By Afshan Khan
A Muslim American Response…
In the wake of recent controversy which has been blown out of proportion by both republicans and democrats who are bent on exploiting this issue to fill up their vote banks in November elections ignoring the most pressing issue of jobs and economy which our country faces today.
when I look at the way the issue of Mosque and religion being exploited by these power hungry politicians by alienating the Muslim American community to further their political goals, I forget that I am in United State of America, the beacon of human rights, religious freedom, freedom of speech and all other basic rights. For a moment I find myself being in some third world theocratic state.
Here are 5 reasons to bulid/ not to build Mosque near Ground Zero…
1. Opponents of Mosque near ground Zero give the example of building the Japanese shrine near Perl harbor, which they declare should never be allowed. I agree as we were attacked by Japan, a foreign country, of course we do not want any building associated to them build on Pearl harbor, but remember on 9/11, Muslim Americans were not the culprits, they did not attack the twin Towers, it was Al-qaeda. Then why American citizens who happen to be Muslims are denied the right to build their house of worship, why they their religion is being vilified day in and day out all over the mass media in an attempt to create Islamophobia.
Common people including our politicians need to distinguish between a country and Islam, Islam is not a country and all Muslims do not belong to one particular country, and the fact is that mosque is not being built by or for any foreign nation or foreigners, it is for American citizens build by Americans, who happen to be Muslims and who have equal right to build their place of worship as any of their Christian and Jews and Hindu fellow citizens.
2. Another important fact we common folks tend to forget and our politicians tend to cover up is that the 9/11 attacks were not in any part religiously motivated. The horrific act of war on our homeland was political in nature. Our homeland was attacked by the AL-Qaeda, a group of political fanatics, who were getting safe heaven in Afghanistan, we waged war on Afghanistan rightfully so, but alas, after 9 years we failed to capture the culprit Bin Ladin. I never heard any of these terrorist calling Christianity or Judaism devil or devilish but I have heard them calling America and Israel devil. If we Americans want to fight this war on terror we Americans have to get it right, it is not the vast majority who are truly religious Muslims, they are not hell bent on harming us. The real enemy is still a small group of political fanatics, who have political motives, these are the ones we need to be after, not the innocent Muslim Americans, or common Muslims around the world, but by showing our prejudice and bias towards our own Muslim fellow citizens we are emboldening these terrorists and giving them plenty of scoop for recruitment to carry out their terror plots.
3. Newt Gingrich said that until we are allowed to build Churches in Mecca till then we in America should not allow any Mosque building. Wow, I am petrified with this statement Mr Gingrich, and I feel ashamed for you. You are putting Saudi Arabia and United State of America in same league, you have once again proved yourself to be a irrational demagogue. Saudi Arabia is an undemocratic, theocratic state, which denies many rights to her own citizens, even the 9/11 terrorist are against it, and you Mr Gingrich put the greatest nation on the planet earth, the beacon of freedom, who has secular constitution, who prides herself on the equality, freedom and justice for all irrespective of their faith, color and creed. You Mr Gingrich put the beacon of freedom in the same league with Saudi Arabia.
So the fact remains that Islam or Muslims in general and particularly Muslim American did not attack on 9/11, it is the terrorist group name al-quaida , which is a non-state entity. Another important fact, Mosque is not for foreign citizens, (General Knowledge is that – all Muslims are not Arabs and all Arabs are not Muslims) it is for Americans who are Muslims.
4. After arguing on bogus grounds, now the right wing conservatives likes of Sarah Plain and others says that it is not that they (Muslims) don’t have right to build, but the question is, should they build? now it became the matter of sensitivities of majority in this nation, and these right wingers have been joined by some lefties, as their love for power and their need to grab on to their power trumps every principle our nation upholds. We Americans should be able to expect from our leaders both republicans and democrats that they should not forget the quint essential fact that our Constitution which clearly makes the right to practice religion above any sensitivities. In fact our nation was built upon the fact that pilgrims came to America in search of freedom to pray and practice their religion as they deem with out having to face prosecution from tyranny of majority. We can not go back on our own guaranteed fundamental rights while we need to practice at home what we preach to world.
5. Last but not least, our Constitution guarantees these rights and they are not subject to any public, whether majority or minority prejudice. When I hear Sara Palin, Newt Gingrich, Harry Reid and Howard Dean declaring that it is matter of public sensitivities, or it is an affront, I see no difference between them and Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran who had put a bounty on the head of Salman Rashdi, who they accused of blasphemy. And I also see no difference between them and the extremist groups who oppose the Danish cartoonist and South Park creators, on the basis of hurting the sensitivities of Muslims. We the new and young generation has to remember and remind our politicians that we are the nation which upholds the laws of the land and our first amendment rights trumps above all sensitivities, , including the conformity with majority opinions.