News / USA

Experts Say Strong Muslim Communities Help Prevent Radicalization

Three men from Raleigh, North Carolina, went on trial September 19 on charges of plotting terrorist attacks overseas. They are among around 200 Muslims who have been arrested in the United States on suspicion of terrorism since the September 11, 2001, attacks. One research group says that strong mosque-centered communities may be more effective than law enforcement in preventing radicalism.

Abdulrahman Asal, 4, is all over the playground at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, after a day of pre-school here.  And he gets encouragement from his father, who is an imam at the center's mosque.

Egyptian-born Sameh Asal came to North Carolina three years ago after theological training at the Al-Azhar university in Cairo.

Asal says the Islamic Center of Raleigh is a place of peace, not a training ground for terrorists. He says it tries to combat radicalism by educating well-rounded Muslims.

"It's not just educational, we have sports going on, we have social activities, we have picnics sometimes, we have youth camps, so the youth do not feel alienated," he said.

Some think a sense of alienation is what landed three young men who attended this mosque in court.  Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi are accused of plotting terrorism overseas.

A fourth man - Daniel Patrick Boyd, the alleged ringleader - has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say he left the Raleigh mosque because he felt it was too moderate.

As a result of the terrorism-related arrests of nearly 200 Muslims since 2001, some Americans are wondering what goes on inside of mosques.

Inside the one in Raleigh, Imam Sameh Asal preaches about charity.

"To feed the poor and the needy, and to help others out, is also an act of worship that brings us closer to Allah," said Asal.

He says Islam teaches acceptance of other faiths, and obedience to the law of the land.

It is a message that researchers at the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security near Raleigh say is taught at mosques throughout the country.

Duke University professor David Schanzer is one those researchers. He says strong communities can do more to prevent radicalization than law enforcement.

"So a lot of things that are done whether it be opening community centers, education, food banks, things of that nature - you build a stronger community, a broader network, that's going to help make sure many people don't fall through the cracks, become isolated, and then maybe subject to this kind of open radical narrative," said Schanzer.

Since 2001, Schanzer says, many mosques have grown into multi-faceted community centers like the Islamic Center of Raleigh.

And he points to research that shows that Muslim communities themselves have been the largest source of initial information leading to the arrest of Muslim terrorism suspects in the U.S.

Schanzer sees that as evidence that the frequent condemnations of terrorism by Asal and other American imams are not just for public consumption.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More