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I worry; I worry about my community which has over the years witnessed more and more hatred, suspicion, and anger thrown against it. It’s a community full of proud, peaceful and law abiding Muslim-Americans, many of whom came to the United States in order to pursue the American Dream and create a better life for themselves and their families. Yet now, ten years after the attacks of September the 11th, we see ourselves targets of angry demonstrators protesting houses of worship yelling chants of “no mosque here, no mosque here” though just a little while ago many didn’t even know what a mosque was. On the news we're forced to listen to words such “Islamic Terrorism", "Muslim Terrorist", and "Islamist Militants”, though I learned that Islam meant that one would gain peace by submitting their will to the will of God alone with no partners. I’ve been repulsed by a Christian Pastor who publicly burned the Quran. I’m angered by political actors who hold hearings that put on trial all Muslim Americans, assuming their guilt and radicalization.
Is this America? Is this the country that in 1991 my parents brought me and my brother to? America, a nation whose promise of freedom, acceptance of all peoples, and opportunity for a better life for us all compelled my father to bring us here? Is this the same place where I went to school? Are these the same streets I rode my bike down? The same homes of friends I visited? Is this the same place I went to University in? Though everything around me looks the same, the school is still there, new children riding bikes down the streets, freshman now taking over campus. Yet I feel as if the atmosphere has changed - that a growing dark cloud is casting a dangerous shadow over everything that I knew. I many times ask myself: "Is it possible that a group of terrorists could really have succeeded in dividing this country? Succeeded in turning my neighbors against my community?" Now ten years later, have they succeeded in their real goal and objective of dividing and destroying what this nation believes in and our founding fathers hoped for us?
I do believe as many believed before me, that for evil to succeed, good men must do nothing. I witness everyday heroism of people and communities who stand for what is right, work together, and help one another and wonder when will our voices over take those of modern hate preachers and teachers.
So I worry, but though I worry, members of the Muslim community around me amaze me at how hopeful they are in their future in the United States. Though I worry, every day the Muslim community works hard to reach out to their neighbors, builds bridges, volunteers their time and efforts, and know that they will be successful. Though I worry, I am awed by my community, who, through the stereotypes, negativity, hate speeches, and adversity believe stronger than ever that better times are still yet to come and we will move on and not only “yes we can” but “yes we will”. A physical minority but a spiritual majority because they stand for what makes America great. I will end with the words of Malcolm X, who subtly said it best - quote - “That I am a Muslim, I believe in Allah – God in one God, and I believe that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And there is nothing wrong with that” - unquote. There is nothing wrong with the religion of Islam and I would encourage everyone to get to know about Islam, even it’s only one verse.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)