The University of Louisville is playing host to 14 Asian Muslim scholars and activists on a three-week trip designed to launch projects that will build bridges between the United States and predominantly Muslim nations.

The program, “Religion and Society: A Dialogue,” follows two previous exchanges between Americans and Asian Muslims hosted by U of L.

The current program, which, like the previous ones, is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department, is aimed at taking the dialogue “to a new level,” said U of L religion professor Riffat Hassan, who organized the trip. The $535,000 project brought 14 scholars from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh here. Another delegation will come next year, and two groups of Americans will visit those nations.

The group will spend half its time in Kentucky, visiting interfaith groups and houses of worship in Louisville and Frankfort as well as the Roman Catholic Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County. The group is now in Philadelphia, and members also will visit sites in New York City and Washington, D.C., including a seminary, a university and the State Department.

“We all agree and commit to the idea of peace building and bridge building, especially at this time when there is so much bitterness and so much polarization in the world,” Hassan told the group at a meeting Thursday at the Muhammad Ali Center, which included a teleconference with the center’s namesake.

The group discussed ideas, such as producing books, films and Web sites in which representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam can explain each others’ beliefs for a general audience. (MORE)


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