Americans’ feelings toward Islam and its followers might be worse today than at any time in the post-9/11 era, according to one activist. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, cited multiple reasons, including Republicans’ insistence in calling President Obama’s faith into question, insisting he practices Islam.
“The anti-Muslim sentiment is more now than 10 years ago,” Walid said.
Walid added there are influential people, such as entertainer Hank Williams Jr., “Using Muslims to score points.”
Sarah Mehta, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said American security efforts have unfairly targeted Muslims since 9/11.
“It’s not based on behavior or actual facts,” she said. “Since 9/11, most of the U.S. government’s security efforts have focused on Muslims. There’s a suspicion Muslims are involved in terrorist activities,” Mehta said.
“You just don’t get that with other religions.”
Mehta said a fear of minorities is cyclical and often occurs at a time of financial and economic strife. She added some people have learned to accept diversity since 9/11, “but some people don’t respond that way.”
Some Muslims have taken several steps outside their comfort zone in the past decade, opening mosques and libraries to the public, Walid said.
“We have to do much more of that,” he said, adding that more civic leaders and politicians, including Democrats and Christians, “need to challenge anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Mehta noted the ACLU has represented outspoken Florida pastor Terry Jones’ right to protest outside a Dearborn mosque. Jones recently announced his plans to return to the city in October.
“You don’t get anywhere by suppression,” Mehta said.
We asked our readers for their feelings via Facebook: Are American-Islamic relations better now than any time post 9/11?
Chris PaulBot McKelvie: “Of course! Why wouldn't it be better as we slowly bomb them to freedom one country at a time?”
Deborra Swain Okolovitch: “Maybe when Obama gets booted out of D.C.”
Rahaf Khatib: “As an American born/raised Muslim ... No, relations are probably just getting worse sad to say...”
Lena Abuelroos Kamal: “According to a Pew study, the statistics show that it's getting worse. Unfortunately, it seems that bigotry and hate are increasing against all minorities from the shooting of the young Trayvon Martin to the Sikh temple (massacre), and the numerous attacks on local mosques (in addition of the regression of women's rights in our country)!”
Jason Henwood: “They will be better when Obama is gone.”
Sharon Dunn Chilson: “I am an American, born in Detroit, MI., and I am a Muslim. I am very tired of people thinking it's okay to take pot shots at people that worship or look differently than they do.”
Kris Peterson: “My attitude is, ‘live and let live.’ Al-Queida is a radical offshoot of The Muslim religion. I have never been bothered by any Muslim. People should just let go and let God ... or, mind their own lives and stay out of others.”