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Promoting Interfaith Understanding

In New Muslim Cool, Puerto Rican-American rapper Hamza Pérez pulled himself out of drug dealing and street life 12 years ago and became a Muslim. Now he's moved to the tough north side of Pittsburgh to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family and reach out to his neighborhood with the message that faith is a better response than crime to poverty and injustice.

Below are some actions you could take to ensure that people in your community have accurate information about all the groups of people represented in the film.

Use New Muslim Cool as the basis for inter-generational dialogue about social justice and working together to improve your community.

Hamza says, "I think we can teach Muslim youth how to deal with this anger they have built up inside through writing and poetry." Create a poetry writing workshop for young people in your community. Challenge participants to think about what their religious or ethnic identity means to them and where it provides opportunities to find common ground
with others. Like Carol in the film, organize a poetry festival or publication based on an interfaith theme.

Work with Muslims in your community to convene a public teach-in or Webinar on Muslims in the United States. Invite speakers to address stereotypes and provide accurate information. Follow up with meetings with local news directors and newspaper editors to ensure accurate coverage of Muslims.

To increase interfaith understanding, work with your local council of churches (or similar religious organization) to create a series of open houses at mosques, synagogues, temples, churches and other religious institutions around your community.

Groups that are interested in planning events or group dialogues
specifically devoted to building interfaith or inter-ethnic understanding

can refer to Active Voice's Crossover Conversations Toolkit, which includes tips for event framing, a planning checklist, interfaith dialogue suggestions and more.

Investigate opportunities for outreach promoting interfaith understanding to inmates in jails and/or prisons.

Support or create efforts to track discrimination against Muslims and other religious minorities in your community, state or region. Publicize hate crimes with public statements or demonstrations indicating that actions based on prejudice or hate are unacceptable in your community.

Carefully study the USA Patriot Act and laws governing profiling. Meet with elected officials and law enforcement to let them know how you want them to enforce or change existing policies.