CAIRO – Hundreds of Muslims have attended the annual Muslim day at Oklahoma Capitol, in a bid to offer the community a closer look into Islam and find a common ground unifying all faiths in the state.
“This is what we are about — dialogue,” said senior Imam Imad S. Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, adding that those in attendance would keep repelling hate with love, Tulsa World reported.
The event, held on Friday, February 26, is the Second Annual Muslim Day at Oklahoma capitol.
The event featured educational panels, lunch and an interfaith prayer service.
It comes amid increasing anti-Muslim sentiments flared by Republican presidential candidates, such as Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson.
Trump’s views on immigration have sparked controversy nationwide, especially his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US.
Entering the capitol, Muslims were met by protesters who voiced their criticism.
Yet, supporters from the interfaith community lined up to shield Muslims from taunts, outnumbering those who accused them of violence and terrorism.
Mike Korenblit of Edmond held a sign that read, “We are Jewish, and we are proud to support our Muslim friends and neighbors in Oklahoma.”
“If we condemn one religion, we condemn all religions,” he said.
“There is nothing more important than standing up and defending the rights of all,” Korenblit said, adding both of his parents survived the Holocaust.
“We see what happens when that doesn’t take place.”
Welcoming supporters and opponents views, leaders of Oklahoma Muslim community praised the event, calling for more dialogue to clear misconceptions.
“My message is be engaged,” Imam John Ederer of the Islamic Society of Tulsa said.
“Be involved. Understand how the system works. Be ready to sacrifice your comfort zone so you can make a difference in making this a better state and showing the great contributions and great values that Muslims represent.”
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oklahoma said more than 200 people attended the event, which covered matters such as civic engagement and the status of the state budget.
Attendants included Dr. Kamran Abbasi and his wife, Saima Abbasi.
Dr. Abbasi said he wanted to come “to put a face to the anti-Muslim rhetoric,” and show that Muslims are contributing members of society.
Muslims make up 1% of America’s 322 million population, according to Pew Research center.