Documentary on Arab-Americans on Michigan football team to show for free

CHAMPAIGN — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised it. Filmmaker Michael Moore wants everyone in America to see it. Variety calls it first-rate.

It's "Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football," a documentary co-produced by 1997 University of Illinois graduate Ash-har Quraishi and his wife, Basma Babar-Quraishi, and directed by Rashid Ghazi. a sports marketing executive and Ash-har's brother-in-law.

The award-winning documentary explores the lives of four players on the Fordson High School football team in Dearborn, Mich., in 2009, when 98 percent of the team was Arab-American.

The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday at the Art Theater in Champaign. The screening is free and open to the public; afterward, Quraishi will answer questions.

"Our hope was that this would drop the veil, if you will, and give people who aren't familiar with Muslim-Americans and their culture an opportunity to see what it's like when they're at home," he said. "It's interesting to show that juxtaposition of the community, while holding on to their faith and culture, desperately wanting to be part of the fabric of America."

Quraishi said it took the filmmakers five years to convince Fordson officials to allow them to make the documentary because of the atmosphere in post-9/11 America. They received permission just two weeks before production started; they spent the last 10 days of Ramadan 2009 shooting the film. That was the last year Ramadan would fall during the late summer/early fall.

"They were playing on hot turf and there was no eating, drinking, etc," Quraishi said. "They were practicing and playing and still competitive."

In addition to exploring the players' lives, the documentary tackles issues related to Islam and Islamophobia.

A former CNN bureau chief/correspondent in Islamabad, Quraishi, who lives in Chicago, is working this spring with UI journalism Professor Nancy Benson, who teaches international reporting. He will accompany her and her students to Turkey this spring, where they will learn international reporting techniques and produce pieces.

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sameeker wrote on February 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Not liking islam does not mean that I have a phobia. They are being very derogatory when they paint Americans like that. Far from it, I have no fear of them. This is the home of the brave. I simply chose not to like any group that has the stated purpose of killing me because I am not of the same faith.

aliskadi wrote on February 26, 2012 at 12:02 am

Salam Alikum! I am glad to hear that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the Film and that Michael Moore wants everyone in America to see it. This is a very good start in breaking our silence towards American Islamophobia within the United States. I was watching Jay Leno the other night and Senator Ron Paul was on and I believe Jay Leno asked Sen. Paul questions about his Repulican colleages such Santorum, Rick Perry, and other candidates running for President of the United States. The question was: What do you think about the other candidates, without hesitation, he answer was that they all hate Muslims. The next scene Jay Leno and the audience laughed as if it was funny to hate Muslim American. Now if that isn't Islamophobia, I don't what is. We are treading on dangerous times in the United States, so good news needs to come out of the Muslim American Community, otherwise we will find ourselves in Interment Camps or shackled across the United States. Remember the old saying "history repeats itself" and this country has a history of shackling Muslims (African Slave Trade), Interment (Japanese Americans) and wiping our entire civilizations (American Indians)....we are next.  

sameeker wrote on February 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

Dont forget that it was Arab slave catchers who captured the African people and marched them to the coast for sale to slave traders.