City’s Muslims share the love

Seda Berk (left) and Kezban Yasar dressed as Princesses Bearing Turkish Delights for Cringila’s Bilal Mosque open day. Pictures: DAVE TEASE Ayse Ozturk (left) and Esen Memik served Turkish coffee at the open day.
Nanjing Night Net

Enjoying some Turkish sweets yesterday are (from left) Kadriye Esen, Alisha Chin, Elise Buckley and Mukerrem Alperrtonga.

Cringila’s Bilal Mosque hosted its first open day yesterday with almost 300 people attending to gain a greater understanding of the region’s Muslim community.Organiser Ahmet Ozturk said publicity surrounding Islam was not always positive and rarely reflected the true, peaceful image of Islam.He said the open day, including a tour of the mosque, seminars and food stalls, was to encourage cohesion and a peaceful coexistence in a community with more than 1000 Muslims.”We were extremely happy with the outcome, there were many non-Muslims who shared the day with us,” Mr Osturk said.Sadiq Ansari, who spoke on Islam, Jihad and Terrorism, said there were many misconceptions about Islam, including that it encouraged terrorism.”Islam isn’t about violence. When I read the Koran I don’t think about bombing a place. There’s no room for terrorism in Islam. A Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim. It’s a few people with political agendas using religion to attract crowds.”Nihal Uckan grew up in Mt Warrigal and has been part of the Illawarra community for 40 years, but said the actions of extremists still caused her family insecurity.”My Mum wears a scarf and when these extremists are given media attention I say, ‘Mum don’t go outside for a week or two because you might get victimised’,” she said.Ms Uckan arrived from Turkey in 1970 with her parents and three siblings as the first non-Mediterranean family in the Illawarra. The Figtree mother-of-two has spent most of her career as a social worker.”The purpose of holding open days like this enables people to see the moderate side of Islam … We’re peace-loving, we’re part of the community,” she said.”The women … have been preparing food so people will visit and find we’re just like anyone else. “It’s not all about religion, we’re people first … humanity comes first. That’s what Islam is. Love humanity.”

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