Posted on Sun, May. 05, 2002
Faith goes to work at mosque
By JEFF BURLEW
Folks from all walks gathered Saturday at the Islamic Center of Tallahassee to repair damage caused by a man who crashed his truck into the mosque weeks ago.
Volunteers said they came to mend damage to the West Pensacola Street mosque and to foster goodwill and friendship. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and members of the Bahai religion participated.
"It shows the mercy and the compassion and the love that Jesus taught when everybody comes together and supports each other in a crisis situation," said Thomas Rasheed, president of the Islamic Center. "It makes me feel safe."
Mayor Scott Maddox organized the rebuilding effort, and a number of local businesses donated labor, materials and food. Workers from the Ajax Building Corp. repaired wood and drywall around the entrance of the Islamic Center. And volunteers gave the entrance a fresh coat of paint.
Engineers still are trying to determine the best way to fix a masonry block wall damaged March 25 when a driver rammed his truck into the front of the mosque. The impact cracked the wall and damaged another interior wall, workers said. No one was injured in the incident.
Arrested after the incident was Charles Franklin, 41. He was indicted April 16 by a federal grand jury in Pensacola on a charge of violating a hate crime law that prohibits damage of religious property. He remains in federal custody where he is undergoing a mental evaluation. If convicted, he could face 20 years in prison.
The crash created fears among some local Muslims that more violence could follow. City officials responded quickly by holding a news conference at the mosque and pledging support. Maddox said at the time he would return with a hammer and checkbook.
"It feels good now that we are putting that promise into action," said Salah Aziz, a member of the Islamic Center's board of trustees.
During a respite from the hard work, Aziz presented Maddox with a plaque for his efforts. Maddox compared the crash to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Said Maddox: "We need to make sure that any remnants of such an evil attack are washed away forever."
©Copyright 2002, Tallahassee Democrat