In the middle of America, a city where Muslims feel welcome

Sat, 2017-06-03

CEDAR RAPIDS — Early this spring, Taha Tawil laid out a batch of letters — some handwritten, some typed — on a checkered tablecloth in the basement of the old Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, where he is the imam.

Just a few days earlier and a couple hours to the west, an anonymous letter had been left in the mailbox at the Islamic Center of Des Moines. It was addressed to “the Children of Satan.” Muslims, that letter writer said, should pack their bags and leave because “there’s a new sheriff in town — President Donald Trump.”

The letter went further. Trump, it said, is seeking to “cleanse” America, and to take actions against Muslims similar to “what Hitler did to the Jews.”

But Tawil said he hadn’t received any such negative letters. In fact, he said between November and late March, the Mother Mosque, located on the east side of Cedar Rapids, received more than 100 letters and voicemails, all including messages of allegiance and appreciation for Muslims.