“We want to show that we’re organized, and that we’re growing,” said Samir Junejo, who came to Olympia with a group from the Council on Islamic-American Relations Washington (CAIR-WA). A group from the Islamic Circle of North America also took to the Capitol on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Besides wanting to take a “proactive” approach to ensuring that Washington residents’ religious freedom is protected, Junejo said part of the coalition’s goal is to show legislators and other Washington citizens that Muslims are ordinary people.
“People are paranoid when they see a women who is covered,” said Sameira Muhammed, a Bellevue College student who also came with CAIR-WA. “It happens sometimes on the bus or at the mall, someone will yell, ‘terrorist.’ We’re telling people that Muslims are just like everyone else.”
Muhammed said that while things have improved for American Muslims since attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans still have difficulty separating their anger over the actions of select Islamic terrorists from their feelings toward the Muslim community as a whole.
“Islam is perfect — Muslims are not,” Muhammed said.