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Local Muslims Work To Shed Image From 9-11 Attackers

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77642_Reg Chapman Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re getting ready to mark 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and America.

It was a time when fear and suspicion swept the nation. It’s something that especially impacted the Muslim community here in the Twin Cities.

But as time has passed, a lot has been learned.

“Fear was so huge and resentment towards what happened,” said Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf.

After Sept. 11, fear of the unknown and concern of what could come next consumed many who were angry about this attack on American soil.

“Those who did 9-11 they do not represent our community they do not represent our faith, they are not Muslim,” said Community Activist Abdi Warsame.

Muslim community leaders screamed this message, but it felt to them as if no one listened. Islamaphobia, or the fear of Islam, spread, forcing the community to reach out to others.

“Schools, churches, synagogues, colleges, universities, we went over to share with people what Islam is all about and who are Muslims,” said El-Sawaf.

El-Sawaf is an Imam at a Mosque in northeast Minneapolis. He is also a psychotherapist who has had to deal with the impact fear and suspicion has had on many in his community.

“How will I be perceived in my workplace in my business my kids with their school mates so on and so forth,” said El-Sawaf.

Dr. El-Sawaf said Minnesota is better than other states when it comes to the acceptance of the people of Islam. People here were able to separate the handful who attacked all of America from those committed to living here in peace.

He said the uprising in Tunisia, then Egypt and Libya also helped ease tensions.

“More of a democracy in Arab world and Muslim world would eliminate that fear,” El-Sawaf said.

Fear and suspicion that Warsame hopes his 2-year-old son never has to experience.

“How does the future look for Bashir, bright, beautiful and peace,” said Warsame.

There are some in the Muslim community who feel we have done a lot to remove the veil of suspicion and fear but there is still a long way to go.

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