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Shia-Sunni unity conference held in US
  A national conference aimed at bridging sectarian and racial divides within Muslim-American communities was held in Detroit.
Monday 17 January 2011 16:28
Code : 40197
Shia-Sunni unity conference held in US
BFnews: The two-day gathering looked at "How do we break down those barriers that are dividing us and come together?" said Sofia Begg Latif, 25, of Dearborn Heights, one of the organizers.

The conference, cosponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, based in Warren, and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), based in Plainfield, Ind. included Muslim leaders from across United States and panels that feature both Shia and Sunni Muslims, along with Arab-American, south Asian and African-American Muslims.

Eide Alawan, a director at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn said: The idea of the conference was to have an introspective look at the Muslim community, and all of its diversity and complexity. There is no place that really epitomizes that as well as Detroit.

The conference comprised panels on how to improve Shia-Sunni relations, and about racial and ethnic divisions among Muslims.

It also discussed practical and potential ways for Muslims to increase unity.

Besides the keynote speaker Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who proposed a mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero about 400 people attended the gahtering.

Safaa Zarzour, secretary-general of ISNA said: The gathering is a serious and honest heart-to-heart conversation about our diversity, what direction we need to take.

Najah Bazzy of Canton, born to a Shia father and Sunni mother, spoke on Sunni-Shia relations. Bazzy said: My mother always taught us that you're Muslims ... and there shouldn't be issues between different sects.

In 2006, Shia and Sunni leaders in metro Detroit signed an agreement that calls on Muslims not to insult each other or promote literature that stokes hatred of different Islamic sects.