Archive for New York City

Muslima Fashionista: High fashion and modesty—clashing ideals, or can it actually work?

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , on February 26, 2012 by loonwatch
Muslima Fashionista
Model for Underwraps Agency, NYC

There is no shortage of controversy about how Muslim women should dress.

Some argue Muslim women need to adopt Western-style fashion if they want to assimilate and flourish in Western culture. Others insist that modest dress is a non-negotiable article of the their faith, and challenge Western democracies to demonstrate their much-vaunted commitment to freedom by making room for everything from headscarves to burqas.

Is modest dress oppressive, or does it free women from superficial notions of beauty and command respect?  As the debate rages on, some Muslim women have staked the middle ground, where modest dress and fashion-forward styles are viewed as perfectly compatible.

A New York City modeling agency has brought bold interpretations of Islamic dress to the catwalk, turning heads and challenging stereotypes in the world of high fashion and beyond.

Modesty x Couture | New Muslim Modeling Agency in NYC

By Ada Lee, Schema Magazine

The American-born Muslim designer Nailah Lymus seeks out to bridge the gap between fashion and modesty. She does so by launching a new modeling agency in New York City for Muslim models.

The agency, Underwraps, will represent aspiring models that wish to work in the mainstream fashion industry without having to compromise their faith-led belief of modesty in dress. According to Lymus, it is a belief that requires clothes to be loose and not shape revealing, and that the only body parts that can be visible are your face, hands and feet.

“Being modest isn’t just a Muslim concept; it crosses many religions and cultures,” says Lymus. “Beautiful women who have always wanted to venture on to the catwalk but have declined because of their beliefs now have a chance.” Lymus’ goal with Underwraps, to me, seems to be creating a new space for reconciling concepts that are seemingly conflicting.

Lymus attracted attention when she first launched her line of clothing “Amirah Creations” last year. Her designs are hot but they’re also trail blazing—she’s determined to break stereotypes and limitations of what Muslim women can wear, and ultimately, how they can fit in without forfeiting their identities.

UnderwrapsUnderwraps Model

How will this agency fare in an industry where flesh-baring models are the standard? Judging by the comments online, it seems like everybody has their own idea of what modesty, Islam, modeling, and high fashion should be about. Many are skeptical of whether it’ll survive. Others are saying that there is no market for modest fashion.

But if fashion is an expression of the self, then what Lymus is doing resonates in Schema—Underwraps is to Muslim models as Schema is to hyphenated Canadians. It’s a space where 1st/2nd/3rd generations can navigate through cultures without having to compromise, without having to choose simply being one or the other.

So I say, you go, girl.

Ada Lee is a sixth year Human Geography/International Relations student who is interested in people and what makes them tick. The list ranges from social justice to astrology. She tries to get by in life by getting high on ideas, breathing deeply, and dreaming vividly. Follow 0415ADA at your own risk.

‘Blow Away’ Text Lands Muslim in Canada Jail

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by loonwatch

‘Blow Away’ Text Lands Muslim in Canada Jail 

MONTREAL — A Muslim businessman in Canada became a terror suspect for telling his sales staff in a text message to “blow away” the competition at a New York City trade show, a religious association said Friday.

Moroccan-born Saad Allami, who works as a telecommunications company sales manager, was arrested three days after he sent the message in January 2011 and detained while police searched his home, said the Muslim Council of Montreal.

“The whole time, the officers kept repeating to the plaintiff’s wife that her husband was a terrorist,” said court filings in a lawsuit filed by Allami, cited by local media. Allami was released after four hours of questioning.

Some of his colleagues reportedly claimed they were also held for hours at the Canada-US border on account of the accusations made against their boss.

“Mr Allami’s statements, when considered in the context of which they were given, were nothing to draw such alarm or suspicion,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.

“It is clear that his arrest was the result of racial profiling and a knee-jerk reaction to label him as a terror suspect simply due to his religious background.”

Allami is seeking Can$100,000 ($100,603) from Quebec’s provincial police, a police sergeant and the justice department for unlawful detention, unlawful arrest, loss of income and damage to his reputation.

The Quebec Superior Court is to hear the case on March 5.

New York Muslims Refuse to Attend Mayor Bloomberg’s Breakfast with Bagels

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2011 by loonwatch
The letter said Michael Bloomberg had 'defended the NYPD misconduct'. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters The letter said Michael Bloomberg had ‘defended the NYPD misconduct’. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters

New York Muslims to snub Bloomberg breakfast in surveillance protest

A group of prominent Muslim figures in New York City have said they will boycott an annual meeting on Friday with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to protest against police surveillance of their communities.

