To raise the awareness and to see many politically active American Muslims, I wrote my first article at Blasting News:
In fact, my original article was double this length but I had to cut its half according to the site maximum length regulation. Therefore, ISA will try to publish soon some unpublished excerpts ISA.
Read an share, please!
Waiting your replies and opinions!
Thanks in advance!
Image source: www.emerge-usa.org
The second generation of American Muslim youth are facing additional challenges than their American peers. They feel unsecure and their voices are unheard from their family and communities. Many of them at young age stop practicing Islam and assimilate in the society.
“When we talked about the Islamic civilizations and my 9th grade social studies class I thought okay
I’m gonna learn something about my faith and instead and it was actually the first time that I learned how to pray with so that I could demonstrate it for my class,” said Edina Lekovic in her speech to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding addressing identity crisis. She is the director of policy and programming in Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Sameera Ahmed and Maha Ezzeddine published a paper researching the topic. The paper title is, “Challenges and opportunities facing American Muslim Youth,” and published in Journal of Muslim Mental Health. They stated that the preliminary studies have reported that alcohol use among Muslim youth ranged from 47% to 71%. Drinking alcohol is prohibited in Islam.
Family and mosque are the main sources of the religious knowledge and spirituality. Lack of communication between them and the young people is a major problem. The American Muslim youth reported that their immigrant parents usually have culture clashes with the new society. Even the children of Muslim converts, who are Americans, reported that their parents cannot understand them because they were not raised as Muslims.
“Climate of fear exists, when people don’t know us,” Lekovic said. Islam is an active religion and Muslims believe that they are encountered for the belief strength and the good actions. Many Islamic scholars and educators focus only on enriching the belief and spirituality aspects and ignore the aspect of civic and political actions.
Peer pressure during adolescence pushes some Muslim to violate their beliefs. Some participate in school dances, drugs, and dating to feel belonging. Some protect themselves by isolation from the society in an unhealthy way. Many reported discrimination cases from school teachers and bullying from their peers.
“Young people do not know much about their faith, in to be grappling with your identity and then to be confronted with questions about terrorism or bin Laden or Sony Shia or what’s happening in Iraq or Syria or you name it, and to be made into a mouthpiece first time, whether you like it or not, is an overwhelming,” Lekovic concluded.
A Muslim lobby as a counterattack to Fear Inc.
By Engy Fouda (@engyfoda)
According to a recent report and investigation by the Center for American Progress (CAP), Fear Inc. is a $57 million fund network acting with the goal of spreading Islamophobia and hatred against Muslim minorities. It makes money out of what CAP describes as a “hate” business. A number of American Muslim organizations formed a coalition to launch what they described as a Muslim lobby to counter the increasing influence of Islamophobia.
The network funds misinformation from the so-called experts, who exploit a larger network of politicians, media outlets and organizations. “The name Fear Inc. is an analogy [to suggest] that a relative small group of people are pushing [towards] these ideas. They are similar to a corporation because they are making large amounts of money [by] spreading hateful messages,” said Ken Gude, senior fellow with the national security team at CAP and a member of the crew who developed Fear Inc. reports.
A coalition of leading national and local American Muslim organizations coalesced to form a Muslim lobby, also known as The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO). USCMO hosted the first National Muslim Advocacy Day in Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2015. However, still at its inception, the Muslim lobby faces significant challenges in reaching media, and influencing legislation.
One of the main goals of the Muslim lobby is to pushback against the daily stereotyping of Muslims in the media. Moustafa Elhusseiny, broadcaster in Al Jazeera network, expressed his frustration with prevalent stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs, saying: “Americans who do not have Muslims in their social circles, carry the stereotype of the Muslim as a terrorist, and an Arab as a potential threat. Some people cringe when they hear my name!”
The Fear Inc. and Islamophobia can be demonstrated by the following polls that were conducted in September 29, 2015 by the Public Policy Polling in North Carolina.
Gude added that the current Muslim lobby is doing well, but it is not enough. There is a need of more organizations to spread out. Anyone who is counterattacking the Islamophobia should focus on having more communication with the media and the reporters covering the presidential campaigns. For example, on Trump’s campaign, the media focused most on “Obama is Muslim” as a smear. It is a smear but the response should not have been directed to that only. The response should have been to push back on the whole notion. The media should get educated on how to talk about such issues.
