Documentary and Speaker to Examine the Latino Muslim Community in America

By Tiffany Dixon
The Daily Tar Heel
October 12, 2006

A unique piece of the nation’s melting pot – Latinos who practice Islam – will be discussed at 6:15 p.m. today in the Carmichael Ballroom.

Guest speaker Umar Yasin Diego Guadalupe, who is Latino and Muslim, will talk about the historical and current experiences of the Latino Muslim community in America after a documentary viewing about Latino Muslims in Los Angeles.

Guadalupe is the co-founder and deputy director of The PrimeXample Company Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides services to Latino Muslims and is sponsoring this event.

Co-sponsors include the Carolina Hispanic Association, the Hispanic Latino Law Student Association, Lambda Pi Chi sorority and the Muslim Students Association.

Atif Mohiuddin, co-outreach coordinator for MSA, said he helped organize the event in hopes that it will bring Latinos and Muslims together.

“In the past, it’s just been silent,” he said.

“There’s really never been an effort to reach out between the two communities.”

Mohiuddin said he encourages interested students to see how Latino Muslims have brought the two cultures together.

“(Latinos and Muslims) show that we have more similarities,” he said.

He said Latinos who have recently converted to Islam are part of a 25-year cultural phenomenon in the U.S.

In Latin America, there are about three to four million Muslims, Mohiuddin said.

Sergio Acero, CHispA secretary, said students who attend the event can expect to learn how Muslim influence plays a role in Latin America.

“Not many people associate that with Latin America,” he said.

Acero added that the event will educate students and allow them to be “aware of how complex a Latino can be.”

Liz Linzan, president of CHispA, said she views the event as a unique opportunity to expose dialogue between different people.

“Just speaking to everyone about it … I didn’t know that this culture existed,” she said.

“Within a collaboration like that you get students together where otherwise you wouldn’t.”

Terri Houston, director of recruitment and multicultural programs in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, said she sees this event as an opportunity to break down stereotypes.

“We may presume that people who practice Islam come from particular countries, and we may also presume that people of a particular racial group practice a certain religion,” she said.

“It will educate the campus community on how we should broaden our perspectives of diversity.”

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