- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

CHICAGO — A new magazine is offering the 400,000 teenage Muslim girls in the United States a chance to be a cover girl.

“The girls are eager to have their stories told,” said Ausma Khan, editor of Muslim Girl Magazine, which is out with a 25,000-copy premiere issue and expects its circulation to be four times that in two years.

It is an underserved market for both readers and advertisers, Miss Khan said.

The first cover girl is Wardah Chaudhary, 16, of Tulsa, Okla., where there is a relatively small but vibrant Muslim community. Her perseverance and energy won her the honor, the editor said, but the magazine and its Web site — www.muslimgirlmagazine.com — has invited other Muslim girls to vie for the cover.

In her essay, Wardah talks about her Pakistan-born parents, her life growing up in Oklahoma and her activities.

“One thing I know for sure is that I am not behind in anything just because I wear hijab,” she says referring to her Muslim style of dress. “To all the girls that are reading this, I want them to know to be proud of who you are.”

She appears on the magazine’s cover wearing a red-and-white head covering, with tiny red, white and blue stars on her right cheekbone.

The January/February issue also has articles on a Muslim girls basketball team and a noted Muslim woman health researcher, who is photographed with a stunning shoe collection.

The magazine’s tone is chatty, and its focus on beautiful women and relationships is similar to other magazines targeting young women — although the women shown tend to more modestly dressed.

A survey of Muslim teen girls done for the magazine found out that they mainly go to public school, watch a bit too much television, read teen magazines, surf the Internet on sites such as YouTube.com, play video games, talk a lot and like to shop and hang out — a profile matching most American teens, the magazine said.

Miss Khan, a lawyer and writer, was teaching classes on human rights and international law at Northwestern University when she was recruited to head the magazine.

She said the survey was hardly a surprise to her as a Muslim who grew up in the United States, “but I think the publisher may have been surprised at how much a part of the fabric of [U.S.] life these girls are.”

She said initial circulation efforts concentrated in areas known to have large Muslim populations, including New York; Jersey City, N.J.; Dearborn, Mich.; Chicago; Los Angeles; and parts of Texas. The publisher, ExecuGo Media in Toronto, will also distribute the magazine in Ontario and Toronto.

“There is information for every group,” said Miss Khan. “Our community is definitely underserved.”

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