The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo recently celebrated its “Grand Reopening” with diverse speakers, informal tours and dinner, more than a year after the Perrysburg mosque was struck by an arson fire.
The event was originally supposed to take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the mosque but was postponed a day due to a snow storm.
Cherrefe Kadri, Islamic Center president, said 225 people attended the event.
The speakers included Imam Farooq Abo-Elzahab, spiritual leader of the Mosque; Hussein Shousher, a member of the mosque; Tom Brice, Perrysburg Township fire chief; Sgt. Jim Gross of the Perrysburg police; James Mossing, president of SMB Construction Co.; Mahjabeen Islam, former mosque president, and Ava Dustin, U.S. attorney. Amjad Hussain, a member of the mosque, was the master of ceremonies and Kadri also spoke.
Islam, a local physician, recounted the day when she first heard about the arson attack at the Mosque on Sept. 30, 2012. She was president of the mosque at the time.
“I was doing rounds at Toledo Hospital and, as is my custom, I had left my purse in the nurses’ station. When I came back from the patient’s room there was a flood of messages on my phone,” she said. “The first I checked was from Imam Farooq — there had been a fire at the center, the voice mail said. I raced down I-75 convinced that it was a false alarm or else a short circuit. From a distance I could see the ladder of the fire truck touching the minarets and a plume of smoke exuding from the side of the dome.
“About [four] hours later Fire [Marshal] Frank [Reitmeier] told me it was no accident but arson instead. I remember driving home that night [feeling] numb, dazed, robotic,” she said.
Her full speech can be viewed here.
Islam said she appreciated the support and unity of the Toledo community after the hate crime, but said Americans must work on eliminating discrimination and prejudice.
“There are way too many Muslim men that are denied employment or harassed at work because they have a beard,” she said. “Too many women have to appeal to the courts to be able to wear hijab at their workplace. And Muslims do feel that they live under a state of siege.”
Kadri said she received positive feedback from the guests about the event. She said the guests especially enjoyed Fire Chief Brice’s talk.
“People said he spoke from the heart. He talked about the community and how we’re all one and the idea of no differentiation between people and that’s what harms society when you do that. He did a really great job,” she said.
The tour of the mosque was informal, with community members stationed around the building to assist the guests, who were welcome to walk around and ask questions, she said.
Kadri said the ICGT members are blessed to live in a supportive community.
“Our community has always done the right thing, not just the Muslim community, but the greater Toledo community,” she said. “I think we got a really great area to live in around here.”