Interfaith dialogue sparks discussion

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Bellevue College held its quarterly Interfaith Dialogue event last week on Friday, March 20. The event, which hosted over 30 people, was jointly held by many clubs, including the Muslim Student Association, Transformational Leadership club, El Centro Latino and the Jewish Student Union.

An interfaith dialogue is a friendly interaction between all different faiths to promote understanding and cooperation. The dialogue aims to help the diverse religious groups highlight similarities and celebrate in shared values.

These interfaith dialogues at BC were first conceived in fall quarter of 2013. Various religious groups met up with the purpose of creating a more accepting atmosphere for the school’s diverse population.

The president of the MSA, Hakim Halimun, explained, “the goal of the interfaith dialogue is always to better know our fellow human being.” He continued, “this event, like always, is open to people of all spiritual backgrounds or lack thereof, and is not targeting one specific group.”

However, Halimun explained that this event is only the preliminary step for achieving his goal, and that “the theme of our first one, which was held in fall quarter, was finding common ground. Today, much focus is placed on what differentiates us, but not enough is on what binds us together.”

“This time,” Halimun said, “we aim to continue the work we began last quarter, in addition to the theme of religious discrimination. We hope to identify religious discrimination as a problem affecting members of all spiritual identities and something that, united, we can solve.

“We believe that this is a pretty relevant issue and we look forward to hear from all different perspectives. At the end of the day, we believe that mutual understanding and respect is always beneficial to all,” shared Halimun.

The first guest speaker Kari Large, who is also the president of BC’s Jewish Cultural Club, stated, “as a Jewish person, I have dedicated my entire life goal to make sure that I educate others about my culture and learn more about others’ cultures.”

Large explained what she hopes to achieve through her cultural and religious discussion.  “The more we know about each other, the better people we become,” said Large, “anytime we make division lines, we end up not getting to truly know the other person and it’s detrimental to both of us.”

Others advocated that students should let go of their ignorance about other faiths. Muslim guest speaker Anis Elmesai talked about post-9/11 experiences as an American Muslim. After the speeches, there was time for questions and answers and refreshments to end the event.

The next planned Interfaith Dialogue will be fall quarter of 2015, marking  two year anniversary of the dialogue.