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August 20, 09

NEWS / Michigan Hosts Large Muslim-American Sports Event

More than 200 sporting events held at first Islamic Games Midwest

By Ahmed Mohamed
Staff Writer

Washington — The first Islamic Games Midwest, held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, July 25–26, were part of the largest Muslim-American sports and athletic event in the United States — the Islamic Games.

The American Midwest is home to more than 2 million Muslims, many involved in sports and other facets of the community in which they live. The games, however, are open to all athletes from the region, whether Muslim or not, because “it is critically important that Muslims see themselves as Americans … and that other Americans see Muslims as Americans too, and to promote sports and athletics to the Muslim communities and to highlight athletes, [both] Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Salaudeen Nausrudeen, national chairman of the overall Islamic Games.

The games hosted both male and female athletes as well as spectators. They were treated to more than 200 sports and athletic events, which included basketball, volleyball, soccer, cricket, softball, flag football, track and field, swimming, archery, a marathon, martial arts, arm wrestling, tennis and table tennis. Each event was held for multiple age categories, from children under 12 years to adults older than 30.

Elaborating on the unique Muslim-American identity, Nasrudeen told America.gov that one of the goals of the Islamic Games is to make Muslims more receptive to the concept of their identity as Muslim Americans, and not Muslims in America.

“We are constantly being asked to take it across the country, and this is because it offers a lot to American Muslims. Not only is it offering a professional atmosphere for sports competition, but an unprecedented opportunity for unity among various Muslim cultures and types of Muslims.”

When the third Islamic Games Northeast were held May 22–24 in New Jersey, more than 1,900 athletes on 176 teams and about 5,000 spectators attended. They came from schools, organizations, youth groups and communities; from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and as far as Canada to compete.

Another distinct feature of the games is diversity. The games have attracted sports celebrities such as former National Basketball Association player Zaid Abdul Aziz; Marcio Barboza, the world’s Number One arm wrestler; Kevin Young, the current world record holder in the 400-meter hurdles; and Rami Ibrahim, a world-ranked kickboxer. An online Islamic Games poll of participants in the 2009 Northeast Games indicated that unity and diversity are the most liked features of the games.

Another focus of the games is health. “The Islamic Games’ mission is to create a society that is strong in the inside and strong on the outside and [promotes] the development of the mind, body and soul through sports and healthy lifestyles,” Nausrudeen said.

He also described how the Islamic Games will expand: “There will be Islamic Games Southeast, which will be held in Orlando, Florida, on November 29, 2009. … The near-term plan is to host the games in many major cities across the USA while building its infrastructure to host the World Islamic Games.”

The 2009 Islamic Games Midwest Committee included organizations such as Seven Shades, the Muslim American Society Youth-Detroit and the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament, and was supported by the Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee.




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