American Muslim experience teams with football in Glenview man’s documentary
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff reporter September 8, 2011 8:32PM
In this Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 photo, Fordson High School football players huddle at football practice after 11 p.m., in Dearborn, Mich. For Muslim teammates who make up a majority of the Fordson squad in the large Arab community it's a way for the players to practice football and their faith _ namely, the daytime fasting ritual that accompanies the 30-day holy month of Ramadan that started last week. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: November 4, 2011 7:46PM
Terrorists. Outsiders. Un-American.
Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Muslims continue to be disparaged and vilified by some as suspicious and dangerous intruders.
Sports marketing veteran Rashid Ghazi hopes his documentary — which weaves the American Muslim experience with the excitement and drama of high school football — kicks the unflattering stereotypes into foul territory.
“To me it was really amazing to see this group of Arabs, with many of them being immigrants, adopt this very American tradition in this setting of mosques and hijabs,” Glenview resident Ghazi said of directing the 92-minute film.
“Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” follows the varsity high school football team at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich., where 98 percent of its students are Arab American and Muslim.
As the working class high schoolers prepare to face their affluent rivals during the holy month of Ramadan, many of the teenage boys endure grueling practices in the heat without eating or drinking.
Snickers and Slurpees. That’s what some especially hungry athletes fantasize about in a practice sequence.
The film, which is making the festival circuit and was recently touted by Michael Moore as a movie “everyone in the country should watch,” also tackles the community’s post-9/11 struggles.
Amid depictions of calorie-ridden Ramadan feasts and irate coaches kicking locker room chairs, the documentary also touches upon a player’s older brother’s arrest on suspected terrorism charges.
Ghazi says the film is important because ultimately it offers a glimpse into how Muslims can rise above Sept. 11 backlash.
“I think America is one of the most amazing countries in the world and I think I always tell people the thing about America is that the people are open-minded, wanting to listen and wanting to learn,” Ghazi said.
“I think if there is one thing that Sept. 11 has done for Muslims in this country is that we’ve realized we cannot be isolated. We have to reach out to our fellow Americans and share our culture and share our religion and share our values.”
“Fordson” opens this Friday at three Chicago area AMC theaters.