MISSOULA – This week the organization SALAM (Standing Alongside America’s Muslims) held their fourth annual Celebrate Islam Week here in Missoula.
Events are scheduled through Friday and began Monday night with an open banquet that featured keynote speaker Asmaa Albuike, a Syrian refugee living in Boise, Idaho.
Albuike was on hand again Tuesday for a panel discussion with leaders of other denominational faiths to discuss women’s changing role and individuality in religion.
The goal for the week is to spread more knowledge about the Islamic religion, and the people who practice it, for a region of the world that seldom sees it.
The organization and participants in this week’s events thinks that more knowledge and a better understanding of Islam can give people a better perspective when it comes to the religion.
“It’s a matter of meeting a Muslim, really, is so important. Meeting somebody, a woman with a hijab, and see that she’s not scary or a man and that is the number one factor in changing your mind from negative to positive, or at least neutral,” said SALAM and Celebrate Islam Week organizer Clem Work.
“Yes it helps, and actually when I got the invitation I was super excited because this is the first time that, so far, since I have come to the United States four years ago this is the first time I am celebrating Islam in a country like the United States,” Albuike said. “So I was super excited and I wanted to see how the events and see and meet other people from different faith and that’s really huge to me, as a Muslim. I’m pretty sure it helps for people to understand about Islam.”
On Wednesday there is a documentary about a Canadian Muslim woman who is challenging the predominantly-male role in the church. On Thursday there is a speech by PHD candidate Diana Diakow on psychological effects of relocation on refugees, and Friday will feature a calligraphy class to as an introduction to the Arabic alphabet.