MISSOULA – Standing Alongside American Muslims (SALAM) group is holding their fourth annual Celebrate Islam Week here in Missoula.
Events are scheduled through Friday and started Monday night with an open banquet that featured keynote speaker Asmaa Albuike who is a Syrian refugee living in Boise.
Albuike was on hand again Tuesday to take part in 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 bring more knowledge about the Islamic religion and the people who practice it for a region of the world that seldom sees it.
SALAM — as well as those taking part in this week’s events — believe 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 it’s 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 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.
A documentary about a Canadian Muslim woman who is challenging the predominantly male role in the church will be shown on Wednesday.
Thursday there is a speech Ph.D. candidate Diana Diakow on psychological effects to refugees when they relocate and Friday will feature a calligraphy class to start learning the Arabic alphabet.