On one side of the Las Vegas Valley, not too far from the glitter and hum
of Boulder Highway's casinos, U.S. Attorney Sharon Lever recently learned
the hard way -- by being scolded in front of several hundred Muslim men --
that if she is going to stand at the podium of a mosque, she should cover
her head and legs.
Meanwhile, in another part of the valley, in the Islamic Information Center
on Maryland Parkway, Mustafa Yunus is putting the finishing touches on
pamphlets he hopes to distribute at casinos. The fliers are aimed at
informing the Muslims that may be among the 36 million tourists who pass
through Las Vegas each year where to seek help in an emergency or where to
In different ways, the ongoing war on terrorism, including recently
stepped-up federal alerts, is leading thousands of Muslims in Southern
Nevada to reach out to authorities and each other.
In both cases, the valley's Muslim community, estimated at about 10,000,
has certain characteristics that make it a laboratory of sorts in what are
fast-changing, often challenging, times for followers of Islam in America,
said Aslam Abdullah, editor in chief of two Muslim publications: the
Minaret, of Los Angeles, and Muslim Observer, of Detroit.
"It has leadership that is taking the initiative in responding to the war
against terrorism, is very diverse, and then there is the fact that it is a
tourist destination and that makes it a target of sorts," Abdullah said in
the lobby of the mosque. Minutes earlier American Muslims, Africans,
Pakistanis, Afghanis and Iranians had filed into the parking lot outside,
as the afternoon sun hit its zenith following the 1 p.m. sermon and prayers.
The editor said that Las Vegas was the first of six cities where federal
authorities have been invited to address worshippers. The idea is to link
those communities to authorities in the wake of last week's terrorism
alerts announced by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director
Robert Mueller. The other cities are Miami, Atlanta, Boston, New York and
Abdullah delivered the guest sermon at the Jamia Masjid mosque at 4730 E.
Desert Inn Road Friday, followed by Lever, FBI joint terrorism task force
supervisor Al Pisterzi and Las Vegas Metro Police Homeland Security Bureau
Officer Kenneth Lindsay.
The sermon's message was simple, yet forceful..