Tom Facchine


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Just even starting with us here this morning and I didn't get a chance. So you are. What is your what is your? What is your cup your mug say there? Oh my mug says Utica MSG, which is kind of the colloquial thing we go by over on Campbell Street. The official nonprofit name is the Muslim community association at Mohawk Valley. Email. I'm Tom Facchini. All right, well, I'm here an email with an email. I'm in the Muslim community mom's the equivalent of a priest or rabbi, not the religious leader of that community, give you know, religious sermons, lead prayers, conduct ceremonies, things like that. Is there a specific place that you do that? Yeah, at the actual mosque

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we have on Campbell Street and right near the parkway? Actually, it's a really nice facility. We built it from the ground up two years ago. Yeah. familiar with this beautiful us the best you can what is Hamas? Is it a political party? What what actually is that we hear everyone talks about it. But I don't know if we really have a clear understanding of exactly what it is good? Well, that's a good question. I'm glad you asked. Because the first thing is that not every Muslim is an expert on Hamas. I am not an expert on Hamas. I have no. I don't even know anybody who knows anybody who knows anybody. And that's part of the conversation. And occasionally you want to make I think it's really

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important, especially when we take into account the fact that a six year old got stabbed 26 times yesterday, a Palestinian boy outside of Chicago, by some by the landlord who came up and said that you Muslims must die. Right? So when we talk about collective punishment, and collective guilt, like the way that we talk about this stuff matters. And the FBI has talked about the increase of their intelligence in the reports of violence. Right. And again, that's why I want to start with that caveat is that I have no idea like, what is Hamas? You know, my my general impression is that if you go to most many movements that are armed movements, they have a political wing, and then they have a

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military wing, right? Sometimes there's greater cooperation between those wings, sometimes there's not so I don't really know, you don't know. Is it a set of the Muslim religion? No. Okay. I can't answer that. It's not like an sect in the sense that they don't have a distinct set of beliefs that like would make them like different. However, like when it comes to your beliefs about what is allowed for you to do in the field of battle. Now there are there's room for conversation there, because Islam says you cannot target civilians, you cannot fight or kill enemy combatants. So if and I don't have any reliable information, so this is all hearsay. But if, for example, Hamas is coming

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out and saying, Well, actually, no, you can do that, then that's not true, then that will be something that's against the religion. I was just one more follow up in this because I'm sure intrigued by this and understand this. Are all maths members, also Muslim? If you know, I would expect Yes, because everybody in the Gaza Strip is very slim. So that's not true. There's a population of 1000 Christians in the Gaza Strip, they're also getting bombed and annihilated by Israeli shelling right now. And yeah, and and I think the way I just see it is a moss is a militant group that has some political governmental role in the Gaza. Yes, in 2006, they were elected,

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democratically that upset a lot of people. They also have a humanitarian wing, from what I understand they build a lot of hospitals, they run a lot of schools, in a place like Gaza, that has, you know, multiple refugee camps, that, you know, has, you know, horrible infrastructure, like, you know, it's a difficult situation for the average person on Gaza Strip, when your food and your electricity and your other things are being provided by a group that you may or may not agree with, to the extent that you may or may not know the answer to who would have been responsible for the attack on the Israelis attending the concert in the kibbutz. Right. Well, that we know that that we

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know that that's what initiated this whole conflict, right is what is your says the war? Who would have directed that to occur? Well, you know, I mean, I may not know I don't know, your specific question. But there's, it's there's a possibility in these sorts of things that there's a lot of blame to go around. Okay, right. Because things don't happen in a vacuum, right? So you can talk about, we can zoom in on the details of the issue. And if it's true, and I say if it's true, because the first casualty of war is truth, the first casualty of war is truth. And there's a whole lot of propaganda flying around on all sides. Right. Okay. And we've seen how okay, like, you know, sleepy

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Joe got in front of everybody and said he saw a picture of 40 Babies decapitated? No, he didn't. It was a complete hoax. Now No, right. So there's a everybody has to take just a breather, and there's a lot of propaganda going around. It's hard to know what exactly to believe the attack, but the attack is not propaganda. Well, we know that I have something right here that says that one of the Israeli women that was president has 44 year old mother of three sp Porat said that there was a lot of crossfire between the Israeli forces and Hamas and a lot of the hostages died in the crossfire. Yes, there was an attack and an attack on civilians is wrong. Okay, but when it comes to respond