As a reaction to Ben Carson’s Islamophobic attacks during his presidential campaign, Mike Ghouse co-founded the American Muslim Institution. “Bigoted people might not change their minds but when we talk in media on a daily basis, stand out and respond. This push back will make them hesitate to say any false statement again. After two or three years, they will not do it”, said Ghouse.
Education and Social diffusion
The Muslim lobby is faced with several challenges on both the Muslim and non-Muslim fronts. On the one hand, very few American Muslims know about the new coalition. “The Muslim community in the Unites States is self-enclosed. Even the organizations and Sheiks do not show up in the advocacy and human rights events. They neither interact with the American society nor support any persecuted minority groups from Latinos, and Blacks,” Elhusseiny said.
On the other hand, the wider public still harbors significant prejudices against Islam and Muslims. In 2014, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey about positive thinking towards Muslims; Republicans ratings were 33%, and Democrats ratings were 47%.
The FBI crime rate reported on their website stated that the Anti-Muslim cases has slightly increased from 2012 to 2014. The Southern Poverty Law Center stated that the Islamophobia in the United States goes into overdrive following France attacks. In 2015, crimes such as Chapel Hill shooting, the discrimination incidents such as Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest in Dallas, and the latest anti-Muslim statements made by the Republican presidential candidates.
“It is highly required to found a new educational organization to train new cadres to represent the Muslims. The education can be done through conferences and workshops,” Hesham El-Meligy, 2013 NYC comptroller candidate, co-founder of Muslims for Liberty (M4L), added.
El-Meligy added that M4L is making conferences to correct people’s misinformation about Islam through the American Constitution. The audience is from the Tea Party. M4L is arranging a conference to counter Carson’s false claims with three of his campaign managers.
El-Meligy and Elhusseiny both emphasized that Muslims should be keener to vote. Muslims’ population should show up in: the voting base, the city council and the senate candidates.
Gude declared that, from the legislative perspective, most of the Muslim organizations are playing defense. None tried to issue a law specific to Muslims, as this is not the target. It should be for all religions not only Muslims. The organizations are mainly concerned to stop the NYPD surveillance programs and the anti-Sharia bill.
USCMO announced on their website that the domestic priorities of the American Muslim community, includes: “Calling on Congress to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to amend its racial profiling guidance for federal law enforcement by removing any existing loopholes that continue to permit profiling in the name of national security, domestic surveillance and policing the border. Many of these programs have disproportionately targeted Latinos, Muslims and other minorities, and raise serious due process concerns.”
Gude declared that stigmatization and training of law enforcement to profile Muslims and monitor every mosque as a counter-terrorism strategy had negative consequences and lead to many false alarms. Moreover, he said that there should be no aligning based on practicing any religion, the society should stand out against Anti-Muslim, Anti-Jew, Anti-Christian, and Anti-Atheist.
Nevertheless, Ghouse added, “Muslims are safe in the United States, it is better than any other country in the world. It is a good country, it supports free speech and I am blessed to be here.”
Gude concluded that here is no big Fear Inc. report yet, but they intend to monitor and comment on the direction of the media, shed some light on respectful Muslims to recognize them and push back the Islamophobia during the presidential campaign. Probably they will produce shorter videos to combat the negative Muslims’ stereotyping.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Yomna Ali and Michael Fitzgerald for their editing.
There is a controversy over the strategy of communication between Muslims and the United States government. Some call for having a united voice for Muslims under one umbrella representing them. This organization talks on their behalf, hoping that this unity causes a high prominence. Others call for founding more organizations. Each has its strategy, and its voice, so the impact magnifies.
Moustafa Elhusseiny, broadcaster in AlJazeera Network, is supporting the unity. He said that they need an entity to direct their movement and opinion. “This will cause Muslims to be a mobile critical mass. Thus have an impact on the legislation like the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).”
Ken Gude, senior fellow with the national security team at American Progress, supports the other opinion. He said, “Muslims is a diverse community. They need many organizations reflecting that, representing each sector and consolidating each other.”
Mike Ghouse, founder of the American Muslim Institution, agrees with Gude’s opinion. He said that Muslims in the United States are: Sunni, Shi’a, Ahmadiyya, and others. So it is so difficult to have one organization representing all. This is a Muslim problem not an American problem. They have to always seek and stay on a common ground.
Image source: http://www.islamproject.org/education/United_States.html