Changing the conversation on Islam and terrorism

Posted at 12:07 AM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 00:07:51-05

What's in a name? 

After Wednesday's attack in California, Sharif Elhosseiny with the Islamic Center of Palm Beach says actually, quite a bit.
"We don't know all the details, but the fact that it was a Muslim name...that definitely concerns us," he says.
Federal officials still haven't labeled it a terrorist attack But Elhosseiny says when Sayed Farook and Tasfeen Malik were named as suspects, many in his community had the same reaction - frustration.  
"This is not a Muslim act," says Fawaz Abukhalil, a business owner in Riviera Beach. "A lot of things happened, they blame it to the Muslim. This is not what our religion teaches."
Abukhalil has owned his store in Riviera Beach for 25 years.

He says most Muslims are like him - religious, community oriented and peaceful.

But he says the emergence of ISIS and the recent attacks in Paris and now California are re-igniting criticism of Islam. 
"That's the worst thing we've ever heard on this earth. ISIS...I don't know where they [came] up from," Abukhalil says.
The Islamic Center has the monumental task of drawing that distinction between faith and fear.

Later this month, it's hosting a discussion on terrorism.
"So that we can clarify what Islam's true position is regarding these heinous, deplorable acts that we have continually been seeing," Elhosseiny says.
The public is invited to provide input - no matter how critical. 
"People can come and voice and their questions," Elhosseiny says. "Get all those things that they are confused about - those things they have doubts about - out in the open." 

A date, time and place for the discussion should be finalized next week.