U.S. Arab Media Worry Hearings Will Worsen Islamophobia

U.S. Arab Media Worry Hearings Will Worsen Islamophobia

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New America Media surveyed Arab-media journalists around the United States to glean their perspective on the hearings on Islamic terrorism being held by U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Here are their voices:


Marwan Ahmed, Publisher, Arab and Muslim Voice, Phoenix, Ariz.

These hearings are going on to create more fear of Muslims. Our community is disgusted. It is obvious that these hearings are targeting Muslims, creating an environment of fear for every American to look at Muslims as suspects.

Whether it is a woman wearing a hijab [headscarf], a man walking down the street, or anyone who looks Arab or Muslim in the supermarket, or an airplane, they’re being treated as if they should be feared. That is what is reinforced here.

But this is also Republicans preparing for the election, suggesting, “We showed you Obama was too friendly with Muslims, and this friendliness allows for radicalization.”

I am happy to see the hearings questioned, however, and to see support of the Muslim community, by officials, such as Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, who spoke of the good experiences he has had in his county with Muslims, how hardworking and helpful they are.

There are also people (non Arabs and Muslims) coming forward and speaking up, who would not in normal circumstances defend Muslims. They work with Muslims, have Muslim friends and [say] these hearings should not be taking place. There will be a meeting this weekend with religious and community leaders about this issue, and we are writing about community reactions to it.

Ahmed Tharwat, Host, BelAhdan, Minneapolis, Minn.

I’m not surprised by any of it. It all seems like a political circus, and a whole group is being singled out. Discussing extremism in Islam is becoming mainstream, and this is going against what the Obama administration has been trying to do, reaching out to the Islamic world and Muslims here.

It is actually ironic. Arabs and Muslims are toppling dictators, revolting for democracy in the Arab world. Muslims and Copts (Christians) are unifying in Egypt, and here we are in America doing the opposite.

King’s messages are misinforming people. Muslims are seen as guilty until proven innocent, and the community is psychologically and politically in internment. The United States is more threatened by right-wing Christian Radicalization, the Tea Party. This Monday we will have a show focusing just on these trials.

Warren David, President, ArabDetroit.com, Dearborn, Mich.

All of this is unnecessary and overblown. We have to really question if this is more harmful than helpful. This is adding fuel to the fire, focusing only on a minute part of the Muslim community.

The vast majority of Muslim’s in the United States are hardworking professionals. They are members of the community. Our country is non-sectarian. Why is it that the Muslims are being questioned? Why not take on the Christian extremists or the Ku Klux Klan?

If there is such a thing as a radicalization, it is no more of a problem in the Muslim or Arab community than in any other. The Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee has issued statements regretting the hearings taking place. Most people in our community are concerned. They want to know why this is being done; they’re worried about the safety of their children. This will induce more prejudice.

I’m a Christian, but this is a serious issue of great concern to everyone in the community. The Arab and Muslim image is so misaligned. I have been active in our community for over 30 years, and there have always been negative images of Arabs and Muslims, whether through news media, films, textbooks or literature. It’s always been there, and the bigger issue is foreign policy, visa vie the Middle East.

Fatima Atieh, Publisher, Al Enteshar Al Arabi, Los Angeles, Calif.

Let the January 25 Egyptian Revolution answer any questions. These hearings are absurd. The concern, that Muslim American men ages 18-29 are likely to support or participate in terrorism in America is unfounded. They are also American, so how can they know about terrorism and be expected to practice it, when they have spent most of their lives in the United States?

This is the same generation that led the revolution in Egypt, a peaceful revolution, where demonstrators only held signs asking for the 30-year-long regime of oppression to come to an end. No demonstrator used violence, no one even carried a knife. They relied on their unified determination, and the power of their songs, chants and signs.

This is the picture that King and any others supporting these hearings are missing. This is reinforcing Arabs and Muslims being targeted. Every culture, group, religion has extremism, and this is not unique to Muslims. An act of one or a few should not speak to everyone. Sheriff Baca testified about his experience with the Los Angeles Muslim community, and he spoke from experience. I have seen him at many community events and he knows and trusts the community.

Amani Ghouleh, Publisher, The Arabic Horizon Newspaper/Al Offok Al Arabi, Chicago, Ill.

Our community is against these hearings because Muslims are being misrepresented, portrayed negatively and judged by the acts of a few. You can’t investigate a whole community based on that.

These hearings will result in more Islamophobia, and we want to see less Islamophobia in our community, not more. There has been discrimination against the Muslim community before 9/11, and now there is much more.

We want to be treated as any other community is. Community leaders and local organizations are writing and calling voicing their opposition to these hearings. These hearings undermine Muslims and their role in American society.

Muslims are doctors in America’s hospitals, teachers in our schools and owners of local grocery markets. Safety is a concern to the Muslim community as it is everyone else, but the way these hearings are being conducted will divide the American public.