Saturday, September 09, 2006


The tragedy that struck New York and Washington five years ago, has now spread in almost every home specially those of Muslims in America and all over the world. The reprehensible act of terror committed by a few has been turned into a propaganda campaign against Muslims and Islam. Muslims have been put on defensive all over the world and new terms such as radical Islam, Islamo-fascism, violent Islam, are in vogue.
Needless to say that the Muslim community has become a scapegoat for the failed policies of our government. Every time an act of violence is committed or a conspiracy is discovered, Muslims are demanded to prove their patriotism, their loyalty and their commitment to civility. Despite the fact, that not a single Muslim American citizen has ever been involved in the 9/11 terrorism related action. The law enforcement agencies have not found any link between any of the alleged hijackers and the American Muslim community in any shape or form.
There are several questions that we must ask in order to understand the real motives of those who have constantly been accusing Muslims of being part of a religion that promotes violence. Three groups are visibly distinct in their outburst against Islam and Muslims. They are the ones who are controlling the airwaves, they are the ones who are spreading hatred and mistrust against Islam and Muslims and they are the ones who are reaping the benefit of the ongoing propaganda against Islam.
The right wing Christian leaders and their followers top the list of those who are heading the campaign against Islam and Muslims. They are no longer an insignificant minority. They have the support of the Bush administration and many in Pentagon, White House, Congress and other branches of the government share their perspectives on Islam and Muslims. During the last five years, leaders and individuals associated with these groups have appeared on more than 20,000 talk shows, written some 15,000 articles, delivered sermons in more than 200,000 churches reaching an audience of some 50 million people and organized several research studies and seminars on the subject of Islam and terrorism.
Their perspective on Islam and Muslims emerges from their own deep rooted religious convictions that convinces them that only those who are born again Christians and only those who accept Jesus as their only savior will be saved as rest will rot in hell. Many of their leaders believe that Muslims constitute the antichrist forces even though some such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are on record saying that the antichrist is a Jew.
They consider America a new promised land and believe that through the power of America, they can impose their ideals on the world. During the last 100 years, they saw the growth of Islam among African, Asian, Caucasian and Latin origin Americans. They view Islam as a challenge to their growth and ideology. They see the presence of a vibrant Islam a threat to their designs in America and they believe that Islam must be confronted. Hence, they are in the forefront of the campaign to malign Islam and Muslims. They are the ones who have called Islam a religion of 'terror' and Prophet Muhammad a 'terrorist'. They are the ones who believe that Islam must be wiped out if their version of Christianity has to prevail. Since 9/11, they are the ones who have used all possible channels to spread venomous hatred against Islam and Muslims.
The second group consists of extremist political Zionists who see the presence of Muslims a threat to their ultimate designs in the state of Israel. They are the leading voices in American Jewish Committee, American Israeli Public Affairs Council, the Jewish Federation and many other similar outfits. They have adopted a three prong approach to discredit Muslims and Islam. On the one hand, they have relied on the support they receive from a sympathetic media, and academicians and think tanks, while on the other, they have tried to ally themselves with the right wing Christian to add more fuel to the fire against Islam. While their third approach is to prepare and identify a few Muslims here and there who speak their language and champion their cause. During the last 5 years, these groups have invited in their gatherings several such Muslims to define Islam and attack Muslims. Needless to say that many of these Muslims rely on the ineffectual input of political Zionists for making an argument against Islam and Muslims. Seventy percent of the articles opposing Islam that appeared in major dailies in the country come from extreme political Zionists. On the television network they outnumber other vicious 100 to 2. They strongly believe that the creation of the state of Israel will ultimately lead to the coming of their Messiah who will enable Jews to establish a world government based on Talmudic laws. They find Muslims especially in America a hurdle in their way.
They don't want to share American democracy with anyone who is opposed to their world view. They want to stifle even a single voice of opposition to the state of Israel. They are the ones who have coined terms such as radical Islam, Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism or Islamic fascism.
The third group comprises greedy businesses and their zealot supporters in politics. They have found an enormous business opportunity in the terror related businesses. The most who have benefited from the terror related preventive actions are security agencies, public relations groups and defense contractors.
