A Positive Development
A Pakistan Link Report
Antioch Mayor Don Freitas presents Mohammad
Chaudhry with the official city lapel pin as gesture
that Muslims are a part of the Antioch Community
CA: July 30, 2005 was a great day for the Muslim community
of the East Bay Area, as on this day they hosted a goodwill
party which was attended by the Mayor of the city of Antioch,
Mr. Freitas, the Police Chief, Mr. Moczulski, and Captain
The event was covered by the local newspapers as well as by
the crew of TV channel 2 and various radio stations. The Contra
Times headlined it as "East Bay Muslims Plan to Meet
with Area Officials", and Mr Randy Myers, the Times Staff
Writer summed it up in the following words: "Mohammad
Chaudhry wants East Contra Costa's Muslims and community leader
to know each other better. That's why the president of Antioch's
Islamic Center of East Bay invited the mayor and the city's
police chief to meet Saturday with members of the Muslim community.
Perhaps there has never been a greater need on the part of
Muslims to reach out, Mr. Chaudhry said. And Islamic centers,
in his opinion, are the best forums for reconciliation, for
Chaudhry said rough estimates show East Country has more than
500 Muslim households. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
the Islamic center received two or three threatening phone
calls, he said. Encouraging letters, cards and phone calls
from the community quickly overshadowed those. He keeps the
written messages in a file at the center.
“One person wrote: ‘This tragedy has hurt all
of us, but I am most deeply concerned for the Arabs in our
community. There are those who, in their ignorance, seek an
outlet for their rage and frustration; but there are also
many who recognize our brethren, regardless of creed, and
seek only togetherness and understanding. You still have many
friends to call upon. ‘"
“Muslims must stress to the public that the terrorists
violate Islam's very tenets and represent a small, extreme
faction,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
"There is absolutely no room for the kind of things that
are now happening and which are being perpetrated by a few
individuals who were never in the mainstream of Islam".
The Antioch Express headlined the event as: "Antioch
Muslims ask city Officials for Help". Cindy Nelson who
attended the meeting wrote, "The July 30 meeting at the
Islamic Center in Antioch with Antioch Mayor Don Freitas and
Police Chief Mark MOczulski was a result of negative phone
calls directed at the Muslim community, one as recently as
“Mohammad Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center
of East Bay, thanked the police for its presence in the Muslim
community following the 9/11 attacks and for extra patrols
during Muslim holidays. He also noted that Muslims needed
to get more involved in the community in change the perception
of Muslims from terrorists to law-abiding citizens.
"People like bin Laden and his associates have made Islam
look like a hot piece of coal," Said Mr. Chaudhry. "It
is time for the West to understand that criminals are criminals,
and they need to be treated as such. To bind others in faith
with the crazy glue of guilt by association is neither moral
nor justifiable under any condition".
The Mayor then presented Chaudhry with the official city lapel
pin as gesture that Muslims are a part of the Antioch Community.
Chief Moczulski said, "Understanding the cultural beliefs
and behaviors of all cultures in our community is important
to me". The Chief introduced Police Captain Allan Cantando
so that local Muslims will have a direct line of communication
with the police if they encounter any future problems.
Muslims constitute about four percent of the city of Antioch,
which is approximately 500 families. Most Muslims hold a college
degree and earn over $50,000 per year. The evening concluded
with a delicious meal prepared by the women members of the
Antioch Islamic Center of East Bay.
The Valley Times gave the event a different headline, "East
Bay Muslims to meet with officials for outreach". Islamic
Center leader says people of his faith must take the initiative
if understanding is to be reached with others. To counter
the negative images of Islam, Chaudhry encourages American
Muslims to become more visible and active in their communities,
an approach aimed at ending stereotypes, the retired English
Mayor Don Freitas calls the event, "I think this is a
very positive development”. Mr. Zohair Jamal, a student
member of community, opined that Muslims need to stand up
and let people know what Islam is all about.