New Jersey Mosque's Outreach Praised as Model for Muslim Communities

August 19, 2002

Source: The Associated Press

On August 19, 2002 The Associated Press reported that after September 11, "mosques around the country recoiled in fear of a backlash from angry Americans... But in Paterson, the northern New Jersey city... the community's leading mosque responded with openness... Leaders of the mosque welcomed outsiders into their center, held a blood drive and collected $15,000 for the Red Cross victims' fund, and offered classes explaining Islam to those of other faiths. They had Christian neighbors in for brunch, and still offer free headphones to those who don't speak Arabic so they can listen to English translations of Imam Mohammad Qatanani's sermons at Friday prayers... The Paterson mosque's openness is a model for others around the world, says a leading U.S. Islamic group. 'That's the kind of thing we encourage all mosques to do,' said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C. 'We discourage isolation... and encourage reaching out to other people... We feel the best way to defend the community is to reach out and bring people in. Ignorance is the root of hatred and bias crimes."