By Bakrom Ismoilov
Tuesday morning, May 10. Embassy Suites Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina. Joan Mulholland gathered the student riders for a dialogue on Islamophobia that was brought to her attention by the event happened on Friday. Two imams who were headed to Charlotte for a meeting on ‘Islamophobia’ were taken off a commercial flight after the pilot refused to fly with them.
My fellow riders joined for a short roundtable discussion, which was decided to be continuingly discussed during the ride. Being a Muslim student, I was glad that this discussion started, as in my view, it is a growing issue that might have serious consequences.
A specific attention was paid to the influence of the media on people’s perception of the religion of Islam. Do we consider the media as a deceiver of people’s minds that has a political touch to it? Do we see it as a truthful entity that is just and tolerant? Or can we make the media a resource for the civic engagement and educate people properly?
In my opinion media falls into all three categories: it can be an ally, an enemy and a resource. And I do believe in the power of civic engagement in overcoming political interests by love and integrity.
But, how about the institutional education in US? As 15-year-old exchange student in Battle Creek, Michigan, during my American History class, we were asked which is worse, communism or terrorism, after which it was explained to us that Communism was evil and terrorism was an Islamic action. How can we trust what is taught in schools, and how can we change it? I keep replaying the words of Diane Nash in my mind: “The issue that I see in our society is we don’t ask ourselves: WHY is it that I believe in what I believe?”
The 2011 Student Freedom Ride really brought us together for a reason — to be the CHANGE we want to see in our future. And it is of my biggest hope that this conversation will be continued during and after the ride.
Verse 49:13 of the Holy Koran states: “O mankind! We created you from a pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other not that ye may despise each other. “