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CWS Webcast "Hearing the Muslim Community:
Preparing for Interfaith Disaster Response"

May 20, 2002, 2- 4 p.m. ET Webcast Live on

May 7, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - In communities across America, in one of the continuing tragedies of the September 11 attacks, neighbors regard each other with heightened suspicion. A May 20 event sponsored by Church World Service will seek to respond.

Although America remains a predominantly Christian nation, it also is home to between five and six million Muslims in cities and towns across the country, according to The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. In the wake of 9/11, a wedge of fear has fractured what was already, in many cases, a community of solitudes.

Church World Service is among America's leading agencies for disaster response, working on behalf of 36 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Christian faith groups. "As we've responded to 9/11, one of the things we've come to understand more fully is that effective disaster relief has to be about more than just meeting physical needs," said Rick Augsburger, Director of the CWS Emergency Response Program.

"It's about helping the community to come together and strengthen itself as community. An event like 9/11 challenges our ability to work together in a very fundamental way."

A panel discussion sponsored by CWS will address these challenges, beginning with hearing American Muslims speak about their experiences after the attacks, then moving to consider next steps in building interfaith bridges. How does the Muslim community want to be understood? How can Christians work with Muslims in the U.S. to bridge what appears to be a growing divide? How can these faith groups work together in times of disaster to strengthen and build better communities?

The discussion will take place May 20th, from 2 to 4 p.m. ET, in the studios of Detroit's WXYZ, Channel 7. It will be Webcast live on Viewers may interact with the panel by email to Additional support comes from the Christian Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Channel 7, and Pacific Media Ministries.

Panelists include:

The Rev. Dr. Charles Mabee, author of Reading Sacred Texts through American Eyes and Reimagining America. Dr. Mabee is an Old Testament scholar who directs the Master of Divinity program at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit. He is currently working on a new introduction to Islam for American college students.

Victor Begg, president of the Unity Center Mosque, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and vice-chair of the state's Council of Islamic Organizations. His extensive involvement in community and interfaith affairs includes serving as a board member of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) and an elected member of his local Board of Education.

Imam Hassan Qazwini, religious leader of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit. Imam Qazwini was born in Karbala, Iraq and graduated from the Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran. In 1996 he immigrated to the United States and directed the Azzahra Islamic Center in Orange County, California, until moving to Detroit in 1997.

Dr. Abdul Hakim Jackson, associate professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Jackson was born in Philadelphia and received his PhD in Oriental Studies-Islamic Near East from the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked with the NCCJ, Austin Metropolitan Ministries, and the Islamic Society of North America.

Broadcast journalist Arthur Cribbs Jr. moderates the panel. Mr. Cribbs, a former executive director of the United Church of Christ's Office of Communication, is now pastor of the Christian Fellowship Congregational Church in San Diego and the President of Pacific Media Ministries in San Diego. is an interfaith Web site supported by mainline faith groups representing 200,000 congregations with a combined membership of more than 120 million Americans. Additionally, it offers Web site development and hosting and provides streaming audio and video services. For more information, call 859-422-0425 or visit the Web site at

Church World Service - - works in more than 80 countries to meet human needs and foster self-reliance. CWS works on behalf of the 36 Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox member communions of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches in programs of social and economic development, emergency response, assistance to refugees, education and advocacy, and ecumenical relationships. For more information about Church World Service call 1-800-297-1516.


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