VANCOUVER, Wash. — Since the Sept. 11 attacks, a backlash of anti-Islamic sentiment has played out across the United States, ranging from the defacing of mosques to the harassment of Middle-Eastern taxi cab drivers.

Most Americans decry these actions and, in response, have shown an intense interest in learning more about Islam and its followers.

Washington State University Vancouver’s Diversity Task Force is responding to that interest by inviting leaders and students from the Muslim community in the Portland-Vancouver area to host an interactive discussion about Islam, its tenets and common misconceptions associated with this 1400-year-old religion. The discussion is set for 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28, in the WSU Vancouver lecture hall.

The panel of speakers encourages hard-hitting questions from the audience and promises frank responses to audience questions about Islam and its practice. Featured speakers include:

Dr. Shahriar Ahmed, president of the Bilal Mosque Association in Beaverton, Ore. He and his family are being featured with two other Oregon families on OPB Public Radio’s on-going “Family Series” concerning their experiences since Sept. 11.

Madiha Sultan, an undergraduate student at Portland State University. She teaches in the Mosque Sunday School and is involved with refugee rehabilitation and outreach activities. Sultan is involved in the Bilal mosque and can give a college student and female perspective of what it is like to be Muslim in America post-Sept. 11.

Waasel Kareem, a senior at Jesuit High School in Portland. Kareem also is active in the local Muslim community and can add his perspective to the discussion. As a Muslim student in a predominantly Catholic high school, Kareem has been instrumental in leading discussions on Islam at his school.

Members of the WSU Vancouver faculty also will comment on the role of women in Islam and the view of Islam from a Judeo-Christian perspective.

The forum and a reception are free and open to the public. For more information call Dr. Tahira Probst, faculty diversity fellow, at (360) 546-9746.