Members of the Islamic Society of Columbus Indiana believe the best way to bridge the gaps between community members and their new neighbors is just getting to know one another.
The group will be holding an Ask-a-Muslim event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 10th in front of the Commons. It is a chance to meet someone of a different faith, to discuss issues — and to share coffee and donuts.
Mariam Nakyobe, an organizer for the event, encourages anyone to walk up that morning and strike up a conversation.
“We are just inviting anyone, any member of the community, to just come up and say ‘Hi,” so you can actually meet a Muslim and talk to a variety of us and see what it is we understand and what it is we want,” she said. “And address some of the fears, just put a name to a face.”
Nakyobe says the event is being inspired in part by the election results.
“After the election results came out, there was so much panic all over the country and there have been so many riots,” she said. “There is fear on both sides. There is fear from Americans who don’t know who Muslims are, what we do and what we believe. And then there is fear from the Muslim community who don’t feel safe. They are like ‘Should we stay here? It looks like people don’t want us to be here?’ A way to bridge that gap is just to meet people and to talk to people.”
Nakyobe said she moved to Columbus about a year and a half ago and has found it a welcoming community.
“I haven’t had any kinds of negatives,” she said. “After some time of my friends being comfortable with me, they have been open to ask me questions like ‘Why do you wear the hijab? What exactly do you believe in?. Those kind of communications have really, really helped. Because they come away with a new understanding and (find) this is just like us. It is nothing major.”