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Charlotte Area News

Constructive dialogue: Myrick, Muslims meet and debate

Charlotte Congresswoman Sue Myrick made good on a promise last night to hold a town hall meeting with the local Muslim community. It was an opportunity for Myrick to explain her campaign to convince Americans that radical Islamists are infiltrating society. Much of the language she uses upsets many Muslims. Representative Myrick brought slides, video clips and even flew in a couple of her Muslim allies from out of state, but she spent most of the 90-minute meeting facing her critics head-on. About 200 people packed the Government Center auditorium for a tense, but largely respectful meeting. Myrick didn't shy away from pointed questions about her use of phrases like "Islamo-facist infiltrator" that many believe cast a shadow on the entire Muslim community. Here's an exchange with a member of the Islamic Center of Charlotte named Izzat Saymeh: Saymeh: Protecting Americans is all of Americans. Myrick: That's exactly right. Saymeh: Including American Muslims. Myrick: Of course. Saymeh: Who are part and parcel of the. . . Myrick: Why do you think - I'm just curious since we're having this dialogue, why do you think I don't feel . . . you should be as concerned as an American Muslim as I am for the security of this country as I am because you lived here. Saymeh: I am. Myrick: Yea, so I'm not working against you, I'm trying to be all inclusive to include you. After the meeting, Myrick said she expected things to be testy because many people misunderstand her intent: "They really don't know a majority of what I do and it is trying to support the moderate voices of the Muslim community all across the country." Ali Rashid of the Islamic Political Party of America was pleased with the event. He's one of the local Muslim leaders who asked Myrick to hold last night's town hall meeting. "She surprised me, you know because there was dialogue." And while he was pleased with her willingness to listen, he says the more important thing will be what she does now that she's heard their concerns.