Muslims Serve Evacuees
By Bill Murphy

On the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, more than 2,000 Muslims served food, worked registration tables and provided solace Sunday to storm-displaced victims at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

"This is an example of who we are," said Nura Baaba, a 22-year-old University of Houston law student. "What happened on 9/11, we had no control over."

The massive effort was the work of the Houston Muslim Relief Group, a coalition of 20 mosques and local Islamic organizations that formed after Katrina to provide help.

Leaders of Operation Compassion, an interdenominational endeavor to feed evacuees at the convention center, asked the Muslim group to help run the shelter on 9/11. Muslim volunteers said they were pleased to be assigned that date because it gave them the chance to show that charity and compassion are core tenets of Islam.

Katrina "is the biggest calamity in the history of the US. How can we not help out?" said Asaf Qadeer, a physician.

Shadid Bilal, a chemist working for the city of Houston, said: "This is what the Prophet Mohammed told us - to help others in calamity."

Muslim volunteers wearing bright yellow Operation Compassion T-shirts were so numerous that at times they appeared to outnumber evacuees. They were assigned to work one of four six-hour shifts.

Farha Ahmed of Sugar Land said some people assume that American Muslims most closely identify with other Muslims and events in the Middle East.

"Like everybody else, we saw what was on TV during coverage of the storm. We felt so helpless," she said. "We feel that we are part of the American population. When something happens next door in Louisiana, we feel it very personally." (Courtesy Houston Chronicle, 9/11/05
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3349440)



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