Local leaders say Islamic centers need to find new ways to connect with youth

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In the wake of this week’s car and knife attack at Ohio State University, services at the Abubakar Assidiq Mosque and Islamic Center Friday focused on the importance of good communication between parents and their children.

Officials say Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an 18-year-old OSU student, drove a car into a crowd of people on campus and then got out and started cutting people with a butcher knife.

Artan was born in Somalia and spent several years in a refugee camp in Pakistan before coming to Columbus. He lived with his family just a short walk from the Abubakar, mosque but was not known to staff members there.

In his sermon, mosque director Horsed Nooh said Islamaphobia is higher now in the United States than it was after the Sept. 11 attacks. Nooh said it’s critical for parents to have good communication with their children.

“More than 90 percent of radicalization is online,” Nooh said. “Because of all these iPhones and iPads and all of these computers, regardless of the effort of the mosque and Islamic centers, they can easily be radicalized within their bedroom.”

Mohamed Diini travels around the world to speak about the need for more programs for Islamic youth.

He says Islamic centers “need to bring about new classes, new thoughts, and new ways of engaging young people because you can’t be doing the same old stuff that we’ve been doing for the past 50 years because that doesn’t work – we’ve seen it not working,” Diini said.

Diini who lives in Columbus and is a graduate of the Ohio State University said it was sad watching the events unfold Monday morning.

“It was un-Somali, it was un-American, it was un-Muslim and it was inhumane.”

Mohamed Haji, a 21-year-old Somali immigrant and student at Columbus State Community College, says he has not felt any backlash from Monday’s events.

“It drives me to be a better Muslim, just to show the people around me that we’re not this, we’re better than this,” Haji said. “We have a sense of identity. We are not just a religion. It’s a way of life.”

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