Meet Your Neighbors - Examining the Shared Heritage of Faith
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PRESS RELEASE: June 12, 2006

Meet your Neighbors - Examining the Shared Heritage of Faith

The Warren Community Center Auditorium was the venue for an interfaith symposium “Meet your Neighbors, Examining the Shared Heritage of Faith” the evening of
Thursday, June 10th, 2006.

The event, co-sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice, Michigan (NCCJ), The Council of American-Islamic Relations of Michigan (CAIR-MI), and the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA), was conceived to fill the void between the public perception of Islam and Muslims, and the actual facts concerning the worlds second largest religion.  IONA was the center of controversy when they announced plans earlier this year to establish a Masjid (Mosque) and Learning Center on their property at 28630 Ryan Road.  The symposium was planned to alleviate fears about the project, and raise consciousness in the community.

Opening remarks were made by Mr. George Dimas, Deputy Mayor, on behalf of Mayor Steenbergh.

Featured speakers were Dawud Walid, Director of CAIR-MI., who spoke briefly about the essential beliefs and practices of the Islamic faith.  Barbara Sollose, president of the Central Homeowners of Warren (CHOW) related how the initial climate of uncertainty surrounding the project, was dispelled by the knowledge gained through open communication between IONA and the homeowner’s association.

Father Gary Shulte, Pastor of St. Sylvester Church, Warren MI, gave a spirited talk featuring his experiences in interfaith relations. He made the point that being aware of our neighbors of various faiths can help to guide us on our search for “how to get to Heaven”.

The final speaker was Steve Mustapha Elturk, President and Imam of IONA.  His presentation “Social Justice: an Islamic Perspective” was well received by the nearly one hundred community members in attendance.  The similarity of Islamic belief, and American belief as expressed in the Declaration of Independence (“we hold these truths…”) served as introduction to a brief, insightful discourse on equality, fraternity and justice.  Elturk thanked the people who helped IONA prevail in their efforts to get the Mosque approved by the city, and those who helped make the symposium a reality.  To the surprise of the audience, he also thanked those who had opposed the project “obviously not for their opposition but for the opportunity they presented to us to work out our differences. Had it not been for them we would not be here tonight sharing our common heritage with each other.”

The panel moderator was Reverend Sharon Buttry, an ordained American Baptist Minister, on behalf of the NCCJ.

A brief question and answer for audience members followed the presentations. An open house is planned at the IONA facility in the future, details to be announced at a later date.

Islamic Organization of North America
586-558-6900

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