Muslim Leaders Reach Out to Ohio Communities, Invite Dialogue

April 27, 2007

Author: Meredith Heagney

Source: The Columbus Dispatch

Highway travelers driving past the hulking mosque on I-75 see the metallic gold dome, the 135-foot-tall minarets and the intricate stained-glass windows. The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo makes some people curious. For others, it conjures up stereotypes fueled by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and the Iraq War.

Imam Farooq Aboelzahab wishes they all would stop in, ask questions and see the mosque and Muslim ways for themselves.

"We need to talk about Islam and show Islam to others," he said. "We feel responsible to reach out, be with the people and show what we have in common."

Aboelzahab and others at the mosque are part of an enthusiastic outreach program. Its mission is to show outsiders that Muslims are just like them: Americans with families who care about safety and community.

Mosque leaders across the state say they’re doing public relations work more than ever. It’s necessary to counter all the negative stereotypes of Muslims that have popped up since Sept. 11, they say.