A controversial week of events, billed as Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, launches at the University of Washington and some 100 other colleges next week — drawing condemnations from Muslim groups here and across the country.
The UW College Republicans, organizer of the local events, say the week is intended to foster awareness of the terrorist threat posed by a small number of extremists within Islam.
But some local Muslims say the week fosters Islamophobia and racism and attempts to paint all Muslims as terrorists.
Beginning Monday, the group plans to hand out information sheets describing what the week's activities are all about.
And it's hosting two events open to the public: a showing of "Suicide Killers," a documentary about suicide bombers, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Smith Hall, and a talk by conservative author and talk-show host Michael Medved at 7 p.m. Thursday in Kane Hall.
Amin Odeh, a board member with the local Arab American Community Coalition, said he agrees that "radical anything is dangerous — radical Muslims, radical Christians, radical Jews. Education is needed."
But Odeh says Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week makes too general a link between extremism and Islam, and that the term "Islamo-fascism" links fascism with an entire religion.
"Unfortunately, when people hear the term they don't think of only a small group of extremists, but of Islam in general," he said.
Hala Dillsi, a member of the UW Muslim Student Association, believes Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week promotes fear and intolerance. She is distributing green armbands and encouraging people to wear T-shirts that are green — traditionally the color associated with Islam — on Wednesday in solidarity with local Arabs and Muslims.
The student group also is organizing a forum Oct. 29 in which professors and local Muslims discuss and answer questions about Islam.
Members of the Muslim Student Association, along with other organizations, also plan to hold protests outside Wednesday and Thursday evening's Awareness Week events.
Assistant Chief Ray Wittmier with the UW Police Department said his department is meeting with student organizers on all sides "to make sure everybody stays safe." (MORE)