Bloomberg is scheduled to hold a multi-faith “Bagels with Bloomberg” breakfast with religious leaders from across the city on Friday morning, but the group has written to the mayor’s office outlining their reasons for refusing to attend.

In particular, the group says it is outraged at details that emerged earlier this year of a concerted effort by the New York police department to monitor activities of Muslims in New York. A series of reports by the Associated Press detailed the activities of a unit within the NYPD, called the Demographics Unit, that monitored daily life in Muslim communities, including eavesdropping in businesses and infiltrating mosques.

“According to the investigation, the police department monitored and collected information on New Yorkers at about 250 mosques, schools, and businesses throughout the city, simply because of their religion and not because they exhibited suspicious behavior,” the letter said.

It added: “Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD’s misconduct. We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement.”

The letter was signed by 15 prominent Muslim New Yorkers, including Khaled Lamada, head of the Muslim American Society, Omar Mohammedi, president of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers, Aisha al-Adawiya, founder of Women in Islam, and Iman Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, who president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

Another signatory, Linda Sarsour, the director of the Arab-American Association of New York, told the Guardian that the AP reports had confirmed her worst fears. “This confirmed what we already knew. It gave validity to our concerns that we are being spied upon just because of our religion. That undermines the security of all New Yorkers,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour added that lawsuits against the NYPD were being considered in the wake of the AP investigation, and called for an independent inquiry into the activities of the department when it came to monitoring Muslim communities.

So far, that call has fallen on deaf ears. Senior police figures have denied that they targeted Muslim communities in general, claiming they only followed leads. Bloomberg has also strongly and consistently backed the city’s police department and its tactics.

An investigation by the CIA had looked at its role in helping the NYPD and recently concluded no wrongdoing had taken place.

But Sarsour remained unsatisfied.

“How can someone from the CIA be the one to investigate the CIA? We are asking for an independent investigation,” she said, saying it should be carried out by the Department of Justice or a Congressional committee.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office downplayed the impact of the letter and the boycott, saying that other Muslim leaders were still planning on attending the breakfast gathering. “We have a couple dozen Muslim community leaders who have RSVP-ed that they will be at the breakfast, which is about the same as previous years,” said Stu Loeser.

NYPD officials also weighed into the spat, saying that the AP story had exaggerated its activities. “The NYPD lawfully follows leads in terrorist-related investigations and does not engage in the kind of wholesale spying on communities that was false alleged,” said Paul Browne, an NYPD deputy commissioner.

But the revelations about the Demographics Unit are not the only controversy surrounding NYPD actions around Muslim Americans and terrorism. An NYPD operation last month arrested a suspected “lone wolf” terrorist in the shape of New Yorker Jose Pimentel. NYPD officials hailed the arrest, which occurred after a lengthy undercover operation that saw an NYPD informant supply Pimental with bomb-making equipment, as a major triumph.

However, it later emerged that the FBI had passed on co-operating on the case, because it believed the target was not a viable threat. That has led to accusations that the NYPD “entrapped” Pimental.

Michael Powell: Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

NYPD

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

Police Eyes Hovering Over Muslims

By MICHAEL POWELL (NewYorkTimes)

Hello to you, and to whoever might be spying on us tonight.

This is how some Muslim New Yorkers have grown accustomed to opening meetings, on campus and at mosques from Steinway Street in Queens to Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Their assumption is that someone is always listening for hints of frustration and anger and disloyalty.

And that the listener works for the New York Police Department.

“In our society, government is supposed to be public and you’re supposed to have a private life,” Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, said. “We’ve flipped that on its head.”

The temptation is to dismiss such fears as post-9/11 paranoia. But The Associated Press, in a startling series, and the dependable Leonard Levitt, who writes the NYPD Confidential Web site, have put substantial meat on the bone of these suspicions.

They found that undercover officers, known as rakers, infiltrated hundreds of mosques; that a secret demographic unit compiled extensive dossiers on where Muslim New Yorkers eat, work, type on computers and transfer money to relatives; and that even imams who worked closely and courageously with the police have found themselves spied on and listed as “suspects.”

The Police Department’s reach extends to India, Pakistan and the Middle East, and less exotically to New Jersey, where undercover police cells have taken roost. And the department works with the F.B.I. and, more controversially, the C.I.A. in a way that sounds less fraternal than like a blood marriage.

