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Film, discussion aim to increase public awareness

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The Islamic Society of Columbus and the Middle East Association will present a free showing of the film “Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet” at 6 p.m. Monday at Yes Cinema, 328 Jackson St.

Funded by a Welcoming Community II Grant awarded by The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, the screening is intended to promote Middle Eastern Culture and increase public awareness of Islam in the Columbus community.

Brian Sanders, president of the Islamic Society, will be moderator for the event and hopes those who attend come with an open mind.

“My biggest hope is education and to improve and increase understanding about Middle Eastern culture and the Islamic faith,” Sanders said. “The film was something we thought could be understood by those in the community who are not of the Muslim faith.”

Originally aired on PBS in 2002, “Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet” chronicles the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his continued influence in the lives of more than a billion Muslims today. Offering a historical perspective of Muhammad’s life and times, the film also provides a genuine look at the lives of everyday American Muslims.

It isn’t a boring, sit-down documentary, said Hanna Omar, vice president of the Middle East Association. It is one that brings a historic perspective to the life of Muhammad, she said.

“I just hope it dispels some of the myths people hold about Muslims,” Omar said. “We hope that those who attend learn something about their Muslim neighbors here in the community and that they’re not much different than other Americans. In the end, we all face the same trials and tribulations.”

A community-based panel discussion will follow the film. It is going to be a genuine, organic dialogue intended to offer diverse perspectives from people of the same faith, Omar said.

“We are bringing in people from within our community who can answer questions based upon their experience and interpretations,” Sanders said.

Panel member Marwan Wafa, vice chancellor and dean of IUPUC, said he’d like people to come to the screening with an open mind, free of an agenda, and see the movie for what it is and take it from there.

“I hope that people get an accurate assessment about the life of the Prophet and the faith,” Wafa said. “There is a lot of misinformation out there.”

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