Later today (Monday), a group of Muslims in Cedar Rapids will meet with local city leaders in a town hall meeting to discuss the Muslim faith. A national poll recently found 40 percent of Americans feel prejudice against Muslims because of 9/11.
Hassan Igram, chairman of the Islamic Center in Cedar Rapids, says while there was a backlash against Muslims five years ago after the hijackers were identified as Muslims, he didn’t see that kind of backlash in Iowa.
“People came to the Islamic Center. They called and left messages, flowers, cards of just understanding — wanting us to know that they supported us and that they know that this is not an Islamic issue. This was a political issue,” Igram says.
Five years after the terrorist attacks, Muslims like Rene Hilal say they spend lots of time answering people’s questions about their faith. “Nobody wants to go around and have everybody around think you’re a terrorist, I mean, you don’t want that,” Hilal says. “You want your kids to be able to be proud of their faith and not be ashamed, or go to school and be afraid about what other kids are going to say to them.”
Hilal says misconceptions about the Muslim faith caused many Americans to feel anger and hatred toward Islam. Today’s meeting in Cedar Rapids is an effort to help people understand the religion, according to Timothy Hyatt, an eastern Iowa Muslim.
“I think there is greater understanding and it is a testament to Americans and their open-mindedness to accept, understand and be willing to learn from us,” Hyatt says.