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Center opens to give look into Muslim community

October 8, 2017 GMT

Shaik Imam has been in Fort Wayne for a couple of years now and intends to stay.

The 28-year-old Trine University-trained engineer did an internship with the city of Fort Wayne and during that time met people from all over town.

The people he met on his rounds were curious about the Muslim community, Imam said, “but they didn’t hate it.”

Imam was one of the greeters Saturday at the fifth annual open house at the Universal Education Foundation on Goshen Avenue. The program, called “Islam 101: Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbors,” featured speakers from the local Muslim community followed by a social hour.

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On the table were American cookies side-by-side with boxed baklava treats and samosas from the Almadenah Halal Meat Market on Coliseum Boulevard West.

“They’re one of the best ones in Fort Wayne,” said Imam, who is from India.

Fort Wayne’s Muslim community of about 6,000 is represented by about 20 countries, according to UEF President Tariq Alkhairy. The Pakistani engineer has been in Fort Wayne for 27 years.

“So far I have not met a single person who has ever given me a dirty look,” he said. Local Muslims have come from Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. The largest communities are Bosnian and Burmese, Alkhairy added.

The UEF building was acquired in 2010 and sees about 250 people for Friday prayers. Most visitors ask about the similarities that exist among the Abrahamic faiths, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, said Ahmed Abdelmageed, a UEF board member.

“We didn’t know we had so many similarities,” Abdelmageed said people tell him.

jduffy@jg.net