Gulfport Muslim community speaks out on alleged religious attack

Published: Nov. 22, 2015 at 10:59 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2015 at 11:07 PM CST
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Pastor Ashley has accepted a debate challenge from a pastor in Atlanta. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Pastor Ashley has accepted a debate challenge from a pastor in Atlanta. (Photo source: WLOX News)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The words "Jesus is God, Allah is Satan", quoted with a bible scripture can be seen on a marquee outside of Cowan Road Baptist Church.

Now, those in the Muslim community are speaking out on what they feel is a religious attack.

"I felt that it was slanderous and that it was a hateful message. Anytime, we've never slandered anything that Christians on the coast do," Ari Cooper said.

Cooper and Brother Dawud Salaam say they believe the recent Paris  attacks have made people group Muslims into one category as terrorists, but they feel that people should learn more before they pass judgment and hate.

"I think it's more of ignorance when you lump a group of people to this big category because of one act that one person may have committed or several people have committed," Salaam said. "If people would take the time to study, not what other people tell them, but study what the facts are then a lot of this confusion would be cleared up."

Despite what they call an insult to their faith, both Cooper and Salaam say the respect and support they've received from believers and non-believers has been positive. And they hope that others understand we're all humans.

"We just want to say that's the beauty of Islam because we are taught that there's two types of people in the world - they're either your brothers and sisters in faith, or your brothers and sisters in humanity," Cooper said.

Conversations of the marquee isn't just on the coast, but Muslim followers as far as Atlanta have reached out to Pastor Ashley about what's on display.

An Atlanta man reached out to Pastor Ashley and left a message saying, "We noticed on your sign that it says 'Allah is Satan, Jesus is God'. We challenge you to a public debate about your statement. You all have defamed and insulted our faith, so we would like to challenge your statement 'Allah is Satan, Jesus is God'".

Pastor Ashley has called Mr. Bilal Stroud back to accept his debate challenge. They have both agreed to meet with people from their communities, Saturday, December 5th at 6 p.m. at Cowan Road Baptist Church.

The debate will be public and streamed online. We're going to continue to follow this controversial story and bring you the latest.

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