He's a happily married, Chicago Bears-crazed, pizza-loving former Boy Scout.
He listens to alternative rock by U2 and Collective Soul, belongs to a rowing club in Philadelphia and hails from Springfield, Ill.
So the evidence suggests that Moein Khawaja, 27, has every reason to consider himself as American as, well, Springfield's own Homer Simpson.
Heck, when I called Khawaja's cell phone with follow-up questions, I actually caught him in a Dunkin' Donuts.
"I'm from Springfield," Khawaja said with pride, "but my dad is not Apu."
Who but someone steeped in American culture would make an Apu reference?
But to be Khawaja is to live with his Americanism being suspect.
A Muslim born to well-educated Pakistani immigrants, Khawaja wonders what it's going to take to not have fellow Americans wonder about him.
Guilt by association
Remember the news on Christmas Day? Khawaja does.
A Nigerian with extremist Islamic beliefs tried to detonate a liquid explosive attached to his underwear while on board a commercial flight landing in Detroit.
"It was Christmas. We had the day off. My wife turns on the news," Khawaja recalled. "And she's like: 'You've got to be kidding me!' And then she unleashes a whole set of expletives."
Khawaja said Muslims across the United States had the same reaction.
In the name of Allah, a lunatic tried to blow up himself and a plane full of innocents, quite likely Muslims among them. And Muslims everywhere got tarred.
"When I hear on the news that there's been a shooting," Khawaja said, "I'm like, 'Please, God, don't let it be a Muslim.' "
And if it is an Islamic radical, Khawaja lamented, "I have to prove to everyone that I'm not one of them."
I spoke with Khawaja after a talk he gave to Lancaster Rotary Club members. He is thecivil rights director for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). (More)
VIDEO: CAIR-LA REP DISCUSSES CASE OF 'IRVINE 11' - TOP Inside OC
One month after pro-Palestinian students were arrested for shouting down the Israeli ambassador while he was speaking at Univ. of Irvine, the controversy continues to rage. Should the Irvine 11 be expelled from school? Should they be punished at all? And why is UCI a flash-point for Middle Eastern politics? Rick discusses these questions with Rabbi Dov Fischer (Young Israel of OC) and Hussam Ayloush (Council on Amer.-Islamic Relations)...
CAIR: IMAM ASKS FOR RETURN OF QURAN - TOP Joyce Kelly, Daily News, 3/11/10
WALTHAM — After vandals wreaked havoc on the Muslim Student Association suite last week, Imam TalalEid, Brandeis University's Muslim chaplain, said the theft of his Quran "is what keeps me upset."
"I use it for my sermon, and it had my notes in it - it's the work of two years," said Eid, his voice shaking slightly, yesterday.
"The notes cannot be replaced, so I have to start all over again," said Eid, founder of the Islamic Institute of Boston (www.iiboston.net).
Eid is asking whoever has his Quran to "please return it."
Last Friday, just four weeks after $80,000 worth of renovations were completed, the Muslim Student Association's suite was vandalized, Eid said...
Vandalism getting national attention
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said CAIR, the country's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is monitoring the case.
He said the council is relying on Talal Eid's judgment about whether the vandalism is ahate crime, and noted the theft of his Quran "adds evidence to a possible bias motive, but you never know."
"Unfortunately, we've had a spate of mosque vandalisms around the country recently, and often, there's not some graffiti that says, 'Death to Islam,' so in initial investigations, you can never label it categorically as a hate crime," Hooper said. (More)
Protestors oppose Northern Virginia imam who gave House's opening prayer Correction: Del. Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) was sitting in his seat with his head bowed in prayer when the imam was delivering the prayer.
Update: About a dozen delegates, most Republicans, were not in the House chamber at the time of Imam Johari Abdul-Malik's prayer. They were in their lounge or downstairs, where members had met immediately prior to the opening of session.
In his prayer, Abdul-Malik asked them "to go beyond tolerance to understanding...Where there is fear, let us find faith." Delegates joined him in saying saying "amen" at the conclusion.
Missing delegates included: Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville), Kathy J. Byron (R-Lynchburg), John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Riley E. Ingram (R-Hopewell), Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas), Lacey E. Putney (I-Bedford), James Edmunds (R-Halifax) and John Cox (R-Ashland). Many would not comment about their absence. (More)
CAIR-MI REPS SPEAK TO STUDENTS ABOUT ISLAMOPHOBIA - TOP
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 3/12/10) Two representatives from the Michigan chapter of theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) yesterday spoke about Islam,Islamophobia and contemporary American Muslim issues for two classes at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Representatives discussed basic Islamic beliefs and how Islamophobia in public discourse influences government policies affecting Muslims.
"We welcome such opportunities to engage college students regarding misconceptions about basic Islamic beliefs and to elaborate on how Islamophobia displays itself in the public discourse," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-559-2247, E-Mail:email@example.com
ARAB-AMERICANS CRITICIZE FEDERAL PROSECUTIONS - TOP Niraj Warikoo, Free Press, 3/10/10
At a meeting in Dearborn today, Arab-Americans slammed federal law enforcementofficials for targeting their community, saying a disproportionate number of prosecutions in recent years are aimed at them. (More)
ONE JEWISH AND ONE MUSLIM HOLIDAY TO BE ADDED TO SCHOOL CALENDAR - TOP Matt Sutkoski, Free Press, 3/11/10
The Burlington School Board has voted to add two holidays to future school calendars to give students time off on Jewish and Muslim holy days, but board members say the changes won't lengthen the school year.
The board approved the chances Tuesday by an 8-1 vote.
The additions will give students the day off on Eid al-Fitr and Yom Kippur. Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr as a feast to end the holy month of Ramadan. Yom Kippur is a Jewish day of atonement and considered among the holiest days of the year; it typically occurs in early fall. (More)
CA: LOCAL MUSLIMS STEP UP TO HELP HAITI - TOP Matt Coker, OC Register, 3/11/10
Orange County Muslims on Friday plan to ship out to Haiti a 40-foot container full of clothes, medicine, medical equipment, bottled water and other basic necessities.
The relief comes courtesy of the Muslims For Haiti Project, which is a campaign theAnaheim office of Helping Hand USA launched immediately after the devastating quake shook the tiny impoverished nation. (More)