OKEMOS - The inauguration of the American Muslim Councils Lansing chapter began with a reading from the Quran.
The banquet was held Sunday at the Holiday Inn Express, 2187 University Park Drive in Okemos, with U.S. Rep. David Bonior, D-Mount Clemens, and other politicians in attendance.
The chapter was formed with the purpose of getting local Muslims involved in political issues and the community.
Tariq Shah, president of the Lansing chapter, said members will be focusing on intercultural, interracial and interreligious understanding.
This is an American family, we are all together, any problems we have we face it together, Shah said.
We are trying to create an understanding between the Muslim Council, the Muslim community and the American public in general.
State Rep. Paul DeWeese, R-Williamston, said he had been encouraging the Muslim community to become more political.
This is actually a significant event for the Muslim community, he said. They are stepping forward and saying, We are going to be participants in the community.
DeWeese said the organization will bring issues of diversity to the community and help destroy racial stereotypes of Muslims.
Another big issue we need to think about is making our public schools more sensitive to Muslim culture, he said.
Aly Abuzaakouk, executive director of the national American Muslim Council, said the Lansing chapter will bring more involvement in the political process.
It will bring a fresh new infusion of our ideas, our concerns, he said.
Bonior said he has worked closely with the American Muslim Council and said its members do excellent work.
We have a Muslim community in our country taking on stereotypes, fighting for justice, fighting for issues that they care about and foreign policy, he said.
Bonior said the organization will provide Lansing-area residents with diversity as well.
Its the greatest strength we have in our country is the fact that it is a diverse country made up of people from all continents, he said.
These are folks here that are from Asia, the Middle East, and they have come here and formed a community to share the culture of their religion and the varied countries they come from.