How We Got the Story: Reporting on Islamophobia

islam cover.jpg
Last week's New Times cover story explored the lives of Muslims living in South Florida. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how we got the story:

The hardest part was picking an outfit. Living in South Florida, I rarely have the need for a turtleneck. But as a female reporter visiting a mosque, I wanted to be respectful. So I dug out my one and only blouse with a high collar, buttoned a cardigan over that, and made sure my slacks reached my ankles.

I pulled up to the Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen mosque in Margate tugging a black scarf over my head. The silky piece of fabric was not designed for modesty, and it kept slipping off.
Nervously, I walked toward the entrance. Congregants milled about, chatting and greeting one another before the Friday-afternoon prayer service. No one seemed troubled by the strange Jewish woman fiddling with her scarf.

A man smiled and asked if I knew where I was going. Unfortunately, the woman who had agreed to escort me was running late. So I sat outside the women's entrance to the mosque and waited.

"As-Salaam-Alaikum," a series of older ladies greeted me, before slipping off their shoes and entering the building. Some of them were pushing walkers or stepping carefully on aching feet. My friend later explained that this was the entrance for the elderly and infirm -- I had missed the main entrance around back.

Later that evening, at the Islamic Foundation of South Florida, a mosque and school in Sunrise, I received a similar welcome. Around 7:30 p.m., I spotted two young women standing outside, deeply engrossed in conversation.

"Excuse me, do you know if there's a youth group meeting here tonight?" I asked.

By this point, I had given up on the headscarf and looked like any heathen off the street. The women didn't mind. They said that the meeting was usually held after the prayer service and that I should go inside to find the classroom. 

"We are an open community," they assured me.

And they were right. Inside, the school secretary had no qualms about allowing a reporter to observe the youth group. She ushered me over to the teacher, Abdur Rahman Al-Ghani, who was thrilled to have a visitor. And there I sat, for more than two hours, listening to teenagers discuss how they coped with the inherent conflicts of being young and Muslim in Florida.

No one asked my religion or my political leanings. They didn't question my motives or accuse me of bias. Unlike those who so often judge Muslims based on fear or prejudice, these people didn't judge me at all.
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Stageplays
Stageplays

Pretend you never met a Muslim and don't know about the thousands of violent cruel attacks on infidels, especially women and children all over the world. Open the Koran and read the endless  words that male Muslims are the only ones worth of Allah's love. Female Muslims are higher than mules only if they are 100% subservient to the male. The other 6 billion people on earth are non-believers, worthy only of extreme torture and violent death. Crimes against infidels are NOT crimes.Find one Muslim congregation in Florida that openly condemned these attacks, even since 9/11.Zero. Now take a look at Sharia Law, which is exactly opposite our Constitution. I rest my case.  

FQS9000
FQS9000

People with brutal beliefs act normal most of the time.  As an example, most Southerners were perfectly nice 100 years ago, but 20 or so times each year, they got together and lynched a couple of black men.

Being polite most of the time means nothing.  If Lisa had worn her typical slutty outfit decorated with a star of David, then she would have seen exactly how tolerant they are.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Silly story about silly people believing silly fairy tales. Same theme as every religion. Grow up people and dump any belief system without basis.  They all suck. If a society needs religion and fairy tales to live the moral life, good luck to us all. Get over yourselves.

P S. WTF happened to Matthew Hendley?

Ahmed
Ahmed

Thanks for the try Lisa Rab... I wish that all the people who find comfort in getting their knowledge by listening to others (who most of the time are ignorants and biased themselvews) can try like you and go themselves to visit the nearest Masjid (AKA Mosque) and see for themselves how they will be received, who we are, what is our ideologyn and most of all our respect to Moses and Jesus peace be upon them and all the other prophets.... They will be free also to ask any questions and they will get the answers they are looking for... let's go guys... don't be shy or afraid...be American... You've got nothing to lose but a lot to gain... at least you will clarify matters for yourself and by yourself in a direct way.... Thanks Lisa again for taking the time to explore our religion.

Guest
Guest

Imagine  if the reporter was doing a story on a golf club and wasn't allowed to enter the mens poker room...If she wanted to dress like a muslim hopefully she failed to use any deodorant so that she would fit right in

Irish22roundtree
Irish22roundtree

I really enjoyed reading this. Even brought a tear to my eyes. Muslims are normal and want to live in Harmony with everyone. We even love America. Thank you so much for this.

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

Damn good story.  I am not a Muslim myself, but my friends who are have never once cared about any of that.  Course the christian ones are always trying to get me to join their mythology..strange how that works.

Roby
Roby

oh lisa lisa u idealistic fool u.  SO many Muslims would love to slice your throat. If you want to garner some repsect why dont you travel to Iran and see what happens to you. When or if u come back alive, you can then really tell us the truth about Muslims

JustMe
JustMe

@lazyfed: You must be proud of yourself. How rude.

JustMe
JustMe

lazyfed: You must be proud of yourself. How rude.

Lisa Rab
Lisa Rab

And thank you for reading.

lazycs
lazycs

I agree visting a moooslim country is pretty stupid

lazycs
lazycs

Then you were never outside. or your burka covered your nose

lazycs
lazycs

Obviously you have never been around a group of muslims. I live in detroit and you don't ever want to be down wind of them

JustMe
JustMe

Stupid is as stupid does.

Guest
Guest

Seriously?! Islam was the religion that gave the adage "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" at a time when the kings in europe thought it was against their elk to go to the bathroom to pee! Where the royalty used to hire a person to give them a laxative to "clean" their innards once a month 'cause they thought it was beneath them to use the loo !?!

In fact in Muslim Spain, the strangest thing that Christian and other non-muslims thought about Muslims was the fact they washed themselves five times a day and bathed daily, as that was thought to be a menial thing to do!

JustMe
JustMe

Obviously?? I lived in a Muslim country for 20 years and nobody stank at all. Also no drunken antics, pissing or barfing.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...