Muslim groups help hurricane victims

About 2,000 Muslim volunteers helped victims of Hurricane Katrina at the city's downtown convention center Sunday, the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Muslim leaders from around the country who were in Houston for the volunteer effort said the anniversary was coincidental. But they welcomed the opportunity to highlight their faith's true meaning.

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslim leaders viewed Sunday's volunteer opportunity as another chance to show that the Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by Islamic extremists who do not represent the true meaning of their faith. Religious and community groups who volunteered to help at shelters picked through a random drawing what day they would work. Houston's Muslim community got Sunday.

CAIR, along with other Muslim groups such as Islamic Relief and the Muslim American Society, are part of the Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force, which is raising $10 million (Ђ8.05 million) for victims of Katrina. Ahmed said the groups so far have raised between $3 million (Ђ2.42 million) and $4 million (Ђ3.22 million).

Anwar Ali, a computer consultant from Dallas, began his volunteer shift at 4 a.m. (0900 GMT) Sunday and was still working by mid-afternoon. He had brought carts filled with food to the cafeteria area and helped elderly people walk from one part of the convention center to another, AP reports.

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