GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — One woman’s desire for more representation in her city led to Greensboro’s first-ever Muslim festival.
When Robyn Saleem Abdusamad and her family moved back to their home state of North Carolina after spending 7 years in Texas, she felt like something was missing.
“While in Dallas, we were introduced to a lot of different festivals and just a lot of community events,” Saleem-Abdusamad said. “I noticed that it wasn’t as many resources that were available as where we came from. So therefore it was a little challenging.”
She wanted to replicate the events she experienced in Dallas, bringing a festival to Greensboro that would celebrate her Muslim culture.
She went into planning mode late last year, bringing the first-ever North Carolina Muslim Festival to life on April 29, 2023. Hundreds of people gathered in Downtown Greensboro to celebrate.
“The purpose of that was to promote diversity as well as humanity. Also to give the Muslim community an opportunity to actually see and have a good time here in the downtown parts of Greensboro but also to introduce the religion to other members of different faiths and just have that opportunity to network and get to know one another,” Saleem-Abdusamad said.
Vendors, entertainers, and hundreds of Muslim faces from all over the world filled Center City Park in Downtown Greensboro. It not only brought out Greensboro’s Muslim community but people who wanted to learn about it and get to know their Muslim neighbors.
“It’s important in an effort to promote diversity as well as humanity so that we have that understanding of each other so that we can have that mutual respect,” Saleem-Abdusamad said.
Islam –the religion Muslims practice — has the second largest following in the world behind Christianity. Muslims live in several countries and continents across the world. Still, many face prejudice brought on by harmful stereotypes, and are made to feel unwelcome in some places. It’s why Robyn says awareness and education are so important.
“That’s how we avoid the ignorance that sometimes exists. When you know about a culture or religion then that eliminates any type of stereotypes or any type of speaking out of turn,” she said. “We’re human, we’re here. Muslims are your doctors, your lawyers, your financial advisors and so forth. So we’re here.”
Organizers want to make this an annual event for any and everybody to come out and experience. They’re hoping to start the planning for next year’s Muslim fest at the end of this summer.