Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago invited representatives from CAIR-Chicago to speak to a men’s group as part of a four-part series on topics in Islam.
Communications Coordinator Amina Sharif and Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson gave a presentation that explored American perceptions of Muslims. Congregants and other members of the community attended the session.
During the presentation Sharif and Hankerson shared research and public opinion polls conducted by the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life and the Gallup center for Muslim studies reflecting the American general public’s sentiments on Islam and Muslims, as well as their familiarity with the religion. They also highlighted the many similarities that Islam has with other religions.
The representatives made a point to share information about discrimination experienced by clients of CAIR-Chicago. They discussed the nature of the offenses such as the sources of the discrimination and the types of cases commonly seen.
The presentation was well received and followed by lively discussion.
Many asked questions regarding theological terms and concepts. A few admitted to viewing some aspects of Islam negatively, such as jihad. Sharif and Hankerson clarified misconceptions and acknowledged that such concepts have been misused by religious extremists on both sides.
“We know we can’t expect one presentation to fully counter the misconceptions some hold, but we must be proactive and educate the public on the real Islam and mainstream Muslim values,” said Hankerson.
Some people in the audience shared that they were impressed by thoroughness of the presentation. One gentleman said he came to the meeting with an open mind and he was leaving feeling very enlightened.