They have earned business worth billions of the past five years. They employ scientists, academicians, politicians and journalists to speak their language and mind. These His or Her master's voice speak like an expert and warn people of the dangers of Islamo-fascism and radical Islam or wahabism or similar groups. The more they spread the fear, the more they earn through businesses.
Of course there are two specific groups of Muslims who are playing in the hands of the three groups unconsciously and unknowingly. One comprises those who believe that Islam promotes violence to achieve its objective. The other includes those who are doing nothing but say everything. Ignorant and unaware of the true religious dimensions, they try to pick up verbal fight with anyone who appears to be appreciating anything western. For them democracy and human rights are facade as they view Islam totally incompatible with them. Even thought their number is not large, they make enough noise to attract the attention of the above three groups who use their statements to justify their politics and strategy to counter Islam.
The response of Muslims is very defensive. Muslim groups in general have tried to communicate with the three groups to win some favors. Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes still dominate the psychology of many Muslim groups and organizations. Some American Muslim groups even have gone further trying to develop stronger relations with FBI and State department without realizing that in democracies, it is the people that matter and not the bureaucracies that determine the nature of state. Not many Muslim groups in America are serious in developing any grass roots campaign to make Muslims an effective part of American pluralism. Muslims might weather the three antagonistic groups, but it would be hard to deal with their own apathy and indifference to their plight.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is Editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic society of Nevada, Las Vegas and acting president of the Muslim Council of America, a Washington-based newly formed groups of Muslim activists.
Twenty Gandhis needed after 911

As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many of the nation's values - tolerance, forgiveness, personal freedom, perhaps even courage itself - remain trapped in the wreckage.It may take another anniversary, another 9/11 - Sept. 11, 1906, to be precise - simply to remind us of what lies buried beneath the fear and cynicism, the ignorance and politics; and, even more importantly, to wake us up to the urgency of reclaiming those values and healing as a nation.Led by a president incapable of protecting us but eerily adept at exploiting tragedy, we went off on a howling revenge quest against "the axis of evil" and proceeded to compound the horrors of 9/11 worldwide - turning this day into an excuse for torture and wiretapping and the indiscriminate "shock and awe" bombing of a country that had nothing to do with what had happened.Around the country, and particularly in New York City, the wakeup call is about to be sounded, as grieving Americans - grieving as much for the future we're bequeathing our children as for the past - proclaim 9/11 a day of healing and peace, not revenge. The memory of Mahatma Gandhi will help drive the message home.The twist of historical fate juxtaposing the birth of "satyagraha," the world's first large-scale nonviolent resistance movement, with the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is downright chilling, like the sound of rhythmic tapping coming from beneath the rubble. Someone's still alive down there! Hope floods the heart.Liz Graydon, a former middle-school teacher who is now education coordinator for New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, saw mention in a newsletter from Nonviolent Peace Force, which does peace work in Sri Lanka, that this Sept. 11 would be the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's movement for social justice. Not surprisingly, "The date just jumped out at me," she told me. It immediately became the focal point of plans to commemorate 9/11, and the stunning aptness of it has lit up the national peace network.In August 1906, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer living in South Africa, was stunned almost to paralysis - "an impenetrable wall was before me," he later wrote - upon learning about the law the province of Transvaal had just passed, known as The Black Act, requiring Indian nationals to submit to a humiliating registration and fingerprinting process. Its intent was obviously racist, a first step by the white government to marginalize and eventually expel "coloreds" from South Africa."I clearly saw that this was a question of life and death," Gandhi wrote. "... the community must not sit with folded hands. Better die than submit to such a law."Gandhi called a meeting of the Indian community on Sept. 11, which about 3,000 people - Hindus, Muslims and others - attended. One angry speaker, according to Gandhi's account, declared: "If any one came forward to demand a certificate from my wife, I would shoot him on that spot and take the consequences."Gandhi had another idea: "It will not ... do to be hasty, impatient or angry," he said. "That cannot save us from this onslaught. But God will come to our help, if we calmly think out and carry out in time measures of resistance, presenting a united front and bearing the hardship, which such resistance brings in its train."Gandhi's vision, which he came to call satyagraha (a combination of Sanskrit words literally meaning "seize the truth"), held the day, indeed, kept the Indians of South Africa unified through eight years of intimidation, abuse and imprisonment. In 1914, the government agreed to end all anti-Indian discrimination. And of course, this movement continued in India itself until 1947, when British colonial rule finally ended.Graydon, who used the 1982 movie "Gandhi" in her middle school curriculum, said her students were invariably skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish anything. She recalled one boy who conceded, halfway through the film, that it was pretty convincing, "But c'mon, Miss Graydon, there are 6 billion people on the planet. You'll never get all of them to be nonviolent."She noted that the population of India at the time of Gandhi's movement was 300 million. "We don't need 6 billion Gandhis," she told him. "We need 20 Gandhis."New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, in conjunction with the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, has organized 32 screenings of "Gandhi" around the country on Sept. 11, including, in New York, at the Regal Theater, across the street from Ground Zero. As far as I can tell, many other events are being planned that day, both in conjunction with and independent of the New York event, that will draw inspiration from this mystical confluence of anniversaries."Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind," Gandhi said. "It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."Maybe the time has come to learn how to use it.

