Islamic Center Hosts Post-Election Meal For Strangers

Posted at 10:07 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-19 23:26:12-05

Hundreds of people poured into the Islamic Center of Tennessee for a meal hosted by the center's leaders.

Organizers said the event Saturday night happened spontaneously following an outpouring of emails, phone calls, and handwritten notes showing love and support for Muslims following a divisive election cycle.

"I want people to know they have an ally no matter what side of the aisle they stand on," said Sherne-Marie McMillan, who attended the event. "It goes beyond which side of the aisle you're on and goes toward being a human being - understanding what it's like to show compassion to others."

McMillan attended the event alone, with the intention of meeting new people - something event organizers encouraged by asking attendees to sit with strangers during the two-hour event.

"I came here alone but it feels like one big family eating together," said Liz Bradley, another attendee. "What has stood out to me so far is the friendliness of everyone."

Friendliness and support was the message many organizers shared with the packed room.

"We are coming together to support each other and send a message that we value Muslims, blacks, immigrants, women, and all minority groups," said Aisha Lbhalla, founder of the Muslim Women's Council. "We reaffirm our support for a more diverse, inclusive, welcoming community and society. Today we are going to eat, discuss, and survive."

Lbhalla said the response for Saturday's event was so overwhelming, the center has planned to host similar events in the future.