Mosque Alert talks set


By Susan Frick Carlman, Naperville Sun, 04/13/2015


Chicago playwright Jamil Khoury will come to Naperville this week for two presentations focused on his recent composition, "Mosque Alert," which was inspired by a local case several years ago.

Khoury, founding artistic director of the theater company Silk Road Rising, will show video clips from the powerful production, which premiered in February at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

Scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Nichols Library, 200 W. Jefferson Ave., and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive, Khoury's appearances are intended to raise awareness of the fight to build mosques in communities and stimulate dialogue. Audience discussion is highly encouraged.

"There continues to be a backlash against Muslim Americans that began immediately after the attacks of 9/11; a backlash most manifest today as resistance to the building of mosques in U.S. cities and towns," Khoury explains on the theater company's website.

"Mosque Alert" explores the issue through specific focus on two fictional families – one Muslim and the other Christian – living in Naperville.

"Both the families and the proposed mosque featured in this play are fictional; however, they draw heavily on real-life events, including the Ground Zero Mosque controversy of 2010, and mosque zoning denials in unincorporated parts of Naperville ... and real-life arguments used against mosques," said Ethan Grant, development associate at Silk Road Rising, in a news release.

The Irshad Learning Center faced opposition from neighbors in its effort to open an Islamic worship site on a three-acre site it owns on the north side of 75th Street east of Naper Boulevard, just over Naperville's border. Irshad's request for a conditional use permit was denied by the DuPage County Board in January 2010, but the decision was overturned on a federal appeal.

Khoury's talks, funded by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, will address questions of religious pluralism, Islamophobia and civil rights, drawing on local, national and international contexts.

"Although there exists a stage version of 'Mosque Alert,' what we are presenting at the library is a 20-minute video play with the same name," Grant said. "The video, 'Mosque Alert,' will be screened and then used as a jumping-off point for the conversation with the attendees."