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Religion professors, Muslim students to lead panel discussion

One religion professor said he hopes that by educating the student body, he can help the university community take a step toward understanding the Islamic faith.

Religion professor Andy Fort said American misconceptions about the Islamic faith could negatively affect how other countries perceive Americans.

To educate students in the truth about Islam, Fort will lead and moderate a panel discussion from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Palko 130.

Fort said widespread misconceptions about Islam are very serious as they not only cause some Americans to show prejudice but also affect U.S. foreign policy and the world’s view of America.

He provided the example of Terry Jones, a Florida pastor who wanted to burn copies of the Quran in protest of the ground zero mosque. He said in the eyes of the world, the actions of one pastor appeared to reflect the attitude of the entire nation.

Three university religion professors and representatives from the Muslim Student Association will provide information about Muslims in the United States and abroad.

Professors Mark Dennis, Sage Elwell and Yushau Sodiq will participate in the discussion along with Muslim Student Association president Hamza Khan, vice president Zair Shah and other MSA members.

Fort said Dennis would discuss Islam’s connection with violence, Sodiq would discuss the history of Islam in America and Elwell was expected to show some images and discuss how people use images to build prejudice.

“I feel it’s part of our departmental and university mission,” Fort said. “This is education that really matters.”

Fort said MSA representatives would talk about what it feels like to be victims of prejudice, such as being called terrorists or being told that Muslims don’t belong in America.

Khan said he is very excited to participate in the discussion. He said he hopes to show students that Islam is a peaceful religion not associated with terrorism or violence.

“Basically, the discussion’s going to clear up any misconceptions there are about Islam,” Khan said.

Fort said the discussion would be good for the university and he is excited to lead it. He said he hoped to increase intercultural understanding and present accurate information about Muslim people and Islam through the discussion.

“Who’s afraid of Muslims?” Speaking event featuring Mark Dennis, Yushau Sodiq, Sage Elwell and Yasmine Javeed, TCU alumna.

When: Thursday 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Where: Palko 130

The event will have publicity tables set up today from 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. outside the east side of the library as well as in the Reed-Scharbauer Mall. The publicity tables will have flyers containing facts and information about Muslims and the Islamic faith. Refreshments will be served.

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