Local Muslims work to educate people about their faith

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Muslims say they’re trying to do more to educate people about their faith following recent attacks by extremists and after Donald Trump’s call to block Muslims from entering the United States.

The Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement asked local religious and community leaders to speak out to show their support for the state’s Muslim community. They plan to do so on Tuesday.
And mosques throughout the state are going to host a series of open houses, beginning Saturday.

The council’s president, Imam Farid Ansari, said he wants to counter misinformation being spread about Islam and the anti-Muslim rhetoric, as well as condemn the recent attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

“We want to disconnect and separate ourselves from this behavior so people can see the proper image of Islam and what Islamic values are,” he said Monday. “That’s what’s missing from the conversation.”

Citing fears of terrorism in the wake of the attacks, Trump proposed blocking any Muslim immigrant or tourist from entering the United States.

The executive minister of the Rhode Island Council of Churches, the Rev. Don Anderson, said the Republican presidential candidate is playing on people’s fears and exacerbating what is already a difficult time for Muslims.

“He’s stoking fear and taking advantage of it for his own political gain,” he said.

Anderson and several other religious leaders are speaking at an event Tuesday in Providence, hosted by the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement at the Islamic Center of Rhode Island.

“It’s one step to move the agenda forward, to try to create a better environment for people of all faiths to live together and understand each other,” Anderson said. “We certainly shouldn’t use difference as a means for putting walls between us and creating issues of hate, which is unfortunately what’s happening right now.”

Ansari said he’s going to make every attempt in the months ahead to help people get to know Muslims better.

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