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possibility. We know that in a situation of war, things are messy. Everybody's trying to make the other person look bad. And I don't know, is this something that was completely one sided blame or completely both like are two sides were involved. And there's a larger context within which these things happen. Even if I disagree, and I say, Listen, Islam says you cannot kill civilians, you cannot kill enemy combatants, you know, and if it's true that Hamas is targeting and and non combatants, that's completely wrong, and I disagree with it. But it also exists in a larger context where people in Gaza have been cut off, blockaded for 17 years, for 17 years from any like, think

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about this. There is a humanitarian flotilla that tried to deliver services and food to Gaza a few years ago, and the Israeli Navy said, No, you gotta go home, we're not going to have any humanitarian humanitarian aid, they have their their hand on the spigot, when it comes to every all food that comes in and out of Gaza, all electricity comes out, you saw how easy to turn off the water. I'm not saying that, that justifies any sort of terrorist activity, or any sort of targeting of civilians. But these things happen in a larger context. And that's why I tried to tell people, the occupation is the root cause of this issue. Even if I completely disagree with the tactics that

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Hamas uses, which I do, if it's true that they do these tactics, the Occupy, if you take away the occupation, you take away the justification and you take away a lot of these. So Tom, what then because I know this issue is very, very difficult. And it's very, very hard. And for I'm not sure what the reaction is for some of our listeners, but it's hard to hear views that we just had an assembly member, assembly member, Robert smaller Nan talking about protecting the Jewish people at all costs in Israel, and we are their ally, and we need to protect them from evil people in that part of the world and from being destroyed. Now. I understand there's like you said, there's more.

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There's a context there. There's, there's more factors going on. So. So this conversation is really just not to advocate for one side or another just to hear, and I thought it'd be interesting to hear representative of our local Muslim community. So before we get any further, I guess, into the historic global aspect of what's going on there. You live here, you you, you're an imam at the look, the Muslim community association, Mohawk Valley, what has been the local reaction by Muslims to what they see going on? That's been brought to your attention? Yeah. Well, there's a couple things. First of all, we have a lot of Palestinian refugees. in Utica, we've a lot of hundreds of Palestinian

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refugees in Utica. And a lot of them have been refugees twice, right? They were kicked out and their homes were destroyed. Their villages were destroyed in 1947, during the Nakba. And then they are moved into, into maybe some of the more concentration camps, but their refugee camps in Iraq, and then when the Iraq War happened, they were refugees from Iraq, and they came to Utica. Right, so there's, here we go, again, sentiment, right, from a lot of people. There's a frustration that like, you know, I tried to say in the very beginning, that we're always Muslims are always sort of targeted with suspicion, and always asked to apologize and always asked to condemn things that we

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don't agree with. And, and groups that we're not a part of. Right. And this is why, you know, I said and I don't know if you saw the Rome sense and all but I was quoted in the Rome Sentinel in a YouTube video that I did. I was not interviewed for the peace because we missed the deadline. And unfortunately, it was presented as if it were an interview was not an interview. I was quoted. I said, we're tired of apologizing. We're tired of apologizing for things we don't do. And things we don't support, you know, after 911, right? denounce condemned. Yeah, sure. Okay. And then Taliban, and then ISIS, and then every single year to something happens. And there's a renewed environment of

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suspicion around Muslims. You know, my wife wanted to go to she wanted to go out the other day. You know what I had to tell her, I just read the article about the six year old boy getting stabbed. I said, you know, what, don't go out, stay in, because she has a hijab. She covers herself. What if someone wants to do something crazy, right? There is an unfair atmosphere of fear and suspicion where Muslims begin to be targeted, and it has real consequences. Why doesn't the Muslim community then condemn the actions of the people like the Hamas what that's because you've been doing this a minute, but you you can talk about justification for what they did. But we all saw there was an

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unprovoked attack on a concert that came from Hamas. It came from this from Palestine. And these kids are out there just to drink concert and they get attacked. They went to the kibbutz, and they attack families and they killed families. Now, the people who did there we know we believe are Hamas. They are Muslim. You're saying we want to distance ourselves from these people. And why are you condemning billionaires and doing instead of drugs? You condemn the the 26 year old? Sorry, the 26 stabs that six year old boy got yesterday outside school? Do you condemn that? I do. Yes. Okay. Do you condemn the Israeli army using white phosphorus chemical warfare against the civilians of

