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Islamic Community Center Of Phoenix Finds Support In Community Amid Controversy

Islamic Community Center of Phoenix
(Photo by Sky Schaudt - KJZZ)
Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.

In recent weeks, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix has come under fire after two men who used to pray at the mosque shot and killed a security guard in Garland, Texas.

Today, protestors are planning a rally and a Muhammad cartoon contest at the center on Orangewood Avenue and Black Canyon Freeway. But some of the center’s supporters are promising to stand with their neighbors.

Bob Hake is a pastor at the Orangewood Church of the Nazarene, which is a few blocks away. He said eight years ago, he met some members of the center, including its president, Usama Shami. Hake said in that time, he has learned a lot about Shami’s Muslim faith.

"We can have respect for each other. We can still love each other, believe in each other and stand with each other even in the midst of some of those differences and the diversity of our faith," said Hake.

As Shami prepares the center’s congregation for the planned protest this evening, he knows he can count on Hake and his church for support.

"They disagree with the premise of the event, they disagree with the group that’s putting the event on and they wanted the community to know they are standing shoulder to shoulder with us," said Shami.

Hake said if asked, he will join Shami at the center in what Hake calls their “hour of need.”

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.