Johnson County Muslims Embrace Effort To Publicly Disassociate From Terrorists

Nov 20, 2015

Afir Ahmad, Dr. Zafir Hawa and Dr. Moben Mirza are leaders with the Islamic Center of Johnson County.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The phrase reads “Not In My Name" and local Muslims with the Islamic Center of Johnson County want to see it on banners and T-shirts across the Islamic community in the Kansas City region.

Sporting a white T-shirt with #NotInMyName in bold blue letters across the front, local real estate broker Afir Ahmad says Muslims must publicly denounce acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

“We want to disassociate ourselves from these murderers," he said in an interview after a midday prayer service Friday.

"I’ve called them scum of the earth. I want people to understand that our silence or perceived silence is not an acceptance of their deeds. We will be silent no more.”

Zafir Hawa, a local cardiologist, says there have been some hateful emails and remarks on social media about local Muslims.

We're gonna be painted as terrorists on the basis of our faith ... clearly against every ounce of our belief.

“Oh, I wouldn’t repeat them – they’re so bad,” he says.

But expressions of support and solidarity outnumber the hate messages by four to one. The men are encouraged by this.

A banner with the #NotInMyName hashtag hangs from the site of a new building on the center site in Overland Park, Kansas,

The leaders say this latest campaign to disconnect authentic Islam from ISIS started in the UK and is now spreading across the United States. They say their mosque is the first to embrace it in the Kansas City area.

The Friday announcement comes on the same day at least 19 people, including at least one American, died in a terrorist attack in Mali. An Al Qaeda affiliated group claimed responsibility.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @laurazig or  email her at  lauraz@kcur.