PORTLAND,OR–The program â€œUnveiled: Women and Islam,â€ was held Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the York Public Library. The evening featured a discussion with Reza Jalali, a teacher, author, chaplain and member of Maineâ€™s Muslim community, and three young Muslim women who are students at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
The talk challenged the common cultural perceptions about women in Islamic society while exploring the discrepancies between the teachings of Islam and the oppressive treatment of women in some Muslim countries.
The women who participated with Jalali are all students at the University of Southern Maine. Hao Mohamed is of Somalian origin and grew up in Maine, Hawa Shir is originally from Afghanistan, and Shadiyo Hussain Ali is from Somalia.Jalali, an ethnic Kurd from Iran, is a human rights activist and Muslim scholar who has lived in Maine since 1985. He coordinates the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine, where he is adjunct faculty, and is the Muslim Chaplain at Bates College.
The program was sponsored by the York Diversity Forum and was made possible through a grant from the Maine Humanities Council. The event was offered in conjunction with the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelf grant awarded to the York Public Library by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Student film maker presents her movie on Muslims
Tibian Ahmed, a student at the State University of New York College at Brockport, presented her struggles as a Muslim in post 9/11 society at a diversity conference on campus.
Ahmed presented her film Double Standard, a concise documentary on her and the Muslim communityâ€™s struggles with discrimination following the 9/11 attacks. The film was made in conjunction with Brooklyn based filmmakers Reel Works and was backed by HBO, the campus newspaper reported.
Following her presentation, Ahmed addressed the many misconceptions surrounding her religion, taking questions from the audience regarding their curiosities. However, for Ahmed, she said the largest struggle in changing the minds of America and its citizens lies not in answering questions, but in asking them.
â€œThe only way to change minds is to ask questions and be fearless,â€ Ahmed said.
CT school boardâ€™s recognition of Islamic holidays hailed
NEW LONDON, CT–The Connecticut Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT) has welcomed a decision by the New London Board of Education to recognize the two major Muslim holidays, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, by including them on the school calendar along with all other major religious holidays.
CAIR-CT said the boardâ€™s president directed the superintendent of schools to advise all teachers and educators in New London schools not to schedule tests or special events like field trips on those days to ensure that students who are celebrating their holidays would not miss tests and important activities.
The decision came September 26 after CAIR-CT raised the issue with the New London board prior to its Thursday meeting. Muslim parents spoke out during public comments and thanked board members for responding positively to CAIR-CTâ€™s request. The decision passed without any objections from board members or the public.
Natasha Ahmed, a member of the Islamic Center of New London and a parent to two school-age children, said: â€œWe thank the New London Board of Education for embracing and recognizing our Muslim holidays. This means a lot to me my kids and our community.â€
CAIR-CT Executive Director Mongi Dhaouadi spoke during the board meeting and said in part: â€œThis speaks volume of the nature of our diverse city that fosters a sense of understanding and acceptance toward its Muslim members. We hope that our community here in New London will serve as a model to others around the state and the nation.â€
Louisiana Tech. series to look at Muslims in America
The Muslim experience in America will be the topic when Louisiana Techâ€™s Department of History launches â€œLetâ€™s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys,â€ a five-week series of readings and discussions. The sessions are 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays in October, beginning Oct. 1, in University Hall, room 121.
Admission is free and all interested members of the public are invited.
Dr. Ahmad Nazir Atassi, a Tech assistant professor of history, will serve as facilitator and discussion leader.
â€œIslam is the worldâ€™s second largest religion, so when it goes through a period of internal revision it affects more than just its own adherents,â€ he said. Session topics will include women and gender in American Islam, American Muslims from the 18th Century to World War I, American Muslims since World War I, cultural encounters and cultural integration, and American Muslim politics between identity and 9/11.
A member of the Louisiana Tech faculty since 2007, Atassi holds a Ph.D. in history and religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He teaches courses on Middle East history, the history of Islam and the history of U.S.-Middle East relations.
Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, â€œLetâ€™s Talk About It: Muslim Journeysâ€ is part of the Readings in Literature and Culture program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Books scheduled for discussion are available for loan and must be returned at the end of the series. Space and books are limited and advance registration is encouraged. For information, to register, or to borrow books,contact the department of history at 257-2872 or email email@example.com.