All posts by peterjones2017

Chicagoans preserve their Cambodian heritage

By Peter Jones

Khemarey Khoeun will become the first Cambodian-American woman to hold office in the U.S. after being elected to the Skokie Park District Board last Tuesday.

Cambodians first began arriving in Chicago as refugees escaping the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Years later, the Cambodian community in Chicago continues to maintain its traditions and culture.

In Uptown, the Watt Khmer Metta Temple provides a peaceful place for Cambodians to gather and pray. The National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial preserves the turbulent history of Cambodians and ensures that future generations will not forget their heritage.

Photo at top: Cambodian monks pray at the Watt Khmer Metta Temple in Uptown. (Peter Jones/MEDILL)

Disability Intersects Muslim Identity for Chicagoans

By Peter Jones

Aziza Nassar and Muhammed S. Ullah are two American Muslims living with disabilities. Although President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees and travelers from seven mainly Muslim countries has left Muslims in the U.S. feeling marginalized, Muslims with disabilities are feeling even more isolated.

The U.S. Religion Census estimated that the Muslim population of Illinois was 35,000 in 2010. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, approximately 10.7 percent of people in the state are living with a disability. That means an estimated 3,700 Muslims with disabilities live in Illinois. Despite their sizeable population, Muslims with disabilities often avoid attending mosques because they are not accessible to the disabled.

Aziza Nassar has not had such an easy time merging her faith with a disability. After losing her father and starting to use a wheelchair at age 15, Nassar and her family turned to their local mosque for support. But accessing that mosque proved difficult.

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