America’s Longest Running Muslim Convention Draws Prominent Lawmakers, Diplomats
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community heralded as antidote to extremism
For Immediate Release:
August 18, 2014
Civic, political and religious leaders lauded the efforts of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA during its 66thAnnual Convention this past weekend in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. More than 7,000 people attended the oldest and longest lasting Muslim convention in America to participate in its presentations and breakout meetings. The focus of this year’s convention was to discuss faith’s role as the antidote to the world’s crises. The weekend-long convention was streamed live, with simultaneous Spanish translation also provided.
At a special interfaith session during the weekend-long convention, political, civic and religious leaders commended Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s track record of bringing people and the world toward peace. In addition, foreign diplomats lauded its affiliated charitable organization, Humanity First, particularly for its humanitarian work in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Guatemala and the Marshall Islands.
Patty Kim presented the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives extolling their efforts to create new pathways to peace, saying that Islam had in the past “been unfairly labeled” as anything but a peaceful religion.
Shaarik Zafar, the U.S. State Department’s newly appointed Special Representative to Muslim Communities addressed the crowd, saying: “Now more than ever it’s important for members of all faiths, including those of no faith, to come together to promote peace…the entire Unites States government stands with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.”
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA presented its annual Humanitarian Award during this session to two recipients. The first was U.S. Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN) who addressed the convention attendees via a video message by thanking the community and its international Khalifa, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Citing the violence in Palestine, Pakistan and at the hands of ISIS, Congressman Carson concluded by recognizing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, saying: “You have dedicated yourselves to the improvement of our communities.”
Dr. Robert George, Princeton Professor of Jurisprudence and Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), also received the Humanitarian Award for his work for liberty and peace in recent years. Speaking about continued state-sanctioned persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, including the recent attacks in Gujranwala, Dr. George declared: “The [attackers] say you are not Muslims. I say they are not Muslims.” Noting the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s commitment to remain steadfast and peaceful despite its persecution, Dr. George stated: “Those behind the persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslims are some of the worst enemies of human freedom and dignity. But what a refreshing difference there is between you and your persecutors.”
Other speakers at the convention included:
- Undersecretary General of the United Nations, Zainab Hawa Bangura
- Uganda Ambassador to the United States, Oliver Wonekha
- Ambassador of Sierra Leone, Bockari Stevens
- President of the Marshall Islands Mayors Association James Matayoshi
- Chief of Police in Canton, Massachusetts Ken Berkowitz
- Duke University Chaplain, Imam Abdullah Antepli
- Communications Director for Council for American Islamic Relations, Agnieska Karoluk
The Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett also sent a message to the convention, stating “As you gather to strengthen the bonds of your community, all those in attendance are embracing a rich heritage filled with tradition and pride.”
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey sent official recognition from the U.S. Senate for all Convention delegates. The Mayor of Harrisburg, Eric Papenfuse, commented about the convention, saying “We are especially impressed at the message of peace and understanding you bring to our area and to the world. Thank you for gracing our capital city with your presence, and we look forward to welcoming you again in the coming years!”
Harris Zafar, National Spokesperson
About the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, reformist and fast-growing international movement within Islam. Founded in 1889, the Community spans more than 200 countries with membership over 160 million. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, established in 1920, is among the first American-Muslim organizations.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organization to believe that the long- awaited messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India. Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The Community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. Ahmad’s advent has brought about an unprecedented era of Islamic revival and moderation. He divested Muslims of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings.
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