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Muslim leaders speak out

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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Most of the Muslim youth here go to public schools.

(With bigotry or acceptance), it matters what school they're in, the understanding. In Bloomfield, we're blessed where we have the RDJ – the Religious Diversity Journey – and they come and visit different places of worship, and that breaks a lot of barriers. Here, it's very good.

Jewish kids are more picked on than Muslim kids. I always tell people, if you look at who's more bullied in schools, among the religious communities, you come to realize the Jewish community is. You have our Jewish youth who are struggling, to hold onto their Jewish identity, being teased and made fun of. We try to empower our youth and teach them. I always tell our Muslim youth, you're not an exception. You're not special – why do you expect that special treatment? It's the identity you carry within, and being self-confident.

OSMAN: Here in the metro Detroit area, so much acceptance. We are so proud, and we are blessed, in fact, to be living in this metro Detroit area. There are many places in this country – many places in the world, in fact – Ahmadi Muslims would be killed by calling themselves Ahmadi Muslims. We are so blessed and so loyal to this country that gives us this freedom. And to be in this tri-county area, where you go on the streets and pass out a flyer that say "Muslims believe in peace." And they say, "Yeah. Of course they do. Leave me alone. I've got work to do." And for the most part, it's "Alright, it's cool, don't worry about it man. Want to have dinner with us, man?"

We're very, very lucky to be living in communities like this. But there's always those nut jobs.

I've always thought the younger generation is more open-minded than the older generation. For better or for worse, our society is moving towards total acceptance of a lot of things. You can have a young Muslim child, a young Jewish child, and a young Christian child – teenagers, and the three of them can have their discussions, and have fun discussing things, and at the end, it's let's go grab a bite to eat. It's so beautiful to see that in a pluralistic society.

The majority attend public schools.

What can either the Muslim community or the community at-large do to provide for greater understanding of Muslims and Islam and create more of a welcoming assimilation of Muslims into the general community?

OSMAN: We feel it will be a deterrent to youth radicalization and combatting that ideology. The objective of this campaign is to show 11 specific points of what Islam believes in, and show what ISIS believes. We can cite parts of the holy Quran and sayings of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, that prove each of these points. It's literally combatting this ideology, to combat what ISIS is putting out there. And it's not just for non-Muslims – it's for Muslims, as well.

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