30 Mosques, 30 days, 12,000 miles

A colleague of mine here at LoHud/Journal News, Aman Ali, is becoming something of a star outside the newsroom.

He and a friend, both 20-something Muslims, are driving to 30 mosques in 30 different states during the month of Ramadan.

They’re blogging about it.

And they’re getting a lot of media attention, especially from CNN.

CNN did a nice report at the start of the trip. When Aman (that’s him) and his buddy, Bassam Tariq, got to Georgia, a CNN reporter and cameraman joined the roadtrip for a few days.

Their lengthy report, by Wayne Drash, is up on CNN.com. It’s quite good and you should check it out.

Aman, only 25 and already a good reporter, is a real interesting guy. He’s a stand-up comedian and seems to know everything about pop culture and what’s in the news.

He was born in Columbus, Ohio, and would break just about every Muslim stereotype.

He’s a funny dude.

Of course, this is quite a time to be making his trip — when the whole country is squabbling over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero and a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment is coming to the surface.

After a cold reception from a mosque in Mobile, Ala., Aman says: “I feel Muslims in this country are making a lot of progress. And things like that, as we make 10 steps forward, that just knocks us back 20 steps.”

Today is day 18 of their trip. Yesterday, they were in Santa Ana, Calif. I’m not sure where they are today. Yet.

By the way, they expect to travel about 12,000 miles by the end of Ramadan.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.