Today marks the start of the House’s Homeland Security Committee’s “hearings” intended to investigate the radicalization of Muslim-Americans. Representative Keith Ellison, the US’s first Muslim American elected to Congress, wept today as he shared the story of Mohammed Salman Habdani, a young Muslim-American who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. I wept along:
Ellison said, “Ascribing the evil acts of a few individuals to an entire community is wrong; it is ineffective; and it risks making our country less secure.” I could not agree more. He went on to say, “Throughout human history, individuals from all communities and faiths have used religion and political ideology to justify violence. Let’s think about the KKK, America’s oldest terrorist organization; the Oklahoma City bombing; the shooting at the Holocaust Museum by James von Brunn; and bombings at Planned Parenthood clinics. Did Congress focus on the ethnic group and religion of these agents of violence as a matter of public policy? The answer is no.” (Ellison’s entire speech can be read here.)
When this happens, this is the outcome – fearful people directing their misinformation and anger toward the WRONG people, such as CHILDREN and legal citizens who have been born and raised in this country, who have done nothing wrong. And lets be really clear here – it is NOT ok to call children TERRORISTS. Take a moment to watch this recent horrific “protest” of Muslim Americans in California. If you cannot watch the entire thing, I understand. It is sickening:
How can we combat this hatred in our country and this need by many to create a culture of fear?
1) reach out to your Muslim friends, neighbors and colleagues. Tell them you support them.
2) reach out to your faith community and ask them to facilitate interfaith dialogue opportunities and to share a message of support with the local mosque(s).
3) reach out to your schools. Ask them to address this issue by developing programming that will challenge the message of fear and hatred.
4) visit a local mosque. Ask to have a same gender member show you around the mosque. (If you are a woman, be sure to bring a scarf to cover your hair and to wear pants or a skirt that reach the floor, and cover your arms. This is a sign of respect in that faith.)
5) write to your local government and ask for their support in educating the community about every day Islam in the US.
6) Melibee offers a couple of different presentations by Muslim speakers. Contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
7) Attend the April 4th screening of the film “Crossing Borders” and participate in the follow up panel discussion afterward. (Here is more information – and I’ll be there so be sure to say hello!)