Muslim group starts fund for Fort Hood families

Dr. Louay Safi

Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News

Plainfield - A local Muslim group is stepping up to help victims' families at Fort Hood.

When shots rang out at Fort Hood last Thursday, Dr. Louay Safi was just wrapping up deployment training on Islam for soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas. Safi is the Director of Communications and Leadership Development at The Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield.

Within hours of the shooting, he was condemning a brother of the Muslim faith, the alleged trigger man Army Major Nidel Malik Hasan.

"This is a betrayal, something that I don't think any religion or any person of honor would really look at other than a betrayal and crime. What he did doesn't represent our faith," Safi told Eyewitness News from the Plainfield Mosque.

After a weekend of thought and prayer, ISNA decided to do more. The largest American Muslim group is now launching a nationwide campaign to raise money for the families of Fort Hood.

"Let us do what our faith ask us to do. We are called upon as people of compassion and so we really wanted to help," Safi explained.

Within a month's time, ISNA plans to raise more than $100,000 starting with donations from mosques across central Indiana. The effort will also expand to other interfaith groups. Ultimately, ISNA would like to top the million dollars it raised after Hurricane Katrina.

Some Hoosiers say it's a good step, but are unsure if it will stop the backlash against Muslims.

"No one's directly to blame, except for the people that took part in it. No actual group, organization. So I think it's good," said Julie Borthwick.

Colin Nichols also thought the fund was a good idea.

"At the end of the day, people should be taken care of," he said.

"You don't think about the race or the religion. You think about the people and what they've actually lost," added Connie McKay.

But Stephanie Carroll says nothing will sway the opinion of some.

"No, probably not, because people are going to talk, regardless. It may help some, but probably not everyone," she concluded.

Dr. Safi understands many questions have gone unanswered.

"We would like to know whether that person, Major Hasan, has any connection to terrorists groups," he said. "Definitely, this is something that must be investigated."

But he asks the public not to jump to conclusions or smear a faith based on one man's actions.

Donations may be made to "Fort Hood Family Fund" and sent to the headquarters of The Islamic Society of North America, P.O. Box 808, Plainfield, IN 46168 or donated online.