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Keynote speaker Sumbul Ali-Karamali (left) and Rosamond Rodman of the Mount's religious studies faculty at the College's "Muslim Neighbors" symposium on the Doheny Campus in February.
Mount Hosts 'Muslim Neighbors' Symposium
March 11, 2011 -- To connect local residents to the Muslim community while dispelling misconceptions about Islam and the Middle East, the Mount hosted a thought-provoking “Muslim Neighbors” symposium at the Doheny Campus in February.
The one-day symposium shed light on the diversity of the Muslim community and the stereotypes many Americans have about the Muslim world. About 150 people attended the event, which was open to the public. “Most Americans are miseducated about Muslim people and have even formed a fear about them,” says event creator Rosamond Rodman, a lecturer in the Mount’s religious studies department. “This symposium helped by addressing the source of misconceptions, and by providing better sources of information about Islam.”
Keynote speaker Sumbul Ali-Karamali, a Southern California native and author of "The Muslim Next Door: The Qurán, The Media, and That Veil Thing," discussed how the media has influenced Americans to develop a distorted view about Muslim people. The symposium also included a panel featuring diverse members of the Muslim community in Los Angeles—from an imam, to a public affairs liaison, to a nurse educator. The event closed with a screening of "Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think," a film that explores the Gallup poll findings on Muslims around the globe.
“This symposium arose out of a motto, ‘Think globally, act locally’,” says Rodman. “The concept of a neighbor is not just someone who happens to live nearby, but who, by virtue of their proximity, shares and expands the world we live in.”
The symposium was conceived last year after Rodman joined college faculty from across the U.S. to travel to Amman, Jordan, as part of an international research program. Alumni of the trip were awarded Carnegie Foundation grants to develop programs that would improve the American public’s understanding of Islam and the Middle East. The Mount matched the grant to create the “Muslim Neighbors” symposium.
Rodman hopes the successful event spawns more local efforts to better educate the public about the Muslim community. “This event raised consciousness,” she says. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”