Chicago-area Muslim group launches anti-bullying initiative

A recent surge in bullying targeting suburban Muslim students has prompted the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization to launch a major anti-bullying initiative.

Among the cases cited was that of Lisle High School sophomore Zoya Shaik.

At a school board meeting last month, Shaik complained that during an Oct. 12 health class, an unidentified staff member made offensive and profanity-laced statements about Muslims, immigrants and Indigenous people for 25 minutes. Lisle Unit District 202 officials are investigating those claims.

Shaik and two other students joined the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) for the launch of, a project to help Muslim students stand up for themselves and get help.

“All students are entitled to safety and acceptance,” Shaik said at the news conference late last month.

Shaik said she is the only hijab-wearing Muslim student at her school. She called for cultural sensitivity training for district employees, adoption of a bystander intervention program and a districtwide anti-bullying campaign.

CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said the group has received a number of reports of bullying, harassment and discrimination of Muslim students at suburban school districts, including one case in which a student lost his life.

“For every case reported, there are probably dozens that go unreported,” Rehab said. “Bullying is another pandemic that affects not just Muslim students, and it needs to be addressed. Safety, dignity and respect are basic human rights.”

Native American heritage

Waubonsee Community College is hosting several programs to raise awareness about Native American culture, traditions, and customs for Native American Heritage Month.

The events are open to community members and will be offered virtually and in person. Space is limited for in-person events.

“Journey the Potawatomi Trail of Death” book talk and lecture by George Godfrey, 2 p.m. Nov. 16. A Potawatomi nation member, Godfrey will talk about the forced removal of the Potawatomi from the Great Lakes region. Sugar Grove was on the route of at least three removals. Waubonsee is named after an important Potawatomi who passed through the area.

Kachina doll workshop, 4 p.m. Nov. 18, in the Aurora Downtown Campus Library. Participants will learn about the Hopi people, read stories about kachina dolls, and make their own doll using one of the provided kits. Open to all ages. Advanced registration is required.

For a complete list of events, visit

The Buffalo Grove Police Department has released three new books titled "How to Report a Hate Crime" translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean. They were developed in partnership with Esther Lim, who prepared similar books for police departments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Courtesy of Buffalo Grove Police Department

Hate crimes

Buffalo Grove residents now can report hate crimes in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

The Buffalo Grove Police Department has released three new books titled “How to Report a Hate Crime” translated into those languages. They were developed in partnership with Esther Lim, who prepared similar books for police departments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Funding for the books was provided by Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, a member of the Illinois Asian American Caucus, and Buffalo Grove Police.

“We have seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes,” Kim said. “It's important we ensure communities know how to respond and report these incidents.”

The books also are available in Albanian, English, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. They define hate crimes, explain the importance of reporting them, recommend ways to avoid them and provide resources in Cook and Lake counties, as well as statewide agencies.

Printed copies are available at the police department, 46 Raupp Boulevard. Digital copies can be found at

Amina Waheed

Documentarian talk

Amina Waheed, producer for Al Jazeera America's award-winning show “Fault Lines,” will share her story Wednesday as part of Benedictine University's “Journeys in Leadership” speaker series.

Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Waheed later moved to Chicago as an Indian Canadian immigrant to become a documentarian and filmmaker. She has worked on productions for the PBS series “FRONTLINE” and independent films in the U.S. and the Middle East. Waheed graduated from the Lisle university in 2008 and received Benedictine's Procopian Award.

The virtual program will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Register for the Zoom session at

Diwali festivities

Suburban Hindus observed Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, with celebrations last week.

Aurora leaders recognized the holiday last Thursday at city hall. Indian Americans are the city's fastest growing ethnic group.

Mayor Richard Irvin issued a Diwali proclamation and presented excellence awards to more than 40 Indian cultural organizations from Aurora to Chicago, who collectively are participating in the Sewa Diwali Food Drive.

The groups are collecting thousands of pounds of food for Aurora food pantries. “Sewa” is the act of selfless service embedded in Indian culture.

“We recognize the historical and religious significance of Diwali and Diwali's message of tolerance, compassion, and the victory of good over evil, which resonates with the American and Aurora spirit,” Irvin said.

Light over darkness

Diwali is one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu lunar calendar. It celebrates the victory of light over darkness. It's when believers take stock of their spiritual relationship with God and reflect on progress made or regression in the past year. It's also when business owners close existing account books and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead.

The day after Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, traditionally celebrated with the “Annakut,” literally meaning a mountain of food.

Devotees flocked to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (temple) in Bartlett for a family Annakut viewing Friday.

Thousands of vegetarian dishes were offered to the gods in gratitude for the past year and to seek blessings for the new year. Offerings include snacks, sweets, pickles, savory dishes, salads, fruit drinks and other edible items.

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