Bridging Gap Requires Both Islam, iPods

October 30, 2006

Author: SARAH VIREN

Source: Houston Chronicle

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4293945.html

Late this summer, when British police announced they had foiled a terrorist plot aimed at U.S.-bound airplanes, governments heightened security, airlines delayed flights, and stock markets faltered.

In Houston the news meant 20 cancellations to Shariq Abdul Ghani's Muslim summer camp, set to start the next day at a state park near New Caney. With the renewed talk of terror, parents feared a backlash against Muslims and opted to keep their teenage boys home.

Ghani, 25, just shrugged it off.

As a Muslim youth leader in the post-9/11 world, he juggles issues foreign to his Christian and secular counterparts. He has twice met with the FBI not because there were problems but to pre-empt any that may arise. His charges the children of Houston's Malaysian, Nigerian, Pakistani and Sudanese immigrants struggle with unique adolescent conflicts: how it feels to be called a terrorist or belong to a religion that discourages taking a date to the prom.

"The pressure is to fit in with American society, and I don't think they know how to do that properly," Ghani said of the hundreds of teens he mentors through his organization, Crescent Youth.