Think Again: Muslims in American, 2013
Reader comment on item: Guest Column: Justin Trudeau's Islamist Revival
Submitted by Khalilah Sabra, Jan 4, 2013 11:22
Think Again: Muslims in American, 2013
Although President Obama insisted, "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," Muslims saw no relief from the practice of discrimination against American Muslims by excluding them from the economic, social, and public life of this nation.
I also sensed that Muslims became even more fed up with the patronizing, superficial way Islam is discussed in certain quarters, including the media.
Eleven years after the 9/11 tragedies, many American journalists continue to tell a story about Islam while failing to bridge cultural gaps to accurately put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context. The result is a nation which remains adrift in the kind of slapdash Islamic illiteracy that denies liberty and justice for all.
The limited explanation of the religious, social, political, and geographical facts about Islam today, has denied the essential information Americans need to humanize, analyze and put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context.
Despite that fact that Islamophobia was officially recognized as a form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and antisemitism at the "Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance, nothing significant has been achieved to combat this form of racism. Worse, state legislatures continue throughout this nation to called for a ban on the non-existing threat of Sharia law in America and proclaim that the vast majority of mosques in our country harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers. By doing so, this core of American leadership promotes the harming and negative stereotypes of Muslims and holds Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of an individual Muslim person or group.
2012 experienced occasions in which citizens abused and violently attacked Muslims. Discrimination included verbal abuse, indiscriminately accusing Muslims of responsibility for the attacks, removing women's hijab, spitting, using the name "Muhammad" as a pejorative epithet, and assaults. More deplorable was the greater receptivity towards anti-Muslim and other xenophobic ideas and sentiments.
More recent attacks involved a man being pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train. The woman selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu. The victim was born in India and was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself. In the same city, a man was stabbed repeatedly outside a mosque by a would-be killer who shouted anti-Muslim comments, police said. The assailant told his victim that he just does not like Muslims.
None of these charges are meant to sidestep the reality that terrible things have been done in the name of Islam, but we are witnessing a very real phenomenon, dipped if the tragedy of 9/11, serving to increase the anti-Muslim, fear-filled, and hate-inspired agenda of a specific group of "Americans" who've carelessly watched this country rapidly lose its position as the world's democratic leader because it made a pitiful choice of failing to provide democracy to all of its people.
Collectively, Muslims also made a choice. Every choice has consequences. Our choice was to exist by being treated unlike others in this nation. We did not organize ourselves, lobby well on our own behaves, protect our religious freedoms, or preserve the our Islamic identity for our children. Instead, we hid in the shadows of this nation hoping that as individuals, we might escape the fate of other Muslims who have been politically, socially and economically damaged.
If you are a Muslim who've made such a choice, complaining about the pain may fall on deaf ears. More evil is done by those who won't make the decision to do the right thing. The history of this country teaches us that things just don't become right on their own. Collectively, we are all responsible for actions that should never be tolerated by a civilized society and we all have a responsibility in maintaining such a society's civility.
It's time to put the past behind us and think again.
In June 1963, just five months before he was shot and killed, John F. Kennedy delivered these words at the American University. This historic speech, delivered at the height of the Cold War, is now remembered as one of Kennedy's finest speeches. "So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."
There is nothing naïve about democracy's impulse to change the world into a better place. Because all it takes the genuine intention to promote dialogue, diversity and respectful inclusion — one citizen at a time denouncing stereotypes — to send forth more sensible endeavors that will ultimately create more tangible rewards for an entire nation.
Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center (MASIJC)
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⇒ Think Again: Muslims in American, 2013