7.11.2007 - C & G Newspapers
CTTV produces program to explore religion, diversity
HEIDI ROMAN; C & G STAFF WRITER
Published: July 11, 2007

A new series airing on Clinton Township Television (CTTV) seeks to expose misconceptions about various religions and create understanding of different cultures.

The series, "Forums on Diversity," will be shown daily at the end of July on Clinton Township's cable TV channel, and may also be broadcast in surrounding communities. The entire series was created and produced by CTTV.

Some of the episodes have been filmed in partnership with the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice. The director of the center, the Rev. Michail Curro, acts as host for three of the series' programs.

The episodes being aired first were filmed to dispel fears about certain religious groups, Curro said, and he hopes the episodes help people realize that "those feared are not all that different from themselves."

One show in the series explores common misconceptions about Muslims and Islam. Curro hosts the show on location at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. He interviews Imam Achmat Salie at the center to learn more about the religions.
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"Islam is an ethical, Abrahamic monotheism," Salie said in the interview, "it is not an Arab religion."
Salie talks about some of the beliefs of the religion, and explains why common stereotypes of Muslims are incorrect.

"If I (wrote) (Ku Klux Klan) equals Christianity, it would be highly offensive to Christians," Salie said. "If we do the same to Islam, and say al-Qaida or Taliban equals Islam, that would be offensive to many Muslims."
He also discussed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, and how the event shaped many people's view of Muslims.

"If we look at the World Trade Center, it's very interesting to know that the person who designed the concept of the circular towers was a Muslim," Salie said. " A few thousand Muslims worked in the center, 300 of them died, some of them died in the planes, some of the firefighters were Muslim, and we look at the people who have Muslim names who did the terrible act, and we throw all Muslims in, paint all Muslims with the same brush."

Another show in the series is filmed at St. Mary's Assyrian Church in Warren, which was recently vandalized. The show explains that although the vandals thought they were defacing a Muslim house of worship, St. Mary's is actually an Assyrian Catholic church.

"Unfortunately, they seemed to think we (are) Arabic," said Father Benjamin Benjamin, who is interviewed by Curro in the program at St. Mary's. "We are not Arab, we are Assyrian Christians. A lot of this is totally misguided."

Benjamin explains some of the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church. He says the church has prayed for the vandals who defaced St. Mary's.

"Our Lord said, 'Father, forgive them, they don't know what they do,'" Benjamin said. "So I say 'Father, forgive them, they don't know what they did."

"I believe they feel sorry for what they did," he said, adding that all houses of God, whether they be mosques, churches or synagogues, should be respected.

"Forums on Diversity" will be televised on Clinton Township Cable TV, which is channel 5 for Comcast subscribers or channel 10 for Wide Open West (WOW) subscribers, beginning July 20. A program about the Assyrian church in Warren will air at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily from July 20 to July 26. From July 27 to Aug. 2, the program on misconceptions about Muslims will air daily at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Other communities airing the program will have their own scheduled playback times.

Edited versions of the program can also be viewed on the township's Web site, www.clintontownship-mi.gov on the Cable TV webpage.

For more information on the series or programming, call Clinton Township Cable TV and Communications at (586) 286-9316.

You can reach Heidi Roman at hroman@candgnews.com or at (586) 218-5006.

Courtesy:  C & G Newspapers