In the wake of travel bans and immigration raids, dozens gathered at Fresno State Monday night (February 13) to talk about the future of their civil liberties. Billed as “Know Your Rights,” a panel of attorneys and other civil rights advocates talked about the need for knowing just what the government can and cannot do.

The topics included how hate crimes are defined; what to do if the FBI comes knocking on the door; and policies either implemented or talked about by the President.

The event was organized by the Muslim Student Association, Central Valley Islamic Council, and Faith in the Valley in conjunction with the university.

One of the organizers, Thalia Arenas, spoke with GV Wire about her unique position of being a Latina Catholic who converted to Islam. She was recently featured in the Fresno Bee.

“I do share both of these fates. When I first learned that I wanted to learn about Islam, (my mother) was not very pleased. She thought I was abandoning my culture and my faith,” Thalia told GV Wire. “Through time, she realized it was not a cultural change, it was more of a spiritual growth I was partaking.

There was some less than kind comments on Facebook after the Bee story came out. “WTF?! What the heck is a Catholic Muslim?” read one comment. “This girl is lost” read another.

“I feel like it was a lack of understanding of what the religion does present….there is much more in common and we don’t have to go through the minute or the differences,” Arenas says.

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