Security at area mosques highest since 9/11, leaders say

Leaders at Islamic Centers in the region said security has been heightened at their facilities following the attack on American diplomatic personnel in Libya that they described as “outrageous and disgusting.”

Dr. Inayat Malik, president of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, called Ambassador Chris Stevens “a brave diplomat,” who was a friend of Libya. He said the attack was the work of “a small savage group,” not the people or the government of Libya.

Malik described security at his mosque as “the highest since the Sept. 11 attacks” when it was common to see West Chester Twp. police officers in the parking and in the Interstate 75 median.

“But security can only go so far,” he said.

He and other Islamic leaders in the region started conversations with their local police departments following attacks on American mosques this summer, including the burning of the Islamic Society of Joplin in Missouri.

The Dayton Mercy Society Islamic Center of Dayton is kept locked during non-prayer times.

“We were just concerned,” said Dr. Niaz Usman, president of the Miamisburg mosque.

Originally from India, Usman said those who worship at his center hail from a number of countries. It has not experienced any significant threats in its five year history.

“We have a good relationship with the neighborhood,” Usman said.

Dr. Esman H. Alkhawaga said the U.S. anti-Islam film that sparked protest throughout the Middle East and North Africa is not worthy of attention.

“It was made by an extremist and the response was from other extremists,” he said. ”Emotions are high and people are following this herd mentally.”

He said forces inside of the countries impacted - particularly his homeland Egypt – want to stop progress and are exploding the situation.

“They don’t want this country to succeed,” he said. “There is a lot of deception behind this.”

Alkhawaga thinks the unrest will soon end.

“Clearly it (the film) was something done for some sort of incitement of violence,” he said. “I think wise people on every side need to realize that.”

Many people in the Middle East are trying to deal with new freedoms, Alkhawaga said.

“I think the outcome of the revolutions will be more towards a democracy,” he said. “The people will have peaceful coexistence with the countries around them.”

Karen Dabdoub, Council on American Islamic Relations’ executive director for Cincinnati and Southern Ohio, said she has not heard of local threats.

“We’ve definitly been telling people to be aware of their surroundings,” she said. “Ever since 9/11, the situation has been getting worse. People are accustom to that and deal with it. Keep your eyes and ear and open just in case.”

Amelia Robinson contributed to this story.

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