As I watched Laila and Georgia, the 6th episode of the Intersection of Faith and Culture short documentary video series, I thought, “I know these people!” Laila has been quite supportive of my work and Georgia is the wife of Stephen Coats, a filmmaker I met at a journalism conference. We sat on the same panel and since we have followed each other’s work. But, I had no idea Laila and Stephen’s wife are such close friends.
Laila is a Syrian-American journalist who works incredibly hard, acting as an powerful and influential mouthpiece for her Arab Muslim community within the broader American culture. Laila’s friend, Georgia, is Greek-American, and has been a longtime companion of Laila.
“When I came to this country I had no one,” said Laila with teary eyes. “Georgia and her husband Stephen took me in like I was family.”
Over time, the two women have become like sisters to each other.
“I believe that life is deeper and richer and more spiritual when I know and love people who are different than me,” said Georgia, who moved to Dearborn just before the 9/11 attacks. The next day, on September 12th, she was teaching a class, English as a second language, to primarily Arabic-speaking women.
Before moving here, people warned Georgia not to go to Dearborn, which has a large Muslim population, because it’s considered dangerous. But she put her trust in God and figured, she just came from Colorado where in the 1999 the Columbine High School shooting occurred.
“How is this place safe to be, and Dearborn isn’t?” she said. “We don’t know where the dangerous people are.”
When the controversial Pastor Terry Jones wanted to have a protest in front of the Islamic Center of America, the community of Dearborn came together in opposition to his agenda.
“There’s a verse in the Bible that says in the end, there will be people worshiping God from every town, every tribe, every nation and every language,” said Georgia. “That’s what I believe.”
Laila and Georgia are of completely different backgrounds, but they have more similarities than differences – they are both mothers, both spiritual, and they serve their communities in wonderful ways.
Having survived cancer, Georgia shares her journey as a cancer survivor, a wife and mother through her blog http://thecrazyedamommy.wordpress.com/ Laila Al-Husseini is one of the most famous Arab anchors in the United States and is known for her popular show US Arab Radio. The program broadcasts Tuesday mornings, live on WNZK 690 AM to audiences in Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and Windsor and for audiences in Washington, Virginia, and Maryland, the program broadcasts on WDMV 700 AM.
It makes you wonder why Pastor Terry Jones’ desire to burn Korans and not Laila and Georgia’s example of peaceful relationships get the media’s attention. And what role, do we the audience, play in that?