BY ALI SUKHANVER
It is a difficult question to be answered; what do the Americans hate; Islam or the Muslims; but it is a day light fact that the Muslims are maltreated in America. Complaints of harassment, discrimination, and violence against Muslims have been increasing at the rate of 30 percent per year since 2005. Before that year this rate of increase was 10 percent per year. This growing hatred against the Muslims could be to some extant an aftermath of the 9/11 incident but more important is the role of the extremist element ruling over the Christian church in USA. As referred by Jerry Brice in a recent article, Reverend Franklin Graham, one of America’s most respected Christian activists said at a dedication of a chapel in his home state of North Carolina, “We’re not attacking Islam, but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” Such Christian leaders have poisoned the situation in such a horrible manner that even a common man in America, who labels religion as a private affair, tries to keep himself at a distance from the Muslims.
Not only at Church level, but also at official level the American Muslims have to face a lot of troubles. They are not allowed to lead their lives according to their religious norms and traditions. A few months back a prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a letter to President Obama seeking action on concerns that Muslim travelers wearing religious head scarves, or hijab, are facing mistreatment at airports because they are automatically singled out for additional security measures. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent that letter following a report of a Muslim woman traveler allegedly treated harshly during a four-hour interrogation by US officials at the Canadian border. The Muslim woman, who had a Canadian passport, complained she was held for questioning at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, during which she was allegedly shouted at and made to feel like a “terrorist.”
A few weeks back, Linda Heard wrote in the Arab News, “It is a terrible shame that ever since the Sept. 11 attacks on America, Muslims in the US have been viewed with suspicion when they had nothing whatsoever to do with events on that horrendous world-altering day when many Muslims were also killed.” The writer further says, “It’s infuriating and disturbing that American Muslims have been placed in the invidious position of once again having to defend their way of life and beliefs in the face of ignorance. Pastor Jones has proved that among believers of every great faith there is a minority of extremists who place skewed ideology above the sanctity of human life. My hope is that America comes to terms with that fact and quits tainting innocent Muslims with a crime they deplore as much as their non-Muslim neighbors.” Same is the story of humiliation of Nadia Hassan, 40, of Maryland .Talking to The Detroit News via telephone she said,” It was very humiliating. It was very uncomfortable; I was patted down in front of my daughter, 5, and several male TSA staffers. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to cause any trouble. … I’m an American. I’m not a foreigner. My country is treating me this way?”
This frightening situation is alarming not only for the American Muslims but also for those who project an image of USA as a secular state. It wont be an exaggeration if we say that USA has no more an identity as a secular state after the 9/11 incident. The distortion of this image is in fact the handiwork of narrow-minded Pastors who interact with the church going people keeping in view their own vested interests. The Western Churches have a biased mindset and therefore they present a false image of Islam to their followers .Usually the church-going people have nothing to do with extremism and religious prejudice but these pastors keep on exerting a psychological pressure on such innocent people and ultimately succeed in achieving their target; the target is sowing a seed of hatred for the Muslims. This behavior of the western church authorities proves that they are afraid of the growing influence of Islamic preaching in the region particularly in the USA. They take Islam as a challenge to their privacy and identity. They are suffering from Islam phobia.
The conspiracy against Islam and the Muslims in the west is nothing new. Christianity has ever remained highly politicized against other religions especially against Islam and it provided grounds to the Christian clerics to spread hatred against Muslims and their religion Islam. After 9/11 the people in the western world and USA got curious to know more about Islam and thus started reading Quran. This inclination towards the holy Quran and the message of Islam created panic in the minds of western political leadership and particularly in the minds of the Christian clerics. So they started using all their zeal and zest in wagging a propaganda war based on misinformation and disinformation against Islam but millions of moderate Christians would never let these Christian extremists succeed in achieving their heinous desires.
Islam is a philosophy based on moderation and self-control and has nothing to do with extremism leading to terrorism. It rejects Extremism in all its forms and shapes. Its message circles around the rational principles of human dignity and human welfare .The holy Quran is simply a code of life which guides its followers to the path of goodness and piety. It would be in the larger benefit of the world peace and stability of the US society if the Christians spend some time on the study of the holy Quran, not as a sacred book of the Muslims but as a book of goodness and virtue. The US government must play a positive role in this regard; such an attitude would help the US government in bringing people close to one another and it would support US’ efforts against the menace of terrorism.
The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on defence and strategic affairs.