Religious Leaders Meet in Houston

Religious leaders in Houston recently met with representatives from the UK to discuss how to increase understanding among the different faiths. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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The idea behind the meeting was to increase understanding among the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities' leaders so it can be shared with the greater population. Representatives from the UK joined the discussion with Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. BBC Newsreader Asad Ahmad says the Muslim community has been well established in the UK with great success, but that the metro bombing in July last year was a wake-up call. Ahmad says conversations and cooperation has to be constant.

"Even if we don't see a problem there, should we then sit back and say no there isn't a problem let's not do anything. I don't think we should. I think we should work with them. I think the biggest step forward we can take, the biggest enemy of radicalism is to work together with people of other religions and people of no religions."

Joining the discussion were representatives from the Abrahamic Initiative from Denver. Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni...

,em>"The aim of the initiative is to create a platform where the people from the Abrahamic faith, Abrahamic tradition, Jews, Christian, and Muslims can come together for better understanding of their faith, their history, their culture and discussion."

Kazerooni says they want to analyze communities and learn from experience about how to avoid extremism.

"Because of the vastness of the country there is much more possibility for people to actually live in isolation within their own midst, without interacting with somebody else. This should not be interpreted as peaceful coexistence."

Islamic Society of Greater Houston President Rodwan Saleh says before nine-eleven the Muslim community, as immigrants to a new country, tended to be isolated.

"Today, I do believe the Muslim community has a stronger relationship compared to prior of the events of nine-eleven. A stronger relationship with interfaith community, not because of nine-eleven, but because I believe, and I always have to speak the truth, but because of fear that if anything else happens again it might cause a big issue."

Saleh says he would like see a day when America is not seen as the great melting pot, but rather a salad bowl. He says people would be able to wear traditional clothing in a community of respect and understanding. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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