Many Muslims Fear Warped Views of Their Religious Beliefs

By Carolyn Gaeta

WAVE 3 News was invited to the Islamic Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to learn what it means to be a practicing Muslin. Many of them fear the image of their religious beliefs have become warped with the recent assaults.

Inside the Masjid, or Mosque, marked by an American flag, Imam Ahmed Patel leads prayer service. It is Friday, the holy day for Muslims, and everyone faces northeast from the United States, toward Mecca, the holy city, to pray for peace.

"Islam condemns any kind of violence and the killings of innocent civilians," Patel said.

In this House of God, Osama bin Laden, the terrorist suspected of staging the September 11th attacks, is not welcome. "We will not support any group which professes to be associated with Osama or any other group the American government calls terrorists," Patel said.

Since the attacks, many Muslims have felt misunderstood. Many say bin Laden and members of the Elkita are not followers of the same faith they practice, they are actually considered "Fundamentalists" or "Islamic Militants."

"I wish the community would be more merciful to the Muslims that are innocent and had nothing to do with this and are against it themselves," said Muslim Jamel Umar Campbell.

These Muslims hope people will make that distinction. They don't want to be hated by fellow United States citizens and they are also grieving with the rest of America over the loss of 450 Muslims in the rubble of the World Trade Center, trapped along with thousands of other victims.

"We value the life of any human, Killing innocent people is forbidden for any Muslim. What Osama is doing, I don't know what pushed him to do that," said Abraham Sulieman, a Palestinian.

Members of the congregation applaud President Bush in his war on terrorism. In fact, the priest, or Imam as Muslims say, said that if Osama bin Laden showed up on their doorstep, it would be their duty to apprehend him and turn bin Laden over to authorities.

Online Reporter: Carolyn Gaeta

Online Author: Melissa Schantz