U Muslim students host Islam Awareness Week

The former Somali prime minister visited the campus on Tuesday.

by Ibrahim Hirisi

Islam Awareness Week, which concludes Friday, has been at the University of Minnesota this week and aims to eradicate common misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in western culture. Muslim students at the University initiated Islam Awareness Week in 1998 with the goal of educating non-Muslim people. Former Somali Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh said many people in the world view Muslims as radicals, against the west and violators of human rights. Galaydh spoke Tuesday at the University, showing a documentary that dealt with a backlash to Somali immigration in Maine and a conflict between neo-Nazi groups and human rights advocates. Journalism professor Catherine Squires said a lot of these stereotypes grow from the way the western media depicts Islam and Muslims. The predominant images the media report are sensational, such as women being beaten or abused, Squires said. âÄúYou always hear the worst case scenario,âÄù she said. However, with events that raise awareness and remove misconception, Galaydh said the future of Muslims in the western societies is hopeful. âÄúI think the event will make an enormous difference,âÄù he said. Through a series of lectures, documentaries and other activities, the event is intended to convey that the Quran should be the main source of information on Islam for non-Muslims. âÄúWe tell non-Muslims not to look at what Muslims do, because they have good and bad ones. I think the best way to understand Islam is through the Quran. Islam Awareness Week committee member and former Somali Student Association vice president Abdullahi Adam said it is their task as Muslims and students on campus to clear up those misconceptions. âÄúOur mission here is to give the correct information,âÄù Adam said. This yearâÄôs theme is âÄúIslam through a new lensâÄù which political science major and a committee member for the event Mariam Mahmood interpreted it as looking at Islam through a different prospective than the popular images in the media. Many students âÄî mostly non-Muslims âÄî who are interested in learning about Islam and Muslims turned out for the event with enthusiasm, Mahmood said. Al-Madinah Cultural Center, Muslim Student Association and Somali Student Association hosted the event.