Exhibit Spotlight: Besa: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews during the Holocaust at The Museum of Tolerance

Besa is an ancient code of Honor that dictates that no person should be turned away in time of need. Besa, means literally “to keep the promise.” One who acts according to Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family.  It is a code that Albanian Muslims strictly abide by, which led them to rescue 2,000-3,000 Jews seeking asylum during the Holocaust. 

Photographer Norman Gershman engaged in a 5-year project honoring stories of Albanian Muslims' who risked their own lives to rescue thousands of Jews, who either lived in Albania or sought asylum there during World War II.

Through portraiture and personal stories, Norman Gershman communicates the honor, faith, heroism, and altruism of these remarkable individuals. 

Zanbeel Art was a sponsor of the exhibit and arranged for 50 young students from LAUSD to take a guided tour of Gershman's photo exhibit that was held at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in 2011. 


First Pakistani painting donated to the City of Los Angeles

Mission Statement for the donated Artwork by Pakistani-American Community

The artwork entitled, “Morphing,” depicts an Angel with Golden Wings. It is a perfect symbol for the “City of Angels” that is Los Angeles. The “Morphing” signifies a profound change. Los Angeles is a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world. Each immigrant comes with a dream to “Change” their lives for a better tomorrow. This unique treasure also represents a positive symbol of the future unity between people of all roots and regions.

Aileen Adams, Deputy Mayor Los Angeles

Aileen Adams with members of the Department of Cultural Affairs Council

The Artist

Asad Hussain, an emerging artist from Pakistan uses shades of charcoal to masterfully draw the figure of a child, and for the gigantic golden wings his medium of choice is gold and silver embellishments and inks. The title “Morphing” comes from metamorphosis, which means a profound change. The image is not just an image of a crouching child with wings, but a child of color with wings, and has the potential to serve as a metaphor for the multicultural place that LA is.  

Exhibiting for the first time in USA, the artwork by Asad Hussain was displayed at the Santa Monica Art Studios from May 1-8, where it captured the eye and appreciation of generous Philanthropist Mrs. Amina Adaya.

Group photo at "Morphing" ceremony

Philanthropist Mrs. Amina Adaya donates "Morphing" to the City of Los Angeles

The Donor

On behalf of the Pakistani community, Mrs. Amina Adaya donated this stunning piece of artwork, “Morphing", to the City of Los Angeles from her personal collection, with the vision that her contribution will serve as a beautiful, powerful image and a positive symbol of the future unity among the diverse communities of Los Angeles. 

Javed Jabbar book launch in Los Angeles
"Pakistan: Unique Origins, Unique Destiny"
November 2011

Javed Jabbar is chairman and chief executive, JJ Media (Pvt.) Ltd. in Karachi, Pakistan. A former senator and federal minister of Pakistan, he takes an active interest in a variety of fields including international affairs, volunteer work for rural and urban development, the environment, social issues, and mass media.

 (left to right) Dr. Asad Abidi, Javed Jabbar, Salim Adaya, CG Riffat Masood, Christian Troy

While maintaining his association with international affairs and Track II diplomacy, he also serves pro bono as global Vice President, IUCN, of the world's largest and oldest environmental organization.

He has served as Federal Minister in 3 Cabinets, Adviser to General Pervez Musharraf, Personal Representative of Benazir Bhutto at the UN, and is a current Member of the Democracy Assessment Group and Civil-Military Dialogue Group in Islamabad.  Since 1992 Jabbar has served as a member of the longest-running Pakistan-India track-II process known as the Neemrana Dialogue. 

(left to right) Durainaz Farooqui, Fatima Sultan, Javed Jabbar, Hina Abidi, Samiya Khan

USC  with Mona Hamdani, Javed Jabbar, organizer Razina Tarr, and students

(left to right) Samiya Khan, Adnan Khan, Dr. Farooqui, Dr. Farhana Mohamed

Jabbar is the author of several books including his most recent work,Pakistan: Unique Origins, Unique Destiny (National Book Foundation, 2011).

Read more about his books here.

(left to right) Fatima Sultan, Christian Troy, Javed Jabbar, Shabnam Jabbar, Muneeba Siddiqui, Zoya Sattar, Anila Ali

In November 2011 Javed Jabbar visited Southern California and held a Public Forum at The Mark Taper Auditorium in Los Angeles.

 as well as giving talks at institutions including USC and UCI.

Click here to watch his talk "Darkness Before Dawn? The Future of Pakistan" at the 2011 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference