Mason community pushes back against anti-Muslim fliers

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 07:32:13-05

MASON, Ohio -- Rawd Saleh’s eyes peered over a megaphone as snowflakes fell on her black hijab.

Behind her, two women holding hands lifted their arms toward the sky.

“We’re all together to show solidarity for not just Muslims, but for everybody across the U.S.,” Saleh yelled to the crowd. “We are the United States of America, not the divided.”

Rawd Saleh, of Mason, helped organize Sunday's demonstration to support inclusion in the community. Photo by Lot Tan, WCPO.

Some 200 people lined the street behind her, waving signs and chanting. Drivers passing by honked their horns in solidarity with those braving the January cold.

About 200 people gathered Sunday in Mason to rally against anti-Muslim fliers and remind neighbors they belong. Photo by Lot Tan, WCPO.

Sunday’s demonstration was a direct rebuttal to fliers left in a Warren County neighborhood that accused Saleh’s family of having ties to terrorism. The flier included a picture of her and a map pointing out their address.


Saleh said the incident with the fliers was the first time she had been directly discriminated against.

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“My first reaction was just shock,” Saleh said. “I have been in Cincinnati for 17 years, I’m all over the U.S., I travel … I’m everywhere. I’ve never, ever … I’ve never been targetted for any discrimination of any kind.”

Saleh said she doesn’t think the act of discrimination was political in nature, despite President Trump’s controversial executive order, which bans people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

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“I think that a lot of people don’t understand what the hijab is about … I think that people are reluctant to talk, just to open a dialogue and say, ‘Can you tell me why you wear it? Can you tell me a little about Islam,’” Saleh said.

Cheryl Vasan, of Mason, held a sign across her chest. 

“Mason loves diversity,” it read in green and black letters.

Cheryl Vasan, of Mason, attended the rally to support her neighbor who was targetted by the flier. Photo by Lot Tan, WCPO.

“My family is multiracial, and inclusion and diversity are critical for us,” Vasan said.

Vasan said she almost cried when she heard about the flier that targeted her neighbor.

“That’s not the Mason that I know, that’s not the Mason that I value and that’s not my neighborhood. 

“This is my neighborhood,” Vasan said as she gripped her sign.

Mason High School teacher Maria Mueller was one of about a dozen Mason teachers that attended the event.

About one dozen Mason High School teachers attended Sunday's rally. Photo by Lot Tan, WCPO.

Mueller said the rally serves as an important lesson for her students.

“We are stronger together, and our nation was built with a variety of people,” Mueller said. “And as we teach children to be great citizens, this is an important part of that lesson.”