Hawzah News Agency-The Islamic Organization of North America is hosting its 12th annual convention in Detroit this weekend. It will take place at Cobo Hall for three days, starting yesterday.
It is addressing serious challenges facing the Muslim community in America with a focus on drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and rising Islamophobia, according to William Antoun, assistant outreach director of IONA.
“The rhetoric is bordering on hate-mongering. It is breeding hate in a subtle way,” said Azer Colakovic, secretary general for the group. “People feel it. People are worried.”
Addressing those concerns, and finding possible solutions, mark the nonprofit religious group’s “Living the Faith: The Struggle Continues — Confronting Challenges, Identifying Solutions,” which runs Friday through Sunday at Cobo Center.
The convention, open to the public, features lectures and workshops headed by imams and educators as well as interfaith leaders tackling topics including Islamic family law, empowerment and youth advancement.
As many as 1,000 guests are expected to attend the gathering for IONA, which is based in Warren and has chapters across the country and in Canada, Colakovic said.
The event is designed to serve as a springboard for action in the community, Colakovic said. “Throughout the year we will be working on issues, identifying individuals who can work on specific challenges.”
Discrimination and targeting of Muslims has been highlighted in recent weeks following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election. His positions on issues such as Muslim immigration prompted protests in Metro Detroit as well as nationwide.
Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has noted a spike in incidents targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since Nov. 8, and Southern Poverty Law Center also found rising reports of harassment.