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Minnesota Muslims fear backlash
By Laurel Druley, Minnesota Public Radio
September 13, 2001
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Amid widespread speculation of an Islamic link to Tuesday's attacks, U.S. Muslim groups condemned the terrorism and warned the 7 million Muslims in the United States to take precautions against harassment or abuse. About 3,000 Muslim people live in Rochester. Many local Muslims became concerned for their own safety..
Zaid Kahlid, spokesman for the Rochester Islamic Center, says although he believes most people in Rochester are educated about the Islamic religion, he worries about retaliation. Listen to his comments.
(MPR Photo/Laurel Druley)

ZAID KAHLID found out about the attacks Tuesday morning when he arrived at IBM, where he is a software engineer. His immediate reaction was disbelief and sadness. Later, he recalled the days immediately following the bombing in Oklahoma City. A time when Muslims were threatened and harassed in retaliation.

Kahlid, a spokesperson for the Rochester Islamic Center, says they closed the facility on Tuesday as a precaution. The center has received several e-mails from national Muslim organizations. "They're advising people to take precautions. If someone is being abusive, stay calm, do not respond and try to stay out of trouble as much as possible," he said.

Council on American-Islamic Relations officials have received reports of harassment and recommend Muslims who wear traditional clothing consider staying out of public areas.

Kahlid, who is from Pakistan, says Muslims do not believe in violence. He says the people who committed these acts of terrorism are criminals regardless of what religion or country they belong to.

Tariq Choudhry is also from Pakistan. He says, the fear of retaliation has crossed his mind but he won't retreat into his cocoon. "Muslims are peace-loving people," he says. "There are certain extremist elements that would do something in the name of Islam, but they are far from Islam in itself, so people should not act in a stereotypical manner and should not blame a community for the act of very few individuals who may claim to belong to that community."

The Rochester Islamic Center will hold a special prayer service for the victims of Tuesday's attacks.