Thursday, September 13, 2001

Muslims urged to give aid

Islamic center to hold service

By Kevin Aldridge and Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate Muslims called on their community Wednesday to donate blood, give money and pray for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

        And they pleaded with the public not to take out its anger on them.

[photo] Peace marchers, sponsored by the Community Commission on Peace and Healing, set flowers at Cincinnati's federal building during a march from Fountain Square.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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        The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati scheduled a special prayer service for Friday, and plans to launch a blood drive later this week. The center also has opened a fund at Fifth Third Bank for the victims of the attack.

        “We always help in any disaster. We helped when the earthquake happened in Turkey,” said Majed Dabdoub, president of the Islamic Association of Greater Cincinnati. “This is the least we could do as American citizens.”

        But many Muslims and Arab-Americans continued to express concern about a backlash if the perpetrators of the attacks turn out to be Muslim. Though no group has claimed responsibility, the focus on Osama bin Laden as a prime suspect has generated an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment among some Americans.

        West Chester Township police Tuesday arrested Adam Feld, 39, of Symmes Township after tracing two threatening phone calls to the center back to his residence. The threats prompted officials at the center to tighten security and cancel two days of classes and worship services. Police stood watch Wednesday. The Islamic Center was set to resume classes this morning, even as police investigate more threats on the center.

        The concern caused some Muslims to pray in their homes instead of the center on Wednesday.

[photo] Kristin Werner of Deer Park prays during a service Wednesday at the Crossroad Community Church on Madison Road in Oakley.
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        Females who wear hijab, the Islamic head scarves, have been urged not to wear the garb in public as a safety precaution.

        At the University of Cincinnati, officials are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of its Muslim students when classes start next week.

        “Definitely there's a fear,” said Rauf Bakali, of West Chester, whose son is a preschooler at the center. “Hopefully, this subsides and people start to realize that we're (Muslims) part of the greater community.”

        There are about 10,000 Muslims in Greater Cincinnati, Mr. Dabdoub said. Most immigrated to the Tristate during the 1960s from countries such as India, Pakistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

        However, the majority of Greater Cincinnati Muslims today are second-generation, American-born. Many are professionals and business owners who live in areas such as West Chester, Clifton, Blue Ash and Montgomery.

        Robert “Chip” Harrod, executive director of the National Council for Community and Justice, said of all the ethnicities in this country, people of Middle Eastern descent are the least familiar to most Americans. He said ignorance about a culture can leave some Americans vulnerable to prejudice.

        “Especially when the media is really focusing on a Middle Easterner as the principal suspect and perpetrator in this horrendous catastrophe,” Mr. Harrod said. “When you add the heightened anger, horror and shock with the lack of familiarity with Arabs and Muslims you have a situation ripe for the exercise of bigotry.”

        Dr. Inayat K. Malik, a 61-year-old urologist from Indian Hill, said Muslims by and large are peace-loving and don't condone violence of any kind. He said many Cincinnati Muslims are civic activists locally.

        “We are Americans, too. We vote, we pay taxes and we are horrified by what happened just like everybody else,” Dr. Malik said.

        Kaleem Ansari of West Chester, president of the Pakistan Cultural Association, added: “Most Middle Easterners who live here are peace-loving. If they were not, they would not leave their own country to come over here.”

At a glance
Attacks are topic No. 1 in classrooms
Body recovery part of work of NYC crews
Constituents' emotions unmitigated
Different faiths, all drawn to pray
Family clings to details of missing woman's fate
Jews seek normalcy
Local firefighters on task force joining rescue efforts
- Muslims urged to give aid
No date, time for nation's air travel to resume
Outpouring of donations keeps blood supply steady
Relatives wait for word, pray
Stranded travelers find help in Florence
Tightened air security will be norm
Travelers wait, pray in deserted airport
Work resumes, but life is different
Wright-Patterson medical personnel join effort
PULFER: Cell phones
RADEL: Tristate sprouts flying flags
Reports bring sweep of river
Court upholds stay for Byrd
Luken suggests raises for cadets
Luken unused to second place
Primary results
Council halts bid for road-extension vote
Superintendent's contract extended
Tristate A.M. Report
Woman shot outside school as it lets out