Mohammad Saleem

March 23, 2003|By Jason Song

When Mohammad Saleem moved to River Hill about eight years ago, he was worried whether he, a Muslim, would fit in.

"I was surprised. It's easier to be a Muslim in suburbia," he said.

Saleem, 57, grew up in Rawalpindi, a city in the northern part of Pakistan, before moving to Philadelphia in 1973 to work and to study architecture. Saleem thought he eventually would return to his native country, until he met his future wife in Philadelphia.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Saleem and his wife moved to Washington, where they lived for 16 years before they decided to move to Howard County.

"We were looking for the standard things - good schools, less crime and open space," said the Morgan State University architect.

Saleem found a thriving Muslim community in the River Hill area and joined the Muslim Council of Howard County, where he encourages the group to take part in mainstream events such as holding a fund-raiser for County Executive James N. Robey.

"Fund raising is not a Muslim issue, but it's important for us to be involved with the community at large," he said.

Saleem was elected to the River Hill Village Board in 1999 and plans to run for re-election next month.

"We may not have political representation at the county level yet, but every day [Muslims] are getting more involved. We'll get there soon," he said.

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