Muslim Program: It's good for a small town, too 2013.10.02

We asked the question in this space several weeks ago:What is a program about Muslim culture doing in a smallMidwestern town?

We answered the question by stating that Muslim culture is very foreign stuff to the residents of a town such asMorenci and the American Library Association and NationalEndowment for the Humanities Muslim Journeys program would be an excellent addition to Stair Public Library’s programming.

The question was answered further by National PublicRadio reporter Deborah Amos who wrote in a letter to theObserver that our library is an excellent place to enlighten residents about something they probably have little understanding about. She’s heard many negative opinions and misconceptions expressed by Americans about Muslim people.

Another answer came from Adrian College professor Michael McGrath who spoke about the multi-cultural world we now live in and the need to attempt to understand those we perceive as enemies.

The final answer to the question came last Thursday, on the day of the program’s kickoff event, when a resident from Adrian came to the Observer office to express his outrage that Morenci’s library would promote Islam and “feed garbage to the gullible.”

He had already visited several local stores and organizations in an attempt to pass his misinformed hatred onto others. His knowledge about Muslim culture and the library’s program were both lacking in understanding, but he turned down an invitation to attend.

His visit made it clear that the Muslim Journeys program can fi t into any American city of any size to break through stereotypes and discover shared values.

One final answer came from someone who attended the program and seemed surprised that the two Arab visitors—one a Muslim, one a Christian—were so intelligent and held the same values as she did. Perhaps her perceptions of the enemy were changed, although she still worries that they will take over our country.

We hope she wasn’t the only one to learn that followers of Islam are in many ways just like us and not the extremists that make the news.