American muslim: Violence distorts views on Islam


An American Muslim student faces conflicting cultural values in the face of degrading film, violent protests.

News photos inserts courtesy MCT:

  • DEFIANCE (by Li Muzi): A lone protester taunts police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
  • RESISTANCE (Chokri Mahjoub): After police fire tear gas, a crowd continues its demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia.
  • OUTRAGE (by Mohammed Mohammed): Protesters burn flags and climb the gates of the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen.

The anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, among other overtly insulting claims that have pierced the hearts of Muslims world wide.

As an American Muslim, I felt emotional ties to those who filled the streets of Cairo, Benghazi and Kabul.

After filtering through derogatory comments attempting to distract from the positive efforts by Muslims to democratize countries in the wake of the Arab Spring, I cursed the very liberty that allows me to write to you.

I am offended by the deliberate debasing of my faith and those who share it. Some of the protesters represent the unemployed, the abused and the forgotten in Arab and Islamic states across the Middle East, enduring years of abuse under Western-backed autocrats.

Anti-Americanism is the driving force for what is happening today. American policy in the region is responsible for a breakdown in trust between Americans, Arabs and Muslims.

An unjust and illegal Iraq war, a “war on terror” that spawned a whole new drone industry, Washington’s double standards in promoting human rights in the region and its unwavering support for Israel, in spite of an expanding occupation in Palestine, have all contributed to America’s legacy.

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Islam has influenced the advancement of a political agenda catapulted by an interpretation based on disinformation and stereotype. After 9/11, a small, loosely connected group of anti-Muslim xenophobes peddled propaganda about an impending Muslim takeover, working to lay the seeds of what has become a full-blown network of Islamophobia across the U.S.

None of the above should justify the violent protests sweeping across the globe, resulting in the mindless death of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Instead, the violence of the protests has undermined our legitimate pain in the eyes of billions across the globe.

The protests have reinforced those who seek to portray Muslims as wide-eyed extremists and Islam as an inherently intolerant and violent faith.

While the mainstream media has reported on a minority of Muslims in the Middle East who have turned to violence, millions of Muslims have been left in a Catch-22.

American Muslims, often accused of failing to speak out against violence carried out in the name of their religion, have forcefully condemned both the amateurish anti-Islam film and all violent protest in the Middle East.

In a whirlwind of ambiguous sentiment I turn to a verse in the Quran, which states that “no soul will carry the burdens of another” (Al-Anam, 6: 164) and try to emulate Prophet Muhammad, who did not retaliate against personal abuse.

He urged his brothers and sisters to pour their efforts into their surrounding community, and to do so with piety.

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