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One Man’s Allah Is None of the GOP’s Business!

One Man’s Allah Is None of the GOP’s Business!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This post, by our newest blogger Safa Samiezade’-Yazd, reflects much of the conversation over the past weeks.  Her perspective as an American of Iranian origin is a bit different and certainly valuable.  Let us know how it strikes you.

As if it weren’t bad enough for the GOP that we now have a democratically-elected president who’s black and the son of an immigrant, now they’ve sunken to a new level: of attacking President Obama and his support of a new Islamic Center (on private property) in the Financial District of lower Manhattan, two blocks away from Ground Zero.  Never mind the fact that there’s another moderate mosque several blocks away in the Financial District.  Or that 10,000 Muslims live in Lower Manhattan.  And let’s forget the fact that there’s also a mosque in the Pentagon, which was also hit by the 9/11 attackers. 

Religious insensitivity?  Really?

Over and over, Republicans have been associating this with religious insensitivity labeling the proposal as religious insensitivity, and calling Ground Zero a sacred ground.  Elliot Maynard, who’s running for Congress in West Virginia, asked, “Do you think the Muslims would allow a Jewish temple or Christian church to be built in Mecca?”  It’s entirely different, Maynard.  1). Saudi Arabia is a religious state.  2). New York City is not a religious city.

In a country that was built by people escaping religious persecution and constitutionally awards religious freedom, you’d think this really wouldn’t be such a heated issue, especially amongst politicians.  Separation of church and state was established for a reason- to keep state governance and religion away from each other.  We may have the word God on our national symbols, but America was created as a secular country, not a nation of Christ or any other religion.  So what’s the big deal?  It really sharpens the idea that today’s theory of a “postracial America” isn’t valid. 

It happened with the PA memorial too

It reminds me of four years ago, when there was talk of creating a memorial in Pennsylvania for Flight 93 in the shape of its flight pattern just before crashing.  The shape happened to mimic a crescent.  Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado spoke out against the idea, saying that the shape too closely resembled the crescent symbol of Islam, and we all know what religion those hijackers belonged to.  What we also all know though is that the 9/11 hijackers were not Muslim; they were terrorists.  Afghanistan is not the face of Islam; it’s the face of perverted tribalism.  Al Qaida and the Taliban are to Islam what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity.  In both cases, a radical minority, to advance their own limited power through fear, perverted moderate, peaceful religions.  

Hating the “other”

In this distorted culture of fear, we’ve learned to institutionalize “the other” as bad, and just like the Latinos and Italians who were getting beaten up during the Hostage Crisis because they looked “close enough” to Iranians, Middle Easterners as a whole are getting battered for an ideology that shares nothing with religion.  I’m sorry 9/11 happened, I really am, but that doesn’t justify a bunch of suburban white people calling me a sandn**ger because my Persian features look close enough to an Arab.  Or the sloppy terrorist jokes that seem so funny to those who don’t realize that I come from a family of war veterans and one of the most well-respected civilians within the Department of Defense.

How long are we going to use this tragedy as an impetus for racial slurs, illegal wars, colonization and religious prejudice?   9/11 doesn’t justify this neo-racist opinion that Islam equals terror.

What if, instead of blaspheming this mosque as a statement of insensitivity, we look at it as a statement of survival?  It sends the message that the United States is fighting Al Qaida, not Islam, and that no terrorist attack can break America away from the relationship it has with its own Muslim citizens.  This building isn’t just a mosque or a place of worship; it’s also a community center, one that is opening its doors to non-Muslims and is positioning itself as a venue for engaging dialogue on how we can foster post-9/11 relationships between Muslim Americans and the rest of the United States.  How does this glorify the murders carried out by hijackers?  Islam is a peaceful religion, one that accepts violence only when it is needed for defense, but does not condone opposition as an excuse for murder.  Politics is what kills people, not religion.

Fighting by example

On Good Morning America, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is also the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, said, “The problem with stopping this Islamic Center is that it implies that the Muslim world is responsible for [the 9/11 attacks] when it’s Al Qaida that’s responsible.”  We fight Islam, and Bin Laden wins.  We fight Bin Laden, and religious freedom wins.  He tried to split Muslims from the rest of America, and now we have a chance to show him he lost that battle

Besides, the man behind this Islamic Center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is one of our country’s leading thinkers in Sufism, which is about as far away from radical Islam as one can get.  He’s not a friend of Bin Laden, but an enemy, because he preaches respect and acceptance of others.  In Pakistan, Sufi leaders risk their lives to steer people away from the Taliban and to teach them that Islam is about tolerance, not violence.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed: on Thursday, July 2, the busiest night of the week, the Taliban killed 42 and injured 175 when they plotted a double suicide bombing of the largest Sufi shrine in Lahore, Pakistan.  Like America, Sufism is pluralistic, and it uses this to make Islam approachable to everyone, believers and non-believers alike.

