On Monday Nov. 13, ETSU’s Muslim Student Association held an expo outside the Multicultural Affairs Center entitled “The Multicultural Mosaic.”
The goal of the expo was to raise awareness and to combat some of the stereotypes associated with the Islam religion.
“We wanted to dispel the stereotype that all Muslims come from a certain area like the Middle East or something, because I know growing up I heard that a lot,” said Nausheen Siddiqui, Muslim Student Association Co-President.
Siddiqui was born in the United States, moved to India and then returned to the States at age nine. She stressed that there are large Muslim populations all over the world, and while different cultures may have unique characteristics as to how they practice Islam, at its core it is still the same religion.
“One of the main purposes of this is to showcase that Islam within itself—within the religion—there are so many different characteristics culturally. The religion is the same, but because of the cultural aspects, there are some characteristics you would find in one region that you wouldn’t necessarily find in another region,” Siddiqui said.
The expo also had cultural foods and clothing to highlight specific regions and groups. MSA member Heba Alkhateeb presented the Palestine region and made basboosa—a traditional Palestinian sweet cake.
The expo brought awareness to one stereotype that resonates nationwide—the idea that Muslims and Christians can’t live in peace with one another.
“I am a Muslim. My father is a Muslim. My mother is a Christian,” Sodiq Akande said, a MSA member from Nigeria.
Akande explained that in an African family, the father is the head of the household. He said it is culturally acceptable for him to marry a Christian woman, as long as his children are Muslim. His mother goes to church on Sundays and practices her religion while the rest of them practice Islam.
“Where I’m from in Nigeria, it is about 50 percent Muslims and 50 percent Christians. We all live together,” said Akande.
The MSA hopes to educate students on the Islam faith and show people that Muslims and Christians may vary in religion, but like any differing people, they can live together in harmony.
For more information regarding the MSA or other cultures and organizations, visit the Multicultural Affairs office on the second floor of the D.P. Culp University Center.