Daytona Muslims Champion Interfaith Peace

SHAFAQNA – Amid increasing Islamophobic trends in the west, the Islamic Center of Daytona on Saturday opened its doors to Muslims and non Muslims alike. “Extremist groups like ISIS “are not really Muslim, they’re people who want aggravation and terror,” said Frank Binetti to much applause after a keynote speech by Imam Belal “Alzuhiry” Shemman during a community outreach program presented by the Muslim Women’s Association of Daytona Beach. Binetti, of Daytona Beach, was a visitor to the event and told how he formed a friendship with a Muslim at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the 1980s. His friend’s family often invited him home for dinner.

“I sat on the floor with them and ate lamb,” Binetti recalled. “They used to kid, telling me, ‘Frank, you’re going to eat the whole lamb.’

“I liked the cooking and I would eat the whole lamb,” Binetti said over laughter from the audience.

It was an exciting event as children played on slides and in an inflatable Spider-Man bounce house.

In the mosque, adults deliberated on different issues ranging from sharing warm tales of friendship between people of different faiths, relating how faith in God could overcome any obstacle and vowing to not let bigotry and fear of terrorism divide the community.

While addressing the people, the imam said he retorted that “people around the world” have come to view Islam as a religion that promotes violence and intolerance for other faiths. Islam has been distorted by extremist groups, he said.

According to a recent CNN poll, 68 percent of Americans see ISIS as a bigger threat to the United States than Iran, Russia, North Korea or China. Nearly 9 in 10 see ISIS as at least a moderately serious threat.

Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.

Anti-Muslim sentiments sharply grew in the United States over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.

A recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California said that Islamophobia is on the rise in the US.

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