Heartland Muslims react to debate involving Ben Affleck - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heartland Muslims react to debate involving Ben Affleck

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A heated argument on "Real Time" between Ben Affleck and Bill Maher is getting national attention.

It was a rare sight to see two well-known liberals at odds over their beliefs about the Muslim religion.

Here in the Heartland, nearly 2,000 Islamic families call one city home.

Some Muslims say they struggle to fit into the American way of life.

One man working toward becoming an American citizenship said some American views toward the Islam faith are wrong.

He doesn't want to be identified.

He's still learning English, but his message is clear: Muslims are not terrorists.

At a school that helps internationals adjust to American life, some students say the problems in the Middle East are making it harder.

"It is really sad how people make this generalization. It is a bad generalization actually about Muslims when you hear, 'Muslim-terrorist, Islam-terrorism,'" he said.

He calls the actions of ISIS a disgrace and the opposite of what their religion stands for.

With the help of an interpreter, he added no one who kills innocent people can call themselves a true Muslim.

"The main message of Islam is spreading peace, connecting with god and spreading love with all people," he said.

Ragda Hahil said she is not used to celebrities or anyone else defending her faith.

She hopes the attention brings more understanding.

"It came really to our surprise. It has boosted our morale to some degree, I have to say that," she said.

She said the comments flooding Facebook were mostly positive.

"This is what made us really grateful and appreciative for what he did and we wish that we could really see more people like Ben Affleck," said Hahil.

They both went on to say how grateful they are for all of the help they have received from people since moving to southern Illinois.

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