Muslim Group Deflates Stereotypes

November 20, 2006

Author: Eleni Economides

Source: Inside Bay Area

SAN JOSE -- Maha ElGenaidi wants to put a human face on Islam.

"Muslims that are -- guess what? -- exactly like you," says ElGenaidi, president and CEO of Islamic Networks Group.

Since 1993, the group has worked to educate members of the community, law enforcement agents, corporations and health-care providers about Islam. Using presentations of varying lengths, ElGenaidi and 20 local speakers make rounds to promote cultural and religious understanding.

"We started at the tail end of the first Gulf War," said ElGenaidi, sitting in her San Jose office.

"And it was because, at the time, we noticed verbiage inthe media and the Islamic community that alarmed us. ... It was showing Islam using pejorative terms such as 'terrorism' and 'extremism.'"

The initial plan began in February 1993, when ING was started with the name Bay Area Media Watch. Monitoring local media, the original plan for the organization was to build an elaborate network that would confront the media about their inaccurate portrayals of Muslims, ElGenaidi said.