Relatively few acts of violence or vandalism have been seen at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C.
That’s thanks to help from area police, said Sadar Tanveer, the principal of the International Academy of Cincinnati at the center. Tanveer, a West Chester resident who is originally from Pakistan, called the backlash “a sad thing.”
“We are citizens of this country, and we have contributed to the welfare of this country,” Tanveer said.
Isa Ar-Razi, a Middletown resident who is a physical education teacher at the Academy, said he has not been personally affected much by the Muslim backlash, but the Iraq war especially disturbs him.
“Overall, it’s been negative because, personally, I believe a lot of people have been affected because I have Iraq connections,” Ar-Razi said. “What the media says is late or sugar-coated. Now that we’re there, it is not going as the (Bush) administration is portraying it. We are not in a better position.”
Salem Foad is a Cincinnati doctor who has also preached at the Islamic Center, where he is a founding member. Foad said that center has gone a long way toward promoting understanding of the Muslim culture, particularly through school field trips. The center sees about 5,000 visitors per year.
“People are eager to find out what do Muslims do, and people who visit our center have a good relationship with us,” Foad said.
Still, he detests the stereotyping of Muslims and the religion of Islam when only 1 percent of them are the extremists that tarnish the faith’s image.
“We have the same hopes, ambitions and fears as everyone. You see radicals and extremists in every religion,” he said.
When asked how the tide of negative feelings can be turned, Karen Dabdoub, the executive director of the Cincinnati office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “I wish I knew the answer to that.
“I could go on for hours. I don’t think there is a magic pill, but we have to education people as to what we stand for,” Dabdoub said. “It’s just going to take more effort and time.”