Just Two Avenues Away

    In 2006, Andrea Elliott won the Pulitzer Prize for her piece in The New York Times, which centered on an imam from a mosque in Brooklyn and his journey as an American Muslim leader. As imam, Sheik Reda Shata had to constantly resolve daily social problems from fellow Muslims seeking help while trying to delicately balance the religious traditions with American culture. Coming to the United States as imam in 2002, the imam also had to deal with the terrorism threat by answering to the police and maintaining the trust of his congregants at the same time.$0 Shata’s long trek to America from his birthplace of Egypt and the conflicts he had to settle daily as imam were powerful and moving. While I was reading it though, the background of the pictures looked familiar. I realized that Shata’s story took place right near my home. The Islamic Society of Bay Ridge was next to a movie theater that I had gone to my whole life. I recognized the building in the photo and its moss green fence. The building had always been there. And yet, I never even bothered to find out what it was. $0 After reading the article, I thought back to the times when I watched movies at the theater. I would see people standing outside the mosque, but I never realized why. Whenever I walked home from the theater, I always passed the building, but I was never curious about it. Every Friday, 1,500 people would go to the mosque, which has become a vibrant NYC Muslim center, to pray. And I was clueless.$0 This story personally showed me how potent and important journalism is in society. A story can take place anywhere and anytime with anyone. I was surprised and awed to read such a poignant piece and find out everything took place two avenues from where I lived. If I had not read the articles, then I would still be walking by the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in obliviousness. I would never know that everyday, there was an imam in the mosque who fellow Muslim citizens from all around the city turned to and depended on. I would have never known about the struggles and mental strength it takes to daily reconcile the delicate relationship between tradition and modernity in the Muslim world. Because of the article, I realized that the neighborhood I thought I had knew so well, was still a mystery. There are still so many things to discover in my own home.$0 The next time you pass by your movie theater, check out the buildings around it. $0$0

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Archive for College Now Journalism class.