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Buckhorn: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric 'Un-American'

Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay against anti-Muslin rhetoric.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and religious leaders say while they don't see serious backlash against Muslims here, the rhetoric going on nationwide is "un-American.”

Anti-Muslim remarks have surged across the country since the San Bernardino, California shooting earlier this month. A Muslim couple -- later found to be radicalized -- shot and killed 14 people at a holiday work party.

But Buckhorn said incidents like that don't represent the Muslim community or their beliefs.

He said the best way to fight anti-Muslim reaction is for people to get to know their neighbors, especially those with different faiths.

“The most important thing you can do is establish a personal relationship,” Buckhorn said. “Because if you have a person relationship with somebody of a different faith, you are far less likely to assume the worst about them, based on what you may have read or heard."

That includes what’s heard from presidential candidates, Buckhorn said. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is making waves with his proposal to temporarily "ban Muslims" from entering the United States.

Buckhorn, a Democrat, said politicians like Trump "incite and inflame" when they make these kind of remarks.

"I don't think it's helpful,” Buckhorn said. “I think that type of demagoguery and venom, first of all, is being watched around the world. People pay attention to what these candidates are saying and to demonize an entire religion is unfortunate and it's un-American."

Credit Daylina Miller/WUSF News
Zachary Chaudhry, a Tampa resident and Muslim, said the only way to combat hate mongers is with love, peace and kindness.

Zachary Chaudhry, a Muslim and life-long Tampa resident, said hate must be countered with love and kindness.

“There's a lot of hate mongers out there, through ISIS and Trump or whoever, but it's (the solution) just what we're doing right now, to invite everybody in, to get everybody together, to bring some unity and peace to the community and open our doors and show everyone, 'this is what Islam is about,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry, and leaders of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, invite people of all faiths to come to their mosque on Sligh Avenue in Tampa to learn more about Islam.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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