A local Muslim leader reports that tensions are running high in Rhode Island’s Muslim community. There is growing concern about negative backlash following last week’s mass shooting in California.
Imam Farid Ansari of the Muslim American Da’wah Center of Rhode Island says no one from his congregation in greater Providence has mentioned any direct threats or discrimination since the attack last week at a center providing services for the developmentally disabled.
But Ansari said he does feel increased pressure to explain his faith those who are not Muslim.
“Muslims especially at this point in time must be transparent,” said Ansari. “I have nothing to hide, I don’t have any agenda. My intentions as a Muslim have always been favorable, in order to give the American public, the Rhode Island public, the authentic picture of what Islam is.”
President Barack Obama has called on Americans not to marginalize Muslims, but he also asked Muslims to help law enforcement keep a lookout for unusual behavior – something Ansari said he is already doing.
“All of the Imams throughout Rhode Island are cooperating with the law enforcement community, and if there are any indications of any type of behavior that we feel that needs to be looked into, we have an obligation to report it,” said Ansari.
However Ansari adds that continued focus on the Muslim faith in relation to terrorism can encourage false perceptions of the religion. Rhode Island is home to about 3,000 Muslims.
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