Convicted Mosque Shooter Embraces Islam

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Ted Hakey Jr. now spends his days working to spread the word of the Muslim community in Meriden.

It’s a far cry from what he felt in his heart two years ago when he was arrested after shooting at an empty mosque.

“I was a Muslim hater,” Hakey told NBC Connecticut’s Keisha Grant in an exclusive interview.

The former U.S. Marine was arrested for a hate crime in November 2015 after firing 30 shots into the Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman Mosque on Main Street with a high-powered rifle a day after the Paris attacks.

Hakey said he found himself intoxicated and fed up with attacks halfway around the world.

“The night of the Paris attacks, you could see the mosque clearly from my house because there were no leaves on the trees,” Hakey said. “I went to get out of my car and looked over and kind of thought, ‘Well, let me do something about it.'”

Four of the 30 shots Hakey fired tore through the Baitul Aman Mosque in the middle of the night. It took federal and local authorities just hours to trace the bullets back to Hakey and the FBI arrested him on federal hate crime charges.

Zahir Mannan, one of the leaders of the mosque, said those bullets didn’t just pierce walls. They also shot fear through the heart of the Ahmadiyya community. This sect of Islam is made up by the only group of Muslims who believe in the Messiah.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC (CONNECTICUT)

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Hurricane Irma: New Tampa mosque opens as shelter for first time

504372478_19960061_8colTAMPA — For now it’s their hurricane shelter, but Muslim rules about removing your shoes are still being observed at a makeshift shelter set up at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay mosque.

More than 500 people are planning to hunker down at the makeshift shelter set up at the mosque’s multicultural center, which is now full. Most are Muslim, but the shelter was open to all people and is providing refuge for at least 50 non-Muslims, said Aida Mackic, a shelter organizer who is also the interfaith and youth program director with Council on American-Islamic Relations

Three large conference rooms are being used as the main sleeping quarters. One is for men, one for women, and there is a common area for families who want to remain together.

In each are dozens of cots, sun beds, quilts and other make-do beds.

“We’ve had to turn some people away,” said Mackic. “There was even one woman who turned up with a bird in a covered cage.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TAMPABAY.COM

At an Arkansas Mosque a Vandal Spreads Hate and Finds Mercy

Abraham Davis was sitting on a thin blue pad on the concrete floor of Cell 3 in a jail in western Arkansas when a guard came around with stamped envelopes and writing paper.

The first person he wrote to was his mother. Abraham, just shy of 21, had barely spoken to her since his arrest a few days before, and he had a lot to explain.

It all began on a night last October when he borrowed her white minivan and drove to the home of a friend. They’d gotten drunk on cheap whiskey. Kentucky Deluxe. Abraham agreed to drive his friend to a mosque in town. His friend drew swastikas and curses on the mosque’s windows and doors while Abraham stood watch in the driveway.

The next day, the vandalism was all over the news. Abraham watched the reports over and over on his phone, his stomach curdling with regret.

Even now, as he was facing up to six years in prison for the act, Abraham could not explain why he had done it.

He had grown up in Fort Smith, a city of tall oak trees and brick churches that has the look of a faded Polaroid. His father, charismatic but violent, died when Abraham was 5, leaving him with a feeling of powerlessness so intense that he has been trying to conquer it ever since. “Most of my life I’ve spent trying to train myself to become something that’s too strong to be broken through,” he said. Life has teed him up for a fight, and he walks tilted slightly forward, as if someone is pulling him with an invisible wire.

As a poor student in the high school on the wealthier side of town, Abraham often felt like an outsider. He walked, not drove, hung out on playgrounds, not in restaurants. He got into a lot of fights. He did poorly in school, but he doesn’t remember his teachers seeming surprised. Expectations were low, and he bent to fit them. He slept a lot in class. At 18, he dropped out.

Fort Smith has two country clubs, several golf courses, a Talbots and a symphony orchestra. But a proliferation of pawnshops and a circuit court crowded with indigent defendants are reminders of the grinding poverty all around, in the rural areas of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.

For years, those divisions had been etched into the city’s geography. Poorer families lived on the north side of town and wealthier families on the south. Race followed the same pattern, with the south predominantly white and much of the city’s black population in the north.

