US Muslims in Baton Rouge dispel misconceptions about Islam

Baton Rouge city, Louisiana (IINA) – US Muslims at Baton Rouge city in Louisiana took the stage in a Methodist church hall on Sunday afternoon to explain their faith, answer questions and dispel misconceptions about Islam, The Advocate Baton Rouge News reported.
The meeting, organized by the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge and attended by about 200 people, gave leaders from the Baton Rouge Muslim community an opportunity to address negative perceptions of their faith and a chance for curious non-Muslims to ask a range of frank questions.
“Our main goal was to dismiss some of the myths about Islam,” said Emad Nofal, chairman of the Islamic Center of Baton Rouge, who spoke during the program Sunday at Broadmoor United Methodist Church. “The misconceptions are out there. People don’t always go to good sources for their information. Events like this will help clear those up.”
In small group discussions, roughly 25 Baton Rouge Muslims spoke about everything from dietary restrictions to prayer habits. The frequent headlines linking the religion with terrorist groups like ISIS group drew plenty of questions as well.
Terrorist actions cut against the basic tenants of the faith, Nofal said, and are carried out by only a very tiny fraction of the more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.
In the United States, Muslims have actively and consistently condemned and distanced themselves from terrorist groups, Nofal said.
“They do acts that are not acceptable to our dignity and our humanity,” Nofal said. “Muslims have been unjustly asked to always, always answer for the bad acts of a very few. We have done more than enough to isolate ourselves and distance ourselves from the bad guys and isolate them from us.
Nofal also highlighted the notable success of many Muslim immigrants in the United States and their outsized representation in professions like engineering, medicine and business.
The Rev. Fred Wideman, the senior pastor at Broadmoor United Methodist Church, which hosted the event, said widespread negative perceptions and misconceptions about Islam prompted the interfaith dialogue.
“There’s just so much fear and suspicion. You have to feel for our Muslim brothers and sisters right now, who are about 6,000 strong here in Baton Rouge,” Wideman said. “They need us right now and we need them.”
Tom Lusk, a recently retired history teacher, said he’d come to the event to get “a better understanding of the Muslim world view.”
“These people came here to help and contribute, not just to make better lives for themselves,” Nofal said. “And they’re thankful for their freedoms.”

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