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Durham Mosque Happy With Support It's Gotten During War

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DURHAM, N.C. — Reports of religious intolerance and hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in some parts of the country now that America is at war.

Muslim leaders have laid out a strategy to deal with it, though some local Muslims say they've seen nothing but support.

Some of the headlines in the

Muslim Journal

newspaper are ugly -- an explosive destroys a Muslim's van in Illinois; a Muslim in Indiana is burned; in Chicago, tensions build during the war.

Such reports prompted the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations to put together what they call a community safety kit. It's a nine-page guide designed to help Muslims or anyone perceived to be Middle Eastern respond to hate crimes and ethnic profiling.

The kit instructs Muslims to develop a legal contact list, build positive relations with law enforcement and know their rights.

The leader of the Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center in Durham, Imam Sa'id Abdul-Salaam, understands why some Muslims want the information. But he says his Islamic Center isn't concerned. He says they've only experienced support, not hate, even after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"When 9-11 came, we didn't have any problems," he said. " People came and supported us: Christians, Jewish communities. They supported us."

Watts Street Baptist Church gave the Islamic Center a plant shortly after the war started as a symbol of peace. The center's Imam said the plant was just one example of the kind of love they feel in Durham.

Abdul-Salaam said the key to the good relations has been dialogue with other religions. He believes the simple act of talking can help other communities find the same harmony.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also launched a year-long advertising campaign called "Islam in America" to help explain the Muslim faith.

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