On recent a Saturday morning, KUOW invited eight local Muslims to meet in our studios and sit across from eight non-Muslims--think of it like speed dating, except without the dating aspect.
When the clock started, non-Muslims had approximately six minutes to ask questions about what it means to be a Muslim in our culture, and any questions they’d always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Guidelines for discussion were written and posted to the wall: trust, honesty and being open-minded.
We wanted people to feel safe, but we also wanted people to be open to different ways of thinking about other cultures. After six minutes, a timer went off and non-Muslims were asked to move to the next seat, where they could interact with a different Muslim guest. Conversations were so rich, it was difficult to get people to move on to the next chair!
After an hour, we circled the chairs and discussed as group favorite questions that were asked, interesting questions they weren’t expecting, things they learned about one another, and of course, what we could have done better.
Overall, people appreciated a chance to learn more about the diversity of opinions and personalities within the Muslim community. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a communal lunch. Attendees agreed that they wanted to do more of these, and how helpful these would be in other settings around the region.