Friday, September 14 2012, 08:12 PM CDT
Muslims in Southeast Texas react to controversial video
BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard - It's an American-made video that's sparked controversy and outrage around the world.
The video mocks the Muslim faith and its leader Muhammad.
Some Islamic protestors have turned to violence, attacking the U.S. embassy in Libya.
Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador, to that country, died in the attack Tuesday, along with three other Americans.
The religious leader of the Islamic Society of the Triplex told KFDM News while many Muslims dislike the cartoon and its depiction of Muhammad, they also detest the violence that followed.
The imam says Muslims are seeking understanding.
He's a Hispanic American who grew up Catholic in New York.
Not the usual background of the religious leader of an Islamic mosque.
Daniel Abdullah Hernandez converted to Islam at 20.
He says leading the Muslim community here at the Islamic Society of the Triplex off Cardinal Drive is his calling.
"We wanted to make the local community comfortable. They're more than welcome to visit the mosque, ask questions, and we'll be more than glad to assist them."
Clearing up what he calls misconceptions about Islam is important to Hernandez.
Especially in the wake of this video.
It has sparked outrage and violence in Libya and other parts of the Middle East.
It depicts Muhammad as a womanizer, a fraud, and a madman, having sex and calling for massacres.
"I see it as an amateur video that is just utilized to ignite the emotions in people who are quick to react."
Hernandez says facing persecution is nothing new to Muslims.
"In the time of our prophet Muhammad, he endured many of these hardships, and he handled it in a different manner."
A manner Hernandez says didn't include violence.
"The majority of the Muslims are against this reaction. The majority of the Muslims, yes they're offended, but they're taking different measures. They're taking measures of education."
That's how 25-year-old James Hayhurst came to this faith nearly a year ago. "I went in as a skeptic and came out as a believer."
Hayhurst was raised as a conservative Christian.
He says Islam satisfies his questions about faith and knowledge.
He's also passing on his faith to his young daughter.
"She loves it. She asks me questions all day long about Islam. She sees the women and she wants to be like them."
From the leader of the congregation to one of its newest members.
They say their faith is one they'll be glad to share with anyone who asks. "America is very tolerant, and I'm happy to be here. A lot of curiosity. And that's great, that's excellent, that leads to knowledge."
Hernandez says the general community and the Muslim community in Southeast Texas have bonded.
He says he's excited about unity and he appreciates the Southern hospitality.