Recently, the C.I.A. sent what The A.P. described as “one of its most senior clandestine officers” to work at One Police Plaza. It is highly unusual and troubling for the C.I.A. to work so closely with a police department.

So how should we parse these deeply unsettling findings? We live in an age of moral murk. It is to diminish none of the power of The A.P.’s work to acknowledge that some revelations fall into moral shadow rather than a Manichean play of pitch darkness and light.

Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly vibrates with certitude. He watched those towers transformed into calamitous clouds of dust. He learned of profound federal intelligence failures and bristles with a determination not to go there again.

“We’re paid to think the unthinkable,” Mr. Kelly told the City Council at a hearing 11 days ago. “We want to know how individuals traveling here communicate and conceal themselves. We go where the leads take us.”

I get that. The word “if” dominated our lives for many months after 9/11. Shortly afterward, my wife and I decided not to send our son to a fine public middle school in Lower Manhattan, for fear of having him too far removed from our Brooklyn home if. …

And I have felt a bubbling up of impatience with some religious leaders. The Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn was briefly home to the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, who helped plot the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and since then other radicals are reported to have passed through. Does anyone there tend the door?

Councilman Brad Lander is one of those wrestling thoughtfully with such questions. But as he put pointed questions to Mr. Kelly at the hearing, the answers were illuminating in not terribly comforting ways.

It sounds, Mr. Lander said, as if you’re engaged in religious and ethnic profiling.

The commissioner shrugged. “I wouldn’t believe everything that I read,” he replied.

This fell well short of candor, which is unfortunate at a time when the police brass ask us to give them something like blind trust in their intentions. Afterward, an A.P. reporter asked, point-blank, Can you point to specific factual inaccuracies in our reporting?

And the commissioner replied: No.

This pattern recurs. Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, has a tendency to emphatically deny what has certifiably happened, whether the spying on and locking up of demonstrators for days at the Republican National Convention, or these recent revelations.

Credibility is like sand flowing through an hourglass. It runs out.

Professor Bayoumi rides subways and elevators and understands terrible possibilities. “I understand there need to be investigations,” he said. “But to base it on religious beliefs and what someone says at a meeting, rather than on actual leads …”

He paused, frustrated. “It weakens the bonds in a community and corrodes trust. Is that useful?”

E-mail: powellm@nytimes.com

NYDailyNews: Imam Attacked on Subway in Hate Crime

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by loonwatch

Hate? Islamophobia? Oh no, it doesn’t exist! This Imam had it coming because he dared to be a Mooslim!

Two men accused in subway imam attack hit with hate crime charges

(NYDailyNews)


Two men accused of attacking a Muslim religious leader in a Manhattan subway station were the targets Thursday of a hate-crimes investigation.

The unidentified imam claimed the two men called him a “terrorist” and yelled ethnic and religious slurs when they assaulted him at the Canal  Street station early Wednesday, sources said.

Eddie Crespo, 28, of Staten Island, was charged with third degree assault as a hate crime and two counts of second degree robbery, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.

Albert Melendez, 30, of Manhattan, is expected to be arraigned later Thursday.

The incident happened at 3:25 a.m. on the northbound A-train platform, prosecutors said.

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com

 

Uproar Over Muslim Center Echoes Protest Against Church in 1785

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by loonwatch

Interesting historical perspective on the Muslim center to be built in New York.

200 year-old echoes in Muslim Center uproar (New York Times)

Many New Yorkers were suspicious of the newcomers’ plans to build a house of worship in Manhattan. Some feared the project was being underwritten by foreigners. Others said the strangers’ beliefs were incompatible with democratic principles.

Concerned residents staged demonstrations, some of which turned bitter.

But cooler heads eventually prevailed; the project proceeded to completion. And this week, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan — the locus of all that controversy two centuries ago and now the oldest Catholic church in New York State — is celebrating the 225th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone.

The Rev. Kevin V. Madigan, who is the pastor of St. Peter’s, said that when he began reading about the history of his church early this year in preparation for the Oct. 5 anniversary, he was not initially struck by the parallels between the opposition it had faced and what present-day Muslims have encountered in proposing a community center and mosque near ground zero.

“There was no controversy when they first proposed it, and we were just pleased to have a new neighbor,” said Father Madigan, whose church, at Barclay and Church Streets, sits two blocks from 51 Park Place, the site of the proposed Islamic center. Both are roughly equidistant from the construction zone at ground zero.

