Faith, Fear & Freedom



Islam offers people God we just represent our religion we're a walking example it's the core of my being stem is a religion between you and God if they wonder what Islam means it's actually peace we want to live our lives in peace we want to go to work want to go to school Muslims are a lot of the society now you cannot separate them to us North Carolina is home to here and Fida of Allah WA are a very typical North Carolina family working raising children and living in the suburbs I mean we have comfortable life beautiful house beautiful kids I have a career that I never dreamed off my husband is successful I mean where else could I ask for the Ovilus a their Islamic faith helps them make it all possible Islam is actually a basic way of living if you think about it I mean you open the Quran it just teaches you how to live your life every day so you cannot really separate it you live it every single day of your life the Obamas are among an estimated twenty six thousand Muslims in North Carolina that's only about a quarter of one percent of the state's population but a 30 percent increase in the number of Muslims in our state in a decade we have the freedom of practicing our religion more than back home so this is one of the reason that we are here the abala was emigrated from the Middle East in the late 1980s they met as students at Wake Tech and got married Fito went on to NC State she now works as an MRI technician at UNC hospital's I wanted to get involved in healthcare you know it's something about helping people and you know that connection we steam it for 15 minutes Tahir went into the restaurant business he owns the baba ghanoush middle-eastern eatery at triangle town center thank you the avila was settled in Cary it's conservative it's somewhere where we want to raise our kids their children are 17 year old Khalid 13 year old newer and 10 year old Hamza Hamza remembers making his first friend in his neighborhood we're playing hockey whenever diamond and he smacked me with the ball in my nose and then after that we came friends I don't know I miss I teach my kids to be part of the society to interact with their neighbors with their friends they go to school here they learn about the American history I mean we're just like anybody else Hamzah and newer attended a private K through eight Muslim school in Raleigh Khalid goes to Holly Springs High School he says he's one of about 16 Muslims in a school of 2,300 students it's tough but then again we do fit in we're not that much different we're normal students in the classroom raising kids in America in general is a challenge and I think it's more challenge to raise a kid a Muslim kid in America rules like not being able to date or eat pork are a challenge and so are the questions sometimes they get asked how are you from and they're like we're from here and no no no really where are you from and you know they just people don't get it like we're from here no one really cared much about the obelisk being Muslim until 9/11 we immediately became suspects as soon as 9/11 happened all of us we felt like our religion or believes our culture was questioned like you know why do you believe that way why do you pray five times a day why do you act this way and I felt like it wasn't anybody's business you know I don't go ask my neighbor why do you go to church on Sunday you do have people who give you the comments like terrorists and what are you doing here these looks these stirs and you know some comments like go home go back to rest and you know um I will stop them I was like you need to talk to me come here to meet me talk to me know me get to know me before you judge me I had nothing to do with whatever happened on September 11 don't group me don't label me it's not right that happened to feed us soon after the attacks while shopping with her son Khalid who was just six years old and I'll have to explain to him you know why she told me go home because for him this is home claimed to have connections to al Qaeda diabolos and many local Muslims say every time Islamic extremists end up in the news it fuels people's suspicions hosam smadi tried to detonate what'd he mean Al Khalifa walk towards the US Capitol NAAFI Adel diode was charged with trying to detonate what he believed what they see on TV is only negative about Muslims in Islam you say a Muslim it's like you're saying I'm terrorist and I mean that's the misconception people are not taking the time to learn or educate themselves about Islam next why that may be breeding what some call Islamophobia there are still many people out there who don't understand we who you are and there as you can see perhaps the second tower the front tower the top portion of which is collapsing good lord 9/11 changed life for Americans especially Muslim Americans I'm a woman who grew up in the Middle East but wasn't Muslim Shannon Reid is of Libyan descent and is a Christian she is also an Islamic Studies scholar at Duke she says before 9/11 Muslims were generally thought of as well-educated contributors to American society they are our doctor they were a lawyer they were our a local favorite food chain restaurant whatever was they were you might have known their Muslim but even if you did you didn't care the worst terrorist attack in the history of this country read says 9/11 made people care and put Muslim Americans on the defensive she says the news media's continued focus on the violence of Islamic extremists fuels anti-muslim sentiment it's horrific I mean that it is devastating and I can tell you all of my Muslim friends just I mean it's heartbreaking for them University of North Carolina religion professor Karl Ernst shares Reid's sentiments Ernst caused controversy in 2002 when he suggested a book containing