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How American Muslims are reacting to Koran burning threat

For American Muslims – already in the eye of a political storm over the proposed mosque near ground zero in New York – a Florida pastor's Koran burning threat is seen as a teachable moment crucial to how the US public views Muslims and Islam.

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CAIR has written General James Mattis, commander of the US Central Command, which oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is headquartered in Tampa, Fla., asking that he personally visit the Florida church in order to head off the planned Koran burning.

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“I believe this attempt to desecrate copies of the Quran will harm our nation's image throughout the Muslim world and fear that those who seek to harm our nation will exploit the burnings to promote their own political agendas,” Mr. Awad wrote to Mattis Wednesday.

Meanwhile, as public opposition to the proposed mosque near ground zero grows and Sept. 11 approaches, Muslims are preparing for anti-Islamic acts, encouraging adherents to participate in 9/11 remembrance ceremonies, and changing how they observe the end of Ramadan – typically three days of festivities likened to Christmas for Christians and which happens to fall on Sept. 11 this year.

CAIR's Awad will be going to Gainesville Friday to give the sermon for the end of Ramadan. He will also hold a news conference there on Saturday following any Koran burnings.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has issued a “precaution advisory” to members of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh-American communities advising places of worship to have an emergency plan, listing FBI field offices, and urging parents to report incidents of bullying or harassment at schools.

CAIR recently issued an online “Teachable Moment Community Response Guide” designed “for representing Islam and Muslims to your local community in the media and to successfully respond to current challenges and other possible incidents against our community.”

“We as a community must use this trying time as a perfect opportunity to tell our own story,” the guide states. “By being proactive, we make it easier for our friends and allies from other faiths to stand with us, as they have already shown they will.”

'Islam under attack'?

In New York, the imam in charge of the Islamic center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center says he might not have chosen that location if he'd known what trouble it would cause but that to change now would play into the hands of Islamic radicals.