This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/659

MIM - PR & Video : Ex Imam of Islamic Center of Boca Raton Ibrahim Dremali - left FL 4 months prior to Rafiq Sabir arrest 'found refuge in Des Moines mosque'

May 31, 2005

Link to 2003 video of ICBR Ibrahim Dremali who states: ' I know ...American born.... doctors... they leave the country completely... they are afraid": Was he referring to Rafiq Sabir ? Hassan Shareef, the former ICBR spokesman also on the video, 'moved' to Saudi Arabia shortly after this program was shown.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june03/patriot_2-24.html

MIM: Former ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali and spokesman Hassan Shareef appeared on a PBS Newshour program to discuss the Patriot Act. Shareef (who is an American convert to Islam) moved to Saudi Arabia 2 months after the broadcast. In retrospect Ibrahim Dremali's seemingly non sequitorial remarks about 'doctors who leave the country' appear to have been a possible reference to ICBR member Rafiq Sabir, the doctor who worked 'part time' in Saudi Arabia who was arrested on terrorism charges last week.

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Excerpts from transcript of 2003 PBS Newshour program on the Patriot Act:

"...HASSAN SHAREEF: If this was all about they're going to catch terrorists and put them in jail, I would not worry, because I know what I do is right and I know I have nothing to do with that whatsoever. But I'm afraid, because it's not about catching terrorists, it's about people who disagree with the government. It's about people who look different. It's about people who act differently--and that's what scares me because I'm not changing the fact that I'm Muslim for anybody.

IBRAHIM DREMALI: I know people, that are American and their kids born in this country, after this, they leave the country completely -- and I know doctors, really good doctors, they leave the country completely and are afraid. A lot of people are afraid, honestly..." 2/24/03

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Daniel McBride spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, and friend of Sabir said: 5/2/05

" ....Sabir periodically traveled to Saudi Arabia to apply his skills as an emergency-room physician.

"...Sabir's wife, Arleen Morgan, ....and the couple's two children had planned to join Sabir in Saudi Arabia next month..." http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pterrorarrests02jun02,0,5234139.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Ibrahim Dremali Imam of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton left for Des Moines four months before Sabir's arrest

Militant Islam Monitor Press Release

5/31/05

Former Imam of Islamic Center of Boca Raton Ibrahim Dremali, left Florida 4 months prior to Rafiq Sabir arrest was reported as having 'found refuge in Des Moines mosque'.
http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050418/LIFE05/504180354/1039/LIFE

On Saturday May 28th, the FBI arrested Islamic Center of Boca Raton member Dr. Rafiq Sabir on charges which included aiding Al Qaeda and plotting to open a terrorist training camp in Long Island, New York. According to reports, Rafiq Sabir had been under surveillance for years, while a member of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton. The ICBR spokesman Daniel McBride, stated that he was friend of Rafiq Sabir, and has" known him for 3 years" and that the ICBR is raising funds for Sabir's defense. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/656

The ICBR Imam at the time Rafiq Sabir was under investigation was Ibrahim Dremali, who recently became the new Imam of the Des Moines Islamic Center . Counter terrorism expert Steven Emerson described former ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali an' Islamic extremist' . Middle East expert Dr. Daniel Pipes documented the terrorism ties of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/113 In a post 9/11 article protests against the mosque expansion cited the ICBR as a threat to the community. http://www.newsfrombabylon.com/index.php?q=node/3188

Ibrahim Dremali has testified for the defense on behalf of Adham Hassoun, on trial for aiding Al Qaeda. Dremali, aka Sheik Dremali, is a frequent speaker at radical Islamist events and also hosted Rafil Dhafir at an ICBR fundraiser who was jailed on terrorism related charges .Dremali is listed on the registration for the Health Resource Center Palestine, a 'charity front' for the Islamic Association for Palestine aka Hamas,which was shut down in 2003. Dremali's brother Ishaq, was listed as the Gaza coordinator for the HRCP . Lamyaa Hashim- reported to be Dremali's co wife was the vice president of the HRCP. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/187 http://web.archive.org/web/20030618073340/www.campus-watch.org/article/id/704 The vice president of the HRCP was Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, director of the American Muslim Association of North America, located in North Miami Beach.Dremali is an advisor to AMANA. http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=73309

