Yesterday at the University of Essex Islamic Conference, Jalal Ibn Sayeed recommended a poignant documentary entitled Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. The documentary is based on Jack G Shaheen's book of the same title, and is available in its entirety on Google Videos. Great effort must be made by conscientious Muslims and non-Muslims alike to adamantly oppose such discrimination of any people group.
To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the 5th annual Islamic Conference yesterday. Honestly, I expected that I would feel uncomfortable or disengaged, and leave early. I thought that I would feel too pressured by the high hopes of Muslim friends, and try to escape them. On the contrary, I felt warmly welcomed and at ease.
The Islamic Conference is held in order to dispel widespread myths about Islam, and to open up dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Muslims who spoke on stage and from the audience lamented the misrepresentation of Muslim people and the Islamic faith in the media. Muslims and non-Muslims alike wept together over the promulgation of false stereotypes of Muslims and Islam. The Muslims took this opportunity to defend themselves and their faith, and made apparent their wish to be respected and understood. Lifelong Muslims, converts and reverts* to Islam shared openly about their struggles to practice Islam in the face of discrimination and hatred rife throughout local and global communities.
*Muslims believe that every child is born a Muslim. Some converts to Islam prefer to consider themselves "reverts," or one who has returned to their original religion.