Muslims Fight 'Islamaphobia' with Open Houses -- But Is It Enough?

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    Even as mosques in New York City and on Long Island open up their doors to those of other faiths this week, one prominent Muslim in Jersey City warns it will take more to fight 'Islamaphobia.'

    "It's a lifestyle, something you do on a regular basis," said Ahmed Shedeed, President of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, about reaching out to the community and gaining acceptance.

    The idea for the week long open houses in New York came in the wake of the controversy over locating a cultural center and mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan.

    Muslims Fight 'Islamaphobia' with Open Houses

    [NY] Muslims Fight 'Islamaphobia' with Open Houses
    Even as mosques in New York City and on Long Island open up their doors to those of other faiths this week, one prominent Muslim in Jersey City warns it will take more to fight 'Islamaphobia

    Many argued it was offensive to the memory of those who died at the hands of the 9-11 terrorists who left indications they were acting in the name of their Islamic religion.

    Others were more accepting, claiming that America stands for religious freedom and inclusiveness.

    Sheheed seemed to fully understand both sides.

    But he said the acceptance of his mosque in Jersey City has come after years of outreach.

    For example, Sheheed said every year, 50 cadets from West Point come to his Islamic Center for a three day stay, in part to help them understand his religion.

    And he quickly added that it's an interdenominational affair, as they also visit a Catholic Church, a Hindu Temple, and a Jewish Synagogue.

    It is an outreach that seems to be working.

    The Superintendent of an apartment building across the street, Isaias "Easy" Martinez, though not a supporter of the Islamic Cultural Center planned for Lower Manhattan, admitted about the mosque across from him "With me they're OK."

    And just down the street--a half block away, the Reverend Tyrone Chess of the Holy Ghost Tabernacle Ministries is a believer, if you will.

    "That Mosque and that Imam need to be applauded for what they do in community outreach," the Reverend Chess told NBCNewYork.

    "They call Him Allah, I call Him Jesus Christ but if it's for righteousness, I stand with them," he said of his neighbors.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY