Columbias Great Muslim Food Festival'Breaking naan:' Great Muslim Food Fest encourages community to learn about Islam

The response: Wa Alaikum Assalam. And may peace be with you too.

The common greeting between Muslims transcends language, Adam Mefrakis said. Even for non-Arabic speaking Muslims, the greeting still stands.

The Islamic Center of Central Missouri, Mefrakis said, is "almost like a melting pot." An MU graduate and Columbia native, his father is from Libya, his mother from Missouri.

The people who attend aren't just one large synonymous ethnic group, Mefrakis said,"it's a mix. It shows that Columbia has a lot of diversity."

At the Great Muslim Food Fest on Sunday afternoon, Mefrakis gave a tour of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri and spoke about common misconceptions about Islam.

Columbia March for Rohingya CAIR Missouri Save the RohingyaCOLUMBIA - More than 50 people marched the streets of downtown Columbia to rally for peace in Myanmar, formally known as Burma, Friday afternoon.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Center of Central Missouri organized the rally, which ended in Sen. Claire McCaskill's office. Marchers spoke with the senator's representative and hope she will encourage fellow lawmakers to end human rights violations in Myanmar.

Violence towards Rohingya Muslims has increased during the past three weeks, specifically towards women and children in the region.


The Great Muslim Cook Off Food Festival Vendor CAIR MissouriEvent organizer Hassan Yasin of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in St Louis had a message, “Essentially not only Muslims, but Christians, Judaism, any religion you are, even if you don’t believe in religion, you are still welcome here. In CAIR’s eyes, you are an equal person, no matter who you are and what you believe in.”

Yasin says the turnout far exceeded the amount of RSVPs his group received on Facebook, but he was okay with that, “I’ve seen lots of hugs, pictures taken together. Everyone’s asking for pictures. Everyone’s trying the ethnic food, which is amazing.”

The executive director of CAIR in Missouri, Faizan Syed, says “Meet a Muslim” events are starting to catch-on across the country, “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say they didn’t know anything about the Muslim community. They were very happy they came today. This was an opportunity for us not to lecture to people, not to give an Islam 101 talk, but rather learn about other people through a common interest, which in this case was food.”

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Michale Berg Jewish Voices for Peace Palestine ProtestBut the director of the Missouri chapter of CAIR, who described the killing of the Israeli police officers as a “heinous act,” said the local protest was about more than just the metal detectors. He pointed to the Israeli police’s decision to temporarily ban male Muslim worshippers under the age of 50 to pray at the site. Such moves “increase the level of anger for Muslims who feel that Israel is continuing to encroach on their land and on their religion,” said Faizan Syed, who helped organize the protest alongside members of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that promotes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

“What started as three deranged lunatics” — the Arab-Israelis who shot the police officers — “has now resulted in people all over the world protesting in the streets, and that’s why we have to be very careful” in how police respond “especially when it comes to holy sites in Jerusalem,” said Syed, who has participated in interfaith efforts with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

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