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    Growing Islamophobia a concern for ADAMS Center in Sterling

    Jacob Dentu , 16, talks to Imam Abdul Rafaa of the ADAMS Center following the daily evening prayer session at the mosque in Sterling. Tin Nguyen/Fairfax County Times
    Rizwan Jaka, Board Chairman of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, has a personal beef with the Islamic State, perhaps better known to many as ISIS.

    “ISIS evil,” he says. “They are so evil that even al-Qaida is saying they are evil.”

    For more than 13 years, Jaka has been battling both what he calls the “toxic narrative” of violent Muslim extremism, and the propagation of their message by the media.

    “Terrorism is a crime against humanity,” he said. “There is no justification for it and we at ADAMS have been at the forefront of battling it since 9/11, but people need to realize that radicalized terrorist groups do not represent Islam.”

    Jaka, citing a 2014 study by the University of North Carolina, says that since 9/11, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of only 37 Americans. During that same 13-year time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered by fellow Americans for non-religious reasons. “An FBI study shows that between 1980 and 2005, 94 percent of terrorist attacks in the U.S. were committed by non-Muslims,” he said.

    Terrorism itself, regardless of affiliation, is also much less fatal than the media would have people believe, he adds. Jaka says that in the year 2013, Americans were more likely to be killed by “a toddler in a Wal-Mart” than by a terrorist of any affiliation. “That year, five Americans were killed by toddlers who accidentally shot a gun, but only three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing,” he said.

    Of course, that was all before the nearly daily beheadings, graphic mass murders and other atrocities committed by the Islamic State today.

    “ISIS is evil. There is no doubt about that, but things have to be put into perspective,” Jaka says of that group’s recent horrors. “There is certainly an element of violent, deadly radicalized, toxic ideology out there being taught by sociopaths using and twisting Muslim beliefs to the marginalized, the disillusioned and the mentally ill to serve their own evil agendas. But they are given disproportional media coverage, and that is exactly what they want. We need to defeat groups like ISIS with the teachings of authentic ISLAM and we need the media to stop giving these evil groups all the coverage they seek while at the same time associating them with Islam.”

    Jaka, born in Chicago and raised in Texas, says misguided groups such as the Islamic State and all the media attention given to their atrocities has led to a growing Islamophobia in the U.S., something he and his family have seen firsthand.

    “Not long ago my wife and kids were coming out of a grocery store right here in Northern Virginia and someone in a passing car yelled at them ‘Go back to your own country!’” he said. “My wife is a third-generation American and my kids are fourth-generation Americans. According to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were between 3,000 to 5,000 Anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. in 2011 alone. The true number is unknown because many incidents, like the one I just described, go unreported.”

    Jaka says that the ADAMS Center works tirelessly to counter Islamophobia and teach the true values of Islam. “We promote citizenship, love of country and civic engagement within the community,” he said.

    According to Jaka, groups within the Center, such as the the Qurtuba Institute, were also created to disseminate sound Islamic knowledge and learning grounded in an “American Muslim reality” to members of the ADAMS community and surrounding areas. “The purpose of disseminating this knowledge is to increase the level of Islamic literacy within the ADAMS community in order to gain a deeper understanding of true Islamic principles and ideals,” said Jaka.

    On March 6, the Qurtuba Institute, in conjunction with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, will hold a discussion of Islamophobia at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, 46903 Sugarland Road, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

    “We work on counter-radicalization every day as well as work with other interfaith organizations, the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies,” said Jaka. “We are trying to keep up with the bad guys and counter the wrongs that they commit, but we need the community to take the time to hear us and to spread the truth about Islam.”


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