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A man working to change America's image of the Muslim faith finds himself burdened by the stereotypes he's tying to overcome in this documentary from filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor. Hamza Pérez is an American of Puerto Rican heritage who as a young man joined a gang and made his living as a drug dealer.
In the mid-1990s, Pérez, who was raised a Catholic, converted to Islam and he soon began following a very different path in life.
Today, Pérez is a community activist and anti-drug counselor who with a handful of other converts relocated to Pittsburg to open a mosque in a ghetto neighborhood; he's also a musician who uses rap to spread a positive message to at-risk youth.
But while by any standards Pérez has changed his life for the better, some prisons where he visits to counsel inmates won't allow him in because of his faith, and the new mosque has become a lightning rod for controversy in Pittsburgh.
New Muslim Cool chronicles three years in the life of Hamza Pérez as he tries to spread positive word about Islam, speak out to inner city kids, get married and deal with the challenges of raising his own children. New Muslim Cool was an official selection at the 2009 San Francisco International Film Festival.