Opposition to Muslims and mosques grows in U.S. racist caldron
by Ray Hanania
Americans have always opposed Muslims, but the opposition started to increase in the 1990s as Muslim immigration to the country began to increase.
It came out of the closet after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans blamed Muslims for the terrorist attacks as a simplistic way to avoid answering their own crimes against the Arab and Muslim World through years of exploitation (the harvesting of oil) and the expansion of foreign policies hostile to the rights and laws of Middle East, Arab and Muslim Countries.
The battle in New York City recently waged by closer expatriates who have taken their hatred to the streets is not an exception but the rule. Similar battles have been taking place in American cities and suburban regions for the past two decades.
Among the most recent, besides the building of a $100 million community center for Muslims that includes a mosque, located two blocks from Ground Zero, are these, cited by the New York Times:
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.
In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.
In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.
All of the battles are characterized by racist stereotyping, although in today’s world, the definition of “racism” needs to change to include not only race hatred but religious hatred, because religion and race have melded in to one in the minds of Americans who remain uneducated about the Middle East and Arab world.
In 1998 and 2004 two major battles took place in the suburbs of Chicago and I witnessed both. One was in Palos Heights prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and the other was after Sept. 11, 2001. Both drew the same crowds of anger and protest. Both of the battles featured crazed Americans screaming insane claims like:
“If they build a mosque in Orland Park, Osama Bin Laden will come here and kill our people.” A woman who claimed to be a devout Christian made that insane pronouncement at a public board meeting. But it wasn’t the only stupid comment made to fan flames of emotions that quickly turned in to hatred that lingers today.
The Palos Heights mosque was blocked: Muslims there wanted to buy a Christian church that had been abandoned by Christians for more than 5 years, was unoccupied, in a town that had over 20 churches. The mosque in Orland Park was approved, but in a large part because the U.S. Justice Department monitored the process closely.
I videotaped much of the Orland Park Mosque battle and documented them in a documentary called “Eyes of the Beholder.”
Here is the documentary, in two parts. It will help you understand the insanity of today’s battle.
PART 1 and PART II here
(Ray Hanania is a radio talk show host based in Chicago host and award winning Palestinian American columnist. He can be reached at http://www.RadioChicagoland.com).