Tag Archive | "Muslims"

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Letter To My Sikh Son: Be Proud of Your Identity

I agree with you that it’s a little ironic that we Sikhs are being mistaken for Muslims in the U.S. today, when the very idea behind our distinctive appearance was to distinguish us from Muslims and Hindus. I wish more people knew about the role of the Sikhs in the fight against the Mughal tyranny in 17th century India, and the sacrifices the Sikhs made to protect the common man’s right to practice their religion during Aurangzeb’s misguided attempts to convert the entire Mughal empire to Islam.

I wish people knew that when Guru Gobind Singhji prepared us for a life as saint-soldiers, sporting a turban and a beard and carrying arms, he made it clear that our fight was against tyranny and injustice, not against any particular religion or sect. 

I am glad you are aware of our proud history. The other day, when talking about the recent hate crimes against the Sikhs in the U.S., you observed, “This is not the time to say we are not Muslims.” I am proud of you for thinking like that. It’s every Sikh’s duty to help those of any religion or race who are weak and cannot defend themselves again injustice. 

But in order to do that, we have to come from a position of strength. While there are organizations fighting hate crimes and working to educate people, we can help by being strong and taking care of ourselves, and helping anybody else who cannot. One way of doing that today is to stand by the side of our Muslim friends.

The Sikh way of life is simple: work hard to earn an honest living, share what you have, and remember God. Our Gurus taught us to be fair, to respect others and their religions. Remember how after 9-11 we rushed to take down the khanda (the Sikh emblem) from our car so people won’t mistake it for an Iranian flag, and felt so bad about it afterwards? I remember doing something similar following the 1984 killings of the Sikhs in India. Maybe it’s time we stop rushing to prove whatever it is we are trying to prove by such acts. It’s time to stop living in fear. Yes, we are not Muslims, but we don’t need to go around announcing it to appease hate mongers looking for a soft target.

So today, even as I join your mother in asking you to be careful when you are out on the road and avoid getting into an argument over religion, I also want you to remember that we are warriors, and must always be ready to fight any bully when all means of a peaceful resolution have failed.

I am happy you are strong in your faith. I’m sure you’ll have questions from time to time. Please don’t hesitate to ask them. 


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Ground Zero Mosque Controversy Highlights Islamophobia

Pakistan Link, Commentary, Ibrahim Hooper

Given the political right’s hate-filled and hysterical response to all things Muslim, one has to ask whether American Muslims face a future in which they will no longer be treated as equal citizens.

The best example of the right’s campaign to deprive American Muslims of the civil liberties enjoyed by citizens of other faiths is the neo-McCarthyite response to a planned Islamic cultural center in New York City.

Newt Gingrich , who fancies himself a possible 2012 presidential candidate, justifies his opposition to the New York Islamic center because “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”

He would bar a mosque “near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia” — as if the constitutionally-protected religious rights of Americans depend on the actions of a foreign government.

Sarah Palin , another GOP presidential hopeful, calls the New York Islamic center a stab in the heart of all Americans and an “unnecessary provocation” that all “peaceful Muslims” must “refudiate [sic].”

Not to be outdone in Islamophobic rhetoric, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino said that, if elected, he would use the power of eminent domain to stop the building of the Islamic center.

Paladino did not explain how this maneuver would pass muster under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which states: “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.”

Rick Lazio, another New York gubernatorial candidate, even has a petition on his campaign website calling on visitors to “Defend New York” from the planned Islamic center. One wonders how the city has managed to defend itself from another mosque that has been in that same neighborhood for 27 years.

But for all out loony tunes bigotry, American Muslims can always count on Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy for some 1930s style minority-bashing.

Gaffney, who was recently slammed by Rachel Maddow for the anti-Muslim conspiracy theories he promotes, is hyping a 1-minute video claiming the New York Islamic center would “defile Ground Zero with a beachhead for shariah.”

But what else could be expected of an individual who claims an American Muslim is committing an act of “sedition” merely for believing in Islamic law and employs a staff attorney, David Yerushalmi, who heads a group that has advocated prison terms for “adherence to Islam”?

In a 2007 commentary, Yerushalmi called for a “war against Islam and all Muslim faithful.” He wrote in part: “At a practical level, this means that Shari’a and Islamic law are immediately outlawed. Any Moslem in America who adopts historical and traditional Shari’a will be subject to deportation. Mosques which adhere to Islamic law will be shut down permanently.”

Why is all this bigotry and hatred being employed to stop the construction of a community center that will house recreational and banquet facilities, meeting rooms, an auditorium — and yes, a prayer space for Muslims and people of other faiths?