But time has scrambled those old lines. Latinos came here to work in the poultry industry. Pho shops dot the city’s main drag, property of Vietnamese who began arriving as refugees after the fall of Saigon. R & R’s Curry Express serves deliciously spicy North Indian food at a Finish Line gas station.

Abraham Davis drove his mother’s white minivan to the mosque last October.
Pho shops dot the city’s main drag, started by Vietnamese who began arriving as refugees after the fall of Saigon. Other nationalities also call Fort Smith home now.
The tombstone of Hud Davis, Abraham’s and Noah’s biological father, in Fort Smith. Noah often visits; Abraham does not.
Hisham Yasin in the office of his used-car business.

Muslims from different countries came, too — some to study, some to work in the city’s growing medical industry. Many had money. Hisham Yasin did not.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

‘There is too much anger out there.’ Bombing of a Minnesota mosque leaves Muslims concerned

la-1501976924-wer1upgbbr-snap-imageTerror tore through a suburban Minneapolis community on Saturday after the bombing of a mosque, amplifying growing concerns among some Muslims who have felt targeted nationwide in recent months.

Law enforcement officials said the explosion occurred around 5 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. Fire and smoke engulfed much of the red-brick structure, but there were no injuries.

The FBI is leading the ongoing investigation, along with local law enforcement. Authorities say they believe an improvised explosive device — also known as an IED — was to blame for the blast at the mosque, which primarily serves the area’s large Somali community.

Mohamed Omar, who has been executive director of the mosque for two years, said Saturday that he was relieved no one was hurt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES 

Jews, Christians and Muslims make holy ground in America’s heartland

170616134549-03-tri-faith-initiative-exlarge-169Omaha, Nebraska (CNN) When most people think of Omaha, they imagine sizzling steaks, billionaire Warren Buffet or even former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning calling out before the snap. (Remember “Omaha-Omaha”?).

But if a group of clergymen have their way, Nebraska’s largest city will soon also be known as the home of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding.

A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it’s not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to share and worship on the same property.

It’s called Tri-Faith Initiative.

The $65 million project, launched in 2006 and funded through donations, may be the first time in US history that the three faiths intentionally build their houses of worship side by side.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN

Va. mosque sees outpouring of support as state fights Trump travel ban

mcauliffemosque5Ashburn resident Amr Said came to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling to pray on Friday, seeking to restore his spirit a week after the unveiling of a Trump administration ban on travel that is keeping hundreds of fellow Muslims from entering the United States.

As he walked up the center stairs amid scores of other immigrants, Said, 35, saw a crowd of about 100 people holding signs that read “We are here for you” and “You belong.”

Inside, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark R. Herring delivered essentially the same message. Herring had come from the federal courthouse in Alexandria, where a judge agreed earlier Friday to move forward with a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the executive order that put the travel ban in place.

“We are here to send a message to President Trump that we will not stand by and allow his unlawful, unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order,” McAuliffe, like Herring a Democrat, bellowed to the cheering worshipers after they had finished the midday prayers.

His remarks, and the demonstration outside, filled Said with hope. “It makes a lot of difference, a lot of difference,” said Said, a software engineer who is originally from Egypt and who shook hands with several of the sign holders while exiting the mosque. “I feel that [the ban] is not going to continue if everyone speaks up.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Christians And Jews Team Up To Help Muslims After Texas Mosque Fire

mosqueChristians and Jews in a small Texas town reached out to help their Muslim neighbors after a fire destroyed a local mosque.

“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue,” Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a cofounder of the Victoria Islamic Center, told The New York Times.

In addition, at least four churches offered space for the Muslims to hold their services.

Victoria is a small city about 125 miles southwest of Houston with a population of about 65,000.

Everyone knows everybody,” Robert Loeb, the president of the town’s Temple B’Nai Israel, told Forward. “I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them.”

On Wednesday, children from a local Catholic school marched to the mosque to form what the Islamic Center called “a human chain of love and peace.”

They are literally our neighbors,” Gretchen Boyle, an English teacher at St. Joseph High School, told the Victoria Advocate. “We are responding to the call, ‘Love thy neighbor.’”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST