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I posted this message on our local police department's Facebook page earlier this week:
I had the most positive experience with the professionals at the Suwanee Police Department yesterday! I called the police department on Sunday after a concerned parent brought up the fact that there have been a lot of violent threats against American Muslims since the horrific shootings in San Bernardino, California. Dispatcher Michelle answered the phone and I explained my concerns. She immediately told me she would notify Capt Mooney, and would make sure she had officers present when our kids arrived for Sunday school, played outside, and even when they left to go home. I met both Corporal Skinner and Officer Belther a few hours later. I explained to them that there are over 7 million moderate American Muslims living peacefully in the United States as your neighbors, doctors, teachers, engineers, accountants, etc. and that we meant no harm to anyone. They were both very kind and assured me that the Suwanee Police Dept. knew who we are, the kind of good people we are and that if we needed anything, that they would be there to help us. Officer Skinner even went so far as to say that he understood that a few bad apples can ruin a bunch and that it had even happened to the police (we have all seen the videos online.) I was taken aback by his empathy. His genuine kindness to a stranger warmed my heart. Both officers were true to their words, they watched out for us while the kids played outside and even when I left at the end of the day, I saw one of them keeping watch from a distance. God bless & protect the fine men and women who serve in the Suwanee Police department & the caring people who surround us all!
Due in large part to that post being shared in our Muslim community and the Suwanee Community at large, I was given the opportunity to meet the mayor and police chief of Suwanee a few days later. I spent time with both of them and expressed our values as Muslim Americans. I also expressed to them the tidal wave of negative backlash on innocent citizens that has ensued after sweeping statements by mass media characterizing Muslims as terrorists, has been frightening. Both men listened intently and Alhumdulillah expressed their support.
I even got a phone call from Fox 5 News requesting an interview. This turn of events is a prime example of the fact that America is starting to listen to us instead of just the hate mongering of biased individuals in the media. The door has been opened for dialog between Muslims and our neighbors of other faiths. It is up to us, as American Muslims to keep that door from closing. This shift in public opinion is a great opportunity for all of us to get involved. Speak to your coworkers kindly, introduce yourselves to your neighbors as Muslim. Answer their questions about our religion with respect and patience. Many Americans say they have never met a Muslim! We are hiding in plain sight & we need to let others know that we mean no harm. One in 10 doctors in America is Muslim, so the odds of an American being healed by a Muslim are astronomically higher than ever being hurt by one.
At GIC Sunday School, we pride ourselves on teaching these core Islamic values of service, respect and peace, not only to our children in the program, but also to our community at large. Through many of our programs such as Adopt-A-Road Cleanup Campaign, Feeding the Homeless of Atlanta, nursing home visits & Atlanta Food Bank's Hunger Walk, we are able to show our neighbors and colleagues the best of who we are. There are an abundance of community programs both at the local and national levels that you can join, and who knows, you maybe come a community hero yourself!
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