[CONTACT: CAIR-Washington President Arsalan Bukhari, 206-931-3655]

Led by a California pastor, a group of Christians will gather outside some Seattle-area mosques today in hopes of winning converts among Muslim worshippers coming to midday prayer.

They will also take their message of salvation to those attending this weekend’s Arab Festival at Seattle Center and to the parking lots of shopping centers popular among people from Islamic or Arab cultures.

It’s a bold – and some say audacious – gesture, coming at a time when choices over religion have grown increasingly sensitive.

But the way Pastor George Saieg sees it, many Muslims come from countries in which people lack the freedom to choose their own religion. An Arab who grew up in a Christian home in Sudan and attended Muslim schools, Saieg said Islam is a religion that offers its followers no assurance of salvation.

“In some countries, the penalty of leaving Islam is death,” he said. “I want people to know that they have freedom in this country to hear about Jesus Christ.”

So he feels an obligation to reach out to them through his “Ministry to Muslims” campaign, in which, he said, “Praise the Lord, 42 people came to the Lord from Michigan.” He believes many in Seattle will similarly convert.

Elsewhere in the country, his message has been met with varying degrees of accommodation or anger.

Mohamad Joban, imam of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, said he thinks Saieg is driven either by “arrogance or ignorance.” He and other Muslim leaders say they aren’t threatened by him and are open to talking with him.

Joban points to a growing consensus that Islam is the nation’s fastest growing religion and also notes that the Quran is clear in its teachings against proselytizing.


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