MPAC & UMMA Clinic Let’s Be Honest Forum Tackles Tough Topics

Last Saturday, MPAC and the UMMA Community Clinic joined forces to sponsor a Let’s Be Honest forum at the University of Southern California. Let’s Be Honest is a space for candid conversation with a diverse panel of Muslim scholars, activists, counselors, and student leaders on any and all subjects.

Moderated by MPAC's Director of Policy and Programming Edina Lekovic, the panel featured Li'i Furomoto (Youth Programs Manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice), Umar Hakim (Director/CEO at ILM Foundation), Ali Mir (Director of Muslim Student Life at USC) and Salma Sanwari (marriage and family counselor).

Among the issues raised by the panelists and audience were youth development, building a stronger American Muslim identity, ageism and caring for our elders, interfaith relations and the generational divide.

Drawing from his experiences as adviser of the Muslim Student Union, Mir stressed how young Muslims need to be proud of their American Muslim identity and claim their history centuries long history in the US. He also spoke of the need to accept religious and racial diversity and stressed the need for mosques to have social workers or therapists on staff or at least be prepared to share referrals for individuals suffering from mental health problems.

Furumoto shared her experience as a convert to Islam, her work and how there is a lot of need for social services within every mosque to help cater to people’s needs. She stressed the importance of Muslim communities reaching out to and learning from the lessons of other ethnic and faith communities.

Sanwari described a problem within our community of not being able to take care of our elders but not having enough courage to get them the care they need in group homes because of community taboos.

Hakim discussed his experiences in engaging diverse communities within the Muslim community, whether African-American or immigrant, and learning they carry cultural baggage with them that needs to be discarded in order to improve their conditions.

Since Summer 2011, MPAC has held a series of “Let’s Be Honest” forums in the Washington, DC, area and Southern California, which have been attended by almost 1,000 community members. To schedule a Let's Be Honest forum in your community, email Community Outreach Coordinator Cherif Abou El Fadl at



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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