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CU-Boulder professors explore Islam in the Rockies

2 December 2010 Uncategorized No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

Nabil Echchaibi

By Whitney Bryen (

Journalism professors at the University of Colorado are filming a documentary examining the history and culture of Muslims living in the Midwest, a topic that is, until now, untapped.

Three Journalism and Mass Communications faculty members are traveling the Rocky Mountain region documenting the personal stories of Muslims in an area where they are considered a small minority.

Nabil Echchaibi, assistant professor and associate director for the Center of Media, Religion and Culture, came up with the idea for a documentary as a way to make stories about Muslim culture accessible to people across the Midwest.

As a Muslim American himself, Echchaibi said his research and the Muslims in the Midwest project are personal.

“We want to introduce people to the Muslims in their area to help people see the human side of the culture,” Echchaibi said. “We want to create an oral history of Muslims in the region to help non-Muslims better understand who they are and what they’re about.”

Echchaibi is working with professor Meg Moritz, who will be producing, and instructor Paul Daugherty, who will be directing and editing the documentary, “Muslims in the Rockies.”

The film, which is expected to be finished early next year, is funded by the Journalism School and is part of an awareness campaign — “Muslims in the Midwest” — including panel discussions and a Web site about Muslim history. A preview of the documentary will be presented at Wednesday night’s panel discussion “Islam: An American Experience” hosted by The Center of Media, Religion and Culture and Asian Studies.

Echchaibi will moderate the panel discussion examining the experience of Muslims living in less-populated immigrant regions and the effects American perceptions can have on local Islam communities.

Panelists include Frederick Denny, CU professor of religious studies, Muhammad Ali Hasan, local film director, writer and politician, and Asma Hasan, attorney and author of “Red, White and Muslim: My Story of Belief.”

Denny will provide an authority on Islam while Muhammad Ali Hasan and Asma Hasan will share their personal experiences growing up in Colorado.

Asma Hasan, 36, was the only Muslim kid in her community growing up in Pueblo.

“I’ve spent my whole life explaining Islam to people,” Hasan said. “It can get overwhelming at times, but I feel like I was put here for a reason.”

She said she hopes to break down stereotypes involving violence and terrorism by showing the similarities between the Muslim community and the greater American community.

“There is a human connection between all religions,” Hasan said. “A lot of issues that the Muslim community is facing are similar to what non-Muslims are facing. We’re all in the same predicament and I hope we can work together toward solutions.”

Both the panel and the film will focus on the history and the humanity of Muslims in the Rocky Mountain region, Echchaibi said.

“With any luck, we’ll be able to educate non-Muslims on the culture and provide knowledge to those non-Muslims who are trying to understand the Islam culture around them.”

Original post: CU-Boulder professors explore Islam in the Rockies

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