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U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver Holds Interfaith Rally In Support Of Kansas City's Islamic Community

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Cody Newill
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KCUR 89.3
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver stands with Kansas City area Muslim leaders Sunday to show support and solidarity.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver held a holiday party and interfaith rally at Union Station Sunday evening to show support for Kansas City's Muslim community.

Several hundred people of all faiths came to the event to mingle, eat and enjoy the holidays together. Since terrorist attacks in Paris left more than 100 dead in November, Cleaver says, Islamophobic rhetoric in America has gone too far and risks alienating moral, law-abiding citizens.

"People of goodwill can spread peace and hope," Cleaver said. "I don't think that hate is stronger than love, and we're going to demonstrate, not just for the Kansas City area, but for the entire nation, that love wins out."

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Credit Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Several hundred people showed up to the holiday party and interfaith rally.

Cleaver reached out to Arif Ahmad of the Islamic Center of Johnson County several days ago to bring as many Muslim residents to the gathering as possible. Ahmad said he is always glad to distance Kansas City's Muslim population from terrorist groups like the Islamic State.

"Everybody is shying away because of the vitriol, the poison being spread [about Muslims]," Ahmad said. "We've got to do a better job of reaching our neighbors, demystifying Islam. And I think our neighbors should ask us questions too." 

Olathe resident Imran Hassan said his experience in Kansas City has been overwhelmingly positive, despite charged rhetoric from political candidates.

"We haven't really felt anything negative [from Kansas Citians]," Hassan said. "I'm not saying there are no people in Kansas City that have [Islamophobic] thoughts, but I want to believe that it's still a minority of people."

Cody Newill is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewill or send him an email at cody@kcur.org.

KCUR is contributing to KCPT's Beyond Belief project. Click here to listen to an interview with Arif Ahmad, which aired on KCPT's Ruckus show.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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