Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fwd: Fwd: Three New Martyrs in N Carolina, latest blog BN Aziz

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Three New Martyrs from North Carolina
Could the deaths of three young Muslim college students in North Carolina
be a turning point for Muslim Americans?
During more than 30 years after we became a recognizable part of the
American scene, Arabs and Muslims have suffered insults, physical attacks,
abuse, harassment and discriminationâ€"all in relative silence. At times
those incidents were violent; more often abuse was deceptively subtle. But
it was always harmful and frightening. Our homes and places of worship
have been attacked, our ambitions thwarted, our children intimidated, our
fathers humiliated. Many American immigrants of Arab and Muslim origin
have been stabbed, insulted and beaten, with assaults directed at those
“mistaken for Muslim”, e.g. Sikh Americans
The August 2012 murders of six Sikhs at their place of worship in a
Wisconsin town was the worst but not the only attack Sikhs sustained as a
result of anti-Muslim hatred.

Islamophobia seems to be inexorable. Countless US citizens returned to
their native counties because of the hostility they and their children
sustained here. Others have been swept up on minor immigration charges
either to be recruited as FBI informants, or detained and deported.
Vacationing Muslim parents from overseas have been denied entry to the US
to visit their children here.

In too many of these cases, the racism and hatred experienced by Arab and
Muslim Americans went unreported. Despite being highly educated our
members have, ironically, been reluctant to register these injustices.
Whether from fear, from self-deprecation, or from ignorance about legal
protections available in the US, immigrant victims of assaults, physical
and verbal, often downplay or hide those frightening experiences.
As a journalist I witnessed at close hand widespread abuse heaped on
community members at times of heightened political tensions, e.g. the 1990
Iraq invasion of Kuwait when Iraq held American workers hostage, the 1995
Oklahoma City bombing, following the 9/11 attacks, and the Boston
bombings. Only recently reports emerged that some American movie goers,
after seeing “American Sniper”, lashed out against people they perceived
to be Muslim.

For too long victims of attacks and their families shied from taking legal
action. Just as young Black men are advised to keep their eyes down and
yield to police intimidation, Muslims recoiled from confrontation. “We
don’t want to make trouble”, they said.

Slowly--too slowly-- that attitude has changed, partly with the
realization that this hostility is inescapable but also with the emergence
of our own legal services. Foremost among these is CAIR (Council of
Islamic American Relations www.CAIR.net), which since its founding in 1994
has employed its nationwide network to assemble a data base documenting
attacks on Muslims in particular. (Sometimes in its attempt to gain points
with the government and prove its patriotism CAIR has too readily
supported government surveillance of Muslims and prematurely reacted to
media judgments and hastily commended the FBI when it apprehended

Besides lobbying against the inclusion of Islam-haters in public seminars
and police training programs, CAIR led the way in advocating legal action
against mistreatment. In the past 20 years we have seen the growth of
Muslim civil rights agencies: Karamah Muslim Women Lawyers for Human
Rights (www.karamah.org) was among the earliest, followed by Muslim
Advocates (www.muslimadvocates.org ), Muslim Legal Fund, the National
Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (www.civilfreedoms.org ). Whereas in
1990, one could hardly find a Muslim American drawn to civil rights work,
today we see hundreds, mainly young people, joining the profession and
working with frontline organizations like the Center for Constitutional
Rights and ACLU. So while victimization of Muslims and Arabs was generally
not visible to the public, years of sustained personal injury led to
positive changes in how to confront this. Perhaps we also stopped denying
that in these injustices we have much in common with Black and Latino
Americans. So that we might find common solutions and join in solidarity
with the wider society. Surely the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter is a genuine
illustration of that bond.

If we needed a high profile, unarguable illustration of the Muslim
American experience, we surely found it in North Carolina last week. The
savage killings of these three young Americans is a shock. While some
argue about the motive of the murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her new
husband Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her younger sister Razan, Muslims and
other minorities understand the undeniable nature of that attack.
The packed-out funerals of these promising young people and the widely
televised statements by families and friends shone a light never brighter
on the real American face of Muslim Americans. The tragedy and the
testimonials have exposed our vulnerability, our love for one another and
our Americaness like nothing I have witnessed. END

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