Bahai News - Backlash has some here fearful of turbans

Backlash has some here fearful of turbans

By LA MONICA EVERETT-HAYNES
Citizen Staff Writer
Sept. 17, 2001

Boy's message to Muslims is one of peace

Some Tucson-area Muslims and Sikhs feel compelled to wear baseball caps instead of turbans.

Others have considered cutting their hair, which is contrary to their religious practices.

Women in the community are afraid of grocery shopping or taking their children to school.

These were among the concerns local religious and community organizers expressed yesterday at Rep. Jim Kolbe's home. They worry about the rising backlash against America's Muslim community since Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

"Whenever a tragic event like this happens, there is a backlash," Kolbe told nearly 25 people at the afternoon meeting.

"Our purpose was to talk about how we can come and talk together and understand acceptance," Kolbe said of the clergy and community members of the Bahai, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Greek Orthodox and Christian faiths.

Jasjit Chopra, who is of the Sikh faith, said he already notices a change.

"People are trying to mingle, to disguise our appearance," he said.

Some said they plan to join an interfaith council that they hope will help to reduce some of the racial and religious prejudice.

Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa said people should focus on developing personal, inner strength to prepare for the possibility of a third world war.

"When the rah rah goes away there will be something like World War II," he said.

"We're all soldiers," Khalsa said. "You don't have to be in Afghanistan shooting a gun. We're all spiritual soldiers."

"We've not only been attacked, we've been invaded," Khalsa said.

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron said that today, as Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, she hopes the community will "look to their sources" and seek peace.

"We will look deeply into the Torah, the Islamic faith will look into the Koran, and Christians will look into the Bible," Aaron said. "We will not bury our heads in sand."

Boy's message to Muslims is one of peace By C.T. REVERE Citizen Staff Writer

Abdul Rahim felt the misdirected hatred that surfaced after Tuesday's deadly terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

An American who converted to the Islamic faith, Rahim saw Tucson police officers stand vigil outside the mosque where he worships after motorists passing on East Speedway Boulevard shouted threats at him and other Muslims.

"The first 24 hours we did have police protection," he said. "They sat out front in a car and ran shifts until the next morning."

The Yusuf Masjid Mosque was locked tight with Rahim, 28, alone inside when a young visitor left a different message the next day.

"An 11-year-old boy left a U.S. flag and a note outside the door," he said.

The note stands in stark contrast to the earlier threats.

Dear Muslamic people,

Not all of us Americans blame you. Not all of us want bad things for you. If you lost a loved one in the ATTACK - I am sorry for your loss. May God bless them. May God bless all of us.

I hope this is over soon, so that your good people won't feel hated.

When this is over maybe someday I will come to one of your festivities. We all have our own higher power and I feel our higher power will guide us all tha (sic) give praise. I hope that all Americans realize from the Oklahoma bombing that McVeigh was an American Citizen, but it doesn't mean all us Americans shared his view on bombing our own people.

Not all of us are evil.

GOD is GOOD

In GOD we (should always) trust.

Pray for my country - our country

your friend,

Anthony age 11 proud to be an American.

Rahim was comforted by the child's words.

"That's always welcome," he said.

PHOTO CAPTION: NORMA JEAN GARGASZ/Tucson Citizen

An American flag flies at the Yousuf Masjid mosque of the Islam Ahmadiyya Movement at 250 W. Speedway Blvd. An 11-year-old named "Anthony" placed the flag and a letter of support at the mosque Wednesday. Members of the mosque found the flag and letter in the yard.


©Copyright 2001, Tucson Citizen

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