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Miami's Muslim Community Commemorates Sept. 11 Anniversary - 2003-09-11

The Muslim community in southern Florida held a memorial service Thursday in Miami to commemorate the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Muslim call to prayer rang out in downtown Miami early Thursday. Members of South Florida's Muslim community gathered at Miami's Torch of Friendship Monument to remember those who perished two years ago in the September 11 attacks.

Shamik Shadat, a 20-year-old Islamic theology student originally from Guyana, read the call to prayer at the small gathering. Shamik Shadat says he believes the message behind the call to prayer is one of universal brotherhood.

"You know when you recite it the thoughts in your head reflect straight back to 9/11. This prayer I did was for those people, those innocent lives," he said. "It is not for us to say that because you are not a Muslim I cannot pray for you, or if you are a Muslim I have to pray for you alone. We have to pray for everybody. That thought came to me and touched me."

Many in the crowd said they were still shocked by what happened two years ago, and many said they were initially fearful of a backlash against Muslims in the United States.

A recent poll by Zogby International and Hamilton College found that nearly 75 percent of Muslim-Americans either know someone or have themselves experienced anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment verbal abuse or physical attacks since September 11, 2001.

Nasir Idrissi, an Iraqi-American who teaches oceanography at the University of Miami, says his leg was broken in an attack by three men who singled him out for abuse because he is an Arab American. He says the attack left him physically and emotionally shattered. He says he came to Miami's Torch of Friendship Monument on Thursday to take a stand against violence.

"This is a somber occasion," he said. "Probably the best suited occasion to bring people together, to know and to understand that if there is that intolerance, that ignorance, that it does not end up in violence and we should try and overcome that."

While the Zogby poll found that a majority of Muslim-Americans say they are worried about discrimination as a result of the September 11 attacks, the poll also found that a majority of Muslim-Americans had experienced personal support from non-Muslims and that many non-Muslim community leaders in their areas had spoken out against anti-Muslim abuses since September 11.

Mohammed Javed, who is originally from Pakistan, heads a school of Islamic Studies in Broward County, just north of Miami. Mr. Javed says Muslim-Americans should speak out more forcefully against terrorism.

"I do not see any differences. I do not see any different colors or race, creed or religion. We are American and we must be one and send a message to those who seek the destruction of our nation: Do not make that mistake again," he said.

Mohammed Javed says he is grateful to many Americans for reaching out to him since September 11. He says he believes most Americans understand Islam is a religion of peace and that their Muslim-American neighbors are just as committed to the United States as they are.