Bay Ridge

NY Times gives Linda Sarsour front page fame

Bay Ridge Arab-American leader gets citywide notice

August 10, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Linda Sarsour was profiled in The New York Times over the weekend. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, who has been steadily gaining notice in Bay Ridge over the past five years through the dint of her civic involvement and political activism, has come to the attention of the city’s most influential newspaper.

The New York Times published a front page article on Sarsour in its Metropolitan section on Sunday, praising her “street smarts, activism and Muslim identity.”

The article, written by reporter Alan Feuer and headlined, “Homegirl in Hijab,” pointed out that Sarsour, a 35-year-old Bay Ridge resident, was a driving force in the effort by the city’s Arab-American community to get the New York Police Department (NYPD) to cut back on a controversial program involving the surveillance of Muslims.

Feuer also noted that Sarsour, a Muslim, successfully pushed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to change the city’s public school calendar so that schools are closed on two important Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha from now on.

Sarsour has friends in high places, the article pointed out. For example, she ended her Ramadan fast by attending a dinner hosted by de Blasio. She has also met and discussed issues with Harry Belafonte.

Sarsour, a leader of the Muslim Democratic Club, has also taken on such hot button issues as immigration reform, voter registration, racial profiling, the NYPD’s stop question and frisk policy and Islamophobia, according to the Times.

“I feel like I’ve been able to bring a voice to this community that they’ve never heard before,” she told the Times.

The newspaper of record touted Sarsour as a potential candidate for public office. Rumors have been flying in Bay Ridge political circles that she is eyeing a run for City Council in 2017 when the current council member representing Bay Ridge, Democrat Vincent Gentile, will be term-limited out of office.

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Sarsour, who is married and has three children, has served as executive director of the Arab-American Association for a decade. The association, which operates out of an office at 7111 Fifth Ave. in Bay Ridge, is a nonprofit that provides such services as social service referrals and English classes. The association also sponsors the Bay Ridge Arab-American Bazaar in Shore Road Park each summer.

But as the article made clear, Sarsour is branching out. She flew to Ferguson, Missouri last summer to take part in protests following the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed African-American man shot by a white police officer.

Feuer also wrote about Sarsour’s personal life. She entered into an arranged marriage when she was 17 and had her first child, a boy, at 19. Another notable tidbit: the co-founder of the Arab-American Association of New York, Dr. Ahmad Jaber, is the obstetrician who delivered Sarsour.

Sarsour was born and raised in Sunset Park and is the oldest of seven children.

 

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