YUMA, AZ - The Muslim community is reacting to hateful comments posted by some readers over a news article published in the Yuma sun last Saturday.
The article highlighted an event the Islamic center is hosting called Open Mosque Day. Their goal is to invite the community to learn more about Islam.
However, the paper's editorial board disabled comments to the article due to what it called "hate speech."
I spoke to doctor Noman Waked right after he finished his noon prayer.
He says being the target of hate-filled speech doesn't faze him or make him angry.
Waked says the reason for this Saturday's open house is to build better relations.
"It's a peaceful religion and that's what's the meaning of Islam."
Doctor Noman Waked, a Muslim, says he hopes the Islamic Center's Open Mosque Day event will teach other residents from other religions, more about who he is, as a person and more about his religion.
"We really want to be an integral part of the community, that's why we have this day, is to be able to explain and clarify any misunderstanding or any misconceptions about Islam," said Noman.
This is why he is taking part in organizing the first ever open house at the Islamic Center of Yuma since it opened three years ago.
"We have nothing to hide… we're just part of the community. We are people of faith like Christians and Jews," said Waked.
Waked says he's not surprised by hateful comments aimed at criticizing the Islamic religion and the upcoming open house. In fact, Waked says he takes responsibility for not establishing dialogue with the local community much sooner.
"It doesn't make me angry. It just makes me feel like we need to do our job of explaining more to people who we are," explained Waked.
One of those comments read "Muhammad was a terrorist."
Waked, who has lived in Yuma for 38 years, says despite the hateful comments he is looking forward to educating the community about Islam.
"I think when people really understand Islam in the proper way; I think a lot of this misconception probably will disappear," he said.
If you're interested in learning more about Islam and Muslims that live in Yuma, the open house is this Saturday, 11am-3pm. They are located at 200 West 24th Street.
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