Keyser, W.Va. —
For the News Tribune
KEYSER – A Morgantown journalist who was a colleague of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by Al-Queda in Pakistan in 2002, will be visiting the campus of Potomac State College of West Virginia University this week in observance of Multi-Cultural Week.
Potomac State is celebrating Multi-Cultural Week today through Friday, Feb. 4, and the Connections Committee and the Student Activities Office is inviting the Keyser community to the following two events:
Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m., in the University Place Theater, there will be a special presentation of the documentary, “The Mosque in Morgantown.”
The documentary depicts how journalist Asra Nomani glimpsed Islamic extremism up close when her dear friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan. When she returns home to West Virginia to raise her son, she believes she sees warning signs at the local mosque: exclusion of women, intolerance toward non-believers, and suspicion of the West.
Asra's resulting campaign against extremism in the Islamic Center of Morgantown brings a storm of media attention, unexpectedly pitting her against the mosque's moderates. Through unfolding scenes and intimate interviews, “The Mosque in Morgantown” frames this local conflict as a means to explore the larger dilemmas facing American Islam. It tells a story of competing paths to social change, American identity and the nature of religion itself.
The documentary has a run time of 76 minutes. There will be a discussion at the conclusion of the documentary.
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m., in the Davis Conference Center, Asra Nomani will be on campus to discuss the controversy surrounding “The Mosque in Morgantown,” as well as some of the misconceptions that Americans may have of Islam and how we can overcome those misconceptions. The event is called “A Night with Asra Nomani: A Voice for Change.”
Asra is an Indian-American journalist, author and activist known for her controversial work in the Islamic feminism and reform movements. Born in Bombay, India, and raised in Morgantown, she graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. Her father helped to organize the first Muslim prayer services in Morgantown in the 1970s.
Asra worked for 15 years as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, where she was a close friend and colleague of Daniel Pearl. Pearl was staying at Nomani’s rented house in Karachi, Pakistan, with his wife Mariane when he was kidnapped and murdered — a story retold in the 2007 film “A Mighty Heart,” starring Angelina Jolie.
At the time of Pearl’s kidnapping in early 2002, Asra faced an additional shock: a surprise pregnancy and abandonment by the Muslim man she thought would be her husband. Still reeling from the murder of her friend and with a son to raise, she returned to her family in Morgantown.
Back in Morgantown, she discovered the local mosque had been taken over by men she saw as extremists. The film chronicles what happens when she decides to fight back against their exclusionism against women — unexpectedly pitting her against the mosque’s moderates.
Asra left Morgantown in 2007 to co-lead The Pearl Project at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She teaches investigative journalism while working with students to uncover the full truth behind Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.
Asra is the author of two books, “Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam,” which is featured in the film, and “Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love.”
She now prays at home but dreams of a day when women can pray in the front rows of mosque