"It troubles us:" Islamic Society of Milwaukee struggles to understand San Bernardino tragedy

MILWAUKEE -- As more details emerge about the San Bernardino shooters' backgrounds, Milwaukee's Muslim community is paying close attention. They're asking for understanding, saying they too are disgusted by what happened in California.

San Bernardino shootings

The Islamic Society of Milwaukee has been at the same south side location for more than 30 years. It's director says there have always been some resistance but he adds most people have been welcoming and willing to listen.

He doesn't expect that to change.

A handful of worshipers arrive early for Friday afternoon prayers. Islamic Society Director Othman Atta, says the shootings in San Bernardino will come up during service.

Islamic Society of Milwaukee

"Here's a couple who apparently had a child six months ago. They brought a child into this world, they created life, and all of a sudden, they're taking away so many innocent lives. We cannot understand how someone can commit such a heinous and revolting act. And yes, it troubles us," said Atta.

Othman Atta

Atta says what he also finds heinous is the murderous couple could have drawn inspiration for its attack from his faith.

"They claim that it is being done in the name of religion but certainly they don't represent the religion I believe or what the majority of Muslims around the world believe in," said Atta.

Atta says the Islamic Society does have the duty of shielding kids from extremist groups like ISIS that try to recruit western youth.

"What we have a responsibility to do is to make sure that especially the younger people are not attracted to these ideologies that are hateful, bigoted," said Atta.

Islamic Society of Milwaukee

Ideologies that Atta says pervert other people's understanding of the faith that guides his life.

"For Muslims, we're grieving over what took place and then we're also trying to defend ourselves from those who try to attack us," Atta said.

Atta says he's especially grateful for the interfaith community here. Those meetings include numerous Christian denominations,Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs. He adds the doors at the Islamic Society are open and welcome to anyone with questions.