Associated Press: Muslims in Chicago enclave discuss stereotypes

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It’s an admittedly fine line: How do you encourage Muslims in one of the nation’s largest South Asian enclaves to report crimes — especially terrorism-related — yet still fight the stereotypes they face?

An unlikely group hopes to find solutions.

In an unusual meeting of the minds, South Asian Muslims, black law enforcement officials and a Jewish Chicago alderman began meeting this week to discuss how to build trust, fight stereotypes and prevent crime around a segment of Devon Avenue.

The North Side neighborhood is about a 10 block stretch of mostly Pakistani and Indian businesses, creating a Midwest hub for brides-to-be to shop, suburban and small-town families who need spices and first-generation immigrants who want a connection to the homeland.

Still, some not affiliated with the group worry the emphasis on one neighborhood may lead to further stereotyping that terrorists are likely to be South Asian Muslims.

“It’s incorrect to even imply that such a correlation exists,” said Ahmed Rehab, a Chicago director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. “Terrorism is an equal opportunity offender as far as ethnic communities go.”

Dessaure, of the black law enforcement group, doesn’t see an issue.

“Our community has some of the same concerns and issues with law enforcement and the administration of justice,” she said. “The issues of civil liberties and injustices in America is something we have confronted throughout our history.”