Islam Awareness Presentation Discusses Prejudice

Baldwin Wallace University students, faculty and members of the Berea community gathered in the Malicky Center Feb. 13 to participate in the Islam Awareness Presentation, hosted by the Muslim Student Alliance organization.
The talk presented issues regarding prejudice toward Islam in the United States and was led by Hiba Ibrahim, Professor of Arabic at BW. She hosted a similar discussion on campus two years ago.
The evening began with a documentary film, “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.” Some prevalent stereotypes about Muslims were introduced in the film, and it strongly criticized the fact that the American media has focused on the small minority of radical Muslims.
According to news analysts, 57 pecent of the US news media describe Muslims as cruel militants, when radical Muslim militants only make up a fraction of 1 percent of the global Muslim community.
The discussion following the film was divided into two phases, including democratic value and gender equality among Muslims.
In the first phase of discussion, participants shared opinions about the stereotype that Muslims are destroyers of democratic value. They emphasized the fact that the ratio of radical Muslims who commit acts of terror to peaceful Muslims has been largely inflated by the media, which negatively affects the way Americans view Muslims.
According to a Gallup poll conducted in the film, 54 percent of Americans believe that the West does not respect the Muslim world. Participants agreed that we must treat Muslims like any other citizens of the United States
Participants also discussed Muslims’ perception about gender equality. According to another Gallup poll, 73 percent of the US media described Muslim women as passive, but the poll showed also high agreement rates with the statement, “Women should be allowed to work at any job she is qualified.”regardless of respondents’ gender.
The conversation turned toward hijabs, explaining that wearing a hijab today is an individual choice about personal identity, which is much more than the perceived traditional view of the hijab as a means to control the exposure of women’s bodies.
“Americans have feared  Muslims after 9/11, but the most important thing is that more people should understand each other, not based on the fear but on fact, as the movie showed,” Ibrahim said.