Several Muslim groups and community leaders are calling out a now viral video purportedly showing a Naperville teen burning a Quran as an act of hate.

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Indian American Muslim Council, and the Islamic Society of North America are among those who have condemned the act allegedly committed by a Naperville student over the summer. Only recently did the video surface on social media.

The groups warn of a connection between the act and the far-right, ultranationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Hindutva movement.

Quran burnings and anti-Muslim sentiment by right-wing extremists have been on the rise in the U.S. and Europe in recent years, said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

“This particular incident is not an isolated arbitrary act, but allegedly part of a larger trend of Hindutva-inspired Islamophobia playing out in Naperville and other communities, and it is high time it is confronted,” Rehab said. “It is a stark reminder of the impact of ideological extremism quietly imported into America and the need to address it urgently.”

Rehab noted a concerted effort by Hindutva-organized opposition to the construction of a Naperville mosque two years ago — a project that eventually was granted permission.

CAIR-Chicago and other groups are demanding a public apology from the accused student and urging school administrators to meet with Muslim students and community leaders to foster a healing process.


The Islamic Center of Naperville called for a thorough investigation “to determine the root cause of this deplorable act” and urged the perpetrator’s identity be protected for the youth’s own safety.

State Rep. Nabeela Syed of Inverness thanked the center for its thoughtful statement .

“The members of Illinois’ Asian American Legislative Caucus stand with you and our neighbors from across all of our communities in condemning all forms of hate, violence, and disdain,” she said.

Several other local elected officials, including state Sens. Karina Villa of West Chicago and Rachel Ventura of Joliet, have expressed solidarity with the Muslim community and condemned the act.

“It is my understanding that the juvenile who posted the video on social media has apologized and that he and his parents are collaborating with school officials to mend relations with those who feel hurt and threatened by his actions,” DuPage County Board member Lucy Chang Evans wrote on Facebook.


Naperville City Council member Benny White shared on Facebook the city’s mission statement emphasizing “the importance of being an inclusive community that values diversity.”

“In our community, as well as our nation, there is no room for such actions,” he wrote. “These actions are detrimental, divisive, and inflict harm on those who experience them. I propose that we shift our focus onto the act itself, rather than the individuals involved, in an effort to unite our community.”

New leadership

Shirley Payne began working at Aurora’s only Black-owned funeral home nearly 30 years ago. She was celebrated this week as the new owner of the business founded by the late Roland James, who opened James Funeral Home more than four decades ago on Aurora’s east side.

The funeral home primarily serves Aurora’s Black community. In the early 1990s, James recruited Payne and encouraged her to begin a career in mortuary science. Payne was the only Black female in her graduating class at Worsham College of Mortuary Science.

She served as manager of the funeral home even after James’ death in 2005, while his family’s estate maintained ownership.

Aurora community leaders and hundreds of residents gathered to celebrate Payne taking the helm and the unveiling of the business’ new name — the James-Payne Funeral Home. It now is among a few funeral homes owned by Black women in the Chicago area.

Gender exhibit

Oakton College’s Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program Art Exhibit features a record number of artists across 15 mediums.

The exhibit — titled “Don’t ‘Drag’ Me Down: Today’s Battle for Liberation” — is free and open to the public. It runs through Nov. 3 at Oakton’s Koehnline Museum of Art, 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines.

“This year, we not only received over 100 submissions, a record number for this exhibit, but we heard from artists as far as Germany, Italy, Poland and Puerto Rico,” said Lindsey Hewitt, distinguished professor of anthropology and humanities and coordinator of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Works by 74 artists were selected for the exhibition. They address various topics such as attacks on bodily autonomy, sexuality, gender identity, the rights of transgender youth, book bans and censorship, racial violence, colonialism, and the war in Ukraine.

Among the featured artists are:
• Ali Beyer, a nonbinary visual artist and adjunct instructor in the Cinema & Television Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago, presents a self-portrait “King Queen (Can’t Beat Me Down with this Golden Crown).”

• Granite Palombo-Amit’s “The Overturning of Roe v. Wade.” A therapist, progressive rabbi and activist, she has exhibited nationally and internationally.

• Ukraine-born and Evanston-based artist Olena M. Marshall’s “The Pilgrimage: Russia’s Imperialist Death Cult Marches on.”

• Berlin-based Aziza Magsudlu’s “Inkwell of Change: Women’s Journeys to Liberation.”

• Nora Moore Lloyd, a Chicago-based artist and member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Nation in Wisconsin, will show a portrait of her friend Susan Power, a founding member of the American Indian Center and other Native American institutions in Chicago and nationally.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit .

Book drive

United Way of Lake County will mark Hispanic Heritage Month with a book drive through Oct. 15.

Donations will help enrich elementary school libraries by promoting cultural awareness, celebrating diversity, and honoring Latino and Hispanic culture.

Choose from a list of children’s books by Latino authors in English and Spanish to donate at .

Senior heath fair

State Sen. Dan McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican, is partnering with local health providers and organizations to host a free Senior Health Fair Wednesday in Wauconda.

A variety of vendors will provide free screenings from 10 a.m. to noon at 503 W. Bonner Road.

Walgreens also will be offering flu shots. Seniors should bring their insurance cards. Refreshments will be provided.

Student growth

Elgin Community College has seen a 7.8% increase in fall student enrollment over the previous year, officials said.

Total enrollment for the semester will surpass 9,800 students after the late fall start dates for 12- and eight-week courses.

Contributing to the uptick is a more than 5% increase in Asian and Black students, and a more than 21% rise in Hispanic or Latino students.

Other enrollment trends include a 28% increase in participation in adult basic education programs. The Education and Work Center in Hanover Park, which exclusively provides English as a Second Language and GED-prep classes, saw record enrollment in fiscal year 2023 and is on track to break that record in the current academic year.

Students 30 years and older increased by 13%. Also, ECC saw a more than 6% growth in career and technical programs — the highest in truck driving, emergency medical technician, cybersecurity, and early childhood education programs, and more than 14% uptick in new students and more than 11% rise in returning students.

Dual credit enrollment increased by 13%, with a record-high 1,231 students earning college credit while still attending high school.

• Share stories and news from the suburban mosaic at