passages from the Koran be required reading for incoming freshman in Chapel Hill he's working on a new book called Islamophobia and America the anatomy of intolerance we have to deal with this as an issue of prejudice which means judging people before you actually have an experience of them and we have a history of anti-semitism in this country as well as racial prejudice we just have to acknowledge that an anti Islamic prejudice plays into the same mentalities and appeals to some of the same interests experts say that prejudice is more prevalent in the south but the irony the irony to me is that the south is also a place where people hold moral values that are in line with the majority of Muslim moral values in terms of attitudes on the family and abortion and gay rights and immigration in Murfreesboro Tennessee anti Islamic prejudice inspired a lawsuit vandalism arson and bomb threats all designed to block construction of a mosque by Muslims who have lived in the community for years we feel that this message is that important in Gainesville Florida pastor Terry Jones is famous for preaching against Islam and burning the Koran his actions inspired violent protests in the Middle East and he's endorsed the anti Islamic YouTube video that inspired protests here too in North Carolina the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified one anti Islamic group called the Christian Falange it's based in Newton its website calls Islam the enemy of Western civilization and says like it or not the United States is a Christian country it pictures a man named Patricio Bridges as its national director and founder to phone numbers we found four bridges were out of service a Google profile lists his employer as griffiths security at Hickory the company says he no longer works there the Christian phalanges only listed contact information is at Newton post office box we found a bridges home address in Newton and rang his doorbell but there was no answer bridges next-door neighbor and his duplex apartment told us he was home but as a recluse who would not answer the door he never answers his door the window on bridges door is covered with the Confederate battle flag a sign on it says anyone coming through the door would be killed the growing radicalism is actually coming from the far right since Obama has been president Jabril huff is the spokesperson for the Islamic Center in his hometown of Charlotte he converted from Christianity to Islam in 1991 he says he's faced discrimination as a Muslim including harassment on the job there were people in management who told my mom it might be living in the wrong country harassment also came in the form of a letter sent to his mosque in April it went to other mosques in the state – the letter repeatedly uses the n-word to refer to Muslims with modifiers like sand and jungle I said it's the page right out of the Klan's playbook the letter states Islam is purely evil and needs to be scrubbed from the face of the earth it accuses the Prophet Mohammed of being an evil mental case and a pedophile it spells prophet PR o fi t the writer claims to be a part of a group vowing to suppress Muslims and claims to have no problem killing Muslims legally if they tried to retaliate it was clearly an open threat Huff reported the letter to the police and the FBI the letter bears the signature of a woman who claims to have no involvement there been no arrests in the case we contacted the FBI and it followed its standard protocol the bureau wouldn't say whether it's even investigating the threat and declined to talk with us about how it even handles such cases Hough is disappointed the FBI or police haven't arrested anyone and that he's heard no more from them he feels like his congregation is on its own we're more vigilant or more aware of what's going on and we are keeping our eyes and ears open Hough says the letters reveal the same kind of hatred Black's faced during the civil rights movement nothing is ignorance it's fear it's the fear of a changing America not seek Majeed agrees he's a Raleigh native who grew up during the days of racial segregation and we can look back and say how stupid how stupid you know relatively to where we've progressed to the date maajid progressed pretty far himself after graduating from Ligon High School he earned a bachelor's and master's degrees from North Carolina A&T he then served his country in Vietnam as a decorated combat pilot flying b-52 bombers is quite an education being shot at why she became a businessman in Charlotte and served four terms on the Charlotte City Council we will be sending the wrong signal I always made my oath on the Quran that's because Majeed who was born Clarence eaves converted to Islam after the war is the core of my being is LOM is the second largest religion in the world next to christianity islam christianity and judaism are known as Abrahamic religions because they all trace their origin back to the hebrew bible and its stated covenant between God and the Prophet Abraham Muslim see Jesus and Moses as forefathers to Islam and its Prophet Muhammad Jews and Christians have not officially recognized Muhammad as a prophet so that's where the basic difference lies there are a few differences in how Muslims see God in Jesus but most of the core principles and how people should conduct their lives and all three religions are the same Muslims obviously have a code of conduct which is very much in line with many of the other Abrahamic faiths the code includes respecting other religions doing good for others and forbids killing others except in self-defense this is if you harm one it's like you harmed a whole humanity and if you save the life of one it's like you save the life of the whole humanity but the recent convictions of seven Raleigh