Ziad Akir, who heads the Athens Islamic Center at 13 Stewart St., doesn't
have "solid evidence" the center is being watched. But no one at the center
knows who owns the black SUV that frequently has been seen parked in their lot.
"(One member) claims that there is strange equipment on the car with
flashing indicators. I don't know for sure, but it may be a possibility,"
said Akir speculating on whether someone may be spying on the center.
Some may scoff at Akir's claim as a bout of paranoia during trying times
for Arab Americans and those whose faith is Islam. Think again, advises
another prominent Ohio Muslim, who contends he has heard of similar
complaints from nearly every mosque in the state.
"We hear of mosques being spied on, being watched, quite frequently," said
Jad Humeidan, director of CAIR Ohio. CAIR (Council on American-Islamic
Relations) is considered one of Muslim America's most influential non-profits.
He said that the identity of whoever is conducting the surveillance remains
a mystery. And if the mystery is nothing more than a perceived -- as
opposed to real -- threat, it appears justified for Arab Americans during
the post-9/11 era of fear.
Being watched or followed, however, is just one concern spreading through
Arab- and Muslim-American communities. Many residents fear that a new
McCarthyism is targeting Muslims, and not just Arabs, but others, such as
Somalis and Pakistanis. A pattern of abuse is also being reported by
Christian and Hindu Arabs, according to CAIR..