- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

Muslims around the region lighted candles, prayed and honored the memories of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks yesterday.

Condemning violence in the name of Islam, Muslims said that, as Americans, they wanted to show the world that they share in the grief.

"I am in America for over 12 years," said Hassan Samrhouni, president of the Washington Moroccan Club. "My kids are American. Somebody has to show the rest of the world that we are all Americans, and we suffered, too."

Last night, about 150 people attended a special dinner at the Casablanca Restaurant in Alexandria organized by the Washington Moroccan Club. The event featured poetry readings, prayers, a moment of silence and speeches by local politicians and Aziz Mekouar, the Moroccan ambassador to the United States.

The event began with a moment of silence as images of the devastation last year were projected onto a screen. Afterward, 11-year-old Adam Labriny read a poem he wrote entitled "As I Watched the World Falling Apart."

Kamal Nawash, who attended the event, spoke to the audience about his memories of that day. "I still remember how furious I felt after I saw people jumping from the towers," he said.

"Many people ask why this happened. It really doesn't matter. We shouldn't ask why this happened, because to ask is to somehow imply that this can be justified," he said.

An ecumenical gathering was held at Masjid Muhammad, a mosque in Northwest, to honor the victims and offer attendees the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to their communities.

"Islam doesn't condone killing of innocent women and children," said Ibrahim Mumin, a member of the mosque. "We, like you, are upset, shocked, horrified about the events [of] last year. But we have work to do to educate people about Islam and to fight bias, bigotry and racism, and instead work toward inclusion."

At universities around the metropolitan area, Muslim students came out to mark the day and honor those who died. There will be additional events tomorrow, a Muslim day of prayer.

Altaf Husain, president of the national Muslim Students Association, said the idea was to join with other groups marking the day.

"It is almost an inherent desire to mark the horrific loss of life of our fellow Americans," he said. "And there is an external desire to show people ignorant of Islam that these attacks are not something we condone or are part of."

Events were sponsored by Muslims around the region. In Fairfax, the Dulles Area Muslim Society held an open house in Sterling and featured Islamic songs of peace. In Silver Spring, residents gathered at the Muslim Community Center for an interfaith service.

People filtered into the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond as it opened its doors to Muslims and non-Muslims alike for the past two weeks so that people with an interest could learn more about the religion.

"We have the same sense of grief, of sadness, of shock," Tariq Jangda said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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