Knoxville native starts global campaign to heal Muslim tension

Knoxville native starts global campaign to heal Muslim tension

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"It was really sad, and we felt like the only thing we could do is respond to evil with good," said Tarek El-Messidi. "It was really sad, and we felt like the only thing we could do is respond to evil with good," said Tarek El-Messidi.
"I'm extremely proud of my brother for all the effort he has put into this campaign," said Tarek's brother, Ashraf El-Messidi. "I'm extremely proud of my brother for all the effort he has put into this campaign," said Tarek's brother, Ashraf El-Messidi.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Recent protests in the Middle East aimed at the United States have a Knoxville native wanting to make a change.

The demonstrations started after the release of an American-made anti-Muslim movie.

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya resulted in the deaths of four Americans. U.S. State Department officials say the attackers took advantage of the demonstration to stage the attack.

The protests against the U.S. may appear to some as if every Muslim hates this country, especially after seeing the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Tarek El-Messidi, who grew up in Knoxville but now lives in Cincinnati, wanted to make sure people know that is not the case.

"It was really sad, and we felt like the only thing we could do is respond to evil with good," said El-Messidi.

El-Messidi is the founder of Celebrate Mercy, a non-profit organization to help people learn about the Muslim faith.

After the recent events, he decided something had to be done.

"We are basically asking for Muslims around the world, from all over the Muslim world, to write a letter of condolences of the family of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens," El-Messidi said.

El-Messidi's goal was to get 1,000 letters in 10 days. Thursday was the fifth day of the campaign and he has already received more than 5,000. His new goal is to get 10,000 in the next five days.

The online campaign has now gone viral. El-Messidi has received letters from more than 80 countries.

"I'm extremely proud of my brother for all the effort he has put into this campaign," said Tarek's brother, Ashraf El-Messidi.

A local Muslim representatives says El-Messidi's actions can be good for the local image of Islam.

"I thought it was a really good idea because the killers of Ambassador Stevens, they really don't represent at all the mainstream Muslim community, or even the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. So I was really happy that Celebrate Mercy came up with this idea," said Muslim Youth of Knoxville Minister Abdel Rahman Murphy.

El-Messidi is confident he will get 10,000 letters in the next five days.

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