Oklahoma Muslims aid in tornado relief in bid to build bridges

Omar Sacirbey, Religion News Service, May 24

Oklahoma is probably one of the tougher places to be a Muslim in America, but Muslims have stepped in to help with the cleanup of a massive tornado that killed 24 people.

“As Oklahomans, we’re part of this community, and our hearts just break for what happened,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of several Muslim groups collecting donations.

“We want to show the compassion and mercy that Islam teaches us.”

While Muslim-American organizations have routinely provided emergency aid following natural disasters, the Oklahoma tragedy is special because of the anti-Muslim sentiment in the state. Rather than retreating, however, Muslims increased their outreach, convinced that when Oklahomans meet Muslims, their prejudices will fade.

“I believe this helps break down barriers,” said Saad Mohammed, director of outreach at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “But dialogue and interaction are going to have to continue if these barriers are going to stay down.”

Read the complete article here.