By Iftekhar Hai
Article Last Updated: 01/25/2007 08:42:45 AM PST
A SMALL NUMBER of terrorists have rattled the super power of the world.
The global war on terror is a war against radical Islamists, but some in the media have taken a different slant.
It spreads "Islamophobia" where all Muslims are targeted collectively. It has to be clear that extremists are the target and radicals are the ones to be taken care of. Not all Muslims.
Some think tanks and lobbyists have contributed significantly to the Islamophobia that affects the mental growth of Americans of all faiths. My grand daughters 8 and 9 year old are also suffering.
Many Americans did not like it when Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia and Dennis Prager of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council objected to U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison using the Quran to take oath in a private ceremony; it signaled a new era of promoting religious tolerance. This also means American Muslims must rid themselves of religious extremism too.
It is unconscionable that the election of one Muslim congressman, whose ancestors were brought in chains as slaves in the 18th century, should trigger a debate demanding changes in the immigration laws, "To decrease or stop Muslim immigrants to USA," because Americans someday may elect American Muslims to state and federal offices. One must faith in the American system and American people. Let them decide democratically not through religious discrimination.
Vested interests and a few lobbyists are busy casting all American Muslims in a negative light, pinning the label of "terrorism" to exclude them from ever getting elected to Congress. Muslims are easy to stereotype because dumping on them is fun, cheap and easy. They are seen as poor, powerless and helpless in all fields. This goes against the traditional chivalry of Americans.
The reluctance of good Americans to confront Islamophobic incitement reminds me of what Jewish people faced when the wave of anti-Semitism ran rampant in Central and Eastern Europe. I see Islamophobia as one of the branches of Anti-Semitism and racism lurking round the corner.
Several Internet sites associated with Neo-conservative organizations unfairly target Islamic religion and cultures without giving American Muslims an opportunity to debate.
Other scribblers of anti-Islamic slant have begun to cast Muslim-owned and managed businesses, such as the Islamic Development Bank, in the role of sinister malevolent entities, just as 19th- and 20th-century anti-Semites depicted Jewish-owned and managed financial institutions, like the Rothschild or Bleichroeder banks as forces of darkness and disloyalty.
I believe some journalists and Hollywood movie producers look upon defaming Muslims as virtuous activity and write articles against Muslims and Islam. And CNN and Fox News are constantly manipulating polls and putting up questionnaires where the outcome is bound to be anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic.
In a democratic society like ours, engaging in a debate is fundamental to arriving at the truth. It is un-American to collectively marginalize, demonize and to delegitimize American Muslims without a fair trial. Even their institutions and businesses are all suspect without due process and all evidence against them are held confidential. The Neo-Cons have become judges, jury and witnesses against Muslims and use the global media to spread the Islamophobia.
In other words, Muslims are all guilty without trial and due process.
If the American political leadership does not have the courage to stand up to those who try to normalize Islamophobia, our democracy will be lost because the enemies using the slogan of freedom and liberty will not stop with American Muslims. American democracy should never become a mechanism to deprive groups of American citizens of their legal rights and protections.
It is time for American Muslims to say, "Give me Liberty or give me Death."
Iftekhar Hai, President
United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance in South San Francisco.
Next week: Anthony McGuire
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
45 PICTURES AT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157641382648224/
August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.
The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.