Worry Pervades Queens Muslim Community

"Kill the killer, the killer has to be killed," chanted Imam Fadhel Sahalani at a prayer vigil for hundreds of the faithful last week at the Imam al-Kholi Islamic Center in Jamaica, one of the boroughs largest mosques.
The religious leader told his flock seated cross-legged on the floor of the Mosques auditorium that the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center were enemies of Islam.
As police guarded the outside of the mosque on the service road of the Van Wyck Expwy. opposite Jamaica Hospital Center, Sahalani appealed to New Yorkers not to blame Muslims in New york for the terror that has gripped the City.
"We are part of the City and the losses incurred in the lower Manhattan attack give us sadness."
His comments came after widespread anti-Arab incidents throughout Queens that led Muslim groups here to invite the press and television to attend prayer meetings designed to show that Muslims are fully supportive of U.S. policies to stop terrorism.
Sahalani told The Queens Courier that he personally experienced threats.
"I was walking to the HIP Center in Forest Hills when a man ran after me yelling, Hes an Arab, kill him. He kept repeating screams of derision. I finally eluded him."
As the Imam spoke to his followers last Friday, City councilman Sheldon Leffler, a candidate for borough president, entered the chamber and sat cross-legged with the worshippers. He was called upon to address the congregants.
"No one should be scapegoated," Leffler said. "I came here to join you in expressing deep regrets over the violent acts perpetrated by terrorists. We are all in this together. I know that the Islamic community in Queens is loyal."
Despite the appeals for calm, there was unrest in Arab communities in Queens as bias crimes were reported.
At the New York Muslim Center in Flushing, speakers called Arab-Americans "loyal Americans who shunned the destruction in Manhattan."
Mohammed t. Sherwani, director of the Flushing mosque, said, "On behalf of the entire Muslim community we condemn these actions outright, this act of war, this act of terrorism."
He told an overflow crowd at the mosque that he has been receiving hate mail directed against Muslim citizens.
He told his followers from Jackson Heights to Jamaica to join other citizens and give blood.
"From two to three percent of blood donors on line in Queens hospitals are Muslims," he said.
Sherwani said that he notified the police because of numerous incidents.
"We have been here for 25 years," he said sadly.
The Centers president, Mulnamoon Marghoof, assailed Palestinians dancing and celebrating in the streets.
"No human being," he said, "should rejoice over such violence and loss of life."
At the Islamic Circle of North America in Jamaica, anti-Muslim sentiments were also reported.
Its leader, Namceen Baiq, reported receiving a number of hate messages by fax and mail demanding closing the mosque, and reported the incidents to the 103 Pct.
"Of course we refused to leave," he said.
The Queens Courier learned of several acts of violence against Arabs. In one case, a grocer on Hillside Ave. in Jamaica reported that his wife was chased by a man wielding a bottle. She ran terrified into the store.
"We are living here in peace for 20 years," the grocer, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
An 11-year-old Muslim child told The Queens Courier that he was pelted by eggs. He also watched as an adult Muslim was hit in the face with a rock.
Mohammed Fariqi, editor of the Pakistan Post in Jamaica, said his newspaper called for calm and condemned the terrorist acts. He told of one of his editors who received a telephone call from his scared seven-year-old son who had been watching the World Trade Center explosions on television. "Baba," he cried, "I saw that beautiful building destroyed. What are we to do?"

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