Our speaker on Wednesday was Fred Pearson, a Detroit Rotarian and Wayne State Professor as well as a panel of four Muslim students from WSU and U of M Dearborn. (Pictured (starting back left): Fred Pearson, Gay Niehaus, Robert Duker, Mohammedhassan Alsheraa, Lauren Linderman, Ali Alqaragholi, and Sarah Imnan, )
Dr. Pearson is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.  He described the areas that he is working in and showed a video of Rotary Peace Fellows in action.  Primarily, they are forming non-profits to make the world a better place to live. Dr. Pearson served as a moderator for the panel.
The panel consisted of two men and two women.  The men’s nationality were Iraqi, while one woman’s was Syrian and the other was raised Baptist in Dearborn and converted to Islam last year.
Q&A format: 
-- Lauren Linderman, who converted was asked to explain her motivating factors?  She said that growing up with nice Muslim friends, she didn’t understand why Baptists believed that were damned to hell because they didn’t believe in Jesus.  She also found the Quran to be more fact based and less faith based than the bible.
-- When asked about the impact extremists have on their religion, they replied that there are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and there will always be those who are bad people.  The Koran doesn’t preach violence and the students believe that being better educated about their faith would bring a better understanding.
-- When asked about the fighting in the Middle East between the Shia and Sunni Muslims, they explained that the tensions are not centered around their religious differences but are more about politics and power in the area. 
The prominent message expressed by one of the students is that we should all be tolerant and get to know one another and that people need to learn how to express their disagreements in a learning manner.
Dr. Pearson closed with a reminder of a Rotary event on October 25th & 26th called Peace in the Streets.  It is a cross border Rotary peace symposium. 
(A very informative meeting.  Thank you to George McMullen for setting it up).