In an effort to quell rumors about Islam, more than 100 students joined together last night in the Michigan Union Ballroom for a Teach-In.
The event, titled “Terrorism: A Perversion of Islam,” featured student panelists and a keynote address by Near Eastern Studies Prof. Sherman Jackson. More than 40 University groups joined together to organize the event.
“We wanted to dispel the stereotypes that this act of terrorism was a religious act,” said LSA junior Jill Barkley, an event organizer and LSA Student Government representative.
University Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper began the program by asking the crowd to “be more truthful in the way in which we see the world.”
“Last Tuesday forced me to see the Muslim students in our community. Quite frankly, until then I had observed them, not seen them,” Harper said.
A student panel addressed topics as broad as the irresponsibility of the media while reporting certain events last week and the differences between Islam and Sikhism.
Panelist Brenda Abdellal, an LSA junior and member of the Arab Students Association, said it is only the skewed understanding of Islam among many Americans that causes some to be unable to separate the radical beliefs of a few Muslims from a large group of rational people.
After explaining the religious symbolism of her hijab, the cloth she wears around her head, Rackham student Amenah Ibrahim of the Muslim Students Association told the crowd that she would not take it off, even though it makes her an easy target for attack.
“I love my hijab it has made my life more peaceful and fulfilling,” Ibrahim said.
Due to what he called the one-sided media coverage of Palestinians” reactions to last week”s terrorist attacks in the U.S., Students Allied for Freedom and Equality member Fadi Kiblawi, an LSA junior, asked listeners to “think slowly, rationally and very carefully when we formulate our ideas about what should happen.”
Jackson urged students to seriously think about last week”s events.
“Sept. 11 has changed us permanently and it”s up to us whether that change will be a positive or negative one,” Jackson said.
Jackson said Muslims who engage in terrorism or a rhetoric of terrorism are perverting Islam.
“The killing of innocent peoples is forbidden by the law of Islam and it has been from the beginning of Islam,” Jackson said.
Many people came to the teach-in with little or no understanding of Islam.
“I came here because for the first time ever I felt there was some hostility between me and a best friend who is Arabic, and I wanted to get a different perspective on Islam,” said Jennifer Sinclair, a Livonia high school student.