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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

America's Muslim Patriots

I would bet that the title "America's Muslim Patriots" strikes fear in the hearts of many Americans.  I don't believe that is because Americans hate or are afraid of people of others cultures and religions, but because many Americans have become programed to distrust all and anything Muslim.

Today in Jessica Corry has an interesting article about American Muslim Patriots which is well worth a read.  From her article, Ms. Corry says:
I first met Aliya and Rehan Hasan as our then four-year-old daughters gorged themselves on cake at a mutual friend's birthday party. We swapped perspectives on kindergarten curriculum and summer camps. We quickly realized we had a lot in common, including a strong libertarian Republican ideology. We exchanged numbers to get the kids together for a future play date.

Perfectly nice people, I remember thinking. And very smart. She's a doctor and he's a lawyer. Their ethnicity or religion wasn't a topic of conversation, nor was my family's. As I write this today, however, all I can think about is both characteristics. As Muslims and ethnic Pakistanis, they are the enemy to some within our political party.
I also have known and worked with a number of very accomplished Muslims and what always struck me (apart from how kind and generous they were) was how much they were just like anyone else.  They shared the same hope and desire for their families and, despite a difference in religious background, were just as American as apple pie as my family.  But being "Muslim" in America does, rightly or wrongly, cause many to take pause.  The article continues:
Rehan's title as chairman of Colorado's American Civil Liberties Union might prove controversial enough amongst social conservatives to ban him eternally from the GOP's inner-circles. Add Muslim to the mix and he's treated with a warm greeting typically reserved for the taxman.

It's unfortunate. As a co-founder of Muslims for America, Rehan believes in a strong America more than almost any other politico I've met. He voted for Bush twice and gave other courageous Muslims a platform for their condemnation of radical Islam. He recently helped organize an anti-terrorism rally at the state Capitol in Denver. He also speaks on occasion to Republican groups. One of the inevitable first questions he faces is this: Are you Muslim first or American first? It's a question a Christian speaker could answer either way. For Rehan and his family, however, any reference to God's law could quickly become a potential land mine.
I know many Christians would would say of course their Christianity comes first, and no one would blink an eye.  How would you respond to a Muslim who said the same?

It is not hard to understand why people react that way - part of it is a basic human nature to be wary of that which is different from us.  So recognizing that, we must do more to overcome such a stereotype.  The article continues:
While 9-11 forced Americans to look at the world--and their place in it--in a whole new way, it should have also taught us a very important lesson that too many among us seem determined to ignore. The best way to fight radical Muslim terrorism is through cultivating Muslim leaders to counter fanaticism. By shutting the door to honorable, hard working people simply because of their ethnicity or religion, we're in some ways just as ignorant as the cultures who shroud women in burkas.
Just food for thought.  We can all do better at getting along.  As Jessica says "the world is a dangerous place. It is made more dangerous by ignorance."

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