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Muslim activist, Christian pastor to speak against Islamophobia at Gonzaga University

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 3, 2019

A Muslim community activist and a Christian pastor will join each other onstage Thursday evening at Gonzaga University, making the Jesuit school the latest stop on a tour aimed at combating Islamophobia.

Aneela Azfali and the Rev. Terry Kyllo will bring their interfaith message to Gonzaga’s Jepson Center auditorium as part of their “Fear Over Faith Roadshow,” which aims to dispel misconceptions about Islam and end discrimination against Muslim people.

Azfali, a Harvard Law School graduate, is the executive director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s American Muslim Empowerment Network.

Kyllo, formerly a pastor at churches in Marysville and Mount Vernon, Washington, is the founder of an interfaith group called Neighbors in Faith.

They began hosting talks in Western Washington in 2017 to counter what they describe as a multimillion-dollar “Islamophobia industry” that includes groups such as ACT for America, which has a local chapter founded by state Rep. Matt Shea.

In an announcement for Thursday’s presentation, Azfali and Kyllo called out the Spokane Valley lawmaker for his anti-Muslim rhetoric: “Politicians like Representative Matt Shea divide American citizens from one another by promoting anti-Muslim bigotry and tearing ‘We the people’ apart.”

Kyllo said the presentation will define various elements of Islam, such as sharia, or Islamic law, and point out what Islam has in common with other religions.

The two-hour talk is sponsored by Gonzaga’s Institute for Hate Studies and several Christian, Muslim and interfaith organizations. It will begin at 6 p.m. in the Jepson Center, 298 E. Desmet Ave. It is free and open to the public.

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