Members of the Santa Barbara community will meet at noon today for a dialogue on “Understanding Islam: Culture and Religion.”

The forum, which will be held at the Board Hearing Room in the County Administration Building downtown, is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Human Relations Commission, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The event will feature a reception and short film about American Muslims, followed by a roundtable discussion led by Najib Halim, president of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara, Ra’id Faraj, public relations director for CAIR, and Salam Al-Maryati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

“Following Sept. 11, obviously there’s been a dialogue between the larger community and members of the Islamic community,” said HRC administrator Keith Davis. “We are looking at ways we can work together to do a series of dialogues … in order to add to the basic understanding of what Islam is and deal with the impacts and effects Sept. 11 has had on Muslims locally.”

There are an estimated 5,000 Muslims in Santa Barbara County. Davis said the three speakers would each offer a unique perspective on Islam.

“The Islamic Society is more religiously based, CAIR is more of a social service organization, while [the Muslim Public Affairs Council] is more political,” he said. “It will be a basic roundtable discussion – we’ll get audience questions and stage questions, and ask them all to speak.”

The event will take place on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building, located at 105 Anapamu St.