AUSTIN (KXAN) — A simple Facebook post is helping to bring Austin Muslims closer to the larger community.
Naeem Randhawa wanted to give people a chance to meet ‘real’ Muslims in their neighborhood, and provide an open forum to ask any questions they may have.
“At the end of the day, we choose to believe, that as humans – we have more in common, than our differences,” Randhawa wrote on his Facebook page. “And with that we lay out our welcome mat for anyone, who wants to sit and talk. We live in nervous times, but the healing begins with a cup of coffee, and a friendship.”
He says there was a larger response than he expected. About 15-20 people joined Randhawa and his wife, Sonia Laflamme, at the Live For More Center to talk and ask questions.
“I want my neighbors to feel comfortable if they meet me,” said Laflamme. “And if they wonder about something, just ask me, and stop wondering!”
“All we hear about is Muslims this, Muslims that. And being Muslim, I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect us, deeply,” said Randhawa.
He says they may just owe the gathering to Mr. Trump.
“The message we put into the Facebook post was, if you want to get together for coffee and doughnuts, we’re here. And we’d love to meet with anyone in the community who’s concerned about recent events and wants to talk,” said Randhawa. “We came to realize, not surprisingly, that we really have more in common than our differences.”
Robert Cotten, a Christian who attends Wells Branch Community Church, came to the gathering.
“I think it’s important to put a face to a religion like Islam,” said Cotten. “When you know somebody and have conversations, you can come to the table with a much clearer perspective.”
Randhawa and his wife have a 9-year-old son.
“We’re really no different than anyone else. We have the same worries, anxieties, pressures, as anybody else,” he says. “I think at the end of the day, people are people, people are descent and people are good.”
Now they want to make it a monthly event.