In 2004 Dremali eulogised Gulshair Shukrijumah, the father of dirty bomb plotter fugitive Adnan Shukrijumah who was named "Mohammed Atta's sucessor" by law enforcement. At the funeral Dremali stated that : "He, (Shukrijumah), had a positive effect on people". This is not surprising in light of the fact that in 2003, Dremali's son, Abdelrahman,had stabbed a fellow student at Boca Middle School, and pleaded 'guilty in his best interests' to an aggravated battery and weapons charge . He was ordered to pay $1,500 to the family of Joshua Reynoso, and perform 50 hours of community service .http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/508

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/143 The Islamic Center of Boca Raton was founded in 1998 by Ibrahim Dremali, (who was a professor at Broward Community College), and FAU professors Bassem Alhalabi and Khalid Hamza. ICBR is an extension of the Muslim Student Association. Among the managers listed on the ICBR incorporation papers are Ibrahim Dremali, ICBR spokesman Daniel (Abdulraham) McBride,and FAU computer professor Bassem Alhalabi ( In 2003 Alhalabi was cited by the US government for illegally exporting a thermal imaging device to Syria in 2003). http://www.bis.doc.gov/News/2003/AlhalabiGetsDPL.htm

Professor Khalid Hamza left Florida 'unexpectedly' in 2003 after being denied tenure at FAU for professional improprieties and lying on his resume. He countered by filing a discrimination lawsuit. Hamza is reported to be teaching at a university in Texas. Former ICBR spokesman Hassan Shareef, appeared in a 'News Hour' segment about the Patriot Act in 2003 in which he stated that:"if this was all about they're going to catch terrorists and put them in jail, I would not worry, because I know what I do is right and I know I have nothing to do with that whatsoever..." Shortly thereafter Shareef 'moved' to Saudi Arabia . http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june03/patriot_2-24.html.

In the weeks following 9/11, the ICBR became the focus of media controversy due to anti semitic articles on it's website and links to sites and organisations connected to Al Qaeda and Hamas. Responding to the negative publicity spokesman of the ICBR Daniel McBride,told the press that " the essay, titled, "Why can't the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?" generated three e-mail complaints, so they took it down. http://www.americansagainsthate.com/ICBR3-10-00.htm

According to the article ;" McBride defends the assertion, for instance, that Jews are "usurpers and aggressors, who have oppressed and persecuted others, and who are known for their treachery and corruption throughout the world, historically and in the present age." And that Jews have "carried out chemical and radiational [sic] experiments on their prisoners, and taken organs from them for transplant into Jewish patients." McBride says "that's all documented," though he could not provide any documentation..:"http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/26/muslims/print.html

At the height of the media scrutiny focussed on the anti semitic articles and Hamas Al Qaeda weblinks of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, Imam Ibrahim Dremali dramatically announced that he had been 'followed and threatened on his way home from the mosque by some red necks in a white pickup truck adorned with American flags'. His story generated international press coverage and diverted attention from the criticism levelled at his mosque. The alleged perpetrators were never found, and people in the vicinity at the time filed reports saying the incident never occured. The director of Militant Islam Monitor and William Mayer, editor of Pipeline News, investigated Dremali's claim, and concluded that Dremali's story was bogus. The facts supporting this conclusion are detailed in an article entitled ;"Deconstructing Dremali." http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/581

Dremali's move to Des Moines meant leaving a job as a professor of geology at Broward Community College, and a position he took in 2003 as a geologist and sedimentologist at Coastal Planning and Engineering located in Boca Raton. One of the company's tasks is to monitor,map, and survey the US coastline.http://www.coastalplanning.net/Geotech/Team/Ibrahim.html


