March 2, 2017, Carlinville, IL – Blackburn College will host “Muslim American Communities: Challenges and Opportunities” on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. in Olin Lecture Hall on the Blackburn College campus. This panel discussion will be an evening of educational and civic engagement on the challenges and opportunities facing Muslim American communities. “Muslim American Communities: Challenges and Opportunities” is free and open to the public.
Panelists include: Mr. Gerald Hankerson, Outreach Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago; Dr. Ali Nizamuddin, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Illinois Springfield and President of the Islamic Society of Greater Springfield; and Dr. Rawan Mazen Musaitif, Resident Physician, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Part of Blackburn College’s Arts and Issues series, “Muslim American Communities: Challenges and Opportunities” was co-organized by professors Dr. Michael Bradley (political science) and Dr. Gary Long (history). Dr. Bradley will also serve as moderator.
About 3.5 million Muslim Americans make up 1% of the US population and constitute communities across the fifty states. The largest Muslim American communities are found in Texas, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan. Muslim American communities are highly educated and professionalized compared to many others. They are ethnically diverse and generally connected responsibly and supportively with wider non-Muslim communities.
For some time now, the integrity, loyalty, and value of Muslim American communities have been called into question. Daily media reports describe how Islamophobia—fear of Muslims or the tenets of Islam—is rampant, and related to immigration, counter-terrorism, and other government policies. General statements by leaders and government officials such as “Islam hates us”, and those calling for a “complete and total shut down” of immigration from Muslim countries seem to implicate the whole of Muslim America. Meanwhile, Muslim American civil rights organizations, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), counter with arguments about the importance of respecting the Constitutional rights of all Americans, and their own official statements condemning violent extremism as “unIslamic”.
Blackburn College is committed to providing information and education about issues like this to its students, alumni, supporters, and to any interested members of local and nearby communities. The Blackburn College Arts and Issues series aims to enhance the education of students and surrounding communities through a variety of artist, cultural and thought-provoking special events and programs.