NEWARK -- Solutions to sensitive political issues are not easily found, but the first step involves getting people from different communities together to discuss them.
So says Samina Sundas, executive director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, a Newark-based nonprofit that is holding its annual "Peace Convention" this weekend in hopes of tackling some of the nation's most vexing social problems.
"Every time we bring Americans together and have dialogues, things change for the better," she said. "It helps dispel all of the misconceptions we have about each other."
The convention -- titled "The Time is Now: Connecting for Peace, Justice and Change" -- is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Chandni Restaurant in Newark.
It will feature discussion panels, where religious leaders, educators, authors, activists and elected officials will exchange ideas on a wide range of topics.
Panelists includes the Rev. Jeff Moore, president of the NAACP's San Jose chapter; Rabbi Shelly Lewis, author of the book "Torah of Reconciliation"; peace activist Shane Claiborne; Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez; and several others.
They will be discussing issues such as immigration reform, income equality, racial profiling, and the treatment of Muslim Americans after 9/11.
The event, which includes lunch, is open to the public, with admission prices ranging from $30 to $50. At the afternoon session, scheduled from noon to 5:30 p.m., "those without means will not be turned away for lack of funds, though donations are accepted," Sundas said.
Sundas was inspired to found American Muslim Voice Foundation in the months after 9/11, when she saw a rising tide of "fear, anger and misinformation about Muslims and Islam," she said. "We want to encourage all of our fellow Americans to move from fear to friendship. That's what this convention is all about."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.
WHAT: 2013 Peace Convention
WHO: Presented by the American Muslim Voice Foundation
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Chandni Restaurant, 5748 Mowry School Road, Newark
INFO: www.amuslimvoice.org or firstname.lastname@example.org