OPEN HOUSE AT MOSQUE OF SUSPECTS PROVES TENSE
PALMYRA, N.J., May 18 The man sat in the back row of the mosque, his arms folded, unsure whether his hard opinions would change.
“I’m concerned about the Muslims,” the man, Richard Smekal, 68, said just before an open house at the mosque, the Islamic Center of South Jersey, where four of six men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix had worshiped.
“Personally, I believe that Islam is a religion of the sword,” he said. But he admitted that he had never asked a Muslim. . .
Since the men were charged on May 8, there have been reports of anti-Muslim acts in New Jersey, according to Afsheen Shamsi, a spokeswoman for the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In one case, a man was reported to have yelled racial slurs at a Muslim woman headed to a Laundromat; in another, a Jordanian woman was punched in the face by a man who threatened to kill Muslims. “We’re really concerned about the backlash,” Ms. Shamsi said.