Ramadan has always been a time of reflection, a chance to stop and recharge my batteries, an opportunity to take a break from the regular pace. Islam prescribes this month of fasting, and as with many, my favorite place to be during Ramadan is the mosque in the evenings. I attend iftars — “breaking of fast” — across the city in various Muslim communities. The mosque is a place of peace for me, particularly during this holiest of months for Muslims.
With fond feelings for my own mosque in mind, I followed closely the story of a group of armed protestors organizing an anti-Muslim rally outside a Phoenix mosque last month. The armed rally spurred an interfaith counter-rally that brought together people of goodwill to reject the rhetoric of hate and affirm the language of “loving thy neighbor.” Gaining national attention, it inspired a hashtag, #NotMyAmerica, for activists to speak out for interfaith solidarity. But despite positive responses, the fear that this could start an epidemic of similar protests still lingers in my heart.
If Ramadan is a time to reflect, then let us reflect on what it means to be Muslim in America today. Based on a number of events in 2015 already, our community is facing the most hostile environment since 9/11.
The number of hate crimes against members of the Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities has dramatically increased. There is a growing disconnect between freedom of speech and the freedom to practice religion without fear or intimidation: Increasingly, irresponsible and rhetorical bullying is leading to violent acts against a vulnerable minority.
Since January, we have seen a combination of anti-Muslim political speech and a tarnished law enforcement apparatus, leading to hate crimes, which range from petty vandalism to outright murder. Political candidates have created a climate of fear by warning of nonexistent “Muslim no-go zones,” using American Muslims as the new political hot potato. Elected officials have evaded their representative duty by refusing to meet with American Muslim constituents in Texas and Oklahoma. Lawmakers have held up vital child support legislation in Idaho to pass legislation banning Sharia law, in a bill similar to ones proposed in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. There have been countless acts of vandalism: threats to mosques and Muslim groups in San Diego, Phoenix and Ames, arson at a Houston mosque and hate graffiti on an Islamic school in Rhode Island. continue reading......