Sharida McKenzie recently heard someone on a cable news show say that Muslims in the United States rarely stand to denounce terrorism.

Then McKenzie, who is Muslim, heard her non-Muslim in-laws say something similar.

The 29-year-old Round Rock accountant soon came to agree and began to recruit Austin-area Muslims to join her in what she called a Muslim Peace March.

On Sunday, about 130 people rallied at the Capitol to declare themselves peaceful and denounce acts of violence committed by extremists in the name of Islam.

“We as Muslims are responsible for making it known that Islam does not condone terrorism,” McKenzie told the crowd. “This is about Muslims taking a stand for peace.”

Lined up two-by-two behind a large white banner that said “Islam Is Peace,” the demonstrators walked solemnly in a circular route that ran several blocks along 11th Street. They carried signs with phrases like “Embrace Peace, Reject Terror” and “Love Thy Neighbor.”

Riaz Jafri, a medical researcher who lives in Northwest Austin, said that even six years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it is still important to counteract the image of Muslims as terrorists.

“Our religion does not teach to kill innocent persons,” said Jafri, 47.

Addressing the crowd after the march, Sheik Mohammed-Umer Esmail of the North Austin Muslim Community Center quoted the Quran: “Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is as though he has killed all mankind.”

He later said: “All acts of terrorism are prohibited by the Quran.” (MORE)


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