LONGWOOD, Fla. - Days after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he’d like to ban Muslims from visiting the United States, a group of local Muslims invited him to an Orlando mosque in hopes of changing his mind.
Representatives from 13 local Muslim groups organized a news conference in Longwood Saturday morning to condemn the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, and to publicly invite Trump to tour a local mosque.
"We are inviting him to a mosque to come speak with us," said Atif Fareed, of American Muslim Community Centers. “Once I sit down with Mr. Trump and speak to him, I guarantee you he will change his mind."
Trump’s assertion that Muslims living abroad “have horrible things in their mind” is a sign that the presidential candidate needs to study up on Islam, Fareed said. And Fareed offered to help Trump do that.
Even if Trump doesn’t accept the invitation, local Muslim community leaders said they hope the front-runner will at least focus on building bridges instead of burning them.
Wajeeh Bajwa, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Orlando chapter, said Islam orders Muslims to be loyal to the country they live in.
"Originally, I'm from Pakistan,” Bajwa said. “But my loyalties are with America, because I'm an American now."
Orlando’s Baitul-Aafiyat Mosque hosted a blood drive Saturday afternoon, which was followed by a prayer vigil for the victims of the California massacre.
"We are doing this blood drive especially to tell our fellow Americans that not every Muslim is there to take lives,” Bajwa said.
Calls made to the Trump campaign about the invitation to visit the local mosque weren’t returned.