Inland mosques being warned about safety after Ft. Hood shootings
Inland mosques and Muslims are being warned to be extra-vigilant in the wake of Thursday's shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas, which were allegedly carried out by a Muslim Army officer.
The Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is e-mailing "Muslim Community Safety Kits" to Muslims throughout the Southland, including in the Inland area, said Munira Syede, a spokeswoman with the group. She said she was unaware of any Inland mosques that have been threatened.
Backlash against Muslims is common in the wake of terror attacks involving Muslim suspects, Syede said.
The e-mails encourage Muslims to report incidents to local police or the FBI, and to save evidence and photographs of incidents. The kit also advises mosques to increase security, and to look out for suspicious packages and letters. In addition, it encourages long-term efforts to build relationships with police, community groups and interfaith organizations.
Hussam Ayloush, CAIR's Southern California executive director and a Corona resident, said the first thing that came to his mind after Thursday's shootings was concern and sadness for the victims and their families.
"The second thing that came to my mind is, 'I hope this person has no connection in any way to the Middle East or Islam,'" Ayloush said.
Ayloush said he knew that, if the person was Muslim, some people--a minority of Americans, he said--would blame all Muslims for the attack.
"There are people who blame Muslims for every evil thing that happens, and they use it to promote Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment," he said. "The American Muslim community is as outraged, angered and saddened by this horrific incident as any other Americans, and even more so because the person responsible is supposed to be a Muslim. But no devout Muslim would ever justify such an act."
Ayloush said CAIR has received phone calls from people threatening to fire their Muslim employees and vowing to make Muslims they pass on the street feel uncomfortable.
"To me what's unfortunate is that when we're mourning the deaths of these young men and women, we have to worry about the safety of our families, kids and communities," Ayloush said. "I shouldn't have to tell my kids to watch out. I shouldn't have to tell my daughter, who wears the head scarf, to not walk alone."
Ayloush said his 16-year-old son wants to join the Army when he gets older.
"Now he has to consider, 'Will I ever being accepted in the Army as a Muslim?'"