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can reach him at or visit his Web site at
Victims of Overblown Terrorism Threats

Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable - but rarely heard - explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad." John Mueller, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006.Senior government officials, business executives - many of them specialists in security and terrorism, and mainstream media have been coming up with a stream of dire predictions all through the last five years that a terrorist attack is most likely to occur anytime.In the wake of 9/11 terrorists attacks, the United States created a huge and massively funded Department of Homeland Security. Its founding manifesto proclaims, "Today's terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon.""But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why they not done it?" questions John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, quoted above.Mueller then goes on to discount the explanations offered for the lack of terrorist incidents. We deal with some of these in this article. Such as the absence of terrorist strikes is due to the protective measures put in place after 9/11. But this argument does not hold waters since five years before 9/11, when the U.S. was much less protected, there were no terrorist incidents. It takes one or two persons with an explosive device to terrorize a vast number of people, and only an almost perfect system would thwart all such plans. This explanation also seems far-fetched in view of the government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of its FBI security agencies to upgrade their systems.Another argument is that it is difficult for terrorists to get in now. But thousands of visitors and immigrants -legal and illegal - enter the U.S. making it almost impossible for this to work effectively. Moreover, for decades now, the relevant government agencies have been unable to intercept or even detect the large quantities of illicit substances in their "war on drugs." Terrorists do not require a large force for their work, and those determined could thus easily sneak into the country.An argument offered by President Bush in support of the war in Iraq is that the terrorists were being killed there, and thus America is saved. But terrorists with possible al Qaeda links managed attacks in other places, indicating that not every potential bomb thrower joined the insurgents in Iraq. Another popular explanation is that the invasion of Afghanistan disrupted Al Qaeda and its operations. But those involved in bombings in Madrid and London never went to Afghanistan or to any of the Al Qaeda training camps.Mueller concludes: "If al Qaeda operatives are as determined and inventive as assumed, they should be here by now. If they are not yet here, they must not be trying very hard or must be far less dedicated, diabolical, and competent than the common image would suggest." Obviously, a major reason, although not much acknowledged by the administration officials, is that Muslim community in the United States, unlike their European counterparts is well off, well educated, and well integrated into the American society. It is also very alert to all incidents of terrorism, and does not allow its manipulation by any jihadist group. It is important the media take note of this, and instead of succumbing to hate promoted by certain interest groups, develop an understanding and appreciation of American Muslims.The case of American Muslims is further vindicated by a 2005 secret FBI report noting that although they arrested a few here and there, but could not identify a single true al Qaeda sleeper cell anywhere in the United States. Furthermore, thousands of overseas communications have been monitored under a controversial surveillance system without any warrant. Despite this, fewer than ten U.S. citizens or residents per year aroused enough suspicion to induce the spying agencies to also seek warrants authorizing them surveillance of their domestic communications. However, none of these has led to indictment on a charge. Also every year, in response to some 30,000 "national security letters" issued without judicial review, businesses and other institutions provide confidential information about their customers without them knowing. It has led nowhere.In addition, some 80,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants have been fingerprinted and registered, another 8,000 called for interview with the FBI, and over 5,000 foreign national imprisoned all in the name of national security. Yet this encroachment of civil liberties has not resulted in a single conviction, notes David Cole, Law Professor at Georgetown University. In reality, only a small number of those picked up - always with a great official fanfare - have been convicted at all. And almost all of these are for other petty infractions, such as immigration visa violation.American Muslims deserve respect, and their constitutionally guaranteed rights must be protected like any other citizen. Rather than being subjected to further witch-hunt, as recently suggested profiling based on race or religion. Apparently, the administration officials and associated agencies use the oft-repeated rhetoric of fighting terrorist threat, to keep American public aligned with their hegemonic foreign agenda. And that obviously is also the underlying reason for anti-Americanism prevalent worldwide.
