American Muslims—gains and setbacks
- 09/18/2012 by Barbara Nemri Aziz

The position of Muslims in American should be improving, not worsening. We have more citizens working as civil rights lawyers, defending wronged citizens and advocating justice. We have articulate scholars explaining the history and theology of Islam; we have comedians, writers, actors and directors telling stories that engagingly express our problems, history, values and shared foibles and dreams. We have journalists employing their skills and their knowledge of our society to show the real lives and concerns of individual Muslims. We have professors debating and publishing. We have countless citizens answering misconceptions and setting the record straight in forums , blogs, and opeds. We have abundant interfaith dialogues. We have government grants supporting programs that educate Americans about our history and many nations.  Usually, I feel encouraged by the efforts that thousands of fellow Muslims are making. As many of you know, through RAWI and RadioTahrir, I’m personally and professionally involved in this work.

So why the increased incidence of bullying of Muslim children in our schools? Why rising attacks against our institutions? Why ongoing insults shouted at us in the street? Why community protests at Arab street festivals and why neighborhood opposition to our local mosques? Why physical attacks on individuals, and vicious racist calls? Why continual suspicious looks, and expanded government surveillance of our student organizations, our cafes and our neighborhoods?

Many Americans insist that our president Barack Obama is Muslim, alleging this is something reprehensible. As former Secretary of Defense Colin Powell responded to this charge: “What if he is? That should not be an issue one needs to deny… as if it were shameful.” Surely this was a line for the US President himself. On a more modest, personal level, the debate over Muslim women’s headscarf goes on and on; the media and our putative feminists just won’t let it go.

Now, over the past week, anyone who has tried to demonstrate that Islam is a religion of peace has been forced into silence. (See photo below) How can we continue to argue this in the face of many hours of TV images of mobs of angry Muslims assaulting Americans every time they turn to watch the news? American Muslims, who demonstrate so much creativity and optimism still have a lot of work cut out for us.

And please, you tell me:—are we really making any progress here?

Tune in to hear Radio Tahrir every Tuesday at 9pm (EST):
broadcast--WBAI 99.5 fm, online at www.wbai.org.
Go to the archive to hear September 18th show
“American Muslims: advances and setbacks—host B Nimri Aziz asks: Are things really getting worse for US Muslims? Guests: author and journalist Stephan Salisbury, and guest attorneys, along with community members review reports on islamophobia and assess gains we have or haven't made in the past two decades.

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