Leaders from the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan held a press conference Sunday morning at the Islamic Center of America.
- By Jessica Carreras
Islamic leaders from multiple local organizations and mosques met Sunday morning in Dearborn to publicly recognize the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, as well as to stand against terrorism.
Standing on the steps of the Islamic Center of America, they sent a message that Islam is not about terror, but about building bridges within the communities in which they live, work and worship. The event brought together imams from Canton, Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Hamtramck, Dearborn Heights and Dearborn.
“Our imams are here today to stand up with fellow Americans against all forms of extremism and terrorism,” said Victor Ghalib Begg, founder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and co-founder of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit. “Muslims have been victims, but the latest Gallup poll shows that they have been loyal to this country.”
Several imams spoke about their sympathy for the families of the men and women lost 10 years ago to the 9/11 attacks.
“We come here this morning to remember the precious lives lost 10 years ago to an evil attack on 9/11 and send our prayers to those who lost loved ones,” said Imam Aly Lela of the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit, located in Rochester Hills. “As American citizens, we need to use this 10th anniversary to confirm our unity. It’s what defines us. One nation, moving forward despite the challenges we are all facing.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid also used the opportunity to speak out publicly against the anti-religious law bill currently up for debate in the Michigan House of Representatives, which he said he sees as an example of political anti-Islamic sentiment that has been largely focused on Dearborn and metro Detroit.
“People who are outside the state of Michigan have come here to stir up problems and it has reflected itself in many different ways, including outsiders trying to introduce–through a state leader here–anti-Sharia legislation,” Walid said.
“Dearborn has been made a target of the anti-Muslim movement in America.”
Despite negative attacks on the area from outside sources, Begg said that he hopes all religious, cultural and political leaders will use the reflection of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to come together peacefully.
“(Muslims) are part of America,” he said. “We are not against things. We are for a better America, less divisions. This is a time we come together to move forward.”