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Oklahoma Muslim leaders dealt with stereotypes, curiosity after 9/11

Oklahoma Muslim leaders said they worked to dispel stereotypes in the aftermath of 9/11.
BY CARLA HINTON Published: September 11, 2011

Bin Laden death

Enchassi noted the way Muslim groups immediately issued statements of relief at the demise of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks who was killed by American special forces in May.

“I'm extremely proud of the way Muslims have reacted,” he said.

Abdullah said Oklahoma Muslims have done a good job reaching out to the community at large and the community has responded positively, with a couple of notable exceptions.

He said numerous Oklahoma legislators' refusal to accept a complimentary copy of the Quran in 2007 and the 2010 passage of a state question outlawing the use of Sharia law or Islamic law in Oklahoma courts were seen as negative by many Muslims, but their hearts are still hopeful.

Several Oklahoma Muslim leaders have said they saw State Question 755 as a measure that unfairly condemns the Islamic faith).

“I think we've had some hits and some misses, but I think it's been pretty good here, barring some people who have been doing things (against Muslims),” Abdullah said.

‘Feeling the stress'

Sheryl Siddiqui of Tulsa, spokeswoman for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said misinformation about Islam is spreading once again — even after many Muslims and non-Muslims have joined together in interfaith activities designed for fellowship and education across faith lines.

She said groups that seem to thrive on bigotry against Muslims are growing across the state, threatening the peaceful lives that Oklahoma Muslims want to live here.

“Muslims are certainly feeling the stress in the escalating bigotry and scrutiny,” Siddiqui said.

“It's starting to wear on Oklahoma Muslims and really our biggest agenda is to live a peaceful life.”

Siddiqui said bigotry against Muslims, also called Islamophobia, has become a booming industry, with more and more books and other materials presenting anti-Islam messages popping up all the time.

She said the curiosity immediately after 9/11 was easier to deal with.

“People were acknowledging that they were uninformed about Islam. Now people are making money off this,” Siddiqui said.