area Muslims for plotting terrorist attacks raises doubts among some of the non-muslims the radicalization of Muslims here in our own country is a very serious threat not only is this setback for us in our work reaching out to the community beyond the Muslim community but it it's a setback for us as a community because we feel fractured fractured because some local Muslims want nothing to do with the convicted men while others questioned their guilt they set him up but all of them know the impact of the media attention they feel like they are under a microscope which does not apply to almost any other group of people in the world and it's tough I said Sherif he is acting as his own attorney but the judge said he lapsed into preaching – Sherif he made it tougher a federal jury convicted him in a related plot to kill federal witnesses in the Raleigh terror case he says I represent Allah we are enemies friends until you worship Allah alone Sherif II read religious verses in Arabic and said he was fighting for Allah just before a jury convicted him Allah is the Arabic word for God everyone uses rhetorical justifications to make their objective sound more honourable the Ku Klux Klan did the same thing it often cooked itself in God and Christianity even though it committed bombings and lynchings but it's nothing Christian about that and Muslims like Majeed say there's nothing Islamic about people committing terrorism in the name of Islam and then all you have to have is one or two crazy people and that's exactly how I characterize them to ruin it for everybody else they don't understand what's the real meaning of Islam they twist everything for their own benefits like any other extremists in any other religion or any other country a concept that even feed up and to here's a 13 year old daughter understands you know people do things and it's not because of their religion it's because of who they are and if they're not good people it's not the religion that made them a bad person it's themselves and maybe it's what they grew up with but it's not the religion that made them a bad person what I know from research is that the violent extremists are the least knowledgeable about Islam they know the least about the religion they don't really know much about it at all read and other experts say it's important to consider the numbers there are an estimated 2.6 million Muslims in the US since 9/11 only 200 have been arrested in connection with terror plots and for the most part a vast majority of those 200 people have been arrested before they could even get to the later stages of their plots I think that most Muslims who adhere to an ethical version of their understanding of Islam are horrified in fact we know from the statistics that the vast majority of Muslims do not approve of extremist tactics are we many local Muslims say understanding that is the first step to understanding them read about Islam know more about Muslims his name himself is Allah next how some Muslims are reaching out so others can know and understand them people need to know us before they judge us if you want to watch this documentary again or learn more about it and Muslims in North Carolina go to wral.com and type WRAL dock in the search box and who is Allah very quickly now okay Allah is an Arabic word used for God the Oz Farid is speaking to a group visiting the Rawley Islamic Center he says he tries to teach people about Muslims and Islam almost every day that was the Quran and as it was revealed Farid is the outreach coordinator for the Islamic Association of Rowley he regularly speaks to groups that come to visit its mosque he's also a member of the triangle Interfaith Alliance and he worked with a group called you 90 in C on a billboard campaign to promote religious and racial tolerance if I can make one person understand I think I'm successful the Oz works as a nuclear radiology tech at wake med hospital he says he chose the healthcare field because helping people is one of the tenets of his Muslim faith in fact one of my elderly a little lady who I worked with said you know what you are really a good Christian I said thank you ma'am appreciated the Oz and his wife muhib were born in India mo he've teaches at a local Muslim school she too wants people to understand Muslims I'm very friendly and you know very open-minded and you know very respectful muhib in piace when they first moved to Raleigh they introduced themselves to their neighbors you are not a believer if your neighbor is in the fear of your mystery for your misconduct see Oz says many of his non-muslim neighbors have become close friends the American experiment of religious freedom has brought lustre to the country and I'd really feel that our Muslim population for the most part they came here to pursue the American dream let's just like other immigrants before them they're here living peacefully respecting other religions with tolerance and just kind of the American Way I think that when most Americans discovered that they have Muslim neighbors who may get to know as human beings they discover that surprised they're not raving terrorists or lunatics and women are actually quite interesting and have something to say about themselves people need to know us before they judge us come and come talk to me come ask me questions come meet my kids come into my house let's have some lunch together with some some dinner together we're not gonna separate ourselves from the society where we're active people here and we live in this society we are we are part of it we're not gonna go anywhere we're here this is our home now it's not where there's no way else to go aslam is our religion North Carolina is our hometown that's that's how we look at it

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