Muslims in Mid-Missouri Reflect on 9/11
COLUMBIA - Muslims in Central Missouri reflected Thrusday on what has changed for them since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. While they do not harbor negative feelings, they do note changes in the way they are sometimes treated.
"Go back where you came from, that's a big comment," said Dina Hossain-Islam as she explained what some of her friends have been told. "And they grew up here so where do you want me to go is kind of the come back. I grew up here, I was born here."
"The last what, three Call of Duty video games have turbin, bearded men, they are the enemy and that, over time, gets engraved in you that you eventually think, ‘what does a bad guy look like?'," said Rafa Nizam, a student studying biology at the University of Missouri.
Islam is a peaceful religion, yet Muslims were associated with and sometimes persecuted after the attacks.
"The religion basically means peace," said Dina Hossain-Islam. "Something that means peace clearly people who are propagating these acts of terrorism, they don't practice the religion."
Many prejudices against Muslims have continued into recent years. When the construction of a Mosque was proposed near Ground Zero, there were huge protests.
"In the past couple years when Islam came into the spotlight and it was presented as a threat," said Nizam. "You could see people reacting very negatively because it seems like there are still some raw wounds."
The events of 9/11 have also had positive effects on Muslims in Central Missouri. The faith was re-energized and now more people are attending prayer services. The attention on Muslims has also helped raise awareness among those of other faiths about who Muslims are and what they believe in.
"People who are coming to the Mosque to get invloved, in the community, praying more, just to understand themself what the true teaching of the religion is so that when they do get questions about what Islam represents they could answer correctly," said Dr. Rezwan Islam, the President of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri.
The Mosque in Columbia plans on expanding its facility. It will add three grades to its school, build a gym, and a apartment building. The date for construction has not been set, but religious leaders hope it will be later this year.
"Maybe sometime this year we should be able to before the winter hits do some groundbreaking at least to get started," said Dr. Rashed Nizam, a leader at the ICCM and an ophthalmologist who works at the Mid-Missouri Eye Center.
The goal for Muslims is peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding with their neighbors.
"People always feel like they have to complain about being discriminated against, just because they are Muslim, but I feel like Columbia has treated me very well," said Rafa Nizam.
The Islamic Center of Central Missouri will hold an open house and invites all to attend Sunday, September 11 from 11-5 PM. The center has invited leaders of other faiths from Mid-Missouri as well as the mayor, who is scheduled to attend around 1 PM.
To learn more about basic Muslims beliefs follow this link.