- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Area Muslims say they fully support the American government's stand against those involved in Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and are willing to offer a helping hand to the country's war against terrorism.
Muslims in the District and its suburbs have been organizing blood drives and collecting money for the victims of the attacks. Yesterday, the D.C.-based American Muslim Council urged Muslims proficient in Farsi (Persian) and Arabic to help the FBI, which is appealing for experts in those languages to assist the agency's intelligence-gathering.
The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also appealed to anyone with knowledge of the attacks to contact the FBI.
"For anyone to do this and call themselves Muslims is absurd," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Yesterday, at the Muslim Council Center mosque on New Hampshire Avenue, flowers for the victims were placed outside the mosque's closed doors, along with cards. A large American flag fluttered at the entrance to the mosque and fliers announced the cancellation of a picnic scheduled for Sunday "in view of Tuesday's tragic events."
Outside the Islamic Center in Montgomery County, which was also closed, an FBI agent had tacked a visiting card to the door.
As many as 500 Muslims were among those killed in the attacks, Muslim community leaders say. However, since last Tuesday's attacks, there have been several reports of a backlash against Muslims in the country.
Yesterday, President Bush visited the Islamic Center in the District and called for an end to violence against Muslims. "Those who feel they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger do not represent the best of America. They represent the worst of humankind and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior," Mr. Bush said.
A bomb was found yesterday in a mosque in James City, Va., and last week a bookstore in Alexandria was vandalized. Muslims around the region have reported retaliatory attacks. The killings over the weekend of a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona and a Pakistani grocer in Dallas may also have been fueled by anger over the terrorist attacks.
In the Washington area, at least one Sikh — a member of a monotheistic Hindu sect in which males wear turbans — had rocks thrown through windows of his home in Northern Virginia. Another reported being chased by an angry mob, again in Northern Virginia, on the day of the attacks.
The Islamic Society of Baltimore urged Muslims to avoid appearing in public if they wear Islamic attire and to travel in groups of at least two.
"The hate mail we've gotten has generally come from people with no knowledge of Islam," said Imam Imad Ahmad, who leads several prominent Islamic organizations, including the Islamic American Zakat Foundation (a charity), the Minaret of Freedom Institute (a think tank) and Dar-adh dhikr Masjid (a mosque) in Bethesda.
Muslims here say they have no sympathy for terrorists or for Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be behind the attacks.
Assad Nrazy, an Afghan immigrant who came to America 22 years ago, said he was "very deeply saddened and angered by the acts of these so-called Muslims who committed these murders."
Mr. Nrazy, a Sunni Muslim, said his community had also faced losses of their own from terrorists in his country. "In Afghanistan, the [Taliban] killed our leader, Ahmed-Shah Massoud," he said. Ahmed-Shah Massoud, an Afghan military leader opposed to the Taliban, was injured by a bomb the night before last week's attacks on America. Government officials have said that Mr. Massoud was killed because he would likely have joined U.S. efforts to track down bin Laden.
"We have been fighting [Osama bin Laden] for over 10 years, and if America attacks, we are all for it, if it will rid Afghanistan of bin Laden and his followers," Mr. Nrazy said.
Other Muslims said the terrorists were not acting like true Muslims and should not be associated with the religion. "Islam doesn't condone suicide, which is considered a serious, religious crime. So is killing other humans," said Abdul Maten Chida, a Muslim who runs an ethnic grocery store in Falls Church.
He said he hoped the press would refrain from using the term "Islamic terrorist."
"When the Oklahoma building was bombed, did people call [Timothy McVeigh] a 'Christian terrorist'? Why should they label it this time?" he said.
Muslim students at the University of Maryland say they too have felt a chill, but that has not deterred them from helping where they can.
"The Muslim Student Association has been donating blood and encouraging others to do so, collecting donations, and participating in interfaith prayer services as well," said the university's Muslim chaplain, Ali Darwish.
"We have not set up any public speakers as yet, but we will distribute informational fliers to students and faculty about the Muslim religion and educate them on the fact that nearly 500 Muslims were killed in the attacks," he said.

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