Julie with a B

Thursday, June 09, 2005
Muslims arrested in Lodi - there's more to the story
When I first heard about the arrests in Lodi, I was ready with a knee-jerk reaction to Muslims with expired visas. Then I read this article about what is really happening in this community.

Here is a group of moderate Moslems who wish to start a school, to be able to teach their children in their own community, at a school with American values. Naturally, not everyone in their community agreed with this plan. Now four people have been arrested, two from each side of the discussion.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
. . . .Tuesday, the woman realized it was probably a federal agent doing surveillance in connection with a father and son from her neighborhood who were arrested and accused of terrorist activities tied to al-Qaida.

Authorities would say nothing Wednesday about any such surveillance and little about their investigation, but the arrests this week woke up this sleepy Central Valley town.

Another set of detentions -- of a prominent imam and an educator -- has reverberated through the community of an estimated 2,000 Muslims here. In fact, many in this agricultural center, 35 miles south of Sacramento, believe the arrests have re-ignited a deep, philosophical conflict between the two sets of Muslims.

Shujah Khan, 39, a Lodi ironworker who emigrated from Pakistan in 1986, said that for several years there has been a division between a group of moderate, open-minded Muslims and one not tolerant of other religions and of Muslims who hold ``American values.''

The two people held Sunday on immigration charges and the two arrested on terrorist-related charges are on opposite sides of this divide, said Khan. And he said that among the majority of Muslims, there is a groundswell of support for the imam and educator, and a distancing from the father and son.

. . . . . Many parents didn't want to have to send their children overseas to madrasahs, or Islamic schools, said Shujah Khan, because sometimes those educations resulted in pupils becoming extremist in their beliefs.

Further, he explained that the majority of Lodi Muslims -- with a wide variety of backgrounds in Pakistan and other Muslim countries -- wanted to build a school with ``American values'' and had networked with a rainbow of interfaith groups to gain support for the new school.

For several years, the Lodi Muslims have reached out to Jews, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs to build relationships and support for their school.


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