CBS News -
September 7, 2006
(CBS) LOS ANGELES Local Muslim leaders called for more tolerance and dialogue Thursday, four days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Tolerance of Muslims will improve as more people learn about Islam and as Muslims better integrate into American society, according to the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"America is a country of immigrants. It has always welcomed immigrants," Hussam Ayloush said. "We're dealing with the regular problems of integration of immigrant communities, but also we're dealing with the external factors of the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism."
Since September 2001, local Muslim groups have worked with law enforcement to educate the public on Islamic traditions and prevent another terrorist attack, Edina Lekovic with the Muslim Public Affairs Council said.
"Muslims do not want to be seen as, and are not working to be, part of the problem. They are working to be part of the solution," Lekovic said.
"That should not be taken at the cost of their own civil liberties or their own rights to free speech. It should be in cooperation with that and for the betterment of society."
Authorities could not provide specific examples of how partnerships with the Muslim community have prevented any attacks.
"The key is dialogue," FBI Special Agent Warren Bamford, who works in counter-terrorism said. "Once the dialogue is in place, then there are opportunities that do arise."
Dialogue also helps in addressing hate crimes, according to Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell.
"Ignorance has created fear," McDonnell said. "Hate crimes cannot and will not be tolerated."
According to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, hate crimes against Muslims or people from a Middle Eastern background peaked in 2001 with 188 incidents. In 2002, that figure dropped to 17.
In 2003, there were seven hate crimes directed toward Muslims, and in 2004 there were eight hate crimes committed against Muslims in Los Angeles County.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html