UMD Student Journalist Accuses Former GOP Candidate of Harassment


by Jessie Karangu

Noor Tagouri, a senior journalism major at the University of Maryland, was in Tennessee speaking at Vanderbilt University when she decided to cover a court hearing in the area involving a new mosque cemetery being built.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee cemetery was approved for construction in January but opponents such as Lou Ann Zelenik, a Republican Party candidate for Congress in 2010, accused the center of having connections with terrorism.

Zelenik said that a former Islamic Center board member actively promoted terrorism on social media.

Zelenik and other opponents were not able to prove that accusation or argue any further in court though, after the judge in the case disqualified himself from making a ruling.

As the opponents were leaving the courtroom, Tagouri and other local journalists had cameras facing them to hear their thoughts on the court proceedings.

This is when all hell broke loose and Zelenik got into a shoving match with Tagouri and other journalists.

We’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.

On her Facebook page, Tagouri wrote:

Footage I got of being HARASSED by Lou Ann Zelenik and others after a court hearing.

Islamaphobia is alive and well in this part of the U.S. I’ve never, ever experienced anything like this in my entire life. 

She also shared this photo from The Daily News Journal:

Zelenik gave her side of the story on Facebook and said that “the bullies were out in force” among other things:

Afterwards there were some from or for the islamic center that hid cameras and recording devices and snuck up behind people. They even said they were journalists. When they were caught, I asked them to leave, and later for a card or a name, all refused.

Despite Zelenik’s claims of being bullied, social media seems to be on Tagouri’s side:

MY TAKE: This video was EPIC because it taught me a lot about my role in society.

My favorite line was “I don’t want to be on Al-Jazeera.” It’s great to know, according to #ZelenikLogic, that any journalist wearing a hijab automatically works for Al-Jazeera.

As a black man, it’s great to know that the only place I can work for as a journalist throughout my whole career is BET. #ZelenikLogic


12 thoughts on “UMD Student Journalist Accuses Former GOP Candidate of Harassment”

  1. What a bunch of ignorant twerps. Many of female journalists and news presenters on AL Jazeera don’t even wear hijabs and whats that got to do with Al Jazeera? Also, they were the first Arab TV station to interview people like Shimon Peres and other Israeli politicians. Talking about being back of the bus, well you lot, (Zelenik and her like) in the south were practicing apartheid, until 40 years ago. Give it a rest and live in the real world and integrate, times have changed.
    Maria, London, UK

  2. this is a challenge faced muslim all around the world. i hope you steadfast on the path of religion, show good example, and hopefully over time we can change the world perception about Islam 🙂

  3. Wow, that bald guy Micah Forrest has sheer hatred in his eyes. So frightening.

    Does Al Jazeera even have presenters who wear hijab? I don’t think Al Jazeera English does, so that is ironic.

    So sad this happened. And so sad that anyone would make a court case against a cemetery…they don’t even want us there dead.

  4. American ignorance regarding other religions especially Islam, while automatically judging it as terrorism-associated is both baffling and irritating to me. The comment of being “on the back of the bus” in particular struck me as not only annoying but also naive.

  5. ‘Back of the Bus?’ It truly saddens me that people are so unaware of their own ignorance that they refuse to challenge themselves to find out the truth of what scares them. I am shocked and appalled by this video. How could any persons have such fear and hate for someone they don’t know? How could a beautiful young woman, intimidate grown men and women just because she chooses to cover her head? People need to stop letting television educate them and take ownership for their lives and prejudices and learn for themselves first hand! If I let television dictate and educate me on my views than all African american would be thugs and dance well; all southern caucasian americans would red necks inbreds who talk slow; germans would be nazi, and the Canada government would be run by crackheads. However, these are not facts or even stereotypes its pure laziness, so educate yourself. You may have a masters degree and a PhD but your are influence by article and insipid shows that promote fear and hate cloud your intelligent. I implore and challenge you to travel the world with an open mind and see it with for the first time with different glasses and learn again, for education is the truest form of freedom!!!!

  6. Great job Noor, “grace under fire.” Americans deserve more from their elected officials. Americans should demand people with integrity; people who are poised, forthright, truthful. Clearly Ms. Zelenick and her supporters are provincial reactionaries, hate mongers, who seek to maintain the old worn out raciest dogma of the south. The world has changed Ms. Zelenick, I know you don’t like it, but people of every stripe and persuasion have entered the public forum. Professional Muslim women in hijab are destined to become a huge part of that change. Ms. Zelenick, if you are intimidated by a piece of cloth, then it is time for you to get off the bus! Noor, keep those cameras rolling. Your mom sounds like the quintessential diplomat! IA, you won’t have any trouble finding work after you graduate…Mabrook!

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