Breaking point?

As Muslims, we are often informed by the local and international media of our innate ability to react emotionally to anything concerning religion. They say we react too aggressively to any remarks on our faith or system of values and have knee-jerk reactions to issues that can be solved through dialog.

Yet, we have been openly harassed since 9/11 world over, for having a beard that is too long or for wearing a veil. 9/11 was a tragedy which should never have happened, thousands of lives were lost. It is also the tragedy that led to religious and cultural intolerance. Muslims living in the US, Canada and even Europe live in perpetual paranoia, with some resorting to non-disclosure of their culture and religion in the desperate attempts to blend in, to find refuge from the scrutiny in their adopted countries.

These societies which are supposed to be paragons of democracy and tolerance, still view all Muslims as “potential if not immediate threats,” often equating Islam with terrorism. Mosques in these societies are still regarded with suspicion by the general public and the immediate reaction is to stay away rather than interact. This would be acceptable if one could simply shrug and say “this is the world we live in these days, this is the norm.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Islamophobia has taken deep root in these societies and is being used by nefarious elements to incite hatred for Muslims. Consider the latest example of such hatred: a nondenominational, conservative church in Gainesville, Florida, plans on hosting an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. This will go over real well with the Muslims won’t it? This is all we need for international peace, the gathering space of one religion being used to desecrate the Holy book of another.

According to Pastor Terry Jones, who wrote a book titled “Islam is of the Devil” and is the leader of the Dove World Outreach Centre, “We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it’s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times.”

Advocacy groups in the US and American Muslims have gotten together to fight this with “Share the Quran” dinners in the upcoming month of Ramadan with the local community. Even the National Association of Evangelists has called on the Dove Centre to cancel the event in question. But is all this enough?

I still remember the famous speech Obama made about a “new beginning” in Cairo, where he reached out to the Muslim world and assured them that “we would all work together to forge a better tomorrow, a more united tomorrow.” When Ms Farah Pandith (U.S special representative for Muslim communities) last visited Pakistan I was invited to a discussion with her, among other new media journalists, where she assured us that the US wanted further collaboration between Muslims around the world, and the US government and its people. On the front lawn of the Dove World Outreach Centre stand not one but three signs proclaiming “Islam is the devil.” Has Obama’s message failed in trickling down to its local populace? Aren’t acts like these which result in Islamic radicalization in the West? Why aren’t such institutions banned, with their licenses revoked? Why are they allowed to preach hate in the name of religion? How would they react to Muslims gathering at a mosque to burn the Bible? Would they still issue calls instead of taking action on ground?


Oh by the way, two very esteemed news sources in the Pakistani blog sphere refused to publish this as not to draw focus to this issue. I wonder why, since blogging is all about freedom.

  1. I was also in two minds whether to write about it or not and then I decided not to write on this issue because every society has its share of fanatics and if a group of people are against Islam or Muslims in North America then we also have no dearth of US & Christianity hating people in our society and unfortunately the concept of perfect society is Utopian.

  2. Agreed but they highlight the world over every time their flag is torched so why should we remain silent when the quran is going to be desecrated?

    I also know our record of treating minorities is not excatly virginal, however have you ever thought why gojra makes front page headlines all over when gujrat does not? That is my point and i do think until the genuine not asinine grieviences of 1.2 billion citizens if this world are addressed the lava will keep on heating the core, and everytime there is a fissure of self control it will burst forthmto ravage humanity again!!!

  3. I think that you have completely missed the boat. The first amendment in the American constitution guarantees freedom of speech. You can pretty much say anything whether it be speaking badly of other religions or of other races. For example there are many groups in the U.S that promote racist ideologies, against blacks and etc. The Ku Klux Klan still operates. It’s not the job of the American president to ban opinions and beliefs, no matter how virulent they may be. The U.S supreme court has interpreted the first amendment rights, to mean all speech, other than that which encourage obvious violence, e.g, asking people to kill someone else. You can pretty much burn bibles, the holy Quran, or anything you want, as long as you are not openly telling anyone to kill or harm anyone. So yes, if Muslims (and I am one myself) burn the bible in a mosque, the U.S authorities won’t be able to do squat about it. And if you are suggesting otherwise, then you are dead wrong, and perhaps should do a little more research

    The U.S government is not in the business of closing mosques or churches. If a religious institution has a tax-free status, as a result of being an institution of that nature, their status, as such, can be removed, if they engage in political speech. And that is about it.

