DETROIT (WXYZ) - Thousands of Muslims and Muslim Americans are converging on Detroit as the city hosts the Islamic Society of North America annual convention, this weekend at Cobo Center.
ISNA is an organization focused on unifying Muslim communities, educating people about Muslim contributions to society and building relationships between Muslims and people of other faiths.
“We hope that by having this kind of interaction, it gives people the opportunity to walk together, talk together and eventually find friendships,” said Wazir Mutaqqi of Strausburg, Pennsylvania.
Rana Khandekhar added, “also, having a shared sense of community as Americans, not just as Muslims, but feeling pride in this country and what it has to offer to people of all faiths.”
The theme of the 51st annual convention is “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim American Culture.” Governor Rick Snyder stopped by Cobo Center to welcome attendees to Michigan and the Detroit area. In his remarks, Snyder commended ISNA for its inter-faith efforts to heal divides.
“We must all work hard to ensure peace at home and in the world,” said Snyder.
Nadeem Kahn of Atlanta, Georgia agrees. “We have a connection with the Christian brothers, the Jewish brothers,” said Kahn. "I think the foundation is all the same.”
Organizers expect more than 10,000 attendees from across the country will participate, providing a big boost to the Detroit economy.
“We’re bringing $20 million in revenue here to the city just from the business that we’re bringing to downtown,” said ISNA Communications Director Edgar Hopida. “We’re hoping that Detroit also rises with us.”
The ISNA convention runs through Labor Day and attendees will hear from several big name speakers over the four days of sessions. The biggest among those names— former President Jimmy Carter who will address the convention on Saturday afternoon.