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Muslim Cleric to Speak on St. Thomas and St. Croix

Feb. 23, 2007 — The true face of Islam, a religion and way of life for 1.3 billion people throughout the world, will be the topic for discussion as a well-known imam, Muslim cleric Dawud Walid, speaks at several venues this Friday and Saturday.
Walid wants to focus the discussion on what Islam is and what Islam is not. His talk with students at Charlotte Amalie High School on Friday at 8:30 a.m. is entitled “Choices, Chances and Consequences: Charting A Course to Success.”
The public is welcome for the other two events on St. Thomas at which he is speaking later in the day. In the first, the imam will be at Masjid Nur at 1 p.m at 24 8th Street, Estate Thomas. He will also be at University of the Virgin Islands on the third floor of the Classroom Administration (CA) Building at 6 p.m. Friday.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, he will speak at the Cafetorium on UVI's St. Croix campus.
Walid, a leading moderate voice for American Muslims, is from Detroit, Mich., and is executive director of the Council On American Islamic Relations(CAIR), a national civil-rights organization.
Walid has visited numerous countries abroad, including several countries in the Middle East. He travels and speaks throughout the United States, educating the public about his religion. He is a member of a Muslim community guided by Imam W.D. Mohammed. This group is the largest group of Muslims who are African-American in this country. The only Muslim ever elected to Congress, newly elected Keith Ellison from Minnesota, is also a member of Imam Mohammed’s congregation.
A Navy veteran, Walid served in Bosnia and worked with the Muslim population there. He has visited and worked with Palestinians in Haifa, where he said the conditions reminded him of segregation in the South. He speaks fluent Arabic.
Walid was part of a delegation to Iraq to help broker the release of Christian Science Monitor journalist Jill Carroll, held captive last year. Carroll is also from the state of Michigan.
His father was his biggest influence growing up, Walid said: “He taught me to never accept things on the surface and he encouraged me to read books.” He was especially grateful to his father for his encouragement to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a book that greatly influenced his life.
Under his leadership, he has said, CAIR’s approach will be focused on the principle that “education is superior to litigation. We would rather educate the public about Islam to cut down on bias toward Muslims and Arabs than only to be reactive and deal with civil-rights complaints."
Walid also emphasized CAIR'S independence.
“We are funded totally by our donors, we are not funded by any government grant or given money by any special interest group and that's how we’re able to maintain our integrity," he said. "We’re not controlled by anyone; we answer to the Muslim community, and that’s it.”

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