The University of Iowa is hosting its fourth annual Iowa Conference on Islam starting today, an event that’s more than doubled in popularity since the attacks of September 11th. Organizer Asma Haidri says the goal of the gathering is to discuss the differences and look for common ground between Muslims and the majority of Iowans. Haidri says everyone is welcome, not just Muslims.The events begin this afternoon on the Iowa City campus and include lectures and workshops, introductory sessions on Islam, movies, a bazaar and cultural exhibition, even a basketball tournament. Haidri says there’s also a field trip to the oldest mosque in North America, the “Mother Mosque,” in Cedar Rapids.Haidri is one of the founders of the Iowa Muslim Student Association, a statewide organization with chapters at the U-of-I, the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Maharishi University in Fairfield, Drake University in Des Moines and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. She says this is the fourth year for the conference and she’s anticipating a large turnout from across the state, saying, they hope “to help build dialogue and build a strong community.” The first conference was in 2000.The conference under this year’s theme, “Islam: Unity of Diversity,” runs through Sunday at the Iowa Memorial Union. Registration is free and forms are available on-line. For more information, surf to “www.IowaMuslims.org” or call 319-621-6375.
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