Organizers hope a “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” event will be one step in fighting Islamophobia.
Rizwan Anwar, a member of the general assembly of the Islamic Circle of North America ( ICNA) Atlanta, has watched as incidents of anti-Muslim bias and hate crimes have risen in the last two years.
“It’s very disturbing and it puts all of us in real danger,” he said. “I think the biggest reason people feel uncomfortable is education. They don’t know about the Muslim faith. They don’t know us. There are right people and wrong people in every society. To think everyone is wrong is just not correct.”
This is the third year for the “Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” open house, which is supported by several organizations including GainPeace. It will be held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel, 2450 Galleria Parkway in Atlanta. The open house is free and includes lunch and hotel garage parking .
Last year only 17 non-Muslims attended. The year before, there were 25 non-Muslims.
“It was very disappointing,” he said. This year he hopes more people will come and learn about the faith he loves dearly. He wants to dispel stereotypes, answer questions and build friendships.
It’s being held at the same time as the ICNA -MAS Southeast Convention, which runs Saturday through Monday.
In the past, various mosques have held open houses inviting non-Muslims to visit and learn more about Islam, the faith, cooking, art and history.