Muslim youth organization hosts meet-and-greet on the square

Murfreesboro residents create signs at Muslim meet-and-greet to support members of the community. (Andrew Wigdor)

Photo by Andrew Wigdor/ Assistant News Editor

The Murfreesboro Muslim Youth group held a Muslim meet-and-greet in Murfreesboro’s Public Square Friday night to promote love within the community.

Members of MMY gathered at 4:30 p.m. to hand out cards, balloons, candy and general greetings to Murfreesboro residents. MMY members also provided a banner for people to sign with peaceful messages.

The group formed in July of 2015 in response to the murders of three Muslim youth in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. According to their website, the MMY’s mission statement is to “help connect, develop, grow, learn from, and educate our youth from all age groups through community services and working together.”

Sarah Alzabet, a junior at Siegel High School and a member of the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, spoke about the group’s modest beginnings.

“It’s been about two years since we’ve formed. We started out really small and we started with a tiny dream. We focus on interfaith and charity work,” Alzabet said.

She discussed potlucks and interfaith dinners that the MMY help to organize, as well as homeless outreach that the group frequents.

Alzabet then spoke about the circumstances that prompted the organization of the Muslim meet-and-greet.

“I have personally always felt accepted here, but recently we have had a few incidents with our youth with some harassment and racism. We decided this was a good way to respond to that, with love and kindness. We are here passing out flyers, kind notes and it looks so successful to me,” she said.

The founder of the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, Abdou Kattih, described the driving force behind the creation of the event.

“The idea was to show that we, as Muslims, care about the community. We have been recipients of such love and care for a long time,” Kattih said. “We want to be out in the open in a public space, showing love and sharing love.”

Citizens from Murfreesboro and surrounding areas congregated to hold signs bearing phrases of goodwill and to support their fellow Tennesseans.

Amanda James, a project manager and humanitarian, said at the meet-and-greet, “I am a believer that we are all one person. I wanted to make sure there was plenty of support here from the community.”

Her son, Andrew James, said, “I think it’s a great thing. Everybody is coming out and is able to communicate with each other and learn a little bit about each other.”

Many Murfreesboro residents were surprised by the large turn-out and accepting attitudes of community members towards the meet-and-greet event.

Manar Alkhiyami, a stay at home mom, said, “I’m so happy all these people are supporting us. They are saying we are one community. We are living together in the same community.”

“There’s more people here than I thought there would be. I’m very happy to see that. Everyone who believes in love needs to do everything they can to promote it. That’s the only way it will spread,” Arnold White, a retired steel worker, said.

Tori Scott, a retired Spanish professor and member of the Rutherford County Interfaith Council, said, “I think it’s important that Muslims feel the community supporting them. I think this is a good way to give people a dose of reality.”

Multiple attendees of the meet-and-greet voiced their fears and attitudes towards the results of the recent presidential election and the effects the results may have on the Muslim community.

“I think that the results of the election are disgusting. I’m embarrassed by what our country has elected as the new administration,” Amanda James said.

“Personally, the night of the election, I felt like there was something painted over America’s conscience. To me, Trump’s rhetoric inspires people to be more open about their racism and bigotry,” Sarah Alzabet said.

Sally Franklin, a senior manager of a consulting firm and Smyrna native, said, “I think it will affect the community in that it will force people to address their beliefs. I do know that there are plenty of people who are conservative Christians that will come to events like this to show their support for something different.”

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  1. Avatar
    Tori Roman
    November 27, 2016

    This is such a great idea and a great way to set an example of acceptance and understanding with diversity among Murfreesboro. Not a lot of people will give diversity a chance and see views other than their own, which is normal at times, and the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth group is making the first step for change and acceptance in such hard times going on today.

    Stereotypes and the way media all around the world portrays Muslims plays a big part on how people see them and the way people mistreat not only muslims, but different races as well. Ever since I was little, wars were going on and historical events such as 9/11 and attacks around america, media has put the blame on Muslim citizens when it should not categorize every muslim as a whole. If only people could understand that one action of someone does not reflect on how a group of people act.

    I think what the Murfreesboro Muslim Youth group is doing is a great way to not only educate the community but bring people together and understand one another especially with events happening like the recent election. “Personally, the night of the election, I felt like there was something painted over America’s conscience. To me, Trump’s rhetoric inspires people to be more open about their racism and bigotry,” Sarah Alzabet said.

    I agree with Sarah, that ever since the election something had drastically changed the way people view diversity and america. Its great to have a group of people to reassure a community that hate does not run this country. Love and acceptance will help everyone grow.

  2. Avatar
    November 29, 2016

    This is an amazing idea for all communities to do. Everyone is a person who should be respected regardless of the religious beliefs. No matter what someone believes, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or any other of the abundance of beliefs, they are still human beings and deserve the same respect as everyone else. I am glad that this community is coming together to support people even if they don’t believe in the same things. They are willing to set aside those differences and understand one another. I wish the country, as a whole, could be more like that with religious beliefs as well as ethnicity and sexuality.
    I wish more people were willing to try to understand others instead of just labeling them or hating them based on one attribute they have. If people were willing to understand one another, then this country would probably be able to become better for future generations. The fact that people need to hide their sexuality or religious beliefs to avoid extreme negativity or are seen to hate the color of their skin is not alright in my mind. Individuality and diversity is what makes this country and world amazing, and I wish people could see it the way the younger generations are starting to see it.

  3. […] set up shop in the town’s public square to hand out handwritten cards, flowers, and candy. This event was organized in response to all the love and care that many community members had shown Muslims […]

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