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Living in a very diverse and open-minded society here at Lake Forest College, we have a lot of misunderstandings, as well as curiosities, about the new phenomenon of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State (IS).

The conflict caused by this group has been devastating, as they have continued expanding and taking over large areas in Iraq and Syria, while killing many innocent people. ISIS follows an extreme and fundamental interpretation of the Holy Quran and Islam, which has been condemned by top Muslim scholars worldwide.

Due to their extremisms, false stereotypes about Islam stem from this movement. Hence, understanding the conflict and Islam is necessary in order to differentiate and prevent harmful stereotypes.

Very recently, Student Government hosted a Times Talk about the ISIS Conflict, with Associate Professor and Chair of Politics and Chair of International Relations James Marquardt and Assistant Professor of Politics and Chair of Islamic World Studies Fatima Rahman.

This was a perfect opportunity to learn about the conflict and understand its causes and roots. The information presented by the professors was scholarly and sophisticated, making their perspectives balanced and fair. Aside from that, the symposium was a great opportunity to educate oneself about global perspectives on conflicts such as ISIS.

“Professor Holly Swayer’s class presentation during the symposium was very helpful for understanding the stories behind wars, including the current conflict with ISIS,” Meena Jose ’16 said.

One of the most common stereotypes about Islam as a result of ISIS is the assumption of a shared belief in killing and intolerance of other religions, beliefs, or practices. The conflict with ISIS, the attacks on 9/11, the recent shooting in Paris, and many similar tragedies have contributed to this stereotype.

“Islam promotes tolerance, peace, and coexistence of all different kinds of people; when you kill one innocent human being, it is as if you have killed an entire human race,” said Adil Hussain ’16, president of the Muslim Student Association. Every student should ask himself or herself: What must be done to end stereotypes, educate ourselves, and embrace the diversity in our community?

Chi Nguyen ’15 suggests “taking the initiative to get to know our fellow members in our community and their beliefs/culture, and embracing differences” as the way to eliminate misunderstandings.

The Muslim Student Association consists of more than 20 active members and aims to spread awareness of Muslims and eliminate Islamaphobia in our diverse community. The club is open to everyone, both Muslims and nonMuslims.

A “Get to Know MSA” event on April 18 discussed the life of Muslim students on campus. This was a perfect opportunity to learn about how Muslims play a role in our community at Lake Forest College, as well as stop stereotypes.

The group meets at 5 p.m. every Wednesday in Pierson Rooms and has many events throughout the semester.

Our campus provides plenty of opportunities for embracing diverse groups of people and eliminating misunderstandings, which we as students should better utilize.

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