Muslims are hopeful, despite oppression

Category: Americas, Nature & Science Views: 2370
2370

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) recently asked peoples with visas from the Middle East and South Asia (Muslims and Arabs in general) to report in their offices for registration. Those responding were arrested upon arrival, before any attempt to verify their status. Thousands were apprehended, and were let go only after interview and fingerprinting. Others are still imprisoned on frivolous charges, or subjected to deportation proceedings.

Thus, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 the Arab Americans and American Muslims have been singled out in war on terrorism. This despite the fact, that among about 3,000 fatalities, there were 358 Muslims. And so their pain of loss of innocent lives is exacerbated by fear and suspicion, because of the heinous crime of some miscreants.

Immediately thereafter, over 5,000 American citizens were rounded up based on this collective suspicion and subjected, without any evidence, to criminal proceedings. Many were detained (some still are) and denied access to their lawyers, on secret evidence that no one could question or verify. Some citizens are arbitrarily classified as enemy combatants, without recourse to the due process of law. And, quite a few Islamic charities are shut down, their accounts frozen; therefore, they cannot serve the most needy and vulnerable.

Muslim and Arab Americans routinely suffer the humiliation of false arrest, de-boarding from airplanes, inappropriate property search and seizure: as well as employment discrimination, workplace and business setbacks and social hate.

Immigrants returning after their visit abroad are denied entry, based only on racial profiling. And many a decent person from Muslim countries hesitates to come, not because of any criminality, but because they are all targeted for registration and fingerprinting.

Also, thousands of U.S. colleges and universities must now submit information on foreign students in a new online tracking system, and the Arab and Muslim students are specifically subjected to new registration requirements. So much so, that recently the INS arrested students who were not signed up for enough credit hours.

The situation is reminiscent of the Japanese Americans during World War II. Various human rights organizations, including the ACLU, have protested against these violations of human and civil rights. Recently, the UN High Commission on Refugees has called on Bush administration to stop such detentions of men, especially where the families are left stranded.

Adding to their litany of woes, now the FBI has been issued a directive to count local mosques, to determine the goals of counter-terrorism profile investigations, and secret wiretapping. To subject mosques to any investigation is senseless, because they are a place for prayer, supplication, study and reflection, just as a church or synagogue is for a Christian or Jew. It is not a place for useless or ill talk of any kind. The rights of worshippers, in and outside of it, must be protected and its sanctity must likewise be guaranteed.

Muslims are highly incensed by this latest infraction of their rights. This has now gone on to an extent that Eric Erfan Vickers, Executive Director of the American Muslim Council was compelled to write a letter to the U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan asking for an inquiry into the "political repression of Muslim and Arab and Asian Americans by the United States government." He complained, "We are making this request because all our frequent calls on America's political leaders to cease the government's religious and ethnic profiling have fallen on deaf ears." And that, "thus regrettably, the American citizens victimized by this repression must look to the world outside for relief for these shameful and undemocratic practices by our government."

Much of the above has taken place, because American Muslims lack political clout. This despite their substantial numbers - over 7 million and growing at an annual rate of 6% (versus 0.9% for the rest of USA), higher education (one-third hold a Master's or higher degree) and a corresponding higher income level, according to a recent study by the Johnson School of Business at Cornell University. They are a young and vibrant community and the current sad infringements have jolted them from their reticence into activism. They are organized locally and nationally. And now are mobilizing their community, and reaching out to other faith groups in dialog and communication, forming grass roots coalitions, to offset the prevalent negative publicity against them, and for a better understanding of their faith and for their common causes.

Siraj Mufti, Ph.D., is a researcher and free-lance journalist.


  Category: Americas, Nature & Science
Views: 2370
 
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Older Comments:
RM FROM ROMANIA said:
J.Norman, you might agree with me on the American Dream, but you for sure missed a point: WHERE SHOULD THE MUSLIMS GO WHEN THE AMERICAN CANCER IS PUTRIFFYING THEIR OWN LANDS? WHEN THIS EVIL COUNTRY HAS PERVADED THE SOVEREIGNITY OF EACH AND EVERY COUNTRY IN THIS PLANET? INCLUDING YOUR OWN. Muslims countries are the most rich ones of the whole world, yet the Muslims are the refugees of this planet. Of course, you might be right that all the billions of Muslims should rise and spit all the foreigner interests, including your old and collapsed kingdom, and control you and any country dependable on their oil. Yes you are right, all these Muslims should rise and relegate all these puppet-regimes backed by USA and your country, among many other hypocrites;they will fight against all the injustices happening in their own countries and one day they will take back their liberties. In this world there is nspace neither for communism nor capitalism.
2003-03-17