Siraj Islam Mufti, Ph.D. is a freelance journalist interested in world affairs.
Never ending tragedy of 911

When I got up for the dawn prayer on September 11, 2003, the supplication that was on my lips was "O God, let this day pass without any act of terrorism and may He help all the victims of 9/11 find peace." But then I say to myself, I should ask for this blessing of God every day for all the innocent victims who continue to die every day since 9/11 in a cycle of violence that has been unleashed all over the world.September 11 memories are painful, both as a victim of terror and as a victim of the reaction to the act of terror. On this day, not only 3,000 people lost their lives, but also over six million Muslim Americans were questioned for their loyalty to their country. Even though, Muslims and their organizations were in the forefront condemning the attacks. Several special interest groups have promoted the idea that Muslims have a soft corner for terrorists. Repeatedly, the Muslim community made it known to its neighbors, public officials and other opinion makers that it abhorred terrorism and stood shoulder to shoulder with all people of conscious who are fighting against terrorism, still people with twisted minds keep on raising questions about the integrity of the Muslim community.Acts of hatred and discrimination against Muslims are encouraged even in a multicultural city like Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution that says:Whereas, in remembering the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved-ones, friends, and business associates, we also remember and acknowledge the truth as to who the perpetrators themselves claim to be, that is, Muslims, carrying out the will of the Deity of their religion known as Islam.To have such a divisive and very insensitive resolution is really shocking. Obviously, there is an attempt on the part of special interest groups to implicate Muslim Americans in the tragedy of 9/11.On September 11, several hundred Muslims were also a victim of this tragedy. M. Salman Hamdani, 23, was on his way from the family home in Queens to his job as a lab technician in Manhattan. According to the family, police believe that when Hamdani, a trained emergency medical technician, heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center, he rushed there to help. Like the approximately 3,000 other victims, Hamdani did not return to his family home that day. A commodities trader for Carr Futures, Taimour Khan, 29, was last seen on the 92nd-floor office at One World Trade Center the first of the 110-story twin towers hit by hijacked passenger planes. What has hurt and frightened the Hamdani and Khan families amid their personal grief is the growing number of reported cases of intimidation, harassment and violence against Muslims.Since September 11, 2001 all over the world the number of terror victims has been increasing day by day. During the last two years, approximately 30,000 innocent people have been killed in different parts of the world as a result of terror attacks or counter attacks. Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Philippines, Indonesia, Liberia, to name a few. We hear very little about these victims.War against terror is a global war. But there are a few groups who are trying to make this a selective war for reasons that suit their political, cultural, economic and social interests. This selectiveness on the part of a few powerful groups reinforce some of the ideas that terrorists have used to justify their actions.The fight against terrorism is a noble fight. It is in defense of human life, the most beautiful of the divine creation. It is a fight all humanity must join. But we must not allow special interest groups to use the fight against terrorism as an excuse to serve their political or economic agenda. At stake is human civilization itself and it should be defended with full force. Muslims, like all other people of conscious, are in the forefront of this fight and they will not rest until all forms of terror is tamed.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the Editor of the Minaret magazine which is a monthly publication from Los Angeles, California.

