Islamic leader seeks to dispel misconceptions
More than 15 years ago, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast, Salma Ahmad of Cedar Mill spent hours explaining Islam to police agencies and law enforcement to Muslims.
Her work — including a six-week stint at an FBI Citizens' Academy — earned her a Director's Community Leadership Award in 2009 from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Today, in the aftermath of President Donald Trump's second order temporarily banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations — and heightened fears among U.S. Muslims about deportation and discrimination — Ahmad is still at it as president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, based in Beaverton.
"My situation is different because I came as a professional immigrant," she said Monday, March 13, in a talk to the Washington County Public Affairs Forum.
Ahmad acknowledged that fear of Islam persists, but those who invoke religion to justify violence — whether acts of terror in the United States or acts of war in the Middle East — are not really Muslims. She said none of Islam's five "pillars" supports violence or killing.
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