Local Muslim and other faith leaders speak out about 'Islamophobia'

ELLICOT CITY, MD - At the Maryum Islamic Center in Howard County, some female members are fearful.

"They have so much anxiety that actually some of them were calling me asking me if it's okay to take the hijab, the cover, off,” said Imam Mahmoud Hady.

Hady tells us removing the religious head coverings so the women don't stand out is not the answer.  Instead, he wants them to be out in the public more.

"We need to get in touch with people more, we need to be exposed to others more, we need to engage others,” Hady said.  "The solution, it will come with time as people get to know us as people, get to know about Islam, what is Islam."

There's a growing backlash after last week's shooting in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people and wounded 21.  Authorities say a couple carried out the attack, with the wife having pledged allegiance to the Islamic state.         

Muslim leaders have condemned the violence, and in Howard County they're working with other faiths to try and fight back.

"It was stunning to me to hear a couple of them say that the anti-Muslim sentiment feels much more intense now than it did after 9/11,” Reverend Paige Getty with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia said.

They're calling it Islamophobia, and they say it's growing locally and across the country.  It's this heightened hatred and discrimination toward anyone Muslim that has people worried.

Getty and Hady are both members of PATH, or People Acting Together in Howard County.  The group is calling for support of their Muslim neighbors.

"At this time when the anti-Muslim rhetoric is so strong that we wanted to come together to offer a message that says we are not going to let hatred and ignorance and paranoia be our guiding principles," said Getty.


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