With increasing concerns over anti-Muslim extremism, local Muslim-Americans are pairing with Carlow University to talk about religion and their experiences living in Pittsburgh.
Wednesday’s event, called “The Muslim Next Door,” was developed with the intent of dispelling myths about Islamic stereotypes.
The panel includes speakers from the Turkish and Islamic centers of Pittsburgh and Carlow University students.
Siobhan DeWitt, director of campus ministry at Carlow, said Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Director Wasi Mohamed saw a need for the forum, after anonymous threats were made against the organization and its members.
“He was very concerned and had asked people, who are open to interfaith dialogue, what they could do to help dispel some of the incorrect impressions that the national media has been giving,” she said.
The forum idea also came about after the Thanksgiving shooting of a Moroccan taxi driver in Hazelwood. The passenger, who is accused of shooting the driver, allegedly made remarks about ISIS and the Prophet Muhammad.
DeWitt said the purpose of “The Muslim Next Door,” and other monthly forums, is to expose students and attendees to new points of view.
“These faculty members want to be sure that all their students have access to accurate information about the people that they may be serving in their careers later in life,” she said.
Openness is also important in an increasingly interconnected world, she said.
“We are in an international climate,” said DeWitt. “Whether its business, travel, education, that we need to understand and know each other better.”
The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh is also partnering with the Thomas Merton Center next month for a “Meet Your Muslim Neighbor” potluck. It aims to provide an opportunity for residents to make new connections and have an interfaith discussion with Muslim Pittsburghers.