Dremali resusitated the story in a Des Moines Register article on April 18th 2005, which was entitled : "...Imam his family find refuge in Des Moines Mosque - He denies terror allegations that follow him from Florida" . The article stated : "...he (Dremali) was also dogged in Florida by groups that accused him and his mosque of having links to terrorist organizations, an activity and intent that he has repeatedly denied..."
http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050418/LIFE05/504180354/1039/LIFE

Beila Rabinowitz, the director of Militant Islam Monitor, is calling upon the media and concerned citizens to reassess and investigate Ibrahim Dremali's and ICBR spokesman McBride's denials about the Islamic Center of Boca Raton's ties to terrorism in light of the recent arrest of ICBR congregant Rafiq Sabir, and based on the above information.

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MIM: ICBR spokesman McBride has a brother who is serving as a reservist in Iraq .http://www.bocanews.com/index.php?src=news&prid=5054&category=LOCAL+NEWS

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MIM: ICBR spokesman Daniel McBride tries to brazen it out- by denying everything and pledging support for Sabir.

Palm Beach Post 5/31/05

South Florida suspect appears in court

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/feeds/0531terror.html

Two representatives of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, where Sabir prayed, were present in court but did not speak.

Following the hearing, Dan McBride, a spokesman for the center, said he has known Sabir for three years. "He is a good Muslim," he said.

McBride called the government's accusations "absurd, unfounded."

Members of the Islamic Center, he said, will be raising money to help Sabir hire an attorney.

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MIM: Ibrahim Dremali is continuing to borrow his way into different organisations in Des Moines, and was recently the keynote speaker at the Interfaith Alliance. The IA is heavily funded by Walter Cronkite, and it's board members include the radical Islamists Mahdi Bray director of the Al Qaeda linked MAS - The Muslim American Society and Maher Hathout of the Islamist MPAC The Muslim Public Affairs Committee. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/83

May 26, 2005 update: The Interfaith Alliance, a left-wing group (that, among other things, opposed my appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace board) has various chapters; the Iowa one is holding its annual dinner today and who should be delivering its keynote address but Ibrahim Dremali, the Boca Raton imam who recently left Florida when accusations of terrorism ties made it too hot for him.

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Contact information for ICBR and former Imam Ibrahim Dremali :

The Islamic Center of Boca Raton

Imam Muneer Arafat

Spokesman Daniel (Abdulrahman) McBride :

Tel: (561) 395-7221


Fax: (561) 395-7229 / Email: masjid@icbr.org.

http://www.icbr.org/contact.htm

Ex ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali is now the Imam of the Des Moines Islamic Center :

Contact Information:
New Horizons Academy, Islamic School of Des Moines

Contact:
Ibrahim Dremali
6201 Franklin Ave
Des Moines, IA 50322
515-255-2356

dremali@gmail.com


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MIM Excerpts from the program on The Patriot Act: The url links to a video of the program which shows Shareef and Dremali.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june03/patriot_2-24.html

MIM: Former ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali and spokesman Hassan Shareef appeared on a PBS Newshour program to discuss the Patriot Act. Shareef (who is an American convert to Islam) moved to Saudi Arabia 2 months after the broadcast. In retrospect Ibrahim Dremali's seemingly non sequitorial remarks about 'doctors who leave the country' appear to have been a possible reference to ICBR member Rafiq Sabir, the doctor who worked 'part time' in Saudi Arabia who was arrested on terrorism charges last week.

"...HASSAN SHAREEF: If this was all about they're going to catch terrorists and put them in jail, I would not worry, because I know what I do is right and I know I have nothing to do with that whatsoever. But I'm afraid, because it's not about catching terrorists, it's about people who disagree with the government. It's about people who look different. It's about people who act differently--and that's what scares me because I'm not changing the fact that I'm Muslim for anybody.

