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Lexington Mosque Targeted by Bomb Threat

A Lexington mosque has been the target of a bomb threat.  As WEKU's Cheri Lawson reports, the Kentucky Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate.

At Lexington’s Masjid Bilal Mosque Tuesday afternoon, prayer leader or Imam, Shahied Rashid is chanting a call to prayer.  

Over the weekend this house of worship received a bomb threat in the form of a hand-written letter from Sheffield, England. The envelope contained a green index card wrapped in a blank sheet of paper. Written on the card were the words "An explosive device will be placed at your Mosque very soon.Rashid believes anyone who would send such a threat is a victim on some level."I feel like an environment is being cultivated that encourages this kind of behavior."

The Kentucky Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate.  Waheedah Muhammad, chair of the newly-formed chapter says this incident is just as troubling as the many happening every day around the country and it won’t be tolerated."The rhetoric that we’re hearing from the White House, that we’ve heard all through the campaign, the rhetoric that we hear from the surrogates of the White House are not conducive to peace and harmony, are not conducive to alleviating fear among minorities"

She says the chapter of CAIR, just a few weeks old, wasn’t started because of one specific threat."Muslims around the country are under threat and we wanted to establish CAIR as an opportunity or base for Muslims to know that if they had problems, in employment or discrimination or anything that came up that effected their rights as citizens that we would be here for them."

Muhammad says a hateful act like this is disheartening at a time when most Lexington citizens are supportive.

Treasurer of the Mosque,  Bam Sutardjo was shocked by the threat. On this day he came to pray but says his wife was shaken by the letter.He says, "We had a good program greeting our neighborhood. It was packed here with non-Muslims, with American showing support to us and then boom, we have a threatening letter."

According to Waheedah Muhammad the Mosque has 24-hour security cameras and police have promised extra surveillance.

Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.
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