Corridor groups sponsoring workshop to combat hate speech, fear mongering

'Building and Crossing Bridges Together' is Thursday in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY — As the presidential election brings issues on race and underrepresented groups further into the spotlight, “the world is watching,” says Shams Ghoneim, a member of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission.

“We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation that respects each other’s place,” said Ghoneim. “We are losing something that this country has been a beacon of.”

In an effort to focus the discussion in the Corridor on combating hate speech and fear mongering, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission is partnering with several groups to host an event Thursday titled “Building and Crossing Bridges Together.” The gathering takes place in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St. It is free to the public and includes two sessions — the first from 2 to 5 p.m. and the second from 6 to 8 p.m.

Featured speakers during the first session include former Congressman Jim Leach and Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton. The second session includes a talk by Kingsley Botchway II, director of equity and engagement for Iowa City Community Schools, along with active audience participation in breakout groups and a feedback and information discussion.

Throgmorton said he hopes his unique perspective as mayor contributes to the conversation on hate speech and how to enable better dialogue in the community.

“Offensive or hate speech is all around us. We’re swimming in it,” he said. “So, the question becomes, ‘What could we do differently?’ ”

Organizers say the breakout sessions aim to focus on groups like the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — or LGBT — community, Muslim Americans, refugees and immigrants, among other groups.

Co-sponsors of the event include the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa, ACLU-IA, Johnson County Consultation of Religious Communities, United Nations Association of Iowa and Johnson County, Johnson County Board of Supervisors, University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, University of Iowa Chief Diversity Office, Peace Iowa and the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa.

For more information contact Stefanie Bowers at (319) 356-5022 or

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