IBRAHIM DREMALI: I know people, that are American and their kids born in this country, after this, they leave the country completely -- and I know doctors, really good doctors, they leave the country completely and are afraid. A lot of people are afraid, honestly..."

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MIM: One can only hope that the people of Des Moines are not going to take up Imam Dremali's offer of hospitality and find a way to run him out of town if he doesn't end up 'in the big house' due to his connections with Al Qaeda doctor , former Islamic Center of Boca Raton congregant, Rafiq Sabir. Note that women are asked to" dress conservatively , in keeping with Islamic tradition" with begs the questions as to if they will be performing conversions after the discussion period.

7/8/05

http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050708/NEWS08/507080354/1010

The Islamic Center of Des Moines, 6201 Franklin Ave., is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The congregation is inviting people of all faiths to "come see for yourself how 1.9 billion people on six continents practice their daily life." The program includes a narration of Islam, Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad and Islamic beliefs. Speakers include Mohamad Khan, Ako Abdul-Samad, Aida Ma ki, Sarah Robertson and Ibrahim Dremali, imam of the Islamic Center.

Discussion periods will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 4 p.m.

Everyone is welcome. Women are asked to dress conservatively, in keeping with Islamic tradition.

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http://www.dmps.k12.ia.us/schoolboard/1abdul-samad.htm

Info on the speakers at the Open House of Dremali's New Horizons Islamic School:

Abdul Ako Samad - who was the former president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines.


1429-12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50314
(515) 283-0987 (h)

akoabdul@aol.com

Ako Abdul-Samad is the founder and CEO of Creative Visions Human Development Center. He has served as Vice President of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, Coordinator for Urban Dreams, and as a counselor in the Iowa prison system. Abdul-Samad has lectured and counseled internationally on community development, service to at-risk youth, and substance abuse prevention and crisis intervention. He has received numerous awards for his work with community and youth, including the Citizen Diplomat Award from the Iowa Council for International Understanding, the Community Service Award for Outstanding Service from the NAACP, and the SBA Martin Luther King Jr. Community Vision Award for Exemplary Community Service from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Abdul-Samad is a member of the board of directors of the National Conference for Community and Justice, Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium, Directors Counsel of Des Moines, African American Leadership Coalition, Senator Charles Grassley's "Face It Together", Concerned Citizens for Justice and Bridges of Iowa. He is a graduate of Des Moines Technical High School.

Member Since: 2003
Term Expires: 2006

Muslims help Muslims in Boca Raton

http://www.jannah.org/morearticles/31.html

As an act of charity--a congregation helping a young family get back on its feet--it was probably not unlike a thousand other small graces that occur in South Florida every day.

After falling out with his business partners, Daniel McBride, 39, found himself jobless in October 1999. He was struggling with bills, a lonely, homebound immigrant spouse, and two infants to feed. The chiropractor and his wife were living in a small apartment in a loud, seedy section of Oakland Park. Like other recent arrivals, they had no family nearby. They barely knew their neighbors, other transients who were fresh from one place and yearning for another, well away from the pawnshops and liquor stores. Like their neighbors, the McBrides were in transition: between cultures, lands, races and religions. In their short time together, the couple had made a series of category-killing choices that cut across color lines and catechisms. He is a lapsed Catholic from New York who converted to Islam in his mid-30s. She is South African -- a mixed-race "colored" in her native land, but black in the American racial context. Raised a Protestant evangelical, Estie McBride, 28, recently embraced her husband's newfound faith, most visibly reflected in the traditional hijab covering her hair and neck. What anchored them in South Florida--a megalopolis growing darker in complexion, more varied in religions, Babel-like in its many tongues -- was their faith. The McBrides are members of a small but devout congregation at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, a mosque in an office park near Florida Atlantic University.

