By Jay Lancaster
The Islamic Society of North Shore held a well-attended “Ask a Muslim” event Sunday afternoon at the group’s Lynn mosque. People of all faiths filled the mosque, which for many was the first mosque they had ever set foot in. The function offered an opportunity for those unfamiliar with Islam to engage with practicing Muslims and learn more about the religion firsthand.
Local activist Fawaz Abusharkh took to the podium to address what he saw as unfair treatment of Muslims by the media. “When some Muslim issue happens, everybody jumps to claim it as terrorism, to claim it as hate.”
Delving further into the topic of media bias, he said “When they had the travel ban, the first one, 25 to 30,000 people were in Copley Square, 30 seconds on the news. Yeah it was on Channel 7, it was on Fox, 30 seconds each. The next day, 30 seconds about the ACLU at Logan [Airport] and the third day it was gone.”
Twenty-five-year-old grad student Sanabel Almomani saw Sunday as a chance to correct some common myths about her faith. “People have this idea of Muslims and you know they have their own thoughts of who we are as a group of people so this sort of just opens a door that they can ask these questions that have always been lingering in the back of their minds.”
Expanding on the idea of humanizing Muslims to those outside the faith, she added “Some people have never even spoken to Muslims and it’s like, as humans we have the same problems, we have the same issues it’s just we believe in a certain thing.”
A common theme among the questions posed by the audience was whether Muslim women felt oppressed or otherwise restricted by their faith, something Almomani addressed head on. “As a Muslim woman I can tell you that nothing has held me back because of my religion. We don’t need to believe in the same thing faith-wise to at least agree on equal rights for women. I think that feminism is this idea that all women should get equal rights, and I think if we start on that ground let’s work together to sort of build on that.”