24 Hour News 8 spoke with Muslim Americans at the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute in Grand Rapids Friday night.
“Sometimes it’s hard when people say something behind our backs,” Ismail Lubis told 24 Hour News 8.
Lubis said he has noticed a change in how some people act around his family since the terror attacks in Paris.
“Especially for my wife. She’s wearing hijab… We’ve been receiving some looks that are not really appropriate,” he said.
Imam Morsy Salem, a religious leader at the mosque, said it’s important that people know the vast majority of the those who practice Islam have nothing to do with ISIS, the so-called “Islamic State.”
In fact, the terror group’s adoption of that name has been opposed by leaders and Muslim groups across the world.
And after ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris, Muslim Americans in Grand Rapids stood outside the mosque in protest of the deadly attacks.
The protest was an effort to clear up any misconceptions people may have. Salem said their religion does not support the recent terror acts — or the people committing them.
“I don’t know why those people (terrorists) bring the different interpretation of the verses, and they said kill non-Muslims and kill everybody who is not in our religion. This is wrong idea,” said Salem.
Ijlal Nuriddin, a Muslim American woman, told 24 Hour News 8 her family actually hasn’t received much negativity — even after the attacks. She said the community has always been very welcoming.
But when she does encounter someone who may look down on her — simply because of the way she dresses — she said the best way to respond is with a smile. She teaches her children to carry that same attitude.
“When we leave our homes, we leave our houses, we just try to be positive, conduct yourself as you know you should and try not to succumb to feeling depressed or negative like you should be ashamed of who you are. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Be proud. You’re Muslim. And you have nothing to hide,” said Nuriddin.
Salem said they teach children and teenagers about love and kindness — and to stay firm to beliefs that are taught.
But he said part of the problem is that many of the young people who do become radicalized are recruited by terrorists online — even on social media.
He emphasized that the number of Muslims who actually adopt the radicalized beliefs is minuscule when looking at the size of the religion as a whole.