Task force to help fight Muslim stereotypes at VCU

Task force to help fight Muslim stereotypes at VCU

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Multiple departments at VCU came together and created a "Muslim Advocacy Task Force," in order to combat stereotypes against Muslims and hatred towards the Islamic culture.

The school started the task force after increased hostility towards Muslim students on campus because of terrorist attacks like those in Paris, Belgium, and San Bernadino. Those attacks and other international terror threats instilled fear in many people across the United States - fear of the Islamic culture and the Muslim religion. That fear was felt on VCU's campus, resulting in many Muslim students and faculty feeling isolated and like targets.

Fatima Alnakhli, a 24-year-old master's student at VCU who is from Saudi Arabia, wants to spread the message that Muslims are not terrorists and terrorists are not real Muslims.

"Everything I think that you don't know, you will have a mistake or wrong opinion about," Alnakhli said. "There are many Muslims in the world, and the terrorists or extremists are present in any group of people."

Alnakhli is thankful for the task force, which was created last semester.

R. McKenna Brown is spearheading the initiative. Brown said the task force is working to combat Muslim stereotypes by hosting forums, cultural awareness training and even handing out flyers that explain common myths about Muslim people and Islam on one side, and how to be an ally to end anti-Muslim bias on the other side.

"The goal is to make clear to the university and beyond, the universities commitment to safety and supportive atmosphere for all community members," Brown said. "We are trying to one, better educate, so people can appreciate the complexities and diversity within the Muslim community itself and recognize that extremist groups in any faith don't recognize that faith's tradition."

The advocacy task force includes the president of the university, vice president for inclusive excellence, interim vice provost for student affairs, vice provost for the office of strategic enrollment management, executive director for global education office, vice president for public safety and chief of police, director of international studies, global education office, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, communications manager for the global education office and coordinator of communications and marketing for student affairs.

Students, faculty and staff interested in getting involved in the task force can contact McKenna Brown in the global education office at geo@vcu.edu.

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