Slamming the Door on Muslims
If there is one thing that Muslims in America can credit this election for, it is throwing the ugly specter of Islamophobia into sharp relief. Being a Muslim running for office is now widely acknowledged to be a 'smear', and any association with the world's second largest religion is accepted as a case of political suicide. The worst part is that it is not only the uninformed American public but the politicians and stakeholders involved in this historic election that have themselves contributed to the hate rollercoaster by adding fuel to fire with their statements, or lack of thereof.
The controversy has oscillated from circulation of photos of Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in Kenyan garb and a turban, to blatant lies by Fox News that he attended a Muslim extremist school, to fears that the first thing that Obama would do if elected is whip out his prayer rug in the Oval Office and say 'AHA, fooled you all!' (that one is mine). Regardless, it is shameful for a pluralistic and self-professed tolerant society like the United States to even entertain these fears. It is even more hurtful to call these claims 'fears'.
According to estimates by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, there are about 6 to 7 million Muslims in this country, many of whom have been living here for generations. This is an incredibly diverse community, harboring many different views and having many different faces (Arab, South Asian, African-American, etc.). Saying that there is something wrong with being a Muslim is highly offensive to the beliefs of this community-it offends our identity and suggests that no matter how long we have been here, no matter how many times we take the Pledge of Allegiance, we will never truly belong. Most of the Muslims in the United States and across the globe view the 'War on Terrorism' as a mindless crusade against their religion, and this is the wrong message to be sending.
Unfortunately, this atmosphere of hate-mongering against Islam is already having effects. Just over a month ago, thousands of copies of the anti-Muslim documentary 'Obsession' were distributed in swing states, by being inserted in major newspapers, sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The film was backed by the New York-based Clarion Fund that has publicly backed Senator John McCain's (R-Ariz.) candidacy. The week ended in an attack on Muslim children with a 'chemical irritant' at the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton in Ohio on Friday, Sept. 26th. The lack of reporting on this incident needs to be fully condemned.
It is regretful that politicians and the candidates themselves have not taken a proactive role in addressing such radioactive insinuations. John McCain needs to address why one cannot be an 'Arab' and a 'family man' at the same time. Barack Obama has to realize the implications of his refusal to visit a mosque, after having already visited churches and synagogues. Both candidates have to start thinking about the segment of society that they are marginalizing with their lack of enthusiasm on this important issue.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's interview on Meet the Press in which he talked about the Muslim-American Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan who died in Iraq fighting for America at the age of 20 is testament to the sacrifices Muslims have made, and are still making for this country. What few people know is that Khan's tombstone is not the only one with a crescent in the Arlington National Cemetery. Colin Powell has taken a step in the right direction with his statement-but now other people need to follow.
Attempts to push these issues under the rug are no longer going to work. Come November, the next president needs to actively start working to improve relations between the Muslim world and America. He needs to take the initiative to protect a community that is already well-integrated and part of this society. No longer can America afford to associate with the actions of a bunch of misguided individuals who have squandered the name of this beautiful, peaceful religion for their own purposes. Neither can we-we are already suffering the consequences of it.
The author is a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is the Media Coordinator of the Muslim Students' Association.
Owais Rasool is a contributing writer with columbiaspectator.com
Topics: Barack Obama
You are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine, and I agree with you mostly on your points. However, this religious issue is not one-sided. I don't think the Muslim world can afford to associate itself with unfortunate views by a few individuals for their own purposes. We all need to be open-minded.
We must differentiate between the Islam which the Prophet brought that made the Companions succesful in both life and our Islam of today.We believe some of us are not good example as some want us to be, nonetheless if we cling to the teachings of the Prophet we will be successful in this life and the Hereafter which is our ambition. May Allah make all of us examples to save mankind from misery and catastrophy.
Muslims are their own worst enemies. They have refused to understand the US; one tries to keep mosque and plitics separate in this country, not mix it. By mixing poltics and mosques, muslims become a liability, not an asset; and nobody wants liabilities.
Politics is the art of winning; and catering to muslims is sure to lead to losing.