by Mowahid H. Shah
A pattern is slowly emerging to collar and corral the American Muslim
community. It is manifesting through articles, TV commentaries, policies,
laws, and grassroots attitudes. For example, the parents of John Walker, the
American Taliban, have come under scathing attack for being overly indulgent
with their son by letting him convert to Islam. But wasn't that supposed to
be his choice? By that yardstick, why are American parents not similarly
attacked for teenage promiscuity, pregnancies, drug abuse, drunken driving
accidents, and other egregious behavior of their progeny?
Muslim charities are under siege for allegedly being fronts for terrorism.
The net impact would be a chilling effect on potential donors. Muslim
organizations and individuals who have been critical of Israeli policies have
come under the shadow of the FBI merely for exercising their First Amendment
rights of free expression enshrined in the Constitution. Demographers are
taking pains to come up with figures showing the Muslim population to be 1-2
million when, in fact, the authoritative World Almanac listed 6 million as
the number of American Muslims as far back as 1990. Professional anti-Muslims
are stitching together disparate utterances of obscure Muslims to present and
paint a false threat perception of American Muslim hostility toward the
A case in point is the article, "The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America"
authored by Dan Pipes in the November issue of Commentary magazine. In the
January 2002 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Princeton professor Bernard
Lewis, in a cover story, weighs in with his interpretation of what is wrong
with Muslim civilization.
Encashing in the appeasement game and falling into a divisive trap of 'good'
versus 'bad' Muslims, some Muslims are presenting themselves as 'moderates'
to be cultivated. Some are fobbed off through crumbs like occasional
visitation rights in the corridors of officialdom, leaving in their wake
little or no policy changes on the ground.
President Bush invites Muslim children for Eid while concurrently, by his
acts, he makes "the Bush Administration so subservient to Israel's hard-line
policy . . . from the fear of withdrawal of campaign funds for American
politicians" that the United States, according to Georgie Anne Geyer in the
Washington Times of December 20, does not "act like a responsible superpower."
Attorney General Ashcroft insists that the war is not against Muslims while
continuing to detain hundreds of innocent Muslims in violation of the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, which enjoins host countries to
provide foreign detainees with free access to consular officials of their
homelands. The American public is willing, however, by a whopping 89 percent,
to support civil liberty curbs, the brunt of which is borne by Muslims in
America. Respected commentators like Richard Cohen talk about the virtues of
anger. Another pundit, Jonah Goldberg, urges the use of nukes against Muslim
nations and says that they have no civilization. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
casually uses the word 'kill' in a matter-of-fact way.
Predictably, the Muslim community is bewildered and disoriented. Yet, the
many lives affected in the aftermath of September 11 can serve as a wakeup
call and, historically, is potentially a make-or-break moment. As a
beginning, one question has to be asked over and over: "If the war is not
against Islam, how come all of the current and intended targets of the US are
Insofar as the American Muslim community is concerned, the need of the hour
may be to inculcate a spirit of licit and innovative defiance against
palpable unfairness which, if left uncontested, may relegate Muslims to a
permanent Number 2 status.
Mowahid Shah, "The New Cold War With Islam,"
Christian Science Monitor, July 30, 1990
David B. Ottaway, "U
.S. Eyes Money Trails of Saudi-Backed Charities," Washington Post,
August 19, 2004
[Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal authorities have shut
down a few of the largest Muslim charities in the United States under
suspicion of funneling money to terrorists. Similar freezes have been placed
on assets of organizations in other parts of the world.--Robert King, "Senate committee concludes investigation of Muslim groups in
U.S., finds no wrongdoings," IndyStar.com, November 15, 2005]
Copyright © 2001 Mowahid H. Shah