Combating Anti-Muslim Stereotypes Through Art

Last week, co-blogger Anna John reported on how D.C.’s South Asian Muslims reacted to the death of Osama bin Laden. Afshan Khoja, a Muslim of Pakistani descent, told John:

“When I heard the chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A,’ I felt fear. I don’t understand why, but I wanted to lock my doors. This morning I heard about vandalism and graffiti at a mosque. Between yesterday and today, three people have already asked me why the Pakistani government didn’t know that Osama was in Pakistan for years – I don’t know!

“The fact is, regardless of this news, none of that has stopped. This may be a significant blow to a terrorist network, but for a Pakistani Muslim living in the U.S., I’m not sure if it changes anything.”

Crescent Moon Nights

A group of young Muslims in D.C., aware of the negative stereotypes against them, started a monthly open mic five years ago in an effort to build bridges across cultural and religious divides. WAMU’s Matt Laslo reports that Crescent Moon Nights is still going strong. Co-coordinator Tahir Amin Kayum tells Laslo:

“Pretty much it is different people of all backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, for them to come, express and share on the open mic,” says Kayum. “So we have featured artists for the evening, and we have various artists just come up, poets, singers, rappers, whatever, just coming up to share from different backgrounds.”