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Library to hold 'talk show' on religion Wednesday night

Library to hold 'talk show' on religion Wednesday night

(THE MED CITY BEAT) A local Muslim organization plans to host a monthly discussion on religion at the Rochester Public Library.

The first Faith Talk Show will be held Wednesday, December 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will be hosted by Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam, an organization that promotes tolerance and respect among different faiths.

The event will use a talk show format and stream live on the library's website. The first two panelists will be Wendell Amstutz from Calvary Evangelical Free Church and Paul Larsen from Berean Community Church

"The focus will be on the guests, the religions of the guests, and what they would like to share," CIDI's founder Regina Mustafa in an interview with The Med City Beat. "It will help help give a human face to different religions in Rochester, because we have diversity of religious traditions here."

There will also be opportunities for questions and comments from the audience. Mustafa not only expects, but encourages, people to ask tough questions. She said it helps non-Muslims clear up any questions they have about the Islamic faith, or its holy book, the Quran

"I hope to get into places where I'm not going to feel so comfortable, and I actually may get some negative reactions from people," said Mustafa. "But that's the whole point."

Mustafa founded CIDI earlier this year in response to the constant media coverage of the group now calling itself the Islamic State. She said it was important for Muslims in Rochester to make a public commendation of the atrocities being committed in the name of Islam.

Photo: Regina Mustafa

Photo: Regina Mustafa

"I kept hearing, 'where are the Muslims speaking out against this?' The fact is that every major Muslim organization in the United States has issued a condemnation against ISIS, but it's just not getting picked up enough in the media," Mustafa said.

CIDI organized a public event in front of the Calvary Episcopal Church in September that brought together leaders from local religious institutions. From rabbis to priests, each speaker emphasized tolerance and respect among different faiths and denounced extremism in any religion. More than a hundred people attended, including several members of the local press.

Mustafa knows how quickly her work can be erased by another terror attack -- here or elsewhere -- by a group claiming to follow the teachings of Islam. She converted to Islam just months after the attacks on 9/11, and said there have been times since then when she wouldn't wear her hijab in public. 

But the more people she met in Rochester, the more she realized how tolerant people truly are. They just have a lot of questions about Islam, and that's where CIDI steps in.

"This organization could be the Muslim voice of Rochester if anybody is ever confused as to how Muslims feels on an issue," said Mustafa. "They can go to the website and contact me."

(Cover photo: Mohd Althani / Creative Commons)

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