From the outside, it might have looked like just another Tuesday evening at the Leogrande house on East Genesee Street, but inside, Cathy Leogrande and her husband, Joe, were doing their part to help make the world a better place.

As part of the “20,000 Dialogues,” a nationwide campaign co-sponsored by the World Economic Forum to break down stereotypes about Islam through interfaith dialogue, the Leograndes drew a crowd of about 20, including Imam Abdur-Rahim Muhammad and the Deacon John Tomandl, for an evening of dinner and debate about diversity issues.

Cathy Leogrande was pleased with the diverse crowd.

“I think what people have to realize, especially in a community like this, is that you go to school and go to church with people like you. There’s very little crossing between groups,” she said. “We’ve got to forge ways to get to know people who are different from us.”

Ali Muhsen, an Islamic Chaplain at Auburn Correctional Facility, said events such as this are important because they help American Muslims practice a much-needed “open house mentality when it comes to their faith.

Following an international dinner of lentil soup, pita bread, hummus and pizza, the group watched the PBS film, “Prince Among Slaves,” the story of Abdul-Rahman Ibrahima Sori, a Muslim West African prince who was sold into slavery in the late 18th century.

In addition to sparking discussion about slavery and racism, the film also led many to question the gap in knowledge and education about people such as Sori. (MORE)


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