Local News

Triangle Muslims speak out

Posted July 30, 2009 11:01 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2009 6:19 a.m. EDT

— When Raleigh resident Taani El-Emam heard of the terror-related arrests in North Carolina earlier this week, she said she knew life would be different as a Muslim.

El-Emam has been a Triangle resident for more than 20 years. She said she saw a fellow Muslim treated badly at a restaurant recently.

“A couple of teenagers drove past and yelled out the window, ‘You guys are terrorists,’” El-Emam said.

Hisham Sarsour, a fellow Muslim in Raleigh, said allegations against a few people are associated with the entire Muslim community. Distrust can grow as Muslims feel they are closely being watched by neighbors and maybe the government.

“It breaks my heart to have our religion, Islam, associated with the word terrorism,” Sarsour said.

Jihad Shawwa, who has also lived in the Triangle for decades, said he is trying to reach out to the non-Muslim community. He said this is his home and he loves it here.

“Muslims, they want to live here like any other ethnic group,” Shawwa said.

Muslims made that point this past weekend by holding an open house at the Islamic Center of Raleigh. Hundreds, including community leaders, turned out to see the center.

Two days later, were arrested at various Triangle locations on charges that they sought to engage in terrorism in the Middle East and raised money, bought weapons and trained in North Carolina to carry out their plan.

“This kind of problem of stereotyping will probably continue to happen and that’s not something we can control, but we can do our best to educate the public,” said Imran Aukhil, of the Islamic Center of Raleigh.

Some Muslims who spoke to WRAL News also asked the public not to judge those arrested this week until the full truth is known.