Hundreds packed a school auditorium in the Cobbs Creek section in West Philadelphia Thursday night to talk about the ambush of a police officer in the neighborhood last week.
Defendant Edward Archer told police he unloaded a barrage of bullets at Officer Jesse Hartnett in the name of Islam, and that’s causing painful repercussions for some Muslims in the city.
So Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Williams hosted what he called “an emergency community meeting” with other elected officials, and the community responded in force.
Amid the hundreds who turned out to the event, held at William C. Bryant Elementary School, was Kyzar Abdul Khabir with the group Muslims for Humanity associated with the nearby Masjid al-Mujahideen mosque.
Though he sometimes saw Archer praying at the mosque, Khabir said, he’s not representative of the community.
“Only ISIS we have in our community are the icicles on our doors,” Khabir said. “We don’t have any of that type of thing in our neighborhood.”
Khabir called for more attention to what’s often under the surface of extremist actions.
“There’s mental illness in our community, and that’s what needs to be addressed. If Mr. Archer is mentally ill, then let’s help him with the mental illness,” Khabir said. “Don’t hold a whole community hostage because of mental illness, help him.
When the media makes Islam into a villain, Khabir said, the community often must deal with the collateral damage.
“We are out here on the streets. We are out here helping our neighbors. We’re not hiding from anyone. And we get along with our neighborhoods. So please, if you have a phobia, and don’t know, ask a Muslim. Ask a Muslim,” he said. “You don’t even have to go to the media. Ask a Muslim.”