A film by Brittany Huckabee
When Muslim writer and activist Asra Nomani returns to her hometown mosque in West Virginia, she believes she sees signs of trouble: exclusion of women, intolerance toward non-believers, suspicion of the West. Her resulting campaign for change alienates would-be allies in the mosque, 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 Islamic Center of Morgantown.
As Asra takes an increasingly different path from the community’s moderates – marching on the mosque, posting a manifesto on its door, storming out of a community meeting and challenging a visiting sheik about domestic violence – the film provides a rare look at the real controversies that divide a Muslim community.
THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN is sometimes raucous and not always politically correct, but it reveals a truth that will surprise many Americans: the view inside this mosque is actually quite familiar. 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.
As the controversy over the Park 51 Islamic community center in lower Manhattan and other mosque construction projects have demonstrated, interfaith dialogue-as-usual has not alleviated skepticism of American Islam after 9/11. Acknowledging all the things we share – positive and negative – can help rebuild trust and create a new tone of discourse between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.
TAKE A LOOK AROUND. Learn more about the film’s story, characters, and director. Watch clips from the film and from the cutting room floor. Check out the Emmy-nominated soundtrack. Find out how to host a screening. And most importantly, visit the FORUM. There you’ll find original critical essays on the film and its major themes – and you’re invited to join the discussion!
THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN previewed at the True/False film festival and took the Best Documentary prize at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival before a national primetime PBS broadcast in 2009. It earned a 2010 Emmy nomination for its original score.