By Kathleen Devaney
Marking a departure from previous years, this year, the Ahmadiyya Indiana chapter shared its patriotism toward the United States with the Carmel community during a community-wide celebration held July 4 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Lawrence Inlow Park.
The president of the Indiana Ahmadiyya chapter, Imran Malik, decided to host a public celebration rather than the more traditional private celebration because he is worried that events that have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001, have been projecting a negative and incorrect image of Islam to some Americans. He hopes that public displays of unity and understanding, such as the event held in the park, can help correct that image.
It does not matter whether the government of the country you live in is Islamic or non-Islamic, he said, it is the duty of each citizen to show patriotism and obey the laws of the country.
“The main purpose (of the celebration) is to share with our fellow citizens that we are a part of a peaceful religion that teaches us to be loyal to the country we live in,” Malik said.
Rabia Ummad, a member of Ahmadiyya, explained how fortunate Americans are to have the endless amounts of freedom the United States provides in comparison to many other countries.
“I think a lot of people have this perception that we don’t love America just because we migrated here,” she said. “But this is the place that gives us freedom!”
Not only were there members of the Ahmadiyya and the Carmel community present, but also Mayor Jim Brainard, Chief of Fire Prevention for the Carmel Fire Dept. Bruce Knott, and Police Chief Tim Green spoke about their roles in the community and the importance of Independence Day to the nation.
Brainard spoke about how exciting it was to see people from all different religions and cultures come together to celebrate a day that was marked in history 237 years ago.
“Sometimes we see tremendous patriotism from newer immigrants, and that’s what we’re seeing here today,” Brainard said.
Knott shared his gratitude for having the opportunity to be able to partake in the event and explained how Carmel’s emergency services benefit all members of the Carmel community.
Green appreciated being at the event because it gives police a chance to learn about different groups and cultures, which ultimately helps officers when it comes to the community’s safety, he said.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the United States of America is only about 125 years old, with more than 15,000 members and 70 chapters in the U.S. The group that strives to deliver the peaceful message of Islam celebrated the 4th of July with fellow Americans on a national level.
“To be out in public and have our civil service present here today gives us an opportunity to show our fellow Americans that we celebrate as well,” Malik said.