Largest U.S. Muslim Gathering to 'Deal With Islamophobia'

The Islamic Society of North America meets for its annual convention in Rosemont, Ill., beginning Friday with a focus on how Muslims respond to Islamophobia, organizers said.

The Ahlul Bayt News Agency prefaced it story about the 48th Annual ISNA convention with this statement: “With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 looming, attendees at North America's largest Muslim gathering next month will be told that the best way to deal with Islamophobia is not to lay low, but get involved in politics, interfaith work and community affairs.”

The four-day conference includes guest speaker the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ. In 2009, Saddleback Church founding pastor Rick Warren spoke to crowd of some 8,000 Muslim Americans at the conference. Warren talked about the need to have more than just interfaith discussions, but to have interfaith projects together as well.

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"Our conventions in the past years have changed. You'll see more questions dealing with interreligious cooperation and understanding," Mohamed Elsanousi, ISNA's director of community outreach, was quoted by ABNA as saying. "We are opening the convention more to people of other faiths."

The theme of this year’s conference is “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony.”

Northland Church Pastor Joel C. Hunter, who served in President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said the convention theme of reaching out to non-Muslims is on the right track.

“I’m not sure about the political side of this issue, but there’s nothing like relationship. That helps you put things in perspective,” Hunter told The Christian Post. “I do believe that the best antidote for fear is to build relationships and do good with others in partnership.”

Hunter said he does believe that significant dates in history, such as the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attack on U.S. soil, are an important time to evaluate how Christians and Muslims relate to each other.

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