Huge Rally Against Bigotry

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

DSC_1866The Muslim Peace Coalition  (MPC) organized a rally in New York City’s Union Square at noon on April 9th to protest against “war, Islamophobia, and terror.”

The Muslim Peace Coalition claimed that 500 Muslim organizations had joined in to cosponsor the rally and its San Francisco sister rally on April 10th, which was attended by the prominent imam Zaid Shakir as well as many other imams and other prominent individuals, such as (in alphabetical order) Sr. Seemi Ahmed, Imam Abdul Latif Al-Amin, Imam Shamsi Ali, Imam Ashrafuzzaman Khan, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Br. Abu Ahmed Nuruzzaman, Imam Muhammad Qatanani, Cindy Sheehan and Dr. Shaik Ubaid.

500 plus organizations, Muslims and neighbors from interfaith, peace movements and labor joined hands together  Against Islamophobia, to oppose war and to condemn terrorism.

The MPC hoped for 25,000 Muslims and 25,000 neighbors to come to Union Square, and perhaps thousands did attend although it is difficult to give an exact estimate of the attendance.

The MPC press release about the event said, “We stand together to make one point: that War, Terrorism and Islamophobia —- are all one set. One distasteful, ugly set —– that has to go.”

The rally was intended to put a good face on the Muslim community–people were invited to come with their children and were invited to be friendly with people of other faiths in attendance, in order to counter the negative media portrayals of Islam and Muslims.

Said the MPC press release, “Please bring your families—- many media people think of Muslims as some distant people, aliens, not families and not neighbors. We need to give our community a human face.”

The MPC pointed out that non-Muslims have in fact been more vocal in their support of the Muslim community against war, Islamophobia, and terror, and encouraged Muslims to thank them “for being a true patriot.”

People marching were also encouraged to sign up with the MPC, to develop “a broader coalition of all neighbors against hate and injustice.”

“Diversity is as American as Apple pie. Let’s build on our diversity.”

MPC organizers also told horror stories of Muslim children in New York being beaten up and robbed in school on account of their religion, and pointed out that those most vulnerable are girls with hijab.

Good weather, organization, and good speakers made the event a very successful rally with widespread attendance from New York’s Muslim community.

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Students Report on Islam in Unique Course

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Alexandra Carter, UPIU.com

img_3376_large_square geri zeldes

Left:  Students speak with Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes after the “Reporting on Islam” class at Michigan State University; Right:  Professor Zeldes distributes graded story revisions for the “Reporting on Islam” course.

Photos by Alexandra Carter

 

EAST LANSING, Mich., Dec. 11 (UPI) — A new course at Michigan State University teaches students how to deal with the complexities of reporting on Islam in a post-Sept. 11 world.

This semester, students wrote about holiday celebrations and about how Muslim students feel about American university life. They also analyzed news reports on Islam from around the world in the new, “Reporting on Islam” course at Michigan State University.

“[The course] definitely made me uncomfortable at times, but honestly, that is how I know it was worthwhile,” said Dan Redford, a student. “It helped me experience a part of the world and this country that I never had before.”

Students uploaded the stories they wrote and the photos they took to UPIU.com, a service of United Press International for university students. Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes said that she wanted the class to submit its stories to UPIU to “have an outlet, other than me, to share their stories.”

Of the 14 registered students in the course, half had at least one of their stories published online through UPIU. Student Andrew Norman’s story on Islamic punk music was featured in blog in The San Francisco Sentinel and Wall Street Journal.

Student Brian J. Bowe said that using Web tools such as Skype to talk to people in other countries helped “shrink the world,” an exciting aspect of the course.

“Those classroom interactions with people in places like Iraq, Iran and India enriched the experience for me,” Bowe said. “One of the problems in media portrayals of Islam is that we’re frequently talking about Muslims, but not to Muslims. Using technology, we were able to bridge cultures and have very profound dialogues.”

Students also talked to Muslims who live in Michigan as sources for some articles.

“I found our visit to [the Islamic Center of East Lansing] highly beneficial. I would have been timid about going there alone,” said student Jennifer Hoewe. “Since I was joined by my classmates and welcomed by those who attended the mosque, I felt comfortable enough to go again by myself later in the semester as part of an article I wrote.”

The new class comes as students across the United States are showing more interest in Islam and in academic topics affiliated with the faith. Three of the students in “Reporting on Islam” studied Arabic, two of them through the university’s Arabic department, which had roughly 150 students enrolled in classes this fall.

Several of the students in “Reporting on Islam” also are in the Muslim Studies specialization program, which was created by Professor Mohammed Ayoob after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The reporting course was just one of many offered this semester under this specialization, along with classes in arts and humanities, public affairs, religion, political science, anthropology and sociology.

“Reporting on Islam” is a good first step for many students to continue learning about the topic, said Zahkia Smith, a student.

“I think what’s most important coming out of this class is that the very best way to know how to report on Islam is to get involved and actually step into the Muslim community,” Smith said. “The class gives you the right tools. The completion of the class is the signal to dig further.”

“Reporting on Islam” is a pilot course offered jointly through Michigan State’s School of Journalism and its Muslim Studies program. It was started with a grant from the Social Science Research Council, a national non-profit group. In addition, the course is part of the Islam, Muslims, and Journalism Education program, a project on the Internet funded by the same grant that has a goal to generate accurate and balanced reporting.

Similar courses have been taught at other American university campuses, Zeldes said. For example, Marda Dunsky, instructor of Islamic World Studies at DePaul University, teaches the “Reporting the Arab and Muslim World” course.

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