Muslims gather in Hillsborough, discuss faith's effect on youth

Muslim-identity-workshopBy Kenneth Knight, Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - Muslims from throughout the Southeast gathered here Saturday to discuss, among other topics, challenges and opportunities faced by young Americans of Islamic faith.

The conference, the second such meeting in the past two years, was sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America and took place at the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel in eastern Hillsborough County.

A segment of the proceedings focused on self-perceptions of Muslim children and teens.

"This program was important to strengthen their identity and make them proud of who they are," said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida.

Muslim-American young people in the United States have been bullied and otherwise assaulted for practicing their religion or simply for identifying themselves as Muslim, said Shibly, who moderated the session, "Muslim in the Mirror: Your Identity in the Community."

Shibly said he has spoken with many Muslim adolescents and teenagers about the difficulty of hearing hurtful words and dealing with violent attacks.

The aim of Saturday's workshop was to help young Muslims understand their identity and find a place in society.

"We are trying to break the false narrative expressed by anti-Muslim extremists," Shibly said after the session.

He and guest speakers Moutasem Atiya of Baltimore and Jenan Kurdi of Tampa offered the more than 30 participants - children, teens, parents and other adults - suggested ways to build character, strengthen self-esteem and be proud Muslims. (Read the full article)