Part II of “An Imam in America” series by the NY Times.
Part I can be found here.
Part III can be found here.
James Estrin/The New York Times
Sheik Reda Shata begins a seminar in cultural sensitivity at the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Through these kinds of efforts, the imam hopes to foster better understanding between law enforcement and his fellow Muslims.
March 6, 2006
An Imam in America
To Lead the Faithful in a Faith Under Fire
By Andrea Elliott
The F.B.I. agent and the imam sat across a long wooden table at a Brooklyn youth center last August.
Would the imam, the agent asked, report anyone who seemed prone to terrorism?
Sheik Reda Shata leaned back in his chair and studied the agent. Nearly a year had passed since the authorities had charged two young men, one of whom prayed at Mr. Shata’s mosque, with plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan.
The mosque had come under siege. Television news trucks circled the block. Threats were made. The imam’s congregants became angry themselves after learning that a police informer had spent months in their midst.
At the meeting, the imam chose his words carefully. It is not only the F.B.I. that wants to stop terrorism, he answered; Muslims also care about keeping the country safe.
“I would turn him in to you,” Mr. Shata finally said, pointing his finger at the agent, Mark J. Mershon, the top F.B.I. official in New York City. “But not because I am afraid of you.”
The moment captured one of the enduring challenges for an imam in America: living at the center of a religion under watch.