MADISON (WKOW) -- As more information is released about Major Malik Nidal Hasan, the shooter in Thursday's attacks at Ft. Hood, there seems to be one fact getting more attention than the rest: Hasan is Muslim.
That simple statement, along with reports that Hasan is tied to the same Virginia mosque of two 9/11 hijackers, has many Muslims concerned that non-Muslims might connect the Ft. Hood attacks to the shooter's religion, Islam, rather than the shooter himself.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks were linked to a Muslim terrorist group, many other Muslims said they experienced a general sense of Islamophobia, even if they were American citizens. Now concerns of a renewed sense of Islamophobia have returned.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a public statement immediately following the attacks Thursday, saying:
"We condemn this cowardly attack in the strongest terms possible and ask that the perpetrators be punished to the full extent of the law. No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured."
Madison's Sohail Siraj said he hasn't experienced any anti-Muslim sentiment so far, but admits there is plenty across the country. He says after events like the Ft. Hood tragedy, it's especially important to educate people about Islam.
"It's just a matter of increasing awareness [about Islam]," said Siraj. "It's not what [people] are thinking or coming up with."
Muslims say their religion is a peaceful one, and it isn't fair to tie one person's crime to an entire religion.
"If we go through the list of crimes that have been done in America and we put a religion with every one, [people] would have a difficult time rationalizing it in the end," said Salih Erschen, leader of the Madison Muslim Dawa Circle.