Muslims in America - Four Years After 911
Four years ago America's sense of invulnerability on its own soil was shattered when two hijacked planes crashed separately into the twin towers of the WTC causing each to collapse. Since that momentous event, 9/11 has become an important anniversary. Not this year though. It was totally overshadowed by the Katrina disaster. The anniversary also came at a time when President Bush's approval rating was at an all time low with everything from the war in Iraq to oil price seemingly going in the wrong direction. My friends and family members, living outside the United States, often ask me about how the aftermath has been for Muslims living in America. Answering the question is not as simple because one's personal experiences would vary depending on the location one lives in, the job one does, the interaction one maintains both within and outside the Muslim community, etc. While the full dimension of backlash against Muslim Americans may never be known, from the reports I have been able to read and hear, there is no doubt that the last four years have been anything but pleasant for most Muslim Americans. This is because of the alleged involvement of some young Muslims hijackers with the attack on America on that fateful day. As for me, I hardly now perform congregational prayers in Islamic centers and mosques. I also don't deliver as many lectures on Islam and Muslim issues that I used to do. I know of many Muslims who don't frequent Islamic centers as often as they used to. In July 2002, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) polled 945 Muslims to find how 9/11 has affected them. Forty-eight percent of the respondents said that their lives had changed for the worse since 9/11 while 57% reported experiencing an act of bias or discrimination, ranging from disparaging remarks to a hate crime.1 Many new Muslim immigrants have clustered in certain jobs, notably as small business owners, running gas stations, convenience stores, motels, and as cab drivers. This may account for the prevalence of backlash victims among persons with these occupations. Two of the three 9/11-related murders for which charges have been brought were of convenience store workers. The third murdered victim was a gas station owner. The taxi dispatch services in many major cities reported that after 9/11 they had received threatening calls saying that their Muslim and Arab taxi workers would be killed.2 According to a 2002 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report "The September 11 Backlash"3 (against Muslims and Arabs): "Mosques and places of worship perceived to be mosques appeared to be among the most likely places of September 11-related backlash violence. SAALT's (South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow) survey of bias incidents reported in major news media found 104 bias incidents against places of worship reported during the first week after September 11 4. ... Although September 11 backlash violence against individual Arabs and Muslims decreased markedly by November 2001, attacks continued against mosques or houses of worship perceived to be Arab or Muslim. On November 19, 2001, four teenagers burned down the Gobind Sadan, a multi-faith worship center in Oswego, New York, because they believed the worshippers were supporters of Osama Bin Laden. On March 25, 2002, a man who stated to police that he hated Muslims crashed his pickup truck into a mosque in Tallahassee, Florida thirty minutes after evening prayers.5 On June 11, 2002, in Milipitas, California, vandals broke into a mosque under construction, scrawled derogatory remarks such as, "F- Arabs" and damaged the interior of a construction trailer near the mosque. 6 On August 24, 2002, federal authorities announced they had discovered a plan by a doctor in Tampa Bay to bomb and destroy approximately 50 mosques and Islamic cultural centers in south Florida. The doctor's home contained rocket launchers, sniper rifles and twenty live bombs. 7" As to job-related discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 488 complaints as of May 2002. Of these, 301 involved persons who were fired from their jobs. A poll of Arab Americans conducted in May 2002 found that 20% had personally experienced job discrimination. 