Attacks Frustrate Madison's Muslims

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

The effects of London's recent terrorist bombings are being felt here at home. Some local Muslims say they are now experiencing a recurrence of the harassment they experienced in the weeks following 9/11.

Thursday, a new effort designed to combat what many Muslims say are inaccurate stereotypes was launched nationwide. Local Muslims hope it relieves their harassment, and results in a healthier community for everyone.

It took place in what's billed as one of America's most livable cities -- Madison, Wisconsin.

"There was a car full of teenage boys, and they yelled out the window at me, 'Go home!' As if America is not my home." But Aisha Robertson is home. Born and raised in the States, the woman of Scottish and English decent, converted to Islam 14 years ago.

"I realized that that young man who said that was actually just very ignorant," Robertson explains.

To stem the rising tide of ignorance, Robertson says she's taken it upon herself to educate others about Islam.

And she has some help--in the form of a new public service announcement from the Council on American Islamic Relations. Released to media outlets nationwide, the PSA is called, "Not in the name of Islam," and it rejects terrorism as un-Islamic.

"Don't assume just because I am a Muslim, I am responsible for crimes around the world," says Sabi Atteyih, a Muslim who has lived in Madison for nearly 25 years.

The owner of Madison's Casbah Restaurant, Atteyih is also host of a local radio program called, "Salamat," an Arabic word which, loosely translated, means "I come in peace."

He explains, "I don't want anyone to stereotype, I don't want anyone to with a wide brush say, 'Everyone that comes from the Middle East has these tendencies,' or 'is willing to do,' or 'is able to do,' or 'that's what they do.'"

Both Aisha and Sabi say mainstream media leaves a bad taste in many mouths, with its inaccurate depiction of Muslims.

Sabi concludes, "If Madison, and five miles out of Madison, and ten miles out of Madison, have the same acceptance and tolerance and the willingness not to stereotype, I think we've arrived."

Sabi's radio program airs Sundays on 89.9 WORT, at 6 PM, featuring a variety of discussion topics, along with some music and cooking content.

And, Sabi says nothing in the teachings of Islam endorses the killing of another human being, adding he'll continue to represent a proud Muslim to show the terrorists they have not won.

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