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Misinformation, fear, fuels backlashes against Muslims after Paris attacks

Misinformation, fear, fuels backlashes against Muslims after Paris attacks

Photo of the Islamic Center of America from Wikipedia

Following a string of violence directed at Muslims in North America, writer Tasbeeh Herwees new piece for GOOD magazine documents incidents ranging from arson to the rhetoric of presidential candidates and stereotypes of mosques as violent, hate-filled places. Her work, titled Let Me Tell You About My Mosque, is a first person history of her experiences in her mosque, a place that has provided her a refuge in a world in which she experiences discrimination and hatred.

From the article:

When the world outside was harsh, when it was mean, when it was cruel and unloving, our mosque became our home. When our own neighbors shut doors in our faces and defaced our houses, the mosque is where we went. When the volley of post-9/11 racism, and anti-blackness, and anti-immigrant aggression became unbearable, here is where we found refuge: not just in the comfort of religious scripture, but also in the arms of our community, a heterogeneous group of people hailing from every place on the globe. We varied in experience, spiritual devotion, political orientation, and lifestyle.

Sadly, Herwees writes that her mosque, in Los Angeles, had to add security and has experienced violent incidents since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.

One incident Herwees misses in her roundup is the appearance of a dozen protesters, many of them armed, at the Islamic Center in Irving, Texas. Avi Selk broke the story, writing about reactions from a city councilman, and quotes the organizer, David Wright. Selk notes that Wright believed, incorrectly, a rumor that a politician had spread that the Islamic Center had formed an illegal ‘Islamic court’ and threatened to kill the mayor of Irving.

From the story:

“They shut the illegal court down,” Wright said, incorrectly. “And then, they threatened to kill the mayor.”

Thus, the guns. A protester with a bandana over his face showed off his AR-15 to traffic. A 20-year-old who wants to join the Army and ban Islam in the United States carried a Remington hunting rifle while his mother held the sign.

“They’re mostly for self-defense or protection,” Wright said, eyeing his 12-gauge. “But I’m not going to lie. We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.”

The city councilman who attended the meeting dismissed the protesters use of weapons for safety as ridiculous, and said his first impression was that they were intended for intimidation.

What do you think of protests that involve weapons? Have you encountered the damaging views and attitudes that Herwees writes about in her piece, or the inaccurate conspiracy ideas that Wright credits with inspiring his protest?


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Ross Warnell

Just another example of a society and culture custom designed to drive people bat “guano” crazy, then making sure they are well armed.


Paul Woodrum

Why the surprise? Being anti immigrant and immigrants finding solace and political power through their houses of faith is nothing new in American History. In 1654 23 Jews arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) and Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant didn’t want to let them stay. He was overruled by the Dutch West Indies Company and New York got the country’s first synagogue.

In the 1840’s and 50’s it was the Know Nothing Party that opposed Roman Catholic immigrants. Their churches were frequently threatened with assault.

With the end of slavery in the 1860’s, persecuted former slaves turned to their churches, many of which are still too frequently burned.

In the 1940’s, Jews escaping the Nazis were turned away.

The tired, the poor and huddled masses yearning to breath free have seldom been initially welcomed on these shores, but once here, they became Americans through their houses of worship, synagogue, church, and now mosque. Our treatment of immigrants is not a pretty part of our history and it’s sad we’re repeating it once again.

David Allen

Our treatment of immigrants is not a pretty part of our history and it’s sad we’re repeating it once again.

Well said!

Michael Morris

I hope it dies down as the election grows closer and more of the candidates are winnowed out. If not, what concerns me is that we seem to be headed toward our own anti-Muslim Kristallnacht.

Helen Kromm

Unfortunately, your statement of hope presumes that those being winnowed out are the one’s that are the most vocal in their anti-Muslim statements and sentiments. In fact, they seem to continue to command significant leads in the polls.

I didn’t think I would ever see the day in this country when roughly fifty percent of those belonging to a major political party would favor candidates that declare registering people based on their religious affiliation and closing of houses of worship is a desirable thing. Sad and troubling beyond words.

As bad as all of that is, the effect of their rhetoric on some of their devotees is even worse. Here is a good example:

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