Muslim Outreach

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The man who plotted to blow up CherryVale Mall will appear in a Chicago Court tomorrow for a detention hearing and initial examination. Local muslims are separating themselves from Derrick Shareef, while reaching out to the community.
Religious leaders and community members of all faiths gathered at the Muslim Community Center tonight. Their topic was understanding Islam and its separation from acts of terrorism like the CherryVale Mall threat.
The Imam of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, Shpendin Nbdzak says the purpose was: "To have them recognize who we, their neighbors, the Muslims of this community really are and what our teachings are and at the same time to show our innocence from what took place."
The Imam here says the most important thing is to have open communication between people of all cultures and religions. That's why he says his door is always open.
Says Nbdzak, "I make myself available as best as I am able to, for anyone and everyone for any questions and concerns they may have."
Muslim community members say it's that willingness to communicate that clears up misconceptions and breaks down barriers.
"Usually when they see, it's called the hijab, the headscarf, they already have a preconceived notion and I think after speaking to me they are able to change that a little bit," says Muslim Rockford resident Sameena Zahurullah.
The pastor from Salem Lutheran Church, John Cunningham, says it's time to recognize the similarities we all share despite religious inclinations.
"Conflict breaks out but that's not the way to solve our problems, we need to find ways to work together and we begin with understanding the various traditions of each other and having relationships," says Cunningham.
As for Derrick Shareef's court date tomorrow, the Imam says he's in the hands of the law now and he hopes for justice.
Shareef faces charges of attempting to damage a building and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted he could face life in prison.


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