MADISON, Wis. - Muslim students on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus are inviting students to understand Islam as a part of Islam appreciation week.
The Muslim Student Association has planned events every day this week, inviting the public to learn more about Muslims on campus.
UW-Madison student Iffa Bhuiyan said while she feels comfortable on campus there are times when her hijab draws unwanted attention.
"I feel much safer on this campus versus other campuses that I've heard of on the news. But, I definitely do, people do take second looks at me," Bhuiyan said.
It's a double take Bhuiyan said shouldn't happen, but is the reality for many Muslims living in America.
"It's the kind of weird divide where it seems like half the country hates me but how do I work together with them to make them understand this is who I am? I was born and raised here," she said.
The MSA describes the university as accepting, welcoming and open-minded to Muslims. MSA Vice President Isha Hammad said members are still working to improve relationships on campus.
"I think a lot of times people are apprehensive about approaching Muslims or befriending them in classes and the basic idea that we are human and we are people and we are students and that very basic concept of breaking that wall between us," Hammad said.
MSA President Najeeha Khan said the purpose of the event is to welcome discussion and interactions with their peers who might have misconceptions about Islam.
"We are welcoming and we want you to ask us your questions. We don't want people to be afraid of offending us. We'd rather have those discussions with people and make those connections then not say anything at all."
The association kicked off the week with a social mixer. The group shared a presentation on the background of Islam followed by a question and answer session.
Events throughout the week include discussions on social justice and Muslims' perspective on love and dating in American society. The association also plans to give out hijab headpieces for anyone who wants one to experience a glimpse of their reality.
Khan said the association's goal is to dismantle stereotypes of Islam, largely portrayed in the media.
"The main thing is just to normalize our presence. It's not fun to be (treated like) 'othered.' We are really trying to get rid of that and not necessarily make Islam a common thing but at least not display it as dramatically as it is in the news," she said.
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