America’s History of Fear

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.

Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque. The starting point isn’t hatred but fear: an alarm among patriots that newcomers don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans.

The World is Watching

America’s reputation for religious tolerance and decency has taken a terrible hit with this brouhaha over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. It is a self-inflicted wound, aided in no small part by the Tea Party and the fear-mongers at Fox News who never miss an opportunity to summon the darker aspects of our nature for political purposes. All this in the name of a higher patriotism, of course.

Islamophobia Threatens Religious Freedom in America

Let’s be honest. Much of the controversy surrounding the so-called ground zero mosque is fueled by Islamophobia — a fear and loathing of Islam that is spreading rapidly in the United States.
Since 9/11, demonization of Islam has become a cottage industry in America, aided and abetted by some evangelical leaders and a growing number of politicians. Much like the anti-Catholic hysteria of the 19th century, the current outbreak of Islamophobia is based on the paranoid fantasy that Islam in America is a threat to democracy and freedom.

Mistrust and the Mosque

The poll found considerable distrust of Muslim-Americans and robust
disapproval of the mosque proposal. Asked whether they thought
Muslim-Americans were ³more sympathetic to terrorists² than other citizens,
33 percent said yes, a discouraging figure, roughly consistent with polls
taken since Sept. 11, 2001. Thirty-one percent said they didn¹t know any
Muslims; 39 percent said they knew Muslims but not as close friends.
A full 72 percent agreed that people had every right to build a ³house of
worship² near the site. But only 62 percent acknowledged that right when
³house of worship² was changed to ³mosque and Islamic community center.²
Sixty-seven percent thought the mosque planners should find ³a less
controversial location.² While only 21 percent of respondents confessed to
having ³negative feelings² toward Muslims because of the attack on the World
Trade Center, 59 percent said they knew people who did.

Muslims take to Minn. State Fair to repair image

Volunteers from the Minnesota chapter of Islamic Circle of North America took to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” to repair the image of Muslims in America. A poll released last week showed many Americans have the same mixed feelings about the Muslim faith. The nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that most Americans doubt that Islam is likelier than other faiths to encourage violence and believe Muslims should have equal rights to build houses of worship. But more people have an unfavorable than favorable view of Islam by 38 to 30 percent – nearly a reversal of findings on the same poll question in 2005, when 41 percent had favorable views compared with 36 percent unfavorable.

A Ramadan Drumbeat Is Sounded in Queens

Even though the debate over a planned Islamic center near ground zero has made some Muslims in New York fearful of calling attention to themselves, Mr. Boota never considered suspending his street drumming.
NY Times continues to cover, Mr Boota, a limousine driver, has built a sideline as a ceremonial drummer for his fellow Pakistani immigrants. He is also New York City’s foremost — and perhaps only — Ramadan drummer. A few hours before dawn during the holy month of Ramadan, drummers throughout the Muslim world take to the streets to wake the faithful in time for a meal before the daytime fast.

Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Cultural Center Near Ground Zero, Has American Muslims Asking: Will We Ever Belong?

Nine years after 9/11, Muslim Americans, feel scared not as much for their safety as to learn that the suspicion, ignorance and even hatred of Muslim is so widespread. The fierce opposition to the Muslim cultural center near ground zero, the knifing of Muslim cab driver in NYC, and other anti-Muslim sentiments has many American Muslims alarmed and questioning: “Will we ever be really completely accepted in American society?”
“They liken their situation to that of other scapegoats in American history: Irish Roman Catholics before the nativist riots in the 1800s, the Japanese before they were put in internment camps during World War II.” Amongst this growing tide of fear, various interfaith groups are calling for greater outreach. The Islamic Society of North America has planned a summit to convene a summit of Christians, Muslims, and Jewish leaders in Washington on Tuesday.
This year September 11 coincides with the celebration of Eid, the finale to Rmadan-and one of the major holidays of Muslims, has been dampened by the political climate. Some Muslim leaders have gone as far as to ask mosques to use the day to participate in commemorations events and community service so as not to appear as celebrating on the anniversary of 9/11.

Aftermath and Consequences

The fact that the suspect was able to get on an airplane even though he had been on the no-fly list caused criticism of the implementation of no-fly list leading to revisions to avoid future mistakes. Also, there has been debates about terror-watch list individuals’ ability to buy guns. Meanwhile, Sen. Lieberman announced his “Terrorism Expatriation Act” revoking citizenship of any American “who is found to be involved with a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the State Department.” At the same time, security measures in NYC and at East Coast airports tightened as two suspicious situation in NYC caused evacuation and investigation. Neither of the two was of terrorist nature.

Following the Arrest

Following his arrest, the suspect has admitted the involvement in the incident and have been charged with five accounts including attempt to explode a weapon of mass destruction. According to officials, the suspect has been cooperating while claiming that he has acted alone. There has been some controversies as to whether the suspect should enjoy from Miranda rights or not.

Time Square Incident and Timeline

On May 1st, a smoking vehicle parked in NYC’s Times Square raised alarms. Times Square was evacuated and investigations confirmed that the vehicle was set to explode. The law enforcement agencies immediately engaged in tracking back the vehicle and identifying the suspect(s). President Obama reacted and speculations began about potential international links. The investigation led to the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American resident of Connecticut, two days later. The suspect was arrested while boarding a plane leaving JFK for Dubai.
LA Times: Pres. Obama: “We will not be terrorized.”