Imam assaulted, mosque vandalized in Detroit enclave



2/16/2006, 6:52 a.m. ET
The Associated Press	 	

http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-32/1140087244184050.xml&storylist=newsmichigan


HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP)  Authorities are investigating
reports of an assault on a Muslim cleric and vandalism
and harassment of worshippers at a Detroit-area
mosque.

The FBI is involved in the case, and Gov. Jennifer
Granholm has offered state aid if needed, according to
The Detroit News.

The reports involve Al-Islah Islamic Center in
Hamtramck, a city of about 23,000 surrounded by
Detroit.

On Sunday, youths entered the mosque, took shoes that
worshippers had left by the door and threw them at
congregants, mosque officials say. They say twice this
year, objects were thrown through mosque windows.

On Feb. 9, three men accosted Imam Muhammad Uddin, and
he was hit with a shovel, said Al-Islah President
Abdul Motlib. He said Uddin did not require treatment
for a leg injury but was unable to attend the mosque
for two days.

"There is more that can be done about this situation
than what the city has done," Motlib said. "I
understand we don't have enough police. If they want
to bring in the Wayne County (sheriff) or the state
police, it is easy to control this."

In addition, 15 Muslim merchants have been mugged
within two weeks, according to a news release from the
Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"We are disturbed by the vandalism of the mosque and
the high frequency of attacks that have taken place in
a very short time span," said Dawud Walid, the group's
Michigan executive director.

On Monday, council representatives met with Granholm
and state Civil Rights Director Linda Parker and
requested better policing near the mosque.

City Manager Donald Crawford said Hamtramck has many
Arab-American businessmen and it is understandable
that they would be targets of crime. He said he was
unaware of any assault on the imam.

In 2004, a dispute over the mosque's use of
loudspeakers for the five daily calls to worship led
to a ballot issue. Opponents of the call sought to
repeal part of the municipal noise ordinance, but
voters rejected the proposal.
___
Information from: The Detroit News,
http://www.detnews.com 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FBI looks into Hamtramck mosque vandalism

February 16, 2006
BY CECIL ANGEL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060216/NEWS02/602160610/1004

The FBI is investigating incidents of vandalism and
alleged harassment at a mosque in Hamtramck that a
Muslim leader says may be part of an anti-Muslim
backlash.

"We're looking into it," FBI spokeswoman Dawn Clenney
said Wednesday.

In the three weeks preceding Feb. 12, the spiritual
leader of Al-Islah Islamic Center was struck with a
snow shovel, the center's window was broken by rocks
and snowballs, and shoes were thrown at worshippers
inside the mosque, according to Abdul Motlib, the
mosque's president.

"We are in a very bad situation. We didn't have any
problem before. Nobody broke our glass -- nothing."

All four incidents occurred in the late afternoon or
early evening. The alleged perpetrators are described
as a group of three to five teenagers, said Motlib,
who added that most of the incidents were reported to
Hamtramck police.

The FBI is investigating complaints at the mosque for
possible civil rights violations, Clenney said. Dawud
Walid, executive director of the Michigan office of
the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sought the
FBI's help.

An agent will be meeting with mosque leaders today, he
said.

He wonders whether the vandalism and the muggings on
Conant are a backlash against Muslims seen on TV
protesting the cartoon of Islam's prophet Muhammad.
"We don't know for sure," Walid said. "It would be
just conjecture. ...We do know there is constant
religious and racial tension in the area."

Hamtramck Police Chief James Doyle said that police
reports on the vandalism didn't indicate anything out
of the ordinary. "There is no indication that it was
racial or ethnic," Doyle said. "It's a case of
somebody finding a broken window."

Al-Islah became internationally renowned in 2004 when
a city ordinance to regulate the amplified call to
prayer from mosques became a referendum on free speech
and freedom of religion.

At a Hamtramck City Council meeting Tuesday, Masud
Khan, Al-Islah's secretary, expressed frustration.
"It's a small city, and this ... group can be caught
in 24 hours. We've been neglected."

Niaz Khan, co-owner of Aladdin's Sweets on Conant,
recounted how his eatery was robbed along with several
other businesses last week. "The problem is we're not
concerned about the money," he said. "We're concerned
about safety and security."

Shortly before the council meeting, Councilman Rob
Cedar spoke with a small group who demanded better
police protection and cooperation from the city.

"I really do sympathize. I do," Cedar said. "I trust
it's not really aimed at the mosque, just kids doing
bad things."

Contact CECIL ANGEL at 313-223-4531 or
angel@freepress.com.






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