MANKATO — The School Sisters of Notre Dame are giving residents the chance to ask questions about the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam at an upcoming discussion.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, inside the lower level conference center at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, is being held to dispel misinformation on Islam, as well as to get people to learn more about each religion.

"Since education is a very important part of our ministry, we felt we had to get someone in who knew something about Islam and could help us understand what they believed as religious people, and also to understand better the culture from which this religious attitude grew," said Sister Mary Tacheny.

The sisters discussed these questions several weeks ago during breakfast one day, when they wondered whether they should respond to negative misinformation coming from various TV and radio programs, as well as prejudicial talk from the community at large.

That discussion spurred the sisters to reach out to local Islam and Somali leaders to see if anyone would be interested in coming to speak about the religion, one of the largest in the world.

Rashed Ferdous, vice president of the Islamic Resource Group out of St. Anthony, Minnesota, will present on Islam along with Abdi Sabrie, who co-founded the Mankato Islamic Center.

Bukata Hayes, the executive director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, will facilitate a question-and-answer session after the presentation.

The sisters are hopeful residents attend the event to educate themselves.

"It's important for us to educate ourselves to gain understanding," said Sister Mary Kay Gosch. "And we trust that it would be helpful to other people, so that we wouldn't be quick to make judgments."

The event is free and open to the public.

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