For Immediate Release
September 18, 2012
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BROCKPORT, NY—Arsalan Iftikhar created his website, “The Muslim Guy,” to move the international conversation about Islam away from Islamic extremists.
And on September 20, Iftikhar took that message to The College at Brockport, State University of New York, where he delivered the keynote address at the College's 12th annual diversity conference, delivering a talk entitled “Diversity and Muslims in Post 9/11 America."
Brockport President John R. Halstead, PhD, welcomed the crowd of nearly 750 (more than 1,300 were registered for the conference) that gathered to hear Iftikhar speak by re-affirming Brockport's commitment to diversity.
"Diversity continues to play a significant role on our campus and I, as your President, will always keep it as a central goal," Halstead said.
Iftikhar—who is an international human rights attorney and a regular weekly contributor on the Barbershop segment for the National Public Radio show “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin—began his remarks by telling the audience that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was the day his life began.
He went on to chronicle the prejudice that exists toward Muslim-Americans throughout the United States.
"In this country, you can always take potshots at Muslim-Americans and get away with it," Iftikhar said.
But he said that events like Brockport's diversity conference can make a difference.
"Diversity in America is about shattering preconceived notions that people have about you," he told the crowd.
Iftikhar left the audience with a strong reminder.
"When it comes to diversity issues it's important to speak out about issues that don't affect you," he said, "because that resonates much more."
The theme of this year’s conference was “Building Community through Diversity: Spirituality, State and Politics.” Following the keynote address, the conference tackled a wide array of topics, including religion in the workplace, the Bible and politics, same-sex marriage and spirituality, and freedom of religion and indigenous peoples.
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