CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA — American Muslims in the city of Charleston in West Virginia are seeking to spread accurate information about who they are and what they actually believe among their local community, Public News Service reported on March 11.
“The instinct for many might be to get their information online. But in this case, I specifically advise folks to stay off the internet – because there is so much bad information out there,” the association’s imam Nasir Abdussalam advises.
“That might be impossible for today’s people, today’s generation. But that would be my first piece of advice, is to try to connect with real people.”
According to the Imam, the Islamic Association of West Virginia has more than 350 families in the congregation, many of them work in the medical field.
A very high proportion of the state’s Muslims came to West Virginia to practice medicine and other professions such as engineering.
“Nationally, American Muslims have among the highest average education level of any religious group,” Abdussalam assured.
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Frustrated by Islamophobic posters and other materials which were put on display in Charleston earlier this month, Abdussalam said that the Holy Qur’an is totally different from the Islamophobic visuals which are spreading in the state.
“Islamophobes and xenophobes present members of extremist groups as the religious leaders of Islam. In fact, almost all of these people aren’t actually trained in Islamic Shari`ah law or tenants of the faith,” Abdussalam expressed.
The imam also said that the American Muslim community in the state of West Virginia is happy for having mosques in most of the large cities, however, not all of them are led by native English speakers.
Charleston is the most populous city in, and the capital of, the state of West Virginia. The population during the 2017 Census Estimate was 47,929, that’s while Charleston metropolitan area as a whole had 214,406 residents.
The city represents the center of government, commerce, and industry for Kanawha County, of which it’s the county seat. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city’s economy.
According to last year’s estimates of the United States Census Bureau, the population of West Virginia state was 1,805,832, a 2.55% decrease since the 2010 census. Muslims represent 1% of the state’s total population.
American Muslims see rising Islamophobia as a major obstacle to their daily life.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said that anti-Muslim discrimination incidents and hate crimes increased in the third quarter of 2018 by 83 and 21 percent respectively, compared with the first quarter.
During 2018, CAIR documented more than 1,000 reports of potential bias incidents. The numbers include situations involving various government agencies.