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Muslim relations in Osceola focus of town hall

Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 5:13 pm

By Charlie Reed
For the News-Gazette
The take-away from U.S. Rep. Darren Soto’s town hall in Kissimmee earlier this month: The more Muslim and non-Muslim residents of Osceola County interact, the better.
More than 100 people attended the public meeting last week, held at the Osceola County Commission chambers.
Local elected officials and law enforcement chiefs along with several representatives from the Muslim community gave formal remarks.
Much of the commentary focused on a federal executive order that prohibited incoming travelers seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. in January.
Soto was among members of Congress, federal officials and attorneys across the country who helped people who already had legal documentation to enter, if not reside in, the U.S.
No Osceola County residents were affected by the order. But several at the town hall said they’ve been unfairly questioned at U.S. airports in recent months.
“If somebody is a U.S. citizen coming into the country, you don’t have to ask him about his religion,” said Dr. Zaid Fadhli, a longtime Kissimmee urologist.
“We’re the first people who want to keep this country safe,” said Fadhli, part of a group of local Muslim doctors who give pro-bono medical services to local uninsured residents.
Ezziddine “Dean” Diab, a Celebration-based businessman and Vietnam veteran, said he routinely travels to the Middle East on personal and professional business.
In recent months Diab said he’s been questioned about his religion at the airport like never before. 
“I feel like a second-class citizen,” Diab said.
Josh Browning, a Kissimmee resident and Iraq War veteran, asked whether additional vetting of travelers to and from certain Middle Eastern countries was justified.
Browning and Diab chatted as the event broke up, sharing a common bond in their U.S. military service.
“It was so good to hear you speak,” Browning told Diab.
Soto concluded by saying good schools and hospitals, safe neighborhoods and a robust economy are common goals shared by everyone, despite their religion, culture or socio-economic background.