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Voices of Peace

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December 3, 2015

A standing-room-only crowd assembled in the Dunn Conference Center this week to attend a lecture entitled, “Not in My Name, The Muslin Community Speaks Out Against Radicalism and Terrorism.”

“This is an important time in our community and across America for all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together to share the truth about our faith and its message of peace, hope and friendship,” said Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi, professor of communication studies and director of the Center for Middle East Studies.

“I am a native of Iraq, and growing up I lived among people of all faiths,” he continued. “I knew a time of understanding, tolerance and cooperation. I was here in the United States studying at the University of Michigan when the worst violence began spreading throughout my native land, and I have witnessed the tragedy of losing those I love in my own family to senseless deaths in those conflicts.”

The lecture, Dr. Al-Obaidi said was a chance to hear from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders on topics that are in the headlines almost daily.

BSU student Ghada Masri, a native of Saudi Arabia and president of BSU’s Student Muslim Association, said that when she left there to attend college in the United States, her grandfather gave her stern advice.

“(He) sat me down and told me, ‘You are now our ambassador to America. Make sure you show them who we really are,’” she said.      

By coming here, Ms. 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,” she said.  “Terrorism affects all of us, no matter what race, nationality or religion.”

Dr. Ahmed Abdelal, director of BSU’s Center for Educational Neuroscience Applications, spoke to the effect that perpetuators of terror have on him and people who share his faith.

“Radicalism has distorted Islam, a religion that is rooted in peace, mercy and kindness. 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,” he said.  “This is what we are facing today, in Iraq, in Syria.”

Other speakers included Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior, vice president for student success and diversity; Shayhk AbdurRahman Hashim Ahmad, Imam and resident scholar, Islamic Center of New England; Rev. Adrian Milik, chaplain, Catholic Center at BSU and parochial vicar, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Bridgewater; Dr. Arnaa Alcon, chair, Department of Social Work; Dr. Robert Sylvester, Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education; and Nicole Langevin, BSU religious studies program committee member.

The event was sponsored by BSU’s Center for Middle East Studies. (Story and photo by David K. Wilson, ’71, University News & Media)