Saturday, September 15, 2001

Muslims denounce 'enemies of Islam'


Victims of terror honored in prayers

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — About 250 Muslims and non-Muslims came together Friday at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati for a special prayer vigil that was a show of unity as well as mourning for those who died in Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

[photo] Dr. Mumtaj A. Khan of Hamilton, prominently displaying an American Flag in the lapel of his jacket, joined in the multi-denominational prayer service at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Friday
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Local Muslims once again condemned the attack on the United States and expressed their condolences to those who have lost loved ones. They also called for all Americans to “minimize our differences and love each other as brothers.”

        “I came from Afghanistan to raise my family in a safe environment and now the same thing (terrorism) is happening here. It makes me want to cry,” said Ijaz Ahmad, 44, of West Chester. “We need to do whatever it takes to stop these (people).”

        Friday is Islam's holy day, when its followers congregate for worship just as Christians do on Sundays. The special prayer service drew people of all races, nationalities and religions to the mosque from as far as Dayton and Lawrenceburg.

Common cause

        Many Muslim women donned hijab, Islamic head scarves, while several men sported kufi, Islamic skullcaps. Some dressed in traditional Muslim robes. Others wore plain clothes.

        Dr. Mumtaj A. Khan, a Hamilton physician and native of India, sat quietly with an American flag sticking prominently out of his jacket pocket.

        Dr. Salem Foad, an arthritis specialist from Indian Hill and Islamic Center board member, told those huddled inside the center's mosque to show their resolve as Americans by donating blood, money and other assistance to those in need.

        Terrorists such as Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and others who claim to be Muslims are anything but, Dr. Foad said. He said Muslims must work harder to correct America's distorted view of their religion.

Religion affirms life

        “These people are enemies of Islam no matter how they label themselves,” Dr. Foad said. “Islam respects life.”

        Dr. Mohammad Khan, 33, of Symmes Township, added: “One bad apple in a crate does not reflect the entire crate. . . . We may have different religions (in America), but we are all the same people.”

        Tom Spaeth, of Anderson Township, agrees. Mr. Spaeth, the chief financial officer of Champion Window Manufacturing, is a Christian but wanted to show his support of Muslim-Americans by praying with them.

        “I think it is time for Christians to do what they say they're supposed to do and recognize that we are all praising God,” Mr. Spaeth said. “I think it was important for at least one of us to share that with our Islamic brothers.”

Expressions of support

        Karen Dabdoub, the administrator of the Islamic Center, said support from the community in recent days has been overwhelming. In the wake of the terrorist attacks, the center received several threatening phone calls telling Muslims to “go home.”

        “Mostly we've received letters and calls from people apologizing for the threats and telling us that not all Americans are bad people,” Mrs. Dabdoub said. “We have a good town with good people and it makes me proud to be a Cincinnatian.”

        Even though the center was open for prayer Friday, West Chester police maintained a strong presence and checked the identification of every visitor to the center before granting entry.

        The mosque, which is the largest in the Tristate, has about 1,000 members.
       



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