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Groups in NC Fight Islamaphobia with Education

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Monday, July 10, 2017   

RALEIGH, N.C. – With incidences of violence against Muslims occurring in some parts of the country, some North Carolina groups have decided to fight the trend with knowledge.

One such group is United Electrical Workers Local 150. The union is starting in the workplace, educating employers and co-workers about the Islamic community and offering tips for showing respect to members of the Muslim faith.

UE President Nathanette Mayo says it's a natural fit for a union that already champions workplace rights and social justice issues for public service workers.

"It's just opening up and educating people that there's more than one path to enlightenment, and that whatever path you choose, if that makes you a better person and that helps you do what you see is right, then that's all the better," she states.

Recently the anti-Muslim group ACT for America organized a nationwide protest against Muslim people – and Mayo's union is one group that took part in a counter-protest in Raleigh.

The union is asking that in addition to helping curb violence, North Carolinians take steps to better understand the Islamic culture.

Mayo says it isn't only a matter of recognizing other people's religious holidays and traditions, it's also important that workplaces accept the culture and communication needs of all people.

"We've had employers who have told people that they could not speak their native tongue while they were at work,” she relates. “You may not have English as a first language, and because you don't, doesn't mean that you're denied your right to speak that language at work."

The electrical workers' union is part of a North Carolina-based group called MERI, the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia.

Last year, members facilitated 30 presentations and 11 workshops on Islamophobia throughout North Carolina and other states.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.


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