CAIRO - Hundreds of Muslims in the US state of Washington has showed up at the state Capitol to raise awareness about Islam and urge lawmakers to pass resolutions supporting religious freedom.
We want to show that we're organized, and that we're growing, Samir Junejo, who came to Olympia with a group from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), told The Olympian.
The rally was part of Washington State Muslim Lobby Day to ensure that religious freedom of all residents of Washington is protected.
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Organizers say the gathering is also meant to show legislators and other Washington citizens that Muslims are ordinary people.
People are paranoid when they see a woman who is covered, said Sameira Muhammed, a Bellevue College student who also came with CAIR-WA.
It happens sometimes on the bus or at the mall, someone will yell, terrorist.' We're telling people that Muslims are just like everyone else.
Muhammed noted that 9/11 attacks still has its deep impact on American attitudes towards the Muslim community as a whole.
Islam is perfect Muslims are not, Muhammed said of the position of some Americans on Muslims.
US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million, have been sensing hostility in recent months.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Many Muslims see the rally as a great opportunity to engage in political activism.
"It's exciting, exciting to be at a place where the laws of the state of Washington are being made," Faisa Farole told King5.com.
Accompanied by her husband and two sons, she marched, rallied, met with legislators and promised to come back and do it again.
Muslim activists, including Faisa, met with State Rep. Steve Bergquist (D-Dist. 11) to discuss a host of issues of concern to the Muslim community.
Discussing religious freedom, religious holidays and free health care for all, he promised them to study the issues.
They're my bosses. The more I can get to know my bosses the better a job I can do for the community," said Bergquist.
Faisa, who was born in Somalia but raised in the United States, sees a family future in political activism.I hope my kids are going to want to go into politics. They were born here. Maybe one of them will be president someday! she said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net