Sarah Thompson of the Islamic Society of North America calls the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the media and elsewhere frustrating.
"The Islamic community is, in general, very frustrated and angry about these kinds of comments," she said. "We know this is not what Islam is, that we are not being portrayed correctly.
"We feel like we are paddling, paddling, paddling up a stream and not getting anywhere."
Such frustration is getting worse as the level of anti-Muslim sentiment seems to grow. "This is a lot like those days post 9/11 ... this is about generating fear in the American community," said Thompson, citing the furor over plans for an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City and the publicity surrounding a Florida pastor's cancelled plans to burn the Koran as flash points.
Hear at Harvard, Rashid and some fellow students aren't giving up in their pursuit of a harsher punishment for Peretz. The Harvard Student Government voted Monday night to press Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust to remove Peretz's name from a Social Studies fund established in his honor.
More protests are coming, Rashid added, and "this situation isn't settled."
Whatever becomes of Peretz, Thompson said, his comments and others will have a lasting effect on the Muslim community. "They are hijacking our religion and taking their message to the public ...," she said, "and people believe them."