How NJ Muslim groups reacted with bombing suspect on the loose
Hours before the exchange of gunfire that led to the arrest of Ahmad Kham Rahami, the suspect captured in connection with recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, members of New Jersey's Muslim community circulated a message asking their peers to help the search for the wanted Afghani immigrant.
Sen. Raymond Lesniak posted a copy of the message on his Facebook page, saying that the message demonstrates that "we are one New Jersey. One America."
"If any member of the Muslim community has any information regarding this person, it is our duty and obligation to assist law enforcement agencies in their investigation of the recent bombings in New York City," Mohammad Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, wrote in an email that was shared with at least 120 Muslim groups in the Garden State. "Since more people are tuned into their social media sources than perhaps even their email, please broadcast this message widely through all social media you are using."
In his letter, Chaudry encouraged New Jersey Muslims to copy the message and distribute it on social media, and in doing so "sharing this message with all members of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition as well."
Chaudry's message provided a description of the bombing suspect with instructions to call 911 if he's spotted.
"We felt it was important to show Muslim Community's support for law enforcement personnel who risk their lives to protect us all," Chaudry told NJ 101.5. "The message was well received and is a reflection of our strong working relationship with all law enforcement agencies in the state."
Rahami was arrested Monday in Linden following an exchange of gunfire that left two police officers injured. Rahami was also injured and taken to a Union County hospital where, authorities said, he was undergoing surgery due to a gunshot wound.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of New Jersey, a Muslim civil rights organization based in Plainfield, also took to Facebook asked people to contact police if they saw Rahami.
Earlier in the day CAIR posted a message on social media telling fellow Muslims that in light of the bombings, they "should be prepared for a potential backlash." The organization also posted a link to a "Muslim Community Safety Kit" that, according to the CAIR website, "was developed to better equip you and your community with the knowledge necessary to protect against anti-Muslim bigotry or attacks, and to secure your basic legal rights."
The Safety Kit urges Muslims to form positive relations with law enforcement, local leaders and other interfaith groups and to build emergency and legal contact lists. It also tells members of the community to report suspicious activity to authorities or the local FBI field office.
Monday afternoon, the New Jersey Muslim Coalition released a statement denouncing the bombings. The coalition consists of more than 120 organizations and said it "strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in New York City and Seaside Park, New Jersey."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the 29 innocent people who were injured in the blast in New York City and those in New Jersey who were put at risk of injury. We also pray for the quick recovery of the Linden Police officers who were injured during their prompt and heroic actions to capture the suspect," the statement reads.
The coalition said it also appluds the work of the law enforcement agencies who worked to "bring the perpetrator to justice."
"This individual perpetrator of these terrorist attacks does not represent Islam or Muslims in any sense. The Islam we know and practice calls for peace, mercy, love, tolerance and helping others," the organization said. "In times like these, all Americans need to stand together and avoid inflammatory rhetoric. We are stronger when we are united. We urge politicians and media not to exploit these incidents for political gain or for media ratings."
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.
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