January 1, 2012
2011 another hard year for Muslims in America
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
“Where there are Muslims, there are problems.” This alarmingly sweeping comment by the New York Post best reflects the dilemma of the seven-million strong American Muslim community which remains under siege in the post-9/11 era.
The New York Post comment came amid heated discussion and opposition to the proposed Sheepshead Bay (NY) Mosque. In a hard hitting article titled “New Yorkistan? Don’t rule it out!” Shavana Abruzzo wrote:
“There’s no denying the elephant in the room. Neither is there any rejoicing over the mosques proposed for Sheepshead Bay, Staten Island and Ground Zero because where there are mosques, there are Muslims, and where there are Muslims, there are problems.”
In the post-9/11 America, it has become difficult to build new mosques or expand the existing places of worship which became frequent target of hate attacks. Ironically, the Board of Standards and Appeals on Nov 22, 2011 unanimously rejected opponents’ biased claims and gave approval of the mosque.
Like the Sheepshead Bay Mosque controversy, the Muslims are currently facing another stormy debate as known anti-Muslim bigots are calling advertisers to drop ads on The Learning Channel’s (TLC’s) new reality eight-part series “All-American Muslim” which depict five Lebanese American families in Dearborn, Michigan.
Within days of the show’s premiere, the fear-mongering Islamphobia network complained the show is actually propaganda that promotes a “submission to Islam through the hijab” and “tries to make a religion which believes in world domination and the inferiority of women, seem normal”.
According to the Islamophobes this constitutes “deception and obfuscation,” an “attempt to manipulate Americans”, “propaganda”, “cultural jihad”
The calls for an advertiser boycott are coming from Internet hate sites like “Bare Naked Islam,” which recently featured a number of threats of violence targeting U.S. and European mosques, and right-wing groups such as the Florida Family Association and American Decency.
Not surprisingly, infamous Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who influenced the Norway terrorist attacks and right wing xenophobia, are part of this malicious campaign. Pamela Geller, founder of the shrill Atlas Shrugs blog and co-founder with blogger Robert Spencer of Stop Islamization of America, are claiming that the show “is an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad”.
Buckling to the pressure of anti-Muslim bihots two advertisers – Lowe and Kayak – have pulled out their ads.
Another result of the negative campaign against “All-American Muslim” was a significant rise in the number of discrimination complaints against Arabs and Muslims during the month of December 2011. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which reported this increase, issued an advisory addressed to the members of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian and Sikh American communities to take precautionary measures during year end Holiday season.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican presidential hopefuls
In the post-9/11 America, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate has become commonplace and increasingly acceptable in political and civic discourse. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric or Islamophobia no longer questioned, even by our elected representatives.
During 2011 there was phenomenal rise in anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric particularly by the Republican Party politicians. As the 2012 election nears, some Republican presidential hopefuls and congressional candidates have clearly opted to try to win votes by denigrating Islam and disparaging Muslims.
To borrow Wilfredo Amr Ruiz of Huffington Post, taking the lead in the anti-Muslim frenzy is Herman Cain, who has consistently held a hostile discourse on Islam, belittling almost anything or anyone resonating Muslim. Cain has also affirmed that he wouldn’t appoint Muslims to his cabinet and even suggested to impose a loyalty test on any Muslim before allowing him to serve in his administration. His anti-Muslim rhetoric returned recently when he expressed that more than half of American Muslims are extremists based on a “trusted adviser” who informed him so.
Another presidential candidate and for speaker, Newt Gingrich’s stance on issues related to Islam and American Muslims has been scornful. Falling victim to the Muslim hysteria on the debate on the Ground Zero Mosque, Gingrich compared the Islamic Community Center project to building a Nazi monument outside the Holocaust Museum. He also said: “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”
Rick Santorum, another presidential hopeful, has joined Gingrich’s Islam-bashing team, expressing misleading comments on the question of Sharia taking over the U.S. court system. On the most recent debate Santorum was even more assertive on his opinion on Muslims. When asked if he would support ethnic and religious profiling he replied: “The folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes … obviously Muslims would be someone you’d look at, absolutely.”
Another presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann said: “not all cultures are equal, not all values are equal, letting it be known that she thought that people of the Muslim faith had an inferior culture to that of the United States and the West.”
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