This year, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, by unanimous vote, selected CineCulture as a recipient for its 2018 Spirit of Abraham award.

Reza Nekumanesh, director of ICCF, said CineCulture earned the award in large part due to the personal efforts of Dr. Mary Husain, instructor and CineCulture club adviser.

“We chose CineCulture for this year’s award because through the films that Mary presents for the community, CineCulture tries to develop a deeper understanding of and cooperation between all walks of life, educating people about other nations, cultures and religions,” Nekumanesh said.

The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno strives to promote and increase the understanding of Islam and Muslims and recognizes voices of courage. Each year, the center presents the Spirit of Abraham Award to groups and/or individuals who significantly contribute toward enhancing the understanding of Islam and Muslims as well as a more harmonious relationship between different groups of people.

The awards gala will be part of the Night of Spirituality on May 18 that commemorates the commencement of the month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

CineCulture is a film series provided as a service to Fresno State students, faculty and staff, and the community. CineCulture is also a three-unit academic course (MCJ 179) in the Fresno State’s MCJ Department. The CineCulture Club promotes cultural awareness through film and post-screening discussions.

“It has been an honor and privilege to be responsible for the CineCulture class, film series and serve as club adviser over the years,” Husain said. “My over-arching goal has been to collaborate with as many on- and off-campus groups as possible, to help facilitate intercultural understandings and respect for diversity through film and public dialogue. I have arranged for films and discussants, including directors, producers and other guests with relevant expertise, to discuss films that address a broad range of issues that affect our local, national and international communities. Every week is a new adventure, and for me, CineCulture is a labor of love.”

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro received the honor in 2015, “chosen for his unwavering leadership in promoting diversity across different ethnic, religious and cultural groups on campus.”

Previous Spirit of Abraham award recipients from the College of Arts and Humanities include the Ethics Center at Fresno State (2012), Dr. Vida Samiian, former dean of the College (2011), and Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, a lecture for the Peace and Conflict Studies program (2008).