Events offer insight into Islam

November 14, 2018


Area Muslims are sharing their experiences and faith at two public events in Rochester.

On Thursday, the University of Minnesota Rochester, the Rochester Diversity Council and Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam are hosting a forum and dinner and discussion, “Rise Above Islamophobia,” on the fourth floor of University Square.

On Sunday, the Rochester Muslim Community Circle is hosting a talk and public talk back on youth, hope and resilience in Islam at Kabab Restaurant, 125 E. Center St.

Rana Mikati is helping host the Sunday event and will be a panel speaker Thursday to talk about Muslim women in leadership roles and the challenges they face.

“It’s interesting how often you find Islamophobia is intertwined with sexism,” said Regina Mustafa, who made a bid for Rochester mayor this year.

Mustafa will give the opening keynote speech at the Thursday event.

Muslim women are often immediately identifiable if they choose to cover their hair as part of their religious practice.

“It brings immediate attention to yourself,” Mustafa said. “You’re definitely met with suspicion by some people.”

Fardousa Jama, who ran for a city council seat in Mankato, will also sit on the panel.

The discussion will also address what tactics can be used to respond to hate crimes or incidents related to Islamophobia.

“We also want to highlight what has been working,” Mustafa said.

The Sunday event will highlight Muslim youth and their perspective as part of the ongoing “Journey of Peace” series established almost a decade ago by the Sisters of Assisi.

Part of that event is a crowd question and answer about Islam.

“We won’t be offended by any question as long as they are asked in a respectful way,” Mikati said.

Mikati said similar public events bring a crowd of curious and well-meaning people who don’t know much about Islam.

“It’s better to go to a Muslim person than just Google,” she said. “People of Rochester are really people who want to learn.”

However, sometimes questions move away from faith and stray into politics.

“Being a Muslim does not make me a political analyst,” Mikati said.

Area Muslims will also bring food to share at the event to highlight the diversity of the faith and its broad practice around the world.

Both events are free and open to the public. Organizers of both events request people sign up to attend.

People interested in attending the Sunday event should email: rmcc@rmccmn.org.

People can inquire about space availability for Thursday’s event at: cidi@cidimn.org.

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