Peoria City, 27 Jumadil Awwal 1437/6 March 2016 (MINA) – The Islamic Foundation of Peoria on Salaam Drive in North Peoria, in USA will open at 6 p.m. on Monday its mosque to the public for the second time in three years.
The interfaith group hosting “Know Islam, Know Peace” wants to address and dispel anti-Muslim attitudes growing in central Illinois, International Islamic News Agency (IINA) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The event is designed to de-mystify Islam for people who have never been inside a mosque.
The event will feature speakers, both Christian and Jewish, from the Central Illinois Interfaith Alliance. Area leaders, including Mayor Jim Ardis, state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, and Jim Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, will also speak at the event.
“I will do the introduction, but I will not be talking a lot,” said Imam Kamil Mufti on Thursday afternoon. “Most of these people have known me for years, and they know we are peace-loving and moderate.”
“There is a lot of suspicion and a lot of hate out there,” Mufti said. “This is what we can do to address people’s questions, show them what a mosque is like, show them what we do here, show them where we pray, and show them the classrooms where about 100 students come every Sunday. We don’t make bombs here that’s what people think.”
Mufti is frustrated. Islamophobia was an issue three years ago when they held the first open house, but the issue has gotten much worse. The need to get the word out is even greater, so this time around organizers are spending a lot of money on advertising. Billboards are popping up around town, and Mufti has made appearances on the radio and local television.
Some of the rhetoric Mufti has been hearing is frightening. “There has been talk about shutting down the mosques, about issuing identification cards,” Mufti said. “Historically, Islamophobia peaks around election time. I understand people are listening to Donald Trump.”
There are about 20,000 Muslims in Peoria County, an estimate based on 2010 data from the Association of Religious Data Archives. A majority work in the medical industry, though many also work at Caterpillar Inc. and in a range of other professions, Mufti said.
“Every fourth person in the world is Muslim, but in the U.S. we are less than 1 percent,” Mufti said. (T/P006/R07)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)