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Toledo Faiths Solace Muslims

Published: 08/10/2012 12:18:13 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Revealing the depth of their pain from an attack on an Islamic center in Toledo, in the US Midwestern state of Ohio, representatives of different faiths came together in an interfaith prayer to show support for their (more)

CAIRO - Revealing the depth of their pain from an attack on an Islamic center in Toledo, in the US Midwestern state of Ohio, representatives of different faiths came together in an interfaith prayer to show support for their Muslim neighbors and dispel Islamophobic assaults.

“We appreciated all the support that we got from different cultures, different religions that came together and supported us,” Muslim worshipper Nour Taouil told Toledo Blade on Monday, October 8.

“It tells us how nice the city of Toledo and how nice this community is, like a melting pot, and we can't let one person ruin it for all.”

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A week ago, Toledo Muslims were shocked after a fire gutted their prayer room at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

Randy Linn was arrested over the arson and has been charged with two felonies.

The arson attack caused a damage amounting between $1 million to $1.5 million, said Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, the Islamic Center's president.

Dealing with the devastation caused by the fire, members and friends of Toledo's Muslim community gathered for the weekly Friday prayers under a tent.

Another interfaith prayer was held on Sunday, with leaders of different faiths showing support for Muslims after the attack.

Attendants included US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo); assistant US attorney Ava Rotell Dustin; Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Angela Zimmann, the Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District, who was there in her role as a Lutheran pastor.

Among attendees were also Toledo City Council members D. Michael Collins and George Sarantou.

Several Christian ministers wore their clerical collars including Judy Wilcox of Maumee United Methodist Church, who presented a prayer quilt to the Islamic Center.

Prayers were also offered by some of the attendees, including Judy Trautman of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, Ajit Jaggi of the Hindu Temple of Toledo in Sylvania, and Imam Farooq AboElzahab, the religious leader of the Islamic Center.

Eliminate Islamophobia

Religious leaders called for fighting hatred and Islamophobia to help prevent similar assaults.

“When you see your friends tell them you were here and ask them why they were not here,” Rabbi Moshe Saks of B'Nai Temple Israel said.

“Don't be obnoxious about it, don't be smug, get them to talk about what this meant here.”

Awad, the CAIR executive director, said one person — an arsonist — came to the Islamic Center on a Sunday a week ago, but “600 people came on another Sunday” for the multi-faith prayer service.

“I urge of you to be visible and not to be silent,” Awad said.

“This is the take-home message: ‘Don't be silent.' If you see Islamophobia, stand up. Push back. You don't have to be the imam. You don't even have to be a Muslim.

“Push back. When you see some bad and negative and biased coverage, which is a lot, speak up and challenge stereotypes. Because when people hear you, when they see you, you are really lighting a candle in front of darkness.”

Revealing the depth of her pain from the attack on the mosque, Dr. Islam, the president of the Islamic Center, appreciated the support the mosque got from all faiths in Toledo.

“We will galvanize with our brothers and sisters of all faiths to call out Islamophobia when we see it,” Dr. Islam said.

The Islamic Center “will work with our legislators to make Islamophobia a crime under federal law.”

Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to eight million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was targeting their faith.

A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender said that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.

A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

Reproduced with permission from