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FAN honors Tri-Cities imam for his leadership

By Alyssa Nedrow

Imam Mohamed Elsehmawy

Faith Action Network (FAN) of Washington presented Imam Mohamed Elsehmawy of the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities their Interfaith Leadership Award at their Annual Dinner during November in Seattle. 

FAN, a statewide, interfaith nonprofit organization, partners for the common good with more than 100 faith communities across the state.

The Islamic Center in the Tri-Cities (ICTC) and Imam Mohamed Elsehmawy have been in partnership with FAN for a year, working together to tend the flame of interfaith understanding and collaboration.

In presenting the award, FAN co-director Paul Benz said Elsehmawy and ICTC embody the spirit of interfaith partnership.  During 2015, the Islamic Center planted a pear tree on the grounds of Shalom United Church of Christ as a gift of peace to signify the bridge of connection between religions and the connection of love, faith and humanity. 

In accepting the award, Elsehmawy reflected on the importance of and need for this peace and connection.

The dinner followed recent attacks on Beirut, Lebanon, and Paris, France.

Many attendees were saddened and confused by the violence that is taking place everyday all over the world, said Paul.

Elsehmawy’s dream is to one day turn on the TV and hear that there is no war in the world.

“Terrorism does not have any religion,” he said. “I’m really sad when I see Jewish children killed. I’m really sad when I see Christian children killed. I’m really sad when I see Muslim children killed. For what? God created human beings to spread peace on the earth.”

Other speakers addressed the importance of working as people of all faiths to come together in partnership for the common good.

“We must be the faith community so that we can speak to the issues,” said the Rev. Carey Anderson of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Seattle, the keynote speaker. “There is something going on beneath the waterline, and that something is structural racism.” 

He proposed that people use a new language.

“We must equip people with a language of love, a language of harmony, a language of social justice.  A language that says injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he said.

“There are consequences if we leave this place without this new language. There is an ecclesial issue we must address if we do not see ourselves connected—connected by head, heart, passion, faith and social justice,” said Carey.

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