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'Understanding Islam' focus of special BVU event

Friday, February 18, 2011

(Photo)
Dr. Bruce Prescott
Buena Vista University will be hosting "Islam: A Day of Understanding and Dialogue," Monday, Feb. 21, to offer unique insight into the Islamic faith and help dispel some of the public misconceptions about the Muslim world.

This special event, which is free and open to the public, is part of BVU's Academic and Cultural Events Series (ACES) and will be held at 7 p.m. in Schaller Memorial Chapel.

The event features Mr. Orhan Kucukosman and Dr. Bruce Prescott, who lecture across the country in an attempt to promote civil dialogue and discussion about the Muslim world, foster interfaith understanding, and counter the myth that all Muslims are terrorists. Both speakers were featured in the 2010 ABC news documentary, "Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims."

Kucukosman is executive director of the Oklahoma City, Okla., branches of Raindrop Turkish House and the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, nonprofit organizations established by Turkish-Americans and friends to promote friendship and understanding among diverse cultures.

Prescott is executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists in Oklahoma City, where he also hosts a Sunday morning radio show, Religious Talk.

Also on the program will be Sarah Fischer, a Spencer native and PhD candidate in "Islamic Politics and Society" at American University in Washington, D.C., who has studied extensively in the Middle East and will offer her singular perspective on Islamic society.

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Orhan Kucukosman
The ACES event is being organized by a planning committee of local pastors, Rev. Susan Moore, and Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at BVU.

Moore traveled to Turkey in 2009 as guest of the Iowa Dialog Center, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Turkish Americans in Iowa.

"Knowing very little about Turkey in the beginning, I was transformed by the hospitality, humility and devoutness of the Turkish people," she said. "My preconceived notions and stereotypes of Muslims were replaced by a broadened understanding of the Islamic faith. We met moderate, tolerant Muslims who admire America and are most upset with terrorists who have hijacked their religion."

Evans has traveled to Turkey seven times and is active in organizations that sponsor goodwill trips.

(Photo)
Sarah Fischer
"I am committed to promoting dialogue between religions that promotes understanding and tolerance rather than division and violence," Evans said. "As there are diverse opinions in Christianity, so are there diverse opinions in Islam, but the public image of Islam in the United States now is dominated by a very small minority of violent people who have defaced their religion for political reasons. I hope this event will illuminate a different version of Islam that not only permits but fosters understanding among religions, and gives hope for a more peaceful future."

The speakers will also participate in dialogue earlier in the day in a special program for northwest Iowa area pastors.

* For more information, contact Tom Musel, ACES director, at 712-749-2452.



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