CAIRO - Muslims and Christians have come together in California for a peace picnic, an event aiming at instilling friendship and peace among followers of different faiths in the American state.
"We need opportunities to meet and talk with our Muslim neighbors, to hear their views of current events, and discuss the hopes and dreams for our world and our country we all share as American citizens, wrote Presbyterian Church Pastor Kathy McIntosh-Smith, The Daily Democrat reported on Sunday, October 14.
The picnic was urged "with newspapers and media screens filled with Arab Spring, civil war in Syria, drone attacks in Pakistan, the infamous Youtube video, the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens," pastor McIntosh-Smith added.
The picnic, held on Saturday, brought together Muslims, Methodists, Lutherans and many others at John Ferns Park.
Sitting down together, breaking bread and eating rice beneath the shade of trees, this year's Peace Picnic saw much more of an intermingling of faiths than in previous times.
Among attending leaders were Woodland City Councilman Jim Hilliard and former mayor Art Pimentel as well as a number of local pastors.
Some of the churches participating in the picnic were Methodist, Presbyterian, St. John's, Holy Rosary, Christian Church, St. Luke's Episcopal and the American Lutheran.
The picnic included a barbecue, complete with hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as traditional Pakistani halal food.
Children too were offered a variety of activities.
"It's also nice just to talk about schools and gardens, recipes and work, as we watch our children and grandchildren play together," the pastor said.
The picnic is a new example of efforts by the Woodland Islamic Center to share their faith and themselves and demonstrate that not every Muslim is a terrorist.
Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims, estimated between 6-8 million, have complained of discrimination and stereotypes because of their Islamic attires or identities.
Despite the frenzy, California's Bay Area Muslims seized on the opportunity to introduce a true message of Islam, through art and activism.
Opening a window on Islamic rules and traditions, a San Jose State student established a radio station called MeccaOne, discussing ideas such as Islamic art and rules of marriage.
Another group of young Muslims founded a group called "Muslim Unity Day" with Muslim hip hop artists and comedians at Great America amusement park.In Oakland, an "Islam and Authors" series sprouted as others established the Islamic Scholarship Fund in Alamo to help fund Muslim writers.