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Foreign Muslim leaders from Sudan visit Utah, defend their faith

Foreign Muslim leaders from Sudan visit Utah, defend their faith

(KUTV) As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls for an outright ban on Muslims entering the United States, some foreign Muslim leaders visiting Utah said their religion is not about terrorism or violence.

"We call for co-existence and for peace and for love among all nations of the world," said Sheikh Eltayeb Elkhlifa, one of several Muslims from Sudan in Utah as part of an international visitor leadership program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

The group of about 12 men are leaders of their branch of Islam. During their time in Utah, they have visited several schools, eaten with American families, and toured state cultural sites.

The men said they like it here, but they're also aware of the political debate in this country about their religion. It's ramped up recently after two Muslim extremists opened fire at a holiday party in California, killing 14 people.

"We (reject) violence and extremism," Elkhlifa told 2News.

His colleague, Mohammed Elmuntasir Mustafa, said he appreciated President Barack Obama's words Sunday night, calling for acceptance of the Muslim community.

Yet others, like Trump, say otherwise. Mustafa feels that type of speech does great harm.

"This will lead to growing resentment among young people," he said.

Mustafa also told 2News, if it were up to him, there would be a worldwide law against criticizing anyone's religion.

For now, members of the visiting Sudanese delegation simply said they just want to live peacefully and understand others -- something they're trying to do here in Utah.

"We call for peace and co-existence among different religions," said Elkhlifa.

The group will spend a few days more in Utah before traveling to Atlanta and then eventually heading back home to Sudan. Their trip is organized locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy.

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