The two worlds that some 200 St. Louis Muslims had come to discuss Sunday evening were on display even in the midst of a discussion about how to maintain faith as a Muslim while becoming part of the American fabric and convincing non-Muslim neighbors that Islam itself has nothing to do with terrorism.
Melissa Matos, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' St. Louis chapter urged the crowd to be more vocal in denouncing terrorism. Meanwhile, moms in traditional Muslim head-covering herded young sons carrying baseball gloves, who wanted only to leave the adults to their conversation and go outside the mosque for a traditional game of catch.
Matos said Muslims needed to communicate better with their neighbors. "Muslims are an integral part of American life and this is our home," she said. "So why does this misunderstanding exist? It is because extremists are yelling while we are whispering, brothers and sisters, and no one can hear us."
The rally at the Daar-ul-Islam mosque in west St. Louis County kicked off the "Muslim Visibility Campaign" being organized by local Muslim leaders. Organizers handed out stickers with the campaign's logo: an olive-branch-carrying dove in front of an American flag, with the words "Muslims Denounce Terrorism" above and "Terrorism has no religion" below the dove.
"Be loud," Matos said. "Islam does not encourage hate or terrorism against civilians. Islam stands for justice and peace, and we must be the ones to carry that message, because no one else will." (MORE)