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A US imam brings message of tolerance
Web posted at: 9/24/2008 3:8:19

Source ::: The Peninsula

Imam Mohamed Bashar Arafat addressing students at the Omar Ibn Khattab School.


Mohamed Bashar Arafat, an imam based in Baltimore, Maryland, visited Doha recently during the Noble Month of Ramadan and shared his experiences as an American Muslim.

Speaking to hundreds of Qataris and expatriates from all walks of life, Arafat promoted the values of tolerance and religious freedom as enshrined in the Noble Quran and the US Constitution.

US Ambassador Joseph LeBaron, in remarks delivered in Arabic at the Amna bint Wahab School for Girls, told the audience that Imam Arafat had established the Citizens Exchange and Co-operation Foundation in order to further his strong belief that interfaith dialogue is a means to promote understanding between the United States and Muslims in other countries.

"With more than 2,000 mosques and several million Muslims freely practicing their faith in the United States, the Citizens Exchange and Co-operation Foundation believes the United States is an important part of the Muslim world," said Ambassador LeBaron.

The imam answered some searching questions about Muslims in America during his visit, including one from a student at the Al Wakra Preparatory School for Girls, who asked if Muslim women were allowed to wear hijabs at work. Pointing to the Cultural Attaché from the American Embassy in Doha, Arafat said, "Here is an American Muslim working for the US government, and she's wearing a hijab." Many students were surprised to learn that American Muslims, including Muslim women who wear the hijab, enjoy rights equal to all other American citizens.

Arafat visited three other schools and spoke during Taraweeh prayers at three large mosques, including the FANAR Center. In true Qatari style, Imam Arafat was warmly received at the Doha Youth Center, where he implored his young audience to work together with Americans towards greater understanding through interfaith dialogue.

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