Muslims in America Post 9-11
First, it was the Indigenous Americans. They were forced off their own land in an unimaginable genocide, their way of life altered forever. Then came the turn of the African Americans. Forced into slavery, they became part of an enduring cycle of social oppression, which continues to this day. The Japanese became the target of choice during World War II. Their internment was merely another log in the burning fire of racial discrimination practiced by the government. As thousands of Muslims sit behind bars without due process, we come to the painful realization that now, it’s the Muslims’ turn?
With the aftermath of September 11, the spotlight has landed squarely on the Muslim community in America. We have become like the "communists" during the McCarthy era, the clear victims of an unceasing witch-hunt. Government violations of individual liberties and freedoms have not been experienced to this degree since the illegal internment of Japanese Americans. The curtailing of civil liberties, the abuse of governmental power and the blatant acceptance of racial profiling all serve as proof to the reincarnation of an ever-present threat.
In the days following the Sep. 11 tragedy, Congress enacted several laws jeopardizing the civil rights of individuals in this country. Measures such as the USA Patriot Act not only affect those unjustly targeted in the short run, but also have managed to risk everyone's freedom and liberty as citizens of this country. The foundation of equality and justice that America is supposed to represent is nowhere in sight.
Unknown to most Americans, hundreds of their fellow citizens are being held without reason in jails for indefinite periods of time. Families of these individuals do not know where their loved ones are, what charges they are being held for and whether or not they can receive counsel to represent them. Even when a trial does take place, the hearings are closed to the public. Such secrecy in the holdings of so many individuals and the use of "secret evidence" against them should appall even the most apathetic amongst us.
From now on, every phone call made or e-mail sent can be monitored by law enforcement agencies. Next time one is in private counsel with a lawyer, the attorney-client privilege can be thrown out the window because someone else is listening. Such invading policies leave no room for a sense of personal privacy. The reality of today is that Big Brother, cloaked as Uncle Sam, is watching, whether we like it or not.
The current onslaught of dehumanizing legislation and government proposals are all packaged as necessary security measures to the post-9-11 American public. For government agencies such as the Department of Justice, this is a golden opportunity to sneak unconstitutional acts to be passed blindly by Congress, which passed the Patriot Act before even reading the complete measures. It’s during hysteria-filled times like these that the government has historically been able to capitalize on a panic-stricken public and pass proposals that would not see the light of day in any other era. Was it not Benjamin Franklin who said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety?”
Muslim charities have become the newest “fad” under government and media scrutiny. This past December, three of the largest Muslim charities were shut down by executive order. By shutting down these groups during the holy month of Ramadan, the entire Muslim community was dealt a slap to the face. At a time when religious obligation required donations to go to the orphaned and needy, it was instead being held by the US government for undisclosed reasons. The charities, who have all along denied any wrongdoing, have not even been give the opportunity to prove their innocence.
Despite all these damages and injustices taking place, the depth of the problem has not reached the attention of the public. We must ask why the media prevents the public from learning the dark realities of our society? Serving the corporate and ruling class, TV, newspapers and radio programs feed us false or useless information that keep the general public inactive. By keeping people ever-gripped with the fear of an unseen danger, individuals within the government can more easily see their personal objectives met. Whether these goals be greater military spending, increased monitoring of citizens’ lives or extending the country’s global sphere of influence to secure access to new oil fields, the political climate of fear and suspicion is allowing these objectives to become reality.
Islam is under attack, whether intentionally or not. When the Attorney General of the US said, “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends His son to die for you,” in whom can we place our confidence and trust?
This is the time for Muslims to take an active role in making their voices heard more than ever before. If Muslims are to be saved from the attacks by government policies and hate-mongering commentators, it is the responsibility of the believers to be the moral voice of this country. A voice that must rise above the clamor of negativity in order to enjoin that which is right, cry out against that which is wrong and never waver in the face of repression.
We must learn from the history of other groups and their struggles in this country, drawing parallels from their experiences and acting to make change. As our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught us,
May Allah Most High make us amongst the strongest in faith.
Article courtesy of Al-Talib