'Moment of Patriotism' Upon Us, Say Some Muslims in Buffalo

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- In his Williamsville office, Faizan Haq sits with Amber Shaikh to plan what's next in their mission to bring the community together in a time when they say the world seems to be falling apart.

"I was shocked," said Shaikh, project manager at WNY Muslims.

Shaikh was across the border over the weekend, celebrating her anniversary with her husband. She woke to the news of the mosque attack in Quebec, and is now left puzzled.

"I mean, what is going on now? This is 2017," Shaikh asked.

It's a much different world and country than when she arrived here from Pakistan at just 8 years old.

"Being asked so many questions at the border, you just don't feel like you belong, even though you should," Shaikh said. "I mean, this is a country of immigrants."

Although it’s nothing compared to the more than 100 people who were detained at airports across the nation over the weekend, the reasons why have Haq concerned.

"We have to tame it, we have to control it, not encourage it and not entice it," said Haq, founder of WNY Muslims.

Haq says hateful rhetoric from U.S. leaders has to be tamed and controlled. He says it has the U.S. walking down a dangerous path.

"What happens is when there is less to go around, then political leaders [use] minorities as scape goats and say 'look they took it all,'” said Haq, who was 18 when he emigrated from Pakistan.

In his office, he has a copy of the U.S. Constitution hanging to remind him how it was all possible. He says it's up to the people to remember what it stands for. 

"This is what I call the 'moment of patriotism,'” Haq said. "The patriotism is that we have to stay true to our words and our value systems, which is the Constitution."

It's a fight both say they'll continue to make sure other generations from around the world can call the U.S. home, too.

"We should speak out for everyone's rights, not just for ours," Shaikh said. "I think that's very important."

Haq is holding a forum at the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library called ‘Immigration in America 2017 and Beyond Tuesday at 6 p.m. For more information, inquiries can be directed to Brian Nowak at Briann@fmpu.org.

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