The Lakeland Mirror

Islam in America convo tackles misconceptions and discrimination

Muslim+students+speak+in+a+panel+to+other+Lakelanders.
Muslim students speak in a panel to other Lakelanders.

Muslim students speak in a panel to other Lakelanders.

Benjamin Wilks

Benjamin Wilks

Muslim students speak in a panel to other Lakelanders.

Katie Amundsen, Staff Reporter

Telling everyone you know about Islam is probably no different than telling everyone you know about Christianity,” said Mr. Othman Atta, executive director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, in the opening statements of Islam in America.

Atta meant that there are numerous interpretations to both (or any) religions. There are an endless number of classes within and endless amount of subjects under the broad term of ‘Islam’ or ‘Christianity.’

It is impossible to agree on every aspect of one another’s religion, but Atta encourages dialogue between differing faiths. He seeks to enrich the understanding of others, and overall, this can lead to acceptance.

The convocation, which took place on Feb. 12, happened to fall on the same night as the men’s basketball game, but that didn’t stop students from showing up to participate in the question and answer session. The focus of the event was to discuss the challenges and experiences of people of the Islamic faith.

A panel of six Muslim students, comprised of two men and four women, answered questions from students and members of the community. Four of these students attend the Salam School, a private Islamic high school, and two of the students are in college.

Topics of conversation centered on the discrimination that is often felt by members of the Islam community and on the misconceptions that many people have about these members.

When asked what the most common misconception about Muslims is, Duha Salim, a high school student, simply said, “That we’re all terrorists.”

Living in a post 9/11 world is not always easy for many of her faith, but Salim said that in her Islamic Studies class, she and her classmates talk about ways to combat stereotypes about their religion.

Salim knows plenty about these stereotypes, especially when it comes to the ones concerning Muslim women. She DJ’s for many events in the Arab and Muslim community, a non traditional role.

“Telling people the truth” and “clearing things up” are the best part about coming to speak to students, according to Mohammed Abdelrahim, another high school student.

“They should hear it from us, because we’re the ones who are living it,” Abdelrahim said.

“It’s amazing how much hate is on [websites],” said Omar Saleh, a high school student.

It was both Saleh’s and Abdelrahim’s second time speaking in front of a large audience about their faith. For Salim and her classmate Nadia Mian, it was their first time participating in the panel. Mian stated that she wasn’t nervous at all. Salim, however, said, “I was shaking!”

You wouldn’t have been able to tell if you were watching the students speak, though. All six did a great job of speaking eloquently and should be truly commended for their work to teach others about Islam.

 

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