—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
BOCA RATON, Florida (September 8, 2010)- In a press release issued today the Islamic Circle of North America Southeast Region expressed support for upcoming charitable and interfaith events being hosted by Muslims in Gainesville, FL.
Gainesville recently made headlines when a local church announced plans to burn copies of the holy Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Despite condemnation from several political and religious leaders, the church’s pastor insists the event will be held as planned. ICNA Southern California has already pledged to distribute 10,000 free copies of the Quran in response to the church’s plans.
ICNA organized information booths during the interfaith community Iftar at the Islamic Center of Gainesville (ICG) on September 4th. Over 700 free copies of the Quran were given to the guests upon request until supplies ran short. The city’s mayor, Craig Lowe, as well as prominent leaders and intellectuals were in attendance.
This upcoming weekend, ICG and ICNA Relief will be co-hosting “Feed the Hungry” food drives at three locations in Downtown Gainesville. On Saturday, September 11th, ICG and several interfaith organizations will hold a candlelight vigil at Bo Diddley Plaza in an effort to express interfaith solidarity. ICNA Southeast endorses these events and encourages Florida Muslims to work alongside organizations as they come together to bring peace and harmony to the community.
Prof. Asam Asad, President of ICNA SouthEast said that while the Florida events were not planned in response to the Quran burning, they “are much more positive and constructive than the Gainesville church’s event. [Our projects] will undermine efforts of extremists who seek to portray America as anti-Islamic and intolerant. [They will also] benefit Americans both at home and abroad, while [Quran burning] can only produce further harm.” General David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan echoed these sentiments, saying burning copies of the Quran would “inflame public opinion and incite violence,” endangering the lives of US civilians and troops in Afghanistan.
A national survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life indicates that only 45% of Americans personally know a Muslim, and those who do are more likely to “express favorable views of Muslims and to see similarities between Islam and their own religion.” Abdulrauf Khan, Director of Community Development for ICNA Southeast and an organizer of the weekend’s events said that it is imperative that “American Muslims reach out to others, and build bridges rather than destroy them. [America] is our home, and as Muslims we have to be foremost in outreach and social work in this country.”
Local Contact: Abdulrauf Khan
Director for Community Development
Islamic Circle of North America, Southeast Region
Cell: (321) 216-7937