New Muslim Cool
About IDFA
New Muslim Cool
IDFA 2009

New Muslim Cool

Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
United States
83 min
Festival history
Hamza Pérez used to be a Pittsburgh drug dealer before converting to Islam at the age of 21. Nowadays, he warns school children about the dangers of drugs and provides spiritual counseling to prisoners. He is also active in the hip-hop scene, rapping with great conviction: "There's only one God and Mohammed is his messenger." His mother is just happy that her son, brought up as a Roman Catholic Latino, doesn't gamble or drink. Pérez met his second, traditionally dressed wife on the Internet, and they now have a small family. gives a well-nuanced impression of a young Muslim in post-9/11 America. Pérez's mosque, where he provides a space for Islamic expression, makes the national news when the police raid it, in search of a wanted criminal who is hiding out there. Much to Pérez's dismay, it turns out the mosque has been under police surveillance for some time, while drug dealers on the corner go about their business unhindered. The authorities briefly deny Pérez access to the prison where he volunteers. He explains to street kids that Islam fits in well with the emotional make-up of Puerto Rican society: spiritual, yet aggressive. And he goes to visit a Jewish woman, who wants to build bridges between Jews and Muslims through poetry.
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