February 13, 2003 at 3:53 AM CST - Updated June 17 at 6:26 AM
Local Muslim Reacts to Latest Terror Alert By: Kate Scott
With so much of the nation's attention focused on the Islamic world right now, Heartland News wondered if local Muslims are feeling more scrutiny from their neighbors.
Dr. Basit Chaudhari, a Cape Girardeau Muslim, says Osama bin Laden and his radical followers are once again giving the Islamic religion a bad rap.But fortunately, he says, most people in the Heartland seem to understand that Osama does not speak for all Muslims.“Muslims in general condemn Osama bin Laden,” Chaudhari tells Heartland News.“He's a criminal in my eyes, and in the eyes of those people who understand Islam.”
The longtime neurologist likes to remind people that his Islamic religion is about peace, not violence…especially violence in the name of God. Chaudhari cringes to hear the tapes of bin Laden urging all Muslims to kill Americans for just that reason.“We need your intent to be to fight for the sake of God, not for nationalism or regimes,” bin Laden commands on one of the tapes.But Dr. Chaudhari shakes his head, “Suicide bombing and committing terrorism…they are abominable deeds. They are terrible things to do. No sane Muslim will condone them.”Yet he agrees with the United States' assessment that there is a chance that radical Muslims will do those things, especially now, at the end of their holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
But does Dr. Chaudhari think that there could be terrorists here, hiding under the guise of Islam in our own communities?“I don't know personally, but the possibility is not totally excluded,” he tells Heartland News.“This is why you cannot blame the local people for taking all the precautions and being on the alert.”
And while Americans are now on the alert, including Chaudhari and his own family, he says he's never been compared to a terrorist simply because of his religion.“Whenever things like this happen, a certain amount of problems will exist,” he says.“You probably cannot avoid it altogether. People are on the guard, and they then begin to harbor suspicion in their minds that they're being targeted, and people become very, very sensitive. But by and large, people don't go out of the way to shoot down a good man in this part of the world.”