Entries in Muslim (4)


Muslim Fashion Designer Nailah Lymus Pushes Modest Modeling

Courtesy John Ashford/UnderWraps Agency(NEW YORK) -- Among the hundreds of shows during New York's Fashion Week, the Saturday night presentation for the Ann Nahari label may be the only one in which the models are draped to conceal rather than reveal.

"You can be modest and still be fashion-forward and stay true to your faith," said Nailah Lymus.

Lymus, 29, is a practicing Muslim and a fashion designer who has found her own way to merge two seemingly incongruous worlds. She designs a line for secular women who desire a little more modesty in their clothing.

Though she is not showing her own creations during Fashion Week, she is producing Saturday's show for fellow designer Sumiyyah Rasheed, who is showing her upscale plus-size fashion. Lymus incorporated her own modest sensibilities into the entire show, from models wearing artful head wraps to layers of flowing fabric.

But Lymus is not only a designer. She has an agency for which she specifically recruits Muslim women as models.

"These girls have everything -- the height, the look. And it's like a dream deferred because they dress a certain way," said Lymus. "Muslim women are fashion-forward. We embrace everything that other women do, but we just have certain stipulations."

That means no tight clothing or exposed cleavage. In fact, no skin can be shown at all except for hands, feet and face. The models' hair must also be covered. But even the hijabs can be fashion-forward.

Lymus works her design aesthetic into the head coverings and said they can be styled with as much versatility as hair can.

Her modeling company, UnderWraps Agency, has booked runway and print jobs for its three Muslim models, one of whom walking in Saturday's show.

Before starting the year-old agency, Lymus was careful to check with a few imams and elders in her community, who all agreed that it was an opportunity for fashion to be relatable to Muslims.

She is very selective in which models she signs.

"The models have to be very strong in themselves, confident and strong in conviction," she said. "It can be tough to mix the secular and faith-based worlds. I don't want to bring in anyone who's not strong enough to handle this industry."

One of those models is Hajer Naili, who was born and raised in Toulouse, France, and now lives in New York City. After Lymus saw her photo on a friend's Facebook page, she reached out to the 27-year-old.

"I have always been into fashion, but from what I've seen so far, as a model you have to show your body," said Naili. "I'm just not comfortable with that. I follow certain Islamic guidelines and stick with that as much as I can."

Naili is a full-time journalist who also works as a print model on the side. Naili has done several photo shoots and even appeared in a rap music video wearing a black leather jacket over a long shirt, black jeans and boots. Her hair was wrapped in a turban. Rap singer Tableek wanted to present an image of women that wasn't sexualized.

Breaking down stereotypes is also partly why Lymus began the modeling agency.

"There's a thought that Muslim women can't work or go to school or dress fashionably," she said. "I want to get rid of that misunderstanding in an inviting forum. This is a positive religion.

"Women can be covered and confident," she said, "secure and beautiful."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Four Men Say Texas IHOP Franchise Fired Them for Being Muslim

Steve Floethe/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Four former managers of IHOP restaurants in Texas are fighting the owner of the franchise they worked for in court, claiming they were wrongfully terminated based on their "nationality and religion."

The four men, all identified in court papers as "Muslims of Arab descent," worked as managers at the Dallas/Fort Worth area locations.  Hussein Chamseddine was employed by the franchise for 12 years, Rami Saleh and Brandon Adam each for five years, and Chekri Bakro for 24 years.

According to a complaint filed in a Texas district court, the men allege they were fired without cause.

"They weren't terminated because someone complained or because someone didn't like their attitude," said Sara Kane, a civil rights attorney representing the men.  "They were fired because of who they are.  That is the determining factor."

All four men were terminated between March and October of 2010.  Together they filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found merit in the men's claim that they were harassed and terminated due to religion and national origins.

"The IHOP corporation has a four-step disciplinary procedure," Kane said.  "The franchisee did not follow any of those steps."

Kane, along with attorney Jay Ellwanger, filed suit on behalf of the men on Tuesday, against IHOP and Anthraper Investments, the firm that owns the four franchises involved in Arlington, Burleston, Fort Worth and Plano, Texas.

The suit alleges that the men experienced harassment from Anthraper management, including derogatory comments made by the company's President and COO John Anthraper, Vice President Alex Anthraper and Texas District Manager Larry Hawker.

Representatives of Anthraper Investments did not return phone calls to ABC News for comment.  A woman who answered the phone at the home of John Anthraper said he was out of the country.

