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Should America Fear Islam?

The title of this ABC show seems a little frightening.  Immediately it creates and affirms the impression that there is something to fear of Muslims in America. Yet, it doesn’t shy away from the fact that there are existing fears, which the show tries to address.

In this ABC Town Hall Debate moderated by Christiane Amanpour, you’ll see a perfect example of anti-Muslims ganging up on moderate Muslims, like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s wife Daisy Khan. By the way, Daisy was just honored by the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative for her ASMA organization commitment to training Imams on Women’s rights in Afghanistan. She was accused of radicalism and lying. Daisy had said that the attacks and propaganda against her and her moderate husband are tying their hands from advancing their interfaith mission and modernizing Islam, as represented in their Cordoba Initiative to build their center near Ground Zero and their wealth of work, sponsored by our US government to build bridges with the Islamic world.  She was ambushed by Dutch politician and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the screenplay for Teo Van Gogh’s controversial movie, Submission, who accused Daisy of playing victim.

I just don’t get it! On the one hand, Americans want to empower moderate Muslims to a have a stronger voice over radicals. On the other hand, we persecute them, and yes, throw them into the arms of angry mobs, hate mongers, and even Al-Qaida. How could such actions advance our American values, democracy and national security? We are basically intimidating moderate voices that support establishing the Muslim center by accusing them of lies, deception and radicalism. I was in the same position recently in my Hannity debate with David Horowitz. He accused me of being a Jihadi for not agreeing with his racist and politically divisive and unAmerican ideas. The lives of Daisy and Imam Abdul Rauf have been under threat way before the ABC debate. I wasn’t surprised when Daisy told me so herself.  The other victim of this anti-Muslim war have been American mosques, which Robert Spencer of the Stop Islamization of America had claimed are fabricating their own hate crimes! It is a very strange logic, considering the FBI and Department of Justice have been investigating and reporting an increasing number of hate crimes against Muslims and mosques post the mosque controversy in May 2010. But it was good that the show had a former FBI agent in attendance, as well as an Imam, and families of 9-11 victims to present as diverse perspectives as possible from the sources themselves.

Donna Marsh O’Connor, who lost her daughter in 9-11 WTC attack said she was worried about what anti-Islamic advocates are reading. She kept correcting them on the issue of the mosque, saying it is an Islamic center not on Ground Zero, but 2.5 blocs away from Ground Zero. She doesn’t know Daisy or read her husband’s books, but in America, she said, “we hold people accountable for crimes after they commit them, never, never before.” O’Connor felt that on 9-11 she lost both her daughter and America. Pushing the Muslim center further from its location is like keeping America farther away from her.  It is great this show addressed some missing links that created some imbalanced coverage of the Islamic center near Ground Zero so that non-sense talk based on assumptions can be corrected with facts from the sources themselves.