Outraged members of the Islamic community gathered at Kingsessing Recreation Center on Wednesday Jan. 30 to organize planned responses to the removal and abduction of Nailla Robinson, 5, who was abducted from Bryant Elementary School on Jan. 14 by someone wearing Islamic garb.
While the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator continues to grow, members of the Islamic faith met to plan practical steps to prevent future kidnappings.
During the meeting sponsored by Majlis Ash Shura of Philadelphia/Delaware Valley, attendants were updated on Robinson’s condition and raised money for the award leading to the capture of suspects.
The gym of the Recreation Center was filled to capacity to hear speakers such as community advocate Alia Walker, Rep. Ronald G. Waters, Imam Asian Abdur Rasheed and Maidah Sabir.
The pain and outrage of the guests were visible as the audience had an opportunity to express their grief and feelings of vulnerability.
However, the meeting was more than simply an opportunity to express feelings of remorse but was it was a call to action and after the panelists addressed the community’s concerns; several work stations were formed on various topics such as new legislation, school security. At the end, the work stations merged to share their results with the crowd.
According to Walker, who facilitated the meeting, the call to action was held in response to the Islamic communities concerns.
“As an Islamic community we needed to come together to address some of the things that had been happening,” she said.
Walker said Islamic women approached her with complaints that schools wouldn’t allow them to take their children out of schools or they had to submit to new procedures for picking up their children from school since the incident.
“One even got into a little tugging match and the police were called,” Walker said. “Sisters were coming with different stories about things that were happening to them as a result of this criminal impersonating a Muslim woman.”
So the women came together.
“We need a system in place so that when something happens, whatever the situation is, whatever the mechanism, we can alert the 300,000 Muslims in Philadelphia within a couple of minutes,” said Walker.
Imam Abdur Rashid, the Grandfather of Nailla Robinson, said those who dress in Islamic garb to perpetrate crimes should receive additional punishment for doing so.
“If you beat a homosexual because you hate homosexuals, that’s a special crime beyond just assault and battery,” he said. “It’s the same thing. Anytime you target a group and do something against them as a group, that becomes a special crime.”