With the 2016 presidential election a month away, one of the hottest topics between the two candidates remains immigration and the spread of terrorism.
On Wednesday night, the St. Bonaventure and neighboring communities heard from one of the nation's top experts on Islamic studies about that topic.
John Esposito, a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., spoke for nearly two hours in SBU's Doyle Hall to students, faculty members and community members from the Greater Olean region.
Esposito, who founded the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown and has written more than 45 books on Islam, said that he had no intention of studying Islam until a professor pressured him into reconsidering.
Islam has been in the limelight in recent years with terror attacks across the world that have been carried out in the name of religion. Esposito says that despite the political rhetoric, there are no specific verses in the Quran that promote violence and killing.
"All religions have a dark side," Esposito said. "Blood flows today just as often as it did in the past -- a lot of times due to religion."
Esposito pointed out that the Crusades and other wars were started in the name of faiths. He said that most Muslims have denounced terrorism, but the media simply only transmits one side of the story.
He pointed to a recent Gallup poll that found more than 90 percent of media coverage in the United States about Islam is negative. He noted, "3.2 million Muslims denounced the latest terrorist attacks on social media, and yet the media did not report on a single one of those people."
Esposito has been teaching about Islam for over 40 years, but said that social media has changed everything about the way he teaches.
"Social media organizes the Islamophobia network in today's age," Esposito said.
Change has to start from the bottom and not the top. Esposito said that while it is nice that Pope Francis has built a relationship with the Muslim community, it is up to everyday people to build better relationships among each other.
Almost 75 percent of Americans do not know anybody who is Muslim, yet most make no attempt to try and change that or to learn another culture, he said. And then he added: