CAIRO - Reaching out to the wider Australian community, South Australia mosques in Adelaide have opened their doors for the first time to the public, offering them an opportunity to socialize with Muslims and get more information about their faith and lifestyle.
This year, we are pleased to welcome the wider Adelaide community to our first official open day, Ahmed Zreika, treasure of the Islamic Society of South Australia, told The Advertiser newspaper on Friday, January 27.
We are confident that this initiative will provide the Adelaide community with a greater insight into Islam and contribute towards building a sense of understanding and harmony within the community.
The two events, planned at Gilles Plains and Park Holme mosques, gave a fantastic opportunity for the public to socialize with Muslims and ask them questions about their culture, lifestyle and faith, Zreika said.
He added it gave the Muslim community a chance to show off their new mosques to the public and through guided tours explain the significance of the buildings and the religious practices conducted inside.
The events included a free barbecue, children's entertainment and a free information pack about Islam.
A question and answer forums were also held during the two-day events.
Starting on Friday, the forum was held with Sheikh Yehya Safi from New South Wales today.
Another session was held on Saturday with Mufti Ibrahim Abu Muhammad.
We are expecting lots of hard questions and they are willing to answer all questions about anything regarding our religion, Zreika said.
Opening mosque doors to non-Muslims, the events gave the Islamic community the opportunity to clear misconceptions about Islam in their society.
We are hoping to build bridges between the Muslim community and non-Muslim community in South Australia because most non-Muslim people have been fed propaganda against Islam and Muslims and so now we are opening our hearts and mosques, Zreika told The Advertiser.
We are asking people to come inside the mosques and chat with the Muslims and you will find that Muslim people love Australian people.
We are human beings and we have a different faith - we respect your faith and we just ask you to respect ours, he added.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.