VICTORIA ZAPER FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
What utter nonsense! Oppression ? If Muslim Americans were truly oppressed they would not be making an income higher than the average American. I am sure that all of our citizens in the lowest income levels would be lacking in sympathy for your "oppression". When Mr. Vickers starts writing letters of protest to the Mosques where hatred of America is preached, then and only then would I be willing to take him seriously. The author of this article is guilty of whining and hyperbole.
2003-03-15

LANCE R. FROM USA said:
Although your article was accurate on most issues, it made one ignorant comment concerning the US government "counting Mosques". The article stated that a Mosque is a place a prayer. I agree, but many Muslims go there to pray for the death of America. Also, many of the 9/11 hijackers originated at a Mosque in Germany. The US government is treating Muslims different than they once did, but times are different now. 9/11 changes a lot of things, one of which is racial profiling. Once a group of extremist Muslim idiots flew planes into the World Trade Centers, your damn right your going to feel some "oppression" if your an American Muslim. But the good news is, this is a free country, if you don't like how you are being treated, get the hell out.

LR
2003-03-12

ALZAZUL FROM USA said:
does anyone know what ever happened to that muslim guy that turned out to be an american born, not the one thats in jail now , the other one? and whats going on with the prisoners at guantanamo bay? is any one talking up collections to get this people lawyers? who is talking care of the charity work those organizations were doing? are the assets being used by the usa for their own use?
2003-03-10

FRED G. MALROY FROM USA said:
To date my studies of the Holy Qur'an suggest to me that there may be both good Moslems and bad (nominal) Moslems just as there are both good and bad (Nominal) Christains.

In both cases the Good Moslem or Christain would be one who follows, endorses and accepts the teachings of their holy book(s) and their religious leaders. A bad Moslem or Christain would be those who do not follow or endorse the teachings of their holy books and their religious leaders.

Osama bin Laden and all the other terrorist monkeys around the world are said to be Good Moslems because they are following the teachings of their Holy book(s) and religious leaders (and religious police?). For Moslems, martyrdom by killing Jews and Christains appears to be a sure way to sit at the right hand of the almighty and reap glorious rewards. Therefore, "Good" Moslems must be in lock step with and supportive of the terrorist activities such as 911 and numerous other worldwide acts of destruction and death dealing. And the nominal Moslems or "Bad" Moslems are the "Good" Guys?

The USA is sometimes presented as a Christain Nation. We're not. Most Americans are Bad (nominal) Christains(they pick and chose which of Gods laws they will follow as though to improve upon or update God's instructions to us)but are pretty good people. The conservative Christains come closest to being the Good Christains in that they accept the teachings of their holy book(s) even though they fail too follow all the rules. Like Christains, many Moslems are bad Moslems but may be pretty good people. The most conspicuous difference is that neither good nor bad (nominal) Christains endorse terrorism and neither started this bloody war.

So what does this say about the question, "Are we
(The US) at war with Islam"? Maybe we should be.

If this all sounds like confused gibberish, it's only because it is confusing.

Please enlighten me.

Sincerely,
Fred G. Malroy
2003-03-10

FRED G. MALROY FROM USA said:
Much Confusion Here!

Am making a moderate effort to understand the essence of Islam. Going through "The Holy Qur'an" It ain't easy. While I am not yet convinced that all Muslims are the Bad Guys, Qur'an says Jews and Christains are.
2003-03-10

MONTANA SKIES FROM USA said:
Can anyone give the Patriot Acts I and II another name? How about a shredder -to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

A republic will work through a constitution, but an empire is a whole different matter: just as it expands militarily through the world, it demands obedience domestically, and will instill fear through the population (with color codes and false alarms) to win their complete reliance. These two acts will guarantee this (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/HallsOfJustice/hallsofjustice.html.) These are the seeds of something evil that could fester out of control. These acts must be scrutinized with an eye fully upon ramifications on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; Pat. Act I must be re-introduced to the floor and be nit-picked.

The circumstances surrounding the passage of Act I were anything but healthy. Fear, confusion, and sudden invulnerability made for a hasty review and the passage of what may usher the age of fear, suspicion, and police state mentality -the very antithesis of America.

Demand of your Rep. and Congressman a new debate regarding Act I, and a civil-liberties magnifying lens when examining Patriot Act II. We must protect ourselves but not through paranoia, islamophobia, and imperialism. We hope we are a nation of logic and common sense, of resolve and will, of calculation and certitude, of freedom and democracy. Let us not take leave of these as the world's eyes are upon us to judge our leadership and its merits.

