As in other wars, innocent people are being hurt by the Middle East crisis. Many are Muslims - American residents, living in Salt Lake City.

"We've heard from our children going to school and from our people in different companies that there is tension. There is verbal abuse, but no one in our community here has been physically attacked. Not yet," said Abdulmannan Afridi, president of the Islamic Society of Salt Lake.Muslims in other metropolitan cities, blindly viewed by many as supportive of Saddam Hussein's actions, have been injured in attacks provoked by prejudice.

"Their situation is a lot worse than ours; we can in no way compare ourselves with them," said Afridi. "But their situation concerns us, too."

In the privacy of his home, Afridi monitors the progress of Desert Storm only occasionally. His small children have been told there's a war, but they don't watch minute-by-minute television updates.

In their newly remodeled mosque on 7th East, Afridi and other Utah Muslims also find solace from the war they say is "unnecessary" and "could have been avoided."

Muslims visiting from Afridi's native Pakistan also gathered last week to pray for an end to the conflict that continues to haunt them thousands of miles from the battlefront.

On Thursday the group - wearing robes that set them apart from the norm - was searched by police in Utah County when the Muslims stopped for "prayer time" in front of a vacant home.

"It (the war) is affecting our lives. Our concern is for our well-being in America. Our concern is for how best we can express ourselves to be of benefit to all human beings," Afridi said.

Muslims from many countries - Libya, Egypt, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia - make up Utah's Islamic Society. Discussion of war and its effect on their native lands and relatives there isn't avoided in the mosque they share.

Not surprisingly, opinions differ.

"But the place where we meet is a prayer place. We come with the intention of pleasing our Allah. Differences of opinion do exist, there is no doubt about it," Afridi said. "But our attachment is not with our flags; it's with our Allah. He alone deserves to be worshiped."

The unity of the Islamic community has given local Muslims strength in the face of prejudice. "We have good understanding of the situation, and we are at peace with ourselves," Afridi said.

Their prayer is for peace outside the mosque where Muslims are viewed by some Utahns as the enemy.

"We are not a part of the war, we have not created the war, we don't have any means to stop the war. Our contribution to the whole situation is not any more than any other Utahn here," Afridi said. "We want equal treatment and respect. We want to be able to live like we are from here."