & Muslim leaders; Co-sponsored by We Are All Brooklyn, Muslim Consultative Network, SABA, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and many others; also in conjunction with Arab Heritage Week July 7-14. To co-sponsor, and for more information please contact: Adem 646 251 0402; Sheren at 718 965 2136! SEE YOU THERE! Peace, Salams & shalom. COST: FREE
CONTACT: Adem 646 251 0402
MIM: A month before the peace walk Sarsour took part in an even organised by the Dialogue Project where she sits on the board together with Dhabah Almontaser. One of the participants was Sarah Sayeed who is on the board of directors of the Muslim Consultative Network. Almontaser is also a board member of MCN which is headed by Adem Carroll the New York head of the Islamic Circle of North America a group linked to Al Qaeda. http://www.afsc.org/both-places/project/interview_adem_carroll.html
Speaking Across Differences- Creating Space for Difficult Conversations: Transformative Dialogue with Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians
The Dialogue Project, based in Brooklyn, New York, is a neighbor-to-neighbor community development program which creates bonds between neighbors of different backgrounds through dialogue. For their session, a panel will present transformative dialogue techniques now being practiced throughout the greater New York metropolitan region in ongoing sustainable dialogue circles among Diaspora Palestinians, Israelis, Jewish, Muslim and Christian Americans. Participants will engage in exercises/dialogue that will demonstrate how trust, relationships and partnerships are established when differences surface. They will explore hot words such as jihad, security, Zionism, terrorism, and examine how active/generous listening and reflection are tools that allow us to create a safe, confidential space where these difficult conversations can take place. They will also examine how trust and affection can grow when very different worldviews and personal connections to conflict exist among people.
The panelists will describe their experiences with personal stories and the exchanging of different narratives and perspectives in face-to-face encounters. Panelists will include: Father Khader El-Yateem, Palestinian American Christian; Linda Sarsour, Palestinian Muslim American; Sarah Sayeed, Muslim American; Eddy Ehrlich, Jewish American; and Yehuda Ehrlichman, Israeli American. Paula Pace, an Associate of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Executive Service Corps, and Marcia Kannry, dialogue facilitator and Founder of The Dialogue Project, will facilitate the session.
MIM: The Dialogue Project sponsors and funders include many of the Arab organisations in the city.Not coincidentally one of the organisations affiliates is the Boerum Hills School which is now the new home of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
Community Empowerment Through Dialogues, Interfaith Outreach and Training
Speaking Across Differences in Brooklyn
On Wednesday, March 7, 2007 The Dialogue Project initiated the SPEAKING ACROSS DIFFERENCES Program in Brownstone Brooklyn (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens). at The School for International Studies. The Playback Theatre troop acted out the stories of neighbors, both new immigrants and long time residents. (See images and highlights below)
SPEAKING ACROSS DIFFERENCES is a community dialogue program that began in Bay Ridge in 2005 that provides:
A face-to-face opportunity for Brooklyn natives and newcomers to talk about our lives and neighborhoods
A chance to learn about your neighbors' culture and faith traditions
A forum for talking about issues that affect our daily lives in Brownstone Brooklyn
Community partners for this program include:
Brownstone Brooklyn - The Arab American Family Support Center, Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Community Board 6, Public School 58, The School for International Studies, Dawood Mosque, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Kane Street Synagogue, Christ Church Episcopal, Mt. Sinai Synagogue, The Oratory Church of St. Boniface, Packer Collegiate Institute, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity, Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Grace Church, Eileen Dugan Center, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, SABA – The Association of Yemeni Americans, New American Chamber of Commerce
Bay Ridge - Arab American Association of New York, the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association, Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, PS 102, Al Noor School, Lutheran Medical Center, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, St. Andrews Church and Our Lady of Angels Church.