Melbourne, 5 Jumadil Awwal 1434/16 March 2013 (MINA) – Australia Muslim community inaugurated on Friday, March 15, their largest conference in Melbourne, hoping to correct misconceptions about their faith to the wider society.

        “There was a lot of media after September 11 going against Muslims, [saying] that they like to harm people, but it’s not true,” Brunswick cafe manager Houssan Afiouni, who came to the conference with his five children, told The Age newspaper as quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA). “[The conference] invites people to go deeply into Islam and see how peaceful it is.”

        Organized by the Islamic Research and Educational Academy (IREA), the three-day conference opened on Friday.

         Themed the “Australian Islamic Peace Conference”, the event aims at bridging gaps between Muslims and followers of other faiths and the wider community in Australia.

        At the opening of the conference, Waseem Razvi, the organizer of the Australian Islamic Peace Conference, apologized for the absence of advertised keynote speaker Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Grand Mosque of Makkah.

        “He gave us the days, those were the 15th to the 17th of March, and we booked the venue accordingly for the conference,” Razvi told the crowd of about 2000 faithful.

        “But due to certain personal reasons, yesterday when I spoke to the contact of Sheik Sudais in Mecca, they said to me that (he) will not be able to come because of personal reasons although he was willing and was prepared to come.

        “Yes, we regret his absence. But at the same time, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Sudais has said that he prays for the success of this conference, and he said insha’Allah — he wishes for peace for all the Australians,” Razvi said

        Instead, Brother Imran of the Indian Islamic Research and Education Foundation and Sheik Anwar Sahib, New Zealand’s only Salafist sheik, led the prayers.

The three-day conference features rides for children and halal foods.

        It also hosts a galaxy of Muslim scholars from around the world who would give marriage workshops, multilingual sessions and Da`wah workshops. Nearly 1,000 volunteers will be assisting in training and the management of the conference.

         The conference would also host the “Australian Stars Launch” where “some of Australia’s youngest Daees aged between 6-14 years, who have been actively working with IREA in promoting Islamic teachings and clarifying misconceptions about Islam, will be giving their presentations on some key concepts of Islam”.

         Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.(T/P05/E1)

 Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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