Event provides opportunity for dialogue

Event provides opportunity for dialogue
March 30
04:40 2017



Many individuals are not aware of the history and beliefs of the Muslim culture, which leads some to fear the unknown.  In an attempt to break down some of those barriers to begin a conversation of understanding between Muslim Americans and non-Muslim Americans, a discussion was held last Thursday at Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University.

“Resisting the Normalization of Hate” was the title of the event and the speaker was Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.).

During his speech, Awad spoke about how people should be judged on their actions and not their skin color.  He shared some of the beliefs of his faith that non-Muslims may not be aware of.  He believes that in order to begin to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims, constant discussion and interaction needs to take place.

“My main message was to clarify Islamic issues, values and principles, which are in line with our American values and our Constitution,” Awad said.  “It is an opportunity for people to hear directly from Muslims using original Islamic sources about what Islam is and who Muslims are.”

“The issue of hate is like a fire that eats everyone.  We have seen its impact on our lives and we cannot be complacent.  We have to fight hate groups and hate speech and we have to take action.  When we witness hate it becomes our duty to stand up to it and fight it.”

Ibrahim Thompson, outreach coordinator for the Annoor Islamic Center, said he feels as though events like this bring people together to give them a chance to ask and answer questions they may have had.  He says it allows non-Muslims to see people in the religion who can make them feel more comfortable about the religion.

“I think this is a good event that I came up with, with brother Khalid (Imam Khalid Griggs of Community Mosque of Winston-Salem) and I think this is going to serve very well for the community,” said Thompson.  “As a Muslim what I try to do is visit other religious communities and let them see me as a Muslim man.  It’s very important for me to see us all together and work together in this community.”

Griggs added by saying, “I think it’s important that we organize and participate in as many forums that we possibly can that provide interaction.  The primary benefit for these kind of gatherings to me is the actual physical interactions we have with folks who are non-Muslim.”

The anti-Muslim rhetoric speech of the Trump administration was also touched on by those in attendance.  Thompson said the administration is using Islam as a “scape-goat.”  He said they are making the religion as a whole a negative and use it as a way to gain points from their political base. He says events like this hopefully counteract their actions.

For Griggs he says that the Trump administration’s efforts to depict Muslims in a negative light may actually be facilitating dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“I cant remember a time in a history of this country, in the 45 years that I have been a Muslim, when there has been so much outreach from the non-Muslim community to the Muslim community,” Griggs continued.  “We may actually get some good out of what he is doing even though he did not intend any good from it.”

Awad stated that 2015 and 2016 had the highest number of hate crimes committed against Muslims in recent history. He believes the reason for this is because of political pundits and candidates have attempted to normalize and empower Islamaphobia.

“It is becoming dangerous because we see Islamaphobic policies are being produced, proposed and implemented,” said Awad.  “This is not only threatening to American Muslims, it’s threatening to what America is and our values.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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