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Rabbi Abie travels to Cameroon for CAMSU Conference

By Molly Boes
On September 13, 2012

Rabbi Abie Ingber returned on Aug. 31 from a trip to Cameroon to give two presentations at a Cameroon Muslim Students' Union (CAMSU) conference.
The possibility for this trip was initiated at the end of April when an African delegation came to Xavier to discuss religious freedom in the United States. Rabbi Abie was invited to meet the delegation and following this meeting, one of the delegates, Ismail Boyomo Embolo, extended an invitation
to Ingber inviting him to speak at the CAMSU conference.
"The thought that a community of young people would come together and remain true to their faith while partaking
in critical dialogue about how to better their country made me go running
to get there," Ingber said.
With the help of Dr. Sarah Melcher, chair of the theology department, and Dr. Janice Walker, dean of the college of arts and sciences, Ingber produced the funds for the trip including a grant from the state department. Ingber arrived in Cameroon on Aug. 23 to begin his weeklong stay.
The conference took place in Douala, the largest city in Cameroon.
Ingber presented two lectures at the conference. The hosts of the conference
requested that he give one presentation
about Islam in America. In this lecture, Ingber addressed the lives of Muslims in the U.S. mostly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Ingber emphasized that before Sept. 11, America could basically pretend that Muslims did not exist in America, but after Sept. 11, America felt that ignoring
them was a mistake. Ingber also said that although this shift originally started out poorly, the Muslims in America have grown from it.
Ingber's second presentation dealt with the topic of interfaith bridge building.
Ingber emphasized that it is important
when building a solid foundational
interfaith bridge to maintain their own The American ambassador in Cameroon, Robert Jackson, introduced Ingber before he began his lecture.
"It was mind-blowing," Ingber said, "being in Africa at the CAMSU conference
being introduced by the American Ambassador."
After the lectures, Ingber was able to have open discussions with those present at the conference and while he gave his lectures in English and had a translator translate them into French, most of his discussions were held in French.
Ingber highlighted that the conversations
also were real and brought up topics such as al-Qaeda, Muslim extremists, racism
and Islamophobia.
Outside of the conference, Ingber tried to experience the culture of Cameroon during his stay. He had the opportunity to visit a rubber tree farm, eat local fruits and have discussions not only with those present at the conference, but also with people he encountered on the street.
"It was a magical experience" Ingber said, "I went to the conference to share a small piece of Xavier teaching and came back with a message for the community here at Xavier."

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