MAINE – Hundreds of people from Muslim and Catholic communities in Maine will come together this week for a “Building Bridges Dinner”, an event planned to connect people and break any misconceptions.
“Over time, churches have been the key players in bringing different people, perspectives, or ideologies closer to each other, I believe this event will definitely reduce the sense of alienation that communities have,” Labed Al-Hanfy, who worked as an interpreter for the US Military in Iraq, told wcsh6.com on Friday, February 10.
The dinner’s idea was suggested by Michael Henchal after hearing a radio story about how most Americans are uncomfortable with Muslims immigrants and refugees even though most admitted they had no direct interaction with those groups.
It also follows President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
At the dinner, planned on Sunday, Feb, 12 in Scarborough, participants will enjoy a variety of music and food, including traditional Muslim dishes.
They will also share their own traditions while gaining a new understanding of each other.
“As I told my parishioners, when our ancestors came to America from Italy, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and other countries, they were often met with hostility and misunderstanding,” said Monsignor Henchal.
“But once we got to know each other, people found that we were not all that bad. It seems to me that this dinner and events like it are what are necessary to calm the fears and mistrust that sometimes exist. It also gives the Catholic Church a chance to offer a more welcoming experience than what confronted our ancestors many years ago.”