A challenge

How many of these critics actually took the time to walk into a moderate mosque and talk to the Muslims who go there?  A majority of the Muslims worldwide believe in what America stands for, but we lose points in the respect department because they see us letting our civil liberties go to our head.  We wage wars abroad in the name of freedom, yet we’re amongst the first to argue those rights away from our own citizens.  To fight the civilian war on terror, we start here, on American soil, by respecting each other and our differences, by educating ourselves about those who make us uncomfortable, because many times, fear is most reflective of the person who’s feeling it.  It starts with dialogue, a far more powerful tool than the cowardice of finger-pointing.

If you’re not Muslim, I challenge you tomorrow to shake hands with someone who is.  And then I expect you to not walk away until you’ve learned something new about Islam.

If you are Muslim, I challenge you tomorrow to shake hands with someone who isn’t.  And then I expect you to not walk away until you’ve taught something new about Islam.

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by David Shankbone via Flickr/Creative Commons

by Safa Samiezade'-Yazd, Care2 blogger

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89 comments

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2:44AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

thank you Mark Alan D. You are not alone in this.

9:14PM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

For those who support religious tolerance / diversity, please see:

http://tinyurl.com/USArelTol

3:10PM PDT on Sep 12, 2010

Thank you Safa for your words of truth and understanding.
As there is one creation, we humans seem to need our own name for it.
And we seems to have to fight over the right name of it.
To get a grip in it, and understand we we all are the same human species,(there are no sub-species in human). All live on this planet, and need to co-operate to keep it alive. And that living with our differences make all people unique and precious.
When we get that...we will not have to deal with the 'stuff' of unhappy people.

5:55PM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

first of all I am not against muslims.... don't realy care much to be honest... but what gets under my skin is this.... why is it learn and teach about islam and not maybe learn and teach about christianity?? maybe because muslims don't care about anything else but there own .... the majority people aren't racist either but when you want everything and can't give anyhting that's annoying... why do you Need that spot anyway? when it deals with muslims it is only there way and that's it no compromise...
as a woman if i went anywhere in there countries without covering my hair that would tempt men i could possibly get arrested , stonned, whatever but they come to canada or wherever and we have to comply to there needs ... it just gets me annioyed that's all . as long as they don't bother anyone i don't care if it's muslim ,jewish , italien , russian , anyone fanatical is dangerous

1:07AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Sorry all - computer glitch - sending duplicates.

1:04AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Earthward, thank you for standing up for the Truth. Your comments make so much of sense. I hope you succeed in changing the mindset of such people; to realize its wrong to blame one for the sins of another. Imagine if the justice system practised otherwise; entire generations would be arrested persecuted and be sitting on Death Row for the sin of ONE of its family members. Lol, the families and members of the "Elite Few" in government on Death Row!!!

12:50AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Earthward, thank you for standing up for the Truth. Your comments make so much of sense. Hope you succeed in steering people away from such mindset. Its wrong to blame one for the sin of another. Imagine if the justice system had such a law; entire generations would be arrested,persecuted and be sitting on Death Row for the sins of one of its family members. Lol; imagine the 'Elite Few' in government and their families on Death Row!!!

12:50AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Earthward, thank you for standing up for the Truth. Your comments make so much of sense. Hope you succeed in steering people away from such mindset. Its wrong to blame one for the sin of another. Imagine if the justice system had such a law; entire generations would be arrested,persecuted and be sitting on Death Row for the sins of one of its family members. Lol; imagine the 'Elite Few' in government and their families on Death Row!!!

12:22AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Tom W - off course the video wil be brilliant to people whose hearts are fouled with the stench of Hatred for others who are different to you. Would it be correct to now call you and ALL americans, 'Terrorists' for the Terrorist Acts of 'Bush The Terrorist' when he Terrorised and KILLED innocent people of two countries with his War on Iraq and Afghanistan ???

12:13AM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

Tom W- stil spewing out hatred I see; if you 'Stop' visiting all the "islam hate sites" then i am sure you wil learn that the treatment of woman that you talk about is NOT islamic but practised amongst ignorant followers who do not follow the Quran but their own desires. From your comments one can note that you are just as ignorant as you have no idea about the Reality of the Quran. Maybe if you 'Unblind' Yourself to the Truth of Islam,then your inner Hatred and false Fear for Islam and its followers wil disappear.

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