Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, addressed students in the McCormick Tribune Forum on Thursday night as part of Islam Awareness Week. The speech, hosted by the Muslim-cultural Student Association, was the closing event for the week.
Khan, who played a large role in this summer’s Park 51 controversy, discussed the importance of social justice and cross-cultural cooperation. She used her own experiences as a Kashmiri immigrant, an American citizen, a working woman and the wife of an imam.
“I decided to make [the speech] personal because I wanted people to know that each one of us, we cannot rely on institutions to do our week,” Khan said after the speech. “Each one of us can, by ourselves, be a force for change. My own personal story is about trying to reclaim my own faith within my own self but also to reclaim my own country.”
After her speech, Khan participated in a question-and-answer session led by McSA member Kawther Albader, a Medill sophomore. She answered Albader’s questions and selected others from the audience.
“She’s done a lot of good for the Muslim community, especially in New York, and fostering the dialogue between Muslim Americans and non-Muslim Americans,” Albader said. “I was very honored.”
Weinberg senior Omar Khalid, co-president of McSA, thought Khan’s speech went well with the greater purpose of Islam Awareness Week. The group hosted events every day, handed out cups of hot chocolate at the Rock and spoke to students at a booth in Norris.
“A lot of the fear that people have of Muslims stems from a lack of information,” Khalid said. “Like Daisy Khan said, we need to establish personal connections because if you know someone on that kind of a level then you can look past all the misinformation that’s in the media.”
Khalid appreciated Khan’s perspective as an activist working towards cooperation between faiths and dealing with the Park 51 controversy in the media. Khan, for her part, still desires to build a community center with the cooperation of other faiths and continue to spread the message of tolerance and social justice.
“Why can’t I be American, a Muslim and stand side-by-side with my neighbors of all ethnicities, races and religions?” Khan asked the audience. “Can’t we assert that there is no such thing as superiority?”