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Muslims in Monroe host interfaith meeting on Paris attacks

MONROE, Wash. -- Muslims have often been targets of intolerance since the start of America's war on terror, but but members of a local mosque are trying to turn the tide of public sentiment. On Sunday, leaders from various faiths gathered at Ba'it Ul Ehsan Mosque to talk about how to achieve peace overseas by starting here at home.

The meeting tried to find ways for different cultures and religions to work together for peace - even when confronted by horrific acts like what was on display in the streets of Paris.

"It's so sad that there's such a misunderstanding between the cultures, the religions," said Linda Emory, a Monroe resident.

A panel of leaders from various faiths explored what it takes to achieve global peace and how it starts by fighting ignorance at home.

"This kind of event, where we get to know each other, where we can face each other, it's a big step to understanding and getting to know one another," said Rev. Michael Hanford, one of the panelists invited from Christ Church Monroe.

Imam Zafar Sarwar said the radical, extremist beliefs behind the Paris attacks is in no way supported by the teachings of the Qur'an.

"God said that if you kill a person, you are killing the whole of mankind," Sarwar said. "So they have killed not one person. They have killed over 130 people."

The holy texts of all major religions teach people to strive for inner peace, and faith leaders said following those teachings can set the tone for global change.

"We can certainly pray for that result," said Rev. Tom Sorenson, from the First Congregational Church of Maltby. "It's sometimes hard to hold onto much hope because there is so much violence in the world."

Instead of turning numb from the senseless violence in Paris, the religious leaders who gathered in Monroe believe international peace can be fostered through grassroots efforts. They said it's those individual efforts that break down barriers

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