Opinion: Islamophobia is on the march
One of the easiest targets in politics is Islam. The followers of Islam have come under increasing attack and scorn. Whether it is questioning President Obama’s religious beliefs or the Park51 Community Center, also known as the “Ground Zero Mosque.” On top of that, Muslims have also been subjected to New York Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Muslim radicalization.
The fact that King is holding a hearing on radicalization is almost tragically ironic. King is an avid supporter of the Irish Republican Army, known for using violence to achieve a united Ireland. Islam was hijacked by a radical minority who used it to push an insane agenda, and in doing so, they have damned their brothers and sisters to a world of persecution and hatred.
There are many things Americans must learn about Islam before we find it acceptable to throw around hate speech and lies. Firstly, the idea that Islam has turned its followers into mindless savages who are incapable of progress is historically false. While Europe suffered in the Dark Ages, the Middle East ushered in a golden age and introduced contributions that still affect civilization today — for example, Algebra.
The Islamic world also pioneered philosophy. Freedom of speech was actually an important part of Islamic society during that time, as was freedom of religion. This was seen in the Constitution of Medina, which was written by none other than Muhammad himself. This document established policies of peaceful resolution to conflicts, as well as working with the Jews.
Another rumor is that America’s historical roots have created a country that is deeply opposed to any Islamic influence. This is also a distortion. In fact, America has had a long history with Islam before 9/11. I ask you to think of the first country that recognized America. Many of you may think it was the French or perhaps the Dutch. Yes, those countries were early supporters, but the first country to officially recognize the United States of America as a sovereign nation was the Kingdom of Morocco. Morocco was at the time led by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah, who was a Muslim.
Even Thomas Jefferson, America’s third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, was known for being fascinated with Islam. He owned a copy of the Quran and even celebrated Ramadan at the White House. Of course, the Muslim community has internal problems with radical elements and has had difficulty in parts of the world. However, turning on Muslims is unacceptable in the United States as is any level of religious intolerance.
It might be easy for the American people to turn their backs on the millions of Muslim Americans. After all, 78 percent of Americans are Christian. However, I remind you that only 50 years ago, a presidential candidate was facing criticism for being Catholic. Perhaps the Quran says it best: "God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable." Chapter 60: Verse 8.