Zeitoun Glossary


A full-body covering worn by some Muslim women.

Abu Ghraib

Refers to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the site of a major human rights scandal. The prison had been used by the American military to house various detainees, some of whom were subjected to torture and sexual abuse. These abuses came to public attention in 2004, tarnishing the reputation of the American military both domestically and abroad.


Arabic expression meaning “Praise be to God”


Other forms of marine life--like turtles, sharks, or unwanted species of fish--that are accidentally caught by commercial fishermen


A strategy used by authorities so that all lanes of a highway (even ones that normally go into a city) are rerouted in the same direction, exiting the city. This is a measure used to lighten traffic in emergency evacuations.

Fan boat

A powerful flat-bottomed boat, propelled by a large rudder along with either an aircraft or an automotive engine


FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a division of the federal government devoted to coordinating emergency response to disasters when local and state authorities are insufficient. In 2003, FEMA was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a response to 9/11. FEMA came under heavy criticism after Hurricane Katrina for its slow and inefficient response to the disaster. Some blamed the reorganization under the DHS for the lack of leadership and preparedness. Michael D. Brown was head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina.

Garden District

A wealthy neighborhood in New Orleans that is home to many historic mansions. It escaped significant damage during Hurricane Katrina due to its relatively high elevation.


A head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.


A large four-wheel-drive vehicle, used primarily by the military


A Muslim leader who may lead prayers, answer other Muslims' questions about the faith, and serve as the religion's representative in the community.


A ritual gathering of all the Muslim men in the community. It takes place each Friday at the Islamic Center and includes prayers and socializing.


A method of sardine-fishing first used by Italian fisherman that Zeitoun and his brother Ahmad employed as boys in Syria. On moonless nights, fisherman circle a small patch of sea and shine a lantern to replicate the moon. They catch the numerous fish drawn to the surface by the light.


A type of dam used to stanch the flow of a river.


Meals-ready-to-eat are non-perishable packs of food that require no preparation and are used by the military in combat and emergency situations

Neutral ground

A term used in New Orleans referring to median in the middle of a street.

Salaam Alaikum

A common greeting among Muslims, it means "peace to you."


The ritual prayer that Muslims perform five times per day


Stands for "special weapons and tactics." These highly-trained law enforcement teams are often used in riot or hostage situations.


The ritual ablutions that Muslims must perform to cleanse themselves before praying