8In the pre-9/11 days, e.g., in 2000, the FBI received reports of 28 hate crimes (offenses motivated by race, religion, color, gender, etc.) against Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. In 2001, that number jumped to 481, most of these within weeks after 9/11. (The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, however, reported a higher figure; for instance, over 600 9/11-related hate crimes, committed against Arab Americans.9) What is important here is to realize that a U.S. Justice Department study found that a whopping 75% of hate crimes go unreported.10 That means actual hate crimes could be four times the reported numbers. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans increased by 121% to 1019 incidents in 2003, according to a report released on May 3, 2004 by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The report also showed that overall anti-Muslim incidents in the United States increased by almost 70% in 2003.11 In the last two years, while the sporadic violence against anyone resembling a Muslim or an Arab has subsided, the level of aggressive disrespect and intolerance of Islam, mistrust of and discrimination against Muslims at workplaces is showing no sign of receding. The root cause may lie elsewhere - in the spiteful and bigoted sermons emanating from the churches, synagogues, temples, radio talk show programs, TV shows (especially Fox and the evangelical ones), and public libraries. Quoting CAIR, the Human Rights Watch reports that the number of violent acts, discriminatory incidents and cases of harassment against Muslims rose 49% between 2003 and 2004 to 1522.12 The other more worrisome matter is: hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs remain disproportionately high compared to their proportion. For example, in Texas Arabs make up only about 0.3% of population, but they are victims in 4% of all hate crimes. About 0.5% percent of Texans are Muslims, but they are victims in 2.8% of the reported hate crimes.13 Some notable victims of witch-hunting include Jose Padilla and Capt. Yee. Jose Padilla, a convert to Islam, was declared an "enemy combatant" (indeed the only American declared as such) by Presidential order and ordered locked away in a military brig in South Carolina -where he has languished since May 2002 in a windowless, 5-by-7-foot cell that is always brightly lit -without an indictment, a trial or access to a lawyer. When a U.S. District Court ruled in early September of this year in favor of President Bush in the case of Jose Padilla -it struck a major blow at the Constitution, upholding actions by the administration that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said have "created a unique and unprecedented threat to the freedom of every American citizen." 14In September of 2003, Capt. James J. Yee, a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., another convert to Islam, who served as an Army Islamic chaplain and counseled prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, was charged with espionage, aiding the enemy and spying. A year later, all charges against him were dropped.15Few other Muslim members of the Armed forces were similarly harassed on cooked up charges of passing information to terrorists, only to be dropped later.16 Most Muslim places of worship are now monitored by the FBI and their informants to unearth Muslim radicalism. However, radical and hate sermons emanating from satellite channels and talk Radio shows, run by fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, are considered quite kosher and are routinely overlooked.As to the backlash against Muslims in 2005, I provide below some random cases.The Los Angeles Times in its June 4, 2005 issue reported that a suspicious fire gutted a 1500 square foot mosque in San Barnardino, California. The June 17, 2005 issue of the Washington Post reported that someone left a bag of burned Qur'ans in front of the Islamic Center of Blacksburg, Virginia.Just three months ago, at the height of controversy over abuse of the Muslim Holy Book by U.S. military guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison, a sign in front of a Baptist church on one of the most traveled highways in the USA (at 2361 U.S. 221 South) read, "The Koran needs to be flushed." To support the hateful message, its pastor Creighton Lovelace said, "I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong.17" He further said that it was the work of God to display the sign and that no one in the church had spoken against it. The U.S. Congress has yet to name an independent investigative commission similar to the one conducted by the Sept. 11 commission to examine how the Qur'an-abuse occurred in prisons across Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, and to develop policies to prevent such offensive incidences.