    Also, the pastor, Terry Jones, who you are talking about is a certified nutter who has a history of spouting intolerant nonsense, to help his church, and in turn him, make money. He even uses his parishioners as free workers, to run an online used furniture business which he makes money out of. You know how I know this? I did some research. Maybe, next time, you should do some too, before you make suggestions about what Obama and the American government should do, which are not even possible for them to do, and thus, somehow suggest that the American government is not doing enough to keep to the promises they made. Everybody has an opinion, but if you’re going to write an article about it, do some research, so that you don’t mislead the readers.

  4. Thanks for your comment mackers

    I do know the first amendement well, but do you know the no of preachers banned from entering the u.s because they lean towards the hardline version of islam? I guess now the retort will be that they aint americans, well some of them are and they cannot preach in their country, where is their freedom of speech? Its been taken away because their sermons might encourage terrorism and rightly so. Do you honestly think burning qurans in an event will not lead to “obvious violence” ?

    Secondly there have been a number of mosques seized in the u.s in the past for raising funds for iran and other nefarious activities.( so please do not tell me the u.s govt “is not in the business of closing down mosques and churchs” The branch davidians of waco texas were also a religious organization ( did they not all die in a seige laid down by the F.B.I???

    Last but not the least, pastor jones is a nutter yes, completely agree with you here, so why is he out there with a license to preach hate and not locked up like the other nutters in a black ops safe house somewhere? 600 ppl frm pakistan are still missing because the u.s suspected they were alqaeda and you think they cant lock up one pastor??

    You are dead wrong in your assumption that there is anything which the american govt cannot do, perhaps you should say it is selective in judging its own citizens ans specially christian ones due to the uproar it might face after 9/11 and you would make more sense

    I shudder to think what would happen if they allow this event to go on, this is why i chose to write so that this can be stopped, there is no need to do what pastor jones is doing.

  5. “I do know the first amendement well”
    I really doubt you do, because that would make this discussion redundant. No, I don’t know the number of preachers prevented from entering the United States, but I do know this, the American authorities can’t, I repeat, can’t prevent preachers with American citizenships from returning to their country, out of fear of their “hardline” views (even if they are terrorists or are complicit in terrorism, they will be taken in to custody and put on trial). Show me an American preacher who was denied entry in to his own country and I will show you a pig that I have trained to be a virtuoso pianist and to sing in a beautiful tenor. It’s really defeats the purpose of this discussion if you will open with a point based on conjecture, rather than with evidence.

    “Do you honestly think burning qurans in an event will not lead to “obvious violence” ?”
    I will try explaining U.S law to you again, in more detail and with examples. If you advocate violence, e.g., you say, “go kill those kafirs”, “if you are a Muslim, it is your duty to attack Americans”, “It is the duty of Christians to kill Muslims”, you will be put on trial for inciting violence. However, if you say that Islam is rubbish, the bible is rubbish, or Jesus or Mohammed (PBUH) was evil, you are well within your rights. I am not sure if you understand the difference between telling someone to kill someone else, and telling someone that someone is evil. If you tell them to kill someone, you are inciting them to murder, however, if you tell them someone is evil, you are not complicit in any actions they might take, and the burden will fall on the person who takes such an action. The whole point of freedom of speech is to be able to express views, and not be censored by a government that is not amiable to those views. The expressing of any view could in probability lead to violence, if falling on the wrong ears. I might mention that I am not a fan of person X and that I and person X don’t get along, and hearing that, person C might go murder person X. That is not my fault, and the government can’t censor me just because there might be a touchy person out there who might be willing to take an action I never explicitly promoted or condoned. The bottom line is, the U.S courts have established a clear standard on such issues, and your issue is well below the standard required, for action to be taken

