CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, spoke last Thursday at the University of Arizona during Islamic Awareness Week organized by the local Muslim Student Association. Rehab addressed a packed auditorium of Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam and the media. While Rehab insisted that there is no media conspiracy against Islam, he warned that many reports tend to be selective and reductionist. He added that the main problem area was not the news reporting but the news commentary in which opinion gets mixed with the facts and bias can more easily take hold.
Rehab decried terrorism and extremism advising the audience not to look at Muslims as a monolith but to learn how to separate the extreme from the mainstream much as one would do with their own community. He spoke about the need for dialogue, interaction, cross-cultural exchange programs, and self-education.
“If Islam had been this cult founded in 1974 in some backwood cabin amassing 200 followers over the past 35 years, I would understand why it’s so easy to misunderstand or why it may be treated with suspicion,” Rehab said. “But the fact that a 1400 years old global Abrahamic faith with 1.4 billion followers of all races and cultures with so many contributions to the world over so many centuries, can suddenly be reduced to “Bin Laden,” tells us that part of it is willful ignorance.”
Rehab engaged the audience in a lively question and answer session in which he declared no question “off limits.”
Rehab had spoken at the University of Arizona last year.
Rehab also delivered the Khutbah (Friday Sermon) at the Islamic Center of Tucson.
Copyright © 2009 CAIR-Chicago