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As an Indian-American Muslim, a spoken word poet and member of the Hip Hop Congress, Amer Ahmed brings his diverse background to a discussion titled "Islam: Beyond the Myths, Breaking Down the Barriers" to Sonoma State University Dec. 2 to shed light on Islam's relationship to Western society. In this month alone, Ahmed has held talks at the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and at a recent diversity conference in Los Angeles. "There are unfortunately not enough people out there doing it," he says. "There's a huge demand, need and desire to provide accurate information. I'm just happy to share."

In his presentation, Ahmed analyzes historical events that contribute to some of modern society's associations of the Muslim world, including the aftermath of 9/11 and the recent "Ground Zero mosque" controversy. He believes in keeping an open dialogue about Islam with fellow Americans and being "respectful and open to a diverse perspective," as evidenced on his spoken-word album Dawah: Storyteller's Bazaar.

"Islam: Beyond the Myths, Breaking Down the Barriers" is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Green Music Center Concert Hall, Sonoma State University. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7pm. Free; tickets required from SSU Student Union. 707.664.2382.

George's suffers fire

This past Saturday, just over a month since its feted reopening, George's Nightclub in San Rafael suffered a fire that started near the kitchen area and will close the club for up to two weeks. According to investigators, rags stored near the kitchen water heater burst into flames. The water heater itself ruptured and flooded the club's floor with two to three inches of water. The club has canceled upcoming shows in November and will refund ticket purchases. No estimate on the total cost of the damages has been made.

At the beginning of October, the former New George's in San Rafael opened as George's Nightclub, complete with an estimated $500,000 renovation to the club's 5,200-square-foot venue. Improvements included cabaret seating, a mahogany bar, new wood floors and new carpeting. George's owner Todd Ghanizadeh says he hopes to reopen the club "within one to two weeks," and is working closely with the insurance company to ensure a speedy reopening. Until then, the blue neon lit-sign of George's will stay dim.

This is the second nightclub fire in Marin County in the last two years. In February 2008, 19 Broadway in Fairfax suffered a three-alarm fire causing approximately $600,000 in damage.


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