Houston - In a bid to overcome negative portrayals of Islam and Muslims, Pennsylvania students were offered a chance to meet a Muslim in campus as part of the Muslim Student Association’s (MSA) "Islamic Discovery Series."
The event, “Meet a Muslim”, was held on Tuesday in Houston Hall and on Locust Walk.
It aimed at clearing media misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, in a country where only 38 percent of the population knows a Muslim person, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study.
“I feel that there are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to Muslims. And the narratives that exist around them are very extreme and discouraging,” College and Engineering Senior Habeeb Suara, who is the community relations chair in MSA, told The Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesday.
“This discovery series week is meant to emphasize similarities rather than differences.”
MSA Vice President and College senior Fahmida Sarmin echoed this sentiment.
“We’re normal students, and like everyone else we’re here to get an education. Through this event, we’re just showcasing something that’s a really big part of our lives Islam,” Sarmin said.
At the event, members of the MSA handed out flyers and candied dates, chatting to students who stopped by their booth.
The event had about 200 RSVPs on its Facebook page.
“Sometimes people are scared to ask us more questions about Islam, like why we wear the hijab. This space is a forum where people can ask us anything,” Sarmin said.
The event won the praise of non-Muslim students.
"I decided to go to the event because I have a few good friends that are in MSA, and I wanted to show support for the community and learn more about them," College and Wharton Senior James An said.
"I had a wonderful time because they were so welcoming, kind and open to meeting new people and just having a wonderful conversation. Even though I wasn't Muslim or 'religious,' I felt a part of the community, and I was just happy."
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