Source: Finger Lakes Times


Take a moment to reflect on your initial thoughts after reading the headline on this story and the man in the photo that accompanies it.

Whether it’s the ongoing fight against ISIS in the Middle East or recent incidents in San Bernardino, Calif., andParis, Muslims have become a hot-button topic worldwide.

In the United States, the top-polling Republican candidate for president has gained a double-digit lead based on sometimes hateful, sexist and bigoted rhetoric. Donald Trump continues to generate large support for his campaign despite often using fear mongering as a rallying message. If elected, he has outlined a plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, a move that would be unconstitutional., the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winners, fact-checks statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups. Of the 75 Trump statements the group has fact-checked, just one of every four was found to be true.

Do people truly believe what he says? Or do the polling trends reflect a general culture of bigotry in our society that is surfacing as part of the campaigning process? It’s hard to say which is more accurate.

S. Rafiq Ahmad, 69, is the man pictured in the photograph. He hopes to assist readers in providing a clearer picture of the Muslim world.

Originally from Pakistan, Ahmad has lived in the United States since 1976. That’s when President Nixon invited pharmacists from developing countries such as Pakistan, India and South Korea to fill a shortage in the profession here.

Ahmad is grateful for the opportunity that has provided him with more education, peace of mind and freedom of religion. He has quietly raised a family that includes three children in Waterloo where he owns the Valley Pharmacy on Main Street.

In all his years here, he said, he’s had nothing but great experiences with locals, with nary a trace of bigotry aimed at him.

A practicing Muslim, Ahmad has been trying to educate others about his culture — long before the events of recent years. His commentary has been published in the Finger Lakes Times on occasion in Guest Appearances and letters to the editor.

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