Day of Dignity 2015

Fifth annual Day of Dignity at Masjid-an-Nur promotes awareness

All photographs taken by Aqeel El-Amin. Oct. 3 marked the fifth annual Day of Dignity hosted by Masjid-an-nur and Al-Maa’uun in North Minneapolis. Sponsored by Islamic Relief USA, Day of Dignity is hosted in 20 different cities around the United States. “It’s up to the community and partners to decide what types of services are provided, how they’ll get the people to come. Continue Reading

Is America a violent nation? Obama thinks so.

Unlike in Egypt, in America there are no laws to force media to follow the government party-line narrative or version of the story, which is not perfect, but at least theoretically readers, will decide for themselves which version to believe. The First Amendment prohibits any laws that infringe on freedom of expression. However, after the Oregon shooting where a 26-year-old man who police have identified as Chris Harper Mercer killed nine people and wounded seven others while on a shooting rampage at a community college in southwest Oregon last Thursday, Obama, the president of the free world, reacted differently—he was somber and frustrated; he actually asked the media for help, requested from them to put the death toll in perspective by comparing the thousands of Americans killed by gun violence with those killed by terrorism. He wanted reporters and editors throughout the United States to provide a context illustrating the disproportionate amount of people murdered with guns every year: “I would ask news organizations, because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade, and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports.”

A few media outlets took his request seriously, like Vox, an edgy modern digital magazine that covers news around the world with an audience of more than 170 million people. Vox published a report with maps and graphics comparing violence committed by terrorists and gun violence. Continue Reading


An interview with the president of MAD DADS

Dressed in green hoodies and caps, a group of men ride the bus back-and-forth or stand outside of community centers in South Minneapolis, starting serious conversations with other men. These people are the MAD DADS, an acronym which stands for Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social-disorder. MAD DADS is a national group of volunteers that does frontline outreach, supports incarcerated men, and helps youth turn their lives around. The volunteers are African American men who, just like the people they serve, are likely to have the personal experiences of being targeted by systems of power and the police, as well as have had exposure to gang violence. The MAD DADS may just be the critical factor that stops a community member from pulling out his gun or otherwise using violence to deal with the pressures of his environment. Continue Reading

Mayor Hodges Youth Council: The new hires

Minnesota’s achievement gap is consistently one of the worst in the country.  While policy makers have attempted to close the gap, standardized test scores show that little to nothing has changed. According to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCAs) tests taken in 2014, white students are outperforming students of color in every subject by an average of 20 points.  Although standardized test scores do not measure the full potential of a student, they are currently one of the most important factors in determining where and if a student will attend college. In July, Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis announced that she has hired two new advisors to respond to the inequities in the childhood development and education: Angela Watts, whose position is an existing one, will oversee programs aimed at early childhood development; and Phillipe Cunningham, whose position is brand new, will serve as the senior policy aide overseeing initiatives for youth ages 5-24 such as My Brother’s Keeper. Continue Reading

Notes from America: Killing an Arab! … the tragic journey of Aylan Kurdi

Killing an Arab! “Standing on the beach
With a gun in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand
Staring down the barrel
At the Arab on the ground
I can see his open mouth
But I hear no sound…”

The song for the British band “The Cure” was inspired by Albert Camus’s novel “The Stranger,” which published in 1946 and sold millions, causing a lot of controversy because of its tilt. However, in Camus’s novel, he was dealing with existentialism, and the title “Killing an Arab” was taken to reflect emptiness of life after killing a man on an Algerian beach. This is how millions around the world felt after they first saw the photo of the Syrian 3-year-old Aylan’s lifeless tiny body, washed up on the Turkish beach, his red T-shirt, blue shorts with his small shoes still on his tiny feet and his face down rested on the sand. Camus’s book tells the story of senseless killing of an Arab on Algerian beach. It explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” Continue Reading

Ayatollah Google

Ayatollah Google!! “The control of information is something the elite always do, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people,” explained American writer Tom Clancy. If information were power, then Google would be the most powerful institution on the planet. Continue Reading

Southwest LRT: Conflict of Interest

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) purchased 17 acres of land across the street from the proposed Southwest LRT station at Blake Road. The land deal was brokered in 2011 for $15 million for redevelopment investment, storm water storage and Minnehaha Creek restoration. Normally the last process hurtle before shovels break the soil is a watershed district permit. Odds are the appointed MCWD Board of Managers would vote to permit SWLRT construction. When developers take over a watershed the mandate to protect the water commons is compromised. Continue Reading

Notes From America: Arab dictators should look for a second career!!

The Arab Spring in the last four years or so forced a few Arab dictators prematurely from their jobs, where they have a heck of a time handling their imposed retirements. In a democratic world, leaders usually get a job review after a few years, then once they leave office, they have to explore their options and develop different skills. Some, like President Carter, go into humanitarian work to do all the things they couldn’t do while in office. Others, like Clinton, go on a talking circuit to recoup all the money they spent on litigation while in office, or Blair, who has gone on tour like a political mercenary. Others go back to the private sector as lobbyists or consultants to make hard-earned government experience available for a price. Continue Reading


The 25th annual Festival of Fathers honors importance of positive male role models

The 25th Annual Festival of Fathers was held Saturday at North Commons Community Park in Minneapolis. Hundreds of Northsiders joined their neighbors to enjoy dance and band performers, scale the rock-climbing wall, enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, an inflatable slide and food booths. The event also featured employment leads, free legal advice and health information. The annual event seeks to strengthen the positive role and perception of men, specifically fathers, in their families and communities. It honors the importance of fathers in the lives of their children and families. Continue Reading