Meet A Muslim Day helps spark conversation
PLEASANTON, Calif. (KTVU) - Two 16-year-old boys stood outside the Pleasanton Farmer’s Market hoping people would stop to talk to them. The sign they held read: Meet A Muslim. Ask me anything.
"We're hoping they ask us questions and start a conversation,” said Ughman Monen of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.
“That's the first step in breaking down boundaries in what people think and what's not true."
Saturday was national “Meet A Muslim Day,” with events organized across the United States; seven in the Bay Area.
The day was organized after a Pew Research study revealed 62% of Americans will go their entire lives never meeting a Muslim.
The youth volunteers fear media reports on terrorist attacks are the only information about Muslims that many Americans will receive.
"They see a Muslim carrying a gun or killing someone, they think that's Islam,” said local organizer Raza Ahmad. “That's not Islam. That's the exact opposite of Islam."
At the Pleasanton Farmer’s Market several people stopped to ask questions about Islam, such as ‘Do Muslims believe in Jesus?’ "Yup. We believe he was a prophet just like the prophet Mohammed and we should respect him as well,” said Monen.
‘Could there be Sharia Law in America?’ "We believe that if you live in a country then it's your obligation to follow that country's laws,” said Monen.
“That's the only way you can only be true Muslim. If you live in a country, you have to follow all laws of that country and you can't break them." Sitting at the table next to Ahmad, Hosea Reed overheard many of his conversations.
"I'm not going to lie, I was intimidated to ask questions, even though he has a sign,” Reed said.
“The concern I had, to me, was what a real Muslim belief is in what a Muslim is."
Reed said she was happy to hear Ahmad’s answers and began a conversation with him.