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Gaza? I don't have a position on that. You don't know the weapons but nobody

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is conveyed I don't know if that's been baked in i Let's let's say hypothetically if I had forgotten weapons on civilians from my quinoa single question that's the point I'm making why you answer first because we're we're tight let's This is attacking tight you might be being asked apologize, Muslims to apologize as a tactic to distract against the the oppression that we are suffering. It's a tactic. Okay. If you look at We're not the ones using chemical weapons in warfare. Okay. Yes, like we disagree. If Hamas is targeting civilians, we completely condemn it. And we have and condemning that. But the thing is, it's never enough. I'm kicking them at every single day. I condemn it in the

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mosque, I talk to my community, we statements whatever we we've been condemning since 911. And before that, it's never enough. So tell me what incentive do I have to keep condemning? If even my condemnation isn't enough? Why would I keep on doing it? Because I get annoyed too, if I came to you every single day. And I said, every single thing that happens to most of my set, Do you condemn this? Do you condemn that? Do you condemn this? Do you come on that you don't understand? This creates an environment of suspicion around Muslims. And that's why a six year old gets stabbed? Because in the community silence is construed as is a scent. Examine, why don't you condemn stuff

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that the Israeli government is doing? Not the average honest, innocent Israelis, but Israeli government, which the Israeli people are in protest against their protests against Netanyahu, they want them out? You know, it's like, this is not a Muslim Jewish issue. And some, some Palestinians and Muslims do live amongst the Jewish people in Israel or do right. This is an issue of the tactics of a government, a government. And if you I don't know if you follow Candace Owens on Twitter, but she posted something, she tweeted something the other day, it was very, very interesting. She said, Okay, everybody says, Yeah, we have to stand up for our allies, like, Okay, but what if there's an

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ally, that the ROI is very, very low and stuff and stops making sense? What's the United States return the return on investment, like, like, like, you know, how many times the United Nations has condemned Israel for violating its rules, 78 times 78 times, they've used chemical weapons, they're destroying villages 50 In the past week, okay, since they've been shelling Gaza, 50 families have been removed from the Civil Registry, I didn't understand what that meant. The first time I read that I had to like, think about it, that means LoDuca for Keeney, people with your last name, imagine how to family reunion, imagine all your brothers or your children or your cousins, or your

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uncle's or your aunts or your grandparents, the whole family tree removed, every single one of them dead, children, women, whatever, and you want to tell me that this is justified. That's now now looking at the that issue. And I think

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throughout history, there's a lot of relate religion has fueled a lot of divisions and, and genocide to some degree and killings. And when you bring it to the modern era, and you're talking about wire is the Muslim community as to apologize for for all of this all the time. But maybe my perspective, I'm just looking at this is that when you look at the headlines, and I know historically, like everybody's been guilty of everything, all of this civilization, that's the way the world develops. But you and you look at modern history, after 911, the headlines I see of beheadings of militant groups of of all the bombing back and forth is usually within Muslim communities. So as I don't I

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don't see I don't see in those headlines, I don't see. I'm just trying to make a point of what I observe in the news, the media coverage of versions, Christians leading attacks into the family. It's like that What do you why what is it about the moat? Those Those the Muslim religion that seems to be associated with these militant groups that keep making horrible headlines? Here's the thing I can understand. Okay. We know the politicians lie. Right? We know that the media lies, right? Then why all the sudden Do we believe everything they say? Do we Do you think that the CNN, the CNN actually tells the truth? Right, are you like uncritical of everything that CNN saw? I know more of

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what I see. I mean, I've seen the beheadings and I see what things are presented on context. You guys know that you're in media, right? You can spin something or you can select or you can omit, like, there's all these types of like strategies. Okay. So I'm not saying that these things didn't happen. I'm saying that when somebody else does it, and it's not reported on, and then the only person that's reported on is the same type of person, then that's a narrative. And that's a decision that media makes. I literally saw with my eyes, someone a video of someone in Gaza, carrying their eight year old child with no head

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lost their head in the mud Bartman. Right. Is that not a beheading? Right? Have we not? If you go to certain African nations, there have been Christians that attack Muslims, like in similar ways with beheadings if you go to Myanmar, how many Burmese refugees do we have here? Talk about who talks about Buddhist terrorism, right? There are Buddhist monks. There are Hindus in India that are

