Friday, September 29, 2006

Muslim "racial profiling"

Mistaken for being part of the "Muslim race", a Spanish professor was briefly thrown off a plane for fear that he was a terrorist. This goes to show why profiling will not work:

A Spanish university professor with a long beard and dark complexion said Thursday he was briefly forced off an airliner during a layover on the Spanish island of Mallorca by passengers who feared he was an
Islamic terrorist.

Pablo Gutierrez Vega told The Associated Press that he was humiliated when three German passengers on an Air Berlin flight approached him during a layover in Palma de Mallorca on Aug. 30 en route from Seville, Spain, to Dortmund, Germany, and asked to search his carry-on luggage.

The men told him that other passengers were frightened by his
appearance, said Gutierrez Vega, a 35-year-old law professor at the University of Seville.

"They treated me like an Islamic terrorist because of my appearance,"
Gutierrez Vega said, according to an account posted Thursday on the Web site of the newspaper El Pais.

After realizing the men were not undercover police officers, Gutierrez Vega refused to hand over his luggage. The pilot then approached the group and led the professor to the runway so they could speak in private.

"The pilot said the passengers believed I was a Muslim," Gutierrez Vega
told the AP [More...]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the lessons of keith ellison

By working on this blog I've managed to find out about many good examples of Blackamerican Muslims who are involved in politics, activism and community service. I'm not sure if this is a growing trend but I have the impression that more and more Blackamerican Muslims are working in the mainstream and living out their values (based both on Islam and what Sherman Jackson calls "Black Religion") in the public sphere. In some ways, this process is parallel to the "third resurrection" which gives this blog its title.

A recent piece by Shahed Amanullah (editor-in-chief of alt.muslim) on the candidacy of Keith Ellison (an African-American Muslim running for the Minnesota seat in the U.S. Congress) gives a rather clear snapshot of the above trend. Amanullah ends his article by saying:

Muslims are understandably proud of Ellison's achievement, but while we celebrate, we must take another sobering look at reality. We have no more political power than we did the day before the primary, which is to say we have very little. Before we congratulate ourselves too much, we need to realize that Ellison deserves most of the credit. He worked very hard for many years to get where he is, all the while being unknown to most Muslims outside the Twin Cities. To be sure, Muslims helped in the way that any political supporters do, with donations, canvassing, and so forth. But as individuals, we helped no more so than Ellison's non-Muslim constituents did, and as a group, far less so. The more we tout him as "the Muslim congressman" or "our candidate", the more we inhibit Keith's ability to do his job effectively. And having a member of Congress - one who just happens to be Muslim - that contributes positively is the best possible outcome. As Muslims, we need to get out of Keith's way and let him do his job, and he can make our community proud in return.

(see entire article)

lessons on dissent, free press, inclusion, respect

Common Dreams: Malcolm X: Lessons on Dissent, Free Press, Inclusion, Respect by Hannah Allam looks back to Malcolm's much quoted "Letter from Mecca" and argues that its message is still relevant for today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

keith ellison plays defense

Keith Ellison is a Democrat running for an open House seat in a heavily Democratic district. But what once looked like a cakewalk has turned into a bruising campaign in which many facts are disputed but a central one is not: If he wins, he will be the first Muslim elected to Congress.

See story at Washington Post: Muslim Candidate Plays Defense

"it's much worse"

rashad byrdsong: 9/11... five years later

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rashad Byrdsong, 57, executive director of the Community Empowerment Association, an East End community organization committed to social change in city neighborhoods, is an African-American Muslim. Here's his story, as told to Post-Gazette reporter Moustafa Ayad:

I felt a numbness. I remember watching it on the television in my office. Was this war? Or was this some isolated event? Where was the next attack going to be? We as Muslims had similar feelings. No matter, Muslims or Christians, as human beings, we still have the same feelings. I was shocked.

Islam is a peaceful religion. All I see is a very peaceful and engaging religion that is a deeply personal relationship between me and Allah.

Why should I have to defend my religion?

Unfortunately there always has to be a fear factor. It's a way to mobilize a social concept and social thought into an unfavorable environment that keeps people fragmented.

