WJBC: Illinois Muslims hope for tolerance as 9/11 approaches

As many Americans gear up to mark the tenth anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, one Chicago-based Muslim group warns people should be careful not to give all Muslims a bad rap for the attacks. In the days following 9/11 there were reports across the U.S. of violence toward Muslim-Americans.  The group American-Islamic Relations hopes the public has learned more about the Islamic faith’s message of peace since that time.

Amina Sharif with the Chicago chapter of American-Islamic Relations says it’s not a fair assessment to associate terrorism with religion.

“When the terrorist attacks in Norway were committed, people felt very uncomfortable calling that terrorist a christian extremist even though he fancied himself a modern-day crusader,” she argued. “We knew his actions did not reflect Christianity.”

Sharif says there needs to be a cultural shift in thinking towards Muslims – meaning, people should no longer talk about Muslims in a negative way. But, she recognizes that won’t necessarily be an easy task.

“When we always associate Muslims with terrorism, naturally pepole are goig to get the wrong idea,” Sharif said. “We don’t do that when we talk about other forms of violence. We don’t discuss the religion of the perpatrator because we know it has nothing to do with religion.”