But as an uproar enveloped the Islamic project over the summer, the priest said he was startled by how closely the arguments and parries of the project’s opponents mirrored those brought against St. Peter’s in 1785.

Father Madigan detailed those similarities in a letter to parishioners over the summer, in two sermons he delivered at an interfaith gathering last month and at a special Mass last Sunday marking the church’s anniversary.

For starters, he said, there was the effort to move the church project somewhere else.

City officials in 18th-century New York urged project organizers to change the church’s initial location, on Broad Street, in what was then the heart of the city, to a site outside the city limits, at Barclay and Church. Unlike the organizers of Park51, who have resisted suggestions they move the project to avoid having a mosque so close to the killing field of ground zero, the Catholics complied.

Then there were fears about nefarious foreign backers. Just as some opponents of Park51 have said that the $100 million-plus project will be financed by the same Saudi sheiks who bankroll terrorists, many early-American Protestants saw the pope as the sworn enemy of democracy, and feared that his followers’ little church would be the bridgehead of a papal assault on the new United States government.

The Park51 organizers say they will not accept any foreign backing. But with about only 200 Catholics in New York in the late 1700s, most of them poor, St. Peter’s Church would not have been built without a handsome gift from a foreigner — and a papist at that — $1,000 from King Charles III of Spain.

The angry eruptions at some of the demonstrations this summer against the proposed Muslim center — with signs and slogans attacking Islam — were not as vehement as those staged against St. Peter’s, Father Madigan said.

On Christmas Eve 1806, two decades after the church was built, the building was surrounded by Protestants incensed at a celebration going on inside — a religious observance then viewed in the United States as an exercise in “popish superstition,” more commonly referred to as Christmas. Protesters tried to disrupt the service. In the melee that ensued, dozens of people were injured and a policeman was killed.

“We were treated as second-class citizens; we were viewed with suspicion,” Father Madigan wrote in his letter to parishioners, adding, “Many of the charges being leveled at Muslim-Americans today are the same as those once leveled at our forebears.”

The pastor said that Park51’s organizers would have to “make clear that they are in no way sympathetic to or supported by any ideology antithetical to our American ideals, which I am sure they can do.” But he said Catholic New Yorkers have a special obligation to fulfill.

The discrimination suffered by the first Catholics in America, he said, “ought to be an incentive for us to ensure that similar indignities not be inflicted on more recent arrivals.”

Cabbie-Stabber had “anti-Muslim” Diary

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by loonwatch

So much for the claims of Spencer-Geller that this was probably staged by Muslims to get sympathy from unwitting Americans.

Michael Enright, cabbie-stabber, had “anti-Muslim” diary

By Alex Pareene

Michael Enright, the raging drunk who nearly killed a Muslim cab-driver in Manhattan this week, is being held without bail following his arraignment on hate crime charges. Enright, a film student, is finishing a documentary about Marines serving in Afghanistan, where he was embedded earlier this year for 35 days.

Enright stabbed the man after an apparently civil conversation about the driver’s Muslim faith. Then Enright allegedly yelled, “This is the checkpoint,” and slashed the drivers throat and arm.

According to friends, Enright was usually kind and mild-mannered. He volunteered with Intersections International, a liberal organization dedicated to religious tolerance and peace.

“The person who volunteered for us is a really good guy,” Intersections International executive director Rev. Robert Chase told the media. “He’s responsible, he’s been generous, he’s concerned about the issues in the world.”

“He’s a really nice guy to be around,” a college friend told the New York Post. “He’s a great kid,” a neighbor said.

But: Enright was arrested twice last year, for disorderly conduct and underage drinking. According to the Post: “College friends said Enright had been sober for the last year.”

And a friend tells the Daily News that Enright had seemed troubled and angry since his return from Afghanistan.

The Daily News also reports that cops found a diary on Enright that was filled with anti-Muslim rantings:

When he was arrested Tuesday in midtown, Enright had a personal diary filled with pages of “pretty strong anti-Muslim comments,” a police source said.

The source said Enright’s journal equated Muslims with “killers, ungrateful for the help they were being offered, filthy murderers without a conscience.”

So. He’s a complicated character. Possible alcoholism, possible PTSD.

Ahmed Sharif, the driver, described the terrifying attack to the local media. He’ll go to city hall to meet Mayor Bloomberg later today.

  • Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene More Alex Pareene