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Recently a minister in Fairmont made extremely offensive remarks about the Muslim community in West Virginia. Unfortunately, the remarks of this televangelist are part of a consistent pattern where our state is making national headlines for the wrong reasons.

Just last year, at our state Capitol, there was an anti-Muslim display which created numerous controversies and national headlines for the wrong reasons.

Make no mistake about it, these views represent a small minority, but this small group seems to always have the loudest voices. The overwhelming majority of West Virginians are amazing people who do not hold such narrow-minded views.

But, if we are going to move West Virginia forward, we need to leave bigotry like this behind. We need to show the rest of the country what the majority of West Virginians are truly like: extremely hard-working and some of the most caring people you will ever meet.

Today, our nation is divided due to toxic rhetoric from people from all areas of the political spectrum. Remarks like the ones made by the Fairmont preacher only further divide our country which is something we absolutely do not need right now.

The Muslim community in West Virginia is a diverse one which is always striving help our community and state become a better place. So many of the ideas America was founded upon — freedom, justice and equality — are taught by Islam too. We are proud Muslims and we are proud Americans and nothing prevents us from being both at the same time.

We all need to remember the words of Khalil Gibran, “I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.”

We need to take the time to learn about each other’s cultures and religions, and always respect our differences with others. At the end of the day, we are all West Virginians and Americans first. We will always be stronger when we come together as Mountaineers and reject hate among our hills because we are better than that.

Azeem Khan, of Charleston, is a freshman at West Virginia University.