Religious student groups team up

Multi-Faith Week promotes a healthy dialogue among students.
Amer Sassila, a member of the Muslim Student Association, engages in a noon prayer Tuesday on the front lawn of Coffman Union. The public prayer session was part of Multi-Faith Week, organized by the Interfaith Campus Coalition.
October 03, 2012

For Rev. Cody Nielsen, religious student groups at the University of Minnesota should be about promoting diversity on campus.

Nielsen and other leaders of the Interfaith Campus Coalition, an organization that includes Christian, Jewish and Muslim University student groups, aim to build “a respectful dialogue amongst faith traditions.”         

On Monday, ICC kicked off its Multi-Faith Week with themed events that run every day through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Coffman Union.

Multi-Faith Week is a chance to educate campus about Muslim beliefs and get rid of negative stereotypes, said Kareem Abou-Karam, a PSEO student attending Multi-Faith Week.

The Muslim Student Association, which is part of the ICC, wants to use the event to address issues brought up during last week’s controversial “Draw Mohammed” event put on by Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists, said spokesman Omar Alamy. He said the group hopes to explain to the public and other Muslims why they take offense to people drawing their prophet.

“A lot of [Muslims] didn’t know how to react,” Alamy said.

He said the group is trying to set up a “friendly discussion” with CASH.

“We aren’t going to hold it against them.”

The ICC has a long history of promoting respectful interactions among faith groups at the University, said Doug Donley, pastor at the University Baptist Church.  He said they work to include and not pressure anyone to join a particular faith.

 “We don’t try to convert people to one belief system or another,” Donley said. “We recognize that people have their own journeys of faith, and we are here to help and honor those journeys.”

Jewish student organization Hillel, also a member of the ICC, hopes to use the event to reach out to the campus community and to break down stereotypes associated with Judaism, said Sam Blustin, a student ambassador with Hillel.

“[Multi-Faith Week] is a nice opportunity to engage campus,” Blustin said.

Although few students participated on Monday and Tuesday, the response to Multi-Faith Week has been as organizers

“We aren’t getting like 400 students stopping by,” Nielsen said. “We’re doing good in the sense that we’re here.”

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