A Muslim Community in Virginia Feels a Heat of Extremists’ Sins

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Two boys prayed while Imam Hilal Shah delivered a afternoon request during a Islamic Center of Fredericksburg on Friday.

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Chet Strange for The New York Times

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Women in conduct scarves slid off their shoes, built them in neat rows subsequent to a mosque’s opening and squeezed together shoulder to shoulder in a tiny request space to listen to a imam’s sermon.

It was a Friday request like any other during a Islamic Center of Fredericksburg until a warning came from a imam. Less than a week after a Orlando nightclub electrocute by an American-born Muslim, and after Donald J. Trump’s renewed call to bar Muslims from entering a United States, Imam Hilal Shah told his assemblage to stay observant for assault opposite their families and community.

“We’re aroused of a backlash,” Imam Shah called out by a speakers as he mentioned other attacks by Muslim extremists in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif. “Anytime an eventuality takes place such as what happened in France, such as what happened in San Bernardino, such as in Orlando, we as a Muslim village feel scared.”

The Islamic Center is no foreigner to backlash. Home to one of a many flourishing American Muslim communities in Northern Virginia, a core has stretched over a ability of a tiny building on Harrison Road. The core motionless final year to pierce to a incomparable mosque, though 3 days after a Paris attacks in November, a organisation of Fredericksburg residents protested a construction skeleton during a open hearing.

The core has copiousness of company. In circuitously Culpeper County, a house of supervisors voted opposite a sewage assent focus from a Muslim assemblage to build a mosque on land that can't support a normal dull field, observant a focus disregarded a county’s regulations. The rejecting was usually a second of a kind in 20 years; a construction of a new mosque is stalled until a assent emanate has been resolved.

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For a Fredericksburg Islamic Center, a antithesis is quite unpleasant since a mosque has been holding prayers and village events in a city for 3 decades. Many of a mosque’s members are American adults who possess internal businesses. They contend that until now, they have worked and lived side by side with their neighbors though problems.

“That was a intolerable thing,” pronounced Samer Shalaby, a authority of a mosque’s house of directors. “People don’t comprehend that they have a mosque right subsequent door.” He pronounced a organisation collected for request once a week and hosts village events inside a request core occasionally, though otherwise, a mosque sits dull many of a time. “We go to urge and go home,” he said.

Photo
Children took off their boots before entering a mosque.

Credit
Chet Strange for The New York Times

When Mr. Shalaby presented a center’s skeleton to build a incomparable core during a open conference 3 days after a Paris attacks, a protests astounded him. One male during a hearing, who can be seen in a video of a meeting, interrupted his presentation, observant “Nobody wants your immorality cult here.” Although some residents in a throng shook their heads and told a male to leave, others clapped and cheered.

The antithesis grew so exhilarated that a sheriff’s emissary finished a assembly early and sent everybody home to cold off. After a San Bernardino sharpened in December, a mosque canceled a second open conference for fear that a same protesters would uncover up.

The Fredericksburg Muslim village initial orderly in 1986, when usually a handful of families were members of a congregation. The organisation built their stream request core on a still widen opposite a travel from a Goodwill and a Walgreens in 2000 to accommodate a medium series of worshipers. Now, around 300 people fist into a tiny mosque for afternoon prayers during 1 p.m. on Fridays, followed by 300 some-more people for a second use during 2 p.m.

In a behind of a mosque final Friday, as a women bent brazen to reason their heads to a floor, there was usually about one feet of open space in front of a initial quarrel and even reduction room behind a last. Large celebrations like Eid al-Fitr, a holiday that outlines a finish of a Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, are roughly unfit to horde in a mosque. Ideally, Mr. Shalaby said, a mosque would be means to reason Friday prayers and celebrations where all 1,200 congregants could accumulate to share a dish and urge together.

Since November, a Fredericksburg Islamic Center has hosted a handful of interfaith potlucks and events to deliver residents and other internal congregations to a mosque. Along with church members and a mosque’s neighbors, a handful of protesters carrying Confederate flags and signs with anti-Islam statements also showed adult for these events. But over all, Mr. Shalaby pronounced that in his opinion, a events had helped build a overpass between a mosque members and other residents of Fredericksburg.

“Letting people in a mosque opens it up,” Mr. Shalaby said. “It shows it’s not suspicious.”

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Still, Imam Shah cautioned his assemblage on Friday to be warning for protesters and those who wish Muslims harm. “All of us have to be a soldiers of Islam, definition we have to live Islam a approach it is ostensible to be,’’ he told a congregation.

He speedy people to speak to their neighbors and answer questions about a mosque, though carefully. Imam Shah suggested his assemblage to equivocate arguments and keep a sharp eye for those who competence wish to means difficulty for a mosque.

But he finished his oration with a wish that Muslims would be some-more supposed with time.

“It used to be a Jews when they came into this country, afterwards it was Catholics, afterwards it was Mormons,” Imam Shah said. “Now it is Muslims.”

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