TEMPE, Arizona – Islamic centers in Tempe, Arizona have organized several interfaith love events to bring people closer to Muslims in the wake of two women posting a video of themselves and their children insulting Islam.
“We wanted to bring as much love in the face of the hate and bigotry, and it was overwhelming,” Ahmad Al-Akoum, the interfaith and outreach director at Islamic Community Center of Tempe, told The State Press.
“It was a big, beautiful display of love and tolerance and understanding. I believe we got our message out.”
The Muslim Students’ Association at ASU and the Islamic Community Center of Tempe have held an interfaith “Love and Coffee” event inviting non-Muslims into the mosque and helping to educate them about the Islamic faith.
According to Al-Akoum there were over 200 people in attendance.
The events were planned after two women were charged with felony burglary and a possible hate crime after they posted a video of themselves and their children opening the community center mosque’s gate, taking pamphlets and flyers and insulting Islam.
Being a convert to Islam himself, Johnny Martin, a religious studies senior and founder of Sun Devils Are Better Together, understands the hateful message sent by both women.
“I have family members who have the same Islamophobia that would compel someone to do something so drastic and disrespectful,” Martin said.
“This is something that terrorizes the Islamic community.”
Similarly, MSA is organizing an Islam Awareness Week that includes several interfaith events where non-Muslims can learn about the Islamic faith.
“It’s very important,” Zain Siddiqi, a junior political science major and the vice president of MSA, said.
“Many political candidates use a negative viewpoint of Islam to ride the wave to success. To have a hatred for several minority groups is counterproductive to the progress of the country.”
Martin believes events like these stimulate positive conversations between people of different faiths.
“It was great to see the interfaith solidarity and support,” Martin said. ”
It’s been an impetus for conversations that I’ve been having with family members, non-Muslims and other Muslims about how we can bridge the divide.”