Lawrence’s newly founded Muslim Students Association of Lawrence hosted its kick-off Cook- In on the fourth floor of Hiett Sunday evening, Jan. 24. The group had existed in a previous incarnation a few years ago, but died out after most of its members graduated in 2007. The group officially formed this past September after the celebration of Eid, one of the biggest Muslim holidays. Many of the Muslim students on campus, the majority of them international students, gathered with friends and host families to celebrate this holiday. It was here that the students decided to re-form the MSA on campus. Naveed Islam explained that the Lawrence campus actually has a large Muslim population, and that he is hoping the MSA will grow and provide for the needs of the Muslim students on campus. For instance, when students observe a fast early in the year, Islam said he hoped to speak with Bon Appétit to get specially catered foods and re-arrange serving times so students would correctly be able to participate in fasting. Islam also hopes that MSA will be a good informational resource for students who do not know much about Islamic religion and culture. Recognizing the stigma that sometimes accompanies his religion, Naveed said that one of the group’s missions is to clear up myths that have negatively branded Muslims. Tamanna Hossain and Aimen Khan reiterated the comments made by Islam. Khan stressed the need for “Islam to be portrayed in the right light.” In order to do so, according to Hossain, people must look beyond the media portrayals of the religion. Hossain also wanted to make clear that despite overwhelming beliefs that Muslim women are forced to wear certain clothes or are genitally mutilated, these stereotypes only account for a small percentage of women, and cannot and should not be applied to everyone. Both Hossain and Khan commented on statements posted on campus by another group that strictly associated the concept of “jihad” with killing. After getting past the shock of the misuse and misunderstanding of “jihad,” Hossain and Khan realized the importance of educating students on campus about their religion and culture. To combat such stereotypes, members of MSA posted signs on the walls of the fourth floor lounge Sunday night. Each poster had a myth followed by a clarifying fact about the religion and culture. Some showed the group’s humor and ability to recognize the absurdity of claims about the religion. One such poster stated the following: “Myth: All Muslim men have four wives. Reality: No, even Muslims don’t have stamina high enough.” Other posters, however, addressed issues with a more serious tone, allowing members of the group to respond to misconceptions on campus: “Myth: Jihad means killing non-Muslims. Reality: Jihad means “struggle.” The greatest Jihad is battling your own demons.” Islam explained that the Cook-In, which attracted more than 50 attendees, was a great way to “make a big deal about MSA,” and to promote the group to both Muslims and non-Muslims on campus.