Still, [ABUBAKER] volunteered at the 15th annual Media Awards, sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The event, held downtown last weekend, honored the makers of "Paradise Now" and "Syriana" as "voices of courage and conscience." Coincidentally, the awards were handed out on the same day as the closing ceremonies of the Azusa Street Centennial celebration, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pentecostalism in what is today Little Tokyo. Spurned and derided by the mainstream media of its day, Pentecostalism has become the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world.
Abubaker, whose world was similarly defined by people like herself, says working in the business world has exposed her to others' humanity. "I never talked to so many Jews before -- not about religion or politics but about families, kids and interesting experiences we've had," she said. "It was a real awakening because there's a human side to people that you neglect when it's just about politics."
Abubaker agreed with leaders of the Muslim Public Affairs Council who praised "Syriana" and "Paradise Now" for bringing a "human side" to Muslim characters. In "Paradise Now," two young Palestinians are recruited as suicide bombers, yet during the course of a mission they reconsider their choices. The two are depicted as innocents, but the recruiter is unscrupulous -- underscoring the film's message that suicide bombers are made, not born.