An absorbing account of
a Pakistani-American’s successful strivings to present
the peaceful face of Islam and dispel misperceptions about
the faith have not gone unnoticed. On May 4, Hartford Courant
carried an interesting story entitled ‘Pakistan Native
Reaches Out’ by its staff writer David Owens which highlighted
the efforts of Dr. M. Saud Anwar in this regard. The paper
SOUTH WINDSOR -- When the first reports about the massacre
at Virginia Tech began to hit the Internet and TV, horror
and concern weren't the only emotions felt by some American
"We were crying because we worried it would be a Muslim
and it would affect our lives," Dr. M. Saud Anwar, a
native of Pakistan, told members of the South Windsor Police
Department Thursday. "It's a paranoia. You're implicated
no matter what."
Anwar, a pulmonologist affiliated with Manchester Memorial
and Rockville General hospitals, is a leader in the state's
Pakistani American community and has taken a lead in reaching
out to church groups and other organizations.
After Javed Akhtar, a native of Pakistan, was killed at his
convenience store in Broad Brook, members of the Pakistani
American community decided to reach out to police. Some have
expressed fear that Akhtar's killing was a hate crime because
no money was taken. The killing is still being investigated.
In South Windsor, there have been no problems, but Police
Chief Gary Tyler and his commanders welcomed the idea of having
Anwar, a town resident, brief all department employees about
Pakistani American relations and Islam.
"We wanted our people to have a little better understanding,"
Tyler said after one of three sessions Anwar led Thursday
at police headquarters. Getting an introduction to a segment
of the community fits in with the police department's focus
on community policing, Sgt. Scott Custer said. Anwar said
there are 35 to 40 Pakistani American families in town.
Tyler said he hopes to have Anwar and others in the town's
Pakistani American community participate in the department's
citizen police academy so they can gain a better understanding
of what the department does.
Anwar said establishing a relationship with police is important
to the Pakistani American community and to Muslims. They need
to know they can look to the police for protection if a problem
arises. They also want a good relationship in case they need
to contact police about someone in their community who may
be up to no good.
Many Americans have allowed their view of Islam to be shaped
by extremists, he said, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan
and the regime in Saudi Arabia, which doesn't even allow women
to drive. Every religion has its extremists who have a rigid
view of their own religion and are intolerant of others, he
said. The vast majority of Muslims reject that rhetoric and
condemn the actions of those extremists, Anwar said.
”We need to be the ones to define the community ourselves
than have someone with a skewed view define us," Anwar
In his briefing to police department employees, Anwar talked
about Islam, its origins, extremism and how most American
Muslims share the same goals as most other Americans: peace,
prosperity and a better life for their children.
"We want to educate everybody," Anwar said after
his presentation. "We are their neighbors. We are no
different than anyone else."
To contact Anwar about speaking to an organization, e-mail
him at email@example.com