Last Updated: July 26. 2010 1:00AM
Small talk: Dawud Walid on trip to Mali
Oralandar brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, wrapped up his second visit to the African nation of Mali on Friday. He also serves as assistant imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit and board trustee for the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers’ Rights Committee.
This is your second trip to Mali? What program are you participating in there?
This is my second time participating in a delegation organized by Michigan State University, which aims to build religious and cultural ties between American religious and civic leaders with Malian counterparts. The program is underwritten by the U.S. State Department.
On Saturday (July 17), Islamic studies professor Achmat Salie from Oakland University and I spoke at the third annual Malian Association for Peace and Tolerance Conference in the capital of Bamako. There were representatives from a number of North and West African countries … from the Islamic, Catholic and Evangelical faith groups. Speakers and attendees came from countries such as Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal.
What is the purpose of the program?
At the conference, I spoke about the state of interfaith cooperation in America. I stated that Muslims in America have many challenges from Islamophobia to unjust government policies that profile us. However, we have interfaith partners that stand in solidarity for fairness and justice with Muslims and that this is an American tradition. I also mentioned the shooting of Imam Luqman and discussed the case with some leaders.
What do the people of Mali know about Detroit?
People in Mali know little about Detroit, or that there are so many Muslims in America in general. People were pleasantly surprised at the amount of Muslims in Detroit and how the community is so diverse.
What other countries have you traveled to?
I’ve traveled to 15 different countries, including United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Malians by far are the most hospitable nation of people that I’ve ever encountered even though they are (one) of the poorest on Earth. Average household income is about $275 per year.