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Muslim scholars see America up close

Four weeks of dialogue and discussion, focusing on faith and education. Scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India see us up close.

Dr. Riffat Hassan, U of L Humanities Professor

"This exchange, which is university based, is not superficial, engages people at a deep level- intellectually and psychologically."

Dr. Riffat Hassan of the University of Louisville directs the Islamic Life in the United States program. Funded by the U.S. State Department, the program provokes communication between cultures and religions. Twelve scholars who are influential in their societies participated in the program this year.

Tom Johnston, U.S. State Department Exchange Specialist

"It's far more useful to bring people to the U.S. who are critical, have doubts about our culture and let them, through experience here figure out what the reality of the U.S. is."

Tom Johnston is an exchange specialist with the U.S. State Department. He says this program gives the scholars an accurate perception of the United States. They meet with leaders of other religions in the U.S. They also visit Muslim communities here.

Johnston continues

"If they're critical, they're critical on the basis of information, observation and balanced perception as opposed to ignorance, bigotry and hearsay."

Dr. Hassan adds

"Through interaction, not only are they learning a lot about American society they question things in their own society…"

The scholars' experience takes them from Louisville to other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C. U.S. scholars will visit south Asia this summer as part of the exchange program.

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