BGSU Muslim Students Association invites community over for dinner & talk about refugees

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

The Muslim Student Association is inviting members of the community to dine with them.

There’s more than dinner on the menu though. The third Muslim Students Association convention will be focused on Community Engagement with a focus on the issue of refugees.

The free event will be Thursday, 6-9 p.m. in the multipurpose (room 228) in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union on the Bowling Green State University campus.

“Our focus is to bring people from all backgrounds, cultures, and faiths together some we can have a discussion, come together and get know each other,” said Ahmad Mehmood, graduate student in the College of Technology. And some Middle Eastern food and pizza will help ease the interaction.

That conversation will center on the global refugee crisis and “what can we do from a humanitarian standpoint,” Mehmood said.

Many of those refugees are Muslims, he said, but it is an issue everyone should be concerned about.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe or ascribe to, we feel this is a topic that can bring everyone together,” he said. “People like us who have been every privilege, in every way, have the education, the financial ability, if they don’t come together to preserve humanity, to help humanity, I don’t think anyone else will.”

He hopes those speaking can share personal stories that will deliver the message better than didactic speeches.

There will be several speakers. The main address will be given by Adam Smidi, a doctoral student in Media and Communications.

“We’ll be looking at the nature of the crisis that grips us and how this problem is our problem,” Mehmood said.

The Trump Administration’s antagonistic attitude toward refugees, especially those from Islamic countries, has not had an impact on Muslim students, Mehmood, who is from India, said.

The attitudes in Washington have not changed the attitudes of local people.

“The university has been good to us,” he said. “The community has been good to us.”

Students are ensconced within campus, so Muslims who are long-time residents may have different experiences, he said.

Still the change in political climate in the United States has some potential students in Muslim countries giving second thoughts to plans to study in the United State.

Mehmood said he knows a number of engineering and technology students who were considering coming to America to study but now were reconsidering because of concerns about shifting visa rules.

“Everyone wants some assurance about his future before they come,” Mehmood said. Now they are considering going to the United Kingdom or Canada. He knows one student who opted to study in Germany rather than at BGSU.

Abdullah Alshahrani, freshman aviation studies from Saudi Arabia, said, he’s aware of the choice. Before coming to Bowling Green, he spent time in England learning English.

At one point while in the city he wanted to use his language and started to speak with Englishman. He was immediately rebuffed.

He’s felt more welcomed in the U.S., and shares that opinion with anyone who asks. He enjoys socializing with his roommates and sharing his culture. “I love being in the U.S.”

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