Demand Soared for Speakers on Islam after 9/11
Zafar Siddiqui co-founded Fridley-based Islamic Resource Group (IRG) only weeks before.
Editor's Note: Fridley Patch is looking for stories of local people whose lives changed—or who changed their lives—as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. If you or someone you know of were affected by this event, please email email@example.com.
July and August 2001 were the first months in business for the Islamic Resource Group (IRG), a Fridley-based nonprofit dedicated to educating Minnesotans about Islam and the local Muslim community.
To drum up interest in IRG's new speakers bureau, IRG “sent letters to a few schools and churches" recalled Zafar Siddiqui, co-founder and president.
Then came 9/11, and requests poured in. Soon IRG's handful of volunteers were giving as many as 25 presentations each week—451 in their first year.
"The atmosphere was pretty tense," Siddiqui said by email. Despite a “great deal of anxiety among Muslims at that time about the backlash," he said, IRG pushed outreach.
"We felt that the best response was to be out there in the community," Siddiqui said. "As American Muslims, we were not going to let the actions of a few extremists define us."
Ten years later, IRG has given about 2,700 presentations, reaching more than 100,000 Minnesotans. In May, the group introduced a new series of videos and won honors for its work promoting human rights. On Sept. 11, IRG will be part of an interfaith commemoration of the 10th anniversary at the state Capitol called Minnesotans Standing Together.
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