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that are that have beaten Muslims to death and beheaded Muslims. Why isn't Hindu terrorism? Why isn't Buddhist terrorism a thing? Because this is a narrative that the media has been pushing for a long time. It I'm not saying that those things didn't happen that Muslims don't commit atrocities they do. And we're upset about that. And that makes us very angry, and we try to do whatever we can to speak out about that. But when it's presented in an unfair and imbalanced way, it becomes a narrative and people die like that six year old boy. Right? This is my point. How should the Israelis have reacted to this attack? The Israeli government should follow international law, but be

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specific, what should they hit shall not use white phosphorus or chemical weapons if they are using it? Right, if they wanted to do an actual evacuation of north of Gaza, right, which was support which was issued with a 24 hour deadline on roads that they had already bombed so that they were unusable, then they would actually, they would invite outside observers to make sure no war crimes are going on. Right, they would not use the human shield argument to just use it as a justification for killing everything that moves. Listen, here's the thing that cracks me up is like you have in you see this, on CNN, there have been active Israeli military personnel on camera, saying that we're

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gonna go kill civilians. They're saying that we don't differentiate between Hamas and civilians. And you're looking at me as civilians as collateral not saying that they're purposely going to target so you're not going to make a difference. We're not going to differentiate if there's a 99 year old woman I can show you I keep receipts I watched last night I watched the the the IDF director, he said, we do not target civilians, we are targeting Hamas, their military operations where they have the words they show, and the geysers in the north guys are everywhere they bombed and they have these they had it designated. So these are all areas where they believe that there were military

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weapons or a military group, or that's what they're trying now, are there people who are going to be close? They're going to be collateral damage? Yes. But But basically, this best is different what what I am where you asked me to answer I hope they get on the same page, because there have been military personnel, maybe that one was, was saying something different there. The military personnel on CNN, I've watched it that have said we're not going to differentiate between civilians and whatever. So I hope they get on the same page. Okay, so my question, how should you told me what they shouldn't do? But what should Israel have done? How should they have reacted to this thing,

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this attack on these concert course? What should they have done? Again, binds to that decontextualize? An answer? Yeah. Do you have an answer? What's the answer? Well, you can't detect decontextualize it from the situation of occupation. If they're serious about not wanting to fuel, even unjust and wrong, like terrorism, you have to take steps to end the occupation. Like if Israel has the right to exist, Palestine has the right to exist, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip has a right to exist, lift the blockade, right, whatever. Specifically, when it comes to a theater of war. All I asked was that people follow the international law, it's not that hard, right? If you're gonna

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give people if you want to evacuate people, and like, actually let them evacuate, you don't give them 24 hours, you don't give 24 hours for war over 1 million people to leave and get to a place that's already sort of like, you don't understand Gaza is an open air prison is prison is surrounded by walls, and the sea and that so what's, uh, what are they really trying to? And I think we, in our modern history, when you look at what the United States has done in some of these, that there is generally there is a deliberative process that allows all this to unfold before bombs start flying. And there is a lot of notice in many cases given to those places to evacuate, because it's not, at

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least his eyes seen even after 911. The effort was to try to target the enemies that were doing this. The last thing United States wanted to have on its on its record sheet is wiping out innocent people. And that hasn't always been the case. But I think when you look at these words, they've been handled it as I see it a lot differently than what just unfolded now. But in terms of Israel's fine, and it does bother me. I understand all all perspectives on this, but it does bother me when you see innocent children and families being killed. Because I don't know what the answer is. I don't know what to Mark's question what Israel should have done differently. When Hamas is role is to do

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exactly that use innocence and families to try to infiltrate and protect themselves. And if that's the weapon, the means by which mosque tries to avoid being attacked and killed is to use innocence as shields, then how do you get around that? Well, here's the thing to both sides do. And that's something no one talks about. The, you know, the Israeli government, they use their settlers, in order to shield them and provide them justification to attack and have these reprisals on Palestinians as well. Okay, when it comes to some of the settlers, and it's crazy, because it's like if you actually know Palestinians in the Palestinian community, people still have the keys to their

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houses, right. It's like, it's like the Bosnians, it's like, you know what I mean? It's like they left their home in the 40s in the 50s. And the 60s depending on like when, and they actually