As word spread that they had hit a rough patch, members of the mosque pooled their money to help out. Returning to his car one afternoon, the doctor and his wife found it full of groceries: bags of food, baby formula and other necessities. Mirsad Krijestorac, a Bosnian refugee who had struck up a close friendship with the doctor, had spearheaded the effort. A small act, yes. And this, after all, is what communities--those networks of friends, families, co-workers or neighbors that define us--are supposed to do. But as race, language and cultures continue to meld in the yawning sprawl of South Florida, community is becoming ever more complex -- and simple acts a bit more extraordinary. "I came out to the car, and it was full of groceries. I mean, just packed full. I couldn't believe it," Daniel says. "Here were people, a lot of them, who are trying to make it here, too. Most of them aren't my race, aren't from my country, but they gave what they could to help us. "In South Florida -- with the crime and the urban sprawl -- people took care of us when we needed it," he says, shaking his head. The small mosque in Boca Raton has all the elements of a Norman Rockwell painting, but only if the famed artist of middle-class America added more skin tones, cell phones, kafiyyehs and Quranic verses to his portraits of community. As a microcosm of what's happening in the region, the Islamic Center offers a peek into the future of community here, and the McBrides a glimpse at one modern family.

Like South Florida's newer migrants, they and their fellow believers are young, often parents. Many are professionals working at universities or large corporations. Others are small- business men and women kneeling to pray in offices and workplaces in the afternoon or early evening. They are immigrants, foreign-born sojourners from a wide variety of countries, who may have spent time in New York City or another Northeastern city before moving here. And they are browner, part of a more diverse group of people moving in from countries like Trinidad, Pakistan, Egypt or Bosnia, as well as Latin America. Their migration can be spiritual and emotional as well as physical. Many are fleeing wars. Some poverty. Some convert to new religions even as they make new homes. Others are drawn back strongly to their native faiths as they search for community here. A Sun-Sentinel survey done by Florida Voter of 1,000 residents in Broward, Palm and Miami-Dade counties found that immigrants give greater importance to religion in their daily lives than do non-immigrants. Immigrants ranked religion just behind family and work in terms of its importance in their daily lives. U.S-born residents placed religion further down a scale, behind friends and recreation. Daniel McBride From the moment he started reading the Quran, Daniel felt it was the instruction manual for the religious life he had long been seeking. Daniel, raised Catholic in Elmira, N.Y., had always felt the presence of God. But he lacked a clear channel of communication. After finishing college in Virginia, Daniel spent almost a decade teaching physical education in elementary and junior high schools. In the early 1990s, he enrolled in an Atlanta college, his goal to become a chiropractor. As he continued to grapple with a crisis of faith in his early 30s, Daniel began investigating other religions. Judaism crossed his mind, but it never took hold. He ranged over Protestant theology, from fundamentalist Christianity to sitting in on African-American congregations. "I always had a strong belief in God, but I didn't know how to worship," Daniel says. "I didn't know how to pray. I didn't know how to show respect." A friend lent him a copy of the Quran.

"I realized this was it," Daniel says. "It was clear, straightforward thinking in the book. It just all came together: so many things I had been thinking for so long." By then, he was a chiropractor in Jacksonville. Seeking out a mosque he had read about in a newspaper, Daniel quizzed the imam, the spiritual leader, about the translation he was reading. After being reassured it was an accurate Quran, Daniel made his profession of faith, an act known in Islam as a shahadah. Even as he became spiritually moored, Daniel was becoming a global citizen. Just before his decision to convert, the chiropractor had taken a job in South Africa, filling in for vacationing native doctors for several months. In less than a year, Daniel had changed professions and religions and was about to move halfway around the world. "You always hear of people coming to a religion because of some crisis or catastrophe in their life, but that wasn't the way with me at all," Daniel says. "I was on top when I decided to convert: I had a new profession. I was moving to a new country. I was looking forward to life and things were coming into place." Estie McBride Arriving in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Daniel found himself isolated. He was lonely and trying to live according to the dictates of his new faith. And he had moved to a country that was in the midst of a massive racial revolution. In 1995, South Africa was shifting from an all-white rule under the system of apartheid to majority black rule under a democratically elected government. The year before, former political prisoner Nelson Mandela had been elected as the country's first black leader. A black majority upset age-old divisions that had governed relations between black, white and the mixed-race populations. The revolution seriously crippled Estie Grootboom's ability to find a teaching job just as she was trying to become independent. Just out of college, a child from a middle-class family of teachers in the small sheep-farming town of Graaff-Reinet, she had moved several hours away to the city of Port Elizabeth in search of work. A sheltered young woman from a small town now living in a big city, Estie was unable to find either a job in a school or more lucrative work as an airline hostess. "It's very hard to explain what it's like over there: It was like Boca Raton would be just where the whites live," she says. "Fort Lauderdale would be where the coloreds lived. And all the blacks would live in Miami. That's the way people live over there. It's organized like that. You don't really question it. "We had always grown up thinking we were inferior to whites, but knowing we weren't as bad off as blacks."

