Christian, Muslim leaders in Nacogdoches hoping to start dialogu - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Christian, Muslim leaders in Nacogdoches hoping to start dialogue with 2 events

Two Nacogdoches leaders planning separate events to address the fear of Muslims didn’t know they have the same goal. (Source: KTRE Staff) Two Nacogdoches leaders planning separate events to address the fear of Muslims didn’t know they have the same goal. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Helena Abdullah, a Muslim, and Dr. Osaro Airen, a Christian, meet for the first time after learning they share a common interest. (Source: KTRE Staff) Helena Abdullah, a Muslim, and Dr. Osaro Airen, a Christian, meet for the first time after learning they share a common interest. (Source: KTRE Staff)
A Multicultural Peace Dialogue is Tuesday, Dec. 15. On Friday, Dec. 18 there will be a prayer vigil.  (Source: KTRE Staff) A Multicultural Peace Dialogue is Tuesday, Dec. 15. On Friday, Dec. 18 there will be a prayer vigil. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Two events are scheduled for next week in Nacogdoches to open up a dialogue about the true meaning of Islam and Islamophobia.

Neither group knew about the other until East Texas News brought them together for this story.
 
In this conference room two Nacogdoches residents, one a Muslim and the other Christian, are learning for the first time they're separately planning two very similar events next week  designed to unite a community.

Dr. Osaro Airen, the founder of the Multicultural Peace Committee is holding a ....

"Multicultural peace dialogue,” Airen said.

While Helena Abdullah said, “We’re holding a prayer vigil.”

For this story, the two peacemakers were introduced for the first time. They both are concerned about Islamophobia and the negative effects that being afraid of different cultures can have on a community.  Their message is simple.

"Stop hating what we don't know,” Airen said.

"Islam means peace. And a Muslim is a person who follows that peace,” Abdullah said. So what is going on with these fanatics is they're targeting innocent people and that is not Islam."

The first opportunity to dispel hate and respect differences is Tuesday, December 15 at an event organized by Christian church leaders.

"So I think that people really need to understand that the Christian community cares,” Airen said. “I'm good friends with Anwar Khalifa who is one of the leaders of the Tyler mosque, and I asked him if he could come out to be the keynote."

The second opportunity to dismiss radicals is Friday, December 18 at the prayer vigil.

"We're going to have Christian ministers and imans from our community together and both talking against this and praying together for one accord,” Abdullah said.

The two events show organizers the community is more unified than they even realized.

The Multicultural Peace Dialogue is Tuesday, December 15 at 6 p.m. at Austin Heights Baptist Church. The Prayer Vigil is Friday, December 11 at 6:15 p.m. at the Sterne Hoya Gazebo.

Both events are free and in Nacogdoches.

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