Community members meet for discussion on Islamophobia

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COLUMBIA - Members of the community gathered at Daniel Boone Regional Library Wednesday evening to discuss the uptick of Islamophobia in the wake of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

An MU peace studies professor, multiple religious leaders and a MU graduate student were among the speakers.

Jamil Al-Wekkian is a peace studies professor at MU and a Muslim. He said the meeting was needed because Islamophobia has been spreading rapidly across the country. He said the leading republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has been spreading fear into Americans' homes. 

Al-Wekkian said that fear is causing people to treat Muslims unfairly, and the way to stop this is through education.

"I would say do not let your fear, or the cultural fear you have now, prevent you from penetrating other cultures," Al-Wekkian said. "So if you are white, try to approach a different color person or a person from a different culture, and learn about his or her culture."

After the meeting, attendees were invited to the Islamic Center for Central Missouri Mosque to watch the evening prayer and attend a community dinner afterwards. 

Al-Wekkian said this is just the first of many open-dialogue meetings that will be held in an attempt to educate the community and prevent the spread of religious and cultural fear.