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still have the keys of their houses, and some dude from Long Island, right? Went over there. And he's given military training, he has a weapon and he takes it over. Right? Like, it's just like insane, like the situation. And then what'll happen is like, I watched again, with my eyes, like a video of an Israeli settler, you know, who was being confronted by Palestinians with no weapons or whatever there he was trying to take over their land. And he got a little bit of distance he pushed off and he shot him. You know, point blank. Right. So there's a, an unfortunate situation that the United States should hold Israel accountable for, okay. And I don't believe in blank checks when it

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comes to like, I'm an American first guy, okay. It's like, nobody gets a free ride. If you're gonna have an ally, they gotta follow the rules, right? Like, do you know that we spend four times as much money funding Israel's military than we do on food stamps? Four times $13.1 million a day? should write checks, shouldn't hostages be released? Of course, hostages should always be released, I don't believe seeing hostages as like a mediately. Yeah, immediately, both sides, both sides. And I know this may be hard to answer, we're running out of time. But I guess just, I think you did a great job explaining your side, you're making some points. This is really just continued to go back, you know,

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over 50 years, I'm sure, obviously longer, but maybe the last real

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occupation of Israel and the West Bank and the continuation of the livelihood, the threats of the livelihood and the homes and then even the control on on those people? No, 100%. I mean, this is the thing, you have to fix the root of the issue, you're not going to solve it if you don't fix the root of the issue. If you had to go to Syracuse for work every day, and you had to pass through eight checkpoints with armed guards and fences, like you were going through the airport. And then but maybe they turn you back, right. This is the average life of an average Palestinian in the West Bank. Right? If you had to live like you had to live in Gaza, you know, like, you wouldn't be able

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to tolerate it. And you would be pretty angry at people telling you exactly how you should be reacting. I'm not saying that that's that their reactions are always appropriate. Right. But I'm just saying that you have to fix the root of the issue. If Israel as a country, if they have a right to this great, no problem. But if it was established unilaterally, right, without everybody on board, you're only going to keep having these problems. If you I don't know what the solution is, that's not for me to decide, you know, Palestinians and Israelis have to figure it out. Those conversations should actually be facilitated in a genuine way and not in a way where people agree

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and then don't fulfill their agreements. That's happened a lot in the past 2030 years, too. But when it comes to actually the way forward, you have to solve the root issues, get everybody on at the table, have every talk about how can we move forward? What What can we do to automate to make it right? What can we do to make it right? Like, if you don't solve the root of the issue, this thing is just going to happen? It doesn't help. It's how much of the root of a issue just quickly before we go, how much of the root of the issue is Iran, which is a bigger fish in this fight? I think you can debate whether they were involved in this incident or not, but they clearly been supporting the

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groups and militants and Hamas and Hizbollah over there. And the NF Irfan is using those groups to do all the dirty and bloody work. We got a bigger problem. They are a factor, but they also like to take credit for for more than necessarily they're responsible for because it makes them look good. Right for their side. Okay, when it comes to Iran's involvement and anybody else's involvement, right. It's like, it's just giving them fodder, right. To make things harder on the Palestinians, you take away any reason to try to court, you know, Iranian backing or funding or whatever, if you saw the root of the issue. Okay, if you actually have Israelis and Palestinians trying to work it

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out together, then no one's going to involve outside parties. No one's going to look for like these sorts of shady alliances, you know, like, you can't solve the thing without the root of the issue. And that's the thing that I hope everybody keeps in mind. Tom Facchini in studio with us here this morning, Tom. Great job, Iman. And, Tom, go ahead, give us the listeners the information about where, where they may see you and the mosque again. I'm around town, we're on Campbell Street, right. We're right near the the parkway, and I'm somebody who I'm open to conversation. You know, I'm born and bred in my country. My family has been in this country since 1905. You know, like, I'm

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not going anywhere. There's my country. And you know, like, people, you know, just let's have a conversation. I believe in being critical. I believe. You can dislike Islam, you can dislike Muslims, I don't care. But be consistent. That's all I want from people. I want people to be consistent, be fair, I try to be consistent. And I expect the same from other people. That's fair. That's fair. Part of the Muslim community association. Tom, always welcome please, if there's anything that we can do as far as conversation facilitation, maybe bridging any kind of gap, bringing the community together or furthering these conversations. You're more than welcome. Come on

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in. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. You got it anytime. That stay with us nine o'clock talk

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