Walking one day by an office on her lunch break, Estie was stopped by a white man. He said that he was an American, and that he had noticed her walking by for several days and wanted to meet her. His name was Daniel McBride. "It was the first white man ever who wanted to be friends with me," she says. "And he was a professional. I was very scared. I had heard a lot of stories about white men attacking colored girls, taking advantage of them." Even though he had less than three weeks left in his stay, the two started seeing each other. Daniel left to return to the United States and Estie wasn't sure she was going to hear from him again. Within weeks, a letter arrived saying he wanted to continue their relationship.

He called once, then again and again. Soon, the two were speaking almost every night, often at the cost of hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month. Daniel asked her to marry him, sent a plane ticket. The couple moved back for a while to South Africa, where Daniel operated a chiropractory practice in Graaf-Reinet, a town that seemed a throwback to those Rockwellian communities of the 1950s. "Everything closed at 5, and on the weekends everything just shut down completely," he remembers. "For a year it was nice, but I really had grown used to 24-hour convenience stores, going out to the supermarket and knowing you can find something whenever you wanted it. It was time to leave." They lived for a while in the Bahamas, then decided to settle in South Florida. Daniel's parents lived in Sebastian, and he was looking for a place closer to them, yet tolerant of both his religion and his mixed-race marriage.

"We're an interracial couple, so South Florida made more sense," Daniel says. "We found an area close to an Islamic community, close to my parents, so we could tie it all together."

The imam After they find a home or an apartment near their job, after they check out the local schools, the migrants who make South Florida their home often search for a place to worship. For foreign-born immigrants especially, churches, mosques and synagogues can be important points of entry. The language and the values are familiar. Good friends as well as good business contacts can be made there. It's a natural place for those with a yearning to volunteer their time in the new world. The community of like-minded believers can be one-stop shopping: a crisis center, welfare shelter, day care center and chamber of commerce. Opened last year in Plum Plaza in Boca Raton, the 2,200-square-foot Islamic Center is the place of worship for about 200 people. Formed originally from a community of Muslim students and professors at FAU, the mosque is now a gathering place for many young families and career-minded singles. The many couples with children were what drew the McBrides, despite long commutes from their first home in Broward County. Though Daniel still works in Hollywood, the family recently moved into an apartment within walking distance of the mosque. The pressure of making it in South Florida often cripples marriages, stresses finances and hampers efforts to plant roots. Immigrants worshiping at the mosque often are supporting extended families in places as far-flung as Indonesia, Pakistan or the occupied West Bank. Still others are refugees, from war-torn cities like Sarajevo or Belgrade, who have lost everything. The imam of the mosque, Ibrahim Dremali, presides over this congregation with a mix of humor and devotion. If American television ever does a drama about Muslim families, central casting might call him for an Islamic version of Seventh Heaven or Touched by an Angel. "I'll get calls late at night from couples fighting over things like money or how to raise their children," Ibrahim says. "Islamically, a woman has the right to her money, the money she earns, her dowry money. It is her money. But a lot of men come to the United States and like to change the rules. "You get called on to help solve these problems. Maybe the husband needs money to help support his parents, maybe there is a fight over their kids," he says. "I like to use humor so they'll come to me. If you don't make people feel comfortable, they won't approach you with their problems." The act of immigration is rarely so simple as moving from Point A to Point B. Long after they arrive, immigrants wrestle with changes in perception that can alter personal beliefs, codes and creeds they had thought were long established. Each brings a concept of community rooted in his or her native culture. As if unpacking from a long journey, they discover things about themselves that had lain undisturbed since being tucked away. "When people move to another country, they are often looking for a new means of religious expression, as well as a job or a new life," says Edemilson A. Cardoso, a pastor with two Brazilian-based Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Broward County. "I see this a lot," he says. "Many in my congregations weren't Seventh-day Adventists in Brazil. Many had no religion at all. But they come here and they're looking for new way to believe as well as a new way to live." Mirsad Krijestorac Before he arrived in the United States seven years ago, Mirsad didn't give much thought to religion and even less to Islam. Mirsad, 33, a well-known rock music promoter in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, made his community in the fast-paced world of artists, intellectuals and nightclubs.

