In U.S., fear and distrust of Muslims runs deep
Framing this discussion in the context of Klein’s radio stunt gives the impression, which no doubt is just what Bernd Debusmann wanted to do, that any distrust of any Muslims in the U.S. is an exercise in crypto-Nazism. And of course, “ignorance” is the problem. Efforts will be stepped up, as if they weren’t already in full swing, to convince Americans that any Muslim who commits violence in the name of Islam is not a genuine Muslim, and that the genuine article is peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. And tolerant. One problem with such “education” efforts is that they do nothing to prevent “genuine” Muslims from turning without warning into “false” ones.
Do Muslims in America really want to decrease fear and mistrust directed toward them? Easy. Just follow these four simple steps:
1. Stop blaming violent acts committed by Muslims in the name of Islam on the various sins of unbelievers.
2. Establish nationwide, compulsory programs in American mosques to teach against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism, by means including an explicit and definitive rejection of the literal meaning of many passages of Qur’an and Hadith.
3. Stop saying violent or hateful things in private when you think no non-Muslims are around. For example, the imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, executive director of ministerial services for the New York City Department of Correction, was secretly recorded last year while speaking at an Islamic conference in Arizona. Muslims, he said, invoking Qur’an 48:29, must be “compassionate with each other” and “hard against the kufr [unbeliever].” In Britain, Hamid Ali, imam of the mosque frequented by the July 7 bombers, praised the bombers and called their terror attack “good” in a conversation secretly recorded by an undercover journalist. Publicly, he had condemned the attacks. In a mosque in the Czech Republic, a Muslim secretly filmed by a documentary filmmaker says Islamic Shari’a law, including the stoning of adulterers, should be adopted by the Czech Republic. Cleveland imam Fawaz Damra, who has since been deported for failing to disclose his ties to terror groups, signed the Fiqh Council of North America’s condemnation of terrorism, despite having declared at an Islamic conference that “terrorism, and terrorism alone, is the path to liberation.”
Do such incidents mean that every Muslim who professes to have adopted Western notions of pluralism and the equality of dignity and rights of non-Muslims and Muslims is dissembling? Of course not. But they do mean that non-Muslims are perfectly justified in being suspicious even when Muslim profess moderation and opposition to terror. Consequently deeds, not just words, are needed. To conclude my four recommendations, genuinely anti-terror Muslims should:
4. Actively work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.
But it is unlikely that any of that will be done. Instead, these poor mistrusted, misunderstood folks will keep crying “Islamophobia” and trying to manipulate the American legal and political systems.
By Bernd Debusmann for Reuters, with thanks to all who sent this in:
WASHINGTON (Reuters)- When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be “off his rocker.” The second congratulated him and added: “Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country … they are here to kill us.”
Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. “What good is identifying them?” he asked. “You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans.”
At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of “the threat in our midst” would alleviate the public’s fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.
“I can’t believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said,” he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL (http://www.wmal.com/), which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland
“For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people’s bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver’s license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It’s beyond disgusting.
“Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen … We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous.”
The show aired on November 26, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and Klein said in an interview afterwards he had been surprised by the response.
“The switchboard went from empty to totally jammed within minutes,” said Klein. “There were plenty of callers angry with me, but there were plenty who agreed.”
POLLS SHOW WIDESPREAD ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENT
Those in agreement are not a fringe minority: A Gallup poll this summer of more than 1,000 Americans showed that 39 percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.
Roughly a quarter of those polled said they would not want to live next door to a Muslim and a third thought that Muslims in the United States sympathized with al Qaeda, the extremist group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
A poll carried out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group, found that for one in three Americans, the word Islam triggers negative connotations such as “war,” “hatred” and “terrorist.” The war in Iraq has contributed to such perceptions.
Klein’s show followed a week of heated discussions on talk radio, including his own, and online forums over an incident on November 22 involving six Muslim clerics. They were handcuffed and taken off a US Airways flight after passengers reported “suspicious behavior” that included praying in the departure gate area.
The clerics, on their way to a meeting of the North American Imams Federation, were detained in a holding cell, questioned by police and
FBI agents, and released. Muslim community leaders saw the incident as yet more evidence of anti-Muslim prejudice.
IGNORANCE SEEN AS KEY PROBLEM
Several American Muslims interviewed on the subject of prejudice over the past few weeks said ignorance was at the core of the problem.
“The level of knowledge is very, very low,” said Mohamed Esa, a U.S. Muslim of Arab descent who teaches a course on Islam at McDaniel College in Maryland. “There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and some people think they are all terrorists.”
Hossam Ahmed, a retired Air Force Reserve colonel who occasionally leads prayer meetings for the small Muslim congregation at the
Pentagon, agreed. “Ignorance is the number one problem. Education is of the essence.”