Muslims are quick to condemn terrorist attempt

The Riverdale Press: Muslims are quick to condemn terrorist attempt

Muslims are quick to condemn terrorist attempt

By Kate Pastor

When Khalid Isa heard about the attempted bombing of Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center, his first thought was to hope it wasn’t the work of Arabs.

The American-born Palestinian owner of Sqweez Juice Bar & Grill on West 238th Street between Waldo and Greystone avenues got little relief, however, from learning the alleged terrorists identified themselves as Muslims.

“It’s a misrepresentation of Islam because this is exactly what Islam tells us not to do,” said Mr. Isa, who together with other local Muslims and Jews has started a group called World Peace, One Falafel at a Time. The group is dedicated to enabling dialogue between Muslims and Jews, and ending violence between the groups.

“This is not the way to be, this is not the way to think, this is not the way to grab somebody’s attention, this is not the way toward peace,” he said of the alleged conspirators.

“It’s ridiculous because these are guys who converted to Islam in jail and they don’t know what the hell Islam is about. They have no idea,” Mr. Isa said.

Many Muslims in and around Riverdale have condemned the violence allegedly planned for Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center on May 20, drawing clear distinctions between their religion and the beliefs held by men thought to be jailhouse converts to Islam.

Three Imams from different Mosques showed up at the Riverdale Jewish Center’s solidarity rally on Friday. The Muslim American Society of Upper New York’s board president, Ali Salhab, a former Riverdale resident, also walked a letter into the Riverdale Press, repudiating and denying any religious justification for the violent plot.

“We just want to make sure that our neighbors understand where we stand on this issue,” said James Momani, who accompanied Mr. Salhab.

It seems, however, that not everyone does.

Last week, Mr. Isa got a phone call from a friend whose child attends The David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingbridge Academy, MS/HS 141. She was upset because after the foiled plot Islamic children started being taunted by other kids at school, he said.

Mr. Isa’s friend asked if he would consider giving a talk at the school to discuss the true meaning of Islam with children, some of whom may have gotten the wrong idea.

“The word Islam means peace, comes from the word Salam that means peace,” Mr. Isa said, personally enraged that the men he calls “uneducated, uninformed idiots” claim to be bound to him by faith.

The negative impact of violent acts like the one thwarted in Riverdale last week spared almost nobody.

“Hate crimes hurt all of us,” said Mr. Momani. “Today they do something to you, tomorrow they do something to me.”

When Muslims react to violent extremism here in Riverdale, said Basheer Hasan, a Muslim who manages a gas station on Broadway, “It’s gonna be the same reaction like everyone else.”

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