Toledo-area Muslims on high alert in wake of attacks in Norway
By DAVID YONKE
Though no threats have been made against Toledo-area mosques after the killings in Norway, local Muslims are on high alert at the urging of a national Islamic advocacy group.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday advised American mosques to “step up security following attacks by an anti-Muslim, right-wing terrorist in Norway that left more than 70 people dead.”
Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, said in a statement that the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, had written a 1,500-page manifesto “designed to inspire similar attacks” and that the suspect claimed “there are others who share his beliefs ready to strike.”
Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, vice president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, said the Perrysburg mosque is taking CAIR’s advisory seriously.
“We have not received any threats, but we will stay on high alert because after any event like this there are copycat crimes,” she said.
Spokesmen for Masjid Saad in Sylvania and the Toledo Muslim Community Center also said they would take precautions, although there are no major new security efforts planned.
Dr. Abbas Khalil of the TMCC, which moved into the former J. Jeffrey Fretti Funeral Home on West Sylvania Avenue earlier in January, said members planned to discuss security concerns when they gathered for prayer last night.
Several local Muslim leaders said Breivik’s bomb attack in Oslo and his mass shootings at a nearby camp appeared to be the work of a madman, with no basis in religious beliefs.
“This guy killed Christian people “his own people,” said Ziad Hummos of Masjid Saad. “He’s crazy. If you hate Muslims, why kill Christians? It’s bizarre. All faiths, all human beings, should stand together against these heinous crimes. We pray for the people of Norway, for the wounded people to recover, and for the families of the victims. We give all our condolences.”
Dr. S. Zaheer Hasan, a spokesman for the United Muslim Association of Toledo, said that “I would certainly heed CAIR’s request to increase security, but we in northwest Ohio are very, very blessed because of our neighbors. They keep a very special eye on our institutions, as if they were their own.”
He said Breivik’s rampage is a reflection of hatred, not religious beliefs.
“This is what hate groups do: They attack innocent people for no reason,” Dr. Hasan said. “We strictly condemn these attacks. ‘ What is sad is that the man had no sympathy for his own people. If this was his views, it was hardly the way to manifest them.”
Dr. Islam called it “inherently incorrect” to call Breivik a “Christian fundamentalist,” as some media have labeled him.
“If people of any religious group get caught up in dogma, and get lost in it, they are prone to violence because the Bible and the Quran can be misinterpreted and taken completely out of context to promote violence,” she said.