    “Secondly there have been a number of mosques seized in the u.s in the past for raising funds for iran and other nefarious activities.”
    Lies, lies and lies. It’s funny that you either haven’t read or don’t understand the article that you are citing. The U.S government has filed a civil action suit for forfeiture of the assets of the Alavi foundation, which it has accused of breaking U.S laws on sanctions against Iran, by transferring money to the Melli Bank of Iran, which under U.S law –passed by the houses of congress, organizations can’t deal with. No mosques have been seized and only when and if the long court cases around the action for forfeiture are resolved, will anything happen as regards to seizure of assets, of which there are some mosques. And that would only happen if the authorities can prove to the courts that their allegations of violation of American law are true. You have claimed a number of mosques have been seized in the past. Can you enlighten me as to the other instances? Also, I can guarantee if it were a church sending money to Iran or a synagogue, or a temple, the same exact action would be taken. Not because they said something the U.S government didn’t like, but because they violated a U.S law. Seizing ownership of places of worship is not a discretion the U.S gov has, no matter what kind of racist or anti-Islam views said houses espouse. Like I said before, the gov is not in that business, and it is an extremely rare occasion that that will happen, and that would only be, not because of hate speech, but because of violation of a standing U.S law. The enforcement of such law isn’t and can’t be selective; any organization dealing with Iran will be prosecuted – due to the strict sanctions. Especially so if they are transferring money to an Iranian bank, which is prohibited, because of the fear of supporting the Iranian regime and all.

    “The branch davidians of waco texas were also a religious organization ( did they not all die in a seige laid down by the F.B.I????”
    I have no idea why you bring up the “Waco” cult in to a discussion about U.S authorities having powers to seize the property of worship houses making hate-speech. Once again, you are sighting evidence that you probably are not aware of the details of. It’s painful for me but I guess I will have to fill you in as to the details. David Koresh was a cult leader, later found out to be a pedophile as well, who ran a cult in his ranch, Mount Caramel, in Waco, Texas. A parcel delivery guy informed the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the ATF, that when he was delivering a package, it split open and he saw several fire-arms. This motivated the ATF to do a surveillance operation to see if the cult was amassing illegal firearms. With the information they gathered, they were able to get a court to give them a search warrant. When they went to execute the search warrant a two hour gun battle erupted between the followers of David Koresh and the ATF, leaving 4 ATF officers and 6 cult members dead. From here, the FBI got involved and took over the task to execute the warrant, and what resulted was 50 day siege, which culminated in another assault, where a fire broke out and took the lives of 76 people. The ATF got the warrant to check for illegal amassing of fire arms and not to close down a house of worship, or in this case, a cult. . I have no idea what this example is doing in a discussion on the freedom of speech of religious groups in the United States, and the U.S government’s inability to do anything about people that exercise that freedom of speech, even if the government finds said speech repulsive and hateful.

    “You are dead wrong in your assumption that there is anything which the american govt cannot do”
    See, what I am doing is explaining facts. What you are doing is assuming things are they way you think they are, without having any knowledge of the topic you choose to write about. You seem to have a very superficially and non-factual grasp of the American legal system, and their powers. No matter how many conjectural examples you give me, you won’t have any standing unless you deal with facts and evidence.

  6. There are some typos up there, the most glaring one being sighting, that should really be citing, in the 4th paragraph. And the* and superficial*, in the last para. good night

  7. @mackers when in a discussion if one person regards the others persons views as conjecture out of his own arrogance there can be no discussion.

    I can keep on giving you proof which you will keep on refuting, your personal attacks on my knowledge reveal a mind already biased against me before u read the first line

    For your info 600 pakistanis missing is not something I made up? U missed addressing tht point didn’t u? Becuz in ure world of blak and white where everything in american law is followed to the letter kidnapping. Foreign citizens frm another country wud be too much of an anomaly to explain.
    Btw the lecture on waco was a bit over the top as all of the facts are in the url I gave lol

    Ever heard the name afia siddiqui? Why is she being tried in the u.s she aint even american lol and tht too after how many years?

    There are always grey areas govts work through for protecting their national interests, trust me if an imam burnt the bible they wud bring him and his mosque down. The govt wudnt even need to the surrounding populace will run up a lynch mob.

    For someone so skilled in american law you seem to have a rather naive viewpoint of your government man? But then thts been programmed into you, so can’t blame you there. Calling my opinion conjecture will not change the fact tht burning the quran is an uncalled for and a horrible act which will serve as further fodder for pro militant propoganda machines to churn out more suicide recruits. A reality we suffer daily not american muslims.

    Forget all tht I said do you think burning the quran on 9/11 is justified?

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