Persecutions and Muslims in America.
As the USA PATRIOT Act comes up for review (actually just portions of it), it behooves us to review the current state of affairs in the United States; where we are today and where we are heading.
Late in March 2005, two 16-year old Muslim girls were imprisoned by the FBI on the assertion (no charges, mind you) that they are “an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers.”
The different FBI stories unraveled almost as fast as they were created.
The FBI said that the two girls knew each other, had met and were planning this deed by the time they were imprisoned. Actually, they met after the FBI ?detained? them after the parents of the two girls were detained on immigration charges. The girls, one from Bangladesh and living in Queens and the other a Guinean girl living in East Harlem had nothing in common except age and Islam. The only ?connection? to suicide bombing was an essay the Bangladeshi girl had written in which she said suicide is forbidden in Islam. It is also strange that while the girls were being accused of getting ready to blow up indeterminate targets, their school lockers were not opened by the FBI.
As these stories began to surface in the media, they changed yet again; now the girls are being held in the words of the Immigration authorities, ?purely on immigration charges, that?s it? and according to the local US Attorney, ?there are absolutely no other criminal charges? against the girls.
In this country Muslims are increasingly the target of a ?shoot first and ask questions later? policy by our government. The American public vary in their responses from saying nothing, murmuring words of disapproval or, accepting such repressive policies while saying, this is a sad byproduct of the 9/11 tragedy and our ?War on Terrorism?. Sad it is that the hard work of our Founding Fathers and the work of the great leaders of freedom in our history should be going down the drain so rapidly after a challenge to our nation by a handful of terrorists.
I am often told that I should be grateful for the freedoms and benefits America has given me and not to call it a bad country. My critics are off on both issues. First, there is a great distinction between my criticizing the actions of this nation?s leaders and calling the nation bad, which I do not do. Second, Americans seem to have forgotten that this nation did not become great because its people sat in silent gratitude to the nation but fought to make changes for a better future which is something we all need to do?all the time.
As Muslims decried the treatment of the young girls, many voices from the patriotic front were heard approving and justifying the same. This support was usually mixed with ill-concealed bile towards Muslims and Islam; how violent they are and how hateful their religion. Mixed in with this are sentiments that re-state the tragedy of 9/11 and cast the present situation in an ?us-or-them? option where it becomes Muslims? fault that America is ?forced? to take such actions. Instead of looking at how our constitution can so easily be undermined, we are taken into a tangential argument that sweeps from Muslims to Islam to terrorism and Israel. Everything but the demise of the due process clauses in our constitution.
People have pointed out examples where Muslim women were suicide-bombers and said where Muslims are concerned the authorities had no choice but to handle things in this manner.
The rape becomes the fault of the victim.
If such reactions are justifiable then Muslims had better avoid doctors when they have a stuffed nose and difficulty breathing or they may get sent to Guantanamo Bay for threatening the nation with Anthrax. Other Muslims could be justifiably shot as they walk in public places in a coat with a fanny pack around their waist?what Muslim but a suicide-bomber would do such a thing? As we defend Democracy and Freedom, all such actions can be regretfully approved because the Muslims ?force us? to take these positions in our ?War Against Terror?.
One must be excused for being confused over the identity of the real terrorists in such scenarios.
As the review date approaches for certain portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, we Muslims watch with wistful bemusement at the energized stances of our Senators and Representatives who decry those portions of the Act that permit the FBI to sneak and peek in homes, library records and similar places sacred to all Americans.
We Muslims wish WE had these problems!
He is a member of American Muslims of Puget Sound and is a human rights activist. He is involved with movements for inter-faith understanding; he writes articles and gives lectures on Terrorism, American Foreign Policy, on Islam, on History and Politics in Bosnia, Rwanda, South and Central Asia as well as the Middle East. He is a contributor on a textbook on Terrorism. His works have been published in various media. He also gives commentaries on radio and TV.
A shorter version of this article was published at Seattle PI.com