Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is teaming up with the Commonwealth Club for a free speaker series in hopes of creating a better understanding of Islam.
Simitian will co-host and moderate the “Understanding Islam” panel discussion with experts and activists from the Islamic community.
“Not only will it lead to greater understanding of the various interpretations of Islam, but it will create a beneficial dialogue between those of the Muslim faith and others in our community,” Commonwealth Club President Dr. Gloria Duffy said.
The speaker series comes as Islamic communities battle an uptick in hate crimes and federal policies hostile to immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Zahra Billoo, head of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the speaker series could not have come at a better time.
Silicon Valley residents are encouraged to attend the event to hear from Muslim leaders in their shared community. Organizers hope the forum will be beneficial not only to those in the Muslim faith, but to everyone else by encouraging an open, candid dialogue.
“We’re lucky to live in one of the most diverse places in the country,” Simitian said. “But without understanding the diverse cultures around us, misconceptions abound.”
Below is a list of dates and locations for each part of the speaker series.
What does it mean to be Muslim? The basics.
7pm April 3, Lucie Stern Community Center Theatre, Palo Alto
In the first part of the series, speakers will tackle misconceptions of Islam in modern America and abroad. The panel will feature The Muslim Next Door author Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Islamic Networks Group Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi, Bayan Claremont Islamic Networks Group President Jihad Turk and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian as the moderator. Though the program is sold out, a waiting list is posted on the Commonwealth Club website.
Fear of a Faith: Sharia, Surveillance, Terrorism, The Muslim Ban. What’s real, and what’s not?
7pm May 9, Rinconada Library, Palo Alto
Policies, politics and current events will be the focal point of the second part of the series as speakers shed light on facts and fiction. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will moderate a discussion led by panelists Ameena Jandali, founding member of the Islamic Networks Group, and Jihad Turk, president of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School.
Women and Islam
7pm May 22, Rinconada Library, Palo Alto
Previous panelists return for the last forum of the series to discuss what it mean to be a Muslim woman and how Islam intersects with gender today. The Muslim Next Door author Sumbul Ali-Karamali and Islamic Networks Group Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi join moderator Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, along with additional panelists who are yet to be determined.