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Two Women Want To Combat Islamophobia One Meal At A Time

In the last year, two local Muslim women started a project meant to increase understanding about their religion and culture. And now they're hoping to expand that effort nationally.

The project is called "Eat with Muslims," and it's exactly what it sounds like: People gather, eat food, ask questions of each other and talk. The dinners started in the Puget Sound region and have since branched out to other states, including Oregon, California, Texas and Iowa.

Credit Fathia Absie
Fathia Absie (left) and Ilays Aden (right) are the co-creators of "Eat with Muslims.

Fathia Absie is one of the women behind this idea. She explains she initially came up with the project a few years ago while living in Minnesota after she began wearing a head covering known as a hijab.

"It was almost as if the world had stopped," she said. "Like, the way people looked at me and talked to me and treated me. It was just unlike anything I had ever seen before."

She says the perception of who she was was off, and all it took was a scarf. Absie wants to go to more places across the country to host dinners, record the conversations and create a web series to increase visibility for Muslims and combat Islamophobia.
She says being able to share stories from Muslims is a way to shape how people view their religion and culture.

"We don't have talk shows. We don't have TV shows. Heck, we don't even often get the chance to play the best friend on TV. So our story and our visibility is very, very limited," Absie said.

The "Eat with Muslims" project is taking donations through a Kickstarter campaign until Oct. 12 to fund its web series.


Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.