Thursday, September 20, 2001

Forum at Xavier reveals truths, myths about Islam

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Islamic faith has been hijacked by terrorists, bombed by the media and tortured by the misconceptions and misunderstandings of an uniformed public.

Dr. Freda Shamma said the media's presentation of Muslims as “the enemy” fuels misconceptions about Islam
        That was the message delivered to more than 150 people gathered in Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University Wednesday night for a public forum about Islam. The discussion, “Islam and America: Where Does Islam Truly Stand?” was organized by the Xavier Muslim Student Association and the Muslim American Society. The Xavier Muslim Student Association represents about 35 Muslim students on campus.

        The purpose of the forum was to educate non-Muslims about Islam and express the Muslim position on the events of the past week, said Mehrdad Safavian, president of the Xavier Muslim Student Association. It also encouraged people to take part today in a nationwide fast from sunrise to sundown by Muslims in America.

        Dr. Freda Shamma, a guest speaker from Indian Hill, talked about the similarities it shares with other religions, particulary Christianity.

        “Christians and Muslims believe in the same things,” Dr. Shamma said. “We believe in one God and in being good to one another.”

        Some common misconceptions among Americans is that all Arabs are Muslims and that Islam mistreats women, Dr. Shamma said.

        Dr. Shamma said misconceptions are fueled by the media's portrayal of Muslims as “the enemy” and also by the fact that most information published about Muslims in this country is written by non-Muslims.

        “The media likes catch phrases like "Muslim terrorist' or "holy war,”' she said. “They sound good, but they have nothing to do with Islam.”


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