Richmond Muslim leaders to meet with FBI

Published: Dec. 12, 2015 at 4:26 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2015 at 10:08 PM EST
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Imam Ammar Amonette
Imam Ammar Amonette

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Local Muslim leaders confirm plans to meet with the FBI as well as state and local police next week to address safety concerns.

This all comes as there are calls to ban Muslims from entering the country as the war on terror continues.

Dozens gathered outside the Islamic Center of Virginia Friday. It was called an interfaith show of support for local Muslims.
"We're just very grateful to have them out here," said Imam Ammar Amonette with the Islamic Center of Virginia. "There is no reason anybody should be afraid of us at all."

And yet he knows the mass shooting in California, perpetrated by radicalized Muslims, has stoked fear across the country.

"And these kind of foul people who are attacking places of worship and people of different religions...they are the enemy of Islam," said Amonette. "That they would besmirch our religion and make our religion look bad, and we are very, very ashamed of such people."

Amonette says the calls to ban all Muslims from entering the country equally shameful.

"If you are asked about your religion, and that decides what your rights are then that's discrimination," said Amonette. "The Muslims in our communities are doctors and engineers and teachers. They work in the government. They are in the military."

More than 70 people gathered at the Islamic center.
"Muslims are not our enemy. Hate is the enemy. We love the people who worship here," read signs held by those in attendance.

"There has been a lot of violence done in the name of religion, and no one religion has a monopoly on that," said Rev. Jeanne Pupke with the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond who was in attendance. "The signs said I love my Islamic neighbors. We are all God's children. It was all very positive."
The chairman of the Virginia Christian Alliance says a ban on Muslims entering the country is necessary.

"People can believe anything they want to," said Don Blake with the Christian Alliance. "But all faiths are not equal. Slow down. Lets figure out how we are going to vet these people. It's an inconvenience for people of the Muslim faith, but we've got to stop for the safety our own people."

The Imam is calling for unity to help root out religious extremism.

"Our religion teaches us that every life is sacred. No one has the right to take an innocent life. Nobody has the right to be your judge and jury and executioner," said Amonette. "These are dangerous people who have to be stopped, and all of us have to work together. We have to cooperate to make sure that they don't bring any of their harm here in Virginia in our community."

The Imam says Muslim leaders from across Richmond will be meeting with the FBI and state officials next week as a sign of cooperation and to keep communication lines open.

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