Meet A Muslim Day Aims For Open Dialogue

By Fortesa Latifi

TEMPE — On Saturday afternoon, Latif Ahmed stood on a sidewalk in Tempe holding a red, white and blue sign reading “I’M A MUSLIM ASK ME ANYTHING.” He laughed when asked if the American color scheme was purposeful.

“What do you think?” Ahmed said. “We are just as American as you are. We like the same colors.”

In 80 cities across the country, Muslims stood on street corners with signs like Ahmed’s for the second annual “Meet A Muslim” day. In Tempe, Ahmed and other members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization were stationed on the corner of Fifth Street and Mill Avenue.

The idea behind this kind of effort is to, hopefully, break down barriers that may make certain people uncomfortable talking about the religion and also dispel racism toward Muslims.

Some of those who walked by stopped and talked to the Muslim men. One woman said her best friend was a Persian Muslim. It was hard to explain to her Trump-supporting family that there are good Muslims, she said. The men thanked her for trying.

Others, however, ignored them. They averted their eyes or gave a polite shake of their heads. Some took a pamphlet from the men but didn’t stop to ask anything.

And some screamed. Thirty minutes after the Muslim men arrived with their signs, a truck full of young people drove by, stopping for a moment.

“Your religion sucks!” one yelled through an open window.

Latif Ahmed smiled and thanked them.

“Have a nice day!” he called back. “It’s okay. We face that every day.”

Meet A Muslim participants

Soleman Haque, Mabroor Khan and Sufian Ahmed stand on the corner of Fifth Street and Mill Avenue. (Photo by Fortesa Latifi/Cronkite News)

Later, Sufian Ahmed stood on the opposite side of the street with a blue and yellow sign bearing the same message: “I’M A MUSLIM ASK ME ANYTHING.”

A middle-aged man was stopped at a red light close to Sufian Ahmed. He leaned out his window and yelled something indistinct.

Ahmed offered him a handout on the Muslim religion.

“No! I’m a Christian!” the man said.

“You can still have a flyer,” Sufian Ahmed said.

“You’re an idiot!” the man said.

Sufian Ahmed turned away from the man in the car. Another man was walking by and heard the exchange. He walked toward the man in the car and told him he was a racist. The man in the car waved his hand, shrugging the notion off.

The light finally turned green. The man took one last look at Sufian Ahmed, screamed an expletive and drove away.

Sufian Ahmed wasn’t rattled by the interaction.

“It’s fine,” he said. “I don’t blame them because they’ve been raised in this society where they’ve seen Muslims portrayed in this horrible vision.”

He said he would have liked to have had a conversation with the man in the car.

“If they listened to what we wanted to say, I think they would change their minds,” Sufian Ahmed said.

Some minds, apparently, didn’t need changing. Paul Caldron, who said he identifies as Christian, stopped to shake the hands of three young Muslim men standing together with their signs.

“We’re mostly a Christian nation,” Caldron said. “Most of us need to learn more about Islam, what true Islam is. It’s a peaceful religion. I admire these young men coming out and trying to get the word out.”

Meet A Muslim sign

Latif Ahmed’s sign. (Photo by Fortesa Latifi/Cronkite News)

The men stood in the 100-degree heat with their signs, offering pamphlets and cold water and answers to anyone interested in them. It comes down to something simple, said Latif Ahmed.

“We are all Americans like you,” Latif Ahmed said. “We bleed the same red. We love this country as much as you guys.”


  1. I don`t believe the woman who said “it is hard to explain to her Trump-supporting family that there are good Muslims.” If Fortesa Latifi, the reporter, were doing her job, contact info for such family members would have been solicited so she could ask them if it was true. Also, just because the guy in the car didn`t want the proffered literature does not make him a racist as the bystander accused him of being. Who wouldn`t be upset and perhaps even swear if they were unjustly accused of being a racist? As for America`s portrayal of Muslims, to generalize and say Muslims have been “portrayed in this horrible vision,” whatever that actually means, is just not true. Clearly, this “article” was written with a dark agenda as its purpose.

  2. Why is moderate islam defined as the tolerant form of the religion as opposed to just islam? I’ve never heard the terms “moderate christianity”, “moderate judaism”, or “moderate hinduism” used.

    • Probably because “radical” Christians, Jews and Hindus aren’t running around the world chopping off peoples heads, kidnapping entire villages of school girls, committing honor killings or hijacking airplanes and flying them into tall buildings.
      And I’m pretty sure if this was the case moderate Christians, Jews and Hindus would be a little more outspoken about it then moderate Muslims are by the actions of peace loving radical Islamic terrorist.

      The Oracle

  3. After reading the article I was especially fond of the enlightened dumbass PC police attacking the heckler, shouting at him, calling him out, calling him “a racist”.
    I had no idea that Islam was a race. Just another example of the looney libtatd left attacking non-conformist with labels instead of debate. Labels that don’t even apply but sound victorious, mean and hurtful istantly commanding the respect by fellow lemmings. Over the cliff you go, misery loves company, enjoy the view, don’t forget to write…

    The Oracle

  4. have a look at the Muslim world – have a look at the Muslim worlds actions towards the United States – have a look at the Muslim worlds nations in their actions towards Israel – have a look at the Muslim worlds actions and beliefs with regard to women in their family, in their society, in their day to day being… knowing this why would I have any questions for this guy standing in the sun. Just one question ; Could you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior – no suicide vest required, just free for the asking he does Love you as well. The second greatest commandment ‘Love your brother as you love yourself’ – a bit harder to do at times is it not.

    • A very real person in History whose claims can not be refuted. His disciples were willing to die for their belief that He is who He said he was. Those who were wanting to deny he was who He said He was only needed to produce his dead body. They could not because He was raised from the Dead, defeating death. The Old Testament Prophecies about his life verify who He Is. More ancient copies of the Bible exist than any other text in history. His life changed the way time is recorded, BC to AD. His life changed the lives of more people than all the armies in History. That is just a brief description.

  5. A PR move to coincide with 9-11? Why not disavow what the Radicals do? Give us an explanation of a Moderate “good” Muslim versus the Radical Jihadists? Explain to us why what the Radicals are doing is not true Islam? If you being a Moderate Muslim, would you be OK to go to a Radical Jihadist Imamn? and ask why are you preaching jihad? Those would be questions I would like answered.

  6. “…what true Islam is. It’s a peaceful religion.”

    You can start by disavowing the practice of “Taqiyya”.

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