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Miami Gardens: 2 faiths join hands in cyclone relief effort
Miami Herald, Posted on Sun., May 18, 2008
BY PETER BAILEY
The images of twisted limbs and fallen bodies emanating from storm-ravaged Myanmar compelled South Florida religious leaders to form an unlikely coalition to aid relief efforts.
Addressing the human tragedy, Catholic priests and Muslim prayer leaders gathered at the Masjid Miami Gardens, 4305 NW 183rd St., on Wednesday to appeal for funds for storm victims.
"I'm standing on holy ground with my Muslim brothers and sisters to help the victims in Myanmar," said Father Roger Holoubek of St. Maurice Catholic Church in Dania Beach.
"The crisis crosses religious and ethnic lines," said Altaf Ali, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Helping those in need is a central tenet in both our faiths."
Ali said CAIR first discussed partnering with the Archdiocese of Miami on humanitarian efforts in 2006 after the controversy surrounding a speech by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope later apologized for what Muslims worldwide considered a mischaracterization of Islam.
"That event led us to build bridges between both faiths," said Ali.
International agencies have put the death toll at 50,000 to 100,000 in Myanmar since a deadly cyclone hit the primarily Buddhist nation on May 3.
Catholic Charities will forward money gifts to the Catholic agency Caritas Internationalis, said Gloria Lunas, head of social advocacy for the archdiocese.
Said Holoubek: "We're all in this together."
Donations may be sent to Catholic Charities Myanmar Aid, 9401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami Shores, FL 33138. For more information, call 305-762-3006.
Miami Gardens officials, Muslims break bread
Miami Herald, Posted on Sat, Oct. 06, 2007
BY ROBERT SAMUELS
The setting sun cast an orange-purple glow over the Miami Gardens masjid.
About 200 Muslims gathered for iftar, the traditional meal to end the daily fast during the holiest time of the year.
Then, there were whispers about the woman with the short haircut making her way to the mosque: "Is that her? . . . Is that the mayor?"
Instantly, a crowd huddled around Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson. It was her first time attending a religious observance at the masjid. Oscar Braynon II, a city councilman running for state representative, was there as well.
At first, the two did what politicians do -- smile, shake hands, give out business cards.
But for many Muslims, it was more than the standard political appearance. The city's politicians hardly come to their events, many said, although the largest mosque in the county is within their borders. They saw Friday night's visit as a victory in an increasing effort to build relationships between the city and the masjid, one of the central gathering spots for South Florida's Islamic population.
"Islam teaches us to have a good relationship with our neighbors," said Syed Faisal, a local Islamic leader. "We want to be more of a part of the community, and we need to understand what we can do for them."