The Muslim Student Association plans to raise awareness of Islam from March 14 to 18 with events that will inform students and the community about the religion.
"Islamic Awareness Week is for Muslims and non-Muslims to be more educated about Islam overall because there [are] a lot of misconceptions about Islam, and we wanted to set the public straight about just the normal basics about Islam," MSA Public Relations Coordinator Rana Barakat, a third-year public health student, said.
South Carolina has a history of prejudice against Islam, dating back to a 1995 arson attack that destroyed a mosque in Greenville. Another event occurred in October when racial slurs were written in strips of bacon on the walkway of a Florence mosque.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there, especially around this area," Tariq Salim, vice president of MSA, said.
"There have been some instances of discrimination against Muslims in this area."
Salim, a third-year biomedical engineering student, discussed a billboard on Interstate 26 that states "Islam rising ... be warned."
"It's the politics of fear," Salim said.
According to islamrising.com, these billboards were placed across America to advertise the documentary "Islam Rising" and to spread the word about radical Islam. The documentary is associated with Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and prominent anti-Islam figure.
Huda Shami, the event coordinator for MSA, said that Islamic Awareness Week will combat Islamophobia.
"Islamophobia is causing fear in people's mind and their heart about Islam, and that's basically what we are trying to cure," Shami, a first-year marketing and statistics student, said.
She added that people often have the wrong idea about Islam.
"I feel like especially in the South there [are] a lot of misconceptions," Shami said. "People don't have the right idea, the way the media portrays it. They see Islam as a very scary religion because they hear the bad stuff. I feel like they're all big misconceptions. Islam really isn't like that; it's actually one of the most peaceful religions in the world."
The week will include events that discuss topics such as women in Islam and Islamic achievements. Salim said speakers will include USC Professor David Decker and Mutahhir Sabree, a Muslim Chaplain for the South Carolina
Department of Corrections. Salim said Islamic Awareness Week will educate people so that prejudicial acts against I
slam don't happen anymore. He said that the students here are the future leaders of the state, so it's a good place to start educating people.