'Not In My Name' Muslim Forum Decries Terrorism, Islamophobia [incl. Jabbar Al-Obaidi]
Before Ghada Masri left Saudi Arabia to attend college in the United States, her grandfather gave her stern advice.
"My grandfather sat me down and told me, 'You are now our ambassador to America. Make sure you show them who we really are,'" said Masri, president of the Muslim Student Association at Bridgewater State University.
By coming here, Masri said, she carried a "very heavy responsibility" to positively represent her family, her culture "and most importantly, my religion."
Terrorism, she said, is not part of that representation.
"Today we mourn all those innocent lives lost in Paris, Nigeria, the Middle East and many other places around the world that are affected by these attacks," the 21-year-old Masri said. "Terrorism affects all of us, no matter what race, nationality or religion."
She was among several speakers who addressed a packed audience in Crimson Hall at Bridgewater State University on Tuesday.
The event, titled "Not in my name: the Muslim community speaks out against radicalism and terrorism," was sponsored by the university's Center for Middle East Studies.
Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders spoke during the event to bring a message of unity and respect for diversity, said event organizer Jabbar Al-Obaidi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies.
"It's to bring the community together, and to talk and to have a conversation, and again to make sure that we are understanding each other," Al-Obaidi said.
Speakers also discussed instances of "Islamophobia," or the hatred against and fear of Muslims in the wake of terrorist acts.
Masri, a senior, said her friend, who is also Muslim, was walking down the street in Boston the other day and "this man thought it was appropriate to spit on her."
And authorities were notified recently when a part-time faculty member at Bridgewater State, who is from the Middle East, received a call from a scam artist who went on to harass the professor with racial epithets, university officials said.
The Rev. Adrian Milik, parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Bridgewater and chaplain at the university's Catholic Center, said Tuesday's event gave "a voice to the people who are facing oppression or discrimination or violence in so many places."
"The more that we can help build understanding, the better off our country and our world is going to be," he said.
Radicalism has distorted Islam, a religion that is rooted in peace, mercy and kindness, said Ahmed Abdelal, director of the school's Center for Educational Neuroscience Applications.
"Terrorism, the roots of it extend deeply and they flourish in atmospheres where you have chaos, disorder, absence of democracy, oppression and basically desperation among the people," Abdelal said. "This is what we are facing today, in Iraq, in Syria."
Related Topics: Islamophobia
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