Unfortunately, there is a vocal minority in our nation whose lives are dedicated to marginalizing American Muslims and demonizing Islam.

The techniques these individuals and groups use to promote Islamophobia may vary – whether it is a Florida church promoting ” International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11, a bizarre ballot measure in Oklahoma that would bar judges from considering Islamic law in their rulings, ACT! for America seeking to insert anti-Islam materials in school curricula, or Stop the Islamization of America’s anti-Islam bus and taxi ad campaigns — but they all agree on the ultimate goal of denying American Muslim their full rights as citizens.

Some Islamophobes would even deny American Muslims the most fundamental right — the right to life. A recent post on a blog hosted by David Horowitz carried the genocidal headline, ” It’s Time to Put the Coffee Down and Eradicate Islam in the West.”

Religious and political leaders who believe in the traditional American values of tolerance and mutual respect should stand up and state clearly that all of our nation’s citizens, including Muslims, have the right to decide how and where they will worship.

The constitutional rights of American Muslims must not be left in the hands of those who exploit and promote fear of the “other” and use the same divisive tactics that have harmed so many other societies throughout history.

Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group . He may be contacted at: ihooper@cair.com.

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CT Muslims, Supporters Condemn Hate Speech

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — At the state capitol on Friday, Muslims and other religious groups gathered under the gray sky to condemn hate speech derived from a fear of Islam.

One local reporter asked a Muslim: Which Quo’ran are they reading? Is it different than yours?

The reporter was referring to al Qeada operatives who hijacked planes and steered them into the World Trade Center in New York City nine years ago, killing thousands.

The response was measured, direct.

“We are reading the same book. But they have different interpretations,” said Mongi Dhaouadi, one of about 100 Muslims and supporters who attended the Hartford rally against Islamaphobia in Connecticut.

The incident that prompted this rally happened last week.  Reza Mansoor, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut in a press release said on Aug. 6 about a dozen people from “Operation Save America” a right wing, extremist Christian organization based in Dallas, TX, staged a protest and verbal assault against the Muslim community that gathered in Masjid An-Nur in Bridgeport for prayers. He said they staged these verbal assaults as children with their parents were leaving the prayer. The children were called “murderers” and the protesters using bullhorns yelled: “Islam is a lie” and “Jesus hates Muslims.”

About 100 Muslims and other religious group members gather at state capitol to condemn hate speech against Muslims

The aim of the rally was to counter that hate and show solidarity with other religious sects, Dhaouadi said.

He added that people have a right to protest. But there’s a fine line between hate speech and harassment when a man shouted so loud he could be heard while people prayed inside a mosque.

“He wasn’t insulting us.” Dhaouadi said. “He was intimidating us.”

A spokesman for Operation Save America denied allegations of harassment.

The Bridgeport  incident comes on the heels of a controversial debate about a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero at the former World Trade Center site. Many New Yorkers opposed the chosen location. Last week, New York City removed the final construction hurdle for the project, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg publicly supported the decision.

On Friday at the White House, President Barack Obama voiced his strong support of city’s decision.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” President Obama was quoted as saying in a New York Times article. Obama was at a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan, the holy period of fasting for devoted Muslims.

The proposed community center caused a national uproar over freedom of religion.  Many Muslims in Connecticut were verbally attacked, Dhaouadi said. However, there were no reports of attacks in the Greater Hartford area.

But there has been curiosity, from all fronts.

The reporter pressed on: How did they get that kind of interpretation from that book?

This time an African American responded. “It’s like with slavery. Slaveholders used the bible to justify slavery,” said Kashif Abdul-Karim of Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford. “People are always going to interpret what they want from the bible to justify the wrong they’re doing.”

And so it went. A lesson about how hate begins, festers and turns deadly, like on Sept. 11, 2001.

Every since then, Muslims in America have been targets of hate, said Newington resident, Sahar Khan, 19. She said she was harassed in school after 9/11. But, she said, “I try not to let it get to me.”

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Muslims Rally Today Against Islamophobia in Connecticut

HARTFORD — On Aug. 6  about a dozen people from “Operation Save America” a right wing, extremist Christian organization staged a protest and verbal assault against the Muslim community who had gathered in Masjid An-Nur in Bridgeport, Connecticut for prayers.

They staged these verbal assaults as children with their parents were leaving the prayer. The children were called “murderers” and the protesters using bullhorns yelled: “Islam is a lie” and “Jesus hates Muslims.”

So says Reza Mansoor, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut in a press release on the group’s website announcing a rally today at 3 p.m. on the North side of the State Capitol.

Mansoor and the faith communities will gather   “to condemn this hateful action and the state of Islamophobia in the country.”

For more information, read more here.

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