Baboucarr Njie was preparing for his prayer session Friday night, Sept. 26, when he heard children in the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton coughing. Soon, Njie himself was overcome with fits of coughing and, like the rest of those in the building, headed for the doors.
"I would stay outside for a minute, then go back in, there were a lot of kids," Njie said. "My throat is still itchy, I need to get some milk."
Njie was one of several affected when a suspected chemical irritant was sprayed into the mosque at 26 Josie St., bringing Dayton police, fire and hazardous material personnel to the building at 9:48 p.m.
Someone "sprayed an irritant into the mosque," Dayton fire District Chief Vince Wiley said, noting that fire investigators believe it was a hand-held spray can.
According to fire dispatch communications, a child reported seeing two men with a white can spraying something into a window. That child was brought to the supervising firefighter at the scene.
Wiley would not discuss that report, but said the investigation has been turned over to police. Police were not commenting.
The 300 or so inside were celebrating the last 10 days of Ramadan with dinner and a prayer session, but the prayer session was interrupted so those suffering from tearing, coughing and shortness of breath could receive treatment.
Wiley said an adult and juvenile were taken to area hospitals and others had their eyes or faces washed on the scene. He did not know how many people were treated at the scene.
Ismail Gula, ISGD secretary, said people were praying during the weekly service when some in the audience began to cough and experience breathing troubles, then left the building. Once outside, several of them called 911, Gula said.
Tarek Sabagh, a member of the ISGD board, wasn't present when the incident occurred.
He said his daughter called and told him to stay away because of the possibility of remaining fumes. Sabagh arrived shortly after and watched from the mosque's steps as members were allowed back inside about 11 p.m. to collect belongings.
"It's very disturbing," Sabagh said. "Something like this has never happened before."
Sabagh said members moved to a Beavercreek school to finish their prayer session as police continued to investigate.
"I don't know if people will have the feeling of trust to come back tomorrow or next week or next month," Sabagh said. "I don't know how people will feel."
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. During the month, Muslims fast (do not eat) from sunrise to sunset. In the evening and in the morning before the sun comes up, they eat small meals. During this month, they take extra time for family, inner reflection, and spiritual growth.
This shows the anti-Muslim sentiment which is a direct result of the so-called Global War on Terror. You can't have a war based solely on ideology and win. It's always ultimately a lose-lose.
One loss is participation of Muslims in American politics and society, an important way of mitigating terrorism. In fact, it's the only real solution. Yet here's the reaction of one Muslim on dailykos after this incident:
Keep in mind, as many of you know, Muslims in america are well assimilated, mainstream moderate people, often times professionals who contribute greatly to the communities in which they live.
But because of Fox News, because of right wing organizations, like the Clarion FUND and their viscious attacks on islam, because of daniel pipes and ohers like him, Islam has been maligned to the extent thathate crime is an acceptable part of the rights tradition. They believe that Muslims are out to destroy America.
No matter the facts, no matter the reality, all that matters is the propaganda they listen to on Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, etc....
Cal Thomas editorials are in my local paper virtually every day. The man rants against muslims all the time. And there are many others like him. Michelle Malkin. This Kathleen Parker who has recenltly called for Palins resignation has viciously attacked muslims in the past.
So many of them. And so, the regular people believe this crap, and they believe it is their duty to defend america against this Mortal enemy.
And when attacks like this happen. Nothing much is done, BECAUSE, muslims are ignored by and large. Their situation their suffering EVEN their votes dont seem to matter much.
Fortunately, a large and sympathetic response from the site assures us that not everyone has that divisive, partisan, emotional, fear-mongering, and unthinking attitude. Now we need more conscientious men and women of conscience in the media reporting an incident like this, and more public outcry.