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By dimpool, April 17, 2011
Director and founder of AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America
Dimpool: Dear Mr. Zakkout; First of all, we would like to ask about your organization –AMANA- and its goals in the US, because according to our research your association condemns terrorism and Islamophobia, and it also promotes the interfaith dialogue, so could you please explain us the positive results and achievements that you got through your association ?
Sofian A. Zakkout: When we established our organization in 1997, we established it for the reason of promoting Islam, in the west and especially in the US and our main goal were to reach out and to tell the people what Islam and being Muslim mean. Because we feel that in Islam we are required to reach out especially the people around us. If we compare that time and this time, there are many changes. I believe that due to the reason that Muslims in general, they do not do enough reaching out; that is why we have all these problems. Lack of information about Islam is the main reason of all those problems. The proof of that idea is that every time we see a demonstration or a rally in the Ground Zero in New York, we see that the people are putting signs which show how they are ignorant about Islam. The problem is, when people are ignorant about Islam and Muslims that will give the chance to the bigots who are against Islam to take advantage of the situation in order to poison the people mind -who are ignorant about Islam- with wrong ideas about Islam. It is not our responsibility to convert people to Islam because God whoever He wants. In the time of our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) he was treated worse than the Muslims being treated nowadays and he was patient, and if we love our Prophet, we should follow his steps, not to retaliate with more aggression. We must work together and tolerate each others, Muslims and non Muslims regardless of all of our differences in order to build a healthier society and that will lead to a stronger nation against our mutual enemies.
Sofian A. Zakkout: We, Muslims are tough and strong but we are patient too, our community is very patient. And every time something happens against us..
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Local Muslim festival's objective is unity

AMANA Dawah Table at AMANA Festival 2011Margate event continues today
By Macollvie Jean-François, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 16 2006
Margate -- Under a large tent behind a local mosque, Islamic music surrounded Muslims browsing wares on display at the second annual Islamic community festival Saturday. In the background, children screamed from nearby slides. And the scent of curried meats wafted toward tables stacked with Islamic books, DVDs, photos, fabric, jewelry and other items from around the globe.
Farhaad Naim, of Pembroke Pines, tried to take it all in.
"It's cool," said Farhaad, 8, his eyes looking around the parking lot of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen on Holiday Springs Boulevard. "It has a lot of stuff."
Between Miami Heat games, PlayStation and his cousins, Farhaad gets much amusement. His parents are grateful that the fun at the free, two-day festival organized by the American Muslim Association of North America has a higher purpose: bringing people together.
"We used to have these festivals back home all the time," said mom Amber, 29, who is from Pakistan. "I want to show him something what happens in his own community."
About 5,000 people of all faiths are expected, said AMANA national director Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout. Literature about Islam, legal and civil rights advice, information from law enforcement agencies, medical screenings, toys and candy, and emergency preparedness kits are available free of charge.
Photos of Pakistani earthquake victims are on exhibit inside the mosque, to raise funds for relief efforts there.
Abdelaziz Zakkout said the goal is to bring residents of all faiths under one roof to learn about Islam, though most who came Saturday are Muslim.
"For a healthier society, we should always bring people together," he said. "If all cities do what we do here, there'll be more understanding. Instead of looking at us [Muslims] as part of the problem, they'll see us as part of the solution."
The U.S. Census Bureau does not track religious populations, but the latest survey from the Council on American-Islamic Relations found there are 70,000 Muslims in South Florida. Abdelaziz Zakkout said an estimated 150,000 live in the region, and that number is growing.
Those already here relish such gatherings as the AMANA bazaar.
"We have very few opportunities to have social interaction with other Muslims," said Sarah Tlemsani, 35, of Miami. "My kids get to see other Muslims, play with other Muslim kids."
the AMANA community festival continues today, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu'mineen, 3222 Holiday Springs Boulevard in Margate. For more information, contact AMANA Director Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout at 305-898-9314.
Staff Researcher William Lucey contributed to this report
Macollvie Jean-François may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 954-356-4694,0,1372038.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Obama and Muslim voters a "double whammy?"

Muslims Obama ElectionCHICAGO | By Michael Conlon - Analysis, Jul 25, 2008
Barack Obama should be able to count on heavy support from U.S. Muslims in the November election, if polls are correct, but he risks offending some members of that faith by having to explain he is not one himself.
The number of votes at stake is small since Muslims account for only a fraction of the U.S. population and there are no reliable figures on how many are registered to vote.
But with a recent history of close presidential elections, no vote can be discounted when Democrat Obama, who would be the first black president, faces off against Republican John McCain.
A survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Politics found that 63 percent of U.S. Muslims either considered themselves to be Democrats or leaned in that direction, compared with 11 percent who said they were Republican or identified with that party.
t the same time, about 12 percent of Americans think Obama is a Muslim, a misconception that has persisted for months and been fed by Internet rumors.
The touchy issue was in the news again when The New Yorker published a satirical cartoon on its cover depicting an Arab-garbed Obama and his gun-toting wife in the White House Oval Office with an American flag burning in the fireplace.
There have also been unconfirmed reports that the Obama campaign plans to appoint a liaison to the Muslim community.
A religion section on an Obama Web site, "Fight the Smears," that was created to deal with such rumors, labels claims that he is a Muslim a "lie" and states he "has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim and is a committed Christian."
"We know he isn't a Muslim but who cares if he is?" said Sofian Zakkout, director of the American Muslim Association of North America.
Obama's pledge "to bring communities together" is his appeal, Zakkout said, and "We don't expect him to come to us and say, 'I'm with you.' We don't need that."
But Saaqib Rangoonwala, managing editor of Southern California InFocus, a Muslim newspaper, sees a close election in which "American Muslim votes will be needed and it is time for Muslims to take a stand ...
"Muslims are not less deserving of Obama's time than other groups that he has met with ... to his credit, he met with a Muslim leader and personally apologized to the Muslim women who were banned by campaign volunteers from sitting behind the podium at a Detroit rally because the women wore hijabs," he said.

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