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Saturday, June 22, 2024


Sept. 14, 2001 — As an American, St. Croix resident Karim Taha is as angry as the next guy in the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people on the mainland Tuesday.
As a Palestinian with family still living amid the violence in the Middle East, he knows too well the pain and sorrow of violent, untimely death.
"We are angry for what is happening," Taha said while sitting outside the island’s lone mosque with about 20 Arab and other Muslims after prayers Thursday night. "We know the pain and the horror. We feel with those families who lost a father, sister or whoever."
None of the men said they have experienced any backlash because of their ethnicity or religion following the tragedies. By and large, what they have experienced — like other Americans across the country — is anger.
"We’ve been in the community for so long; we participate in their things, they participate in ours," a man named Khalil, a 36-year resident of St. Croix, said, referring to other Virgin Islanders. "We feel like we’re liked in this community."
He added, "We’re not worried about" retribution. "We are all angry."
Khalil said the 7 million Muslims in the United States shouldn't be judged by the actions of a few. "All the Arab and Muslim countries reject this action — more so the Muslims and Arabs that live in America," he said.
It was noted that, unlike followers of other religions, Muslims don't have one spiritual leader — like the Pope for Roman Catholics, for example. Through an interpreter, Imam Amin, the St. Croix mosque's religious leader, said Islam should not be covered with a blanket of blame.
"If something happens from a Muslim that is wrong, it is not something we all have to be responsible for," the Imam said.
For all the sorrow felt by the men at the mosque, however, more than a few also were disturbed that Arab Muslims and their religion are beset by a double standard not felt by other faiths. Most of that, they said, stems from a Western ignorance of Islam, which has some 1.3 billion adherents in the Middle East, Africa, China, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Islam, said Imam Amin, is the "unity of the races."
"We are against killing innocent people in Iraq, Palestine, Israel and the U.S.," one young man said.

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