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Hossam Gamea Leads First Halal Lunch Program in NYC

Many Muslim youth in the United States grow up eating only halal food, and for the majority in public school, that means being limited to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the few vegetarian options from school lunches. In New York, 38% of public-school students are Jewish and Muslim, and measures have been taken to accommodate students with Halal and Kosher dietary restrictions. The Islamic Leadership Council of New York led the First Halal Lunch Pilot Program in New York City, collaborating with the Department of Education, local Muslim businesses, and local community leaders in the process.

Hossam Gamea represented ILC-NY throughout this process and helped successfully execute this one of a kind project. Gamea grew up in the Bronx and knew the importance of inclusion and accommodation for Muslim students – and led this initiative as an active effort to ensure that Muslims were given reasonable accommodation at school, while also investing in local Muslim-owned businesses. Hossam Gamea is a respected advocate in his community, and has written for Tab, Traversing Tradition, and Medium. He has been featured in numerous podcasts for his insight on Islamophobia at a structural level, where he spoke on bullying he experienced as a student post-9/11. Leading the Halal Lunch Program in NYC is a step to work against that and promote equity and inclusion in New York’s public schools.

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Newswire

Palestinian Activist Taher Herzallah on Solidarity with Black Americans

The Middle East Eye recently featured a number of Arab Americans who have taken to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd. According to the New York Times, at the peak of the protests on June 6, half a million people came out in nearly 500 places across the United States on that single day. The protests brought people together in the call for justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Briana Taylor – all unarmed Black people killed at the hands of police – and an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

In addition to speaking outward, many communities including the Arab and Muslim community have reflected and led initiatives to eradicate racism within their own communities. Palestinian Taher Herzallah was featured in this article and spoke on solidarity with the Black community from his perspective as an advocate for Palestine. Taher has written for Al-Jazeera, spoken for AMP, has been featured in The Electronic Intifada, and has written a manual for activists on university campuses called “Everybody Freeze!

He said, “I feel that as a Muslim American, and as a Palestinian American, I needed to show up where it was needed most, instead of spending time on Facebook, putting [up] a black Facebook profile picture. I wanted to actually be on the ground, putting myself between Black bodies and police, making sure that we were making the best use of our youth and our health to help our brothers and sisters in this moment.”

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He goes on to speak on the historic connection between Black and Palestinian movements, saying “The Black Panther Party and Malcolm X were meeting with Palestinian leaders and travelling to the region to engage in these discussions. And I think historically speaking this is a beautiful part of that. We have a history. I’m not doing anything new by participating in these protests, per se. I’m actually just continuing that tradition of solidarity between our two communities and our two struggles.”

Taher has also written and spoken at length on meaningful alliances for the greater, universal cause of justice.

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USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal Speaks at ILC-NY 30th Anniversary Banquet

The US Council of Muslim Organizations is a member organization of Majlis Ash-Shura, the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. ILC-NY’s 30th Anniversary Banquet brought together organizations and individuals that serve the Muslim community, for a night of reflection and fundraising.450 guest attendees were present at the Grand Prospect Hall in celebration of the work and legacy of Muslims in New York. Attendees included community leaders, partners and allies, mosques, elected officials, activists, and students.
One of the many distinguished speakers at this event was USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal. He extended his deep “congratulations for 30 years of service, unity, commitment, and dedication to the Muslim community” to ILC-NY. He said, “bringing people together isn’t an easy job, but it’s a must…Our strength, survival, aspiration will come through our unity and working together.”

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Mohamad Habehh and Other Faith Leaders: United for Mental Health

Cynthia Chazen of the Stigma Free Zone News of New Jersey reported on a recent initiative that brought together leaders from a variety of communities to discuss mental health. An event named “Interfaith Roundtable on Mental Health Awareness” was sponsored by the Pastoral Care Team, Central Unitarian Church in Paramus. Exhibitors discussed a range of topics, including similar patterns among different communities and resources that are accessible within the state of New Jersey.

Mohamad Habehh represented and provided insight on the Muslim community in New Jersey, speaking on the struggle for many youth. Bergen County’s Maureen Kerne, Director of Region V Council for Special Education, said, “The mental health of kids is presenting now as the greatest concern for New Jersey educators.” Educator Mohamad Habehh, with the other panelists, agreed that there was a rise in mental illness among youth.

Mohamad Habehh is currently the National Development Coordinator with American Muslims for Palestine, and has been featured extensively for his insight on advocacy, campaigning, community building, and solidarity movements. He spoke on the condition in the Passaic County Muslim community, describing the efforts as “knee-deep in efforts to better understand mental illness and educate.”

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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