On Thursday, Jan. 26, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosted their third installment in their Conversation in Culture series titled, “American Muslim Experience, and Islamophobia.” Students and staff of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds gathered to listen to and engage in the conversation. Edward Ahmed Mitchell, attorney and the executive director of the Georgia chapter of CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations), was the keynote speaker.
“Media hostility, hate speech, illegal discrimination, these are things that American Muslims face pretty regularly,” said Mitchell. “Seeing people speak about Islam as if they know what they’re talking about when they don’t is very frustrating. When you turn on the T.V. and you see someone speak to millions, saying nonsense about my faith, it’s very upsetting.”
After news broke of the new immigration ban of Muslim majority countries such as Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Syria, protesting began to ensue at U.S. airports nationwide.
“American citizens who are Muslim, or who look Muslim, are being detained at the airport and questioned for hours,” said Mitchell. “Questions such as which mosque do you attend, which sect do you belong to, and other questions that are none of the government’s business. As Americans, we have the right to put our foot down and say, Hey, I’m not answering these questions, and let me in the country,” Mitchell continued. “In terms of International immigration there’s not a lot we can do there. As terms of protecting people already here, there are a lot of legal avenues to do that.”
Despite the current political climate and tensions Mitchell remains hopeful.
“Interfaith dialogue and academic dialogue is so important. The chance for dialog allows use to break down barriers and to build bridges,” said Mitchell.
CAIR was founded in 1994 to fight anti-Muslim discrimination, to deliver speeches and to set up interfaith discussions to clear up misconceptions of Muslim people.
“A lot of people who dislike Muslims are not bigots or evil people, they’re just misinformed,” said Mitchell. “Education is the best vaccine for discrimination.”