The Mosque in Morgantown
By Brittany Huckabee
After a surprise pregnancy and abandonment by the man she thought would be her husband, and the murder of friend and colleague Daniel Pearl, journalist Asra Nomani returned to her hometown in Morgantown, West Virginia. It is here she found at her local mosque exclusion of women, intolerance toward nonbelievers and suspicion of the West.
THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN chronicles what happens when Asra decides to fight back – alienating would-be allies in the mosque and leading many to wonder who most deserves the label of “extremist.” It isn’t long before members put forward a petition to expel her from the mosque, but Asra is unwavering. She believes intolerance in the mosque is the first step on a potential path to violence, and that Islam cannot afford to handle this problem with half-measures and diplomacy; the stakes require nothing less than a revolution.
Though sometimes raucous and not always politically correct, THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN reveals a truth that may surprise many Americans; words like extremism and terrorism are thrown about, but in the end they are beside the point. The arguments over gender, tradition and tactics in the Morgantown mosque also play out in communities across the nation – from churches and synagogues to secular volunteer organizations. And the question of how to effect change is just as difficult.
Ten years after principal photography ended for THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN, filmmaker Brittany Huckabee returns to this culturally diverse Muslim community in small-town America and talks to Ihtishaam Qazi, a central character from the film who is still an active member of the mosque. Ihtishaam gives an update on the Morgantown Muslim community and its reaction to the film, and shares his reflections on what it means to be an American Muslim in today’s politically charged climate.