St. Olaf College | News

Panel discussion examines experiences of Muslims in America


St. Olaf will host a panel discussion featuring (from left) Zareena Grewal, Regina Mustafa, and Imam Makram El-Amin.

St. Olaf College hosted a panel discussion April 16 to explore the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the lives of Muslims in the United States.

The event, sponsored by the St. Olaf Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha and the St. Olaf Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy, will feature discussion by three panelists. The event is also sponsored by the Muslim House, the Muslim Student Association, and Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice. The three panelists are:

Zareena Grewal, an associate professor of American studies and religious studies at Yale University, is an award-winning author who focuses on race, gender, religion, nationalism, and transnationalism as a historical anthropologist and a documentary filmmaker.

Makram El-Amin, Imam of Masjid An-Nur in North Minneapolis, works beyond the 200 families who call the mosque their spiritual home to include the neighborhood and to touch on diverse issues of cross-cultural understanding, home ownership, immigration reform, and civic engagement.

Regina Mustafa, the founder and executive director of Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam in Rochester, Minnesota, advocates interfaith dialogue and being an active member of society to confront falsehoods and negativity formed by the media in the hopes of creating a better future for younger generations.

“We sought an event that would showcase the stunningly diverse experiences and identity of Muslims in the United States,” says St. Olaf Professor of Political Science and Martin E. Marty Professor of Religion and the Academy Dan Hofrenning. “The United States celebrates religious liberty and tolerance, yet is often a land of religious bigotry. Muslims in America have experienced persecution, but have also found some measures of inclusion and success. We hope our panelists will reflect on the range of their experiences as they talk about what it means to be Muslim and American.”

According to a Pew survey, half of American Muslims have experienced some form of religious discrimination, including 6 percent who have been physically threatened or attacked. In spite of this, 80 percent of Muslims expressed satisfaction with their life; 90 percent are proud to be an American; and 70 percent say it is possible to work hard and get ahead in America. Muslims have experienced tremendous discrimination, yet many have found a place — however tenuous — in American society. This discussion will address all of these aspects, and many more, of the lives of Muslims in America.

Watch the event below: