Hoping to connect Cincinnati to Israel and Detroit to Saudi Arabia, the “Middle East in the Midwest” forum Thursday brought race, religion and politics together in one room . . .

“There are many ways people can feel connected to a place that is millions of miles away,” said Mark Peterson, assistant professor of anthropology and organizer of the speakers for the event . . .

Peterson said the media helps create those certain stereotypes.

“When the term Arab or Muslim is used, people have a very narrow range of what this means based on a handful of images repeated over and over again in the media,” he said. “One thing I hope from this year is to broaden the kind of things our students recognize as being about the Middle East” . . .

The forum continued with peace activist and chair of the Cincinnati Committee of the Council of American-Islamic Relations for Ohio, Zeinab Schwen, speaking on “American Muslims Under Fire” and Father Marcos Ghali on Ohio’s Coptic Community.

“Student involvement and education is crucial for faculty and country changes,” Ghali said about the stereotypes often tacked on to people of Middle Eastern descent.

Stanley Toops, chair of the Middle East and Islamic studies program, reiterated that the Midwest is an important focus because of the growth of people with Middle Eastern descent in the area.

“I think that people will get a broader idea of the situation in specifically the Midwest,” Toops said. “It could be people whose ancestors were from (the Middle East). There are quite a few Arabs in the Ohio/Michigan area and it’s just a product of the immigration that has taken place. There are more people with that Arab heritage in the Midwest.” (More)


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