N.J. Muslims slam London attacks

Fearing backlash violence, mosques beef up security

Published in the Asbury Park Press 07/9/05



NEWARK Muslims across the United States are denouncing the bombing of London's transit system and bracing themselves for a renewed wave of harassment that has continued since the Sept. 11 attacks.

As Muslims gathered for Friday prayers, some New Jersey mosques posted guards at entrances to check bags, peered into garbage cans and circled buildings to make sure no suspicious packages were nearby.

The attacks Thursday killed dozens and injured more than 700, and authorities have said they had the signatures of the al-Qaida terror network.

Aref Assaf, president of the Paterson-based Arab American Forum, urged people to refrain from blaming the entire Arab and Muslim community for the attacks.

Leaders of New Jersey's Muslim community have not asked police to increase patrols near mosques as they did in 2001.

This time, they're doing it themselves, said Sohail Mohammed, a Clifton lawyer who has tracked security issues for the community since Sept. 11.

In the nearly four years since the Sept. 11 attacks, mosques and Islamic centers across the country have had their windows broken, walls painted with graffiti and, in some instances, been damaged by arsonists.

The Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson did a security sweep Friday morning as it prepared for worshipers to arrive at about 1 p.m., said Mohamed El-Filali, a mosque official.

Similar precautions were taken at the Dar Ul-Islah mosque in Teaneck.

Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News in Dearborn, Mich., said such steps are justified.

"You can't blame them; there have been attacks on Islamic centers and mosques all over the country even before this," he said.


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