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A kick-off event for Islam Awareness Week hosted by the Penn Muslim Students Association Credit: Justin Cohen , Justin Cohen

As melodic chanting drifted over the high rise field, passersby drifted toward the crowd sitting in front of a movie screen munching on popcorn and s’mores.

About 30 people gathered Wednesday night outside the high rises for the kickoff event of the Penn Muslim Students Association’s annual Islam Awareness Week. The main focus of the event was a screening of the film Mooz-lum, which according to the association’s President and College senior Sarah Ijaz displays the week’s overall theme of “old foundations and new beginnings” and the “coming generation of Islam in America.”

For the organizer of the event, MSA Islamic Education Co-Chairwoman and College sophomore Muhga Eltigani, the week’s main goal is to spread awareness in order “to beat the myths and stereotypes of Islam.” Eltigani said that this week is particularly important 10 years after 9/11 because the religion is still sadly misconstrued.

MSA Social Co-chairwoman and College junior Aya Saed echoed Eltigani, saying that the association wants to “delve into what the religion means and how it’s being portrayed.” Saed added that it is important to understand the diversity of Islam. “You can’t just group Islam into one big bubble.”

Diversity was an evident characteristic among those in attendance. Four Temple University students came who had heard about the event through Facebook, “which is amazing” Eltigani said. Ijaz added that the group was “seeing a lot of freshmen lately” as well as graduate students.

The high rise field was ideal for the kickoff event because “people walking by might stop and see what’s going on,” Eltigani said, an occurrence that actually was common throughout the film. Marcus Mundy, a College sophomore and Middle Eastern studies major, said that he came because he likes to experience the multicultural events at Penn and in Philadelphia.

The MSA will be holding events every day for Awareness Week. The events include talks with special guest speakers, a fashion show, a basketball tournament in the newly opened Penn Park and the concluding event, an interfaith prayer circle. Eltigani said that the organizers tried “to do events that would interest different people” in the Muslim and greater Penn community.

College sophomore Saffa Khan plans to go to Thursday’s event titled “30 Mosques in 30 Days,” during which bloggers Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq will talk about their “cross-country Ramadan road trip.” “I’ve heard them speak before and they’re really funny,” Khan said.

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