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Saturday night, May 1st night my wife and I were invited by Ali Chahbar to the Muslim Outreach Committee to attend an evening at the London Mosque. It seems like yesterday that I was Ali’s Counselor at Saunder’s Secondary School.

He greeted me with a warm embrace with good wishes, Asalamu Alaikum, Peace be unto you.

Anne Marie De Cicco-Best our Mayor, Controller Gord Hume, City Councillors Harold Usher, Roger Carancci, Walter Lonc represented the City of London along with Chris Bentley & Khalil Ramal from the Ontario Legislator and Ed Holder MP.

There were members of different clergy and Thames Valley teachers in attendance to spend an evening dialoguing with members of the Muslim faith.

There are approximately 25,000 Muslims from many diverse backgrounds that have chosen London to be their home. Worldwide over 1.4 billion people adhere to the Moslem faith.

The Imam, Jamaltaleb who is the spiritual leader welcomed us to his Mosque. He reminded us that we all came from Adam & Eve. A rainbow of colours/cultures and religions whose differences we can all embrace. The more we learn from each other the more we discover that we are the same.

Our task is to try and build understanding through meaningful dialogue: not dissent. All people have the right to live with a sense of dignity, peace and trust. You and I in London can become one when we take the time to know and appreciate our neighbors.

The feature film of the evening, “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” was a learning experience. After 9/11 the Gallup Poll Corporation did a world wide survey to find out what people knew of each other. 57% of Americans had little or no knowledge of Islam accept what they had learned from the media about acts of terrorism acted out by a visible minority to espouse their political views.

Less then 1% of Moslems harbour any ill feelings towards the West. The vast majority of Moslems are peace loving people who too want to educate their children and live a comfortable healthy life style.

The media promotes the axiom ‘if it bleeds it leads’ to inform the public of the threat to their well-being.

Perhaps the press can focus on change to educate and help us focus on the positive that binds people together rather than focusing on the negative that divides Londoners. There was not one member from the media who took the time to attend the evening program at the Mosque.

I wager if a group of teen-aged Moslem youth had been involved in a fight in London that the front page headlines might have read: “Racial Tensions Explode on Richmond Row.”

We should try and remember that: “We have to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made or whose skin is a different shade.”

Saturday evening was a wonderful introduction to some very honest warm people of the Moslem faith. Ali taught us all the phrase: Asalamu Alailum, Peace be unto you. A very nice sentiment that we all can try and embrace.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com