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Religious Leaders Call for End to Religious Discrimination Toward Muslims

By Kerry Longobucco.
Religious leaders of various faiths gathered at Confluence Park in Binghamton Monday afternoon to call for an end to religious discrimination of Muslims.

The word 'Islam' stands for peace and submission -- but some view the islamic faith as just the opposite, due to international acts of violence committed by some in the name of Islam.

"it is more than frustrating. It is saddening," Ehtisham Siddiqui, trustee of the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier, said.

Religious leaders say Muslims are now victims of religious discrimination -- with some Americans even calling for the country to close its borders to syrian refugees.

That hostility towards muslims has been present even in Broome County. A mosque in Johnson City was recently the target of vandalism, with windows being smashed.

But local muslim leaders say that's nothing compared to the acts of hatred they've seen in other parts of the country.

"There's been a mosque that was torched," Siddiqui said. "There were things thrown into the mosques, garbage and other things,"

Local religious leaders say as a result -- Muslims are living in fear.

"There are muslim women who are afraid to go out in public," Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell, who leads the interfaith local group of Children of Abraham, said. "I want them to feel comfortable going to the store, going places as well, the same way that i am."

To deter discrimination against Muslims, members of the Islamic organization of the Southern Tier urge people to view acts of terrorism separately from their religion.

"We're hoping that out of all this education, and denouncing that we're doing, that people will look at these acts in paris and boston, and San Bernardino as acts of individuals, rather than something that has come to them through a religious point of view," Siddiqui said.

Whether you find your faith in a bible, or the Quaran -- leaders say the most important principles are the same in every religion.

"We all have the text to tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves," Goldman-Wartell said. "We all have texts to tell us that all human life is precious, and valuable."