CAIR-GA: A Symbol of Faith, a Chance to Teach


CAIR-GA: A SYMBOL OF FAITH, A CHANCE TO TEACH

Sept. 11th's stamp on Islam stared Khalid Siddiq in the face: two little words - "Get out" - spray painted on a wooden board and thrown on the construction site of a mosque rising on 14th Street.

The graffiti landed with a thud, but no one left. The refurbishing efforts continued at al-Farooq Masjid, and a year later glistening copper domes and a towering minaret vie for eye space with Midtown's modern skyscrapers. . .

The North Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 18 incidents of discrimination and harassment against Muslims in 2006, one a hate crime.

"It's a difficult environment," said Yusof Burke, director of the local CAIR chapter. "We feel we are under the microscope."

Born in upstate New York, Burke grew up in a white, Irish Catholic household and defies the stereotype of a Muslim. He converted to Islam in 1996 to marry a Muslim and worships at the Gwinnett County branch of the al-Farooq mosque.

Burke said bias against Muslims in Georgia has taken on a new form since 2001. Immediately after Sept. 11, he heard accusations of racial profiling involving law enforcement officers. Now, Burke said, the complaints have more to do with employment discrimination or disparaging comments.

 


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