International Scholars Meet with Al-Marayati Through LA Sheriff’s Dept. Program
July 14, 2011
Every year, the state of California funds a group of religious scholars and journalists from around the world to tour the state and experience the city’s religious diversity. The scholars, who came from every corner of the world including Nigeria, Cameroon, Cambodia, Hungary, Bangladesh, Tunisia, France and Turkey, were invited to the LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) last week to speak with LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and other law enforcement officials, notably Deputy Sheriff Sherif Morsi, who heads up the LASD Muslim Community Affairs division.
MPAC President Salam Al-Maryati was invited to speak to the group about the relationship between LA’s law enforcement and the Muslim community. The conversation was centered on Muslims and Islam in America. Many of the visitors had concerns about discrimination or assimilation into Western culture. In addition, Al-Marayati spoke about religious diversity and pluralism in America and the importance of interfaith dialogue.
The conversation stressed the importance of a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim community, as well as other minority groups. For many of the delegates, this concept was both surprising and admirable because many shared that their countries are rampant with police corruption fueled by a sharp divide between the law enforcement and the community. The concept of interfaith dialogue was also a new concept to the delegates, who shared their dreams to do similar work in their homelands.
One of the vital themes that truly hit home with the group was the idea that Muslims should not be perceived as enemies, but rather should be utilized as part of the solution, in the fight against extremism and radicalism in America. Al-Marayati made the point that out of the past 21 planned terrorist attacks, 15 were thwarted by tips from the Muslim community while adding that the major threat to Islam is not Israel, Western crusaders, or American culture, but rather the Islamic extremists themselves.
The conversation provided a new experience for many of the delegates because it gave them the opportunity to learn about relations with the Muslim American community and law enforcement, as well as to hear a moderate Muslim’s perspective on the status of Muslims and Islam in America.
-- Zaki Khan
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