The controversy in New York City over a proposed mosque and community center
near ground zero in New York City has drawn comment from President Obama,
former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
and many other politicians. This Saturday, Aug. 28 Portlanders will get their chance at a panel and discussion on the topic at Portland State University. Everybody is invited to the free event.
"It's a controversial subject,” says Rania Ayoub, director of public relations at the Muslim Educational Trust
. “We're going to be showing a short video of supporting and opposing views of the mosque.” MET is co-organizing the event along with the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding.
For those out of the loop, the proposed mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center has both right-wingers and religious rights advocates in full froth
. Saturday's event at PSU should be a shot at a more civil dialogue.
Many in attendance will have been fasting all day up until the mosque panel discussion, which runs from 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm. At that point, those who are fasting will break for dinner. After dinner, there will be a separate discussion called “Reflections of an American Muslim” about some Americans' journey to finding Islam.
Speakers at the "Acceptance vs. Hate" discussion about the mosque will include Greg Hamilton, president of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association; Imam Mikal Shabazz, president of the Oregon Islamic Chaplain Organization; and Kevin Finney, policy director at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. Members of the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding will also speak.
"I think it's important that people come out and learn more about this issue, and show support for the Muslim community,” says Wael Elasady from Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights
, which is helping to promote the event.
New York's proposed place of worship is not the only mosque that has faced opposition. The New York Times
reported earlier this month that mosques in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and California have all faced vehement opposition
. Ayoub of MET hopes the local event will address a perceived uptick in injustice towards Muslims nationwide, since plans for New York City's new mosque first began.
The discussion and dinner will be at PSU's Smith Center, 1825 SW Broadway.