“From Yemen to Coney Island; From Teacher to Community Activist” : Voices of America

Those who give their time freely to the “We Are All Brooklyn” cause have been working for peace in many ways. Larry Clamage found one such individual, who brings people of all different faiths and cultures together through both her community activism and her professional career.

 

TV report transcript

Debbie Almontaser
 

DEBBIE ALMONTASER

“My name is Debbie Almontaser. I am an educator as well as a community activist. The past five years, I’ve been residing in Midwood, Brooklyn, in the Coney Island Avenue area of Brooklyn—which is a very diverse community, you know: Christians, Jews, Pakistanis, Muslims, Indians, people from all over the world. But after September 11th, this very diverse community had fallen apart.

 

So, I left my job as a classroom teacher, took a leave of absence, to do Islam sensitivity training; Arab culture training, as well as presentations at churches, synagogues, community based organizations…wherever there was a need.

 

People of all different faiths and cultures can live together.  I think it’s really beautiful.  ~ Debbie Almontaser

 

There was such animosity and fear, that it was important for me to help people understand who Arabs, Muslims and South Asians were.

 

Looking at my own personal family, each and every one of us had this horrible thing called racism and discrimination happen to us because we are Arab and Muslim. It affected us, my husband and I, but the way that it affected my children was much more. It was devastating for them to think that some of our neighbors hated us so much. Not only did we feel hated, but we also felt fear.  Read more…

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