It is all happening out of hysteria. Instead of perpetuating the fear, we need to address that fear.

African-Americans have an understanding of the history of racism and segregation that challenges minorities in this country. Black folks had been detained for 400 years after all. Immigrants were shocked with the backlash. Immigrant Muslims have certain types of expectations coming to this country and the reaction after 9/11 was a culture shock.

Islam has been indicted. These things happen in cycles. It's our turn. Everybody has had a turn. Yesterday, it was the communists, maybe tomorrow it's the poor Appalachians, but in the history of this country there has always been an enemy and right now it's Islam and Muslims.

To indict a whole people, a whole religion, based on the actions of a very small extremist group is counterproductive. The whole religion of Islam and Muslims are not responsible for the actions of an extremist sub-sect.

When you talk about terrorism it's not just a specific ethnic and religious group. Anyone who fits that particular profile must be a terrorist and that in turn becomes the profile of the religion. That is where the hysteria leads us. It's not terrorism that is holding people hostage -- it's fear.
source

Sunday, September 03, 2006

'Muslim': The New Race

At some point in history, Jews became an ethnicity as well as a religion. Now, it seems that some are also trying to make 'Muslim' into an ethnicity as well. Even those that are not Muslim are put into the 'Muslim' racial category.

This article should demonstrate why 'profiling' will not work. Especially in light of the fact that if this guy and this guy shaved their beards, and called themselves "Johnny" and "Mike", they would pass right through the profiling.

Shows just how fluid race can potentially be here in America as well. A white woman or a Latina with hijab becomes Palestinian. A Palestinian woman without becomes a Latina. A white guy with a long beard instantly becomes an Arab. A Latin man can sometimes be mistaken for an Arab and vice versa. I suppose all Indians are Muslim too. I heard a skit in which a man was told by his Indian employee "...but I am Hindu" to which he responded "I don't care what kind of Muslim you are"

Muslims can fall into this too as I remember an Arab walked up to a biracial Muslim friend of mine and started speaking to him in Arabic assuming that he was Arab.

Be sure to look at the pictures of the different Muslims the war on terror heads into its sixth year, a new racial stereotype is emerging in America. Brown-skinned men with beards and women with head scarves are seen as "Muslims" -- regardless of their actual faith or nationality. Law enforcement measures, politicians, religious leaders and the media have contributed to stereotyping Muslims as a race -- echoing the painful history of another faith.

[...]

The Muslim caricature has ensnared Hindus, Mexicans and others across the country with violence, suspicion and slurs. And it has given new form to this country's age-old dance around racial identity.

With fair skin, green eyes and brown hair, Dailyah Patt is white. But when she puts on a head scarf, Patt has discovered, people see her as something altogether different. The Modesto-born convert to Islam has had people categorize her as Palestinian, and she's been told: "Go back to your own country."

So Patt removes the hijab, as the head scarf is commonly referred to, when she goes to job interviews or has to fly.

"I can pass as Christian," said Patt, 27, a Palo Alto resident, who was frustrated by repeated airport security interrogations until she stopped wearing a scarf.

She feels "oppressed" for feeling forced into shedding a required article of the faith.

[...]

Patt and Khalil's experiences show how race works, say scholars who
study the phenomenon: People often project their assumptions onto others based on physical characteristics, even ignoring their own experience.

[...]

"You can't define what a Muslim looks like," said Saifulloh Amath, 23, a San Jose resident who is Cham, an ethnic group native to Vietnam and Cambodia. His family has been Muslim as long as it can trace. But he is taken for a "devout Buddhist."

[...]

Racial stereotyping is also present within the Muslim community. Muslims were among the slaves imported from Africa at least as early as the 1600s. And African Americans later established mosques around the nation. Yet, African American Muslims have long complained that Arab Muslims don't treat them as full members of the faith.

"When you're an African American Muslim, you're dealing with two kinds of bigotry: the bigotry of white America and also with Arab bigotry," said Adisa Banjoko, 36, of Fremont.

Typecasting Muslims as a race