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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Members of a mosque in Louisville hope their regular open houses can turn into a learning experience for neighbors who are watching the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan and have questions about Islam.
“It so happens that when people, when they don’t know each other, there is a fear of the unknown,” Sabeel Ahmed said.
Ahmed speaks frequently at the Guiding Light Islamic Center in Louisville as director of GainPeace, a national organization that aims to build a bridge between the Muslim community and others.
“The feedback that we have gotten so far is – in the previous open houses – is that people are really benign and they’re positive; they’re sincere,” he said. “They want to learn about Islam. They don’t want to just follow the social media perhaps or some other not-so-valid sources, so people come here and they open up.”
Ahmed said in recent weeks, fear about Islam has been exacerbated by the Taliban, which he said takes Islam to the extreme and isn’t reflective of the larger community of Muslims in the U.S. and elsewhere.
“Just like, suppose, if the KKK is doing something wrong in the name of Christianity or the Bible, we don’t blame Christianity or the Bible or the Christian community, we blame the certain individuals,” he said.
And right now, many Muslims in Louisville are actively trying to help those in Afghanistan who may be persecuted by the new regime.
“We are gathering support for the people who are coming as refugees and people who are stuck up there; who may need help up there,” Ahmed said. “So financially and logistically and legally, we are coming together.”
Ahmed said above all else, his job is to help people understand their neighbors better.
“We want people, at the end of the day, to know we are all humans living in this beautiful country and despite the differences,” he said. “We want to work together as Americans, as humans, and as Muslims. That’s what our faith teaches us.”