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Sept. 12, 2014

Muslim Education Club hopes to foster understanding about Islam

by Sarah Trunk, Staff Writer
Seniors Leigh Cook, Alia Helsing and Fin Brecher founded the Muslim Education Club, set to start meetings on Sept. 16, in order to help educate Blair students about Islamic culture. The club was founded last year to help raise awareness about Islamic culture.
Last year, the Muslim Education Club raised publicity and funds by selling Henna at international night. Courtesy of Leigh Cook
Last year, the Muslim Education Club raised publicity and funds by selling Henna at international night.

The Muslim Education club will focus on the cultural aspects of Islam instead of the religious aspects, unlike Blair's current Islamic club, the Muslim Student Association (MSA). The club also hopes to correct misconceptions and clarify students' understanding of Islam. "We want to educate on what Islam is all about so students don't have this negative thinking about the religion and culture," Helsing said. Since the Muslim Education club is not religious, anyone can participate. "It's about the culture, for everyone," Helsing noted.

Before, the MSA was the only representation of the large Muslim community at Blair.
With the Muslim Education Club, there is another way to explore Islam. This lack of attention and representation for Muslim students was a part of the Muslim Education Club's creation. "I have a lot of friends who are Muslim," Cook said. "I just really feel like the Muslim community is and was underrepresented at Blair." The clubs are not connected, but many members of the MSA are involved with and even assistant leaders of the Muslim Education Club.

Muslim Education Club will meet during lunches once a week, providing food and guests so that Blair students can ask questions and come to understand Middle Eastern culture. "If students have interest, questions about the culture, they need answers," Mayassa Omar, the club's sponsor, said. The first club meetings will discuss the stigma surrounding Islam as well as other previously held notions any students might have about Islam and the Middle East.

The club was initially an idea for a school project last year, but due to time constraints, the beginning of the club was delayed until this year, Helsing said. Finding a sponsor also presented an issue, as Lansing Freeman, former Middle East Studies teacher, was unavailable due to his leaving the state. Instead, they went to Omar, who teaches Arabic. Though they need to get a classroom approved by Mr. Funk, they plan to start meeting by Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Cook, Helsing and Brecher intend to make the club as student-run as possible. While Omar will help with cultural discussions, the students will be in charge of arranging guests, publicity and meetings. Last year, the Muslim Education Club raised publicity through events such as International Night, where they tattooed henna tattoos and raised $60. The club also have the support of Lebanese Taverna, a restaurant in Silver Spring, who will provide them with traditional food for their club.



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