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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 31, 2001

Muslim takes on education effort

By Tanya Bricking
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hakim Ouansafi has emerged as a leader in Hawai'i in a role that fell upon him: spokesman for the Muslim community.

Michelle Ouansafi's husband, Hakim, is president of the Muslim Association of Hawai'i.

Advertiser library photo

Ouansafi, 37, general manager of the Aston Aloha Surf Hotel, is the volunteer president of the Muslim Association of Hawai'i. He was thrust into the spotlight after Sept. 11, bringing many to tears days after the attacks at a state Capitol service where he asked the crowd to stand and join hands.

Since then, he has tried to bring unity where there has been conflict. He has become the local face and voice of Islam.

In the months since the terrorist attacks, Ouansafi has accepted countless invitations to speak about his faith.

He has overseen 31 conversions to Hawai'i's Muslim community of more than 3,000.

He has tried to erase misconceptions about a religion he said was seen as mysterious.

"It's been very interesting, very humbling," he said. "A lot of good came out of this tragedy. People are coming together."

He sees his mission as one of fostering understanding, and his goal for the new year is to continue raising awareness beyond what people see on their television screens.

"Really," he said, "my goal is for Sept. 11, 2002, that all of us will be able to live like God wanted us to."