The International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Mississippi

January 6, 2003

Source: Los Angeles Times,0,3811539.story

On January 6, 2003 the Los Angeles Times reported that "it was the summer of 2001, and the organizers of an exhibit about Islam were weighing whether to turn it into a permanent museum. The temporary display had drawn well enough to encourage museum boosters to think bigger... Then came Sept. 11 -- and eruptions of bias against Muslims nationwide. On the downtown Jackson [MS] street where the Islamic exhibit was housed in a converted warehouse, the immediate response was just as ugly: Days after the terrorist attacks, a brick smashed into the plate-glass window. Then a crucial project fund-raiser looked doomed when two top political figures suddenly got cold feet... Now, more than a year later, the International Museum of Muslim Cultures is believed to be the nation's only museum devoted to Islam... The warm reception has inspired organizers to plan an expansion of the museum, which sits next to a closed tire store down the street from the Mississippi Museum of Art. The Muslim museum has won praise and financial help from city and tourism officials, who say it reflects a cultural diversity in Mississippi that is often not recognized by outsiders... Ms. Rashid, now the museum's director, said underscoring the historical contributions by Muslims... help explain why... harmony generally prevailed in this city... after the terrorist attacks inflamed passions elsewhere."