Youth, Parents Gather for 'Let's Be Honest' Forum

April 7, 2014

Creating safe spaces where Muslims can feel comfortable to engage in dialogue and free from judgment is an imperative for MPAC. This mission is vital to fostering growth and addressing the real problem of why American Muslim youth are not coming to the mosque as often or identifying with other Muslims.

The "Let’s Be Honest" forum, and programs such as the "I Am Change" workshop and Safe Spaces Initiative, which MPAC launched recently, are some of the methods by which MPAC increases the civic participation, expression of individual identity and elucidation of taboo topics Muslims may not feel comfortable discussing or engaging in otherwise.

In late March, MPAC hosted a “Let’s Be Honest” forum with the Muslim Youth Group (MYG) of the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC). With the intent of tackling taboo topics such as drugs and alcohol, premarital sex and homosexuality, the forum, for the first time, brought together a panel of MYG members and elders.

Mona Ghannoum, Omar Badr and Nour Azim were the candid and articulate youth who opened their minds and hearts on such issues as parent/child relationships, especially during the challenging teenage years; dating; and drugs/alcohol. Samir Younis, ICSC board member, and Amaani Shams, MYG Youth Coordinator, were the elders with youthful spirits on the panel that was moderated by Edina Lekovic, MPAC's Director of Policy and Programming.

The most valuable lesson learned was that youth want a platform to express their feelings and they often feel scared to do so because of possible consequences and emotional reactions. At the conclusion of the forum, everyone felt that a lot of work must be done on both sides to effectively communicate and build stronger and more honest relations.

If you are interested in organizing a “Let’s Be Honest” forum in your community or mosque, please contact Cherif Abou El Fadl, MPAC's Community Outreach Coordinator, at (323) 258-6722 or

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