IN: STATE MUSLIMS CONVERGE IN 'A COMING OF AGE'
A Muslim film festival will feature titles like "Little Mosque on the Prairie."
Muslim comics will seek laughs with jokes about being confronted by bigots and airport security checks.
And a local band, Sonz of the Crescent, will bring a little Muslim hip-hop to the house.
But beyond its lively entertainment, the first statewide convention of Indiana Muslims taking place this weekend is seen by some as a milestone. For a diverse community under great scrutiny since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they say it represents a sign of staying power and their desire to become fuller participants in their state's future.
"I would say this is a coming of age," said Louay Safi, a Plainfield resident and staffer with the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America. "This is a very significant threshold."
The weekend's agenda includes serious discussions about the need for greater Muslim political activism, epitomized by a scheduled speech from Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, who wants to end the Iraq war immediately.
There will be sessions for Muslim youths, including one on how to balance the faith's strict rules on gender relations in a modern society.
The three-day event, which began Friday, is the product of a relatively new organization called the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. The group's greatest previous efforts were landing an invitation for Muslims to stage Ramadan suppers in the governor's residence and "Muslim Days" with legislators in the Statehouse.