Be ever watchful and vigilant to the insidious dangers to civil liberties. Run everything you hear -especially what come out of the mass media- through your common sense filter once or twice (the same corporation that control the media, and milks the government for concessions, manipulates what is piped to you). Do the right thing fellow Americans.

2003-03-10

MONTANA SKIES FROM USA said:
James Harper: many thanks for such edifying words. You are right. Patience and submission to God's will is what we are all about. This hardship can be viewed as a trial to strengthen our resolve to do well and be good. By God's help we will go through it to whatever end his infinite wisdom deems fit.
2003-03-10

MOHAMMED SIDDIQUI FROM CANADA said:
American Muslims are dreaming and they should realise one thing to get humiliated again and again is best for them or to gather themselves and use their influence politically by nominating muslim candidiates in elections.
2003-03-09

JOHN NORMAN FROM UK said:
to RM : I'm glad to see you approve of the American Dream. It's a pity so many muslims don't and constantly bitch about it. As Chowderhead pointed out, the Quran does advise muslims to leave those countries in which they are not the majority. I fail to see why so
many don't heed that advice.
2003-03-09

JAMES HARPER FROM USA said:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I won't bore you with a long discertation of why this kind of discrimination occurs. I know that this is a painful subject for the American Islamic Community...but that it has happened, there is no doubt.

The big problem is that in the war and terrorism jitters following 9/11, the Government simply has had no experience with handling this kind of security problem. The thinking, rightly or wrongly..is that it is not Mexican Americans or Japanese Americans or other hyphen americans who are potential Islamic terrorists. It is people of arab ancestery. it is not right..but the security forces of any country so attacked would do the same thing. I think you all see this.

I know this is offensive to many of my fellow Aemricans who are of middle eastern decent. I understand, but can offer no solution except that you patiently wait it out. This will not last for ever. We know that there are very few real terrorists in the Arab-American Community. There probaby are some, however. But as soon as times return to a more normal pace, this great fear within the US Government and populance will abate.

May I suggest something from Jesus? Simply turn the other cheek and go on doing your business. Tell the airport inspector that you understand and to do what he or she has to do. Afterall we are all Americans and want to be secure. Tell the Cop that you were sorry you were speeding..if you were..and accept the ticket gracefully. And most importantly, be sure you register with the Government. It is only a precaution that surely most can understand. Despite what has been said, this is not a NAZI Facist State.

So oh Muslim...accept and submit..Soon the worst will be over and you can resume your personal journies as both Americans and Muslims.

Such are my feelings, anyway.
God be with all of you...

James Harper
P.O. Box 87394
Carol Sream IL 60188-7394
[email protected]
2003-03-09

MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
Well golly, I guess the United States had no business stopping the flow of dollars out of the US to support terrorism. In Richardson Texas the Holy Land Foundation collected funds to help starving children in the Middle East while actually funneling the money to HAMAS and other terrorist organizations. The United States government first responsibility is to protect US citizens, and if that requires closer inspections of groups of people that have the same characteristics as terrorist they must fulfill the government obligation. I was stationed in Lebanon in 1979 and I had no civil rights, but duh, I wasn't a citizen.
Foreigners in the US should have no civil right protections that are afforded to United States citizens.
2003-03-09

RM FROM ROMANIA said:
TO CHOWDERHEAD: USA is engaging in such restrictions of civil rights as all countries of the collapsed ex-comunist Block did. Sit and watch how this is entangling and sufocating slowly the agonizing American Dream.
2003-03-07

CHOWDERHEAD FROM USA said:
Quote: 'Thus, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 the Arab Americans and American Muslims have been singled out in war on terrorism'.

Maybe that's because 9/11 was carried out by Muslims, in the name of Islam, nominally on the behalf of the Muslim people, by individuals who tried to blend in to the open society that is (or was) granted to them here in the US. Making this society a little less open for the next group of terrorist that WILL come along is an unfortunate necessity in the war on terrorism. The unfortunate part is that it impacts those who are not terrorists, but that is the price that has to be paid.

Besides, if Muslims don't like it, the Qurn tells them what to do:

Thus, the Qurn says: When angels take the souls of those who die in sin,they say, in what plight were you? They reply: Weak and oppressed were we on earth. They (angels) say: Was not the earth of Allah large enough for you to move yourself away from evil? Such men will be sent to Hell-what an evil refuge! (97-4).

Of course, what the article doesn't say is that yes, things aren't as good for Muslims here as they were before 9/11, but things are still better here than 'back home'.
2003-03-07