Not in Our Town hosted a discussion on Islamophobia in the Union’s theatre Wednesday night to start a conversation on the growing intolerance of Muslims and people who are perceived as Muslim.
NIOT is an initiative that invites the community to stand against acts of discrimination and prejudice against minorities and other marginalized groups.
The event started with a panel of six participants talking for 10 minutes each, followed by a question and answer segment.
The six participants included a representative from the Islamic Center of Greater Toldeo; members of the Muslim Student Association at the University; and the owner of Bowling Green carry out, South Side Six.
The representative from the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo said the mosque (located in Perrysburg) works continuously, as it is their job to educate not only others in the Islamic community, but also the larger community.
Dale Waltz and Eva Davis, the chairs of the Canton Response to Hate Crime Coalition from Canton, Michigan addressed the importance of engagement and relationship building between marginalized communities and groups and law enforcement.
According to Waltz, who is also the Sargent of Canton Towship’s police department, they’ve only had one hate crime reported since the coalition was founded in 2008.
“We take these things seriously,” he said. They do get incident reports, and they are addressed and taken care of.
Eva Davis, who has been the director of Canton’s public library for eight years, said she has changed the library into a “neutral third place” for others to meet people in their community.
Muslim Student Association president Adnan Shareefi was also on the panel and said that a problem is how other people “see” Muslims and that the role of the Muslim Student Association is to engage, educate and encounter bias.
During the Q&A segment of the discussion, one student asked what future educators and researchers could do in order to expand their classrooms or research.
The panelists encouraged the use of class speakers in the classrooms. Not just of adults, but speakers that were also students that they could connect to.
Coalition co-chair Dale Waltz encouraged non-Muslim community members to reach out, connect and think outside of the box when helping minority and marginalized communities.
Not in Our Town will be having another discussion on Islamophobia on Feb. 9 at the Wood County Public Library in Bowling Green.
This posted has been edited and updated by the original author.
This article was originally printed in the independent student publication, The BG News on January 28, 2016. You can find the web edition here.