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Obituary: Ghazi Y. Khankan

People who knew Ghazi Y. Khankan will always remember his velvety voice, his silvery white hair, his unmitigated commitment to justice in Palestine and his vision for Muslim contribution to American society. A pioneer in broadcasting, he launched Arabesque radio in 1967 – the longest running radio Arab-issues radio program in America. His work with the late Dr. Mohammad T. Mehdi put Khankan at the forefront of political advancement for Arab and Muslim Americans.

A native of Syria, Khankan studied at the Lycee Francais, at Aleppo College, and at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He completed his education at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in the fields of business administration and international relations (1954-1960). He was the director of the Organization of Arab Students in the U.S. and Canada (1960-1964), and is past president of the National Council on Islamic Affairs (NCIA).

The Islamic Center of Long Island was spiritual home to El Hajj Ghazi Khankan for two decades. He directed and developed the public relations arm of ICLI, positioning the center as a base for information, education, interfaith efforts and influence.

Khankan campaigned for Palestinian rights and recognition alongside closely his friend Dr. Mohammad T. Mehdi, founder of the American Arab Relations Committee and helped promote the cause of Muslim integration in the United States with the NCIA which merged, in 1999 (after Mehdi’s death) with the American Muslim Alliance.

A relentless advocate for inter-religious accord, Ghazi Khankan participated with the Islamic-Roman Catholic Dialogue, American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue, the Jewish-Christian-Islamic Commission of the National Conference of Community and Justice, the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum and the Long Beach Clergy Association. He was a regular guest on Long Island Cablevision Channel 25’s Telecare programs, Father Tom and Religious Leaders and Circle of Faith. Khankan was a member of the N.Y. State Advisory Committee of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, and in November 1996 was designated by Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta to serve as his coordinator with the Muslim community on Long Island.

Many people remain grateful to Ghazi Khankan for officiating at their weddings; he was devoted to performing Islamic marriage services.

Khankan won numerous awards from Arab and Muslim student associations across the country. He was lauded by the Suffolk County Police Department, by CAIR-NY and by the Kiwanis Club of Long Beach.

Khankan was Islamic affairs advisor at the Long Island University, C. W. Post campus, and volunteered as Muslim advisor at North Shore University Hospital, where he passed away surrounded by family and friends on Thursday, April 26 after suffering a massive stroke.

His funeral was at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury on April 27. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, NJ.

Ghazi Khankan is survived by his wife Tanya, daughter Dahlia, son Yahya, their spouses, six grandchildren, devoted nephews, nieces, and extended family in the United States and around the world.


Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 


Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 


The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.

Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.


Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


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