Local Quran reading brings positive response
Despite protests in cities across the country Saturday evening, the scene at All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Road, in East Lansing was calm as more than 350 people sat and listened to a reading of the Quran.
Rev. Sarah Midzalkowski, Canterbury MSU’s chaplain, and Rev. Kit Carlson, rector of All Saints, decided to open their doors for a reading of the Muslim holy book in response to Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ planned International Burn a Koran Day. Jones canceled the scheduled burning on Thursday.
The response to the reading was overwhelmingly positive, Midzalkowski said.
“Both Reverend Carlson and I had gone to the University of Florida, so it really touched us that such ignorance was coming from a town we were familiar with,” Midzalkowski said. “We wanted to do something in protest to the burning that would be positive for the community.”
Midzalkowski said she and Carlson began contacting MSU student groups and the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing last Tuesday, and the event quickly took on a life of its own.
“We thought the best response to ignorance, which is where fear comes from, is education,” Midzalkowski said. “People who fear the Quran tend to not know anything about it.”
An attendee of Saturday’s reading, physiology sophomore Sara Mousa said she heard about the event on Facebook.
“I think this is an amazing idea, everyone coming together from different faiths,” Mousa said.
“It shows that the community is willing to understand each other’s faiths and is so open and welcome to new ideas.”
The reading spanned two hours and included 22 Muslim, Christian, or Jewish speakers from MSU and the East Lansing community.
Igram Magan, a Lansing Community College biology junior who attended the reading with a family friend, said she also heard about the reading on Facebook and at her mosque.
“It was really nice to see that a lot of people showed up,” Magan said.
“It was amazing to see different religions coming together to share in the reading of the Quran.”
Despite getting a few stares for wearing her hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women, Magan said she hasn’t felt any anti-Muslim sentiment from the East Lansing community.
“People will look at you differently in class or on the street when you’re wearing your hijab, but I really don’t pay attention to it,” Magan said. “I don’t have the time to worry about ignorance like that.”
Midzalkowski said she was impressed with the turnout and hopes the event will inspire people to make friends with more people of a different religion.
“We’re really hoping this will spur people on to read and learn more about other faiths,” Midzalkowski said. “So we don’t fear those things we don’t know about.”