CAIRO - The recent mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin's Harford County has raised Muslim community concerns for their safety, seeking more security around their mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
"Most of the attacks on the Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims and that is why the Muslim community is afraid that this might happen to them," Rehan Khan, president of Masjid Al-Falaah, the mosque in Abingdon, told Baltimore Sun.
"We do need to take safety measures and we do need the state and local authorities to take adequate measures to protect our places of worship."
At least seven people were killed when a gunman attacked people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last Sunday.
Authorities said that four people were shot dead inside the sprawling temple. Three more, including the gunman, were killed outside.
Earlier this week, Khan issued a statement condemning the Wisconsin attack.
"It's horrifying whenever a place of worship is attacked in this brutal way. I don't have stronger words to condemn it," Khan said Thursday.
With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan under way, the community is especially worried about safety during high-profile events.
"It's such a small minority and we have only one house of worship," Khan said.
"We are just afraid of the copy cats."
Khan said that the Harford County Sheriff's Office has agreed to provide some type of security for the congregation, although he did not know if it would be area patrols or an actual deputy on-site.
He added the police presence should reassure those attending the mosque.
"People are continuing their normal Ramadan activities," he said.
Asking for more security, the mosque president denied any specific threats against the Muslim community, adding that the congregation has had a "very positive experience" in Harford County.
"On the contrary, we have received words of support from the neighboring churches, which is very encouraging," Khan told Baltimore Sun.
"We have very good relations with people of other faiths. We have visited other churches and we have received very kind and accommodating words from our neighbors."
Khan said the congregation has had a "very positive experience" in Harford County and also attended a memorial service for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year at a Quaker church.
"We are very sure that this area is very peaceful and we do not expect that [kind of attack]," he said.
He prayed for more understanding between people of different faiths in the community to end any fears of religious minorities.
"I always look at things in the most positive manner, and we can use this event to educate people about the differences in religion and the common factors that bind us all as human beings, and to be kind and courteous to others and discuss our differences in more humane ways," he said.
"We are very hopeful and very thankful to our neighbors," he said.
There are between six to seven million Muslims in the United States, making up less than three percent of the country's 300 million population.
Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, many American Muslims complain that they continue to face discrimination and stereotyping because of their Islamic attires or identities.
Since the 9/11 attacks, Sikhs have sometimes been confused publicly with Muslims because of their turban headdress and beards.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net