The IHOP Corporation issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit: "We believe the employment practices of our company and our independent franchisees are non-discriminatory and inclusive.  We have a long history of supporting diversity in all aspects of our business.  Our franchisee believes the allegations are without merit and looks forward to the fair conclusion of this matter."

Kane said her clients are seeking back wages and payment for emotional damages following their terminations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Muslim Workers Suspended Over Prayer Breaks

PRNewsFoto/The Hertz Corporation(SEATTLE) -- Muslim shuttle bus drivers at Seattle-Tacoma airport in Washington have been suspended by their employer, Hertz, for not clocking out when taking prayer breaks throughout their shifts.

Thirty-four drivers have been suspended since last Friday, when managers stood outside the Muslim prayer room and warned entering workers that they would be suspended if they didn't clock out before praying, according to a spokesman from the Teamsters union Local 117, which represents the workers. The union alleges that Hertz singled out the employees based on religion -- a charge that Hertz vehemently denies.

"It is common practice that if you're taking mini-breaks, if you have a lull in your work and go get a cup of tea or smoke a cigarette, two or three minute breaks throughout the day, you don't have to clock out," said Tracey Thompson, secretary and treasurer of the union. "Individuals take breaks, go across the street to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee during intermittent breaks, and this wasn't focused on anybody doing anything else but praying. They made it about prayer."

Rich Broome, a senior vice president at Hertz, said that the issue is not at all about religion, but about employees abusing the prayer breaks well beyond the agreed-upon four- or five-minute breaks.

"The breaks were being used for prayers but typically extended past the time necessary to complete prayer obligations," Broome said. "To be fair to all the employees that work there, we implemented this clock-in, clock-out rule to ensure that the employees were able to pray and ensure that they return to work in timely fashion."

Broome said the decision to implement the policy was a joint one between local managers and the corporate office. He noted that Hertz employs Muslim workers all over the world and allows for prayers every day.

"This idea that people were laid off for praying is not true," Broome said. "We have a lot of employees in Seattle and around the world that are Muslim who pray every day and who have not been suspended. This is a matter about following simple workplace rules and complying with those rules."

The union and Hertz met just a year ago to hammer out contract negotiations for the shuttle drivers, in which both parties agreed that two- to three-minute "mini breaks" would not require clocking in and clocking out. Now, the union alleges that Hertz has broken that agreement by suspending the employees, while Hertz claims that the offenders were taking breaks "orders of magnitude longer than mini-breaks."

The workers, who make less than $10 an hour without benefits or vacation pay, were suspended without pay beginning Sept. 30, and have not yet received notice of when they will go back to work, whether they are terminated or what disciplinary actions they might face, the union said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Activists Simmer Over Campbell's Soup Alleged Terror Tie

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- From the people who helped bring you the Ground Zero Mosque controversy comes new allegations of Muslim "infiltration" linked to an organization hired to certify Campbell's soup.

Conservative blogger Pamela Geller has begun a grassroots protest against The Campbell Soup Company and the group the company uses to label its Halal certain varieties of soup for sale in Canada.

Geller says she doesn't oppose the company's decision to label soups that conform to Islamic dietary rules, but says the company has employed a Muslim organization with terrorist ties to oversee the certification.

"I have no problem with labeling things Halal," Geller, who founded Stop Islamization of America, told ABC News. "The problem is that they went to [the Islamic Society of North America] for their designation, a named a co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial."

ISNA was named an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a 2007 federal terror trial brought against the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity located in Texas, which was convicted of funneling more than $12 million to Palestinian terror group Hamas.

In November 2008, five individuals associated with the Holy Land Foundation were found guilty of 108 charges related to providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations and conspiring to launder money. Two of the group's top officials, Shukri Abu-Baker and Ghassan Elashi, were each sentenced to 65 years in federal prison.

The Campbell Soup Company says it began labeling about 15 varieties of vegetarian soups in January. The company retained ISNA to do the certifications because the organization was commonly employed by other Canadian food manufacturers.

Campbell's doesn't use the labeling for its soups sold in the U.S.

In a statement, ISNA acknowledged being named a co-conspirator in the 2007 trial, but added, "the government admitted that its labeling of ISNA many years ago was nothing more than a legal tactic. Indeed, ISNA now has a very positive working relationship with the federal government."

Created 40 years ago, ISNA, based in Plainfiled, Ind., says it is the largest Islamic organization in North America.

Campbell said the boycott has "not been impactful" on soup sales in Canada or the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio