Lecture discusses mistrust of Muslims
‘If we play into (Islamophobia), we play into the hands of bigots.’
Dawud Walid, Executive Director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islam Relations, lectured on the afternoon of Oct. 18 in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium. The lecture, “Bridging the Gap: The Park 51 Mosque and Islamophobia in America,” revolved around the problems Muslims face in today’s U.S. society.
Walid began by saying Islamophobia is a new concept in America, so new that “it is not yet in Webster’s dictionary.”
He said discrimination against Muslims has become acceptable in America, and he blamed certain campaigns, like the Tea Party movement, for continuing the problem.
Walid said Park 51, called the “Ground Zero Mosque” by some, was originally named Cordoba House in honor of the religious coexistence that took place in Cordoba, Spain. In regards to sensitivity of its location, Dwalid said constitutional rights are not based upon “the winds of emotion,” and he also said many of the people who died in 9/11 were Muslim.
He said the mosque’s Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has been practicing in the area for 30 years. Dwalid also said similar issues were happening in other states, indicating Islamophobia rather than sensitivity.
Audience members asked Walid how Americans can get past Islamophobia. Walid said the solution is dialogue.
He said gallop polls indicate contact with Muslims on a daily basis – at work, school, etc. – produced positive opinions about Muslims.
Walid said people need to work together in order to phase out the Islamophobia that currently surrounds America.