Montana State University

Islam in America symposium set Feb. 22 at MSU

February 10, 2010

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The Muslim Student Association at Montana State University and the MSU Diversity Awareness Office will sponsor a day-long symposium in the MSU SUB on Islam in America to be held on Monday, Feb. 22, in the MSU Strand Union.

The event will feature discussions about understanding Islam through an academic lens, a panel discussion featuring the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a former public information officer for U.S. Embassies, and a local minister. In addition, a film about Mohammed will be shown throughout the day and an expert will answer questions from the local community about Islam submitted via e-mail. All activities are free and open to the public.

Phenocia Bauerle, program coordinator of the MSU Diversity Awareness Office, said the event is an opportunity for the MSU and Bozeman community to engage in open and honest conversation about Islamic issues with the hopes to increase understanding and tolerance.

"Islam in America is a symposium aimed at bridging the gaps in cultural and religious understanding in the United States," she said. "Like any other religion, Islam is going to reflect the attitudes and cultural aspects of whatever environment it is being practiced in or surrounded by. These differences, coupled with international politics and historical events, have created a unique situation for Muslims within the U.S."

The day's activities, which will all be held in the MSU SUB Ballroom A, will begin at 10 a.m. with a panel of MSU scholars and academics discussing issues of Islam through an academic lens.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will be among members of a panel scheduled at 2 p.m. on Islamic issues in practice. Ayloush, who is based in Southern California, frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media advocating and articulating the mainstream Muslim position on issues.

Joining Ayloush will be Dave Grimland, formerly of the U.S. Department of State, and Tim Spring, Lutheran pastor at MSU Christus Collegium.

Grimland joined the American diplomatic service in 1967 and began a career with the U.S. Information Agency, serving as press spokesman, cultural officer and overall public affairs officer in American embassies. In five of his six tours abroad, he served in countries with Muslim majorities or politically significant Muslim minorities. He is a member of the speakers bureau of "Humanities Montana." He is a member of the board of directors of the New York-based Americans for Middle East Understanding. His presentations on Islam were profiled in a front-page article in the "Los Angeles Times" and other newspapers nationwide.

Ayloush will be a keynote speaker in a lecture at 7 p.m. where he will answer questions about Islam submitted from the community. Questions can be mailed to diversityawareness@montana.edu.

The film, "Mohammed: Legacy of a Prophet" will be shown at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. in the SUB's Procrastinator Theater.

For more information, go to the symposium's Web page at: http://www.montana.edu/diversity/islaminamerica.html or contact the Diversity Awareness Office at (406) 994-5801 or diversityawareness@montana.edu.

Phenocia Bauerle (406) 994-5801, diversityawareness@montana.edu