The US has already tried registering Muslims. It didn’t work.

I reported on a Muslim registry in the US almost 15 years ago, after 9/11. It never occurred to me, once the Bush administration quietly stopped pursuing the program, that I would have an occasion to report on it again.

But here we are. Since this story ran, the Obama administration has taken the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), essentially a profiling program for male non-resident immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, off the books. But it was a program that was implemented by executive order, so if Trump so chooses, it will be easy to begin again. In fact, one of Trump’s immigration advisors was a chief architect of the original program.

I reported this story to help people better understand what “extreme vetting” and “Muslim registry” actually means. Read and listen at PRI.org.

Haute Hijabis

Trimmings in downtown Los Angeles' fashion districtMarwa Atik needs five pieces of trim, the kind embellished with pearls and black jewels. At a store in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District, boxes of trimmings line the walls from floor to ceiling, but Atik scans quickly and zeroes in on what she wants. At her direction, a clerk climbs a tall, wooden ladder and pulls down one of the cardboard boxes. He counts out five pieces and, after 30 seconds of bargaining, Atik makes her purchase.

For the next five days, the designer will create elaborate hijabs, which are head-scarves for Muslim women, to display at an upcoming Irvine fashion show. Atik’s company, Vela, specializes in unique designs of an item known more often for its conservative connotations than its stylistic value.

Read on in the LA Weekly.

A man of faith

The offices of L.A. Voice, where Umar Hakim is in residency, are on the third floor of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles. So when it comes time for Hakim to offer his daily prayers, he finds a quiet room, faces Mecca and turns his thoughts to God.
“Most people don’t object to prayer,” he says. “They just object to control.”

Hakim, 41, says that as his faith deepens, so too does his desire to “be disruptive.” Muslims are present in Los Angeles’ civic life, he explains, they’re just not organized.

Read on at the LA Weekly.

Things that aren’t about Pastor Jones

It’s 9/11 in America. I feel like every year for the past nine years, we’ve been questioning our identity, our values in this country. I wanted to remind myself that this is not a country of people like Terry Jones. Rather, this is a country where people like Terry Jones might end up all over the news, but also where Lee Ielpi, Henry Rollins, Amman Ali and Bassam Tariq can carve out their say. So here are a collection of things I saw and heard that gave me a broader view.

Deeper Reading: Recent Titles on Islam around the World

If you are reading and watching American news in the last few weeks, you are probably simultaneously seeing a lot and very little about Islam in America today. The conversation surrounding Park51, the Islamic community center slated to be built in Lower Manhatten, is often very shallow, with little explication of terms and nuance. Words are being thrown around — Muslims, freedom, the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad  — as though they are self-explanatory and monolithic. Here are a few titles I have reviewed recently that might give a deeper understanding of the issues behind this politicized debate:

Upcoming Events

While I am working on, well, all the different things I am working on, I am excited to be a part of two upcoming events in Southern California. One is a UCLA Extension writing seminar, “Writing in the Digital Age” on May 8. On June 7, I’ll be in conversation with Ian Johnson at UC Irvine, an event hosted by The China Beat, about his new book on the Muslim Brotherhood and his work in China.

Here’s the published blurbs about these events, but let me know if you want more information or if you have thoughts about what we should cover:

A Month in Indonesia

I spent January in Indonesia, mostly in and around the urban sprawl of Jakarta. It’s a city that is in motion — things are happening there and I find myself returning to this place of concrete and boulevards again and again. The first time I was acquainted with Jakarta was in 2007 when I attended Pesta Blogger, a massive gathering of online innovators from all over Indonesia’s many islands. I went back in 2008 to work on a magazine story about urban flooding with my friend and colleague, photographer Jacqueline Koch.

Jacqueline invited me to go back once more, this time to delve into religion in Indonesia. There are so many little known facts about this dynamic place. It is the fourth most populated country in the world, and largest majority-Muslim country in the world. While it is difficult to get an accurate count, the number of Muslims in Indonesia is as many as, perhaps more than, the Muslim populations of all Arab countries combined.

We spent the month exploring the diverse religious practices of this country. Islam does not just come in the Saudi Arabian brand so ubiquitous in the American press, and a visit to Indonesia makes that fact clear almost immediately. We wanted to know what the future of religion looks like in Indonesia, and how the rest of the world might incorporate the diversity of the country into their often limited views of Islam.

There was never a dull day.

Global Lives #1: Project Kashmir

[podcast]http://www.angileeshah.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/globallive-projectkashmir.mp3[/podcast][podcast]http://www.angileeshah.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/globallive-projectkashmir.mp3[/podcast]I did a story about the documentary film Project Kashmir for Asia Pacific Arts. You can see the story and all of APA’s coverage of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in their website. I also made my first attempt at making a podcast start-to-finish. I hope these will become more engaging as I keep practicing.

I’m working on getting my buggy website to work with a player, so for now you can listen and subscribe directly from my site on mypodcast.com. UPDATE: It works now!

Here’s the intro:

Welcome to the first episode of Global Lives, a show about the kinds of people who make the whole world their home. Today, I’m talking to Senain Kheshgi and Geeta Patel, the filmmakers behind the much acclaimed documentary Project Kashmir.

For more information about the film, visit projectkashmir.org. This episode is co-produced by the online magazine Asia Pacific Arts, asiaarts.ucla.edu. You can discover more Global Lives on my website, angileeshah.com.

You can easily subscribe to this podcast or share it on your own blog or website.

Global Lives #1: Project Kashmir