BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington will host a major conference that will address issues facing Muslims in North America and Europe and feature presentations by more than 50 of the world's leading scholars on Islam and the study of Muslim societies worldwide.
The conference, "East Meets West: Understanding the Muslim Presence in Europe and North America," is the 32nd annual meeting of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. IU's College of Arts and Sciences will co-sponsor the event, which is being hosted by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program on Sept. 26-28.
Last year, George Washington University and American University co-hosted the conference in Washington, D.C.
Nazif Shahrani, chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, said conference participants will explore questions about Muslim presence in the West -- past, present and future -- and bring fresh insights to the situation of Muslims in North America and Europe.
The issue of Muslim presence in Europe and America stares "at our faces daily," Shahrani said. "There is an attempt to make Islam the 'other,' something alien, foreign and exotic. What the conference will emphasize is that Muslims are here and part of the fabric of our society in the United States. We are proud of this society and respectful of all others who live in this country, enjoy the good life and contribute to the making of an even greater society…"
"On the evening news, we are frequently shown people who are dressed in turbans and long beards, looking fierce and allegedly doing terrible things," Shahrani added. "What we hope this conference will show is that those of us who are living here in America do not come anywhere near those images and pictures that are used to falsely portray and represent the essence of Islam. We are maligned on the basis of presumed activities of a few criminals."
Conference presenters will come to Bloomington from all over the world. They include scholars from IU, Harvard University, the universities of Michigan and Texas, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Toronto and the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.
The keynote address will be delivered on Sept. 27 by Dr. Ali Mazrui, director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at the State University of New York-Binghamton. His address will examine the subject, "A Marriage of Two Civilizations? The Balance Between Western Norms and Muslim Values…"
Among the topics that will be explored at the conference are the political and philosophic perspectives of Islam on democracy and the identity and assimilation of Muslim culture in Western societies. Shahrani said it is possible for people to maintain their Muslim identity and tradition while thriving in a larger multicultural society like the United States...