As to witch-hunting, there seems to be no let down against Muslims and their organizations. Almost all of the money exchange and charitable organizations have been shut down, some facing criminal charges of abetting terrorist organizations in the Muslim world. Muslims are afraid to write donation checks for fear that they may be accused of funneling money to terrorists. Who can deny the influence of Saffron dollars to help poisonous ideologies like Hindutva in India, responsible for so much carnage in the largest democracy on earth? How about funds that are raised by sympathizers of the rogue state Israel, responsible for killing thousands of unarmed Palestinians? But no eyebrows are raised for such fund-raising that kills Muslims overseas.Just the last week, on Friday morning, September 24, federal agents raided a Muslim campground in Moodus, Connecticut, seizing specimens and seeds from datashak, a plant native to Bangladesh and India. Members of the FBI and U.S. Department of Agriculture said in documents that they also seized 19 computer discs and an assortment of documents from the 18-acre Town Street property, owned by Darul Uloom Shady Brook, Inc. The campground's caretaker is from Bangladesh, who had cooked meal containing datashak at a recent summer camp, attended by some two dozen Muslim youths.18 Soon after the Madrid bombing, Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield, a convert to Islam, was arrested in connection with the bombings after being linked by the FBI to a fingerprint found near the scene. After spending two weeks in jail, the FBI acknowledged its mistake and Mayfield was released. He has lately filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the federal government targeted him in the wake of the March Madrid train bombings because of his Muslim faith. In his suit, Mayfield challenges the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and says that the government violated his civil rights by searching his home and office, seizing his family's belongings and holding him in jail.19 In December 2003, an Arizona newspaper published a very provocative letter from a Tucson resident that urged fellow Americans to kill Muslims to retaliate for the death of American soldiers in Iraq. It read, "Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity, we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter." Two Tucson Muslims filed a lawsuit claiming that the letter constituted an assault and an intentional inflection of emotional distress. Interestingly, in July of this year the state Supreme Court in a 5-0 unanimous decision ruled that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protected the right of the resident and the paper for the provocative letter. Just imagine the kind of hullabaloo that would have generated if a Muslim had written a similar piece in any Muslim-majority country urging fellow Muslims to kill (just) one (and not five) Christian(s) for every Muslim killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Anglo-American forces. No, I am not surprised with the verdict of the Arizona Supreme Court, but genuinely concerned at how murky the distinction between right and wrong is becoming. Remember how the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld came to protect the right of free speech of General Boykin? It is these kinds of actions, condoning what most Muslims find offensive, that help breed hate crimes against Muslims. Spiteful and bigoted people take such as a license to do their evil acts. No wonder that there is such a mushrooming of hate literature in public libraries!For every new post-9/11 book about Islam, available today in most public libraries, there are at least three that are written to vilify the faith and its adherents.20 The world has not seen the preponderance of such hate literatures since the days of Hitler's Germany. These hate books are used as arsenal in the contest to subjugate, strike down, compel and crush any Arab and Muslim resistance to western dominance.And what to make of poisonous sermons and bigoted remarks from spiteful evangelical Christian priests like Pat Robertson, Hagee, Graham and other perverted bishops?21 While one can find excuses for the demented and depraved Christian pastor and the Tucson citizen, and also for bigoted and racist priests, Ô9/11-overnight-scholars,' pen-pushing writers and their greedy publishers, how can one justify the remark of an elected member of the U.S. Congress - the Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo (Colorado) - who in July 2005 called for a nuclear attack on Islam's holiest sites if there were to be another terrorist attack on the USA?22 In the aftermath of the London bombing of July 7, the pressure on Muslim American leadership from the various segments of the American society has been so acutely felt that on July 28, '05, the Fiqh Council of North America had to issue a fatwa denouncing terrorism. Within a week, some 173 organizations, mosques and imams endorsed the fatwa. This is an interesting development given the fact that no other religious groups had been invoked to do such a thing for the alleged crimes committed by their fellow co-religionists. (Note: In terrorist activities, the Tamil Tigers, comprising Hindu rebels from Sri Lanka, are known to have committed more terrorist activities than any other group. I am not aware if the Vatican was ever swayed to condemning the past activities of the IRA. Interestingly, the United States remains the largest contributor to funding for the IRA.)However, all is not gloom and doom for Muslims. One major step in improving America's image in the Muslim world has been President Bush's decision appointing Karen Hughes. She recently attended the 42nd ISNA conference in Chicago. In her brief talk, Ambassador Hughes elucidated the four E's of her approach: Education, Empowerment, Engagement and Exchanges. She recognized the need to empower American Muslims so that they could become more effective ambassadors for Islam in America and the US in the Muslim World. She suggested that American Muslims and her department should work together to (1) advance a positive vision of hope and opportunity to the Muslim World, (2) isolate and marginalize forces of intolerance and violence, (3) foster a sense of common intent and common purpose and common values. Ambassador Hughes recognizes that there are American ideologues who are continually preaching hatred against Islam and Muslims. Her success in public diplomacy in achieving the four goals will largely depend on her ability to keep in check the Islamophobic messages that consistently come from evangelical leaders, conservative talk shows and neoconservative columnists.


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