COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Many in the local Muslim community are still trying to process the accusations against the Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR-Ohio) former director.
Some members of the community found out about the accusations Tuesday night, others found out Wednesday.
Regardless, many said they are in shock that former director Romin Iqbal was fired Saturday after CAIR-Ohio alleged he leaked information about the group to an anti-Muslim group, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, for many years.
“Definitely this has created a shockwave for all of us,” said Imran Malik, of Columbus. “It’s definitely concerning.”
Iqbal often spoke out against Muslim hate. To hear CAIR-Ohio say he admitted to working with what they called an anti-Muslim group was surprising.
“It’s sad and it’s disappointing but it’s even more hurtful when we find out that someone we had trusted for so many years was a part of that situation,” said Ronney Abaza, of Columbus.
Dr. Ayer Hyder is one of the people who said the accusations were shocking. He took part in a workshop Wednesday morning with other American Muslim organizations and said they were all processing this information together.
“For me, it was very troubling,” Hyder said. “And the first question I had in my mind was how is everybody else doing in their staff at CAIR-Ohio.”
Imran Malik and Ronney Abaza are both community leaders at the Noor Islamic Culture Center in Dublin.
“That is definitely a shame and it has definitely devastated a lot of us today,” Malik said.
They said every member of the Muslim community in central Ohio is somehow affected by this.
“I would say probably most of them didn’t know this individual who has perpetrated this act against the greater Muslim community,” Abaza said. “I think all of them are feeling betrayed and feeling sadness over what happened.”
Hyder added the Muslim community is resilient and has no doubts the community will get through this.
Abaza said the incident has brought out the best in central Ohio, with other faith and multicultural communities supporting them during this difficult time.
“If anything, I would say this attack against us has exposed a greater love we have for each other, Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” Abaza said.
In addition to other faith and multicultural leaders, Malik and Abaza said they’ve also received support from city leaders in central Ohio.