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Arts / Culture

Comedy to Break Down Myths About Muslims

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Courtesy of Negin Farsad

A female Muslim comic is the opening act followed by a humorous documentary titled “The Muslims Are Coming” this week at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

Are you smiling yet?

The dual events kick-off the two-year grant project, Building Bridges, that has the goal of using art to span the gap between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

http://youtu.be/1brf79VyF40

It features Negin Farsad, an Iranian-American Muslim, Thursday night. Farsad is co-producer and also appears with other Muslim comics in the free movie Friday.

“The great thing about comedians is that they can potentially offend everyone. And potentially everyone can relate to comedy,” said Andrea Assaf, artistic and executive director of Art2Action, the non-profit organization behind Building Bridges. “We really wanted to start the series with something fun but also challenging.”

Subsequent months will feature poetry, music, theater, dance and even opera to increase understanding of the Arab, Middle East and Muslim cultures. It's all in an effort to breakdown misconceptions.

The Building Bridges project partners with various USF academic departments. That partnership is one of only six, including Georgetown University and Wesleyan College, selected for the Campus Community Engagement Project which is part of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Assaf acknowledged that recent news stories about Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq makes the project a more sensitive topic.

“What’s really important when we’re looking at war zones and what people do in war and in situations of combat that we realize that that certainly doesn’t represent every one and is not the majority experience,” Assaf said. “Nor is someone who is part of a fundamentalist or extremist movement representative of the majority.”

http://youtu.be/lugFgJn9krI

Dancers, musicians and poets are among the other artists who will perform, teach students and conduct workshops for Building Bridges over the next two years. Assaf also hopes to show the documentary "Reel Bad Arabs , " a film that shows how Arabs have been unfairly portrayed in Hollywood films.

You can learn more about upcoming performances and how to get tickets at the  Art2Action website .