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Not So Cool Facts About 'New Muslim Cool'
by Ryan Mauro
One of the most acclaimed documentaries about Muslims in a post-9/11 America is New Muslim Cool, a 2009 film about a Puerto Rican-American named Hamza Perez that is part of an Islamic hip-hop duo named "Mujahideen Team." The film focuses on an FBI raid on his mosque and his dismissal as an Islamic teacher at a jail, using them as examples of the discrimination Muslims now face. But is the FBI really prejudiced against Muslims or acting to protect Americans against threats by radical Muslims?
Perez, the hero of the film, was part of a group who moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to "create a Muslim community." He's made extremist statements in the past, including one directed towards the U.S. government in 2003 that he attributes to immaturity. He's held up as a moderate eager for interfaith dialogue who believes that jihad is a struggle against sin, not the waging of war. His past remarks resulted in the revoking of his security clearance, temporarily barring him from teaching at the jail.
The raid by armed FBI agents on the Light of the Age mosque that Perez goes to was lasted for over four hours on June 30, 2006. It came one hour after Larry M. Williams was arrested outside the mosque, which he had attended for three years. Williams, a convicted felon, was caught in Utah days earlier with "plastic bags containing parts of a pistol and two magazines for it, plus ammunition and a magazine for an assault rifle." The weapons were confiscated but he mistakenly wasn't arrested, so a warrant was issued. The film makes the raid seem like a reckless and offensive overreaction. The mosque's leader condemned the raid as a destructive attack on African-Americans and Muslims.
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