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Central Florida Imams, Police Address Islamophobia, Hate Crimes

Photo: Orlando Police Department Twitter.
Photo: Orlando Police Department Twitter.

Imams stood next to uniformed police this afternoon at a conference in Kissimmee. The purpose: to talk about a rise in hate crimes against Muslims and to plan ways to keep all Americans safe in the face of domestic and foreign terror.

Imam Abufarah Helmi, executive director of the American Muslim Leadership Council, along with the heads of 15 Islamic centers across the region, met with representatives from more than 8 agencies, including the Orlando Police Department and the FBI.

“We’re hoping that people understand that the American Muslim community feels the pain as much as any American feels when someone else is hurt because of the outcome of these radicals or extremists,” said Helmi.

Helmi says rhetoric from political candidates like Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has contributed to the rise in Islamophobia. Some Muslims- including a family in Orlando- have been threatened since terrorist attacks in Paris and California.

“Anti Islamic rhetoric that we’re hearing now, it’s actually worse than we heard post-9/11, and so this is of a serious concern for us, and it requires our unity for us to come together to collaborate efforts to keep our community safe,” said Helmi.

Law enforcement agencies and Muslim leaders plan to communicate more effectively to prevent future hate crimes. They agree that being preventive and proactive is critical.