But as war broke out in the early 1990s, Muslims became targets in Belgrade. Mirsad's high-profile career in the Yugoslavia of dictator Slobodan Milosevic made him a marked man. "First they'd beat or killed Muslims who were successful businessmen," Mirsad says. "And they'd put that in the newspaper like it was shocking news. But the news actually served the purpose of sending the message. "Many people got the message and left," he says. "It got to the point that I was being stopped, guns were being pointed at me, so I left, too." Mirsad lost everything. Arriving in New York with few contacts and no community to turn to, he ended up depressed and spent most of his days in bed. "That war destroyed all the human values inside of me to the point that I literally collapsed," he recalls. "I was desperately trying to build the human values I had again, but there was nothing to hold on for." After about six months laid up with a bad back and other stress ailments, Mirsad began thinking more and more about Islam. He realized that he had little knowledge of the religion of his ancestors. He had no idea why Muslims were so hated, why a mere Muslim name had destroyed his glittering life in Belgrade. "Simply because of my name, what connected me to Muslims, I had to go through everything," he says. "So I said, `Let me see what this really means.'" Moving with his family to South Florida, he slowly found his way to the Boca Raton mosque. The equivalent of a born-again Muslim, he began educating himself about the religion that had determined his fate. The tiny storefront mosque quickly came to define his community in South Florida. His wife made her shahada here, her joyous friends calling him at work to give him the good news. His children found friends among the children of Arabic, black and white children whose parents come here: a diversity, he points out, that is lacking in many other religions. Attending religious lectures, he started to notice Daniel. Both stood out as white, non-Arabic speakers. Both were seeking to learn more about the religion, Mirsad as a child of secular European Muslims, Daniel as a recent convert. Both had served as the vehicles for their wives' conversion to Islam. Both had two children.

"Eventually we found a lot of things in common," Mirsad says. "You like to spend time with the people who like the same things you do." When the McBrides fell on hard times, there seemed little question as to what he must do.

"You know that your neighbor has a problem, what are you going to do?" Mirsad asks. "You're going to help him. Is that something special? I feel like it's nothing special. I actually feel like I didn't do enough." What Mirsad finds so wondrous about his new country is not the permanence of its communities, but their impermanence. The mobility, the sprawl that so many Americans complain about may be its saving grace, he suggests. So, the idea that a Bosnian refugee would rediscover his faith in exile, find his way to Boca Raton and end up helping an American who found his own way to a new faith--it really isn't that surprising at all. "When you go to Europe, you see people whose family have lived there for generations, and they feel this is very important and they want to hold on to it," he says. "And when I see this in America, I have to laugh. "Look, you build houses here so you can destroy them easily. It's a completely different kind of thinking. Over there in Europe, you build them so they'll last 200 years."


This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/659