Locals joined the national effort on “Meet a Muslim Day” to dispel myths about Islam.
By Tyrone Beason / The Seattle Times
March 11, 2017
“I’m here to say that our religion is for peace. Islam is for peace . . . Most people don’t care about religion. They care about peace.”
— Ahmad Bilal
Ahmad Bilal, Faiez Ahmad and Luqman Munir couldn’t have been better positioned to talk about being Muslims than the cultural crossroads of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday.
The trio, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took part in the organization’s “Meet a Muslim Day,” an effort in cities around the country to dispel myths about Islam and put a human face on a population that’s been the subject of stereotypes, public suspicion and in extreme cases, threats and violence.
For three hours on a showery Saturday, the men stood among the throngs of tourists and St. Patrick’s Day parade spectators at a corner of Fourth and Pine with a sign that read, “I am a Muslim: Ask me anything.”
Young Muslims with similar signs fielded questions at Seattle’s Green Lake, University District and Pike Place Market, too.
At Westlake, 30 or 40 people stopped by to speak with Bilal, Ahmad and Munir, including people who’d come for the parade, making for a vivid, impromptu cultural exchange.
The men showed off mobile-phone pictures of them posing with smiling, green-clad parade revelers.
They said they even had a productive discussion about Islam and Christianity with a man standing a few feet away holding a sign imploring onlookers to “repent and believe the gospel” of Jesus Christ.
“He gave us some knowledge and we gave him some knowledge,” said Bilal, a 20-year-old student at South Seattle College.
They invited the man to visit their mosque. He agreed to come, Bilal said.