INTERVIEW: Islamic UR student discusses Times Square bomb attempt - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

INTERVIEW: Islamic UR student discusses Times Square bomb attempt

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -  We are learning more about the attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square in New York City on May 1. A law enforcement official claims that the alleged bomber, Fasial Shahzad, considered bombing a number of high-profile big apple targets, including Grand Central terminal and Rockefeller Plaza.

Shahzad was captured as his plane was taxiing off a New York City runway en route to his native Pakistan. He was in court yesterday.

Here to talk more about this incident is someone with a very unique perspective. Qasim Rashid has a lot in common with Shahzad. They are the same age and they both hail from Pakistan. Rashid is a student at the University of Richmond.

RYAN: I'd like to get -- obviously those of us native to the United States have a certain perspective when they saw what happened in Times Square.

QASIM: Sure.

RYAN: As one from Pakistan, what went through your mind when you heard everything unfold?

QASIM:  It's an interesting scenario because of your loyalties to your country, for which me is America. And there's another part of you as well, so for me it was a double whammy -- on the one hand I felt my faith was hijacked and my nation was hijacked, America.

RYAN: And that's one of the most difficult positions that you find yourself in as an American but also a Muslim. Do you feel that your religion is being hijacked by this more radical element that is out there and really the sect of Islam in this country that's grabbing headlines?

QASIM: They're certainly doing their best, but on the flip side of it, there are revival movements in Islam countering this. Our motto is love for all, hatred for none. What's unique about our group that since we're inception, we have rejected any form of violence whatsoever. As a result of that, we've been branded as heretics by many of the extremists.

RYAN: Do you think there needs to be more moderate Muslims like yourself that stand up and say to this radical element that this needs to stop?

QASIM: Absolutely and that is why we're taking the lead on this. Over the past 90 years since we've been in North America, we've been launching this campaign. This isn't something we started a few years ago. We're asking all moderate Muslims to join with us. We have over 65 chapters in America, a great organization, it's high time we did something about.

RYAN: I'd like to ask from your personal perspective, how difficult is it for you, a Pakistani native, does it make your life more difficult when there're people like this trying to do harm in this country?

QASIM:  One of the beautiful things about America is that we have a freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, so when radicals are trying to hijack my faith slam, the beauty of our country here is that it allows me to again my point of view in an environment that is not hostile.

RYAN: Thank you for being here. We appreciate your perspective.

QASIM: Thank you for your time.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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