Muslim Hoosiers discuss life in Indiana at public forum

Muslims shared their stories of what it means to be Muslim in Indiana at Central Library Tuesday, September 20, 2016. (WISH photo)
Muslims shared their stories of what it means to be Muslim in Indiana at Central Library Tuesday, September 20, 2016. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — What does it mean to be Muslim in Indiana? That was the focus of an open discussion Tuesday evening at the Indianapolis Central Library.

People of all different races and religions shuffled in to the auditorium to listen and participate.

Organizers said they planned the event before last weekend’s terror attacks. They said they’re hearing hateful rhetoric across the country and, to them, the conversation is just as important as ever.

Rema Shahid helped organize the event. She’s the executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.

More importantly, she’s mom to a third grader named Musa. Shahid said Musa isn’t always happy when he gets home from school.

“He told me he wanted to change his name to Bill,” Shahid said. “I asked him, why do you want to change your name to Bill? He told me, my friends don’t like me because I’m Muslim and I don’t want a Muslim name anymore.”

Shahid’s is just one story shared at the library.

Organizers at one point turned off the lights and showed news footage of terror attacks. The video transitioned to Muslim-Americans sharing their stories and struggles.

“If one person leaves here and they can engage in conversation or they can share something they’ve learned with someone else who maybe is not here, then we’ve actually been able to achieve our goal,” Jessica Moore of the Indianapolis Public Library said.

A panel of Muslims and academics discussed their own research and experience with the audience.

Shahid said one goal is to dispel rumors about Islam.

“People that carry out acts of violence do not represent Islam as a whole and we need to label them as we’d label any other person: troubled. Not just carrying it out in Islam.”

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