Leaders of the Somali community, along with El Centro Latino, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Nashville Public Television and the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative, organized this event "to address the growing concerns and misunderstandings within the city."
Nearly 50 local residents attended the event, according to organizers, which was hosted in the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce function room.
Panelist Salaad Nur realized the urgency and importance of hosting an event after "the recent wave of negative press towards the Somali community in Shelbyville," according to a press release from the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative.
"We are Americans just like all other immigrants before us and we contribute to the community in many manners, including taxes," Salaad said.
"Even with some cultural differences we have much in common, and it is important that we educate people about our culture so that there is no fear or misconceptions."
The event featured a screening of the Nashville Public Television documentary "Somali | Somaali," (which can be viewed online at www.wnpt.org/productions/nextdoorneighbo... ). Nur was a participant in the documentary.
Following the short film was a panel discussion moderated by Miguel Gonzales, director of El Centro Latino in Shelbyville. The panel featured Somali community leaders from throughout Tennessee, including Mohammad Ali, the local Imam (Muslim faith leader) from Shelbyville.